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D/S Ala
Updated Nov. 19-2012

To Ala on the "Ships starting with A" page.

Survivors & Casualties

Source: Bjørn Pedersen's collection.

Manager: E. B. Aaby, Oslo
933 gt, 550 net.
Call Sign: LCCK.

Built at Jarlsø in 1916.
According to the external page that I've linked to above, she was delivered in June-1916 as Ala to E.B. Aaby, Drammen. From Oct.-1917, owned by D/S A/S Ala (E.B. Aaby), Kristiania, no name change. From 1918, The Shipping Controller (Emlyn Jones & Co.), London. From 1919, D/S A/S Ala (E.B. Aaby), Kristiania, then from 1925, E.B. Aaby, Oslo. Owned from March-1937 by E.B. Aaby Rederi A/S (E.B. Aaby), Oslo.

Captain: Herman Olai Johansen.

These original images from the Norwegian National Archives show her voyages:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3


As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Ala arrived Oporto (from Lisbon) on Apr. 6-1940, 3 days before war broke out in Norway. From there, she proceeed to Bordeaux, with arrival Apr. 15.

In Nov.-1940, she's listed among the ships in Convoy HG 47 from Gibraltar to the U.K. Her destination is given as Liverpool, where she arrived Dec. 4, general cargo. Follow the link for the names of other ships in this convoy.

Her 1941 voyages also start on Page 1, while the rest are shown on Page 2 and Page 3.

 Not a Good Constitution Day: 

Ala had departed Port Talbot with a cargo of coal on May 6-1941 heading for Queens Dock, Swansea where she was wiped. The intention was for her to join a convoy on May 7, but due to the fact that she didn't have a complete crew she ended up having to wait for the next convoy. She left again on May 10 to join the convoy, however, she had to return to Swansea after having experienced some technical problems while at Mumbles Roads, and anchored up at Prince of Wales Dock, Swansea where repairs were made. She departed again in the morning of May 13, joined a convoy for Falmouth, departed Falmouth early in the morning of the 16th then anchored up at St. Helen's Road that evening in order to wait for the tide (compare w/details found on Page 3). She continued alone for Shoreham the following day, May 17 (which is Norway's Constitution Day), but when around 2 n. miles off Shoreham Pier about 4 enemy aircraft attacked with machine guns. Ala's gunners defended her as best they could with her 3 machine guns, but when the aircraft dropped bombs (torpedoes?) she was hit by 2 of them, 1 near the foremast, the other amidships, the latter ripping up the deck and cabins on the starboard side, continuing through the port side of the ship then exploding near the ship on that side. Mess Girl Rebecka Emma Hansen (steward's wife) was killed when she was hit in her temple by shrapnel, having gone out on deck together with her husband. She was buried in Shoreham on May 21. (According to the captain's statements at the hearings in London on Aug. 14-1941, Ala had a complement of 16 at that time, incl. the captain).

Ala started to sink but the captain and 1st mate went back on board when another Norwegian ship nearby, D/S Botne came over to assist with towing. By the time she landed late that afternoon (Page 3 gives arrival Shoreham as May 19), with the additional aid of a tug from Shoreham, her decks were under water which reached up to 1' from the railings. The lifeboats with the crew were towed to land by misc. small vessels that had come out to assist.

The majority of the above details are from the ship's diary. "Nortraships flåte" states that the mess girl died of her injuries at a hospital in Gosport the day after having struck a mine the following month, and that 1 man was killed by shrapnel during the air attack.

 Final Fate – 1941: 

By June 13, she had been unloaded and sufficiently repaired to be taken in tow* to Southampton, but off Selsey Bill, just before arrival, she was suddenly lifted up by a huge explosion from underneath the foreship, and sank by the bow within a few minutes. It was assumed that the bombing on May 17 had made the ship magnetic again, causing a mine to explode (it had not been possible to get wiping done at Shoreham, the captain had spoken to the chief of the Naval Control about this). The 1st mate, who was in the wheel house, was killed* when he was struck in the temple, possibly by pieces of cement slabs on the bridge. The survivors were rescued by an escorting vessel and a lifeboat from D/S Douro, which sailed nearby.

The captain had sustained an injury to a leg bone in the explosion, resulting in a 2 months' stay in hospital. The 2nd engineer, who lived in Swansea, also had a leg bone injury and had to have an operation, while the chief engineer injured a bone in his back and was still in hospital at the time of the hearings in London on Aug. 14, as was the steward, who had taken ill.

* A visitor to my website has told me that "Shipwreck Index of the British Isles" states she was under tow by the tug Security when she foundered 3.5 miles NE of the Nab Tower, 50 41 57N 00 52 10W.

* There's quite a bit of confusion with regard to the 2 casualties from Ala. The Stavern Memorial gives the 1st mate's name as Alson Pedersen. "Våre falne", a series of 4 books naming Norwegians who died during the war, also gives his first name as Alson, adding that he was taken to Portsmouth, where he died on June 14. The Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website, where his name is given as Arnold Peterson (see link further down on this page) says he died at the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, Gosport on June 14-1941 - see also this message in my guestbook. The same website states that the messgirl died on May 17, Cemetery is given as Shoreham by Sea. "Våre falne" also says that she died during the air attack on May 17 and is buried at Shoreham, while the Stavern Memorial says she died at a hospital in Gosport the day after the ship had struck a mine, in other words, June 14.

Survivors & Casualties:

Survivors / June-1941
Herman Olai Johansen
1st Engineer
Harry Frantzen
2nd Engineer
Carl Wilhelm Carlson
Waldemar Johansen
Arne Hansen
G. H. Bore
H. W. Crow
Earlier Casualty, May-1941:

1st Mate
Arnold (Alson?) Pedersen

Mess Girl
Rebecka Emma Hansen

The 1st mate is included at the Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website as Arnold Peterson, June 14, Gosport Cemetery - see this external page. The messgirl, who was married to the steward, is also listed, with the date May 17 - see this page. Cemetery is given as Shoreham by Sea.

Related external link:
Stavern Memorial commemorations - The mate's name is given as Alson Pedersen here. The memorial says that the messgirl died at a hospital in Gosport the day after the ship had struck a mine.

Back to Ala on the "Ships starting with A" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc - ref My sources.


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