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Manager: Sigurd Herlofsen & Co. A/S, Oslo
Built in Copenhagen in 1939.
Captain: Gottfred M. Gundersen
Related items on this website:
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.
Errors may exist, and as can be seen, this record is incomplete.
Judging from the information found on Page 1 of the archive documents, it looks like Herstein was in Calcutta when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She had arrived there from Hong Kong on Apr. 7. Together with Bronxville and Orwell, she's later listed among the ships in Convoy BS 1, which left Suez on July 7. It'll be noticed, when following the link to this convoy provided in the table above, that there's a note in connection with Herstein saying "not in convoy?". According to the archive document, she arrived Aden on July 14, proceeding to Durban about a week later. The same document also shows that she made a voyage to Boston and New York the following month, and she remained in the U.S. until Oct. 1-1940, when she left New Orleans for Cristobal, then on to Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. Some of her 1941 voyages are also listed on Page 1, while the rest are shown on Page 2.
She was one of the Norwegian ships that helped search for survivors from HMAS Sydney in Nov.-1941, but none were found. Pan Europe and Hermion were also involved in this search, and according to this posting on my Ship Forum, Nordnes and Ohio also took part. Sydney had sunk, and had herself been sunk (with the loss of all her men) by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran on Nov. 19 (survivors from the German cruiser had been rescued from rafts and lifeboats southwest of Carnarvon, West Australia by allied ships on Nov. 24). The external websites that I've linked to below have more details.
Herstein, on charter to the Australian Government, departed Sydney on Dec. 27-1941 (or Dec. 28, depending on time zone - see also Page 2), together with the British Sarpedon and Cunard Line's Aquitania. They carried 4250 troops and 10 000 tons equipment for reinforcement in the defence of Port Moresby in New Guinea. Four cruisers were escorting. The convoy, designated ZK 5 (again, see link in the table above) reached its destination safely on Jan. 4-1942 and after the cargo had been unloaded, Herstein continued to Rabaul, New Britain, which had been attacked by Japanese aircraft several times. She arrived the latter on Jan. 14 to unload some general cargo that had been loaded in Sydney and Port Moresby (about 1200 tons). Having finished discharging on Jan. 18, she was moved in order to start loading a cargo of copra in all her holds the following day.
On Jan. 20, after having loaded around 2000 tons of copra, about 100 aircraft attacked the harbour. At that time, Captain Gundersen was ashore visiting the agent's office, but he saw her being bombed. 3 dive bombers came down low and Herstein was hit by 3 bombs amidships, 1 of them exploding in the engine room, resulting in a fire that quickly spread all over the ship. Her anti aircraft guns were in continuous use, until the second bomb exploded in the bridge area, rendering both guns inoperable.
The crew and officers had to jump overboard and swim ashore. The Swedish Steward Karl Thorsell was on his way down the gangway, but returned to the ship and was not seen again, so he was assumed killed in the bombing and subsequent fire. The rest of the crew made it ashore, where they were accommodated at a hotel (see crew list). 1st Engineer Peter Brandal, Boatswain Gerhard Olsen and Cook Arthur Landhaug had to be admitted to a hospital, while another 4 had received minor burns. In the course of the night, Herstein drifted across to the other side of the harbour, and was still on fire the next morning. Total loss.
That afternoon, confirmation was received that the Japanese were preparing to land in Rabaul. Herstein's crew was given some money and advised to leave the city or try to get away from the island altogether. Those who were able to, headed towards the coast or up to the mountains. Captain Gundersen was separated from the others, and joined a group of Australians, then wandered more than 300 miles overland and along the coast for 78 days. Half of them died from illness or hunger, while some were killed by Japanese soldiers on the way. Those who survived were eventually rescued by an expedition from New Guinea and taken to Port Moresby. Captain Gundersen was picked up by a motorboat together with some British men and was later sent to Sydney, arriving on Apr. 26. Hearings were held there on Aug. 13-1942.
Meanwhile, the rest of Herstein's crew members had been taken prisoners by the Japanese. On July 1-1942, they were under transport on the prisoner ship Montevideo Maru, when that ship was torpedoed and sunk by the American submarine Sturgeon (SS-187), about 65 miles west off Cape Bojeador, Luzon, 18 37N, 119 29E. About 1050 allied POW's en route to Hainan Island lost their lives (position and numbers from Robert Cressman).
My page "Merchant Marine Prisoners of War" has the names of Herstein's crew members who died when Montevideo Maru was sunk. One of the casualties was the Australian Saloon Boy James Tynan, who is commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra - follow this link to Commemorative Roll Database. By using his last name as keyword, James Tynan will appear in the search result. He was 16 years old.
External websites with info related to the text on this page:
The sinking of Montevideo Maru - A section of The Australian War Memorial, includes a picture of the ship, and downloadable PDF files, one of which contains a list of some of the people who left New Britain on board Montevideo Maru (contains 168 names), the cover letter is dated Oct. 10-1945.
Back to Herstein on the "Ships starting with H" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Misc. sources, incl. "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, and "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I - ref. My sources.