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Article: German receipt for sinking one of our ships

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    German receipt for sinking one of our ships

    2 Comments by John Arton Published on 22nd April 2019 09:06 AM
    This is from the Sunday Express 21/04/2019
    Facing the guns of the dreaded Graf Spree a proud Yorkshire skipper was determined his ship would not go down without one last gesture of defiance.
    AS his crew were taken onto the German battleship from the Merchant ship Streonshalh, Captain Joe Robinson insisted on a receipt for his vessel before she was sent to the bottom.
    Fortunately Captain Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff was also a gentleman with a passion for efficiency. He had a two page receipt typed up and apologised to his guest.
    The receipt was found 80 years later and is now on display at Whitby Museum.
    The Graf Spree was preying on merchant ships and had already sunk 8 others. Captain Robinson recorded the commander apologised for having to sink my ship and he told me it was his duty to do so . Fortunes of war he called it, he also issued me with a receipt for the sinking of my ship.
    Robinson was locked up with the Captains of the other ships sunk , without loss of life. The 29 Officers were still in a cell under a gun turret six days later when Graf Spree was engaged by the Royal Navy in the battle of the river Plate. Robinson recorded: All through the battle no one came to see whether we were alive or dead . One shell from a British warship hit the deck head of our cell but luckily for us it struck a small steel beam and exploded upwards .We only got a few splinters in our cell and no one was injured.

    SS Streonshalh's men were the only crew aboard the Graf Spree when she limped into Montevideo crippled by fast cruisers. Robinson and Langsdorff stood together at the funerals of German sailors before Robinson took a Royal Mail ship home. Robinson, who had been torpedoed in the first world war, was awarded an OBE for his courage even though his next ship was sunk by dive bombers. The receipt became one of his most treasured possessions say his family. When he died aged 73 at home near Whitby in 1972 his son, captain joe robinson jnr. donated the receipt to Whitby museum with a quote saying " this document is quite important and fairly unique in the maritime sense"
    The receipt stayed in the archives until found by retired admirals, shipping magnates and historians last summer. "It was a chance remark that made us look to find out more about Captain Robinson and the story we found was quite incredible" says shipping curator Dennis Buck. The receipt is now the centre of the display on the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate. Oddly, Captain Robinson appeared as a P.O.W in the 1956 film of the same name . He was played by Patrick Dove a Captain and fellow Graf Spree captive . Dove was portrayed by Bernard Lee, "M" in the James Bond movies.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Sunbury Victoria Australia
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    Default Re: German receipt for sinking one of our ships

    What an amazing story there.
    The receipt now in a museum will no doubt be of great interest to the younger generation.
    It may just give them some concept of what war was about at that time.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

  4. Thanks Steve Neale thanked for this post
  5. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Whitby, UK
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    Default Re: German receipt for sinking one of our ships

    The name of his lost vessel: Streonshalh, is the ancient, pre-Danish, name for Whitby.
    A great story- I live 4 miles from Whitby - must make a visit to Pannet Museum soon.
    Harry Nicholson

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