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Manager: Fred. Olsen & Co., Oslo
Built by Odense Staalskibsværft, Odense in 1921 for A/S Ganger Rolf (Fred. Olsen), Oslo. 65.53m x 0.54m x 3.88 m, single steel propeller powered by a 6 cyl. oil/diesel engine 4 SCSA, developing 225 hp. Aft machinery built by Burmeister & Wain, Copenhagen. One deck, a 42 m poop-deck and a 9.4 m forecastle.
Captain: Knut Johansen
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each (note that some listings are incomplete). Where the "Convoy" column is left blank, it means that convoy is not known.
Errors may exist, and some voyages may be missing.
A visitor to my website has told me that Balzac rescued the 4 survivors from a raft from the Swedish Flandria which had been torpedoed by U-9 on Jan. 18-1940. They had been on the raft for about 48 hours when they were picked up - the external website that I've linked to below has more on this attack. (He also says Balzac was 1 mile from Roker pier light, Sunderland when she was mined later that year, giving the date as July 26).
Balzac is said to have run aground in The Minches (as did a British vessel) when in Convoy NS 2 for Narvik on the night leading up to May 6-1940. Note however, that there seems to be some confusion as to the nationality of this ship - she's listed as the British Balzac of 5372 gt in Convoy NS 2 at the external website that I've linked to below. In fact, from Page 1 of the documents received from the National Archives of Norway, we learn that the Norwegian Balzac was in Hull from May 4 to May 7-1940. (Balzac, presumably the British ship, got herself free and was directed to Stornoway where her cargo of anti aircraft materials was transferred to a British vessel which subsequently proceeded to Narvik).
A few days later she (the Norwegian Balzac) shows up in Convoy OA 145, which left Southend on May 10-1940 (for info, this convoy joined up with Convoy OB 145 from Liverpool on May 12, the combined convoy forming the Gibraltar bound Convoy OG 29*, which arrived Gibraltar on May 18). No destination is given for Balzac on this occasion, but going back to Page 1, we learn that she arrived Nantes on May 13; according to A. Hague she had been detached from the OA convoy on May 12.
The following month we find her, together with Madrono and Tautra, in Convoy OA 166, which left Southend on June 11 and joined up with OB 166 on June 13, forming Convoy OG 33*, which arrived Gibraltar on the 19th, but she was not bound for Gibraltar on that occasion either; she later arrived The Downs on June 16. The archive document now gives her voyage information as "Cowes for Sunderland", arrival Sunderland June 19. She's also listed in Convoy OA 173 a few days later; departure Southend June 24, joined up with OB 173 on June 27, the combined convoy forming OG 35*, which arrived Gibraltar on July 1. Again, Balzac was not present when the OB convoy was met; she was on a voyage from Sunderland for Cowes, where she arrived on June 25, having left Sunderland on June 21/22 (Page 1). Direct links to all these OA convoys have been provided within A. Hague's Voyage Record above.
Related external links:
Convoy NS 2 - As can be seen, the British Balzac is listed in this convoy, not the Norwegian ship.
According to Page 2 of the archive documents, Balzac had arrived Sunderland from The Downs on July 24-1940. She's said to have left Sunderland again on July 27 (but this should probably be July 26 - archive doc. gives sinking date as July 26) with 1350 tons of coal for Cowes, Isle of Wight, on her 3rd such voyage. While anchored about 2 1/2 n. miles off Sunderland pier and waiting for a convoy (north of Hendon Rock), an explosion occurred underneath her, a little aft of amidships towards the port side. The ship did have degaussing installed, but it was believed that the (German laid) mine had exploded just as her engine was stopped (this according to the boatswain's statement at the maritime hearings. He also said that he had heard the Norwegian Stalheim was lost in the same manner, by turning her engines off when on top of a mine. Stalheim did not have degaussing installed at the time, however).
Balzac broke in two and sank within minutes, bow first, while listing to port. The survivors, most of whom had jumped overboard, were rescued by a pilot vessel. 8 men, including the 2 British gunners had been on a raft, 3 were picked up from the water by the pilotboat. 1 man went under half way between the raft and the ship, while Ordinary Seaman Høe and the messboy were seen standing on board and were believed to have gone down with the ship. The captain and the British pilot had been in the saloon at the time of the explosion. The steward and Able Seaman Kristoffersen were taken to a hospital and were still there at the time of the hearings, which were held in London on Aug. 13-1940 with Boatswain Einar Johannesen, Deck Boy Thor Grini, and Able Seaman Hans Wold appearing.
Ron Young (see sources at the end of this page) says she lies at a depth of 16-17 m today, and gives the reference 54 54 521N 001 19 320W and 54 54 510N 001 19 621W, 1 mile southeast of Roker lighthouse. She was "discovered" in 1978 and at that time the upside down stern section of the hull stood some 8-9 m off the seabed, with just a short shaft protruding from the rear where the propeller had been (since then, however, the sea has taken its toll on the hull metal). The bronze propeller had been salvaged by two divers using explosives in the 1960's. There also used to be a row of 8 brass portholes, but most of them have also been removed by someone. The bow and middle part of the ship lie about 70 m to the northeast of the stern section.
Related external link:
Back to Balzac on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Other ships by this name:
There was also a British steamship by this name, sunk by the Auxiliary cruiser Atlantis on June 22-1941, about 400 miles east of Maceio, Brazil. Most of the crew were taken prisoners, 3 died. Additionally, Italy had a steamer by the name Balzac (the former British Tadorna), bombed and sunk by U.S. aircraft on March 7-1943, 20 miles north/northeast of Zembra Island.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "The Comprehensive Guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast", Vol. Two, Ron Young (who also gives the date as July 26), "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. others for cross checking info. - ref My sources.