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To Dukat on the "Ships starting with D" page.
Manager: Arne Sveen, Oslo
Built in Shanghai in 1920.
Captain: Johannes Slaastad
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These documents from the National Archives of Norway show some of her voyages. Unfortunately, it looks as though Page 2, showing her 1941 voyages, is missing. This will be added later if I find it (some of the docs are not in order, and the missing page may have ended up elsewhere). For now, here are
Dukat departed Bangkok for Kohsichang on Nov. 30-1941, with arrival that same day, then left for Hong Kong that evening. She had a cargo of 14 000 sacks of rice and about 160 tons general. On Dec. 6, when about 400 miles from Hong Kong, 2 Japanese aircraft circled above the ship for a while before taking off in the direction of Kemran Bay. The following day the captain heard on the radio that a large Japanese convoy had been observed steaming south, but nothing regarding an imminent involvement of Japan in the war until the next afternoon, Dec. 8 when he heard on the radio that Japan had declared war on England and the U.S. In the same broadcast from London he heard that Japanese aircraft had bombed Hong Kong, Manilla, Singapore and Bangkok. At that time they were about 60 miles from Hong Kong.
He called everyone on deck to inform them of the new situation and after a lifebelt had been handed out to each man they were ordered to remain on deck as much as possible in the course of the night and not go to bed. The ship was blacked out and both mates placed on duty on the bridge together with Captain Slaastad. At 11:25 that night 2 war ships came steaming up from behind them, ordering them to stop. Around midnight they were told to follow behind one of the war ships, then the next morning, Dec. 9, the ship signalled for them to continue to Hie-che-shin Bay, China (unsure of the spelling of all place names in this report) about 80 miles north of Hong Kong. They arrived at 10 in the morning and a couple of hours later a gunboat appeared (No. 133) and Dukat was boarded by 2 officers and some soldiers. After the captain had been asked various questions (scroll down on the page Warsailor stories) the Japanese left again about an hour later, but before they disembarked the Japanese flag was raised on Dukat. That same afternoon another boarding party came on board, and this time bajonettes were placed on their guns and soldiers posted around the ship while her crew was ordered on deck. One of the stokers was a bit slow and was smacked several times by an annoyed officer. Dukat was subsequently examined, then remained there for 4 days.
On Dec. 13 they received orders from the Japanese Navy to be ready to sail in convoy to Amoy the next morning. They arrived Amoy in the morning of Dec. 16, and on the 20th they were told that her cargo was to be discharged. During the 4 days they had remained at Hie-che-shin Bay they had received some fish and vegetables from a war ship. While the Naval officers who came on board after arrival Amoy were polite enough, the soldiers who now and again embarked were not, helping themselves generously to the food on board. She did not get any more supplies until Dec. 23; this consisted of meat, bread and vegetables, which was equally distributed among all on board, but that evening some Japanese soldiers came on board again, and when they left they carried with them several cases of eggs as well as bananas and meat. The unloading of cargo was completed in the afternoon of the 24th and the next day Dukat anchored up at a location determined by a Japanese Navy officer.
On Jan. 14-1942 the captain was informed that Dukat's Chinese crew was to remain on board to work for the Japanese; if they refused they would be thrown in jail. 2 days later, on Jan. 17* Captain Slaastad, 1st Mate Kåre Foss Olsen, 2nd Mate Reidar Andreassen,1st Engineer Rudolf Wilhelm Hansen, and 2nd Engineer John Alme were ordered ashore and accommodated at Hope & Wilhelmina hospital at Kulangshu, while Japanese officers took their place on Dukat. The captain says 50 people were interned at this hospital, Norwegian, British, Russian and Chinese, including 4 women and 2 children. On Febr. 4, 5 and 6-1942 all the captains (there were 7 in all) were taken to a prize court in Amoy - again, scroll down to the transcription at Warsailor stories. On the last day in court the captain asked why the Norwegians were regarded as enemies of Japan, and was told that they were very difficult to place due to the fact that the Norwegian government was in London (see my page about Nortraship).
After about 6 months, 16 of the prisoners were freed, so that during the last year Dukat's officers spent there, there were 31 men and 3 women left at Hope hospital. They did not have to work, other than keeping the various rooms and the courtyard clean. In order to get money for some extra food they had to sell some of their belongings, though didn't get much for them. The place had plenty of books and magazines, and they could also play ping-pong and volleyball. During the summertime they were allowed a couple of hours' roaming around the island every day, even went swimming at one of the beaches. (From Jan.-1943 they received Norwegian money from the Swedish Consulate in Shanghai).
On May 25 (year? still 1942?) the prisoners were transported to Shanghai on an old cargo vessel with arrival Shanghai on May 29 where they were accommodated at the Naval YMCA, then on June 13, 13 officers from the Merchant Navy (Norwegian and British) were moved to Shanghai War Prisoners Camp. 5 days after arrival they were set to work on the farm that belonged to the camp. The captain says it had an excellent medical department with 3 American and 1 English doctor, an American dentist and about 25 patient caretakers. 1st Engineer Rudolf Hansen was admitted to the hospital suffering from a serious heart condition and though everything possible was done for him, he died on March 17 (year?*) and was buried the next day.
He says they had plenty of food at this camp thanks to the International Red Cross in Shanghai which sent supplies into the camp every 10th and 25th day of the month. When they arrived at the camp there were about 1500 prisoners there, but in Aug. of that same year 520 were sent to Japan. Later some Italian prisoners arrived as well as some crews from American aircraft that had been shot down.
At the beginning of March-1945(? see link to guestbook message below) they were told that all the inmates of Shanghai War Prisoners Camp were to be sent north, and 100 prisoners left to get the new camp ready. On May 8, 25 prisoners were sent to a hospital in Shanghai, while the camp's equipment and the prisoners' belongings were transported to Kiangwan railway station and loaded into railroad cars by the prisoners, whereupon the remaining 900 inmates also travelled north (May 9), 30-50 people per car with 4 soldiers in each. The cars were divided by barbed wire into 3 compartments, with the middle being for soldiers and the other 2 for the prisoners. For this voyage they were given 3 loaves of bread for the first day, but again thanks to the International Red Cross they also had some canned goods. 7 prisoners managed to escape during this transport, while the rest arrived Feng Tai (Fengtai?) on May 14, about 7 km southwest of Peking, where they were accommodated at a large warehouse for about 5 weeks. Conditions there were terrible.
On June 18 (June 10?) they were moved again, this time the destination was Japan, again by train. They arrived Pusan, Korea on June 23 where they were placed in barracks about 1 km from the railway station. Conditions here were even worse than they had been at Feng Tai. They departed Pusan by ship on June 28, arriving Susa, Japan the next day where they spent the night at a schoolhouse before continuing by train the following day, this time in "proper passenger cars" according to the captain's report. They were given rice and vegetables 3 times a day. On July 2 they arrived Yokohama where the 5 Norwegians(?was the 1st engineer still with them? Or perhaps Bernt Anker Olsen was with them? See below) and 45 Italians were taken off the train and sent to Tokyo Camp No. 2 (while the rest continued north).
When they arrived the camp it had 112 prisoners. The captain says they spent quite a bit of their time in air raid shelters due to the constant allied air attacks, and on the night between July 12 and 13 the bombs landed only about 150 meters from the camp. On the night leading up to July 26 the camp was completely destroyed and 22 prisoners and 15 Japanese were killed while 2 prisoners were injured. In the surrounding area about 600 people were killed. All the prisoners were in air raid shelters but 3 of them got direct hits, as did the other buildings in the camp. A bomb fell 10 meters from the shelter in which the Norwegians and 35 other prisoners sat, but none of them were injured. The next day they were all ordered to dig out the dead, finding 13 men. On the 27th they were sent to another camp about 7 km away, then on Aug. 1 another attack occurred, but though there were 2 direct hits, nobody was hurt.
Finally, on Aug. 16 they received the news that the war was over.
The above is from a report presented at the maritime hearings in New York on Oct. 15-1945. The 4 surviving officers from Dukat are said to have been sent home to Norway later that month with Stavangerfjord. Looking at Stavangerfjord's voyages for this period we learn that she had been to Norway in Sept./Oct.-1945, then headed back to New York on Oct. 12, with arrival Oct. 23. She left New York again on Nov. 1 and arrived Bergen, via Kirkwall, on Nov. 10, proceeding to Oslo that same day.
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Back to Dukat on the "Ships starting with D" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I - based on the ship's logs and diaries, as well as the captain's report - ref. My sources.