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D/S K. G. Meldahl
Updated Nov. 28-2011

To K. G. Meldahl on the "Ships starting with K" page.

Crew List

Source: Sverre Johansen's postcard collection.
Another picture is available on this external page (click in it to make it larger).

Manager: K. K. Rasmussen, Sandefjord
3799 gt, 7210 tdwt
Signal Letters: LJYU

Built by Fredriksstad mek. Verksted A/S, Fredrikstad, Norway in 1938.

Captain: Torjus Emil Johnsen

Related item on this website:
Guestbook message from a relative of Billy (William) Steain (see crew list below) who had also served on Martin Bakke.

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

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

Voyage Record
From June-1940 to Nov.-1942:

(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 several voyages are missing.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 June 19 Marseilles P 7 See also Page 1
Detached June 22.
Convoy available at P7
(external link)
Missing 1940 voyages, Page 1.
1941 March 20 Trinidad Takoradi Apr. 6 Independent Earlier and subsequent 1941 voyages, Page 1.
Aug. 11 Trinidad Boston Aug. 20 Independent A. Hague says:
Previously traded Pacific/I Ocean/America.
Again, see Page 1 as well as Page 2
Aug. 23 Boston Philadelphia Aug. 25 Independent
Aug. 30 Philadelphia Hampton Roads Aug. 31 Independent
Oct. 15 Hampton Roads Halifax Oct. 19 Independent
Oct. 22 Halifax Loch Ewe Nov. 4 HX 156
Nov. 6 Loch Ewe Methil* Nov. 8 WN 202 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
*Arrived Leith, on to Methil Nov. 19
(Page 2).
Nov. 22 Methil Oban Nov. 25 EN 10 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Dec. 1 Oban Freetown Dec. 21 OS 13 Convoy available at OS 31
(external link)
Dec. 28 Freetown Takoradi Jan. 3-1942 Independent
1942 Jan. 13 Takoradi Forcados Jan. 15 Independent
Jan. 20 Forcados Lagos Jan. 21 Independent
Jan. 25 Lagos Freetown Febr. 1 Independent
Febr. 9 Freetown Oban March 4 SL 100 Convoy available at SL 100
(external link)
March 5 Oban Methil March 8 WN 254 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
March 8 Methil Hull March 10 FS 745 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
March 28 Hull Methil March 30 FN 667 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
March 30 Methil Oban Apr. 2 EN 65 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Apr. 3 Oban Freetown Apr. 22 OS 24 Convoy available at OS 24
(external link)
Apr. 28 Freetown ST 21 Detached Apr. 30.
Convoy available at ST convoys
(external link)
May 1(?) Detached from ST 21 St Helena May 6 Independent
May 7 St Helena Capetown May 16 Independent
May 17 Capetown Karachi June 5 Independent
June 15 Karachi Bombay June 17 Independent
June 21 Bombay Capetown July 14 Independent
July 16 Capetown Trinidad Aug. 9 Independent
Aug. 12 Trinidad Key West Aug. 23 TAW 13 Convoy available at TAW convoys
(external link)
Aug. 23 Key West New York City Aug. 29 KN 133 Convoy available at KN convoys
(external link)
Sept. 20 New York City Gitmo Sept. 27 NG 307 For Bombay.
Convoy available at NG convoys
(external link)
Sept. 27 Gitmo Trinidad Oct. 3 GAT 9 Convoy available at GAT convoys
(external link)
Oct. 10 Trinidad Capetown Nov. 6 Independent
Nov. 7 Capetown Independent Sunk - See "Final Fate" below

 Some Convoy Voyages & Misc.: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the Norwegian archives and A. Hague's Voyage Record above.

It looks like K. G. Meldahl was in Marseilles when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940; she had arrived there from Bombay on Apr. 1 - see Page 1. Engine Boy Vilfred Melsom is said to have died in a war related accident in Marseilles, date and year unknown, but this is the only time K. G. Meldahl was at that port. He's commemorated at the Stavern Memorial, ref. link at the end of this page.

In June that year, she's listed in Convoy 7-P from Marseilles (ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record - Bosphorus, Fernhill and Tønsbergfjord are also listed), but left the convoy and went to Gibraltar instead of Oran (where the convoy arrived on June 22), thereby avoiding internment in North Africa - see also my text for Bosphorus. From Gibraltar, K. G. Meldahl continued to Takoradi on June 26, with arrival July 7. Her subsequent voyages are shown on the archive document mentioned above; her 1941 voyages also start on this document.

She also made a voyage to Takoradi the following spring, arriving on Apr. 6 -1941, having taken on board 60 aircraft in New York the previous month, a very important "cargo" for the British in the Middle East at that time, and while at Takoradi she was ordered to take on as many additional aircraft as she could possibly hold, then continued to Suez, where she arrived safely, though without escort (it'll be noticed that Page 1 does not mention Suez in this period).

On Oct. 22-1941, she was one of several Norwegian ships joining Convoy HX 156 from Halifax to the U.K. Montbretia and Eglantine are named among the escorts for this convoy. K. G. Meldahl's voyages in this period are shown on Page 2 (as can be seen, she had previously spent quite a long time at Hampton Roads, where she had arrived from Philadelphia on Aug. 31; departure is given as Oct. 15, when she proceeded to Halifax in order to join this convoy).

She subsequently made a voyage to Freetown, having joined Convoy OS 13, which originated in Liverpool on Nov. 30-1941; K. G. Meldahl, carrying a general cargo and war stores, started out from Oban on Dec. 1 and arrived Freetown on the 21st. The Norwegian Finnanger, Siljestad and Velox are also listed (link in the table above).

In Febr.-1942, she can be found going in the other direction, together with Siljestad, in Convoy SL 100, which left Freetown on Febr. 9 and arrived Liverpool on March 4; K. G. Meldahl stopped at Oban that day. Her cargo is given as W. A. produce, and she was also carrying mail and passengers. The following month, we find her in Convoy OS 24, voyaging from Oban to Freetown (station 43), arriving Freetown on Apr. 22. Acasta and Norma are also named in this convoy. Again, ref. external links in the Voyage Record for more details.

Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 2 and Page 3, while convoy info for some of them can be found in the Voyage Record.

For more information on all the other Norwegian ships mentioned on this page, please see the alphabet index below, or go to the Master Ship Index.

 Final Fate - 1942: 

K. G. Meldahl, on charter to British War Transport, departed New York on Sept. 20-1942 for Bombay, via Port of Spain and Capetown for bunkers. On deck she had several large crates containing aircraft and other materials, and in No. 5 hold she had 750 tons ammunition. She had a crew of 30 (31?) and 2 gunners. She left Capetown again on Nov. 7.

On Nov. 10, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-181 (Lüth). Several hours earlier (at about 03:40) the 2nd mate, who was on bridge duty at the time, had clearly seen a U-boat* on the port side, 3 ships lengths off on a parallel course. The alarm was sounded and the ship positioned so that the aft gun faced the U-boat, at which time the latter quickly submerged, whereupon K. G. Meldahl proceeded at full speed in a zig zag course, after having radioed Simonstown Radio about the incident. However, the U-boat kept track of the Norwegian ship, and on her next try the torpedo hit in the engine room on the starboard side. Time given for this attack in a report presented at the maritime hearings is 09:22, position 35 33S 29 46E (Page 3 of the archive documents gives the time as about 09:08).

*According to "Nortraships flåte" she had, in fact, been attacked earlier that day by the same U-boat, when about 160 n. miles southeast of East London, but that torpedo had missed. Only one attack is noted by J. Rohwer, who gives the position as 34 59S 29 45E, time 08:27 (German time). Charles Hocking simply gives the position "off East London, South Africa".

As she started to sink orders were given to abandon ship. The starboard lifeboat had been blown away so the majority of the crew took to the port boat and rowed away from the ship to avoid the suction. The 3rd mate got off on the aft raft. The captain had run to get the ship's papers and by the time he got back the boat had already been launched, and the aft raft with the 3rd mate in it had been cut loose, so he jumped overboard when the after part of the ship was under water and swam over to the lifeboat.

She sank in about 6 minutes, duly photographed by the U-boat which had surfaced. Pictures were also taken of the lifeboats, before the U-boat came over to ask the usual questions about ship and cargo etc. Captain Johnsen describes the boat as about 300' long, sea green in colour with a double deck and 2 guns, a 4" on the foredeck, a smaller one on the after deck, 2 periscopes. Those who asked the questions claimed to be Italian. The commander, the only one in uniform "looked German", but did not say anything. They were also asked if an SOS had been sent out, but this had not been done as the radio station had been destroyed. After having inquired whether they needed anything, the boat circled around for a while, then submerged.

The 30 survivors were subsequently distributed in 3 lifeboats and all supplies and equipment from 3 rafts were transferred to them. The port boat had a radio transmitter which was used every morning and night to signal the South African coastal stations. In the morning of Nov. 13 an aircraft came over and dropped water and provisions down to them, and that same afternoon, after having been in the boats for 79 hours, they were picked up by a South African mine sweeper and landed in Port Elisabeth the next day. 2 crew were lost.

The maritime hearings were held in Capetown on Dec. 2-1942 with the captain, the 2nd and 3rd mates, Able Seaman Karlsen (at the wheel when the U-boat was spotted the first time), and Able Seaman Rong appearing. The latter had been at the wheel during the actual attack.

In the Norwegian magazine "Krigsseileren", Issue No. 2 for 1975 there's an article written by someone who appears to have been one of the mates, who had joined the ship in Hull in 1942. At that time, she had a different captain and 1st mate, but they are not named. I get the impression that Captain Johnsen and 1st Mate Nilsen had joined the ship in New York, shortly before they were torpedoed. The author says they were travelling alone at the time, and that the 2 men who were lost were in the engine room. The survivors headed for South Africa in 2(?) lifeboats. He adds "via Cape Town and D/S Romulus to New York", but whether they all travelled that way or just he, is unclear. The article also mentions a few other voyages. (It'll be noticed, when going to my page about Romulus, that she did not go to New York until March-1943 - she had sailed from Capetown on Febr. 2).

U-181 also sank the Norwegian Gunda 9 days later.

Crew List:
Stoker Karl H. Guttormsen had previously been on Benwood when that ship was lost in Apr.-1942 - later served on Havkong, Polarsol, Sønnavind and Bomma.

Torjus Emil Johnsen
1st Mate
Sverre Ivar Nilsen
2nd Mate
Frithjof Harry
Mangor Haakonsen
3rd Mate
Henry Robertsen
Radio Operator
Sverre M. Jensen
Johan Aslaksen
Able Seaman
Eugen Brandt
Able Seaman
Willy Kristiansen
Able Seaman
Olav Rong
Able Seaman
Nils W. Johannessen
Able Seaman
Fritz Dahl
Able Seaman
Halfdan Johansen
Able Seaman
Kjell Robert Dalbak
Able Seaman
Hans Gustav Karlsen*
Ordinary Seaman
Clifford Evans
Ordinary Seaman
Richard McDonald
Deck Boy
John Hoyes
1st Engineer
Karl Morten Krømke
2nd Engineer
Anton S. Johansen
3rd Engineer
Eivin Lillejord
Leif Heian
Alf Nilsen
Karl H. Guttormsen
Charles Adamson
Francis Steain
Sivert Moxheim
Frank Larsen
Galley Boy
Leonard Wright
Mess Boy
Peter Fairbotham
Frank Howse
Thomas Broadhead

Julius Skaugerud**

William Steain***

* Hans G. Karlsen was not included in the crew list, but appeared as witness at the maritime hearings.

** The donkeyman is commemorated at the memorial for seamen in Stavern, Norway. He had previously survived the sinking of Frank Seamans. There's also an Engine Boy Vilfred Melsom listed for K. G. Meldahl; he's said to have died in a war related accident in Marseilles, date and year unknown. According to Page 1, K.G. Meldahl was at Marseilles for quite a while in 1940, having arrived there from Bombay on Apr. 1.

*** The 18 year old William Steain is commemorated at Tower Hill, Panel 59. More details on him is available on this page on the Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website (the surviving Oiler Francis Steain was his uncle - see this Guestbook message).

Related external links:
More information on U-181

U-181 | Wolfgang Lüth

Back to K. G. Meldahl on the "Ships starting with K" page.

This company had another K. G. Meldahl delivered in 1948, 2304 gt. Later sailed as Høegh Clair for Leif Høegh & Co., Oslo from 1949, and as Utsira for Vilhelm Torkildsens Rederi, Bergen from 1955, then as Cecilie Brøvig for Th. Brøvig, Farsund from 1960. Sold in 1968 to South Korea, renamed Atlas Pioneer, broken up in 1972.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Krigsseileren", Issue No. 2 for 1975, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. (ref. My sources).


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