SS Mareeba

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SS Mareeba.jpg
Aerial port side view of the Australian cargo vessel SS Mareeba.
(Australian War Memorial Negative #303588)
Fate: Sunk by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran in the Bay of Bengal on 26 June 1941.
General characteristics
Tonnage: 3,472

The SS Mareeba was an Australian freighter built in 1921[1] and named after the town of Mareeba in Far North Queensland, Australia. She was a 3,472-ton Australasian United Steam Navigation Company vessel.[2]

The Mareeba was attacked and sunk[3] in the Bay of Bengal on 26 June 1941 by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran.[4][5] She was carrying 5000 tons of sugar from Batavia to Colombo[2] when she picked up the Yugoslav freighter Velebit's distress signal. Instead of immediately stopping the Mareeba radioed her position and ran for it, presumably because at 8 o'clock that morning she had spotted the British light cruiser HMS Durban, in the Ten Degree Channel.[6] She received nine shots to her hull,[5] several of which hit her engine-room, and, although she was slowing sinking, it took a team of German boarding party placing demolitions to sink her quickly. It would later be said that the Mareeba would have made a fine auxiliary minelayer[2] because of her durability. All 48 of the crew of the Mareeba were captured and spirited away on the Komoran which travelled at top speed through the night and most of the following day[2] to avoid retaliation for the sinkings.


The captured crew stayed on the Komoran for a total of 103 days where they were housed in the fore part of the ship below the waterline. They slept in hammocks and were allowed on deck daily. After the 103 days, they were transferred to a German supply ship Kulmerland, where, after 15 days, the prisoners were transferred to a German prison ship Spreewald.[5]

Below is an incomplete list of crew that were captured from the Mareeba.[5]

  • Anderson, Mr. (Chief Engineer)
  • Bentley, Mr. (2nd Grade Steward)
  • Bottomley, Mr. Jack (Trimmer)
  • Dooley, Mr. Lionel(Fireman)
  • Evans, Mr. (A.B.)
  • Ford, Mr. Geoffrey (O.S.)
  • Freeman, Mr David J. (1st Mate)
  • Griffiths, Mr. Jack B. (Trimmer)
  • Hayes, Mr. Dennis (Fireman)
  • Hill, Mr. James A. (3rd Engineer)
  • Holmes, Mr. (Third Wireless Operator)
  • Humphries, Mr. (A.B.)
  • Jones, Mr William A. (Assistant Cook)
  • Kitchen, Mr. (Deck Boy)
  • Langtry, Mr. John (Trimmer)
  • Lucas, Mr. J (A.B.)
  • MacNeill, Mr. Calum Gilbert (A.B.)
  • Marcusse, Mr. (Trimmer)
  • McLelland, Mr. Leonard(Fireman)
  • Melville, Mr. Albert (A.B)
  • Pratt, Mr. William (1st Grade Steward)
  • Ravenscroft, Mr. Samuel(Greaser)
  • Redman, Mr. Ronald J. (1st Radio Operator)
  • Riley, Mr. (4th Engineer)
  • Rose, Mr. Robert L. (Bo'Sun)
  • Sayer, Mr. Fred (Donkeyman)
  • Skinner, Mr. (Captain)
  • Sorensen, Mr. Robert (Chief Cook)
  • Tesseyman, Mr. Joseph V. (Carpenter)
  • Thorpe, Mr. Ashley (A.B.)
  • Vanbrugel, Mr. (Assistant Cook)
  • Vanderhusen, Mr. (Trimmer)

Addition to crew captured by Kormoran.

Gordon J – Second Engineer[7]

MacKay, Mr Alexander J. (Greaser) (aka Donohue, JP)


  1. ^ North Queensland at War
  2. ^ a b c d Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser / Raider) – Kormoran
  3. ^ HMAS Sydney II – Auxiliary cruiser Kormoran
  4. ^ The Sinking of HMAS Sydney: 10. Replacing the Sydney and Writing the Official History
  5. ^ a b c d Australian National ArchivesSinking of the SS Mareeba – Barcode: 404718 Series Number: MP1049/5 Series accession number: MP1049/5/0 Control symbol: 2026/10/1855
  6. ^ Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser / Raider) – Kormoran Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Prisoner of the Kormoran by W A Jones (Assistant Cook) Pages 18 & 49.Did not survive the sinking of the German Prison Ship Spreewald 489 miles south west of the Azores (page 143). J. Gordon listed with 25 other crew members from SS Mareeba on the Memorial to Merchants Seamen at the War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 8°15′N 88°06′E / 8.250°N 88.100°E / 8.250; 88.100