New Zealand Cancels

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PO Name:Farmers Trading Co. Auckland

Mrs A H Voyr, Milford Auckland


An interesting cover that was transported on the SS Stanvac from Sydney to London.

SS Stanvac Calcutta, a 501-foot tanker, was built for Socony-Vacuum Oil Company by Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. Completed in 1941, the vessel sailed under the Panamanian flag, although it was owned by an American company and most of its crew was American.

The War Shipping Administration requisitioned Stanvac Calcutta on April 25, 1942, while the vessel was in port at Coveas, Colombia. Petroleum Shipping Company, a subsidiary of Socony-Vacuum, operated the vessel under a time charter agreement.

On June 6, 1942, the vessel was transiting from Montevideo, Uruguay to Caripito, Venezuela when it encountered the German commerce raider Stier in heavy seas. Although the ship valiantly resisted capture, actions that later earned it the Gallant Ship Award, Stier overwhelmed and sunk Stanvac Calcutta after a brief firefight during which both the wheelhouse and ammunition magazine of the tanker were destroyed.

Of the 42 crew members and nine Naval Armed Guards aboard Stanvac Calcutta, Stier picked up 37 survivors. All but one of the survivors were taken to Japan and assigned to prison camps there; the remaining crew member was sent to a prison camp in Germany.

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