Picture of the Seeadler signed by von Luckner and 1980 article about the sinking of Seeadler

(See the picture and article at the bottom of this page)


My father was in management for Exxon, but a sailor at heart. My brother and I grew up on his boats and now sail ourselves. Dad passed on a few years ago and among his most cherished things beyond his family was a few nautical items. One is a picture of the Seeadler on a card stock. Written on the card was a  thank you note from Felix Count Luckner and appears to be dated 1945.

Count Luckner's script writing is difficult for me to follow all the words. So I have enclosed a scaned jpeg of the card. My dad had the card mounted in a picture frame and it hung on the wall in the family room for as long as I can remember and I am retired now (this way I don't have to tell you my age).

I asked Mom about how we came about the thank you from Count Luckner the Pirate and she can only remember that Dad and the Count traveled by train together for a few days. As fellow sailors the bonded quickly. Then apparently the Count met with an unruly crowd and my Dad helped him escape. Since the time was 1945 the end of WWII and German sentiment was rather low I can understand the count finding an unruly crowd. As a thank you the count got my Dad's address and sent him the thank you picture card with the note on it. I have attached the picture. The words I can not make out I have entered dashes in the text.

The script as best as I can make out reads at the top.

"Ships may sink"
The ----- never"

at the bottom

"To a friend Mr. C. Lathrop with a ship-"
"load of luck and happiness from the"
"last pirate and friend"
        "Felix Count Luckner"
"21-22/1945"    "----- N. York"

What was more interesting was taped to the back of the picture was an envelope. In the envelope was an old News paper article from the National Fisherman dated November 1980. In the clipping was how the Seeadler really met her fate not from a tidal wave, but something more nafarious. I have attached a jpeg of the new clipping. If the text in not readable and if you like I could type it in an email to you.

I have now learned from your web site that Felix Count Luckner as he signs his name you and the public know him by a slightly different name or as Count Felix Von Luckner.

I have only just scratched the surface of the vast amount of material you have on your web site so I will be reading for a good while I expect. Thanks for the site information.

Stephen Carl Lathrop son of Carl M. Lathrop

Dear Stephen,

My thanks for your message and its attachments. I was able to open and could read the Newspaper article thank you.

It is just amazing the amount of material that keeps coming from all over our world about this sailor who caught the imagination of so many different people. If you assisted him, or were able to talk to him about his WW1 deeds, there is little doubt, he would whip out a photo of himself or his famous ship Seeadler, sign it on the spot for you.

Your Father's card that he was presented with by the Count is a reproduction of a painting of Seeadler by Professor Chr Rave, in the bottom left hand corner you can make out Chr Rave. The inscription in the top LH corner says: Ships may sink. The honour never. ( in Europe Honour has the u in it, in my understanding in your country it is spelt honor )

I think the date reads: 21-22/10 45. So their train journey seems to have been over the 21st and 22nd. of October. 1945 WW2 ending on the 2nd. of September that year, but in Europe it was concluded about May of 1945.

The aristocratic von may have been an affectation by the Count, but he certainly used it.

When the WW2 war was rushing to a climax in Europe, and US forces were advancing, the Count was instrumental in saving the city of Halle where he lived, from bombardment by US forces. At this time there is movement afoot to raise a monument in his honour in Halle to commemorate his deed.

If you go to my Web Site, on the Home Page in the Left Hand side you will find E-Mails and Letters, click on that, to read about this proposal. Its the top letter. Matthias at Halle, E-Mail: mj.maurer@mlw-law.com would love to hear from you, if you have any interest in his proposal, no money is involved.

In Auckland Professor James Bade has just had a new book about the Count published: Von Luckner: A Reassessment Count Felix von Luckner in New Zealand and the South Pacific. 1917-1919 and 1938.

The Newspaper cutting is of interest, there have always been reports that Seeadler was not wrecked by a Tidal Wave, there are no records of such tidal waves at the time she was wrecked. Most of the crew and prisoners, including the Count were ashore having a picnic when his ship grounded. No doubt his standing with his crew was such that no one rushed off to deny the Tidal Wave story, but the truth was indeed different.

A fascinating gentleman, as I said when writing about him some time ago, we are unlikely ever to see his like again. He could weave a great story, and was a remarkable sailor and warrior in WW1, and a wonderful raconteur thereafter as he strode the world stage.

You do not have to worry about your age Stephen, I am already 82, and hope to keep going a long time yet.

I apologise for monopolising your time for so long.

Nice to hear from you, and my Web Master Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia who keeps all my research and writing up to date on Ahoy, Mac's Web Log, joins me in sending our greetings to you, another piece of the mighty jig saw that goes to keep Count Felix von Luckner's memory alive today will be added to Ahoy, thanks to you.

Mac. Gregory.

von Luckner autograph


Sinking of Seeader article

back to letters index


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