“SAN DEMETRIO GETS HOME”: HISTORIC BRITISH WORLD WAR II POSTER
(WORLD WAR II). Poster: San Demetrio Gets Home. London: H.M. Stationery Office, circa 1941. Original color broadside poster, measuring 20 by 30 inches, closely framed, measures 22-1/2 by 32-1/2 inches. $2500.
Original World War II poster depicting the German-attacked oil tanker, the San Demetrio, which was saved and sailed home by 16 brave sailors, accompanied by the words: "San Demetrio Gets Home… The Oil Tanker 'San Demetrio,' a vessel of the Jervis Bay convoy was set on fire by the German raider. She had to be abandoned but eventually 16 of her crew reboarded her, extinguished the fires and brought her to port. 'Help S.O.S.' was painted on bridge and hull as all signalling apparatus had gone. They serve for you. You save for them. Post Office. Savings Bank."
This original 1941 poster depicts the failing San Demetrio, heavily damaged and bearing handwritten "S.O.S." signs to compensate for a destroyed signaling system. During World War II, merchant ships such as the San Demetrio sailed in convoys as protection against German bombing and torpedoing. The San Demetrio was carrying indispensable aviation fuel from the West Indies when it was attacked by a German cruiser along with other ships in its convoy. The armed ship serving as escort to the convoy, the Jervis Bay, held out for only 22 minutes before it sank along with 190 of its crew. The San Demetrio was hit with several shells, including one that killed the ship's look-out, but the ship nevertheless remained above water. Miraculously, despite numerous fires on board, the aviation fuel did not ignite. Eventually, sailors were able to reboard the ship when it was deemed reasonably safe and take it into port, having lost only 200 tons of fuel out of the original 11,000. Despite the massive casualties of the attack and an oil tanker that needed to be rebuilt almost completely, the operation was a massive success providing thousands of tons of much-needed fuel to a desperate nation. Deaccessioned by The Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia.
Faint foldlines. About-fine condition.