Fry, Arthur Ernest

Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Arthur Ernest Fry was taken prisoner following the loss of the Blue Star Line’s Afric Star on 29 January 1941by the Hilfskreuzer Kormoran of the Germany Navy.
Fry was taken prisoner and was sailed to Bordeaux during which a fire broke out on the vessel. The Germans presuming that the fire was caused by mutineers, sentenced Fry to death by a Nazi court at Hamburg for this. Following the sentence he was brutally tortured by the S.S. and made to dig his own grave but, probably as a result of the intervention of the Swiss authorities, eventually emerged from captivity at the War’s end: in the interim he had been shot following a gallant escape attempt from a train.
Fry was finally liberated by the Russians in East Prussia where he had to witness assorted Soviet atrocities while held at Barth, prior to being flown home in a B-17 on 11 May 1945:

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Seaman
Unit:
s.s. "Afric Star", Blue Star Line Ltd. (s.s. "Afric Star", Blue Star Line Ltd.)
Awarded on:
December 11th, 1945
Action:
Citation:
"The s.s. " Portland " was captured by the Germans and, with a prize crew on board, was used to transport 327 prisoners to Bordeaux.
A small group of prisoners led by Fry, determined to regain control of the ship and bring her into a British port. Their plans were, however, frustrated. Subsequently an attempt was made to set the cargo on fire in the hope that the smoke would be seen by British naval craft. The enemy, however, succeeded in putting out the fire, but not before considerable damage had been done to the ship and cargo. Subsequently, at Hamburg the Germans sentenced Fry to death and his assistants to long terms of imprisonment on charges of mutiny and arson. The three men were subsequently repatriated and are now in this country.
Fry was the chief ringleader and displayed courage and determination in pursuing the project of liberation by forceful measures.
Lynch played a prominent part in planning and preparing for the attempted mutiny and fire.
Merrett willingly participated in the execution of the plans and assisted Fry in the final preparations for starting the fire."
Details:
Civil Division.
British Empire Medal (BEM & EGM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Master
Unit:
Afric Star, Merchant Navy
Awarded on:
December 29th, 1947
Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea

Sources

  • - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 7th December 1945, Issue 37383, dated 11th December 1945
    - Dix Noonan Webb