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Owner: A/S Ganger Rolf
Built in Christiania (Oslo today) in 1924. Originally started at the turn of 1919/1920 at Oddens Skibsbyggeri & mek. Verksted for a Tønsberg company, then for O. T. Tønnevold as Octa, but due to financial difficulties, she was eventually delivered to Fred. Olsen as Bollsta in May-1924.
Captain: Thomas Christiansen
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 (it'll be noticed that some listings are incomplete). Where the "Convoy" column is left blank, it means that convoy is not known.
Errors may exist, and several voyages are missing.
Bollsta is included in A. Hague's listing for the Norway-U.K. Convoy HN 7 in Jan.-1940. He says she returned to Norway the following month with Convoy ON 15, and in March we find her, with general cargo for Rouen, in the original Advance Sailing Telegram for Convoy HN 20 from Norway. A. Hague gives her arrival Rouen as March 28. As will be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, she was in Antwerp when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9, having arrived there from Rouen that same day. It'll also be noticed that she later spent quite a long time at Tyne (or Shields), before returning to France.
In June that same year she made a voyage from Milford Haven to Sydney, C.B. (Cape Breton). I have no convoy information for this voyage. With a cargo of pit props for Immingham, she returned to the U.K. in July in Convoy HX 59 from Halifax; again, see Page 1, which also shows a long stay in Manchester that fall. She later made a voyage to Reykjavik, and from there she proceeded to Sydney, C.B. again (independently, according to A. Hague). Early in Dec.-1940 she's listed in the slow Sydney (C.B.)-U.K. Convoy SC 15, cargo of lumber for Leith, where she arrived Jan. 10-1941, spending a couple of weeks there, with another long stay at Clyde later on.
In Febr.-1941 she's listed as bound for Huelva in the U.K.-Gibraltar Convoy OG 54 (which originated in Liverpool Febr. 25 and arrived Gibraltar March 14) - again see Page 1 for information on her movements in this period (the document gives her destination as Melilla, but arrival there is not given). OG 54 will be added to its own individual page in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named on the page listing ships in all OG convoys. The Norwegian Polarsol, Rolf Jarl and Spero are also named. Bollsta headed back to the U.K. on March 25 with Convoy HG 57, bound for Workington with iron ore, with arrival there on Apr. 11. A month later we find her, together with Belinda, Idefjord, Lista and Solitaire, in Convoy OB 322, which left Liverpool on May 12 - see the external link provided in the table above. Her destination is given as Iceland on that occasion, and she arrived Reykjavik on May 19, according to Page 2.
From Reykjavik, she subsequently made another voyage to Sydney, C.B., arriving there on June 9-1941 (again having sailed independently, according to A. Hague), later returning to the U.K. in Convoy SC 36*, which left Sydney, C.B. on July 1 and arrived Liverpool on the 19th; Bollsta stopped at Belfast on the 18th. She had a cargo of lumber and had station 95 of the convoy, which also included several other Norwegian ships, namely Berto (returned), Bjerka, Chr. Knudsen, Don, Einvik (did not sail?), Loke, N. T. Nielsen Alonso, Rena and Rym. Some of these ships, including Bollsta, returned across the Atlantic the following month in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 4, Bollsta arriving Sydney, C.B. on Aug. 22, the convoy having been dispersed on the 18th. A. Hague now has her in Convoy SC 44*, which left Sydney, C.B. on Sept. 11 and arrived Liverpool on Sept. 30; according to Page 2, Bollsta arrived Loch Ewe Sept. 27. The Norwegian Barbro was sunk in this convoy (follow the link for details), which also included Carrier, Ada, Borgfred, Cetus, Gudvin, Hjalmar Wessel, Iron Baron, Lago, Marita, Rolf Jarl, Sirehei, Sneland I, South Africa and Spero.
Having made some voyages around the U.K., Bollsta later joined the westbound Convoy ON 33, which originated in Liverpool on Nov. 3. She arrived Reykjavik on Nov. 11, having sailed from Loch Ewe on the 5th. Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 2 and Page 3, with convoy information in the Voyage Record above. (It'll be noticed that she had quite a long stay in Sunderland in Febr./March 1942).
Skipping now to the end of Apr.-1942, when I have her in Convoy RU 21 from Reykjavik, carrying vehicles and bound for Belfast and Swansea, arriving the latter on May 7. Later that month, she joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 96*, which originated in Liverpool on May 19. Bollsta, cargo of coal, joined this convoy from Belfast Lough the next day, and was again in the company of several other Norwegian ships, namely Berto, Carmelfjell, Fagersten, Granfoss, Ingerfem, Norelg, Norfalk and Rolf Jarl. According to Page 3, Bollsta arrived Halifax on June 5 and remained there for 2 weeks before proceeding to Sydney, C.B. in order to join the slow Convoy SC 89 on June 26, cargo of lumber for Manchester, where she arrived July 11.
She subsequently joined Convoy ON 116* in order to head back across the Atlantic. This convoy departed Liverpool on July 25 and included the Norwegian Bur, Cetus, Ledaal, Snar and Vanja, as well as the Panamanian Norvik, which is listed under the N's of this website because she had Norwegian managers. Bollsta arrived Halifax on Aug. 10. She's now mentioned in connection with the ships leaving Halifax to form Convoy SC 96 on Aug. 11, however, she's not included in the Advance Sailing Telegram, and she was not part of this convoy; she just happened to leave port at the same time as the ships in SC 96. In fact, she left Halifax that day in order join Convoy HS 40 (link in Voyage Record) and was bound for Bathurst, N.B., where she arrived Aug. 14 - Page 4 shows her movements in this period.
With a cargo of lumber for Gt. Yarmouth, she was scheduled for the Sydney portion of Convoy SC 98 on Aug. 30, but instead joined Convoy SC 99 from Halifax on Sept. 5. Via Loch Ewe and Methil Roads, she arrived Gt. Yarmouth Roads on Sept. 25. She subsequently made voyages around the U.K. (Page 4). Her 1943 voyages start on Page 5 (showing a long stay in Hull that spring) and continue on Page 6, with convoy information in A. Hague's Voyage Record above.
In the spring of 1943 we find her, with a cargo of coal, in station 23 of Convoy OS 46/KMS 13, which originated in Liverpool on Apr. 15 and split up on the 24th, the OS portion continuing to Freetown with arrival there on May 3, while the KMS* portion, in which Bollsta took part, arrived Gibraltar on Apr. 26. Bollsta, however, was bound for Algiers, where she arrived on Apr. 28, having started out from Oban on the 15th. Again, see the external link provided in the table above for details on the combined convoy, which also included the Norwegian Belnor, Brisk and San Andres.
Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 6 and in the Voyage Record (occasional long stays in port are shown). According to A. Hague, she took part in the Allied invasion of Italy on Sept 3 (Operation Avalanche - see links in Voyage Record).
On December 2-1943 a large allied convoy of tankers, ammunition ships and supply vessels was at anchor in Bari (Adriatic Sea) with much needed supplies for the British, American and Canadian armies for their advance up the Italian mainland. The Liberty ship USS John Harvey (captain Knowles) had a cargo of liquid mustard gas bombs (in case the enemy should resort to chemical warfare) and was guarded by a unit of the 701st Chemical Maintenance Company. 5 of the ships were Norwegian (Bollsta, Norlom, Vest, Lom and Salamis - a message in my Guestbook states that Hermelin was also present, but quickly got away). From Page 6, we learn that Bollsta had arrived Bari on Dec. 1.
About 20 enemy planes attacked and when one of the ammunition ships was hit and blew up, ship after ship caught on fire. All the gunners on Bollsta ran to her guns to participate in the defence against the aircraft, while several ships near them were hit by bombs and set on fire. Suddenly, a heavy explosion occurred on board and a bomb was believed to have struck in the waterline amidships on the starboard side, resulting in a large hole in her side, while at the same time a box of ammunition on the poop exploded. Shortly afterwards, she was struck by a bomb in Hatch No. 1, blowing up all the hatches on the foredeck and causing provisions and other cargo to fly up in the air, while the bridge partly collapsed. Bollsta listed to port and started to sink by the bow while water was gushing in, so the lifeboats were launched.
Among the 6 in the starboard boat Gunner Olav Jacobsen was severely injured, having lost his leg, and was immediately sent to a hospital but died that same night. Captain Christiansen, the 2 British radio operators and the injured Polish messboy Jan Sobzyk were taken ashore by a British vessel; the mess boy died that night. The captain was also admitted to a hospital in Bari, later moved to Brindisi. He was subsequently sent to Algiers, then by troop transport to the U.K. Gunner Sigurd Heggelund stayed at 98 General Hospital in Bari for 58 days. 2nd Engineer Erling Eylertsen also died on the night of the explosion, while Able Seaman Gunnar Arnesen died in the hospital on Dec. 10 and Gunner Ole Folkvord on the 16th.
Others were sent to the Royal Navy Club where they spent the night (when they left the harbour, Bollsta's forepart was under water while her afterpart was up in the air). One of them, Able Seaman Herman Karlsen, was later sent to Taranto, then on to Algiers where he was questioned on Dec. 18; at that time none of the others had arrived Algiers yet, so he was the only one questioned. 1st Mate Paul Ekrem and 1st Engineer Gustav Clausen were also sent to Algiers and gave statements there later. The 1st mate had gotten ashore by swimming from the ship, after having made sure the injured men were brought in first. He had remained in a hospital in Bari for 2 weeks and when he got out he saw Bollsta again, this time only her masts and part of the funnel were visible. A few days later, he was sent to Tunisia by aircraft where he stayed another couple of days in a hospital before being sent on to another hospital near Algiers.
The end result of the carnage was over 1000 dead, many injured and suffering from the effects of the mustard gas. See also the external links at the end of this page.
Ships that became a total loss: Cassala 1797 gt (Italian, built 1902), Corfu 1409 gt (Italian, built 1907), Goggiam 1934 gt (Italian, built 1922).
Ships damaged: Argo 526 gt (Italian), Bicester 1050 gt (British), Brittany Coast 1389 gt (British), Crista 2590 gt (British), Dagö 1996 gt (Latvian, built 1917, under MoWT control from 1940 - tonnage is given as 2157 gt in "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939"), Grace Abbot 7191 gt (American), John M Schoefield 7181 gt (Am.), La Drôme* 1055 gt (French), Lyman Abbot 7176 gt (Am.), Odysseus 1057 gt (Dutch), Vest 5074 gt (Norwegian), Vienna 4227 gt (British), Zetland 1050 gt (British escort destroyer).
Ships sunk: Ardito [R 220] 3732, (Italian), Aube* 1055 (French, 1920), Barletta [D 16] 1975 (Italian, 1931), Bollsta, Devon Coast 646 (British, 1936), Norlom 6326 (Norw., 1919), Fort Athabaska 7192 (British, 1943), Fort Lajoie 7134 (British, 1942), Frosione 5202 (Italian, 1914), Genepesca II 1628 (Italian, 1940), John Bascom 7176 (Am., 1943), John Harvey 7177 (Am., 1943), John L Motley 7176 (Am., 1943), Joseph Wheeler 7176 (Am., 1942), Lars Kruse 1807 (Danish 1923, under MoWT control from 1940), Lom 1268 (Norw., 1920), Luciano Orlando (Italian), Lwow 1409 (Polish, 1932), MB 10 13 (Italian), Porto Pisano 226 (Italian), Puck 1065 (Polish, 1935), Samuel J Tilden 7176 (Am., 1942), Testbank 5083 (British, 1937), Volodda 4673 (Italian, 1915).
Most sources state that Bollsta was a total loss. The book "Olaf Tønnevold & Sønner 1878-1978" claims that she was later raised and repaired, then sailed for Italian owners for some years. In fact, Lillesand Sjømannsforening (external link) states that she was raised in 1948, taken over by Italian authorities and repaired, returning to service that same year as Stefano M for Fratelli Maggi fu Stefano, Genoa, Italy. Sold in 1950 to L'Italica de Nav. S.p.A., Genoa, renamed Sabino. Sold in 1958 to Nello Patella, Venice, Italy and renamed Coraggioso. Broken up in Italy in 1969.
Related external links:
Slaughter at Bari
Back to Bollsta on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Other ships by the name Bollsta: This was Fred. Olsen's 2nd ship with this name. The first one was built in Christiania in 1910 as the first in a series of 6 vessels built especially for the lumber trade, 1701 gt, sunk by German destroyers in 1917. The company also had a Bollsta later on (motor tanker), built Glasgow 1951, sold to Midland St. Co., Monrovia in 1964. Their 4th Bollsta (also a motor tanker) was built in Japan in 1965, sold to Panama in 1971.
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), a posting to my Ship Forum, and misc. others for cross checking info. - ref My sources.