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Owner: Aktieselskapet Borgestad.
Delivered from Flensburger Schiffbauges, Flensburg, Germany (440) as Bidevind to A/S Borgestad, Porsgrunn in Apr.-1938. 414.3' x 55.7' x 25', 5 cyl. 2 TDV DM (MAN AG, Augsburg), 3400 bhp.
Captain: Marcus Roberg.
Judging from the information found on Page 1 above, it looks like Bidevind was on her way to Bermuda when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940 - she arrived there from the East Indies on Apr. 14, later proceeding to Kingston and Boston.
In June-1940, she lost a crew member. Ref. external link below.
Related external link:
Bidevind departed Bombay on March 19-1942 for New York with 7000 tons manganese ore and general, via Cape Town for routing instructions. She arrived Cape Town late in the afternoon of Apr. 4 and left the following day (Page 3). On Apr. 30, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-752 (Schroeter), position 39 35N 72 42W* (this was the U-boat that had attacked Reinholt the week before, and sank Leikanger later that summer).
According to the official sinking report, Bidevind was on charter to Silver Line, London at the time of loss. She was on a course 306° true, sailing at a speed of 12.5 knots, 25' mean draft, zig-zagging, weather and sea were calm, slightly hazy with a full moon. There were 3 lookouts; the 3rd mate on the starboard wing of the bridge, a man on the port wing and one on top of the wheelhouse. Bidevind had no armament on board. The boat was seen off the starboard beam immediately prior to the attack, going in an opposite, parallel course at about 10 knots, but no torpedo track was seen before the 1st torpedo hit in No. 4 hold aft of the engine room on the starboard side, about 12' below the water line, damaging the generators and shattering most of the cast iron pipes. The radio aerial was also damaged. No. 4 hold and shaft alley slowly flooded, causing Bidevind to start listing to starboard. An SOS was sent on the emergency equipment, but this was not acknowledged.
The crew of 36 abandoned ship in 2 lifeboats and a motorboat within 5 minutes of the first attack. The U-boat, bearing easterly at a 90° angle to Bidevind's course, then fired a 2nd torpedo which hit in the crew's quarters aft, shattering the stern and throwing debris approximately 100 yards. The entire stern was immediately flooded and she started to sink very quickly. Pieces of iron flying from the ship in the second explosion had damaged the port lifeboat and caused injuries to some of the 17 men in it (the boatswain, Ordinary Seaman Rasmussen and Oiler Moqvist). A report presented at the subsequent maritime hearings states: "The motorboat quickly came to the scene and took both lifeboats in tow in order to get away from the area, because one expected the lifeboats to be shot at". We now know that such behaviour was not at all common practice among German U-boat crews, but the Norwegians must have heard rumours to that effect.
After having towed for about half an hour the occupants and some supplies were transferred from the damaged boat to the motorboat, and the injured taken care of as well as possible under the circumstances. The damaged boat was let go, and with the starboard boat in tow course was set for nearest land, arriving Seaside Hights, New Jersey the next day, May 1. They landed at the Coast Guard station near Toms River, where the injured were taken to a hospital. The following day, Bidevind's crew were sent by bus to New York.
In the Norwegian magazine "Krigsseileren No. 1 for 1988 there's a more detailed description of Bidevind's last day, written by one of the able seamen. He had previously served on Sønnavind and had joined Bidevind in New York in the fall of 1941. He says Bidevind had departed New York for Irak on Nov. 7-1941 (compare with Page 2), travelling alone until they came to Cape Town where they took in some bunkers before continuing to Basra (the voyage had taken 50 days). She had some aircraft on her deck which were unloaded in Basra, then they continued to Bombay to discharge the rest of the cargo. While there, No. 5 hold was filled with hides, stowed in layers with salt in between each layer. She departed in March-1942 (see also Page 3) for another 50-60 days' voyage across to New York, again via Cape Town, then continued in a zig-zag course, no convoy is mentioned. They had seen the lights on Coney Island and had about 3 hours to go before reaching the Sandy Hook pilotboat, and those who were off duty were happily getting their best clothes spruced up, very much looking forward to going ashore, when the first torpedo hit.
The boats were lowered without problems; Radio Operator J. Paco stayed on board to send out SOS signals before he and the captain joined the others in the port boat, just before another torpedo hit, causing an enormous wave to come towards the port boat which was about 12-15 meters off the side of the ship, and debris flying over their heads (he does not say they were hit by this debris). By the time all this had cleared, the ship was gone. They saw the other 2 boats far away, then the motorboat, having picked up the starboard boat, came towards them, whereupon they distributed themselves in 2 boats in order to reach land as quickly as possible. The U-boat was not seen at this time. Using the compass they headed towards the coast, landing at the beach in Atlantic City 12 hours later (May 1) and were met by the Coast Guard, who let them stay at the fire station in the area. The next day, they were taken to Brooklyn by bus. The author of this story later joined Tercero (June-1942).
The maritime hearings were held in New York on May 7-1942 with Captain Roberg, the 3rd mate (on duty on the bridge), Able Seaman Rivedal (lookout), Able Seaman Rasmussen (helmsman), the carpenter (lookout), Radio Operator Hov, and the 4th engineer appearing.
For info, U-752 was sunk a year later - ref. external link below for more details.
Related external links:
Seeker - This website used to have pictures of Bidevind, Norness and Varanger, and a "map" showing the location of the wrecks, but I can no longer find the pages. The text for Bidevind said that the collapsed remains of the 414' hull lie in 190' of water today.
Back to Bidevind on the "Ships starting with B" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, official sinking report from British archives received from a visitor to my website, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum) and misc. others for cross checking info as named within the narrative - ref My sources for book details.