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Survivors of the Sunken "King John", 1940

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:17 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

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In July 1940 my Grandfather, Ralph Richardson from Goathland, North Yorkshire was a marine engineer on board the British Merchant Navy ship the King John. Whilst it sailed in the South Atlantic his ship was attacked and eventually sunk by the German auxiliary cruiser the Widder. Prior to the ships sinking the crew abandoned ship into the lifeboats and were allowed by the Widder's Captain to drift and find land as best they could. After several days at sea, they fortunately managed to make land at St Kitts in the West Indies.

My Grandmother who heard of the King John's sinking was naturally very upset since she didn't know whether my Grandfather was alive or dead for six months.

He survived and continued his career as a marine engineer working for Listers.

He died in 1963 and he was buried at St Mary's church in Goathland.

I would have very much enjoyed asking him questions about his wartime experiences but I was only five years old when he died.

Please see below links to further information about the King John and how the crew survived the sinking plus details of the German raider 'Widder':


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No objects

Person the story/items relate to

Ralph Richardson

Person who shared the story/items

Rod Cummins

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my grandfather

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

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