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M/T Alfred Olsen
Owner: A/S Binta
Built at Port Glasgow in 1934. Previous name Valverda until 1937.
Related item on this website:
Captain: Magnus Warholm.
Her voyages are listed on this original document from the Norwegian National Archives.
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on them.
As can be seen when going to the archive document, Alfred Olsen got out of Norway the day before the Germans invaded (Apr. 9-1940). She was bound for Port Arthur and arrived there, via Halifax, on May 12. From Port Arthur, she headed to Bermuda on May 16, joining the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 46 on May 27 (she had originally been scheduled for the previous convoy, HX 45). She arrived London, via Weymouth Bay, on June 17. In July, we find her in Convoy OA 183, which left Methil on the 12th and dispersed on the 15th, Alfred Olsen arriving Aruba on July 30, proceeding to Bermuda Aug. 1. She was scheduled to return to the U.K. with the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 64, but instead joined the Bermuda section of the next convoy on Aug. 11, HX 65, and arrived Clyde on Aug. 26. The following month she's listed, with destination Capetown, in Convoy OB 215, which started out in Liverpool on Sept. 17 and dispersed on the 21st, Alfred Olsen arriving Capetown on Oct. 18 (having joined from Clyde) - ref. links provided in the Voyage Record above; other Norwegian ships are also named.
Her subsequent voyages are shown in the table above and on the archive document.
She was on a voyage from Freetown (said to have departed Preston on May 7-1941) for Aruba in ballast when she was attacked and sunk by over 100 shells from the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli (Fecia di Cossato) at 21:30 ship's time on May 9, position 03N 20 10W, after having been followed by the sub for 48 hours. (Enrico Tazzoli had been out for a month and had fired her last torpedo at Alfred Olsen on May 8 but missed, position given as 02 59N 20 26W).
2 lifeboats were initially launched, one from the starboard side amidships, the other aft, but as the captain felt that this was not sufficient he and the 2nd mate lowered a 3rd boat from the port side in which they were joined by Mechanic N. Malkenes. The intention was to have the rest of the crew distribute themselves in the 3 boats, but contact with the other 2 boats was subsequently lost.
The ship had caught on fire from bow to stern, but the captain's boat remained close by for 6 hours hoping to reembark if the fire should die out. However, when it became clear she could not be saved they took off. As day dawned, they saw several tremendous explosions which appeared to originate from the engine room, and nothing but black smoke could be seen after that. At this time, the sub was spotted leaving the scene at great speed in a southwesterly direction.
At around noon on May 13 the captain spotted smoke and, assuming it to be a ship, course was set towards it. Shortly afterwards S/S Lackenby of West Hartlepool altered course to pick them up (04 56N 19 15W), then sank the lifeboat, before taking them to Freetown where they landed on May 16. Once there, the captain requested the Naval Authorities to send out a flying boat to search for the other 2 lifeboats.
The 1st mate's boat with 15 on board landed in Sierra Leone on May 19, and on the 25th the Belgian Laurent Meeus arrived Curaçao with the 16 occupants of the 3rd lifeboat who had been picked up on May 14 in 00 4N 0 17W.
The hearings were held at the Norwegian Consulate in London on June 17-1941. The captain had written a report on the sinking aboard the Greek Nea Hellas (ex British Tuscania) on May 19-1941; I'm not sure why he was on that ship, perhaps as a passenger back to the U.K.?
* There's also an Able Seaman Henry Brekke listed among the survivors of Corneville, but I don't know whether it's the same man.
Back to Alfred Olsen 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.