Having broken out of Aruba in an attempt to make it across the Atlantic and home, Heidelberg - a German merchant ship - was intercepted by Dunedin at around 7.30am on Saturday 2 March. The crew of Heidelberg began scuttling her before Dunedin could put a boarding party in place, setting fire to the ship, then taking to the lifeboats. Dunedin picked up around twenty-five of them (mostly boys) and then fired several 6-inch shells into her. She burned for hours, finally sinking at around 5.00 pm.
The capture of the German supply ship Lothringen on 15 June 1941 was one of the highlights - and probably the major achievement - of Dunedin's career. Lothringen had been one of several ships in the Atlantic whose job it was to supply Bismarck and patrolling U-boats. Lothringen's key role was to supply four U-boats with fuel, torpedoes and new crew members. On the back of some of the best intelligence from Bletchley Park's reading of the German Enigma messages, the Royal Navy was able to track down and capture or sink several of the supply ships.
Dunedin, working with the aircraft from the carrier HMS Eagle found Lothringen in mid-Atlantic and was able to capture her and take her to Bermuda as a prize. As well as striking a blow against the German surface and U-boat effort by taking out a key supply vessel, Dunedin's prize crew also found crucial documents that would have helped Bletchley Park continue to break the Germans' Enigma code.
I will put the full story of the capture on the web site in due course but you can find all the details in chapter six of my book, Blood in the Sea.
What you won't find in the book are several photographs taken of the Lothringen, which were recently made available to the Dunedin Society by John Ascoli, son of Lt Ascoli who served in HMS Dunedin prior to her sinking. Thanks to John for all the pictures in the gallery below - except the first one, the original of which is in the National Archives at Kew.
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