SS Leander (1925)
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Atlas Werke AG|
|Out of service:||8 August 1940|
|Class and type:||Cargo ship|
|Length:||224 ft (68 m)|
|Beam:||33 ft (10 m)|
|Depth:||13 ft 9 in (4.19 m)|
|Propulsion:||Triple expansion steam engine, single screw propeller|
|Complement:||9, plus 6 DEMS gunners (Empire Crusader)|
Leander was a 989 GRT coaster that was built in 1925 by Atlas Werke AG, Hamburg, Germany. She was captured by the British Royal Navy in 1939 and impressed into service as Empire Crusader, serving until bombed and sunk in 1940.
When World War II broke out, she was in port at Vigo, Spain. Unable to get food, she attempted to reach Germany disguised as a Soviet merchant ship. On 9 November, she was captured off Vigo by the British destroyer HMS Isis. Her captain attempted to scuttle the ship, but was forcibly prevented from doing so by the rest of her crew. Leander was escorted into Falmouth, Cornwall, arriving on 13 November.
Leander was declard to be a prize of war. She was passed to the MoWT and renamed Empire Crusader. She was assessed as 1,042 GRT. She appears to have entered service for the British in March 1940. Empire Crusader sailed in British coastal waters, mostly between Plymouth, Devon and Seaham or Sunderland, County Durham.
On 7 August 1940, Empire Crusader departed from Southend, Essex as a member of Convoy CW 9, bound for the Yarmouth Roads. The next day, in the third aerial attack on the convoy, she was bombed by Junkers Ju 87s of Fliegerkorps VIII, StG 1, off St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight. Her cargo of coal was set on fire and the crew abandoned ship. Of her crew of nine, plus six DEMS gunners, four were killed. The ship capsized and sank at . Her Chief Engineer, James Cowper, was awarded an MBE, and Acting Able Seaman William Robson was commended, for their part in rescuing the ship's Second Mate.
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