ss CITY OF CAIRO - re-union 1984
Below is a copy of the Ellerman Line Press Release prior to the 1984 reunion aboard HMS BELFAST and is courtesy of St Helena Archives. This document is copied verbatim however, there are some minor inaccuracies regarding Karl-Friedrich Merten. There is more information here: Karl-Friedrich Merten
ELLERMAN SURVIVORS MEET THE MAN WHO TORPEDOED THEM
Seventeen survivors of the wartime shipwreck will meet the German submarine commander who torpedoed them and left them to sail 500 miles to the nearest land in six small boats saying "Goodnight, sorry for sinking you".
The re-union will take place on HMS Belfast on Friday 14th September when crew and passengers from the Ellerman Lines vessel "City of Cairo", torpedoed in November 1942, will gather to commemorate the publication of a book on the affair "Goodnight, Sorry for Sinking You" by Ralph Barker (Collins) and to see a preview of the TVS documentary of the same name, which will be networked on Sunday 16th September.
Captain Karl-Friedrich Merten, commander of U-68, is making the special journey from his home in Waldshut near the Swiss/German border to meet the survivors, many of whom were small children at the time. This will be the first occasion that the survivors have met as a group since the incident.
The Ellerman vessel "City of Cairo" was en route from India to England with 300 people on board and a general cargo which included, it is rumoured, a cargo of silver bullion now valued at £20 million. She was torpedoed on 6th November 1942 and 200 people on board survived an epic and heroic journey in open boats to the tiny island of St. Helena, 500 miles and fourteen days away; and to Brazil, 2,000 miles and 51 days away. Three survivors were picked up by a German merchant ship 36 days later; one of them died tragically soon afterwards and the other two were promptly sunk by a British cruiser. Both lived to tell the tale.
Among the survivors present will be:
The Almond Family
Basil (then 15) from Dundee, Francis (then 13) from Paris, David (then 12) now a doctor in Potters Bar, Susan (then 10) now Mrs. Susan Nagle from Birmingham.
The four children were with their mother, Lady Almond, wife of Sir James Almond, Judicial Commissioner in the North-West Frontier. Lady Almond died in 1978 aged 85.
Wife of Welsh Presbyterian padre David Davies and her two daughters, Ann King (then aged 4) and Janet Evans (then aged 2 ½).
Mrs. Davies and Janet live in Flint, Clwyd and Ann lives in Birmingham.
Dulcie Kup (formerly Kendall)
Then aged 24, was travelling with her three-year-old son, Colin.
Mrs. Kendall was travelling to England after the loss of her railway engineer husband in Burma. She married again, but is now widowed. She lives in Horsham.
Robert Skea, Jane E. Davis, Karl Friedrich Merten (U-68 Captain), Douglas Quantrill, Ann King (Davies), A.Donald Miller, Elsie L. Rogerson (Wife of Captain Rogerson)Right side from the top:
Ralph Barker (Author), Esther Simms, David Redl (Qunk), Basil Almond, Violet Williams, David Simms, Susan Nagle (Almond), David Almond, Francis Almond, George Nutter, Janet Evans (Davis), William Stubbs (4th Officer)
A. Donald Miller
Now aged 91, lives in Cowfold, Sussex.
A missionary, Mr. Miller was travelling to England to take up the position of secretary-general of the Leprosy Mission in London.
George Nutter M.B.E.
The chief radio officer on a Bibby Line troopship, was returning home on his first leave of the War. He volunteered to become a lifeboat warden and was in charge of Boat 6. He was awarded the M.B.E.
He retired in 1970 as chief radio officer of the Bibby Line. He lives on the Wirral, near Liverpool.
Dr. Douglas Quantrill BEM
The ship's surgeon.
Dr. Quantrill, apart from looking after many of the survivors in the lifeboats, was responsible for their care on St. Helena.
Eventually, he was repatriated with the other survivors and took up an appointment in West Africa. From 1963 until his retirement in 1977, he was Medical Officer of Health for the Isle of Wight. He lives in Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Then aged 2, later joined the Army, serving with the Gurkhas. He then entered the chemical industry. He now lives in Germany.
His mother, Joan Redl, who was with him on board the "City of Cairo", lives in Australia.
The Simms Family
Shared Boat 8 with the Almond family.
David (then aged 10) and Esther (then aged 3) were the children of Eileen Simms, the wife of a senior Indian Civil Servant, Gerald Simms. They were returning home to County Donegal.
Mary (then aged 12) and Lisa (then aged 7) were unable to attend. All live in Dublin.
Eileen Simms, now aged 82, lives in an old peoples home also in Dublin.
Was second officer on a tanker taken over by the Royal Navy and was returning home to take up another appointment.
A Master Mariner, Captain Skea was with the BP company for the last 30 years of his sea-going career and commanded one of their oil tankers for the last 16 of those years, He is now retired and lives in Edinburgh.
Fourth Officer, took a job ashore after the War, joining the North Eastern Electricity Board, where he remained until he retired in 1973. He now lives near Darlington.
Violet Jayes (formerly Williams)
Was youngest of a family of three children and was travelling with her parents, David and Mary Williams, now both deceased.
Violet married after the War and has a son and two granddaughters. She lives near leicester.
, widow of Captain William Rogerson, master of "City of Cairo", who later became senior master of the Ellerman Lines fleet. He died on 12th March 1972 and, at his own request, his ashes were scattered at sea a month later from an Ellerman Lines vessel in the South Atlantic.
After the War, he wrote to Douglas Quantrill "I would sooner be without an award (he received the O.B.E. afterwards) and still have the good ship afloat sailing the seas. We had a good and loyal lot of officers on her, and all were attached to the 'old girl'".
, joined the German Navy in 1936 and was 37 at the time of the sinking. He took command of U-68 when she was commissioned and sank 29 Allied ships totalling 186,064 tons from his first patrol, beginning in September 1941, to 6th November 1942, when he sank the "City of Cairo". This was his last sinking. After this patrol, he was appointed to command a submarine flotilla, and this and various training appointments curtailed his operational career. Nevertheless, when the war ended he stood fourth in the table of U-boat commanders in terms of tonnage sunk, behind only Otto Kretschmer, Wolfgang Luth and Erich Topp. He did not join the Bundesmarine after the war but made a new career in ship-building, retiring in 1974. Now 79, he is working on his memoirs.
, director of Ellerman & Bucknall in South Africa and the son of the then Ellerman & Bucknall managing director, John Cannan. Members of Ellerman & Bucknall's staff looked after survivors when they arrived in Cape Town. Jimmy Cannan's family looked after the Almonds, whom he has not met since the War.
, director, Ellerman City Liners. Mr. Sampson is the Ellerman host for the day.
Issued on behalf of: Ellerman City Liners
13th September 1984