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D/S Hallfried
Updated Oct. 1-2011

To Hallfried on the "Ships starting with H" page.

Crew List

Manager: P. Kleppe, Oslo
2968 gt, 1722 net, 5025 tdwt.
Signal Letters: LKCK

Built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Delaware in 1918. Launched as Pilón, completed as Garibaldi. Renamed Catherine Weems in 1925, Fairfield in 1928 (Quinnipiac Shipping Corp/Seas Shipping Co. Inc. [Robin Line], New York) until 1939, when she was sold to Norway and renamed Hallfried. "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939", R. W. Jordan gives this ship 2848 gt.

Captain: Abraham Asvall

Related items on this website:
Warsailor Stories - The story of someone who sailed on this ship from Aug.-1941 until March-1943, 3rd Engineer Sverre Skjæveland (Norwegian text).

A Guestbook message from the grandson of the captain.

A message in my Guestbook (from 2003) states that a Karl Hansen, who at that time lived in Loleta, California is a survivor of Hallfried. I've since learned that Karl Hansen and Thomas Patrick Shaw, who survived the sinking of Hallfried were one and the same man (see crew list below). By running a search on this website, I also found him in the crew list for Rym. His is an incredible story, as evidenced by the next few messages:

Many others later contacted me about this man - see this thread on one of my forums, as well as this posting, then in 2005, this message appeared in my Guestbook. Roger Griffiths (who has sent me a lot of my convoy information) visited the archives in Kew and found some documents with information on him, and from kind people in Norway, who were deeply moved by his situation, and who have been of invaluable help, I later learned that he also sailed on the following Norwegian ships during the war:
Lab, Fagersten, Lyra (then Hallfried), Sirehei, Norbris, and Elise.
After the war, he served on Nyholm, Nyholt, Kaia Knudsen, Concordia Star, Selvik, Athene, Høyanger and Hindanger.

Thomas, or Karl as he called himself, being in an advanced state of senility, was barely able to remember who he was, but the sinking of Hallfried was firmly etched in his mind. He wrote a poem about Hallfried, which he would recite to people he met on his wanderings, and which I've added below. Before long, his caretaker and I were able to piece parts of his life together, and also managed to get him a war pension. He lived with her family for quite some time after she had taken him in off the street; again, please read her moving Guestbook message about how that came to pass. A local newspaper heard about him, and published this article about him (external link). Sadly, T. P. Shaw, alias Karl Hansen, passed away on July 25-2008.

Thomas Patrick Shaw in 1946, and a more recent picture.

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From March-1940 to Oct.-1943:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Errors may exist, and some voyages are missing.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 March 23 Gibraltar Lerwick Apr. 10 Independent See also Page 1
Apr. 22 Lerwick Kirkwall Apr. 23 Independent
May 25 Kirkwall Clyde May 29 Independent
June 1 Clyde OB 159 Dispersed June 4.
Convoy available at OB 159
(external link)
June 4 Dispersed from OB 159 Hallifax June 18 Independent
June 19 Halifax St. John's, N.F. July 9 Independent A. Hague says:
Voyage data unknown,
however, see Page 1
(also, missing movements)
Aug. 4 St. John's, N.F. Sydney, C.B. Aug. 6 Independent
Aug. 8 Sydney, C.B. Methil Roads Aug. 24 HX 64 From Sydney, C.B.
Aug. 26 Methil Rochester Aug. 28 FS 263 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
Sept. 28 Rochester Southend Sept. 28 Independent
Sept. 29 Southend Immingham Sept. 30 FN 294 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Left Immingham Nov. 12
(Page 1).
Nov. 15 Humber Methil Nov. 16 FN 334 Convoy available at link above
Nov. 19 Methil Oban Nov. 21 EN 28/1 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 25 Oban OB 249 Dispersed 56 40N 17 21W, Nov. 28.
Convoy available at OB 249
(external link)
Nov. 26(?) Dispersed from OB 249 St. John's, N.F.* Dec. 10* Independent *Page 1 gives arrival St. John, N.B., Dec. 8
1941 Jan. 25 St. John's, N.F.* Yarmouth, N.S. Jan. 29 Independent *St. John, N.B.
Febr. 12 Yarmouth, N.S. Halifax Febr. 13 Independent
Febr. 18 Halifax Loch Ewe March 9 SC 23
March 12 Loch Ewe Methil March 14 WN 97 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
March 18 Methil Rochester March 21 FS 439A Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
Left Rochester Apr. 5
(Page 1).
Apr. 10 Southend Tyne Apr. 12 EC 5 Convoy available at EC convoys
(external link)
Apr. 29 Tyne Methil Apr. 29 FN 459 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
May 5 Methil Roads Loch Ewe May 7 EC 15 Convoy available at EC convoys
(external link)
May 8 Loch Ewe Oban May 9 Independent
May 12 Oban OB 321 For St. Lucia.
Dispersed May 17.
Convoy available at OB 321
(external link)
May 17 Dispersed from OB 321 St. Lucia June 6 Independent Via St. Thomas - See Page 1
June 18 St. Lucia Kingston June 21 Independent
July 1 Montego Bay Hampton Roads July 8 Independent
July 13 Hampton Roads Baltimore July 14 Independent
July 20 Baltimore Sydney, C.B. July 26 Independent
Aug. 1 Sydney, C.B. Loch Ewe Aug. 17 SC 39 Convoy will be added.
See ships in SC convoys
Aug. 18 Loch Ewe Methil Aug. 20 WN 169 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Aug. 21 Methil Southend Aug. 23 FS 574 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
See also Page 2
Sept. 2 Southend Loch Ewe Sept. 6 EC 68 Convoy available at EC convoys
(external link)
Sept. 9 Loch Ewe ON 14 For New Orleans.
Dispersed 56 25N 24 50W, Sept. 14
Sept. 14 Dispersed from ON 14 New Orleans Oct. 5 Independent
Nov. 9 New Orleans Freeport Nov. 11 Independent
Nov. 14 Freeport Sydney, C.B. Nov. 28 Independent
Dec. 4 Sydney, C.B. Liverpool Dec. 21 SC 58 On to Garston
(Page 2).
See also narrative below.
1942 Jan. 2 Liverpool ON 53 For Tampa.
Dispersed Jan. 19.
Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
Jan. 19 Dispersed from ON 53 St. John's, N.F. Jan. 25 Independent
Jan. 26 St. John's, N.F. Bay Bulls Jan. 26 Independent Left Bay Bulls Febr. 7
(Page 2).
May 12 St. John's, N.F. Sydney, C.B. May 14 CL 36 Convoy available at CL 36
(external link)
May 14 Sydney, C.B. Three Rivers May 18 Independent Missing movements, Page 2 above
May 29 Father Point Sydney, C.B. June 1 QS 4 Convoy available at QS 4
(external link)
June 5 Sydney, C.B. Loch Ewe June 18 SC 86
June 18 Loch Ewe Methil June 20 WN 298 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
June 21 Methil Hartlepool June 23 FS 835 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
June 28 Hartlepool Middlesbrough June 28
July 1 Middlesbrough Methil July 3 FN 749 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
July 3 Methil Loch Ewe July 5 EN 106 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
July 6 Loch Ewe Boston July 25 ON 110 Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
Aug. 5 Boston Halifax Aug. 7 BX 32 Convoy available at BX convoys
(external link)
Aug. 11 Halifax St. John's, N.F. Aug. 18 SC 96 Returned
(see also Page 3)
Sept. 1 St. John's, N.F. Belfast Lough Sept. 12 SC 98
Sept. 13 Belfast Lough Newport Sept. 14 BB 220 Convoy available at BB convoys
(external link)
Sept. 23 Newport Milford Haven Sept. 23 Independent
Sept. 25 Milford Haven Sydney, C.B. Oct. 14 ON 134 Via Belfast Lough
(Page 3).
Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
Oct. 15 Sydney, C.B. Halifax Oct. 17 SH 53 Convoy available at SH convoys
(external link)
Oct. 18 Halifax St. John, N.B. Oct. 20 HF 8 Convoy available at HF convoys
(external link)
Nov. 17 St. John, N.B. Halifax Nov. 19 FH 15 Convoy available at FH convoys
(external link)
Nov. 20 Halifax Loch Ewe Dec. 6 SC 110 Convoy will be added.
See ships in SC convoys
Dec. 6 Loch Ewe Methil* Dec. 8 WN 369 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
*See Page 3
Dec. 30 Methil Loch Ewe Jan. 2-1943 EN 179 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
1943 Jan. 3 Loch Ewe Halifax Jan. 25 ON 158 Arrived with weather damage
* Jan. 17 Gibraltar Almeria June 18 Independent
*The above voyage has been given the wrong date; departure should be June 17 and voyage belongs further down in the record - inserted there
Jan. 30 Halifax St. John, N.B. Febr. 1 HF 33 Convoy available at HF convoys
(external link)
Febr. 16 St. John, N.B. Halifax Febr. 18 FH 37 Convoy available at FH convoys
(external link)
Febr. 25 Halifax Liverpool March 14 SC 121
Apr. 20 Liverpool Clyde Apr. 21 Independent
May 20 Clyde Lisbon May 30 KX 10 Convoy available at KX 10
(external link)
June 13 Lisbon Gibraltar June 15 Independent
* June 17 Gibraltar Almeria June 18 Independent
*Voyage has been taken from entries above and departure date corrected - see also Page 3
June 21 Almeria Gibraltar June 22 Independent
June 23 Gibraltar MKS 15 Rendezvoused with SL 131, June 24.
June 24 SL 131 & MKS 15 joined up Barrow July 5 SL 131/MKS 15 Convoy available at SL 131/MKS 15
(external link)
July 9 Barrow Liverpool July 9 Independent
July 19 Liverpool OS 52/KMS 21 For Lisbon.
Convoy split July 28.
Available at OS 52/KMS 21
(external link)
July 28 Convoy split Gibraltar July 29 KMS 21
July 31 Gibraltar Lisbon Aug. 2 Independent
Aug. 18 Lisbon Gibraltar Aug. 20 Independent
Aug. 30 Gibraltar Algiers Sept. 1 KMS 24 Convoy will be added.
See ships in KMS convoys
Oct. 6 Algiers Gibraltar Oct. 9 GUS 17 Algiers to Gibraltar.
Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
Oct. 14 Gibraltar Huelva Oct. 15 Independent
Oct. 22 Huelva Gibraltar Oct. 23 Independent
Oct. 23 Gibraltar MKS 28 Rendezvoused with SL 138, Oct. 24.
Oct. 24 SL 138 & MKS 28 joined up SL 138/MKS 28 Sunk - See "Final Fate" below.
Convoy available at SL 138/MKS 28
(external link)
See also Page 4

 Some Convoy Voyages: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's Voyage Record above. Follow the convoy links provided for more details on them; several Norwegian ships took part.

As will be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, Hallfried was on her way from Gibraltar to Lerwick when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. This voyage had started out in Torrevieja on March 16, and her original destination had been Kragerø, Norway, but she was diverted to the U.K.

Together with Crux, she's later listed in Convoy OB 159, which originated in Liverpool on June 1-1940 and dispersed on the 4th, Hallfried arriving Halifax on June 18. Ref. external link provided within the Voyage Record. She headed back to the U.K. on Aug. 8 in the Sydney, C.B. portion of Convoy HX 64, bound for Rochester with a cargo of pulp wood, arriving there on Aug. 28. Later that year, she shows up in Convoy OB 249, originating in Liverpool on Nov. 24, dispersed 4 days later, Hallfried arriving St. John, N.B. on Dec. 8, according to the archive document, which adds she had started out from Oban on Nov. 25. This convoy also had other Norwegian ships, namely Dagfred, Heranger, Høegh Scout, Salamis, Solfonn and Varangberg (returned) - again, see the external link provided in the table above.

On Febr. 18-1941, she's listed in the slow Halifax-U.K. Convoy SC 23. She again had a cargo of wood pulp for Rochester, where she arrived, via Loch Ewe and Methil, on March 21. In May she's included in Convoy OB 321, which originated in Liverpool on May 11 and dispersed on the 17th, Hallfried arriving St. Thomas on June 3, proceeding to St. Lucia that same day, with arrival June 6 (Karlander was sunk - follow the link for details. Ledaal and Sildra are also listed). Having made voyages to Jamaica and Baltimore, she headed to Sydney, C.B. in order to join Convoy SC 39* back to the U.K. on Aug. 1. Corvus, Lysaker V, Solitaire and Star are also listed. The following month, we find her in station 82 of the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 14. The Commodore's narrative is also available for this convoy. Her destination on that occasion was New Orleans, and she arrived there on Oct. 5, the convoy having been dispersed Sept. 14 - her voyages in this period are shown on Page 2. With a cargo of sulphur for Garston, Hallfried was scheduled to return with the slow Convoy SC 57 from Sydney, C.B. on Nov. 28, but instead joined SC 58 on Dec. 4 and arrived Garston on Dec. 21 (Nidardal was lost in a storm - follow link for more info). Montbretia is named among the escorts.

At the beginning of 1942, she joined the westbound Convoy ON 53*, which left Liverpool on Jan. 2 and dispersed on the 19th. Her destination is given as Tampa, but as will be seen when going back to the archive document mentioned above, arrival Tampa is not mentioned. She arrived St. John's, N.F. on Jan. 25, Bay Bulls on Jan. 26, returning to St. John's on Febr. 7, subsequently spending a long time there; departure is given as May 12 - the reason for this long stay is not known. Early in June that year, she's listed Convoy SC 86 from Sydney, C.B. (Ramø served as Vice Commodore Ship), cargo of steel and lumber for West Hartlepool, where she arrived June 22, returning across the Atlantic in July with Convoy ON 110*, originating in Liverpool on July 6. Hallfried sailed from Loch Ewe that day and arrived Boston on the 25th.

With a cargo of steel and timber for Newport, she joined Convoy SC 96 from Halifax on Aug. 11, but experienced boiler trouble and put in to St. John's on Aug. 18 (see Page 3), subsequently joining the Newfoundland portion of Convoy SC 98 on Sept. 1. According to the archive document, she arrived Newport on Sept. 15, then headed back in the other direction again in Convoy ON 134* (Commodore in Bonneville), which originated in Liverpool on Sept. 26 and arrived New York Oct. 17; Hallfried, however, was bound for Sydney, C.B., where she arrived Oct. 14 (having started out from Milford Haven on Sept. 25). A. Hague has her returning to the U.K. again on Nov. 20 in the Halifax portion of Convoy SC 110* (convoy originated in New York Nov. 17). She arrived Loch Ewe on Dec. 6, continuing to Grangemouth that same day, with arrival Dec. 8.

She returned in the first westbound convoy of 1943, Convoy ON 158, in which the rescue vessel St. Sunniva was lost on her first and only voyage as rescue ship, not due to U-boat activities, but due to the horrendous weather endured by so many convoys that winter. The rescue vessel was last seen 2 days out of Halifax and was not heard of again according to "Convoy Rescue Ships" by Arnold Hague. He adds that she was believed to have iced up and capsized without warning, a theory supported by the state of another ship from the convoy which arrived Halifax the day before with up to 10 ft thick ice in some parts. Other Norwegian ships in this convoy were Acasta, Iron Baron, Ragnhild and Solitaire. ON 158 had departed Liverpool on Jan. 2 and arrived New York on Jan. 23; Hallfried started out from Loch Ewe on Jan. 3 and arrived Halifax Jan. 25, having also suffered weather damage (according to A. Hague). No other ships were lost, but Norwegian ships went down later on due to the continuous storms raging in the North Atlantic that winter (see, for instance, Kollbjørg).

The following month, Hallfried joined Convoy SC 121, in which the Commodore Vessel Bonneville and several others were sunk. Follow the links for much more info - there's also an analysis of attacks. This convoy originated in New York on Febr. 23, but Hallfried, bound for Liverpool with a cargo of flour, joined from Halifax a few days later and arrived Liverpool on March 14.

She survived several other close enemy encounters during the war, including an attack by FW 120 bombers on the convoy she was in on May 30-1943 when approaching Lisbon on a voyage from Gourock (no ships were hit). This must have been Convoy KX 10, in which she's listed - see the external link provided in the Voyage Record. Only 2 weeks later, she's said to have been on a voyage from Lisbon in convoy with 5 other ships, escorted by a Dutch and a French escort vessel, when 3 FW 120's came in for attack. The convoy was 5 n. miles off Cape St. Vincent at the time and altered course towards the Portuguese territorial areas, but the aircraft attacked before it got that far. 4 bombs were dropped, but no ships were hit. (It'll be noticed, when going back to her Voyage Record, that she's not listed in any convoy in this time period).

Not long afterwards, she can be found in Convoy SL 131/MKS 15, cargo of iron ore, voyage Almeria-Barrow, joining the convoy from Gibraltar, together with Norheim - see MKS 15. The Norwegian Dagrun, Anna Odland and Karmt also took part in this convoy. The SL portion, Convoy SL 131, had departed Freetown on June 13-1943 and joined up with MKS 15 on the 24th, the combined convoy arriving Liverpool on July 4; Hallfried arrived Barrow July 5. On July 19, she headed in the other direction with Convoy OS 52/KMS 21, voyaging from Liverpool to Lisbon with coal, station 36, arriving Lisbon on Aug. 2 (Page 4), the convoy having split up on July 28 - see also KMS 21 (combined convoys are available via the external links in the table above). The Norwegian Fernhill was sunk; other Norwegian ships taking part were Borgholm, Jenny and Spurt. At the end of that month, she made a voyage from Gibraltar to Algiers, having joined Convoy KMS 24* and arrived Algiers on Sept. 1.

* The ON convoys will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section, along with further details on each; in the meantime, the ships sailing in them (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys. The entire SC series will also be updated and completed, but for now, please see ships in all SC convoys for the names of ships sailing in SC 39 and SC 110. Other ships in KMS 24 are named in the section listing ships in all KMS convoys.

For more information on all the other Norwegian ships named on this page, please see the alphabet index at the end of the page, or go to the Master Ship Index.

 Final Fate - 1943: 

Hallfried met her final fate on Oct. 31-1943, when she at 08:30 GMT was torpedoed by U-262 (Franke) and sunk, 46 05N 20 26W*, on a voyage from Huelva to Ardrossan in station 24 of Convoy SL 138/MKS 28 with a cargo of 4800 tons of copper ore. She had departed Huelva on Oct. 22, via Gibraltar for convoy, arriving there on Oct. 23, leaving the same day in Convoy MKS 28, which joined up with the SL convoy off Gibraltar the next day. SL 138 had originated in Freetown on Oct. 13 - Page 4 shows Hallfried's voyages in this period. Again, a direct link to more information on the combined convoy has been provided within the Voyage Record; Kristianiafjord, Lisbeth, Norefjord and Spurt are also listed.

The first torpedo hit forward of the bridge on the port side and immediately afterwards another torpedo detonated between the bridge and the engine room and she sank immediately.

Only 3 able seamen survived, all 3 suddenly finding themselves in the water. 2 had lifevests on, but the 3rd, who had been asleep when the attack occurred did not (in the same cabin there had also been 2 stokers and 1 of the British messboys, who all made it up on deck). They were pulled under by the suction as were the rest of the crew who were on deck. Able Seaman Shaw was able to get onto a raft that had floated free, while the other 2 were too far away to reach it. The survivors were picked up about 45 minutes later by the British destroyer HMS Wrestler (D 35), which had previously seen a body floating on some debris - according to the description it may have been one of the British radio operators.

The rescued men were landed in Gourock on Nov. 3-1943, then travelled to Glasgow where they arrived the following day. The maritime hearings were held there on Nov. 9 with all 3 survivors appearing. Able Seaman/Gunner Gjøsæter had been on duty by the machine gun on top of the bridge when the torpedo struck, and jumped overboard. Able Seaman Gunnar Johansen had been asleep in his cabin and was blown overboard by the 2nd explosion.

2 of the witnesses stated that Hallfried had been in a collision some time previously, and had been temporarily repaired in Gibraltar. No. 3 hold was leaking badly prior to the attack, necessitating constant pumping.

The crew had originally consisted of 36 men, but on departure Gibraltar there were only 34, Boatswain Leif Gaare (Gaard?) having been left behind in Huelva (did not make it back on board before departure) and Able Seaman O. Hannes (Hamnes?) having taken ill and stayed behind at a hospital in Gibraltar.

* A visitor to my website has given me the sinking position 44 00N 21 30W (his source: Admiralty records).

For info, U-262 had also been responsible for the loss of Montbretia the previous year - follow the link for details.

Crew List:
* Captain Abraham Asvall had previously been on board Vigør, 1 of the 26 ships interned in North Africa earlier in the war. My Guestbook has a message from his grandson.
** 1st Mate Tolleiv Aanensen (or Ånonsen ) had previously survived the sinking of Favorit.

As already mentioned, Thomas Shaw died in July-2008. His story and his poem touched many people in Norway, as well as people he met on his wanderings around Loleta and Eureka, California, as is evident from the various Guestbook messages and forum postings that I've linked to at the beginning of this page. Again, see also this newspaper article about him (external page).
(Jakob Gjøsæter died in 1986).

Able Seaman
Thomas P. Shaw*
Able Seaman/Gunner
Jakob Gjøsæter
Able Seaman/Gunner
Gunnar Johansen
* Thomas Shaw is also listed in the crew list for Rym

Abraham Asvall

1st Mate**
Tolleiv Aanensen

2nd Mate
Hans Olsen

3rd Mate
Kåre Urholt

Radio Operator
Maldwyn Humphreys*
(British - Age 22)

2nd Radio Operator
James Cedrik Bradley*
(British - Age 21)

Able Seaman
Gudmund Dale

Able Seaman
Karl Pettersen

Able Seaman
Willy A. Wilhelmsen

Able Seaman
Petter Jørgensen

Able Seaman
Per Bart. Svendsen

Ordinary Seaman
Leonard Cann*
(British - Age 18)

1st Engineer
Tallak Pedersen

2nd Engineer
Anders Jacobsen

Asbjørn Bakkeland

Alf Andersen

Alfred Myking

Olav Bøe

Artur Magnussen

Samuel Vaher

Engine Boy
Francis Alexander Scott
(British - Age 19)

Jørgen Otterbekk

Reidar J. Andersen

Galley Boy
Joseph Malone*
(British - Age 17)

Mess Boy
Ronald McDonald Innes*
(British - Age 17)

Mess Boy
Ernest Entwistle*
(British - Age 17)

Saloon Boy
William G. Bark*
(British - age 17)

Odd Kirkeli

Olav Salvesen

Alfred Sætre
+ 1 more casualty - 3rd Engineer Anton Edvardsen?

Billy McGee, England has told me that the men denoted * are commemorated at Tower Hill, Panel 54 - they can be found by entering each name in the relevant search field on The Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website, using WW II and 1943 in the other fields to narrow the search.

Related external links:
Stavern Memorial commemorations - (Norwegians only). The 1st mate appears to be listed twice, once as Tolleiv Askø, then as Tolleiv Aanensen (same birthdates). Otherwise the list corresponds to what I've given above, though some of the names are spelt slightly differently.

Operations information for U-262

U-262 | Heinz Franke

The Hallfried’s Last Watch
By Thomas Patrick Shaw (aka Karl Hansen)
It will be noticed, that some of the names in this poem do not match up with those found in the crew list - he may just remember them wrong.
Also, it looks as though he was not aware that 2 other crew members also survived(?).
She was not very handsome and she was not very strong.
Her lines were not quite pleasing, for she was broad and long.
Her engines were erratic; she could barely do eight knots;
And when she ran into a storm she’d twist your very guts.
When a big one plowed her under, you would swear she’d never rise;
and many a feared look I saw in the young O.S’s eyes.
But she’d surface like a hippo and shake the ocean free,
and then plow under once again, while we cursed the likes of she.
She had six able officers and a crew of twenty-two;
A galley-boy and a pantry boy and a cat we called "Hei Du"*.
And masts and stays and steering chains that had seen better days,
and obsolete twin engines that ran on our prayers.
O many's the time I had shivered in fright,
when with nothing around me but stygian night,
the warm pulsing throb of those motors below,
had suddenly stopped! Engineers! Make them Go!
* "Hei Du" is Norwegian for "Hello you".
Then the new day would dawn and reveal brightened skies;
There’d be laughter and jokes and the usual lies.
And Hans would cavort to the strains of some song;
and Johan would whistle like a child who’d done wrong.
And we'd chip rust or paint, or we'd splice wire-rope,
just to keep our hands busy, or to bolster our hope.
And we sailed her into Portugal; and into ports of Spain.
And many a gallon of wine we drank to drown out the fearsome pain.
Many a dark-eyed bargirl caressed us and quieted our fears;
Then we’d sail out in the dead of night with the sound of their song in our ears.
For this was a year of infamy; T’was nineteen forty-three;
And Norway was a prisoner of Teutonic Tyranny.
And the men out on the oceans; the cream of Noreg’s land,
were doomed to roam away from home…till free of the Hun’s harsh hand.
We dared not hope for tomorrow, nor dwell too long on the past,
though many a wistful look you’d see in the eyes of the men at the mast.
Sometimes they'd unconsciously murmur, “dear God, be they not dead but well!",
and you’d know then without any telling, that each had his own private hell.
And we’d rant and we’d rave at each high pounding wave,
for we knew her thin hull could so easily stave,
and if hit by a big one, she might split at the seams;
and the icy Atlantic would close on our dreams.
And with constant awareness of danger on high
we would listen for drones, look for specks in the sky,
or scan the green waste for the white tell-tale "V"
that descried the black Hun hidden under the sea.
O many's the time I've shivered in fright
when with nothing around me but stygian night,
I had heard the dull thud of some distant explosion,
and thought of the depths of the black icy ocean.
And with brow furrowed deep in profound concentration,
the radioman listened and heard each code vibration;
for he knew on his care many lives might depend,
if he missed the right signal, it might just be the end.
And the man at the helm in his own private prison,
whose nights were disturbed by the sweet blue-eyed vision
of his bride of three weeks who'd embraced him that day
on the pier at Stavanger, when our ship pulled away.
"O dearest! My treasure! You're the dream of my life!"
- For such are the things a man says to his wife -
"Just six months my love, now - you know how time flies"
he could see yet the tears that had misted her eyes.
Now three years had passed and no news had he heard
of his bride of three weeks, nor could he send word,
and the venom of hatred seeped into his heart,
"O Dear God! Let me kill one before I depart!"
And old Captain Asvall, the kindest man I've known,
who perhaps held our destiny in his chartroom all alone,
how many times I pondered what went on behind those eyes,
now misty-grey with anguish - now icy blue and wise.
The Captain and the Second had escaped from French Dakar,
and by a route most devious arrived at Gibraltar.
And many a tale he told me of his forty years at sea,
I don't think I will know again as fine a man as he.
He'd look out at the convoy, invariably ahead;
the Hallfried was no leader, but always last instead.
Then he'd blow into the voice-pipe to the engineers below
and yell "for Satan! Make more steam, our speed is far too slow!"
And then, with eyes atwinkle, he'd smile and say "some joke!
To get more speed in this damn tub you'd have to use pure coke!
I've never known a pile of rust that's quite as bad as this,
you'd better say your prayers my lads, if we ever get a *tin-fish!"
And he was right, as I found out one cold, raw autumn day.
The wind was howling fitfully across the Biscay Bay,
as I was sitting amidships on the sheltered bunker hatch,
reading some words of wisdom before I went on watch.
The scene I still see vividly, it's burned into my mind:
Konrad was streaking across the foredeck with Einar close behind.
For the spray up for'ard was wicked, in a second could soak you thru',
so you hastened to your cabin and the smell of freshly cooked brew.
The steward was taking refreshments to the skipper and mate topsides,
a coal shaver passing said "morn"** as he rubbed out the sleep from his eyes.
The young cabin boy with his bucket passed me and felt for the lee,
and in my mind's eye I still see him as he emptied it into the sea.
The first one hit us up for'ard and blew some of my shipmates to hell,
for the men who belonged to the deck crew all lived in the foredeck well.
All at once she began to go under; on my back I could see the grey sky,
and hear screeching of pain and of panic, for aren't we all loath to die?
The deck then began to slope quickly, as I slid to the starboard side alley.
In passing I heard the loud crashing of pots and of pans in the galley.
And above this the piercing steam whistle that meant "everyone overboard!"
But this was a futile endeavor - we were now in the hands of the Lord.
And many thoughts flashed thru' my mind as I fought and trashed about,
now thrown here, now thrown there, "God Christ! Would I never get out
of that alley that held me captive, would I too soon be in Hell?"
But the Gods who protected me then threw me clear to what had been the deck well.
Tha Hallfried shuddered and shook then in mortal and stark agony,
as she gallantly strived and struggled against her ancient adversary.
But the contest was far too one-sided, she was already down at the bow.
O! Those blood freezing yells of confusion, I can still clearly hear them now!
Then with such speed there's no telling, the green ocean came rushing in,
and the deck plates were no more beneath me, and no longer was there a din,
and a great fear clutched my whole being for my cabin mate up ahead,
Gunnar Sørensen from Narvik, O, my God! He was now surely dead!.
Gunnar and, I in better days, had sailed on many ships,
we'd sailed together on tankers, dear God - how many trips?
We'd drunk cheap wine, we'd drunk fine scotch in many a foreign bar;
you might say we had something in common - me and my friend Gunnar.
Then, as she started to wallow in her last violent spasm of pain,
the second one hit us amidships, where a moment before I had been,
and the fear and shock waves ran through me, I felt that this was the end,
I felt rage at both God and the Devil, on this I cannot pretend.
The vortex then sought my life's air as I sank in the icy black sea;
down, down, down and down deeper, "O, dear God! Is this happening to me?"
Till my ears were near burst asunder, "O, Christ! Here I go!"
And strangely enough in that instant, I thought of Norway and snow.
But Rasmus, the Dark One, the Devil of the sea
must have saved me for another day, or not have wanted me,
for suddenly above was the sun behind a cloud,
O, that wonderful air! And I laughed and cried aloud.
I frantically swam to some wreckage, a raft that was blown in two,
and clambered aboard and panted, for my breath would barely come thru',
and when at last I looked about me and knew that I was alone,
the pain in my breast almost choked me - all of my shipmates were gone!
O, many's the time sleep escapes me at night,
when I think of my shipmates secure and tight
in their prison of steel in the cold sea below,
never more they'll see Norway, and never more snow.
I sat there filled with great sorrow as the convoy plunged on ahead,
leaving me there to stand watch on my raft above the dead.
And I thought of Gunnar's young sister, when we left she was barely thirteen,
she'd whispered: "Now Karl, look out for him, he's the worst drinker I've seen."
And I thought of Jens in Glasgow, the father of Johan,
who'd wanted his son above all to be like himself, a man;
"Now Karl, you are much older" he'd said between our drinks,
"so knock some sense into him, for this kid never thinks."
I'd said "now Jens, don't worry - he might be just a young kid,
but inside three days out of Glasgow I'll have him using a fid.
I'll have him splicing ten-inch rope as sure as we sit here,
why don't you change the subject, man, and order some more beer!"
I'm certain you will understand just how I felt that day,
the wind now howling spitefully across the Biscay Bay.
A thousand feet below me were the finest men I'd known,
and I was the Hallfried's last watch up there on my raft alone.
Surrounded by desolation and some lifebelted figures - all dead
(there's nothing that's quite as unnerving as a body without a head).
I drank from the steel flask of brandy that I'd sewn inside my lifebelt,
and as that liquor coursed through me I really don't know what I felt.
At last, twenty hours later, surrounded by cold eerie night,
an allied destroyer came searching - how I yelled at that dim probing light!
Then they saw me and lowered a row boat, careful of wreckage, you see,
and in about fifteen minutes they were making a fuss over me.
An officer loaded with gold braid said, "Good God, this man is froze through,
give him at once a hot rum drink, tell cook to heat up some stew!"
I accepted the drink without protest, my God, but it burned through my veins!
And somehow, two hours later, I'd forgotten my aches and my pains.
And the food was still sitting forgotten, and the men who weren't sleeping were there,
trying to give me some comfort, and the chaplain was there with a prayer.
And though I was not used to praying, I lowered my cup there and then,
and murmured a word to my Maker, "look after the Hallfried's good men."
And when I was landed in Glasgow, and went to the Scandia Club,
I wished I had stayed and made merry at that sleazy old Glasgow pub,
for everyone knew what had happened - by telegraph news travels fast,
and sitting there was Johan's father, and his son was still at the mast.
And now, this is many years later, as I gaze at the ocean from here;
I think of the rusty old Hallfried, and her men who to me were so dear.
I think of that fateful October; I think of that explosive stench,
Yes! I still think of that tired old lady! God help me! I loved the old wench!

* tin-fish = torpedo
** 'morn = Norwegian greeting meaning "good morning"

Back to Hallfried on the "Ships starting with H" page.

This company had previously had another ship named Hallfried, originally built as Duke of York in Sunderland in 1907, 3181 gt. Became Magdalene of Tønsberg in 1911, then Hallfried for P. Kleppe in 1915. Rebuilt 1919, 3125 gt. According to "Damp - Dampskipets æra i Vestfold" she was condemned following an explosion in Apr.-1920 while in New York. However, I believe this ship is identical to Katvaldis, which was sunk in Convoy ON 122 (the Norwegian Trolla was also sunk in this convoy). If so, Hallfried was renamed Henry W. Breyer in 1926, Odile in 1927, becoming Latvian Katvaldis in 1929. She was taken over by the Ministry of War Transport in 1940 and sailed under the British flag when sunk. See also this posting to my Ship Forum for more details on this ship. Another Hallfried was delivered in 1922 to owners in Bergen. This ship became the Japanese Taijin Maru in 1927, Taizin Maru in 1938, and was sunk by an American sub in Febr.-1944.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Convoy Rescue Ships" by Arnold Hague, "The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague, "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939", Roger W. Jordan, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. (ref. My sources). The poem was received from Francine Town, Thomas P. Shaw's caretaker.


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