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Thread: Sinking of ss Gemstone

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    Default Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi
    I am posting on my Dad's behalf.
    He is Alfred Branson- known as Bill
    Age 94
    He was a gunner on the Gemstone when it was sunk and spent the rest of the war in a Japanese prison camp.
    He would like any information about this .

    Pam Fisher

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi Pam, from google,.................
    Gemstone United Kingdom World War II: The cargo ship was captured by Stier ( Kriegsmarine), in the South Atlantic Ocean 200 miles east of St. Paul's Rocks off Brazil. She was then scuttled by Stier with torpedoes.[34]

    Also GEMSTONE (SS)
    Dead Crew members listed in Yokohama War Cemetery.


    I would guess that after sinking the Gemstone the crew were handed over to the Japanese, This happened quite regularly, a friend Lou was sunk on the Gloucester Castle off West Africa and they were handed over to the Japanese in Singapore, some went on the Burma Railway some stayed in Singapore and others were taken to Japan
    .
    [B]Jan Lettens 06/07/2011
    On June 4th, the German raider Stier spotted a freighter 200 miles east of St. Paul ís Rocks off the coast of Brazil. The commander Gerlach fired a warning shot across her bow and the freighterís captain turned his ship stern-on to present the smallest target.

    Stier fired several more salvos, all of which missed and Gemstone's Captain ordered its crew to abandon ship. The freighter was then identified as the 4,986-ton Alva Steamship Co. Gemstone, en route from South Africa to Baltimore with a cargo of iron ore. Her crew was taken on board and she was sunk by a torpedo.
    Jan Lettens 06/07/2011
    The German auxiliary cruiser Stier was responsible for the sinking of Gemstone (British), Stanvac Calcutta (Panama-flag U.S.-owned), Dalhousie (British) and Stephen Hopkins (U.S.-owned), the latter proved fatal to Stier.[/B]
    On or about June 10, the Stier put 68 prisoners from the Gemstone and the Stanvac Calcutta onto the Schliemann

    less the Captain of the Gemstone and a crewman from the Stanvac Calcutta. With 195 prisoners the Doggerbank departed June 26 for Yokohama via Batavia.
    (Roger Mansell, who runs a website about Allied POW's Under The Japanese [external link], adds the following in an E-mail to me:

    ..."here is info on deceased men of the Gemstone at Fukuoka #3 Yawata POW Camp:
    Phillips, Careb, Civ,28 May 1943, Chronic Bronchitis, SS Gemstone
    Manning, Darnley, Civ, 22 Dec 1944, Angina Pectoris & Chronic Enteritis, SS Gemstone
    Clements, James, Civ, 21 Feb 1943, Chronic Bronchitis, SS Gemstone").
    nationality: British



    purpose: transport
    type: cargo ship
    propulsion: steam
    date built: 1938
    details
    tonnage: 4986 grt
    dimensions: 130.5 x 17.6 x 7.5 m
    armament: 1 x 4 inch gun
    speed: 10.5 knots
    about the loss
    cause lost: torpedo
    date lost: 04/06/1942


    Keep looking in, some of our experts will find the answer your Dad needs,
    I hope he is in good health. brave lad.
    Cheers
    Brian
    Last edited by Captain Kong; 17th January 2017 at 04:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    On June 4th, the German raider Stier spotted a freighter 200 miles east of St. Paul ’s Rocks off the coast of Brazil. The commander Gerlach fired a warning shot across her bow and the freighter’s captain turned his ship stern-on to present the smallest target.

    Stier fired several more salvos, all of which missed and Gemstone's Captain ordered its crew to abandon ship. The freighter was then identified as the 4,986-ton Alva Steamship Co. Gemstone, en route from South Africa to Baltimore with a cargo of iron ore. Her crew was taken on board and she was sunk by a torpedo.

    The German auxiliary cruiser Stier was responsible for the sinking of Gemstone (British), Stanvac Calcutta (Panama-flag U.S.-owned), Dalhousie (British) and Stephen Hopkins (U.S.-owned), the latter proved fatal to Stier.

    Added:

    Apparently, The captain of the "Gemstone" E J Griffith and AB Sahadi Hassan " Stanvac Calcutta" were still on board the "Stier" and survived to be taken to France and became POW's at "Milag Nord" merchant seaman POW camp. I hope this imformation is of some use to you.

    The Japanese POW camp is possibly "Fukuoka #3 civilian camp.

    Keith.

    SOME MORE HERE:

    On 4th June 1942, the Raider stopped and sank the 4,986 tons British freighter ‘GEMSTONE’ of the Alva Steam Shipping Company in a position North of the equator and Southwest of Ascension Island. Captain Griffiths and his entire crew were taken on board the Raider as POW’s.

    Loss of the Liberty S.S. Stephen Hopkins - ClydeMaritime Forums - www.clydemaritime.co.uk


    .
    Last edited by Keith at Tregenna; 17th January 2017 at 04:29 PM.
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi Pam and welcome,

    Had a bit of trouble tracking him down due to the fact he is recorded as James William Branson. Originally named in the Deaths at Sea Register as missing presumed killed/drowned later changed to POW.
    I can confirm he was held at Fukuoka POW camp. I have him in my PoW records as prisoner 5559 from 4 June 1942 - 2 Sept 1945.

    I echo Brian's comments in post #2
    I hope he is in good health. brave lad.
    Regards
    Hugh
    Last edited by Hugh; 17th January 2017 at 08:48 PM.
    "If Blood was the price
    We had to pay for our freedom
    Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
    Paid it in fullĒ


    www.sscityofcairo.co.uk

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi Pam.
    We have a lot to thank people like your Dad for, and they should never be forgotten. I hope he is still in good health and maybe able to read some of these posts, you no doubt will keep him informed.
    Cheers Des

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi Pam
    I don't know what quirk of fate guided me to this website, but I think I might be able to fill in a few gaps for your father. My late father was the captain of the Gemstone. I have a copy of his war log, which has a detailed account of the sinking of the ship and the fate of the crew. He ended up in a German P.O.W camp, but remained on friendly terms with Commander Gerlach even after the war. The quality of the copy is not good enough for me to reproduce, but it is reasonably legible and you would be welcome to borrow it. I think your father would find it interesting reading.
    Margaret Jones

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    Thumbs up Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Now isn't that amazing Margaret!
    I hope that Pam will contact you on that !
    Great and thanks !
    Cheers


    This site does marvelous things at times ,just shows you!
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi Margaret.
    Welcome to the site, hope you stay and read some of the posts. You maybe could post your Dad's ships on site there maybe someone on site who might have sailed with him.
    Cheers Des

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    Default Re: Sinking of ss Gemstone

    Hi
    I'm gathering information about my wives Gt Uncle, Jabez Peters, Gunner, as time allows. (re. Gloucester Castle (Michel) sinking 15/7/42) and have posted elsewhere. This forum has been excellent as it put me in touch with Lou Barron.

    Have you heard / seen Boyes, Harry (Oral history) (10305) ? Harry Boyes ?
    I've only just found it, and need to check why not online ??? um ? ) . There's probably a great deal more information available on the
    Imperial War Museum records. I found Oral history from Austin Morris (Gloucester Castle) - this is online.
    Morris, Austin (Oral history) (11422)
    Hopefully I will clarify how to listen to Harry Boyes. I do hope this helps, apologies for being brief, however I thought I will post the 'barebones' whilst I had time today.

    More info here Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - HomeMaraudersWW2/15Michel.html that may be of interest.

    Also Norwegian Victims of Michel - Norwegian Merchant Fleet 1939-1945
    (the relevance being the transfer of prisoners from the Raiders, Michel & Spier)


    Regards
    Gordon
    Last edited by Gordon Robbins; 17th February 2017 at 12:31 PM.

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