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A Fateful Decision

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Chapter Summary

At dawn on 11 November 1940, the British merchant ship SS Automedon (7,528 tonnes) was steaming 250 miles southwest of Achin Head, the northwestern tip of Sumatra. The Automedon turned her bow slightly to the east, steamed at a speed of fourteen knots or more and approached even a little closer to the Strait of Malacca, she might have been able to elude her pursuer. The Atlantis (7,862 tonnes) would have soon given up the chase as it was extremely dangerous for her to venture into busy shipping lanes. Indeed, Bernhard Rogge, the Captain of the Atlantis, later uttered something to this effect, probably to Stewart. This is recorded in a written statement by Samuel Harper, Third Engineer of the Automedon, which was received by the American consulate general in Marseilles. Ewan's decision not to alter the Automedon's course sealed her fate.

Keywords: American consulate general; Atlantis; Bernhard Rogge; British merchant ship; Marseilles; SS Automedon; Sumatra



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