Examples of "Neutrality"
In Dec 1939 as a crew member of HMS Orion (Leander class cruiser) part of British West Indies squadron, we were dispatched from Kingston, Jamaica, to try and intercept the German liner Columbus, which eluded HMS Orion but was interrcepted by the British destroyer Hereward and scuttled by her crew. Suvivors were picked up by USS Tuscaloosca. At this time HMS Orion was off Miami Beach and we could see the large buildings on the beach front. A ship was spotted approaching Orion and was identified to be a German freighter. Signals transpired for her to stop which were ignored and HMS Orion fired sub calibre rounds across her bow. I believe the Geman ship was the Aurica (Arauca) or a name similar. The American government sent a destoyer to watch our movements and the local Miami radio station gave our daily position. A ferry used to come out daily and you good folks would throw us cartons of cigarettes and the daily newspapers. We were off there for 23 days the Xmas of 1939. I will never forget the generousity of those American people. I would like to know if you have any knowledge of this incident as trivial as it may be in the overall history of WW2. I sure would be pleased to hear from you. Percy.
Source : The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II
October 24, 1939 --
British light cruiser HMS Orion and Canadian destroyer HMCS Saguenay locate German tanker Emmy Friedrich in the Yucatan Channel; British light cruiser HMS Caradoc subsequently intercepts Emmy Friedrich whose crew scuttles her to avoid capture.
December 14, 1939 --
Heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) and destroyers Evans (DD-78) and Twiggs (DD-127) (the latter destroyer having shadowed British destroyer HMS Hereward a short time before) trail Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth which is prowling the Gulf of Yucatan waiting for the emergence of German passenger liner Columbus. The Americans maintain such a close and persistent surveillance of the Australian warship that Perth's commanding officer, Captain Harold B. Farncomb, RAN, is said to have remarked in exasperation, "Queer idea of 'neutrality' these Americans have!"
German freighter Arauca departs Vera Cruz, Mexico, followed subsequently by passenger liner Columbus, the third largest ship in Germany's merchant marine. Destroyer Benham (DD-397), soon joined by destroyer Lang (DD-399), trails Columbus. A succession of U.S. ships will, over ensuing days, send out plain-language position reports.
December 15, 1939 --
Destroyer Jouett (DD-396) relieves Benham (DD-397) at sea; the latter attempts to locate German freighter Arauca, while Jouett joins Lang (DD-399) in shadowing passenger liner Columbus.
December 16, 1939 --
Destroyers Schenck (DD-159) and Philip (DD-76), soon joined by Lea (DD-118), relieve destroyers Jouett (DD-396) and Lang (DD-399) in trailing German passenger liner Columbus off Key West, Florida. Jouett and Lang steam to join destroyer Davis (DD-395) in attempting to locate freighter Arauca. Schenck soon proceeds on other assigned duties.
December 17, 1939 --
Destroyers Ellis (DD-154) and Cole (DD-155) relieve Lea (DD-118) and Philip (DD-76) of shadowing German passenger liner Columbus.
December 18, 1939 --
Destroyers Greer (DD-145) and Upshur (DD-144) relieve destroyers Ellis (DD-154) and Cole (DD-155) of shadowing German passenger liner Columbus. Later that same day, heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) replaces the destroyers in trailing the passenger ship.
December 19, 1939 --
British destroyer HMS Hyperion intercepts German passenger liner Columbus 450 miles east of Cape May, New Jersey; the latter is scuttled to prevent capture. Two crewmen perish in the abandonment. Heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) rescues Columbus's survivors (567 men and 9 women stewardesses) and sets course for New York City, the only U.S. port that can handle such a large and sudden influx of aliens.
British light cruiser HMS Orion intercepts German freighter Arauca off Miami, Florida; the latter puts in to Port Everglades to avoid capture. Destroyer Truxtun (DD-229) has trailed the merchantman at one point; destroyer Philip (DD-76) is present when Arauca reaches sanctuary. USAAC B-18 (Douglas "Bolo" medium bomber), however, witnesses the shot that Orion fires over Arauca's bow (in the attempt to force the latter to heave-to) splashing inside American territorial waters off Hialeah, Florida. Learning of this incident, Secretary of State Cordell Hull instructs U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James Joseph P. Kennedy to remind the British Foreign Office that, as neutrals, the American republics are entitled to have their waters "free from the commission of any hostile act by any non-American belligerent nation." The U.S. Navy eventually commissions Arauca as refrigerated storeship Saturn (AF-40).
December 20, 1939 --
Heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) disembarks scuttled German passenger liner Columbus's "distressed mariners" at Ellis Island, New York City.
Destroyer Twiggs (DD-127), on neutrality patrol in Yucatan Channel, relieves Evans (DD-78) of duty trailing British RFA tanker Patella.
December 21, 1939. --
Destroyer Twiggs (DD-127), on neutrality patrol in Yucatan Channel, continues trailing British RFA tanker Patella.
December 22, 1939. --
Destroyer Philip (DD-76) relieves Twiggs (DD-127) of neutrality patrol duty trailing British RFA tanker Patella off east coast of Florida; while en route to Fort Lauderdale, Twiggs observes British light cruiser HMS Orion off Port Everglades and anchors to keep an eye on the British warship as the latter prowls the coast.
January 21, 1940. --
British light cruiser HMS Liverpool stops Japanese passenger liner Asama Maru 35 miles off Nozaki, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, and removes 21 Germans from the ship. All but nine are naval reservists, survivors of the scuttled passenger liner Columbus; the nine civilians are released. The incident further strains relations between Great Britain and Japan.