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Owner: D/S A/S Vard
Built by Barley, Curle & Co. Ltd., Whiteinch, Glasgow in 1924. Previous names: Swanley until 1932, Hoperange until 1937. According to this external page, she was delivered in June-1924 (596) as Swanley to Swanley Shipping Co. Ltd. (Harris & Dixon Ltd.), London. Owned from 1932 by Hopemount Shipping Co. Ltd. (A. Stott & Co. Ltd), Newcastle, renamed Hoperange. From 1937, D/S A/S Vard (Jacobsen & Salvesen), Oslo, renamed Hird.
Captain: Ansgar M. Fredhjem
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
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.
Hird is listed among the ships in Convoy HX 19 from Halifax on Febr. 7-1940, bound for Liverpool with cotton and resin in station 45.
In March that year, she's listed as sailing in Convoy OB 106, departing Liverpool on March 8 (see link provided within the table above). Her voyage information is given as Liverpool - Gulf of Mexico, station 42. Unfortunately, the listing on the archive document does not start until Apr.-1940, so arrival port and date are not known.
Hird, on time charter to Continental Grain Co., left Newport News alone on March 31-1940 with a cargo of coal for Malmö, Sweden. While en route, they received the news of the German invasion of Norway on Apr. 9 but they continued their voyage until a radio broadcast from Sweden informed them that the harbours of Gothenburg and Malmö had been closed to shipping and were mined, so they decided to proceed to Greenock. At the examination anchorage off Greenock they were boarded by Naval Control and subsequently instructed to go into Gareloch and anchor there, which they did on Apr. 18. The captain contacted the Norwegian Ambassador in London and as a result of this a Glagow shipowner representing the charterers came on board, whereupon he and the captain went ashore to send a cablegram to the charterers in New York as well as a telegram to the charterers' general agents in Cardiff. While still in Gareloch, Captain Fredhjem received a telegram from Nortraship advising him that the ship was duly covered by insurance, including war risks, and authorised him to proceed in accordance with the instructions contained in the time charter. He also received a telegram from the Norwegian Consulate General in New York telling him that the coal originally consigned for Malmö had been sold for delivery in Dunkirk.
All necessary formalities were eventually taken care of and Hird finally left Gareloch for Dunkirk on May 4. In accordance with instructions from Naval Control they stopped at Calais for routing orders, arriving late in the evening of May 7, so the examination vessel ordered them to anchor for the night. Routing orders for Dunkirk were received the following morning and they departed early that afternoon, May 8, anchoring in the roads of Dunkirk in the late afternoon of that same day. They went in with a pilot on board and moored alongside another vessel the following afternoon, as there was no berth available for them to discharge. See also the archive document.
On May 11, they were ordered to shift to a discharging berth and the unloading of cargo was completed on May 17. The captain had attempted in vain to obtain orders from the agent at Dunkirk as to Hird's next destination, so he went to the Norwegian Consul who was able to send a message to the Norwegian Legation in Paris who, in turn, contacted the Legation in London in the hopes of obtaining instructions from the time charterers. However, the next day when the captain returned to check if a reply had been received, he found the Consulate deserted, the Consul having left Dunkirk. Visiting the agent's office, he found that evacuated as well, so he went to the Harbour Authorities and to the Naval Control asking for permission to leave the harbour. This was refused on the grounds that there was cargo which had to be taken out of port, proposing that this was to be loaded on Hird before she left. On May 22, she was ready to receive the cargo of wheat whereupon she was ordered to another berth to commence loading. However, on arriving at the berth the ship was found to be too long for it, so it was decided to load with the help of lighters. Due to continuous air attacks this was easier said than done, and almost all the lighters had been sunk before any progress could be made.
Hird was also damaged while in Dunkirk when bombs had fallen very close to the ship; some on the quay alongside her, others in the water, the explosions shaking the whole ship, with splinters flying all over, causing considerable damage to her hull, superstructure and apparatus. The lifeboats were also full of holes, as was the ship, right down to the waterline. On May 26, an ammunition ship nearby had been hit and blew up, and Hird's doors were blown in and broken.
Hird now got orders to load a cargo of wool, but before the bales could be loaded they had been set on fire by incendiary bombs. From then on they got various orders from the Harbour Authorities to proceed to different berths in the harbour, but no further cargo was ever shipped. Finally, on May 28 they got orders from the French Admiralty to leave, this time not with cargo, but with about 2200 French and British troops (as well as civilians?), and after these had embarked they could finally leave that evening. Right in front of her a French ship carrying 1400 passengers struck a mine and sank, and 20 minutes later a small steamer suffered the same fate. The 3rd mate, steward, carpenter and an able seaman were in Hird's only undamaged lifeboat rescuing survivors all through that night. Survivors from a British destroyer which had been hit by a German E-boat and was about to sink, were also rescued by Hird's people that night and the next day, as were others who were clinging to debris and rafts out in the Channel. She then continued to Cherbourg with all the passengers, arriving May 30. The captain was awarded Krigskorset (The War Cross) for his actions during this voyage.
In Cherbourg, the captain obtained permission from Naval Control (British officers of the Royal Navy) to proceed to Weymouth for orders. Naval Control kept her in Cherbourg until June 1 as it was intended to use her for taking troops across, but after 2 troopships had embarked the troops instead, Hird left without the extra passengers. Through Nortraship, arrangements were made for Hird to proceed to Cardiff for repairs of the damages resulting from the continuous air attacks during her long stay in Dunkirk. After having been repaired by Mount Stewart Drydock Co. Ltd., Hird left for the Gulf of Mexico on June 24-1940. Note that A. Hague has included her, with destination Galveston, in Convoy OB 174, which originated in Liverpool on June 25 and dispersed on the 30th - according to the archive document, she arrived New Orleans on July 16, having sailed from Milford Haven June 26. The Norwegian Ferncastle, Helgøy, Litiopa, Notos and Tautra are also listed in this convoy - ref. link in the Voyage Record above.
Her return voyage to the U.K. was to be her last. She had departed Mobile, Alabama on Aug. 20-1940 with general cargo in her holds, as well as lumber and turpentine as deck cargo. Arrived Bermuda on Aug. 31(?*), then departed in convoy on Sept. 7(?)*.
On Sept. 10 a fire developed on board, and by the time this had been extinguished and various repairs had been made she had lost sight of the convoy. She attempted to catch up with it again at full speed, but due to stormy weather and heavy seas, her speed had to be reduced, and though the weather improved the following day, she was still alone on Sept. 15 when she was struck by a torpedo from U-65 (von Stockhausen), between the bridge and the forward mast on the starboard side, in approx. position 58 10N 14 00W. In fact, the 1st mate, who had been on duty in the late afternoon of the day before, Sept. 14, had seen a torpedo pass close by her bow, at which time she managed to get away at full speed, then proceeded in a zig-zag course. When she was struck at 03:25 on the 15th, however, no U-boat nor torpedo had been seen beforehand. (The time and position given above are from a report presented at the maritime hearings. J. Rohwer gives 58N 12 20W, at 06:05 German time).
She immediately developed a heavy list, and fearing she would capsize because of her tall deck cargo the captain ordered her abandoned. It was impossible to get the port lifeboat launched due to the heavy list, so 5 men went in the gig while the remaining crew went in the starboard lifeboat. The captain attempted to get back on board in order to retrieve the ship's journal and other papers, but this proved to be impossible due to all the debris from the deck cargo. Shortly afterwards, they saw the lanterns of a ship not far away, and signalled to it. The vessel, which turned out to be the Icelandic trawler Thorolfur altered course and picked them up after they had spent about 2 hours in the boats. From the trawler they saw Hird go down at 07:00. The survivors were landed at Fleetwood on Sept. 17.
The hearings were held in Liverpool on Oct. 24, with the captain, the 1st mate, the 3rd engineer, Able Seaman Halvorsen (lookout) and Ordinary Seaman Lorentzen (helmsman) appearing.
George Monk, England has told me that some of Hird's crew members received British awards - his source: Seedies List of awards to the British Merchant Navy which includes awards to Allied merchant seamen.
Ungazetted awards for services when the ship was torpedoed and sunk (according to Seedies List - It'll be noticed that some of these names are not included in the crew list below; it's my guess that some of them had been on board at the time of Hird's voyage from Dunkirk, and were awarded for services rendered at that time?):
Captain Ansgar M. Fredhjem - Hon OBE(Civ)
External links related to the text on this page:
Back to Hird on the "Ships starting with H" page.
Norway had previously had another Hird (ex Athelfoam, built 1918).
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, and misc. (ref. My sources).