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Owner: D/S A/S Eikland
Built in Gothenburg in 1936.
Captain: Paul Rikard Paulsen
Her voyages are listed on this original image received from the National Archives of Norway.
As will be seen when going to the archive document above, Pericles was in Houston when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, having arrived that day from Vera Cruz.
On Nov. 18 that same year she's shown as departing Aden. A. Hague has included a ship by this name in Convoy BN 9, which left Aden that day. The nationality is given as Dutch, but I believe this must have been the Norwegian Pericles. The Norwegian Katy is also listed.
Similarly, there's a Dutch Pericles listed in Convoy AS 15, departing Piræus on Febr. 20-1941 - again, this fits with a voyage listed for the Norwegian Pericles on the archive document. She arrived Port Said on Febr. 24, before proceeding to Haifa and from there to Alexandria on March 6. See also Convoy AN 19 below, and compare the details with the document. This convoy left Alexandria on March 11, and Pericles is included (again listed as Dutch), as is the Norwegian Solheim (which was sunk shortly thereafter). Pericles arrived Suda Bay on March 15.
Stationed at Suda Bay (Admiralty Service, Royal Fleet Auxiliary).
As mentioned, Pericles had arrived Suda Bay on March. 15-1941 at 11:30, and was used for replenishing destroyers and battleships. Early in the morning of March 26, Italian "barchini" (see external link at the end of this page) attacked ships at Suda Bay, with the result that the British cruiser York and a tanker were lost, while Pericles was badly damaged. She had just finished replenishing HMS Coventry at 05:10 when an air raid warning sounded, so all men were on deck when the explosion occurred about 5 minutes later in No. 2 starboard wing tank, through No. 3 center tank to No. 2 port wingtank. Oil was gushing out of the damaged tanks and the pumproom was partly flooded. She listed about 40 degr. to starboard and they feared she would capsize.
Unhurt, the majority of the crew went in the starboard lifeboat, others launched a raft and were later picked up by the lifeboat. Some crew members who were in the water were picked up by a tug and taken ashore. However, when the ship appeared to have settled on the bottom the captain and some of the crew reboarded and opened the valves to the port tanks. She straightened and all men later went back on board. Damages were found to be considerable. A 6 cylinder motor and remains of the "barchino" were found on deck right above the impact area, where there was a 6 ft (approx.) hole a few ft below the water line, and on the port side there was a vertical crack about 3 meters long; the deck was also cracked.
The next morning they attempted to "bail" the pumproom but this proved impossible. Most of the tanks were also found to be flooded. On the 28th and until the afternoon of the 29th some of her cargo was transferred to the British Cherryleaf which had come alongside. This ship returned on Apr. 4 to receive more of Pericles cargo, this continuing on the 5th and 6th. Another attempt was made to bail the pumproom on Apr. 8, but again this was unsuccessful. She still had an estimated 100 tons of fuel oil on board out of the 12 324 tons that had been loaded in Haifa. A total of 9329 tons had been discharged, so 2995 tons had been lost because of the explosion.
When the British evacuated Crete, Pericles was ordered by Naval Control to leave for Port Said as soon as possible, so she departed* Suda Bay on Apr. 11 at 11:30 escorted by the trawler HMS Moonstone, joining Convoy 114?** that evening. 6 of her crew (3 officers and 3 crew?) had been left behind, because they did not get back to the ship in time. On the 13th they encountered heavy seas, so she had to leave the convoy escorted by HMS Grimsby, and as the weather had worsened the next morning, course was set for Alexandria. At 08:30, when about 35 miles off Alexandria her engine was stopped and all men ordered on deck, whereupon 15 men (6 in the port aft lifeboat and 9 in Grimsby's gig) were picked up by Grimsby. Later that morning, at about 10:30, Pericles broke in 2 and the rest of the crew plus the captain went in the port motor lifeboat; her entire complement was now on board Grimsby. During the afternoon both parts were sunk by Grimsby, another destroyer and an aircraft (to prevent danger to shipping, and also to prevent her drifting into the minefields off Alexandria) though the foreship proved difficult to sink, requiring 70 shells and 2 torpedoes, as well as 2 bombs from the aircraft before the 2 parts finally sank (35 miles northwest of Alexandria, according to "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939"). The 25 men were landed in Alexandria on Apr. 15.
An inquiry was held in Alexandria on Apr. 25-1941 with the captain, the 1st engineer, the 1st mate, Mechanic Selmer and the boatswain appearing. I get the impression from their statements and from the captain's report that they all believed Pericles had been hit by an air torpedo during the attack at Suda Bay in the morning of March 26.
Crew List - No Casualties:
HMS York - Includes details on her fate.
Back to Pericles on the "Ships starting with P" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Krigsseileren", Issue No. 2 for 1973, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II (Norwegian Maritime Museum) and misc. (ref. My sources).