When I moved over here from Parker in 1969, to teach school, I soon became a lifelong friend of Capt. Dave Maddox, the local Harbor Pilot. He found my love of diving on sunken ships and collecting prehistoric and historical artifacts fascinating, and he would share his knowledge of local history and sunken ships with me. I will always be indebted to him for his trust, information, and faith in me.
Several years ago, he brought out an envelope of photographs his cousin, Adolph Maddox, had acquired at the end of WWII. The photos were all taken in the 1930’s by the ship’s photographer of the German Ocean Liner, EUROPA. In the group were many scenes of the ship and many of famous movie stars who had voyaged on the ship. Being a lover of ships and Turner Classic Movies, I found them fascinating and worth a story; here’s how they came to grace the pages of the St. Joe Star.
In March of 1930, the S.S. EUROPA made her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven to New York. She was so fast that she took the Blue Ribbon from Britain’s MAURETANIA and held it for three years. Her speed was 27.91 knots, and she made New York in 4 days, 17 hours.
The ship’s name originates with a Phoenician Princess. Zeus, ancient Greek King of the Gods, not only ruled the world, but also had plenty of time to travel to the Greek world and seduce beautiful, mortal Earth women. One day he spotted the beautiful Europa and the quest was on.
Zeus transformed himself into a magnificent, tame, white bull and mixed in with her father’s herd. When Europa was gathering flowers, she saw the handsome beast and began to caress him. She then climbed onto his back, and at that moment, Zeus ran to the Sea and swam to Crete with Europa on his back. Then he made Europa the Queen of Crete, but only after she bore him three sons. One son, King Minos, became famous in the Minotaur myth.
For trivia fans. All continents end in an “A”, except for Europe; it should be Europa. Who made the “mistake” we’ll never know; probably the same school that put the “s” on Dead Lake!
You may also wonder why myself and most seafarers refer to ships and boats as “she.” There are many reasons, but here are a few: they usually have round bottoms, like to be freshly painted, require much upkeep, need a lot of rigging, temperamental, and have long graceful lines. The list goes on…
After nine years of being one of the Queens of the Ocean; the war came. Hitler had plans to use her as a troop transport for the invasion of Britain, but it never happened; so for six years EUROPA rusted and molded at her pier in Bremenhaven. Luckily, she was not bombed.
In May of 1945, the Americans captured the ship and she became a war prize. After a quick refit she became the U.S.S. Europa, and in August and September she transported 4,500 American Servicemen back to New York. After a few more troop-carrying voyages she was decommissioned in May 1946 and given to the French.
“Why the French?” you might ask. Another sideline.
In the 1930’s the most elegant and glamorous ship on the high seas was the French Liner, NORMANDIE. When the war began, she was in Manhattan. She was left there to keep her out of Germany’s hands. In May, 1941, she was seized by the U.S. Government and transferred to the Navy for use as a troop ship. During the refit, a careless American welder ignited a stack of life jackets and mattresses which quickly engulfed the ship in flames. So much water was poured onto the ship that she capsized into the mud of the river. It took twenty months to refloat NORMANDIE. The most beautiful ship in the world, built at a cost of $60,000,000 in 1930’s dollars, was sold for $161,000 in scrap. The Americans feeling guilty for the loss of NORMANDIE, gave EUROPA to France for partial compensation.
After several years of refitting, she arrived in New York in August of 1950. Her new name – LIBERTE. After eight more years on the Atlantic, she was retired in 1958. Finally, in 1962, she made her last voyage to LaSpezia, Italy, where she was broken-up. In six months, only memories and scattered mementos would remain of one of the world’s greatest Ocean Liners.
During one or more of its later troop-carrying voyages for the U.S.A., Adolph was made Captain of Europa. During his walks about the ship, he had discovered the trove of photos and kept them. He eventually returned home to Apalachicola and bequeathed the photos and other memorabilia to Capt. Dave. I’m sure some of these have never been published.
The photos are from the Dave and Sara Maddox collection and are used by permission of their children.