Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Malaya 1940 $1 & $5 saga continues.............

As the curtain rises and the fog dissipates into the dawn.........screech!! Hey, am I writing a novel or what?

In the process of verifying that the vessel SS Eumanes which was purportedly to be carrying the 500,000 one dollar notes and 100,000 five dollar notes, I noticed that the sinking date was also never published unlike the SS Automedon (scuttled on 11th November 1940). Another renown numismatist Owen Linzmayer published this phrase (TK is this name correct?, referring to the name SS Eumanes) in his The Banknote Book: Malaya 2012 edition.

On further researching with leads from Gilbert, a renowned Malaysian numismatist, the closest name from the naval archives of the WWII era was the vessel SS Eumaeus which was torpedoed on 14th January 1941 off the coast of Sierra Leone in the Atlantic Ocean but this troop transport ship was destined for Egypt.

Her master, Captain J. E. Watson ordered maximum revolutions and turned the ship's stern towards the submarine to narrow the target but four shells aimed at the stern and bridge found their mark. Despite being continually machine gunned from a range of 700 yards the Army gunners continued firing until their ammunition was exhausted, scoring at least one hit on the submarine. By this time the SS Eumaeus was well ablaze and as the submarine positioned herself to fire the torpedo which finally sank her she was abandoned.

                                                                                           (Map & Text extracted from Sixtant.net)

                     The following article is from World War Two - The War At Sea website:
                                                                         SS Eumaeus                                         
The British passenger/cargo ship Eumaeus was torpedoed and shelled by Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini and sank 118 miles W of Cape Sierra Leone. The records of Lloyds list 23 British fallen and 63 survivors, but the war log of the Cappellini clearly describes a "swarming" of troops getting away from the ship. In fact, this was a troop transport ship directed to Egypt. That is, at least, the version of the Italians. Maybe the Captain wanted to 'look good' ?  If it had indeed been carrying troops, they would have been armed and could easily have opened fire on the submarine, even if only to keep the decks clear? 

email: Feb 2014:
 Regarding the sinking of SS Eumaeus, it was indeed a troop carrier as my father, Stanley Marcel Guttridge, was one of the survivors spending 12 hours in shark infested waters watching his friends being taken.  He only survived because he returned to his bunk to retrieve a picture of my mum (very romantic) and put his jumper on which protected him from the sun as others ended up suffering terrible heatstroke.  There is a letter in the Daily Mirror in the 1960’s (I’m not sure my Dad still has the clipping) from a radio operator who first picked up the distress call.  Apparently he had been reading a ‘penny dreadful’ and had not shut his radio off at the correct time and although saving numerous lives was reprimanded. I will try and find the clipping and give you more information.  Dad is 92 and still going strong.
Kind regards Stella Hunt (nee Guttridge)
So there is no way the vessel would be carrying the 1940 Malaya banknotes unless the British Home Office was going to pay her army stationed in Egypt, Malayan dollars whereupon after defeating the Germans would then be transferred to the Malay peninsula to defend against the Japanese. Wouldn't this be a more credible story line....................
Therefore, it seems that someone sure did a darn good job in coming up with such a cockamamie story line and the whole numismatic world almost swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
Hopefully, errors with regards to this episode of "SS Eumanes" that have been made be corrected.
And now with the curtain coming down............................... I will close with the final chapter of second illustrious vessel of the Malaya 1940 banknote saga,
the infamous SS Automedon in my next blog. 

This is even more juicier than "SS Eumanes"!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Malaya $1 & $5 Banknotes of the 1940 series, Fact, Fiction or Fabrication?

What I am about to write may sound like a mystery novel surrounding the saga of the elusive and very rare Malayan $1 and $5 banknotes of the 1940 series.

It all began when I received an email from a renowned Malaysian numismatist and a good friend indeed, Gilbert Chang. A simple email from him mentioning the names of two vessels purportedly carrying the Malayan 1940 banknotes, was the catalyst that started my quest and his assistance to search for the truth.

According to published materials from some so called numismatic gurus, 'cut/paste followers' like moi, just swallowed wholesale and followed blindly by reproducing their facts without researching thoroughly to determine the truth and fact, as these 'experts' had already made 'cute' blunders on the names of the Straits Settlements colonial commissioners and financial officers.
(refer to my earlier article:- http://clement-oddsends.blogspot.sg/2013/05/is-name-is-more-than-just-name.html )

Base on published materials from these gurus, the following vessels by the name: SS Eumanes and SS Automedon were given the 'honor' of shipping substantial amounts of the Malaya 1940 banknotes from London to Malaya during the Second World War but they never reached their destination because they were sunk by the enemy. On the contrary, a local dealer said that some notes floated to Malaya and were picked up by the local fishermen.

Fact, Fiction or Fabrication?
1) The vessel SS Eumanes NEVER existed in any naval records of that era.

2) Base on the reports from the German raider boarding party leader First Lieutenant Ulrich Mohr, the only valuable thing that the SS Automedon carried was an envelope containing TOP SECRET documents about the defence status of the Far East and Singapore plus maybe Mrs Ferguson's tea-set which is another story altogether.

                                                            SS Automedon (Alan Matthews)

                                                   SS Automedon's moment of destruction (Vincente Monfort)

The saga continues....................................................................................

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