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Manager: Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, Bergen
Delivered from Nylands Verksted, Oslo in March-1930 as Ariadne (303) to Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, Bergen for service in the Rotterdam route.
Captain: Thoralf Tønseth.
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The war in Norway, as such, was more or less over by June 7-1940 and it was determined to send as many ships as possible to a British port to prevent them from ending up in German hands (see D/S Finmarken for background history. Several other ships were also involved in this effort to get out of Norway). The King was evacuated on the Devonshire that same day.
Ariadne had been converted to a hospital ship at the beginning of the war and was marked as such according to international rules. She was at anchor at Birtavarre on June 7 and early that afternoon she was sent to Tromsø for further orders. They were then told to go to Lerwick if they could catch up with the convoy that had already left - if not, they were to head to Thorshavn. After having taken on bunkers, fresh water, and maps as well as routing orders, she was ready to depart late that evening, but was told to wait for some passengers. These arrived in the early morning hours of June 8, and she immediately departed. Ariadne had a crew of 38 and 16 passengers, among them several women and children. Quite a few of her complement had just joined in Tromsø, because several of her old crew had signed off.
In the course of the following day she was joined by Prins Olav and they sailed together (this ship was also sunk, follow link for details). That evening, Ariadne was attacked by German aircraft off Lofoten. A bomb hit forward of the bridge which destroyed the steering mechanism as well as setting her on fire. Another 3 bombs hit, damaging 2 of the lifeboats. According to the captain's report, the attack lasted for about 45 minutes. See also Marion Rustad's description of the attack at Warsailor Stories.
The maritime hearings were held in Newcastle-on-Tyne on June 24-1940 with Captain Tønseth, 1st Mate Ingebrigtsen, Able Seaman Øian, Ordinary Seaman Terjesen (lookout at the time of attack), and 1st Engineer Berentsen appearing.
According to the 1st mate's statements at the hearings there were about 6 aircraft in all. He was on duty on the bridge when they appeared and says a red light was dropped from one of the planes which he took to be a signal of imminent attack. After having sounded the alarm, he went to the radio station to send out distress calls, and while thus occupied he heard one bomb after another hit the ship. After about 10-15 minutes, a bomb hit in front of the station, causing the instruments to fall down, at which time he ran to the deck to his designated lifeboat, then placed as many women and passengers as he could see in this boat. However, as the boat was half way down, the forward tackle slipped and the about 10 people in the boat fell in the water, some of whom managed to get back in the boat, while others were picked up by another lifeboat. All this took place under continuous fire, piercing the boat with bullets.
As will be seen from the casualty list below, there was an unknown person by the name of Paul on board at the time. The 1st mate states that all he knows about him is that he was about 18 years old and had joined the Navy in Tromsø. The captain adds in his statement that this Paul, as well as Torleif Tollefsen and Hans Bakkeli, who both lost their lives in the attack, were not part of the regular crew, but had volunteered their services for this voyage, a Norwegian Navy Lieutenant having asked if they could come along.
The 1st mate further states that the roof of the bridge as well as the radio station were covered with sand bags, and he credits their survival to a great extent to that fact. He adds that both incendiary bombs and ordinary bombs were dropped.
Able Seaman Øian states that he was at the wheel when the attack started. He ran to his designated lifeboat on the port side but upon finding that it was destroyed, he proceeded to the starboard boat on the boat deck where he assisted the survivors, before going to the port aft boat which was launched without difficulties. As many survivors as possible were picked up from the water, among them several women and a 6 year old boy. All the witnesses state that the aircraft continued firing at the survivors during the rescue work.
The survivors were picked up by HMS Arrow a few hours later (June 10), where the injured were given first aid. Cook Aksel Holthe had died in the lifeboat and was buried at sea from HMS Arrow. They were landed at Scapa Flow on June 14, where 3rd Mate Kåre Gjerde, Stoker Magnus Johannesen and Stoker Rasmus Pedersen were admitted to a hospital, while the others were sent to Newcastle. 8 crew and 1 passenger had died.
Survivors & Casualties:
*Charlie Johannesen, age 22 in 1940, later settled in Canada. Kjell Rustad later lived at Lake Tahoe, California, where he built and operated a ski resort called "Granlibakken". Again, see this Guestbook message, which adds that he was a consultant for the ski jumping competition at Squaw Valley during the 1960 Winter Olympics. In the mid 1970's he retired to Carmel, CA where he passed away some years later. Here's a Guestbook message from his daughter.
Related external link:
Back to Ariadne on the "Ships starting with A" page.
Other ships by this name: There was also a Dutch ship by the name Ariadne, and a Finnish one.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Bergenske, byen og selskapet", Dag Bakka Jr., "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I - ref My sources..