Empire Ranger-Sunk 1941

1st October 2010, 20:18
I am writing this thread on behalf of a friend , his uncle being the late James Dempster Chief Engineer of the Empire Ranger which was sunk in 1941 while taking part in the Murmansk Convoy.
There was thougth to be approximately six survivors only. Adrift on a open lifeboat they were rescued by the Germans and landed in Norway.
The survivors , now POW's were marched through Norway , then Finland, finally being imprisoned in Germany.
Does anyone have any information on this event or any contact details of survivors or their families ?
Please contact me via my Ship Nostalgia E-mail box or add a post to this thread and help build up a picture of this amazing story.

Hugh MacLean
2nd October 2010, 19:48
Hello Lekie,
EMPIRE RANGER was sunk by German aircraft while sailing in convoy PQ13 on 28th March 1942. All crew took to the boats but were rescued by destroyers from the German 8th Destroyer Flotilla (Capt Ponitz).
There was thougth to be approximately six survivors only
This is not true. As far as I understand it the whole crew were rescued and taken prisoner. I can account for 47 of them - 2 died in captivity.

I have Dempster J.B. 3rd Engineer - EMPIRE RANGER - Dis A. R66673 and PoW number 127 - Milag Nord Prisoner of War camp at Westertimke Germany.

The following file from the National Archives, Kew may be of interest BT 373/107 (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=7910477&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2CEMPIRE%2CRANGER&accessmethod=0)


Roger Griffiths
2nd October 2010, 20:43
Bob Ruegg and Arnold Hague in " Convoys to Russia" claim that 61 were rescued from EMPIRE RANGER.
I suspect this would also include 13 survivors from RACELAND.
In any event the total was more than six.
Strangly enough the KTB of the German destroyer FRIEDRICH IHN, Z25 makes no mention of the rescue.
Lekie, try a mail to Jos Odjik. He has done some extensive research on PQ13.


7th March 2011, 18:58
one survivor was Alfred Minchin who while in milag camp joined the Britishfreecorps a unit of British Waffen-SS volunteers

Sean Fowke
7th April 2016, 08:32
Hey guys - I hope you are still part of this forum. My grandfather John Norrie Fowke was one of the survivors of the Empire Ranger.

He went to Milag and was prisoner 1464. An almanac of the camp is hand written saying that the Empire Ranger was sunk bu a JU88 on 28 March 1942 (which matches the official account). From my understanding my grandfather went into the water to unfoul a propeller on a smaller boat and suffered from frostbite for the rest of his life.

I am interested in:

any facts available for the ship or websites dedicated to it
any facts or websites dedicated to Milag

In his camp book there are personal accounts of the following which were written by persons in the camp with my Grandfather:

MV California Star (Cameron Smart 2/0)
MV Chilean Reefer (C C Ollett)
The sinking of SS Benavon (Ronald Singer R/O)
SS Turakina (no name)
The sinking of SS Kemmendine and a Norwegian vessell MV Tirrannna (Lesley B?)
MV Glenorchy (unknown)
SS Automeadon* (M Nish
SS handesden* (unknown)
RNS Natia* James Perkins
HMCS Athabaskan (L/sig A B Thrasher)
HMS Saracen (D Bennett) Submarine
The fall of Torbruk (D A Smith)
HM Oswald (Reg Challis Leading Telegraphist) Submarine
SS Laconia (Frank ?) seems to be a personal observation as opposed to a witness

* ship name may not be correct

I've put these on thinking that if anyone searches for them they will be able to find this and contact me.

7th April 2016, 08:57
The previous contributions make S.N. fascinating reading.(Thumb)