Reported in the News Letter on December 13, 1939: British submarine allows German liner to pass without launching attack


Germany’s 51,731-ton “crack” liner Bremen, homeward bound from the North Russian port of Murmansk yesterday morning, passed within torpedo range of a British submarine which, in striking contrast to Nazi sea brutality, allowed her to pass.

This was disclosed in an Admiralty communique, which added: “The submarine was, of course, precluded by the rules of sea warfare from torpedoing the Bremen without warning.”

When war was declared, the Bremen was three days out from New York. Nothing was heard of her until she sighted the coast of Murmansk on September 6. To take in as a prize a liner like the Bremen, which has an estimated speed of 30 knots, would be a formidable task for a submarine with a surface speed of 15 to 20 knots and 10 knots when submerged.

The German high command issued the following communique about the Bremen last night: “The Bremen returned this evening to the homeland from overseas. The German navy had taken measures to ensure her safe arrival. Aeroplanes cooperated to give the ship the necessary protection. In the North Sea a British submarine attempted to attack the Bremen. One of the aircraft sent out to safeguard her forced the submarine to dive, thus preventing the attack.”