|Site Map | Search Warsailors.com |Merchant Fleet Main Page | Warsailors.com Home|
Owner: Tønnevolds Rederi A/S
Built by Götaverken A/B, Gothenburg, Sweden in 1937.
In Admiralty service from 1940 (Royal Fleet Auxiliary).
Captain: Olaf T. Larsen
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 will be seen when going to Page 1 of the archive documents, Thelma was in Avonmouth when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, having arrived there from Singapore the day before. She left Avonmouth on Apr. 17 and is listed among the ships in Convoy OB 131, originating in Liverpool on Apr. 17, dispersed Apr. 21 (available via the external link provided within the Voyage Record). The archive document gives her voyage information as Avonmouth-Caripito. She stopped at Trinidad on May 2, leaving again on May 7, but her arrival Caripito is not mentioned. According to A. Hague's record she departed Caripito again on May 12 in order to return to Trinidad, where she arrived May 13, proceeding to Bermuda the next day and on May 23 we find her, with a cargo of diesel oil for Glasgow, in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 45. She arrived Greenock on June 7 and from there, she joined Convoy OB 169 on June 17. Thelma was bound for Cape Town, where she arrived July 13, the convoy having been dispersed on June 22. From Cape Town, she proceeded to Port Elizabeth and Abadan, later to Simonstown and on to Bombay, where she remained for a month.
In Dec.-1940, Arnold Hague has included her, together with Svenør, in Convoy BN 11B, which departed Aden on Dec. 29 and arrived Suez Jan. 4-1941*. The following month, she's listed in Convoy AN 16, departing Port Said on Febr. 26, arriving Piræus March 4; Thelma was bound for Suda Bay, where she arrived March 3. The Norwegian Brattdal is also included in this convoy. Later that month, we find Thelma mentioned in Convoy AS 20, which originated in Piræus on March 18 and arrived Port Said on the 22nd, however, it looks like she may not have sailed in this convoy, because she's also listed in Convoy AS 21, originating in Piræus on March 21, arriving Alexandria March 25, again with Brattdal in company, as well as Solheim (sunk - follow the link for details) and Thermopylæ. I'm not sure which port Thelma had started out from, as this information is not provided on Page 1 of the archive docs, probably from Suda Bay? Note also that the document states she arrived Port Said on March 25, Alexandria is not mentioned. At the beginning of Apr.-1941, she appears (with Lyder Sagen) in Convoy BS 22, which left Suez on Apr. 1 and dispersed Apr. 9. Thelma's destination was Abadan, but her arrival there is not given. I've linked directly to Hague's listing for all these convoys in the table above. Thelma left Abadan again on Apr. 19 and arrived Aden on the 27th.
Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 2 (it'll be noticed that she had quite a long stay in Bombay at the end of 1941).
Thelma was on a voyage in ballast from Cape Town (departed July 29-1942) via Trinidad to U.S.A. for engine repairs when she was hit by a torpedo from U-162 (Wattenberg) on Aug. 26, 13 20N 58 10W. The attack occured at 23:23 ship's time, the torpedo striking between No. 3 and No. 4 wing tank, starboard side, destroying the deck, the lower bridge and the midships lifeboat on that side and causing her to list heavily to starboard (curiously, Page 2 of the archive documents gives the date as Aug. 29, at 07:45Z). The engine was stopped, and the launching of the remaining 3 boats was initiated, but while this was taking place a 2nd torpedo hit on the same side, a little behind midships, causing her to list even more heavily (about 65 to 70°) and making the lowering of the port boats very difficult.
10 men were amidships and the rest were aft. 4 men launched the aft starboard boat and got clear, while the aft port boat, which had ended up on the deck after the second explosion was lifted over the ships' side by 18 men and successfully put on the water. An attempt to launch the motorboat amidships had to be given up, because by then they feared the ship might capsize, the bulwark on the starboard side amidships being under water, so those remaining on board, including the captain, jumped overboard and were picked up by the other boats. The captain had attempted to send an SOS before going to the lifeboat but all electric current had been cut off.
Seeing no more survivors, the 2 boats rowed away from the ship in order to await daylight, at which time they intended to reboard the ship to see if she could be saved. However, 15-20 minutes after the 2nd explosion, the wake of a 3rd torpedo was seen, followed by an explosion on the port side, and at the same time the U-boat started shelling the ship from that side and then from the starboard side, setting her on fire (the survivors thought there were 2 U-boats, since the shelling occurred from both sides almost simultaneously). The survivors rowed as fast as they could away from the scene. For fear of being spotted by the U-boat they did not immediately set sail, but did so the next morning after having rowed all night, setting a course for Barbados which was believed to be about 80-100 miles away.
In the morning of Aug. 28, 3 aircraft were seen, 1 of which passed right over them, but althought they signalled with flares, they did not appear to have been seen. Later that morning, about 10 o'clock, smoke was spotted in the horizon directly ahead, and after a while a ship came into view steering a northerly course, so they altered course in the hope of crossing the ship's course, while at the same time signalling with flares and rockets. By 11:30 they were all safely on board a British naval vessel which landed them in Bridgetown the following morning. Ordinary Seaman Berg spent 3 weeks at a hospital in Barbados.
Thelma's complement consisted of 32, 29 of whom were Norwegian. Of the 31 survivors who were picked up on Aug. 28, 2 were of foreign nationality. A young Chinese saloon boy and a Norwegian passenger were missing.
An inquiry was held in New York on Jan. 11-1943 with the captain, the 3rd mate, Ordinary Seaman Abrahamsen and the engine room assistant attending.
In "Krigsseileren" No. 3 for 1992 there's a reunion picture of some of Thelma's former crew members, with the caption saying they all sailed on her from 1940 until she was torpedoed, but this appears to be incorrect; it looks like some of them had paid off before she was sunk. The following names are given and as can be seen, some of these are not included in the official crew list below:
For info, U-162 had also been responsible for the attacks on Frank Seamans and Beth earlier that year - follow the links for details. The U-boat was sunk just a few days after the attack on Thelma, ref. external link at the end of this page.
The boatswain later served on Thorhild, Ole Bull, Roald Amundsen, Nueva Granada and Egerø.
*According to this external page, the pumpman's full name was Frits P.E.H. Junker Andersen. He later joined Egda.
* "Våre falne", a series of 4 books naming Norwegians who died during the war, says Trygve Olav Christiansen was rescued after the sinking of Thelma, but died at a hospital in Barbados on Oct. 22-1942 and is buried there. He had previously experienced being torpedoed twice.
Related external links:
Back to Thelma on the "Ships starting with T" page.
A small mystery solved? According to Charles Hocking Wilh. Wilhelmsen had lost a steamship by the name Thelma in WW I, built 1906, 1350 gt - struck a mine and sank in the English Channel on Apr. 6-1917. This does not fit with what is found in Wilh. Wilhelmsen's fleet list, which states she was sold to Sweden in 1921 and renamed Stig, then renamed Stig Gorthon in 1924. Sold several times (within Sweden) and had the names Mergus 1927, Väring 1951, Signe 1955, then sprang a leak in 1959 and sank at Helsingborg (used as grain store). Raised and sold to Utrecht in Jan.-1960, broken up that same year. The fleet list does not mention anything about the ship striking a mine in 1917. Further investigations with the help of the book "Olaf Tønnevold & Sønner 1878-1978" reveal that the Thelma mentioned by Hocking was probably Tønnevold's Thelma, ex Dutch D/S Zaandam, built West Hartlepool 1884, 1380 gt. Tønnevold purchased this vessel in 1907, and she did indeed strike a mine (laid by UC-65) on Apr. 6-1917, voyage Tyne-Rouen. She sank within 8 minutes with the loss of an able seaman. The remaining men took to the lifeboats and were picked up by a British escort vessel. Jan-Olof, a visitor to my site has told my that "Lloyd's War Losses" states she sank in shallow waters after striking UC-65's mine near Owers Lt. Maybe she was raised and repaired? See also this thread on my Ship Forum.
Tønnveold also got a Thelma in 1928. This was Sigurd Herlofson & Co.'s steam tanker Herborg, ex Conus, ex War Begum, 5578 gt, built Newcastle 1919, which was purchased by Tønnevold in 1928 and renamed Thelma. Sold and renamed Herborg in 1937, sold again in 1938 to Japan, renamed Hokki Maru. Sunk by the American submarine Lapon on Sept. 27-1944.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Olaf Tønnevold & Sønner 1878-1978", "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Krigsseileren" No. 3 for 1992, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II, Norwegian Maritime Museum, and misc. (ref. My sources).