War Shipping Administration, Washington

Operations Regulation No. 76 November 6, 1943

Pertaining To All Vessels Owned By Or Under Charter To War Shipping Administration
(Dry Cargo and Passenger Vessels and Tankers)


Agents and General Agents of the War Shipping Administration are directed to post the following notice on the bulletin boards of all vessels for the information of Merchant Marine personnel:

1. In the event of the sinking of a vessel through enemy action, the attacking warship commander may attempt to question crew members who have taken to the lifeboats. In many instances Masters and other key seagoing personnel have been taken prisoners. For this reason, crew members should not disclose the presence of any officers in the lifeboats.

2. Under the rules set forth by the Geneva Convention of 1929, a prisoner of war is not required to give any information other than his name, date of birth, rank or rating, and the name and address of his next of kin. The provisions of the Geneva Convention have been extended to civilian internees insofar as they are adaptable, and. Therefore, in the event of capture by the enemy, Merchant Marine personnel, if interrogated, are only required to disclose the foregoing information. A copy of the Convention is required to be posted in all prison camps which describes the rights of prisoners of war under the Convention.

3. No other information should be given and care should be taken that seamen have no documents in their possession which would reveal the name of the vessel, or any other information of value to the enemy. By direct or indirect questioning, the enemy will endeavor to obtain information of military value, and such questioning may be through any of the following methods:

(a) By direct questioning;

(b) By professing friendly sympathy;

(c) By threats;

(d) By provoking arguments on technical subjects;

(e) By placing two prisoners in a room equipped with microphone or other concealed listening devices;

(f) By impersonating prisoners and becoming engaged in conversation. The enemy may offer to allow prisoners to broadcast by radio to their next of kin. When the substance off the broadcast is directed by the enemy, such offers should be refused.

(Sad.) G. H. Helmbold

Acting Assistant Deputy Administrator for Ship Operations

Operations Regulation No. 76 Revoked Effective March 1, 1946

Prisoners of War
Merchant Mariners at Milag Nord

WSA Press Releases


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