SINKING OF SS. "CANTABRIA" Formerly Red Prison Ship
Tragic Death Of Owner's Son
THE SHIP WHICH WAS SUNK BY SPANISH NATIONALIST SHELL-FIRE, LAST WEDNESDAY, OFF THE ENGLISH COAST, HAD A MURKY HISTORY.
Certain newspapers in England and France have drawn against the granting of belligerent rights to Nationalist Spain of the ss. Cantabria off Cromer, by a Nationalist " pirate." a new argument from the sinking They allege that the destruction of a merchant vessel is contrary to International Law unless she first refuses to surrender.
But the ss. Cantabria did refuse to surrender.
The captain of the Cantabria has himself stated that the ship was fired on because he disregarded the order to heave to.
" Heave to, or I Fire! "
The British steamship Monkwood saw the Nationalist vessel fly the signal " Heave to, or I fire" before it started shelling the Cantabria.
The Nationalist navy is only doing what England did in the Great War—attempting to stifle the enemy's sea-borne trade.
Marquis Merry Del Val, G.C.V.O., former Spanish Ambassador in London, has sent to the CATHOLIC HERALD an interesting summary of the Cantabria's earlier history:
" The Cantabria," he writes, " was none other than the sinister prison-ship, Alfonso Perez.
" This vessel lay in Santander harbour from July, 1936, to August, 1937.
The Black Hold "In her hold, where about 400 human beings could be packed, at least 800 were compelled to live, or rather starve, in the filthiest and most insanitary conditions. Innocent of any crime and not even the object of any legal charge, their ranks were continually thinned by murder.
" Whenever a new batch of prisoners arrived, room was made for them by the assassination of an equal number.
" Many were the object of torture. Thrown overboard when dead, their corpses were in many cases swept up on to the French coast between the Bidasoa and Nantes between the month of September, 1936, and the ensuing spring, as reported in the French Press.
" The steamer's owner, Don Alfonso Perez, was known for the staunchness of his Catholic and Royalist opinions. It was for this reason that his eldest son and namesake, who was spending the summer of 1936 at the village of Torrelodones, near Madrid, was torn from the arms of his wife and children and foully slaughtered by the Reds."