21 January 2009

Case Dismissed

On this day in England, 1947, the Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice found that the British Naval cruiser, Curacoa, was at fault in its collision with the troop ship, Queen Mary. The accident occurred in October, 1942, off the coast of Donegal, as the ship headed for the United Kingdom loaded with over 10,000 American G.I.s.. The Curacoa, acting as escort, cut across the Mary's bow as she followed her typical zig-zag course to avoid German u-boats. Unable to change direction in time, the giant liner cut the smaller cruiser in half. Three hundred and thirty eight men on the Curocoa perished as the ship went down. Originally it was reported that a u-boat was in the area, but this was later found to be untrue.  

The action brought by the Admiralty against the Cunard White Star Line for £1,500,000 in damages was dismissed by Sir Gonne St. Clair Pilcher, the presiding judge; additionally, he ruled that court fees were to be paid by the Admiralty. In his opinion, the Queen Mary's captain was correct to assume the cruiser would stay out of the bigger ship's way and stated that the accident was "one which ought never to have been permitted to happen."

New York Times Archive

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