PRISONERS OF THE "ATLANTIS"
A Japanese author/historian, now on his second visit to this country, has sought my assistance with his researches
into the repercussions resulting from the sinking of the Blue Funnel cargo-liner
Automedon by the German commerce raider Atlantis on November 11, 1940. One of the aspects of this sinking has drawn a complete blank. This concerns the fate of two of the passengers aboard the ship subsequent to their being taken prisoner and confined separately in
Germany after an initial sojourn aboard the Atlantis. The two passengers were Mr Alan Ferguson and his wife Violet. They were newly married and were on their way to Singapore where Mr Ferguson was returning to his post as an engineer aboard one of the Straits Steamship
Company's vessels. After the ship had been disabled by gun-fire the Germans boarded,
and it was during a search for Mrs Ferguson's luggage that a dramatic find was made of top secret documents. These
were of such importance that the Germans sent them off post-haste to Kobe with a prize crew aboard a Norwegian
tanker that had previously been captured. It is understood that Mrs Ferguson was released from internment sometime
in 1943 courtesy of the Red Cross, but Alan Ferguson was confined for the duration in Milag Nord, near Bremen.
Nothing is known of the subsequent fate of either Alan or Violet Ferguson. It is known that Alan was born in Londonderry,
Northern Ireland on July 11, 1906. Having become a marine engineer it is conceivable that he may have served his
apprenticeship in the ship-yard of Harland & Wolff, Belfast; but this is pure supposition. Any information on this subject
would be of immense importance.
A H Ferguson
Violet Ferguson was a great aunt of mine. She died not long ago, at a good age, in her home, St Albans, Herts. My aunt Iris, a niece of
Violet, was visiting us here in Dublin and was telling me all about this new book
"Mrs Ferguson's Teaset". You may find out a great deal
about what happened next in the book. I do know that they were in a Prison Camp, and that Auntie Vi lost her baby there. When they got
back to Singapore after the war, they found their home gutted.
Auntie Vi was a very calm, stoic person. When she did return to England, she brought home many beautiful crafted
things; she taught craft; she seemed very exotic to us children in the 1970's. I never
imagine such an elegant little old lady had endured so much.
Siobhán Collins, Dublin, Ireland.
contact Andy (webmaster) with any information.