The sinking of the S.S. Nerissa
On 11 November 2019 (Remembrance Day), author and retired naval officer William Dziadyk published his historical non-fiction book “S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing: The Amazing True Story of the Loss of a Canadian Troopship in the North Atlantic”. The embarked troops included 44 Corps of Military Staff Clerks, 4 Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, 5 Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, 5 Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps and 2 Royal Canadian Navy supply officers. Forty-four of these logistics personnel perished during the sinking.
The details of the sinking of the S.S. Nerissa were highly classified until almost 50 years after the event. The tragic loss of this ship on 30 April 1941 resulted in the third largest loss of life for a ship sunk by U-boats in the approaches to the British Isles. The deaths of 81 Merchant Navy seamen, 98 Canadian, British and Norwegian troops, 11 American Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilots and 17 civilian passengers touched not only Canadian families at the time, but also many families in the United Kingdom, Norway and the neutral United States. This book focuses on the events which led up to the sinking by U-552 (Erich Topp) and the resulting public relations dilemma on the Canadian home-front. Also included are eye witness accounts from many of the survivors and some stories of those who perished. Much of the material is based on the analysis of testimony, recollections and official reports taken from survivors, as well as declassified Canadian, British and German documents.
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