Silva, Florêncio da



Ship –Stamatios G. Embiricos (Greece)

Birth place – Cabo Verde
Birth date – 

Death date – 
Father – 
Mother – 


Florência da Silva was a crew member of the Greek ship Stamatios G. Embiricos which was intercepted by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran on September 24, 1941 near India. The crew was imprisoned and the ship sunk using explosives placed in the hull.

In October or November the Kormoran transferred 86 prisoners to the Spreewald, a German blockade runner that was in China when the war started. Recovered in Japanese shipyards, it was headed towards Germany at the end of 1941 carrying rubber, tin, tungsten and quinine.

It is very likely that Florêncio da Silva was part of this group of prisoners, but the arrival in Europe was complicated. The Spreewald, - disguised as the Norwegian freighter Elk -, was supposed to meet with a U-boat to secure a escort for the final streak of the voyage, but before that encounter she was torpedoed by U-333 which mistook her for a British freighter.

Realizing the mistake, both the U-333, other submarines and the Luftwaffe became involved in search and rescue operation trying to locate the survivors. 72 people died, but 25 crew members and 55 prisoners were found.

It was not possible to confirm if Florêncio was part of this group or if he arrived in Europe in another way. He was certainly interned in the Marlag and Milag Nord prison camp, north of Bremen, a camp designed to house the crew of merchant ships, with the number 435.

He was imprisoned there until February 1944, when, by intervention of the Portuguese government, he was released and sent by train to Lisbon. Florêncio was released with four other Portuguese. He arrived in Lisbon on the 20th of the month, accompanied by the seafarers Manuel Lopes Brioso, João da Cruz and Venâncio de Almeida. The day before, Manuel António Carlos had also arrived, having gotten lost from the rest of the group at the Franco-Spanish border, catching an earlier train to the Portuguese capital.


Note: This article was corrected on February 5, 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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