Monday, 22 July, 2024
22December 1939

Britain states it has seized total of 870,000 tonnes of goods destined for Germany

The British government stated on this day that, since the start of the war, it had seized 870,000 tonnes of goods destined for Germany.

Since September 1939, the Royal Navy had been stopping and searching any vessel which it believed was heading to Germany.

In the first four months of the war, 19 German merchant ships were scuttled by their crews to prevent them from being taken by the Allies. This was alongside the scuttling of the German warship Admiral Graf Spee off the coast of Uruguay. At the outbreak of war, a majority of German merchant vessels were at sea. Many of those that could not return home instead chose to sail into neutral ports where they hoped to avoid capture. Many ships, stuck in port, knew that leaving the safety of a neutral port would place them within the range of guns of waiting Allied warships, which lurked near ports. 28 German ships loaded with aluminium-rich bauxite were stuck in Trieste, for example, fearful of leaving the protection of neutral waters.

Around the world, various tactics were used to avoid Allied ships, such as disguising German ships with a neutral nation’s identity, or selling the ship to a neutral country.

Some liners were able to sneak back to Germany, such as the New York, the St Louis and the Bremen liners.

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