The Raider "michel"

cshortridge73
10th December 2012, 21:49
Shadowed in the exploits of other WW II German raiders - Rogge’s Atlantis, Weyher’s Orion, and Kruder’s Pinguin - little has been written of Germany’s last auxiliary cruiser at sea during World War Two. Michel, under the command of battle-hardened but gentlemanly Helmuth von Ruckteschell, was to account well of herself during the course of the war. She accounted for the loss of 18 ships of 127,018-tons as she roamed the oceans of the world.

Click HERE (http://navalmerchantshiparticles.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-raider-michel.html) for the article

billyboy
10th December 2012, 22:11
An interesting read Bud. thanks again for posting these great reads for us.

donald h
10th December 2012, 23:48
Very well written article, Bud,..and most interesting.

regards, Donald

cshortridge73
11th December 2012, 09:28
Thanks for your comment. I've posted about all of my articles that were in my "Archive data base"....so from here on out I'll be banging out some completely 'new' articles. This particular one is a new one.. So until next time....have a great one and enjoy.

Scelerat
11th December 2012, 11:29
Including Strick's Arabistan, for which see elsewhere in the Forum. Very brave of the "gentlemanly Helmuth von Ruckteschell" to approach an unarmed merchant vessel, whilst under a Spanish flag, and sink her by gunfire and torpedoes, killing nearly all of the civilian crew, and then hand over the two survivors to the Japanese. Very noble and gallant.

https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=12386&highlight=Arabistan

Hugh Ferguson
11th December 2012, 17:53
Clck HERE (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=17877) for the story of one of Atlantis's victims!

kypros
11th December 2012, 19:33
Bud was this man tried as a war criminal because he used neutral countries flags to approach his victims, therefore breaking the rules of war. KYPROSl

Cisco
11th December 2012, 20:05
I wouldn't call von Ruckteschell either a gentleman or a scapegoat. He should have been hanged. I once knew a man who was a deck officer on Gloucester Castle when she was sunk.... I'm sure he would agree with me. from wiki ' On 15 July 1942, off the coast of Angola, she was intercepted by the German auxiliary cruiser Michel. Michel's commander KzS Helmuth von Ruckteschell chose to attack after dark without warning; The first shells from Michel destroyed the bridge and radio room and consequently no S.O.S. was transmitted. The ship sank with 93 killed, including the Master, Herbert H. Rose, six woman passengers and two children. The remaining 61 survivors were picked up by the Michel and interned at Yokohama, Japan. After repatriation the survivors reported the conditions under which they were forced to work and live.'

A.D.FROST
11th December 2012, 20:31
Bud was this man tried as a war criminal because he used neutral countries flags to approach his victims, therefore breaking the rules of war. KYPROSl

He was charge as a war criminal on three acounts.Wilst commader of WIDDER continue shelling of the DAVISIAN's radio room after she wireless maintained silence as instructed,also fired on ANGLO SAXON manned lifeboats.MICHELs attack on the EMPIRE DAWN continuing to shell a vessel after it had surrended.Found guilty on all accounts he got 10 years reduced to 7 years because of ill health and died in prison.

Binnacle
11th December 2012, 21:06
Thanks for your comment. I've posted about all of my articles that were in my "Archive data base"....so from here on out I'll be banging out some completely 'new' articles. This particular one is a new one.. So until next time....have a great one and enjoy.

Please, some historical accuracy would be appreciated, this man was a convicted war criminal and you describe him as a gentleman. Too many merchant seamen died needlessly at this butcher's hands for your posting to go unchallenged.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Helmuth von Ruckteschell (22 March 1890, Eilbek - 24 June 1948, Hamburg) was an officer in the German navy, serving in both World War I and World War II. He was one of the most successful merchant raider commanders, serving as the captain of the German commerce raiders Widder and Michel during World War II. He was, however, ruthless in the execution of his duty, and after the war was convicted of war crimes.

eriskay
11th December 2012, 21:48
"Shadowed in the exploits of other WW II German raiders - Rogge’s Atlantis, Weyher’s Orion, and Kruder’s Pinguin - little has been written of Germany’s last auxiliary cruiser at sea during World War Two. Michel, under the command of battle-hardened but gentlemanly Helmuth von Ruckteschell, was to account well of herself during the course of the war. She accounted for the loss of 18 ships of 127,018-tons as she roamed the oceans of the world."


Reserve Lieutenant Commander Hellmuth von Ruckteschell was the only reservist to be offered responsibility to command such a ship as the S.S. WIDDER (ex-German freighter Neumark) at the age of 49 years. Recalled to the colours in 1939, he had first been assigned to an auxiliary minelayer before being offered the command of WIDDER.

Controversial, highly-cultured, he was an artist at heart, as were many of his brothers and sisters. In the first world war he had served at Jutland and then joined the U-Boat service, to which he applied himself so aggressively that he became one of several dozen Commanders to be 'blacklisted' by the Allies - for real or imagined 'breeches of the custons of war'.

Having no wish be judged by his enemies, von Ruckteschell fled to Sweden, then Lapland, where he worked as a lumberjack and surveyor, before returning to Germany. So, what kind of a man was he? He read a lot, loved classical music, enjoyed wood carving, glass painting and, being quite a religious man, (his father was a Protestant Pastor of Baltic extraction) took up the postulates of Rudolf Steiner's anthropposohpy. Although physically tough, he exhibited the symptons shared by many over-strained U-Boat officers - nervous stomach, severe migraine headaches, and given to moods of irritable and temperamental behaviour. Back at Headquarters, his unstable temperament gave rise to views in certain quarters that he was unfit, emotionally, to command a Raider.

Nevertheless, in command of Raider 'E' (Schiff 10) WIDDER, he cast off at Kiel on 5th May 1940 with orders to patrol in one of the most dangerous and proscribed areas of all - the Central North Atlantic. On this patrol, lasting through until 31st October 1940, WIDDER sank nine ships and took one captive - a total 'bag' of 58,645 tons, which earned him the Ritterkreuz on his return.

His subsequent command, Raider 'H' (Schiff 28) M.V. MICHEL, ex-German fruit-carrier Bielsko, was responsible for the destruction of 94,363 tons of Allied shipping on her first voyage, under von Ruckteschell.

Due to continued bad health and now indications of a heart problem, von Ruckteschell was forced to relinquish command on Raider MICHEL after a patrol lasting 358 days. On his birthday, 23rd March 1943, he bade farewell to his ship and crew. His former command sailed from Japan on 1st of May 1943, following a refit by Mitsubishi shipyard, on what was to be her final war patrol, before being herself sunk on 17th October 1943 by torpedoes from the American submarine USS TARPON.

Meantime, von Ruckteschell spent the remainder of the war in and out of hospitals in Tokyo, Shanghai and Peking. As a POW, he was repatriated and, on 20th August 1946, at the British interrogation centre at Minden, was listed as a 'war criminal'.

At his trial held in Hamburg's University district of Curio Haus, which lasted from 5th through 21st of May 1947, von Ruckteschell was found gulity on three counts of charges brought against him :

1. Prolonged firing on the 'DAVISIAN'
2. Failure to provide for the safety of the crew of 'ANGLO SAXON'
3. Failure to provide for the safety of the crew of 'BEAULIEU'

The sentence of the Court, on 21st May 1947, was a 10-years jail sentence, which was reduced to 7 years by the confirming officer, who would not uphold the charge relating to the 'BEAULIEU'

This case opened up one of the many post-war cancerous and acrimonious disputes, the issues of which are clouded in doubts, personalities, prejudice and vindictiveness. Whilst there is little doubt that von Ruckteschell fought a hard and unmitigating attack on his victims, and was not widely accepted in his role as a Raider Commander, because of his Reservist background and maverick methods, the case was prosecuted in a one-sided and questionable manner with important witnesses and testimony being blatantly disregarded and uncalled upon. The records show that under no circumstances could the trial be regarded as fair or impartial

Captain Hellmuth von Ruckteschell died on 24th of June 1947 in the Hamburg-Fuhisbuttel Prison, just 34 days after his 'trial', and having just been advised he was about to be released due to his heart condition.

stores
12th December 2012, 02:14
his methods of attack were not fair either, broke all the rules, just used brute force, showed no compassion. should have been hanged.

Binnacle
12th December 2012, 08:24
Bud was this man tried as a war criminal because he used neutral countries flags to approach his victims, therefore breaking the rules of war. KYPROSl

Rightly or wrongly, I was under the impression that no Geneva Convention rules are broken if a commerce raider displays a neutral flag. However rules are broken if he fails to display his true colours prior to opening fire.

cshortridge73
16th December 2012, 13:15
Thanks to all of you that took the time to 'voice' your opinion and knowledge on this article. To have individuals read these articles and engage in respectful conversation about the subject matter, positive or negative, is my sole purpose of posting.......more or less to 'stir the pot' and to read what others have to say about the content of the article......y'all have made my day. I thank you for your comments and replies.

donald h
16th December 2012, 13:44
I congratulate you in 'opening up the debate', Bud. It makes for very interesting reading.

regards, Donald

Hugh Ferguson
16th December 2012, 16:53
He was charge as a war criminal on three acounts.Wilst commader of WIDDER continue shelling of the DAVISIAN's radio room after she wireless maintained silence as instructed,also fired on ANGLO SAXON manned lifeboats.MICHELs attack on the EMPIRE DAWN continuing to shell a vessel after it had surrended.Found guilty on all accounts he got 10 years reduced to 7 years because of ill health and died in prison.

The two survivors from the Anglo Saxon, Tapscott & Widdicombe, after 70 days in the jolly boat. One of the saddest episodes ever of the suffering of survivors from sunken ships. Roy Widdicombe made the best recovery and was sent up to New York where he joined the Siamese Prince as a D.B.S.. Siamese Prince was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of all on board when nearing the Scottish coast on Feb. 27th 1941.
Robert Tapscott never really recovered from his ordeal and eventually ended his life by committing suicide.

donald h
16th December 2012, 18:13
Just as a further wee bit of history, Hugh. My own father either met or was a shipmate of Robert Tapscott later on in the war years, although I don`t have any further details.
From what I gather though, after he recovered, Tapscott enlisted in the Canadian Army, but even after his astonishing and horrific experience, he rejoined the Merchant Navy in March 1943 and continued to serve at sea until his early death at the age of forty-two in September 1963.

regards, Donald.

Hugh Ferguson
16th December 2012, 19:41
Donald, I happened to listen to Anthony Smith telling this story, on BBC RADIO 4, years ago in Aug. 1990. The saga so intrigued him that he researched the history in great detail and wrote a book about it, SURVIVED! Dedicated it to The memory of the Anglo-Saxon's Crew.
Anthony Smith was instrumental in the task of recovering the jolly boat from the Mystic Museum, U.S.A., and getting it installed as a centre piece in the Imperial War Museum.

(The book was published in paperback 1998: ISBN 0 9533225 0 5)

Hugh Ferguson
16th December 2012, 19:44
The attachments have been scanned from the book

donald h
16th December 2012, 19:57
Thanks Hugh, once again.
My dad had a copy of "Two Survived' relating to the incident, but I wasn`t aware of Anthony Smith`s "Survived'. Needless to say, I shall be sending off for a copy of it this very evening.

regards, Donald