Arandora Star

Arandora Star

"Arandora Star" was a cruise ship that was sunk in controversial circumstances by a German U-boat during World War II.


She was built by Cammell Laird & Company, Limited for the Blue Star Line in 1927. She measured 12,847 gross tonnage, was 535 feet long, accommodated 354 first class passengers, and cruised at a service speed of 16 knots. "Initially named "Arandora", she sailed from London to the east coast of South America from 1927 to 1928. She was later rebuilt to 15,501 grt as a full-time luxury cruise ship. She was also renamed "Arandora Star" to avoid confusion with Royal Mail ships (which typically bore names beginning and ending in 'A').

She was refitted during World War II and was assigned to transport Axis prisoners of war to Canada.


On July 2 1940, having left Liverpool unescorted the day before, under the command of Edgar Wallace Moulton, she was bound for St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and Canadian internment camps with nearly 1,500 German and Italian internees, including 86 POWs, being transported from Britain. Most were elderly Italians, who were resident in Britain. The ship was bearing no Red Cross sign, which could have shown that she was carrying prisoners, and especially civilians.

At 6.58 AM off the northwest coast of Ireland, she was struck by a torpedo from the German submarine "U-47", commanded by U-Boat ace Günther Prien. It is assumed that "U-47" mistook her grey wartime livery for that of an armed merchant cruiser. "U-47" fired its single damaged torpedo at "Arandora Star". All power was lost at once, and thirty five minutes after the torpedo impact, "Arandora Star" sank. Over eight hundred lives were lost.

At 0705 hours Malin Head radio received the distress call which it retransmitted to Land's End and to Portpatrick. Throughout August bodies were washed up on the Irish shore. The first was 71-year-old Ernesto Moruzzi, who was found near Burtonport. Four others were found on the same day, 30 July. During August 1940, 213 bodies were washed up on the Irish Coast, 35 were from the "Arandora Star", there were a further 92 unidentified, most probably from the "Arandora Star". [ arrived to pick up the survivors. There were 586 survivors out of the 1,216 detainees. The sick were taken to Mearnskirk Hospital.


"Arandora Star"'s Master, Edgar Wallace Moulton, was posthumously awarded the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea, and the Canadian commander Harry DeWolf was cited for his heroism in the rescue operation, as was Captain Burfeind.

Wreckage and memorials

The wreck is located at . The bodies of those who perished on "Arandora Star" were carried by the sea to various points in Ireland and the Hebrides. There are a number of memorials at places where the ill-fated passengers were eventually laid to rest.

The most recent is that on the Scottish island of Colonsay, unveiled on 2 July 2005, on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy. As described in [ Hidden Europe magazine] , it is dedicated "to the memory of Giuseppe Delgrosso and more than 800 others who perished with "Arandora Star" July 2nd 1940."

In the small graveyard of Termoncarragh, Belmullet Luigi Tapparo, an internee, from Edinburgh, and John Connelly a Lovat Scout lay buried, side-by-side.

ee Also

Collar the Lot! How Britain Interned & Expelled its Wartime Refugees


*Gardner, N. (2005) "Tragic Waters: The Sinking of the Arandora Star" [ "Hidden Europe" magazine] , 4 September 2005, pp. 34-36.
* Miller, William H., Jr. "Pictorial Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners, 1860-1994". Dover Maritime Books.
*Balestracci, Maria Serena (2008) "Arandora Star: from Oblivion to Memory", Mup Publishers, Parma, Italy [] . The book, with both English and Italian texts, includes rare and previously unpublished material, such as pictures related to the rescue of the Arandora Star taken in 1940 by "St. Laurent"'s crew.
* The story of the sinking and the wider context is told in "Collar the Lot! How Britain Interned & Expelled its Wartime Refugees", by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.

External links

* [ Story of the sinking]
* [ The Arandora Star]
* [ Blue Star's S.S. "Arandora Star"]
* [ Sinking of the Arandora Star: A Donegal Perspective]


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