"Jason"

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by ADM199, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    It is 65yrs today since the Sebastiano Venier(more commonly known as Jason)was torpedoed by HMSm.Porpoise. She was carrying 2,000 Allied P.O.W.from Benghazi to Italy many of whom died.

    R.I.P.
     
  2. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Very sad incident!

    RIP.
     
  3. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    SEBASTIANO VENIER (December 9, 1941)
    Italian motorship of 6,310 tons, built in Amsterdam in 1939 under the name Jason. Requisitioned by the Italian Navy and renamed Sebastiano Venier, the ship had left Benghazi harbour with around 2,000 British prisoners of war including black South African troops, New Zealanders and Australians, all captured by the Germans in North Africa. Five miles south of Navarino on the Greek Peloponnese, the ship was attacked by the British submarine HMS Porpoise. She was not flying a P.O.W. flag. Hit by a torpedo between the No.1 and No.2 hold on the starboard side, the force of the explosion hurled the heavy hatchway covers to mast height, the falling timbers killing dozens of men trying to escape from the hold. From the flooded No.1 hold only five men survived. Most of the panic stricken crew abandoned the ship taking all the lifeboats. The Italian hospital ship Arno appeared on the scene but ploughed its way through the men struggling in the water and kept on sailing, its priority being the rescue of the crew of a German ship sunk nearby. A total of 320 lives were lost among them 309 British P.O.W.s, including 45 New Zealanders. Eleven Italian soldiers also died. The ship did not sink but managed to reach the shore at Point Methoni near Pilos where it was beached. All prisoners who managed to reach the shore were confronted by hundreds of Italian occupation troops and were taken to a makeshift camp where during the next few months many died from frostbite and disease. In May, 1942, the prisoners were transferred to Campo 85 at Tuturano in Italy.
     
  4. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    A sad event. I hope they found some peace.
     
  5. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    Hi Peter,
    according to "No Honour No Glory"the ship was built in Italy. She was undergoing sea trials when the Germans invaded Holland. On her return to Port the Italians renaged on the sale and the Dutch crew had to make there own way home.
    My own figures taken from C.W.G.C. records for Athen Cemetery and the Memorial at El Alamemein give less than 250 Commonwealth Casualties .As there were many members of non Commonwealth forces fighting in the Desert it is difficult to get an accurate figure. The South African Museum of Military History gave me a figure of over 400. Until the M.O.D. come up with the official figures all we can do is speculate.
    Six years ago during a visit to New Zealand I met up with 11 survivors from the Jason and spoke with them at great length.
     

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