Following rejection of appeals for peace by King Leopold of Belgium and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop announces that the German peace offer to Britain and France is now withdrawn.
Graf Spee has been cruising trade routes in the Indian Ocean since Nov 3 and needs a kill to register her presence. However, the expected prey does not materialise as wool clipping season in Australia is late and cargo ships await loading in Australia. Graf Spee sights SS Africa Shell, a tiny British oil tanker belonging to the Shell Company of East Africa, 6 miles off Zabora Point Mozambique (at the southern end of the channel between Madagascar and Mozambique). Africa Shell is empty, sailing to port in Delagoa Bay (now the capital Maputo). Africa Shell’s crew are taken off by Graf Spee’s launch and she is sunk by shell fire (see photo and link). The Allies will soon know that a raider is at large in the Indian Ocean.
http://www.maritimequest.com/freighters/02_pages/a/africa_shell_1938_page_1.htmVery nice account of the stopping and sinking of the SS Africa Shell by German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee on November 15, 1939, including a series of photographs taken from Graf Spee. Notably, one photo shows a launch taking the crew off Africa Star before she is sunk. This gentlemanly behaviour ensured that no lives were lost on any of the ships sunk by Graf Spee.