Wreckage of German WW2 ship found in seas north of Denmark

The wreckage of the German transport vessel M/S Pionier, which was sunk on September 2nd 1940, has been found in the Skagerrak sea north of Denmark after a long search.

Wreckage of German WW2 ship found in seas north of Denmark
Photo: Sea War Museum Jutland/handout/Scanpix 2018

The discovery was announced by Sea War Museum Jutland in a press statement on Thursday.

The ship was one of the most highly-sought wreckages in the region, with both Danish and international divers having searched carefully for it over a period spanning decades.

Its location was found to be at a depth of 177 metres and a significant distance further east than had previously been thought.

Sea War Museum Jutland director Gert Norman Andersen expressed his delight at the long-awaited discovery.

“For us, this is one of the better-known shipwrecks and there has been a lot of mystery about it. So it’s great news that we can now say where it is,” he said.

Andersen added that, now the ship had been located, it would be possible to ascertain its cargo. Historians have speculated as to whether it was transporting large canons or explosives.

M/S Pionier was en route from Frederikshavn to Frederiksstad in Norway in September 1940 with 823 people on board when it suffered a huge explosion north of Skagen and rapidly sank, costing 333 lives.

British information stated that the ship was sunk by a torpedo from the HMS Sturgeon, but the government of Nazi Germany rejected this, claiming that the ship was sunk by a mine or due to sabotage.

“Our scans of the wreckage substantiate the British reports. All signs suggest that the middle of the ship was torn apart by a torpedo,” Andersen said.

READ ALSO: German WW2 submarine wreckage found in seas off Denmark


France to compensate relatives of Algerian Harki fighters

France has paved the way towards paying reparations to more relatives of Algerians who sided with France in their country's independence war but were then interned in French camps.

France to compensate relatives of Algerian Harki fighters

More than 200,000 Algerians fought with the French army in the war that pitted Algerian independence fighters against their French colonial masters from 1954 to 1962.

At the end of the war, the French government left the loyalist fighters known as Harkis to fend for themselves, despite earlier promises it would look after them.

Trapped in Algeria, many were massacred as the new authorities took revenge.

Thousands of others who fled to France were held in camps, often with their families, in deplorable conditions that an AFP investigation recently found led to the deaths of dozens of children, most of them babies.

READ ALSO Who are the Harkis and why are they still a sore subject in France?

French President Emmanuel Macron in 2021 asked for “forgiveness” on behalf of his country for abandoning the Harkis and their families after independence.

The following year, a law was passed to recognise the state’s responsibility for the “indignity of the hosting and living conditions on its territory”, which caused “exclusion, suffering and lasting trauma”, and recognised the right to reparations for those who had lived in 89 of the internment camps.

But following a new report, 45 new sites – including military camps, slums and shacks – were added on Monday to that list of places the Harkis and their relatives were forced to live, the government said.

Now “up to 14,000 (more) people could receive compensation after transiting through one of these structures,” it said, signalling possible reparations for both the Harkis and their descendants.

Secretary of state Patricia Miralles said the decision hoped to “make amends for a new injustice, including in regions where until now the prejudices suffered by the Harkis living there were not recognised”.

Macron has spoken out on a number of France’s unresolved colonial legacies, including nuclear testing in Polynesia, its role in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes in Algeria.