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Manager: Westfal-Larsen & Co. A/S, Bergen
Delivered in Apr.-1930 from Burmeister & Wain, Copenhagen, 395' x 54.6' x 28.9', 2x 6 cyl. 4T 4200 ihp, 12.5 knots
Captain: Sverre Solberg
Related item on this website:
Her voyages are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.
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 are missing.
Taranger is named on the original form for Convoy HX 33, which left Halifax for the U.K. on Apr. 6-1940. According to the archive document, she had sailed from Cristobal on Apr. 1 and arrived Falmouth on the 19th, later proceeding to France, where she remained for several weeks.
In June that same year, she's listed, together with Varangfjell*, in Convoy 65 X, which left Verdon on June 17 and arrived Casablanca on the 23rd. Taranger, however, was not bound for Casablanca; going back to the archive document, we learn that she arrived Cristobal from Verdon on July 8, and according to A. Hague she had been detached from the convoy on June 21. On July 10, she continued to Los Angeles and Vancouver.
She went back to the U.K. again in Sept.-1940 in Convoy HX 75, joining with the Bermuda portion, and arrived Liverpool on Oct. 7. She did not leave the U.K. until Dec. 14; according to the external website that I've linked to below, she had been scheduled for Convoy OB 257, leaving Liverpool on Dec. 10, but instead joined OB 259 on the 14th. Belinda, Dalfonn, Erviken (returned), Helgøy, Hørda, Høyanger(? - returned?), Idefjord, Leiesten and Thorshavet are also named in this convoy. Taranger's destination is given as Panama and San Pedro; according to the archive document, she arrived Cristobal on Jan. 4-1941 (the convoy had been dispersed on Dec. 17), subsequently heading to Los Angeles and Vancouver again.
According to Birger Lunde's letter, mentioned further up on this page, Taranger was being overhauled in Liverpool in the early spring of 1941 and endured heavy bombing for 14 consecutive nights (he also mentions her being in Le Havre the previous summer, when France fell to the Germans, and she had been the subject of a couple of dive bombing and strafing attacks there). From the archive document, we learn that she had arrived Liverpool from Halifax on Apr. 15-1941. This voyage had been made in Convoy HX 117, which had departed Halifax on March 27, Taranger carrying a general cargo as well as planes - it'll be noticed, when following the link to my page about this convoy, that she's mentioned in the Commodore's notes as being an excellent station keeper.
Her next voyage out was to be her last.
Related external link:
As will be seen, there's quite a bit of confusion and disagreements in the various sources with regard to the loss of this ship. Part of the problem is the different time zones used in the reports. There's also some confusion as to who was in which lifeboat. All I can do is summarize the information available to me, as follows:
Taranger departed Liverpool alone in ballast for Vancouver B.C. on Apr. 28-1941, escorted during the first few days by British aircraft. Note that Arnold Hague has included her, along with Annavore, Danio and Sydhav, in Convoy OB 316 (external link), which departed Liverpool on Apr. 28 and dispersed May 5 (he says she was detached on May 1). On Apr. 30, in about 8°W, she signalled to the aircraft that a U-boat had been seen about 10 n. miles off to the north. The aircraft found the U-boat and dropped a number of bombs over it as it submerged, resulting in a big spot of oil which made it seem like it had been hit and damaged, but this later turned out not to be so.
In the morning of May 1, Taranger's course was altered to more westerly, following orders received via radio from the U.K. In the evening of May 2*, when about 150 miles southwest of Reykjavik, she was suddenly shelled from behind. Taranger's only armament consisted of 2 Hotchkiss machine guns (according to Birger Lunde's letter, she was to get a 5" gun installed on arrival).
On duty on the bridge at the time was 3rd Mate Tveitvaag, while Able Seaman Solen was on lookout duty and Engine Room Assistant Juvik was on watch in the engine room. 2nd Mate/Radio Operator Birger Lunde went to the radio station to send an SOS. Taranger proceeded at full speed while zig-zag'ing in an effort to escape, but U-95 (Schreiber) followed, and as the shelling got more and more intense, and she was hit in several places, the captain ordered all men to the lifeboats, whereupon the engine was stopped and the engine crew came up on deck.
While the shelling continued from the starboard side, the port lifeboat with 17 (16?) on board got clear, but near the starboard boat the captain was killed and 3 were injured, Chief Engineer Mæland so badly that he was unable to lower himself down to the boat and had to jump into the water, where he was later picked up by the starboard boat. Able Seaman Solen had injured his back, Saloon Boy Wilkinson was injured by shrapnel in his foot. Taranger was hit several times on the starboard side and debris and shrapnel rained around the starboard lifeboat, which subsequently set off in an attempt to prevent getting hit. The U-boat now appeared in between the two lifeboats and going around to the port side, sent 2 torpedoes into the ship (amidships), causing her to break in two and sink.
All the injured men, who were in the starboard motor boat were given first aid. The 2 boats agreed to set a course for Iceland, so sail was set for Reykjavik. In the course of the day the port boat, being faster than the starboard boat, disappeared ahead. At 03:30 on May 3 a westbound convoy was spotted by those in the starboard boat (according to Uboat.net, this was Convoy OB 320, but I can't quite get this to fit as this convoy did not leave Liverpool until May 8). Rockets were sent up and half an hour later they were picked up by HMS Begonia where the injured were immediately taken under medical care. The 1st engineer had lost a lot of blood and was in a very poor condition, having also developed a severe cold. On May 5 they were transferred to the British destroyer Wolverine which had a doctor on board. By this time the 1st engineer had developed pneumonia and was still in a very bad condition (Begonia and Wolverine are both named among the escorts for Convoy OB 316, and Begonia also escorted OB 320 for a while).
They were landed in Reykjavik on May 10, where all the injured were immediately admitted to a hospital. The remaining men, except for a few who had joined the Navy, were sent to Glasgow on May 14 with arrival May 18. The 1st engineer's condition was very serious when they left, but he survived - see details on him further down on this page (all dates are according to the 2nd mate's report - "Nortraships flåte" says they had been picked up by Begonia at 04:00 on May 4).
As mentioned, the 1st mate's report states that they set sail an hour after midnight on May 3. At 06:30 they saw a vessel far off on their port side and realizing it was the other lifeboat they altered course towards it, meeting up with it at 08:00. They were told by the 2nd mate at that time that there were 15 men in the starboard boat (this conflicts with the 2nd mate's own report, see the crew list below). After having conferred with each other it was decided to steer northeast in order to reach the coast of Iceland. At 20:00 on May 4 an aircraft was seen but it was too far away for contact. They saw land ahead on the port side at 04:00 on May 5 and course was altered towards it. At 05:30 a ship was observed ahead on the starboard side and course altered accordingly. The vessel also altered course and steered in their direction and at 08:00 ship's time, when about 46 miles from the coast, they were picked up by the Icelandic M/B Sigurfari (Sigurdfar?), skipper Bersør Guojønsson. The lifeboat was taken in tow and course set for Akranesi where they landed at 13:00 and were received by British military authorities. The following morning, May 6, they were taken by passenger vessel to Reykjavik where they were met by Norwegian naval authorities (the 2nd mate's report says the crew in the port boat had arrived Reykjavik on May 4).
Meanwhile, the SOS had been heard, and the British destroyer Echo had been sent out to assist, searching for 8 hours without seeing a trace of the ship or the shipwrecked, and eventually had to head for Iceland. J. R. Hegland (author of "Nortraships flåte") believes that the position had been misread (25 30W instead of 20 20W), so that the wrong area was searched.
What follows has been extracted from Birger Lunde's letter:
During this time the submarine drew closer and the firing became more intense. The wait ended when the chief engineer, a very close friend of mine, dove into the sea near our boat. We picked him up, he was badly wounded. He said that just as he and the captain were clearing the bridge a shell struck. The captain was killed instantly. The chief engineer was so badly wounded that he could not hold onto the ladder leading down from the bridge, so he dove off the bridge.
The chief engineer would spend a year in an Icelandic hospital only to perish on another ship bound for America. He died, after being repeatedly frozen in a life boat. Interestingly, I would learn this from a doctor who treated me for wounds I received later in the war when the Oregon Express was sunk. The doctor had been in the lifeboat with my friend (Chief Engineer Knut Mæland died in hospital after the sinking of Nyholt - follow the link for more info).
We pushed away from the ship and the submarine came closer. It was suddenly obvious that the submarine was going to ram us. We quickly put every able man to rowing. With strong pulling and the incentive of survival we pulled clear from the bow of the submarine. It passed so close we could here the crew talking. The submarine then positioned itself and fired two torpedoes into the Taranger. The ship sank quickly. Many of the crew and passengers were wounded. One of the crew an Englishman had a large piece of shrapnel about the size of a man's fist lodged in his foot (this must have been Saloon Boy Wilkinson). Officers were expected to be medically knowledgeable and that night, in the crowded, rolling lifeboat, with three men holding him down, I operated on the seamen's foot. Using a large Norwegian sheath knife which we sterilized over a flame I successfully cut the shrapnel out. The British seamen was incredibly stoic and thanked me when the job was done! Later I am proud to say the crewman was interviewed on the BBC and told his experiences. He said that the Norwegian mate had done "a proper professional job of it."
When we were sunk the ship was about 250 miles off of Iceland. After sailing for two days, we were picked up by a British Corvette. Because we had so many wounded people it was decided that we should be transferred to the British Destroyer Wolverine. That ship had become a famous U-Boat hunter. It was on patrol and after several days took us to Reykjavik. During the patrol we went after several U-boats with depth charges, this in itself was an incredible experience. While on the ship we would gather every evening in the officers club for a drink and to hear the BBC world service. Throughout the war in fact, the BBC would prove to be good friend and somehow always transmit the news and a positive feeling to the ships.
The maritime inquiry was held in Reykjavik on May 8-1941 with the 1st mate, the 3rd mate, and the engine room assistant attending. All the statements given by these witnesses date the attack to May 2. The crew in the starboard (port?) lifeboat had not yet been landed at that time.
Birger Lunde was later 1 of the 6 who survived the horrendous lifeboat experience after the loss of D/S Blink in Febr.-1942 - follow the link for details.
For info, U-95 has also been credited with the loss of Svein Jarl, though there's quie a bit of confusion on this. See also Ringhorn. The U-boat was sunk later that same year, ref. external link below.
Back to Taranger on the "Ships starting with T" page.
Other ships by this name: Westfal-Larsen later had another Taranger, originally delivered in Apr.-1940 as Ulanga (Deutsche Afrika Linje, Bremen), 6940 gt. Taken over by the Norwegian State in 1945 and renamed Stornes. Purchased by Westfal-Larsen in Jan.-1947, renamed Taranger. Sold in Nov.-1966 to Panama and renamed Plate Ranger. Broken up in Taiwan in 1969 (my Ship Forum has a posting about this ship, text is in German). The company's 3rd Taranger was delivered in Nov.-1969, built in Bergen, 19 025 gt. Renamed Star Taranger in 1972. Sold to Monrovia in Aug.-1978, renamed Star Najd. Sold to Piræus in 1980, renamed Star Orpheus. Sold to Manilla in 1981, renamed Star Luzon. (Info from Westfal-Larsen fleet list).
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum and misc. others as named within above text - (ref. My sources).