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M/T South Africa
Updated Apr. 27-2010

To South Africa on the "Ships starting with S" page.

Crew List

Scanned from Leif Høegh & Co,'s fleet list and added to this website with the company's permission.
A better picture is available at (external link).

Owner: Skibs-A/S Noruega
Manager: Leif Høegh & Co. A/S, Oslo
9234 gt, 5593 net, 14 838 tdwt
Signal Letters: LDNV

Completed by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd., Wallsend, Sunderland in May 1930, tonnages as above, 484' 1" x 65' 5", two 4-cyl. two-stroke cycle single acting oil engines by Wallsend Slipway Co., Ltd., Newcastle, driving twin screws.

Captain: Hans J. Trovik

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

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

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

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 Apr. 19 Port Elizabeth Bahrein Independent Page 1 gives arrival May 11.
May 11 Bahrein Mombasa May 24 Independent
May 26 Mombasa Durban June 3 Independent
June 14 Durban Durban Independent A. Hague says:
Probably via Abadan
July 25 Durban Abadan Aug. 12 Independent
Aug. 17 Abadan Durban Sept. 9 Independent
Sept. 9 Durban Port Elizabeth Sept. 11 Independent
Sept. 19 Port Elizabeth Capetown Sept. 22 Independent
Sept. 27 Capetown Freetown Oct. 12 Independent
Oct. 12 Freetown Liverpool Nov. 1 SL 51 Convoy available at SL 51
(external link)
Nov. 15 Liverpool Clyde Nov. 16 Independent Missing 1940 movements, Page 1
1941 Apr. 13 Clyde OB 309 For Aruba.
Dispersed 5N 23 50W, Apr. 19.
Convoy available at OB 309
(external link)
Apr. 19 Dispersed from OB 309 Aruba May 6 Independent
May 16 Aruba Bermuda May 22 Independent
May 25 Bermuda BHX 129 See link to HX 129
May 31 Bermuda portion joined main convoy Clyde June 12 HX 129 Again, see Page 1
(missing movements)
June 21 Clyde OB 338 For Baltimore.
Dispersed July 3.
Convoy available at OB 338
(external link)
July 3 Dispersed from OB 338 Baltimore July 11 Independent
Sept. 6 Baltimore Sydney, C.B. Sept. 11 Independent
Sept. 11 Sydney, C.B. Belfast Lough Sept. 29 SC 44 Convoy will be added.
See ships in SC convoys
Sept. 30 Belfast Lough Avonmouth Oct. 2 BB 82 Convoy available at BB 82
(external link)
Nov. 1 Avonmouth Falmouth Nov. 3 Independent Page 1 says:
In tow
1942 May 6 Falmouth Milford Haven May 7 PW 151 Convoy available at PW 151
(external link - incomplete)
May 7 Milford Haven ON 93 For Aruba
(via Belfast Lough - See Page 2).
Dispersed 38 55N 42 43W, May 17
Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
May 17 Dispersed from ON 93 Trinidad May 25 Independent
May 27 Trinidad Aruba May 30 TO 2 Convoy available at TO 2
(external link)
May 31 Aruba Curacao May 31 Independent
June 2 Curacao OT 5 For Freetown.
A. Hague says:
Detached June 5.
Convoy available at OT 5
(external link)
June 5 Detached from OT 5 Independent Sunk - See "Final Fate" below

 Some Convoy Voyages: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's Voyage Record above.

Judging from the information found on Page 1, South Africa was in Port Elisabeth when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She had arrived there from Bahrein on Apr. 5 and departure is given as Apr. 19, wheren she returned to Bahrein, then on to Mombasa and Durban.

Later that year we find her, along with Grena, Primero and Thorshavet, in Convoy SL 51, which left Freetown on Oct. 12-1940 and arrived Oban on the 31st - ref. external link provided in the table above. She was bound for Liverpool, where she arrived Nov. 1, according to A. Hague, subsequently remaining in the U.K. for a long time.

In Apr.-1941 she's listed in Convoy OB 309, which originated in Liverpool on Apr. 12 and dispersed on the 19th (the Norwgian Fidelio and Inger Elisabeth are also listed). Her destination is given as Aruba, where she arrived on May 6, having started out from Clyde on Apr. 13 (Page 1). With a cargo of gasoline for Clyde, she headed back across the Atlantic later that month in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 129. Follow the link for more info; several Norwegian ships took part. Cruising order/Commodore's notes are also available. The following month she shows up, together with Alaska, Ferncastle, Malmanger, Norefjord and Skaraas, in Convoy OB 338, originating in Liverpool on June 21, dispersed July 3. This time she was bound for Baltimore, where she arrived on July 11, having joined from Clyde again. Direct links to the OB convoys mentioned here have been provided in the Voyage Record.

Going back to Page 1, we see that she spent almost 2 months in Baltimore, before heading to Sydney, C.B in order to join a convoy back to the U.K. For this voyage, Arnold Hague has included her in Convoy SC 44, which left Sydney, C.B. on Sept. 11-1941 and arrived Liverpool on the 30th. According to the archive document, South Africa stopped at Belfast Lough Sept. 27/29, before proceeding to Barry Roads and Avonmouth on Sept. 30. This convoy is not yet available among the SC convoys included on my website, but will be added; several Norwegian ships took part (see ships in all SC convoys). The Norwegian Barbro was sunk; follow the link for more details.

It looks like something happened to South Africa shortly thereafter. Page 1 states that she left Avonmouth in tow on Nov. 1-1941 and arrived Falmouth in tow 2 days later. This may explain the big gap in her voyages; according to Page 2, she did not leave Falmouth again until May 6-1942, when she proceeded to Milford Haven. She's now listed among the ships in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 93, which originated in Liverpool on May 8 and dispersed on the 17th - the archive document indicates she joined this convoy from Belfast Lough. ON 93 will also be added to an individual page in my Convoys section in due course. In the meantime, the ships sailing in it are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys. She was again bound for Aruba, where she arrived on May 29, having stopped at Trinidad where she had joined Convoy TO 2 on May 27 (link in the table above).

More info on the other Norwegian ships mentioned here can be found via the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.

 Final Fate - 1942: 

South Africa departed St. Nicholas, Aruba under escort for Curacao on May 31-1942 with a cargo of 9614 tons lube destilate and about 4146 tons diesel oil, arriving Willemstad that same afternoon. She left Curacao on June 2 for Freetown, joining Convoy OT 5 (external link - Athos, Norholm and Solfonn are also named). The convoy was dispersed* on June 6 (5?) about 20 n. miles north/northeast of Barbados, and she was sailing alone, on a course 115° true at a speed of 10 knots, when she was hit by 2 torpedoes from U-128** (Heyse) on June 8-1942, 12 47N 49 44W. It was daylight, she was not zig-zagging, radio was silent. There were 4 lookoust, 1 on top of the wheel house, 1 on the bridge and 2 gunners. The weather was clear, sea rough, wind easterly force 4, visibility good, no ships in sight.

* Convoy OT 5 was bound for Trinidad, where it arrived already on June 4 - I can't quite get this to fit with the dispersal notes in my sources for South Africa's demise. Also, according to A. Hague, she was detached from the convoy on June 5.

** Leif Høegh's fleet list claims that South Africa was torpedoed and sunk by U-302 (12 40N 49 57W), but according to this boat (external link) was not commissioned until June 16 that year, and was on training from that date until Nov. 30-1942. This is probably a mix up with South America, which was indeed sunk by U-302 (as was Ruth I). "Nortraships flåte" also gives the position as 12 40N 49 57W for South Africa's attack, 400 n. miles east of Trinidad.

According to the captain's report the torpedoes struck at an interval of about 2-3 seconds. He was in the wheelhouse when the first torpedo hit in the engine room, starboard side, causing an internal explosion of the air tanks, and as he ran out to the port side of the bridge he saw a torpedo passing about 10 yards ahead of the bow. She immediately started to sink by the stern, while shrapnel rained in all directions from the first explosion. After having given orders to the 3rd mate (officer on watch) to have the engines stopped, he ran to the starboard side of the bridge, but before he got that far the 2nd torpedo struck in No. 5 main tank, also on the starboard side, sending oil higher than the bridge. When he looked towards aft a few seconds later the poop deck was level with the water, the starboard lifeboats were destroyed, as was the storm bridge, the after part of the bridge, and the 12 lbs gun with its foundation. 6 were killed, 5 of whom had been in the engine room, 1 on deck (British gunner, who had been asleep on deck).

Both port lifeboats were successfully launched, in spite of the fact that the ship still had some speed. Some jumped overboard, as South Africa was sinking very quickly - she broke in 2, probably between tanks No. 5 and 6 and the after section disappeared within 2 minutes. At that time both lifeboats were alongside the after part and attempted to get away from the suction, however, this turned out to be surprisingly limited. About 1 minute later the foreship went down at great speed with the bow sticking up. Shortly afterwards the U-boat was seen coming towards them. All 3 mates were in the captain's boat at that time, but the 1st and 2nd mates were sent over to the other boat before the U-boat reached them, whereupon they proceeded to row around and pick up those who were in the oily water. As the U-boat reached the captain's boat, the commander pointed out another crew member in the water a little further away, and while they rowed across to pick him up the 1st mate's boat with 23 men went over to the U-boat to give the requested information about ship, cargo, nationality, destination etc.

Having picked up all the survivors they could see, the captain's motor boat with 13 men approached the rafts that were seen a little ways off, in order to get as much food and water as possible for the long journey ahead of them. Only 1 of the 4 rafts was found to be intact and they transferred a 20 gallon water tank and other supplies. By the time this was done the 1st mate's boat (port aft) could no longer be seen, and after having looked around for it for about 45 minutes, they set sail for Trinidad

In the morning of June 12 the captain went on board S/S Plaudit of Savannah (Danish captain, mostly Scandinavian crew), which offered to take them along to Pernambuco, but they decided to continue towards Trinidad, so after having been given plenty of provisions and water (a breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee included), they continued. They were in position 10 54N 54 32W and had 380 miles left to go. In the afternoon of the 15th they got 5 gallons of petrol from a small sailboat (name given as Minnie M. Mosher), which offered to take them to Barbados, but they again decided to continue on their original course. At dawn the following morning, June 16, they saw land and at 13:30 they landed at Toko Bay, about 1 mile from Galara Light, where they were assisted by the locals. The captain was able to send a telegram to Nortraship in Port of Spain requesting a search for the other lifeboat. All of them, except the 3rd mate and 3 others who were to take the lifeboat to Port of Spain, were transported by bus to same. On arrival they were informed that the men in the other boat had landed that same morning.

The U-boat commander had handed them some cans of bread and two bottles of German rum, whereupon the commander had told them to steer west(?) in order to reach land. The 23 in the mate's boat had also been "invited to dinner" on June 12 (D/T Acasta), but they too made the decision to continue in the lifeboat after having eaten, instead of accepting the offer to go along to Freetown. They encountered the Argentinian tanker Trece de December (should this be Trece de Deciembre?) on June 13, got some additional supplies from her, declined the offer of transport to Buenos Aires, then sailed on. The following day they were located by aircraft which reported them to the American Seaplan Tender (I have a feeling this is not the ship's name, but a "seaplane tender"), which in turn picked them up(?) in the afternoon of the 15th, about 45 miles east of Trinidad and landed them at Port of Spain the next day, June 16.

The captain and 27 men travelled to New Orleans on July 3-1942, with arrival July 13, departing for New York the following day, arriving July 16. The inquiry was held there on July 21 with the captain, the 3rd mate, Ordinary Seaman Hauge (lookout at the time of attack) and Ordinary Seaman Westin (helmsman) appearing.

A sinking report (dated Aug. 7-1942 and signed U.S.N.R. Ensign E. D. Hendersen) gives a description of the U-boat as follows:
"The sub was described as large, 100 to 200 feet long, about 1000 tons, painted light grey, streaked with rust, vertical, elliptical shape conning tower on which was painted a blue horse, 3 guns; one 2", one AA and one oerlikon, and was equipped with a cutter, and a mast for an aerial. The sub's speed was about 10 knots on surface, was last seen heading North surfaced, at 11:09? (time barely legible) EWT, June 8, 1942......Survivors were given bread, rum and told to head due East".

For info, U-128 was also responsible for the loss of O. A. Knudsen, Andrea Brøvig and Maloja - follow the links for details.

Crew List:
Jens R. Jensen had previously served on Østhav.
Birger Kålstad's other ships are named on
this external page. See also the crew list for Bra-Kar and Besholt.

Hans J. Trovik
1st Mate
Thomas O. Holter
2nd Mate
Thomas Thue Nilsen
3rd Mate
Anton Bakke
Radio Operator
Per Kirkhorn
Magnus Viland
Jens Reinert Jensen
Able Seaman
Einar Mundal
Able Seaman
Ivar Andersen
Able Seaman
Willy E. Svendsen
Able Seaman
Torkjell Kviven
Able Seaman/Gunner
Aksel Robert Olsen
Able Seaman/Gunner
Sverre Larsen
Ordinary Seaman
Arne Abrahamsen
Ordinary Seaman
Øystein Hauge
Ordinary Seaman
Birger Helge Kålstad
Ordinary Seaman
Arne Jansen
Ordinary Seaman
Dalmar Sigvesjøen
Ordinary Seaman
Asgeir Scott
Ordinary Seaman
Holger Westin
1st Engineer
Kristian P. Larsen
3rd Engineer
Erling Harald Sund
Josef Ergo
Arnt Ormestad
Frank Johansen
Tholeif Paulsen
Arne K. Larsen
Douglas T. Green
Sigurd Samuelsen
Paul Tolstrup
Galley Boy
Knut Paul Svendsen
Mess Boy
Arthur Ponsford
Saloon Boy
Sidney F. Kemp
John Gander
John William Cooper
Anthony Hall

4th Engineer
Magnus Magnussen

Leif R. Lae

Anders Grøtting

Godfrey A. P. Massy*

Hans S. Hansen

Frederick Cox*

* More details on the British Godfrey Atcherley Peel Massy can be found on this page on the The Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website. He's commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial, Panel 99. Date is given as June 7-1942. There's also a Frederick Jesse Cox who may have been South Africa's gunner(?) - date is given as June 8-1942, and he's commemorated at Chatham Naval Memorial.

Related extrnal links:
Stavern Memorial commemorations - Norwegians only are commemorated at the Stavern Memorial for Seamen in Norway.

Operations information for U-128

U-128 | Ulrich Heyse

Høegh's Fleet today
Høegh & Co.

Back to South Africa on the "Ships starting with S" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Leif Høegh & Co. fleet list, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum, a summary of statements by survivors (dated Aug. 7-1942 and signed by a U.S.N.R. Ensign), received from Tony Cooper, England, and misc. for cross checking info (ref. My sources).


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