February 27, 2017


The Silver Fleet – 1943 | 88mins | Drama, War | B&W


Plot Synopsis

The Silver Fleet

Dutch shipyard owner Jaap van Leyden is branded a Quisling when he collaborates with the occupying Nazi forces. Messages begin to appear from ‘Piet Hein’ – a legendary Dutch hero who had sunk the Spanish silver fleet off the coast of Cuba in 1628 – and a conspiracy grows among the workers. At trials of the first submarine, the Germans are overpowered and the vessel heads for England. Von Schiffer takes 30 hostages but Leyden intervenes, and inviting the Nazi chiefs to his house, persuades them to attend trials for a second submarine. Helene van Leyden refuses to speak to her husband, believing him to be a traitor, and next morning he leaves a note explaining everything before leaving for the shipyard where he boards the submarine with the German chiefs. Once submerged, Van Leyden detonates an explosion killing all of the Nazis on board as well as himself.

For the first Archers venture solely as producers, Michael Powell‘s friend Vernon Sewell wrote and directed The Silver Fleet with Gordon Wellesley: a story inspired by the real-life hijacking of a U-Boat, seized and brought to England by a Dutch crew under order from a saboteur calling himself ‘Piet Hein’. The Netherlands government gave every assistance, arranging Sewell’s secondment to the Dutch Navy where he collected material on the sabotage of Nazi shipping.

Production Team

Vernon Sewell: Director
Gordon Wellesley: Director
Alfred Junge: Art Direction
Ralph Richardson: Associate Producer
Erwin Hillier: Cinematography
Michael C Chorlton: Editing
Allan Gray: Music
Emeric Pressburger: Producer
Michael Powell: Producer
Vernon Sewell: Script
Gordon Wellesley: Script
John Dennis: Sound
Desmond Dew: Sound


Willem Akkerman: Willem van Leyden
Joss Ambler: Cornelius Smit
Esmond Knight: Von Schiffer
Ralph Richardson: Jaap van Leyden
Googie Withers: Helene van Leyden
Beresford Egan: Krampf

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