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Manager: O. Grolle Olsen & I. Hysing Olsen, Bergen
Built by J. L. Thompson & Sons Ltd., North Sands, Sunderland in 1917. Previous name Tenterden until 1920. According to this external page, she was delivered as Tenterden in Oct.-1917 to Norfolk & North American Steam Shipping Co. (Furness, Withy & Co), London. From 1920, owners were A/S Gro (A/S Jacob R. Olsen), Bergen, renamed Gro. From 1922, A/S D/S Gro (O. Grolle Olsen & I. Hysing Olsen), Bergen, no name change. From 1938, A/S O. Grolle Olsen & I. Hysing Olsens Rederi, Bergen, same name.
Captain: Paul Brun
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
As will be seen when going to the archive document above, Gro was on her way from Hampton Roads to Bergen when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, but put in to Kirkwall, where she arrived Apr. 11. The document indicates she proceeded to Tromsø, Norway about a month later, but arrival there is not given.
She managed to get out of Norway on June 9-1940, was attacked by aircraft on June 12 in position 70 05N 04 40E, but reached U.K. with only minor damages. She had started out from Kirkenes, where she had been unloading coal, and en route to the U.K. she stopped at Honningsvåg to take on board some people who wanted to get out of Norway, as well as 100 tons aluminum which had been transported north by M/K Grimsøy. Going back to the archive document, we learn that Gro arrived Kirkwall on June 20, proceeding to Sydney, C.B. and Montreal a week later, with arrival Montreal July 18.
In Montreal, Gro had loaded over 6000 tons of wheat for Manchester, U.K., then arrived Sydney, C.B. on Aug. 1-1940 for convoy. On Aug. 15 they received orders for degaussing and this was subsequently installed at the Sydney Foundry and Engineering Works, completed on Aug. 24. The next day, she joined the slow Convoy SC 2, which sailed in 9 columns with Gro in station No. 83. The Germans had desiphered the British sailing codes for this convoy by Aug. 30, and knew exactly where it was to meet the escort from the U.K., so 3 U-boats were sent to attack, reaching the meeting place shortly after the escort had formed around the convoy.
After 2 British ships had been torpedoed in the early morning hours of Sept. 7 (Neptunian and José de Larrinaga) the convoy adopted a zig-zag course in an effort to shake off the attackers, but Gro received a torpedo on the port side* amidships from U-47 (Prien) at about 02:00 in position 58 30N 16 10W (northwest of Rockall). The boilers exploded and hot steam gushed out. She broke in two and started to sink right away, 10 minutes later she was gone.
21 men, including the captain had gotten away in the port lifeboat (the starboard motorboat was blown to pieces), 11 were missing, 8 of whom had been in the engine room, stoke hold or coal bunkers. Just before Gro had broken in 2 the men in the boat had seen 2 shadows move on the lower bridge, but could do nothing to investigate when she sank shortly thereafter. After a while 2 lights were seen on the water, assumed to be coming from one of the rafts or the gig, but in the gale force wind and high seas they were unable to row in that direction and the lights soon disappeared. (One of the rafts from Gro with 2 bodies tied to it was found on the ocean on Sept. 27 by HMS Periwinkle. This raft had belonged on the lower bridge. The dead men were the 2nd mate and possibly the messboy or the 3rd mate).
Galley Boy H. Sørensen, who had been standing on the grating over the engine at the time of the explosion had been badly burnt all over his body by the steam pouring out. He was covered up and taken care of as best they could. At dawn the survivors set sail in an easterly direction. The hood was put up on the boat and this provided some shelter against the cold wind. The boat also had a warm coat and oilskins for each of them as well as water, bread, butter and canned food.
On Sept. 10 they spotted a ship and tried to cross its course so that they would be seen. By 19:00 they had all been picked up by the British D/S Burdwan (Captain C. R. Mill) in 56 25N 09 35W and given the best of care. The injured galley boy as well as some of the others, who had taken ill from sitting in the boat in wet clothes for 89 hours were given medical treatment. As this ship was headed for Capetown** they were transferred to HMS Arabis on Sept 11 (escorting a Liverpool bound convoy***) and were landed in Liverpool in the evening of the 13th. The galley boy, stoker O. Moy and the cook were taken to a hospital, while the others were accommodated at various locations.
Måkefjell (also in Convoy SC 2), captain Øywind Meitzner, reported having collided with a German U-boat northwest of Ireland on Sept. 9, parallelled by Prien's own report that he was almost hit by a cargo ship in this convoy.
Back to Gro on the "Ships starting with G" page.
Norway (Biørn Biørnstad & Co.) had also lost a ship by this name to WW I, originally delivered in Jan- 1895 as Alagonia to owners in Liverpool, built in Port Glasgow, 2667 gt. Had misc. British owners until 1903, when she was renamed Ros for owners in Stockholm, Sweden. Sold in Febr.-1916 to D/S A/S Avenir (Biørn Biørnstad & Co.), Oslo and renamed Gro - torpedoed and sunk by UC 47 off Start Point on Aug. 22-1917, voyage Glasgow-Rouen with coal.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Hjemmeflåten - mellom venn og fiende", Lauritz Pettersen, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum) and misc. for cross checking details - (ref. My sources).