German raiders off New Zealand

The German raider 'Komet' had made passage to the Pacific along the north coast of Russia. The Germans had paid the Russians for the use of the ice breaker 'Stalin' to assist her passage. She then operated in the Pacific disguised as a neutral Japanese merchant.ship.

The Germans used a number of armed raiders disguised as merchantmen during the war. In terms of tonnage sunk they proved to be far more successful than German surface battleships. The first voyage of the Komet, which circumnavigated the globe, was exceptional. Operating in the Pacific since September, she paired up with another raider, the Orion, accompanied by a third unarmed German supply ship, the Kulmerland.

On the 27th November they intercepted the RMS Rangitane, a liner that regularly operated between New Zealand and Britain. The armed merchantman Rangitane had delivered evacuee children to New Zealand and was returning with a valuable cargo to Britain when she was trapped between the Orion and the Komet. Refusing orders not to use her radio she was shelled and 11 of her passengers and crew killed. The remainder were then taken on board the German ships and later most were deposited on the remote island of Narou. The Rangitane was relieved of the greater part of her cargo and sunk by torpedo.

Rangitane sunk on 27th November 1940

The New Zealand Shipping Company passenger liner Rangitane, was on her way from Auckland to Liverpool via the Panama Canal, with a crew of 192 and 111 passengers, thirty-six of whom were women, a cargo of 124,881 cases of butter, 33,255 cases of frozen pork and mutton, 23,646 cases of cheese, as well as equally large quantities of cocoa beans and other foodstuffs, she was also carrying forty-five bars of silver.

For the complete story see RMS Rangitane

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Doug December 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm

It would be interesting to see more about the Germans operating in the Pacific.

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