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To Sørholt on the "Ships starting with S" page.
A picture can be found at Uboat.net (external link).
Several pictures from the lifeboat are available at Sørholt - Page 2
Owner: Skibs-A/S Igadi
Built at Kockums Mekaniska Verksteds A/B, Malmö, Sweden in 1939.
Captain: Jørgen Alfred Jacobsen.
Related items on this website:
Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
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.
As can be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, Sørholt was on her way from Cebu to Los Angeles when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She arrived Los Angeles on Apr. 10. Her 1941 voyages also start on this document and continue on Page 2, which also shows a few 1942 voyages (it looks like she spent quite a long time in Baltimore at the beginning of that year).
Together with the Norwegian Egda, she's listed in Convoy KS 514, which left Hampton Roads on June 26-1942 and arrived Key West on July 2. She continued from Key West 2 days later in Convoy WAT 2, arriving Trinidad on July 14, and is said to have joined Convoy E 1 from there on the 16th - ref. external links provided within the Voyage Record. Her destination is given as Rio, where she arrived on July 30. She subsequently sailed to Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires - Her voyages in this period are shown on Page 3.
Sørholt had arrived Buenos Aires on Aug. 12-1942. She left again on Aug. 29 for New York, via Trinidad for bunkers and convoy with, among other things, canned meats, hides, wool and vegetable oil, about 8500 tons total. Due to the fact that reports of U-boat activity near Trinidad had reached the captain he sent a telegram to Nortraship before departure requesting permission to sail through the Magellan straits and along the Pacific coast to Panama. Nortraship agreed, but their reply was held up at the Port Director's Office in New York and did not reach Buenos Aires until the day after Sørholt had left.
On Sept. 15-1942 she was torpedoed and sunk by U-515 (Henke), 10 45N 60W. At the time of attack she was sailing at a speed of 13 knots on a course 310° true, zig-zagging since leaving Buenos Aires. The weather was clear, sea smooth, wind east force 1-2, no moonlight but visibility was good, no other ships were in sight. It was a very warm night, so the 2 gunners not on duty, Sverre T. Abrahamsen and Trygve Nordseth, were asleep in hammocks underneath the gun platform, while Gunner Alf H. Einang was keeping watch by the 4" gun. Several crew members had bedded down on one of the hatches.
The first torpedo, which hit around 02:45 on the starboard aft quarter near the water line blew up the gun platform, wrecked the poop, destroyed the cabins, tore up hatch No. 5 and caused an explosion in the ammunition hold. Nordseth was killed, while Abrahamsen was trapped when the gun platform fell down. 3 were injured so badly in their cabins that they bled to death there, bidding a quiet farewell to one of their shipmates who came past. Another seaman who was also in his cabin was flung through a gaping hole in the ship's side, his only "injury" a broken tooth. A second torpedo, which struck abaft the starboard beam and exploded in the engine room amidships seconds after the first one had struck, stopped the engine, killed 2 on duty there and destroyed 2 lifeboats on the starboard side amidships.
The survivors (some of whom were passengers) struggled to get a port lifeboat out, but due to the destruction on the boat deck the tackles had to be cut before the boat reached the water, so that it filled and drifted off with only 3 on board. 10 men went in the gig, the only remaining lifeboat that could be used. Gunner Einang had been thrown through the air in the first explosion, then found himself floating in the aft cargo hold, having been flung 10 meters forward and had fallen through the hole that had been created there just seconds before he reached that area. He fell flat on his back on top of the hides in the hold, and though he injured his back he managed to get to the surface while the water was rising, then simply crawled out of the hold (No. 5). Reaching the aft of the ship he discovered Gunner Abrahamsen, but could do nothing to free him, so the 2 said goodbye to each other before Einang jumped overboard and swam to the lifeboat.
In the meantime, the captain, who had been asleep on a bench on the lower bridge had been knocked to the deck by the explosion. When he came to he ran up to the bridge and on to the boatdeck where he observed that the starboard boats were useless and the port boats had already left the ship. He went down to the main deck where he encountered one of the able seamen (in shock), the steward, and the 3 passengers. They proceeded to the forward deck to free the rafts, and 9 men got on the starboard one, after the port raft had also been released. About 8 minutes had now passed since the attack occured and by this time Sørholt's after part was deep in the water and the captain gave the orders to get away from the ship. When they were about 15-20 meters away, about 10 minutes after the first detonation, a third torpedo struck, this time in the deep tank, starboard side (about amidships), lifting the ship up, breaking her in 2 while columns of flames and smoke rose high up in the air, before she went straight down within seconds.
The U-boat came up, the usual questions about ship and cargo were asked, apologies were made for having had to sink Sørholt, and some canned food and cigarettes handed over before the U-boat disappeared again in a southeasterly direction. The captain had been taken aboard while interrogated, but was not taken prisoner.
In the course of the night the 2 rafts and the gig gathered by the lifeboat, which had been bailed, 7 had been picked up from the water, while another man was taken onto the starboard raft, 30 men in all, 8 were missing. At dawn the 2nd mate and 4 men were sent over in the gig to investigate the area where the ship had gone down. After about an hour they returned with Abrahamsen who had been found on a raft. His story follows.
After the others had left the ship, the 18 year old Gunner Sverre Abrahamsen was waiting for the end, in excruciating pain. Several of his shipmates had attempted to free him but the weight of the gun platform was more than they could handle, and they had been forced to leave him there, with his cries of pain ringing in their ears as they saved themselves. Left on his own, Abrahamsen heard a voice from below, belonging to one of the mechanics trapped in his cabin and as the after part of the ship (where the crew's cabins were located) sank deeper and deeper they said goodbye to each other. All Abrahamsen could do now was wait for his own death, seeing the water rising along the side of the ship, listening to the sounds of a dying vessel. Then the 3rd torpedo hit and he suddenly found himself free, the detonation having lifted the platform enough that he could get out from under it. He managed to get over to the railing and threw himself overboard. Since he had no lifevest on he frantically looked around for something to hold on to. Some debris from the engine room floated by and to get a better hold he stuck his fingers through some wire. After a while he spotted one of the hatches and decided this was a much better solution, but to his horror he couldn't get his fingers untangled from the wire, no matter how hard he pulled. Eventually, he made a last desperate attempt and his hands finally came free, but the skin of his fingers was gone in the process. For several hours he clung to this hatch, until he spotted an empty raft which he transferred to. As the darkness started to fade the captain sent a boat out to search for other survivors and Abrahamsen was found. Some of his shipmates broke down in fits of joyous sobbing when they saw him.
In addition to Abrahamsen, 3 others were also seriously wounded, and they were taken care of the best they could under the circumstances before setting sail in the lifeboat, the gig and one of the rafts, heading towards Trinidad, the lifeboat and the gig towing both rafts. They saw several aircraft in the course of the day, and that afternoon they were spotted by an American aircraft which circled above them. The wind and seas increased during the night, but the following morning, Sept. 16 they saw land an estimated 15 miles off. In order to increase their speed, one of the rafts was let go after having transferred those who were on it to the lifeboat, and that eveing they were picked up by 2 British MTB's which landed them in Port of Spain a few hours later, where the injured men were taken to Colonial Hospital.
31 had survived, 7 had died. Gunner Einang and Gunner Abrahamsen stayed in hospital for a long time. In Abrahamsen's case, gangrene took hold of his knee and his leg had to be amputated to save his life. He was finally released in May-1943. Sverre Abrahamsen, who had previously been the messboy on Bennestvet at age 15 (before that ship was sunk), had trained to be a gunner at Camp Norway - he later worked for Goltens in Brooklyn for the rest of the war (both links are external), and eventually emigrated to the U.S.
The maritime inquiry was held in New York on Oct. 27-1942 with the captain, the 2nd mate, Able Seaman Jensen and Able Seaman Svendsen attending. The latter stated that he had assisted in launching the port boat and one of the rafts, adding that he helped (probably meaning he tried to help?) a trapped gunner before jumping overboard.
Charles Hocking gives position as "100 miles from Trinidad", an article in "Tilbakeblikk" says 250 n. miles off Trinidad.
For info, U-515 was also responsible for the attacks on Lindvangen a few days later, and Corneville in 1943 - Follow the links for details.
Crew & Passenger List:
Related external links:
Operations information for U-515
Pictures from lifeboat are available on Page 2
Back to Sørholt on the "Ships starting with S" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", "Tilbakeblikk", article by A. Thurson, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum, and misc. others for cross checking of facts (ref. My sources). The Summary of Statements by Survivors was received from Tony Cooper, England.