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Owner: The Texas Company (Norway) A/S, Oslo (this company was controlled by The Texas Co., US, and its ships managed by Haakon Chr. Mathiesen, Oslo).
Delivered in July-1939 from Deutsche Werft A/G, Hamburg, Germany.
Captain: Johan Karsten Hallén
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.
Italia was in the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HXF 13 in Dec.-1939. She was bound for Avonmouth, where she arrived on Dec. 30.
In Jan.-1940, she's listed in Convoy OB 68, which originated in Liverpool on Jan. 7 and joined up with OA 68 from Southend on Jan. 10, the combined convoy forming the Gibraltar convoy OG 14*. Italia, however, was bound for New York and detached for her destination on Jan. 11, arriving Jan. 20. She returned to the U.K. on Febr. 12 with Convoy HXF 20 from Halifax, arriving Southampton Febr. 24.
The following month, she's listed in Convoy OA 104, which left Southend on March 5 and dispersed on the 8th, Italia arriving Port Arthur at an unknown date. On Apr. 6, we find her, with a cargo of gasoline, in station 32 of the Halifax-U.K. Convoy HX 33. She arrived Avonmouth Apr. 21, subsequently joining Convoy OB 138, which originated in Liverpool on Apr. 28 (the Norwegian Vilja is also listed). This convoy joined up with the OA convoy of the same number to form Convoy OG 28*, which was Gibraltar bound, but her destination was again Port Arthur, where she arrived on May 19, having detached from the convoy on May 2. As will be seen in the next paragraph, her voyage back to the U.K. proved to be her last.
Italia left Port Arthur again on May 21-1940 with a cargo of 13 000 tons petrol (aviation fuel?) and some general cargo, and arrived Bermuda on May 27 to wait for a convoy. She left again on May 31 with Convoy BHX 47, the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 47. She was initially bound for Milford Haven, but was later informed by the escort that there had been a change of destination and she was to proceed to Manchester.
According to an excerpt of Italia's log the ships that were going to the west coast were detatched from the convoy south of Ireland in the afternoon of June 14, and headed towards St. Georges Channel with only one escort. Shortly afterwards, word came that a straggler had been torpedoed (this was probably Balmoralwood - see the external link at the end of this page) and the escort departed to assist, so it looks like the ships had no escort when U-38 (Liebe) attacked. Italia was hit in the early hours of June 15 (23:50, June 14 ship's time) by a torpedo from this U-boat, position 50 37N 08 44W, off the west coast of England. She was struck between tank No. 10 and the engine room, immediately setting the after part on fire, with the flames spreading forward and across the water at a tremendous speed. 8 men jumped overboard; the electrician managed to get out through the porthole of his cabin and swam for life to get away from the flames.
Amidships, boats were partially lowered, and lifebelts thrown out to those who were in the water. The officers amidships waited as long as they could in the hope that more people from the after part would be able to come foreward, but had to abandon ship in the already lowered boats when the seas started to wash over the main after deck; the captain, the 3rd mate, the helmsman and lookout (Able Seaman Olaf Eikland) in the port boat and the 1st mate, steward and radio operator in the starboard motorboat. A 3 hours search for survivors found the 9 men who had jumped overboard, but 19 were gone, including almost the entire engine crew. Some had survived the initial attack, but had died in the flames after having jumped overboard.
A few hours later a French trawler was seen, and some of the men who had no clothes on boarded, but when it turned out the trawler's crew had no clothes to give up, it was decided to go back to the lifboats and wait for a British warship that was seen steering their way. When they left the trawler they spotted a lifeboat with all the survivors from Erik Boye, which had been torpedoed shortly after Italia. They took this boat in tow, then steered towards the British HMS Fowey which picked up the 16 survivors from Italia as well as Erik Boye's survivors (this ship had no casualties). They were landed in Plymouth on June 16 and were later accommodated at the Royal Sailors' Rest in Devonport.
Captain Hallén later commanded M/T Britannia (he died in 1997, age 94).
Erik Boye (formerly a Danish ship) is listed at the website of the Naval Museum of Manitoba, see the external link below.
Related external links:
Canadian WW II Merchant ship losses - Naval Museum of Manitoba.
Back to Italia on the "Ships starting with I" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939", R. W. Jordan, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. (ref. My sources).