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Statendam

Statendam

Misfortune would follow the Statendam, and although she was a very popular ship while in commercial service (she was known as the Queen of the Spotless Fleet), but with the onset of the war, fate would bring her rather short service life to terrible and swift end. She had made a number of evacuatio

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Hello Clyde,

The STATENDAM was not bombed.


"Another event that - still today - is remembered by many elder citizens of Rotterdam, was the moment that one of the tall ships of the Holland-America line [HAL] was set ablaze. The Germans had used the ship [SS Statendam] to shelter some machinegun positions. These attracted the Dutch attention and soon mortar and machinegun fire was aimed at the German positions on the ship and the adjacent installations. At around 1600 hours fires broke out and the ship itself caught fire too. The Germans quickly evacuated the vessel that would continue to burn until well after the capitulation. Many pictures of the scene were taken by both the Germans and the Dutch."


There are a few photos taken while the ship was on fire, in the early stages at the after end. The third funnel was show still standing at point. It fell at some point, landing on the deck. Your photo shows during the fire. Within the day the other two funnels also collapsed.

Stephen
 

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Hello again Stephen, how sad the Dutch troops had a hand in destroying one of Holland America's fine ships. I know it was pretty much unavoidable but still it was a sad and substantial loss for the company and perhaps, the allied cause, most of all. She would have been a valuable troopship during the war.

Clyde (cunard61)
 

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Hello Clyde,

I went to my good friend in Rotterdam and maritime author to confirm this story. He says:

Dear Stephen,

You are absolutely right. Statendam has NOT been bombed.

Your question made me read once more meticulously all the scientific-historical reference books of highly noted experts. They all give exactly the same story like you worded it in your e-mail.

I can imagine that some people have associated the British fire-bombings in the first few days of May 1940 with the fire on the Statendam. It is well do***ented that a few of those fire-bombs have landed onthe Wilhelmina Quay establishment of HAL, but they have NOT caused the outbreak of the Statendam-fire. Grenades from the northern bank of the river did, aft first and fore later. The fire (NOT bombs or grenades) caused the toppling of the third funnel as thefirst one; later the two other ones fell as well."
 

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To Clyde and Stephen many thanks to the both of you for bringing up the destruction of the STATENDAM to our attention as Stephen's account obviously varifies the events that caused her disastrous fire.

I have read so many times that she was destroyed by the German air raids during the Blitzkrieg of Rotterdam but now that the real account has been told I feel so much wiser.

Regards to the both of you.

Sean
 

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