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Owner: Skibs-A/S Solvang
Built by Kockums Mekaniska Verksteds A/B, Malmö, Sweden in 1937.
Captain: Leif Moen. After the loss of Kongsgaard, he took over as captain of Garnes (May-1942 to Sept.-1942), then Polarsol (Oct.-1942 through Jan.-1943), and General Ruge (Apr.-1943 to Oct.-1945). He left the sea in 1957 and died 10 years later. Captain Moen was awarded Krigsmedaljen, St. Olavsmedaljen m/ekegren and Frihetsmedaljen (my War Medals page has more information on these Norwegian medals), as well as the British OBE (this information was received from Leif Clark - see his Guestbook message below).
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 some voyages may be missing.
As can be seen on Page 1 of the archive documents, Kongsgaard was on her way from Corpus Christi to Halifax when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She arrived Halifax on Apr. 12 and 2 days later she joined Convoy HX 35. She was bound for Dunkirk, cargo of crude oil, station 92, arriving her destination on May 1. Later that month we find her, with destination Trinidad, in Convoy OA 144, which left Southend on May 8 and dispersed on the 11th, Kongsgaard arriving Trinidad on May 23, continuing to Curacao 2 days later, with arrival May 30. (Ref. external link provided within the Voyage Record above; Ask is also listed).
A French visitor to my website has told me that according to his records Kongsgaard sailed from Casablanca on June 20-1940 in Convoy 10 K under French escort, and was at Oran on June 22 (the convoy arrived there on that date). This visit to Casablanca is not mentioned on Page 1, which says she arrived Gibraltar from Curacao and Fort de France on June 21/22, leaving again June 23/24, and was in port at Oran on the 25th. This means she barely avoided being interned like so many other Norwegian ships, named on this page. The convoy is available at the external link provided in the table above, and Kongsgaard is indeed included (together with the Norwegian Mammy), but if she sailed in this convoy, she probably joined from Gibraltar, and did not go to Casablanca (A. Hague gives departure Gibraltar as June 22, arrival Oran June 23).
She's mentioned in connection with the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 68 on Aug. 23-1940, but there's a note in the original document stating she was to be sent to Halifax to await orders. Going back to Page 1, we find that she sailed from Bermuda on Aug. 22 and arrived Halifax on the 25th. She was scheduled for Convoy HX 70 from there on Sept. 1 (Hird was sunk - follow the link for details), but again there's a note in the convoy document saying she was to be held back in Halifax. She eventually got away in Convoy HX 76 on Sept. 26, bound for Clyde, station 22, arriving Clyde on Oct. 10.
In Jan.-1941 she can be found in Convoy OB 272, which originated in Liverpool on Jan. 10 and dispersed on the 14th, and from which the Norwegian Brask was sunk; follow the link for more info. Don, Ferncastle, Gezina, Marita, Ravnefjell and Victo are also listed. No destination is given for Kongsgaard, but from the archive document, we learn that she arrived New York on Jan. 25, having started out from Clyde on the 11th. She returned to the U.K. the following month with Convoy HX 111, bound for Manchester with fuel oil (according to the Advance Sailing Telegram for this convoy), later joining Convoy OB 301 in order to go to Curacao, where she arrived on Apr. 9, having left Liverpool on March 23 (the convoy had been dispersed on March 27) - again, see the external link in the table above for more on this convoy; Brant County, Ferncourt, Ranja, Taurus and Torborg are also named. Kongsgaard headed back to the U.K. again on Apr. 25 with Convoy HX 123 from Halifax, destination Clyde with fuel oil, station 53. See also the Cruising order/Commodore/s notes. Kongsgaard arrived Clyde on May 12, and on the 19th of that month she left Clyde to join Convoy OB 324, which originated in Liverpool on May 18 and dispersed on the 27th, Kongsgaard arriving New York on June 3 - again see the external link provided; the Norwegian Erviken and Thorshov are also included.
From New York, Kongsgaard proceeded to Halifax on June 6-1941 in order to join Convoy HX 133 on June 16, cargo of fuel oil for Swansea. For the first time in a convoy battle the number of U-boats and escort vessels was about the same. Please follow the link for more details on this convoy, several Norwegian ships took part, 2 of which were sunk, namely M/S Vigrid and M/S Soløy.
As the convoy was subject to several U-boat attacks her gunners kept watch by the guns 24 hours a day, and extra lookouts were stationed. Kongsgaard was the 2nd ship in the 8th column (station 82), 2nd Mate Müller was on duty on the bridge in the early morning hours of June 27. The captain had just left the bridge when at about 01:50 (British Summertime) the ship right in front of her was torpedoed, and a few seconds later the vessel in front of her on the starboard side exploded with an enormous bang. The ship in front of Kongsgaard was the Dutch Maasdam (station 81) which was torpedoed by U-564 with the loss of 2 men. She had 32 passengers and a general cargo. Kongsgaard's Captain Moen's report on this incident states that the second ship must have been loaded with explosives, and this fits with the British Malaya II in station 91, also struck by U-564. She had a cargo of metal, wheat and TNT, 39 died.
Shortly afterwards, Kongsgaard received a torpedo from U-564 (Suhren), position 60N 31W according to the captain's report. She was engulfed in black smoke from stern to bow from the explosion and also from the ship that had been torpedoed just beforehand. Debris from the explosion on the latter ship landed on board Kongsgaard and all around her, while the windows of the chart house and the wheel house burst, as did the doors in the passageway and to the saloon. The engine was stopped and all the lifeboats were immediately launched, as it was impossible to see exactly how bad the situation was in the darkness which was made worse by the thick smoke. However, when the smoke cleared after a while it looked like the ship would probably stay afloat, so the captain and 9 men remained on board to see what could be done. In the meantime, 3rd Mate Kolkinn and an able seaman stayed alongside in the starboard lifeboat to be ready to receive the 10 still on board if necessary. 1st Mate Finn Wathne managed to extinguish a fire in the pump room and as the ship was listing about 15° he was also asked to trim from the port tanks to the empty starboard tanks (the torpedo had hit in the empty No. 2 port wingtank and the pump room which was filled). As soon as everything appeared to be in order the lifeboat was hoisted back on board.
In the meantime the Canadian Randa (ex Danish), which the captain says acted as rescue vessel for the column, had launched a motor lifeboat and was picking up crew and passengers from the ship that had been torpedoed in front of them. Randa had also picked up the men from Kongsgaard's motor lifeboat and the port boat. Randa's motorboat now came over to Kongsgaard and offered to take the remaining men on board, but this no longer seemed necessary. M/T Havprins also offered to take them on board (this ship also rescued survivors from the ship that had been torpedoed in front of Kongsgaard, follow the link for more info). A 3rd lifeboat from Kongsgaard was a little further away, but its occupants were notified of the fact that Kongsgaard was afloat so they came back to the ship. The motorboat from Randa then brought the men already picked up by that ship back to Kongsgaard. The motor lifeboat and the port midships lifeboat had been damaged while alongside Randa and were half filled with water. They tried to take them back on board, but as they were still in the danger zone this was given up and Kongsgaard proceeded with just the 2 lifeboats. Everyone was back on board by 04:10 and she could continue her voyage. Around 18:00 she had caught up with the convoy again.
The next day, June 28, Kongsgaard was starting to list to starboard and an inspection showed that No. 2 tank on the starboard wing was flooding quickly. They managed to straighten her up again by trimming, but she was very deep in the water. In the early morning hours of June 29 the convoy was again attacked by U-boats, but Kongsgaard escaped harm this time. In the afternoon of July 1 the captain was told by the Commodore to continue to Swansea, but Kongsgaard's degaussing was useless, she was short of 2 lifeboats, and very deep in the water, so he preferred to take her to the nearest port Belfast first, or Clyde, where the danger of magnetic mines was minimal. Permission was granted from the Admiralty and she arrived Belfast in the morning of July 2, remaining there until July 21, when she left for Swansea, arriving July 23 - again, see Page 1.
A telegram from First Lord of the Admiralty had arrived on July 5 congratulating them on bringing their ship safely to port after being torpedoed.
A visitor to my site, George Monk, has told me that the following men received British awards, probably for the above incident? (his source: Seedies List of awards to the British Merchant Navy which includes awards to Allied merchant seamen).
Other ships sunk in Convoy HX 133, in addition to Maasdam, Malaya II and the 2 Norwegian ships already mentioned, were the British Brokcley Hill (no casualties) and Grayburn (35 died). The convoy had departed Halifax on June 16-1941 and arrived Liverpool on July 3. The Dutch Tibia had been in much the same situation as Kongsgaard, and also made it to Belfast, having been torpedoed and damaged by U-79 on June 27. More information can be found on my page about HX 133 (Kongsgaard is mentioned by the Commodore several times). See also the external link below.
For info, U-564 was also responsible for the attack on Vardaas the following year - click on the link for details.
It'll be noticed, when going to Page 2, that Kongsgaard later spent a long time in Falmouth, where she had arrived on Aug. 14-1941; departure is given as Jan. 15-1942. Perhaps the torpedo damages were repaired there? She subsequently made a voyage to Curacao. She had left Belfast Lough on Jan. 24 and joined the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 59, which had originated in Liverpool on Jan. 23 and dispersed on Febr. 6, Kongsgaard arriving Curacao on Febr. 13. This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys. The Norwegian Braganza, Hardanger (returned), Herbrand, Hilda Knudsen, Norsktank (returned), O. A. Knudsen, Pan Aruba, Salamis, Sommerstad (returned), Svenør, Sydhav and Thorshavet are also listed.
More information on the other Norwegian ships mentioned here is available via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.
Related external links:
As mentioned above, Kongsgaard had arrived Curacao on Febr. 13-1942 (Page 2). From there, she proceeded to Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela on Febr. 14, arriving the next day, departing again on Febr. 20 with 15 600 tons light crude oil for Aruba. She had been ready to leave on the 16th, but had been held back due to enemy activity in Caribbean waters. She passed Wilhelmstad, Curacao early in the morning of Febr. 21 and shortly afterwards a Dutch destroyer came towards them and gave them routing instructions and positions and also told them they were to go to St. Nicolaas Bay, so her course was altered accordingly, while she continued to zig-zag, which she had done all along. At 08:50 she was 2 1/2 miles west of North Point, Curacao, and her course was altered as per instructions from the destroyer (a 90° alteration to port), still zig-zag'ing.
Between 09:10 and 09:15, Captain Moen, who was on the port side of the bridge saw a torpedo heading their way, about 100 yards off (U-67 - Müller-Stöckheim), and ordered hard starboard wheel to avoid other possible torpedoes, while sounding the alarm. At the same time the torpedo struck between the pump room and engine room on the port side, immediately setting the oil cargo on fire, sending flames high above the entire afterpart. The explosion destroyed all connections between the bridge and poop so no orders could be given. The radio operator was told to send an SOS witht their position but soon had to leave the radio station as the fire was spreading. 1st Mate Wathne, who was trapped in his cabin by the flames managed to get out through the porthole, then ran forward where those who had been on the bridge joined him, except the captain and the radio operator. A dinghy was thrown overboard, whereupon 2nd Mate Müller and the saloon (galley?) boy jumped overboard and tried to save themselves in it, but the flames quickly caught up with them.
The ship had now slowed down and was drifting sideways with the starboard side to the wind, so that the flames blew away from that side, enabling those who were still amidships to launch the starboard boat, and after having picked up 2nd Engineer Rosengren from the water, they rowed away as fast as they could. The boat had been sprayed with oil and was extremely difficult to maneuver with the slick oars. A British gunner, George Gurney, who had manned the Oerlikon on the upper bridge was severely burnt, but did what he could to help them get away from the burning oil on the water and they finally succeeded.
3 hours later a small fishing vessel manned with police and Red Cross representatives came alongside. The men in the lifeboat were doing reasonably well, so the rescuers were requested to search for possible other survivors, since the lifeboat was so difficult to maneuver and they were exhausted themselves (those in the lifeboat had noticed earlier that the starboard aft lifeboat had been launched, though they had not seen the boat itself). This fishing vessel had just previously found a man in the water; he had managed to swim through the flames until he reached open water. This was Able Seaman Magnus Heggø*, who with the assistance of the 4th mate had launched the starboard aft boat 1 1/2 minutes after the explosion, but the fore and aft tackles had not been released evenly with the result that the boat fell down very quickly, then capsized. He did not know how many had been in this boat.
At 13:30 another fishing vessel came up to the lifeboat and they were taken aboard. This vessel had also searched the attack area for possible survivors. Additionally, a fast motorboat had searched around the burning wreck as had 3 aircraft, but no more were found. The survivors were subsequently transferred to this motorboat and landed in Bullenbay where ambulances were waiting. 2 were badly burnt and sent to the hospital in Wilhelmstad, as were the others. Kongsgaard eventually sank during the night leading up to Febr. 22.
The following info from U-67's KTB was sent to me by a visitor to my site:
Related external links:
Back to Kongsgaard on the "Ships starting with K" page.
Another Kongsgaard was built for Skips-A/S Solvang (Brødrene Olsen), Stavanger in 1949, 10 528 gt. It's pictured as Jamunda (Anders Jahre, Sandefjord from 1958) on this external website.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "The Allied Convoy system", Arnold Hague, "Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two", Jürgen Rohwer, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc. (ref. My sources). The memorandum mentioned above was received from Tony Cooper, England.