Cruz, João da



Ship – Jon (Panama)

Birth place – Lisboa
Birth date – 

Death date – 
Father – 
Mother – 


João da Cruz was a crew member of the Panamanian ship Jon, attacked in the Atlantic by an FW-200 plane at 6:45 pm on October 5, 1941. After being hit by bombs, it took only three minutes for the ship to sink.

In addition to Cruz, the Portuguese Manuel Briolhoso (Brioso?) was also on board.

The survivors escaped in lifeboats that were found by U-204. The German submarine was escorting the Rio Grande blockade breaker along the Bay of Biscay on its way to Japan, where it arrived in December of the same year. Apparently the prisoners were transferred from the submersible to the larger vessel and may have made the round trip to and from Japan, finally landing in Bordeaux in April 1942.

It is certain that Cruz and Briolhoso were imprisoned in the Marlag and Milag Nord prison camp, north of Bremen, designed to house crews of merchant ships and garrisons of warships. To the first the prisoner number 18 was assigned, and to the second the number 17.

The Portuguese were imprisoned until February 1944. At that time, after intervention by the Portuguese government, they were released and sent by train to Lisbon. João da Cruz and three other companions - Venâncio de Almeida, Manuel Briolhoso and Florêncio da Silva - arrived in the Portuguese capital on the 20th. Another Portuguese, also a prisoner, Manuel António Carlos had arrived the day before.


Note: This article was corrected on February 4, 2022. I had mistakenly assigned the Greek ship Antonis to the seafarer. I thank our reader Paulo Lucas for drawing my attention to this error.


Carlos Guerreiro


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