MV San Demetrio

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Drew5233, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Just watching a a film on Channel 4 called San Demetrio,London.

    It's taken me straight back to my youth on Sunday afternoon's watching Black and White war films with my Dad and Sunday Roast Dinners.

    Anyway's on further investigation it appears this is a bit of a fact based film where the ship was attacked by the Admiral Scheer and abandoned by her crew in mid-Atlantic for fear of her cargo exploding.

    After being at sea for sometime they drifted back towards the ship and re boarded her, put out her fires and sailed her onto Great Britain and delivered her cargo of aviation fuel.

    MV San Demetrio
    [​IMG]


    Cheers
    Andy
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for heads up.
    I'm off work on a sicky so just watched the last hour of it.
     
  3. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Gordon Jackson was in that wasnt he?
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Gordon Jackson was in that wasnt he?

    Supposedly his first film.
     
  6. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    One of my favourite movies.

    All very true and they did collect the salvage money.

    Can't buy a copy except a pirated version (DVD) which bit the dust after a few plays.

    Some guy in the states wanted $95.00 US for a used VHS.
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    As someone who you might say was "involved" at the time the film was made (1943) I'd like to make a point.

    In 1943 the war was far from over and there was lots of heartache still to come.

    On a personal level it was in April of the same year that I found myself en route to Algiers and the sea crossing was still one that involved more than a little risk.

    It was during those times that this film was made when both the film-makers and we the viewing public could have had no knowledge of the war's outcome.

    Seeing the film once again made me appreciate both the ethos behind the production and the skill of those who were responsible in making it and once again I was reminded of the fortitude and bravery of the men who went to sea.

    Ron
     
    James S likes this.
  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    once again I was reminded of the fortitude and bravery of the men who went to sea.
    Ron

    Hello Ron and all,
    Good to see a veteran talk so highly of those who served at sea during WWII. My interest is mainly with the Merchant Navy who suffered very heavy losses during WWII. Men such as those aboard SAN DEMETRIO were civilians: they never wore a uniform. When ashore they would often be chastised by some of those at home for not being in the Armed Forces. All they had was a small lapel badge to signify they were merchant seamen. Little did they know what these seamen had been through.
    Even today, ignorance of the role of the MN is widespread. You just have to watch the parades at the cenotaph in November; hardly a mention is made of those men and women of the forgotten fourth service. We would have lost the war without them and we very nearly did.

    Tanker SAN DEMETRIO official number 166623 built in 1938 for Eagle Oil & Sg Co Ltd, London. The film is based on a true story: the attack of convoy HX -84 by German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer on 5th November 1940. SAN DEMETRIO was later lost in 1942 torpedoed and sunk by U-404. This page refers:
    http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/1452.html
    Regards
    Hugh
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hugh -
    I would go along with you on the apparent lack of recognition for the Merchant Navy - it's only in the past few years that they have been officially recognised here in Canada - surp[rising when you think that so many ships left Halifax to do that most dangerous crossing - at times worse than the Murmansk convoys.....we can't recgnise their valour enough - every man jack of them - they should be first in any Parade. I had four "cruises' and was always glad to see the MN's at work as I knew I would get there.....
    Cheers

    Chers
     
  10. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    My grandfather ran a taxi durring the war - and he obtained "100 octane" from a slightly bent airman who was based on Boa Island - he must have been doing a bit of a "sideline" on it but he had his run and was caught.
    (According to my grandfather he lost his stripes and was sent to iceland).

    At some stage this must have been mentioned to my father who took a dim view of it , my father related to me that "if your grandfather had ever saw a tanker exploding , he would not have ever used blackmarket fuel".

    The merchant seaman accepoted great risk for very little pay - those who unloaded the ships earned more than the seamen did.

    YouTube - World At War: Wolf Pack 1 of 5

    YouTube - World At War: Wolf Pack 2 of 5

    YouTube - World At War: Wolf Pack 3 of 5

    YouTube - World At War: Wolf Pack 4 of 5

    YouTube - World At War: Wolf Pack 5 of 5

    Although it has been said before and will be said again "TWAW" remains a landmark in WW2 history broadcasting - the men interviewed are gone but by God they certainly leave an impression of the uncompromising odds for all concerned.
     
  11. cally

    cally Picture Prince.

    Interesting Andy - I wish that I had seen it.
    Having all the sky channels plus having the benefit of a motorised dish and a powerful digital receiver which gives me thousands of channels from all over the place I am always forgetting to check and see what programmes are on the terrestial channels! Good to see that "sods law" is still operational!!:huh:
     
  12. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hugh -
    I would go along with you on the apparent lack of recognition for the Merchant Navy - it's only in the past few years that they have been officially recognised here in Canada - surp[rising when you think that so many ships left Halifax to do that most dangerous crossing - at times worse than the Murmansk convoys.....we can't recgnise their valour enough - every man jack of them - they should be first in any Parade. I had four "cruises' and was always glad to see the MN's at work as I knew I would get there.....
    Cheers

    Chers

    Thank you, Tom.
    I know the troops appreciated these men and women who did these crossings day in day out. Recognition has been slow but certainly not from you guys.
    Regards
    Hugh
     
  13. Auditman

    Auditman Senior Member

    Full agreement on recognising what the MN did, couldn't have won the war without them. However is it true that once they were torpedoed and their ship went down they, as survivors, ceased being officially employed and stopped getting paid? Or is this just one of those myths?
    Jim
     
  14. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Dont forget the merchant men who spent the longest time adrift in a life raft - more than three months!! (Pacific or Indian ocean)


    Trying to find a reference, but failing
     
  15. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Full agreement on recognising what the MN did, couldn't have won the war without them. However is it true that once they were torpedoed and their ship went down they, as survivors, ceased being officially employed and stopped getting paid? Or is this just one of those myths?
    Jim

    Reference here:

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/war-sea/3201-sunk-paid-off.html
     
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    No doubt there were those without technical knowledge who tried to run car engines on AVGAS (100 Octane) aviation fuel and suffered the consequences of pre-ignition leading to holed pistons,engine overheating, ultimate loss of power and engine failure.The octane level of AVGAS was too high for a normal car engine so the security of AVGAS supplies on RAF Stations was more or less secure and users learnt by experience.However that did not stop people experimenting with mixtures but to no avail.The usual source of illegal standard octane petrol was from the MT Section drivers where good relationships were likely to result in this practice until found out as can be illustrated by glancing through Station ORBs.

    It is important that the correct specified fuel and lubricants are used by the the appropriate aircraft engine whether it be a piston or a jet engine.One of the malpractices that could occur quite easily on an airfield and lead to a loss of aircraft and life was to put AVGAS into a jet engine or AVTUR into a piston engine.Although procedures should prevent this happening,from time to time it still occurs.

    Regarding lubricants, I saw a report that Wellingtons of a wartime Middle East based squadron were having early engine failure, indeed some Wellingtons vanished without trace.Sabotage was initally suspected and NCO groundcrew tool kits were surrendered as a consequence until an affected engine was able to be throughly inspected.It was found that the loss of power and overheating was due to engine oil which had been in RAF stores in 1918 and had been requisitioned.The specification was appropriate for 1918 aircraft engines but used in the modern engine of the time led to carbonisation of the oil in the valve seats and spindles causing valve seizure,engine overheating and engine failure.

    Regarding safety,petrol has a flash point temperature as low as - 46 degrees Centigrade.If spillage occurs, its vapour can migrate and creep through drains and the like and ignite should it find a source of ignition.Very dangerous if it is spilt on to a confined space such as a hanger floor and gets into drains. Vapour and fumes create a lean petrol/air mixture and given an ignition source,the result can be destruction and loss of life on a wide scale.

    On the other hand I have seen a fuel jettison test on an aircraft where the wrong tanks were selected and over a 1000 gallons were dumped at dispersal which was grass and not a hardstanding.Not a problem,precautions were immediately put into effect and the AVGAS quickly vapourised but the grass was killed and brown for about a year.

    Sorry for digression from the MV San Demetrio debate but those who recovered the tanker at sea had to possess the skills of handling petrol and its vapour at its worse.
     
  17. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    With the relaunching of "Where Eagles Dare" War Movie in the Fiction category, "San Demetrio, London" is my favourite movie in the Non Fiction Category.

    Having read through the posts again, My "Pirate" copy received from the UK only lasted two viewings however I did not post that I contacted the seller and he sent me another copy postage free (to Australia) and this copy has worked perfectly.

    With respect to the movie, especially being made in 1943, it is as true a depiction of what occurred to that ship and those men as it could be. The crew who reboarded the vessel lived to tell their story to all concerned as well as the Board of Inquiry. I think I have read nearly everything written or commented about it and it is true in every way.

    I have always respected the hardship and the risk undertaken by the MN/MM and have written much on this forum in support of their bravery knowing that they were the target of every U-Boat Germany could muster. They were torpedoed, and if lucky enough to get to a lifeboat, mostly spent days, weeks before being rescued then signed on again. They were certainly the "Sitting Duck" fourth service without whom we would not have had the essentials in Armaments, Fuel, Materials and Food to support the war from the UK and other theatres of war that had to be won in those early years.

    If you have not seen the movie or even if it was a long time ago, try and get a copy as you won't be disappointed.

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  18. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    For those in the UK, one of Geoff's favourite movies - 'SAN DEMETRIO, London' will be shown on BBC2 on Saturday morning at 07:25, 15th August 2015. The record button is set.

    Regards
    Hugh
     
  19. Dave

    Dave Junior Member

    hi,
    on a similar vein the OHIO into Malta, I think the crew could have abandoned ship, then re-boarded put the fires out, then a navy destroyer tied up to her and helped her in to the Grand harbour, and almost everyone on the island was there to see her in.

    regards,
    dave...
     
  20. Aeronut

    Aeronut Junior Member

    The model of the San Demetrio used in the film is on display at the IWM Lambeth.
     

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