Count Dohna and His SeaGull ©
Ships - Appam
Appam as photographed on February 1, 1916 at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Note the German flag flying at the stern.
Appam, an English passenger liner, was captured as a war prize by SMS SeaGull early in the afternoon of January 15, 1916, 135 miles east by 1/2 north from Madeira, Portugal.
Appam was an English passenger liner built by Harland and Wolff at Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was launched for the British and African Steamship Navigation Company, Liverpool, England on October 10, 1912 and operated by the Elder Dempster Line, Liverpool. She was a 7,781 ton ship, length 425 feet, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 14 knots. She was equipped with wireless and refrigerated cargo spaces. Her sister ships Apapa and Abosso were both sunk during the war.
Appam was named for a seaport in Gold Coast, Africa. Gold Coast is now known as Ghana.
Captain Henry G. Harrison was in command on January 11, 1916, with a crew of 156, 116 passengers, 25 English Marines and 22 German civilians en route to England for internment, when Appam departed Dakar, Senegal sailing for Liverpool, England. In Dakar, a three-inch gun was mounted aft and a two-man gun crew joined the ship. In addition to the passengers, Appam carried a general cargo of about 3,000 tons including mail, cocoa beans, corn, cotton seed, palm oil, tin and sixteen boxes of gold. Also in the cargo hold was a female leopard named Pompey.
In the early morning hours of February 1, 1916 Appam sailed into Hampton Roads, Virginia under command of German Prize Officer Lieutenant Hans Berg. She had onboard 451 people, made up of 155 crew members, 116 passengers, 20 German civilians, 138 rescued seamen, and the German prize crew of 22. The rescued seamen were from the seven British ships captured and sunk by SeaGull.
From the Appam, 25 English Marines, two German civilians and the two-man gun crew (James Chandler and Harold Jones) were kept on SeaGull. The marines and the gun crew became prisoners of war when they arrived in Wilhelmshaven on March 4, 1916. The individuals, listed as German civilians, were two former colonials named Rosenbrock and Wellensiek who served as junior officers in the German Cameroon Defense Force (Schutztruppe). They were enroute to England as prisoners of war when released from the captured Appam. On the SeaGull they served as watch officers.
Most of the Appam passengers were transferred to the New York bound Old Dominion liner Jefferson on February 3rd. On the 7th they sailed on the Holland-America liner Noordam for England.
When the United States entered the war, the German prize crew became the first German prisoners of war of the United States. They were interned at the War Prison Barracks, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
On March 6, 1917 the US Supreme Court ruled the Appam was to be returned to the prior owners. On March 28, the ship was turned over to the British and African Steamship Navigation Company, owners of the vessel before capture by the SeaGull. On April 17 Captain T. E. Williams arrived at Newport News to take over the British steamship. On August 20, with a new crew, the ship sailed for Liverpool, England. In an effort to protect the ship from possible German retaliation her name was changed to Mandingo. Following the war her name reverted to Appam. The end came on February 26, 1936 when she was scrapped.
Passengers on Appam as photographed on February 2, 1916.
The officers, crewmembers and passengers from the following ships were aboard Appam when she landed at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on February 1, 1916.
Appam Prize crew
Caliber - With a Picture of Appam's Gun.
Universal Postal Union
RELATED WEB SITES:
Prisoners of War 1914-1918 The Appam gun crew as POWs.
NARA US National Archives Records Administration.
Berg v African Steam Navigation The lawsuit settling the fate of Appam.
MY THREE YEARS IN AMERICA, by Count Johann von Bernstorff.
ELDER DEMPSTER FLEET HISTORY 1852-1985, by James E. Cowden and John O. C. Duffy.
MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY, by James W. Gerard.
HOW MY SHIP WAS CAPTURED BY A GERMAN RAIDER, by Henry G. Harrison, Sea Breezes, January 1994.
Henry G. Harrison was Captain of the Appam.
ELDER DEMPSTER LINER APPAM OF 1913, by J. H. Isherwood, Sea Breezes, October 1983.
THE ROMANTIC CRUISE OF A PHANTOM GERMAN RAIDER, by Robert Jones.
Robert Jones was the wireless operator on the Appam.
AVENTURE DE L'APPAM, Excelsior Journal Illustre Quotidien, February 6, 1916. In French.
FIRST PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE CAPTURE OF APPAM, The Daily Mirror, February 12, 1916.
A GERMAN NAVAL HIGHWAYMAN, Illustrated London News, February 26, 1916.
Last Revision: March 4, 2007.
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