News from 1942-1943: Sinking of Ceramic

Mark Baber

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MAB Note: Ceramic, which at the time discussed here belonged to Shaw, Savill
& Albion, was sunk by U 515 on 6 December 1942. There were 656
casualties---226 military personnel, 152 civilians and 278 crew
members---and one survivor.

The Times, 4 October 1943

500 LIVES LOST IN THE CERAMIC
---
OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE SINKING

---
CAPETOWN, Oct. 2---News of the sinking without trace of the 18,000-ton
British liner Ceramic, with several hundred passengers on board, has now
been officially issued by the naval authorities.

The Ceramic was sunk last November while the liner was bound from England to
the Cape, but owing to uncertainty about the fate of the passengers and
crew, no official announcement was made until to-day. The exact number is
not known here, but it has been ascertained that more than 500 people lost
their lives.

The authorities are still without official news of any survivors, although
the Germans claimed to have one in their hands. According to the German
version, the Ceramic was torpedoed during a heavy gale in the North
Atlantic, and sank quickly in heavy seas before lifeboats could be launched.

Some families were completely wiped out. The passenger list included 186
persons who had booked to Capetown and 32 for Durban in the cabin class
alone. In addition, there were some passengers for Australia. Captain Elford
apparently went down with his ship.---Reuter.

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Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 9 December 1942

Nazi Radio Claims Troopship
---
LONDON, Dec. 8 (AP)---The Berlin radio asserted today that the 18,700-ton
British liner Ceramic, which "probably was coming from the United States to
North Africa fully laden with troops and war equipment," was sunk by U-boat
west of the Azores. There was no confirmation of this assertion.

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Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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The New York Times, 10 December 1942

The Text of the Day's Communiques on the Fighting in Various War Zones
***
German
---
A High Command communiqué broadcast from Berlin and recorded here by The
Associated Press:

In the course of the fight against enemy shipping German submarines sank in
the Northern and Central Atlantic a further thirteen ships totalling 108,000
tins. Two other ships and also one destroyer belonging to the escort
service were torpedoed.

Enemy supplies and reinforcements for North Africa are very hard hit by
these operations.

The sunken ships included the British passenger steamer Ceramic, 18,700
tons, which was employed for transport of troops to North Africa. The
vessel sank immediately after being hit by a torpedo so that in view of the
prevailing storm and heavy seas running large loss of life must be reckoned
with.
***

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