Definitions

Commissaire Ramel

SS Commissaire Ramel

The Commissaire Ramel was a French passenger ship sunk during the Second World War.

She was built in 1920 at La Ciotat in France where the 8,308 ton ship was used to transport goods to Australia. She continued in this role until 1940, when she was seized by the Australian authorities in harbour following the fall of France.

Loaded with cargo, mainly wool, she left Fremantle, Western Australia between 1 and 3 September 1939 and on 9 September 1940 she was sunk by the German raider Atlantis. When she tried to signal her position, the Germans opened fire and three men onboard died in the resulting fire ; the ship was then evacuated and sunk.

Survivors of the attack boarded the ship Durmitor, and some died in difficult, overly hot conditions.

A survivor of the Ramel alleges that there was a German sailor on board who had helped to guide the Atlantis to the Ramel; the German may have used torches and lights to signal to the German vessel during the night. Before the beginning of the attack, he was said to have begun unfindable on board the Ramel, with suspicion being that he somehow fled the ship.

Testimony

Survivor Bruce Logan gives the follow account of coming on board the Ramel:

...I remember hearing a piano so I eventually found the man playing the piano, he faced me, he said are you the new one on the ship? He said get off now, get off, this ship will not reach England, I'm telling you now it will never reach London, take off now, obviously I didn't take his advice.

It is not know whether the man playing piano was the suspected German sailor.

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