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Owner: Skibs-A/S Oiltank
Built by Götaverken A/B, Gothenburg, Sweden in 1933.
Captain: Alexander Schach. Lillesand Sjømannsforening has more information about his long sea service (from 1891). He had been on board Belita since Jan.-1935 (external link, Norwegian text).
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.
According to Page 1 of the archive documents, Belita was on her way from Las Palmas to Trinidad when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. This voyage had started out in Genoa on March 24. She subsequently remained in Trinidad for over 3 weeks.
In June that year she's listed, together with Bra-Kar, Egda, Norma, Solstad, Sveve and Vestland, in Convoy OB 175, which left Liverpool June 27 and dispersed on the 30th. Her destination is given as Caripito; going back to the archive document, we learn that she arrived Trinidad on July 17, proceeding to Bermuda that same day, arriving July 23. She was scheduled for the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 61 on July 26, but is crossed out on the form with a note saying "To Halifax to await orders". She left Bermuda for Halifax that day, with arrival July 29, and appears to have been scheduled for Convoy HX 66 from there on Aug. 16, but is again crossed out on the form (the Norwegian Norne and others were sunk - follow the links for details). Belita eventually got away with the next convoy, HX 67, which left Halifax on Aug. 20-1940 and arrived Liverpool on Sept. 4; Belita stopped at Belfast Lough before proceeding to Avonmouth, where she arrived Sept. 9 (the reason for the long stay in Halifax is not known). A few days later, she's listed as bound for Abadan in Convoy OB 214, which originated in Liverpool on Sept. 15 and dispersed on the 18th. The Norwegian Leiesten and Sveve are also included. Belita arrived Abadan, via Capetown, on Nov. 6, having started out from Milford Haven on Sept. 14. Links to the OB convoys mentioned here have been provided within the Voyage Record.
In Febr.-1941, Belita is listed in Convoy SL 65, which left Freetown on Febr. 10 and arrived Liverpool on March 8; Belita stopped at Oban the day before, then continued to Rosyth and Leith (Page 1). A direct link to A. Hague's listing for this convoy can be found in the table above; as can be seen, he has also included Belinda, Bur, Fernlane, Morgenen, Polartank and Senta. The following month we find Belita, along with James Hawson, Rena and Vigrid, in Convoy OB 308, which originated in Liverpool on Apr. 6 and dispersed on the 13th, Belita arriving New York on Apr. 26. She subsequently remained there for over a month, before proceeding to Halifax on June 2 in order to join Convoy HX 132 on June 10, bound for Liverpool with fuel oil, arriving June 28. In July, she joined Convoy OB 345; departure Liverpool July 11, arrival Halifax July 26 - Belita, however, had detached for Curacao, where she arrived independently on Aug. 2. Bello, Geisha, Havprins, James Hawson, Marit, Salamis, Selvik, Solsten, Tanafjord, Vigsnes and Ørnefjell are also named in this convoy (link in table above).
The rest of Belita's 1941 voyages, and a few 1942 voyages, are shown on Page 2.
Belita departed Trincomalee (Ceylon) on Febr. 23-1942, together with D/S Woolgar, initially bound for the straits of Makassar. Belita was redirected to the Coco Islands, but it seems the order did not reach her, and due to incoming reports about the Japanese advances the captain decided to take her to Fremantle as no further instructions were forthcoming - going back to the archive document, we learn that she arrived Fremantle on March 12, leaving again for Melbourne the next day. Woolgar did not receive news of the fall of Java, and proceeded to Tjilatjap, was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft - follow link to Woolgar for more details. It'll be noticed in Hague's Voyage Record that he indicates Belita needed repair of bomb damages as well - I have no further details on this, and have seen no mention of it elsewhere, but as can be seen (Page 2), she did spend a long time in Melbourne, where she had arrived from Fremantle on March 22. Departure is given as May 10, when she proceeded to Abadan.
Later that year, Belita was put into service as Fleet Oiler in the Indian Ocean.
In Oct.-1942 she's listed as the only Norwegian ship in Convoy PB 4, which left Bandar Abbas on Oct. 3 and arrived Bombay Oct. 9 (link in Voyage Record); however, Belita had detached from the convoy to proceed to Mombasa, where she arrived on the 15th, spending 3 weeks there. See Page 3.
More information on all the Norwegian ships mentioned here can be found via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.
In Nov.-1942 she was in Abadan, having arrived there from Mombasa on Nov. 18. She left again on Nov. 20 with a cargo of 9000 fuel oil for Mombasa, via Clarence Strait for convoy, with arrival the latter on Nov. 22, then departed on Nov. 27 in convoy. On the 29th she was ordered to leave the convoy (A. Hague has included her in Convoy PA 12, external link), then continued according to the Admiralty's instructions until midnight, Dec. 2, at which time her position was approx. 12 15N 55 40E, and course was altered.
Early in the morning of December 3 she was torpedoed, port(?) side amidships by the Japanese submarine I-29 (Izu) in position 11 29N 55 00E. The entire deck to tank No. 14 on the starboard side blew up, and the upper bridge and all wires were destroyed. Large pieces of iron were flung high into the air and fell down on the bridge amidships. She was covered in oil, making it almost impossible to move around. No radio signal could be sent out because the radio was ruined by oil and water. She had a heavy list to port, so much so that they were afraid she would capsize as well as break in 2, so the crew took to the lifeboats as quickly as they could. All 30 had gotten in 2 lifeboats and clear of the ship before the submarine came to the surface and Belita was shelled and set on fire by about 20 shells.
About an hour and a half after the torpedo had struck both lifeboats left the scene, the motorboat towing the other until Dec. 4 when they ran out of petrol, so had to start rowing. At that time they were close to Brothers Isles, and headed to South Brothers to find fresh water, then set course for the mainland, one of the boats landing near a village by the name of Token on Dec. 9, the other near Alula that same afternoon. The locals in both places were very helpful.
In the afternoon of Dec. 11 a boat* arrived to take the men in the captain's boat to Alula, where they arrived in the evening of the 13th. On the 20th, 2 British minesweepers took them to Aden. Upon arrival there late in the afternoon of the next day they were taken care of by the Norwegian Consul. With the exception of the captain, all the officers and engineers were later sent to Bombay.
The maritime hearings were held in Suez on Febr. 2-1943 with Captain Schach (in his cabin when the ship was torpedoed), Mechanic W. Ofsbo (on duty in the engine room), Ordinary Seaman Jones (at the wheel), and Ordinary Seaman O'Handly appearing.
Back to Belita on the "Ships starting with B" page.
I have a picture of a lovely painting of a post war Belita, painted by Jan Goedhart, Holland who sailed on her. If anyone would like to have this picture, please contact me via the address provided at the end of this page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. others for cross checking info. - ref My sources.