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To M/T Scotia on the "Ships starting with S" page.
Owner: Lorentzen's Skibs-A/S
Built by Schiffbau & Maschinefabrik Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, Germany in 1939.
Captain: Karl Hjalmar Hansen.
Related items on this website:
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 several voyages are missing.
When war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, Scotia was on her way from Abadan to Cape Town, arriving Apr. 12, having departed Abadan on March 24 - see Page 1. Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2, which also lists a few early 1942 voyages, while the rest are shown on Page 3 (it'll be noticed that she had quite a long stay in Bombay at the beginning of that year, and also spent a few weeks in Melbourne that spring). Additionally, the latter page has some 1943 voyages, as does Page 4. Convoy information for some of these is available within the Voyage Record above.
Scotia, on charter to Vacuum Oil Comany, departed Bahrein on Nov. 18-1943 with a cargo of 13 800 tons diesel oil for Melbourne, Australia, intended for the replenishment of British warships there. Her tanks were full, except No. 12 and No. 17, which were empty. She had a crew of 40. A memorandum based on a summary of statements by survivors (see Sources at the end of this page) says she was in a convoy until outside the Gulf of Oman, then continued alone on Nov. 20, while a report presented at the subsequent maritime hearings indicates she was sailing alone from the start. According to Page 4 of the archive documents, she left Bandar Abbas on Nov. 19 (her arrival there from Bahrein is not given), and this fits in with the fact that A. Hague has included her among the ships in Convoy PB 64, which left Bandar Abbas for Bombay that day (external link). The Norwegian Brajara, Havkong, Høegh Scout, Høegh Silverlight, Storanger and Thorshavn are also listed in this convoy, as is the Panamanian Norvinn, which had Norwegian managers and is, therefore, included under the N's on this website. A. Hague says Scotia was detached from the convoy on Nov. 25.
At 17:25 GCT on Nov. 27-1943, she was torpedoed, starboard side near the after mast by the Japanese submarine I-37 (Otani), position 03S 69 03E. At the time of attack she was on a course 179° true, sailing at a speed of 12 knots in clear weather, smooth seas and good visibility, wind northwest force 3; the sun had just set on the starboard quarter, no other ships were in sight. 1 lookout was on the bridge, another in the crow's nest. Earlier that same day, at 12:30 GCT, an object, believed to be some sort of craft on the surface, had been sighted from the crow's nest, and at the same time smoke had been seen on the horizon by those who were on the bridge. The same thing happened again later that day, and at 15:45 a bearing was taken on the smoke and found to be 217° true, but nothing further was seen until she was struck by the torpedo about the bulkhead between No. 13 and No. 14 tanks.
The explosion blew a section of the starboard plating out from the ship so that a section beginning at the bulkhead between No. 12 and No. 13 tanks was hinged at the bulkhead between No. 14 tank and the engine room, causing the ship to swing sharply to starboard, and she listed 10°-15° to starboard. The deck buckled 8' at the starboard rail, the starboard aft lifeboat was destroyed, the mainmast snapped and the engine room bulkhead buckled but remained tight. Steering gear was rendered inoperable as was the engine room telegraph, but the engines were secured in 2 minutes.
3 crew members abandoned ship immediately after the first torpedo had struck. As soon as the ship stopped, the remainder of the crew, except 1st Engineer Josef Amundsen and Radio Operator Kaare Kristiansen left the ship in 3 boats (and 2 rafts?) on orders from Captain Hansen. The port aft lifeboat capsized and 3 men ended up in the water, but they were later picked up by the starboard lifeboat which already had 7 men in it. The port motor lifeboat had 20, while the captain and 7 men were in the 3rd boat. The radio operator sent out distress calls, while the captain's boat waited alongside, the other 2 boats being further away in the dark. At 17:45 the track of another torpedo was seen approaching, which detonated in the engine room, also from the starboard side. The ship broke in two about midships and the stern section sank straight down (the forward section was still floating when last seen, burning furiously, having been shelled by the sub at 17:55).
The submarine now came up, asking for the captain who was subsequently ordered to come on board. His right arm had been injured when the torpedo hit and he was unable to climb on board unaided, so his men were ordered to put a line attached to a meat hook around him, but as he was hoisted on board the knot in the line broke so that the hook penetrated his upper arm, and he was pulled screaming into the submarine. He was later taken to Japan, where he was held in a prison camp at Fukuoka until the end of the war. (See Fukuoka POW Camp # 1 - Captain Hansen is included on a this roster and on this page, all these are external links. See also my page about William Strachan and my page Merchant Marine Prisoners of War).
Next, the Japanese wanted the radio operator; nobody said anything. The 1st mate was also wanted, nobody had seen him, he was assumed to have gone down with the after part of the ship. The lifeboat that the captain had been in was ordered to stay alongside, while the other 2 boats, which were hidden by Scotias forepart managed to slip away in the dark. The forepart was now shelled, and the radio operator quickly jumped overboard, then swam across to a door floating by.
The sub was described as of about 1700 gt, painted dark brown with no streaks or stripes, with a small, oval shaped conning tower, one gun aft of conning tower, size estimated at 4", 5" or 6", raked bow and sloping stern with a peculiar flat area forward of conning tower, thought to be a catapult. No deck gear or masts observed. Member of sub's crew who asked for the captain spoke English badly. Sub was manned by Japanese who wore dungarees, and was last seen moving slowly on the surface on an easterly course at 19:30, Nov. 27.
Skipping now to the 2 lifeboats that got away in the dark. They were connected by a line so as not to get separated in the night and set sail in a northeasterly direction, then north/northwesterly the next day. 1 of the men had been injured, and they took care of him the best they could. In the meantime, the distress calls had been heard by the British rescue services in Ceylon, and 2 Catalina aircraft and a rescue vessel were directed to the position given. That evening a Catalina came by, circled them a couple of times then dropped a package which was recovered from the water by the 2nd engineer. In a waterproof envelope there was a note reading "We have plotted your position. Steer 040° Compass to intercept HMS Okapi. Two more survivors at place of sinking. Good luck". The 2nd engineer's son has sent me a copy of this note, and underneath, the following has been added in Norwegian: "Indian Ocean Nov. 28-1943, 3 00S 69 03E" (this is the sinking position).
The men were picked up by HMS Okapi in position 03S 70E on Nov. 29 (here's a picture of Okapi reaching the lifeboats, also from Jan Haakonsen, the 2nd engineer's son), which immediately initiated a search for the captain's boat. They found it. 1 single man was in it, along with the ship's dog. This lone survivor, able seaman Thorbjørn Kristiansen, age 23 had a heart wrenching tale to tell, as follows:
Kristiansen had been on look-out duty in the foremast when the attack occurred. He went midships, where he was ordered to help launch the port lifeboat, whereupon it was let go half way down while waiting for further orders from the captain. In addition to Kristiansen, 1st Mate Nils Henry Andersen, 3rd Mate Arnfinn Strøm, 4th Engineer Fritjof A. Mehlum, Pumpman Bjarne Omdahl, Saloon Boy G. F. Dias and Ordinary Seaman Victor Purdy were in this boat. When the 2nd torpedo hit the captain was on the boatdeck, and the radio operator was also still on board. The captain called to him 2 or 3 times, but as the ship was sinking the boat had to pull away. It was about 25-30 yards away from the wreck when the captain saw the radio operator come down and the captain told him to jump overboard, which he did. At that moment they saw the submarine come up so they had to pull away from the ship, the captain saying they would have to pick up the radio operator later (he had a lifebelt on).
As mentioned, the captain was taken on board the sub and that was the last they saw of him. Suddenly, the sub started shooting at the lifeboat. Kristiansen immediately understood what was happening and threw himself backwards into the water and swam underneath the lifeboat. When he came up on the other side, 1st Mate Andersen and 3rd Mate Strøm were also in the water, the former being wounded in his left leg, the latter in his shoulder. The 1st mate was ready to give up but the 3rd mate encouraged him to "never do that". The sub kept firing and both mates were again hit. Kristiansen attempted to keep himself underneath the lifeboat, then hid on the port side of the boat. The firing continued, he heard the engine of the sub and saw the smoke, then observed the sub moving around to get a good look, so he dove underneath the boat again. When he resurfaced he saw the 1st and 3rd mates floating on the other side of the lifeboat, then a bullet hit the 1st mate in the forehead; Kristiansen says "I was all alone, I thought the only chance I had was to get away from the submarine because they kept shooting on the lifeboat".
Being a good swimmer, he managed to swim underneath the submarine until he came up on the other side, where he held on unseen until the sub submerged. He waited till it was far away, then swam back to the lifeboat which had 4 dead bodies in it. He was utterly exhausted, but was eventually able to roll them overboard, though to his horror all the blood from the bodies attracted sharks. He and the dog stayed in the damaged lifeboat overnight, in water up to his waist. The next day he managed to plug up the bullet holes and bail the boat. Having found a mast in the boat, he got it in place with the intention of trying to set sail, but first he decided to climb up to take a look across the ocean and, spotting a periscope, he quickly got the mast down then wrapped himself in the sail. After a while he heard a sub come up, then voices - miraculously he was not discovered and the sub took off again, but he stayed wrapped up in the sail until darkness fell.
Another night was spent alone on the ocean, with the shaking and frightened dog on his lap for company; all he could do now was wait. In the afternoon of Nov. 30 he was spotted by Okapi and reunited with his 30 shipmates. Less than an hour later the whaler also found one of Scotia's rafts; on it was the dead body of the 1st engineer, the bullet holes in the raft telling the tale. The radio operator was not found, he had been seen by the Catalina floating on a door, waving to them. A rubber dinghy was dropped down to him and he was last observed swimming towards it, but the Catalina had to return to base due to shortage of fuel. Okapi later found the empty dinghy, the radio operator had probably been injured by the bullets and had not had enough strength left in him to reach it. The 1st engineer was buried in the way of the sea, sewn into canvas and covered with the Norwegian flag. Steward Peder Stålhane spoke a few words for him.
Final count: 8 died, 32 survived, 1 of whom was taken prisoner and tortured.
Okapi then headed for her base, Addu Atoll, Maldive Islands (about 750 n. miles southwest of Ceylon), landing the survivors there on Dec. 1. Able Seaman Gerhard Larsen, who was seriously injured having been on the aft boat deck when the torpedo hit and was struck down by the boat davit, was admitted to a hospital, while the remaining survivors, including the dog were transferred to a French troopship and taken to Colombo, departing Dec 3, arriving on Dec. 6. Representatives from Nortraship met them there, and the men were given lodgings at the local Seamen's Club where they were provided with some clothes (British pilot uniforms!) and after the maritime hearings* were all over they joined other ships. Thorbjørn Kristiansen and 5 others from Scotia went on board M/S Norbryn on Dec. 23, but whether they actually joined that ship or were just given passage with her is unclear.
Scotia's Gunner Arne Rasmussen Storebø and Ordinary Seaman Thor Larsen Ringdahl turned in a report on Febr. 7-1944, and the public heard about the incident through an American radio interview with Storebø. Allied authorities had been reluctant to believe that such atrocities could actually take place, but the Scotia incident removed any doubts. Kristiansen had even been able to take note of the identity markings on the Japanese sub so it was clear from the start that I-37 had been the culprit. The British government sent a protest to the Japanese government on June 5-1944. 5 British ships were mentioned in the note to Foregin Minister Shigemitsu. They were S/S Daisy Møller, sunk Dec. 13-1943, survivors in lifeboats shot (2 Norwegians are said to have been killed, namely 1st Mate Harald Gotfred Høyer and Martin Olsen Aanes, but according to the Stavern Memorial, Aanes died during a bomb attack on the ship on May 19-1943 - Gotfred Høyer is also commemorated, both links are external) - S/S British Chivalry, torpedoed Febr. 22-1944, 2 lifeboats and 4 rafts fired upon - S/S Sutley, torpedoed Febr. 26-1944, surviviors clinging to debris and rafts shot at - S/S Ascot, sunk Febr. 29-1944, 44 of the 52 survivors shot - Nancy Møller, March 18-1944. The Netherlands had also protested the brutal treatment of survivors from S/S Tjisalak, March 26-1944. The British mentioned this in their own note as well, because British citizens were among the victims of that massacre. After several more notes without any kind of response, a reply finally came from Foreign Minister Shigemitsu on Nov. 28-1944, saying that "thorough investigations of each alleged case have been conducted, showing clearly that Japanese submarines had nothing to do with the incidents". See also the external link further down on this page re. the American Jean Nicolet, sunk July 2-1944.
T. Kristiansen served on 3 more Norwegian ships before he paid off for good in Newcastle on Aug. 2-1945. He was already very sick from Tuberculosis at that time. He got married and had a family but died in 1951 before he had turned 31. His wife was then 23, and he left an 8 month old son behind.
I've come across this external page at the Australian War Memorial re. Åge Bergdahl (see crew list below) - saying (among other things) the following:
* The Norwegian Viva also had a Karl Hustvedt - same person?
Related external links:
The S.S. Jean Nicolet
Back to M/T Scotia on the "Ships starting with S" page.
Other ships named Scotia through the years:
Denmark lost a steamship by this name on Dec. 7-1939, built 1924, 2400 gt - torpedoed and sunk by U-23 on Dec. 7-1939 on a voyage Copenhagen-England. There was also a British steamship by the name Scotia, used as auxiliary transport during the Dunkirk evacuations, built 1921, 3454 gt - bombed and sunk by German aircraft on June 1-1940, with the loss of 32 crew and between 200 and 300 French troops. (Britian had previously lost 2 other Scotia's, the first in a collision back in 1889, the other was wrecked in 1904). An American steamship named Scotia, built 1919, 2649 gt was wrecked after running ashore off Alcan Cove, Aleutian Islands during a storm on Dec. 23-1943. ("Dictionary of Disasters at Sea").
Roger W. Jordan lists a Swedish Scotia in his "Allied Merchant Fleets", built 1919, 1874 gt. Struck a mine and sank on Apr. 12-1942.
A former Norwegian vessel, the seal catcher D/S Hekla of Sandefjord (built 1872) was sold in 1902 to the Scottish Polar researcher Bruce and renamed Scotia. Later in cargo service England-France, lost during WW I. (Damp - Dampskipets æra i Vestfold).
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Handelsflåten i krig" - book 4, "Krigsseiler - Krig, hjemkomst, oppgjør", Guri Hjeltnes, "Ingen Nåde", Kristian Ottosen, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume II, a Summary of Statements by Survivors to Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C., signed Robert G. Fulton, Lieut. USNR (Febr. 11-1944), a Supplement to Summary of Statements by Survivors, dated May 12-1944, signed B.A. Conard, Lt. (jg), USNR, both received from Tony Cooper, England and misc. - (see My sources).