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Manager: Halfdan Ditlev-Simonsen & Co.,Oslo
Built in Gothenburg in 1929.
Captains: Johannes Amundsen, except for a period of 14 months between Oct.-1942 and Dec.-1943 when she was commanded by Arne Andreassen, formerly of Dagfred (sunk by Japanese cruisers on Apr. 6-1942). Captain Amundsen returned on Nov. 1-1943.
At the time of the invasion of Norway on Apr. 9-1940 Vanja had a complement of 31, but at the end of the war she had 45 (with the war came the addition of gunners and others).
The company also had a ship named Vildfugl, which was seized by the Germans.
(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.
It'll be noticed that some of the dates in this narrative are slightly different from those given on the archive documents. I've left them as they're given in the original source, which is named at the bottom of this page. The information in the narrative has been supplemented with details from various other sources, including my own convoy pages.
When Norway was invaded on Apr. 9-1940 Vanja was en route from Aruba to Havana, having departed Aruba on Apr. 6, arriving Havana on the 11th (see also Page 1), unloaded cargo and left again on Apr. 13 (she was chartered by American charterers for 6 months for West Indies trade). Arrived St. Nicholas, Aruba on Apr. 17, picked up a cargo of fuel oil and departed Apr. 18, with arrival Kingston, Jamaica on the 21st. Left May 2 for Matanzas, a voyage which took 3 days, and the day after arrival she left for Aruba again, via Kingston where she remained for 3 days, then arrived Aruba May 16. She continued voyaging between Aruba and Cuba until Aug. 23 (11 voyages with cargoes to Cuba), and on that date she went from Matanzas to Houston, Texas whereupon she made a few voyages with cargoes from Gulf ports to Cuba.
In Oct.-1940, she took a cargo from Curacao to New York, and at the end of that month she was docked. At this time the 6 months time charter was completed. Repairs were finished on Nov. 26; degaussing had also been installed. She left New York to pick up a cargo in Port of Spain, departed Trinidad alone for Bermuda on Dec. 8, joined a convoy(?) for Halifax, then left Halifax in Convoy HX 100 for the U.K. on Jan. 1-1941 (it'll be noticed, when going to Page 2, that her departure is given as Dec. 30, which is the date of departure for the Bermuda portion - voyage info on Page 1 says Bermuda for Clyde, but I'm not entirely sure she went to Bermuda at all at this time. Besides, she is included in the Halifax portion for this convoy). Vanja received a signal from the Convoy Commodore on Jan. 9 that her cargo was to be unloaded in Iceland. Realizing that she was not prepared for this the Commodore asked her captain if he would be willing to go to Reykjavik without a map if another ship, the British Standella, would lead the way. She arrived Reykjavik on Jan. 12-1941 and the next day part of her cargo was unloaded, while the rest was taken to Scapa Flow, with arrival Jan. 20. Her cargo was transferred to various warships there.
On Jan. 26, she continued to Loch Ewe to meet a westbound convoy in order to head back across the Atlantic on the 31st. In fact, she's listed, together with Bjørkhaug, Kaia Knudsen, Ringhorn, Ringstad and Sandar, in Convoy OB 280, which had originated in Liverpool on Jan. 31 and dispersed Febr. 3, Vanja arriving Port of Spain on Febr. 24 - see the external link provided within the Voyage Record. (The convoy is said to have been attacked by German aircraft on Febr. 2, or is this a memory lapse or a mix-up with another event at another time?). Having loaded a cargo, she proceeded alone to Bermuda like last time(?), then on to Halifax again. According to Page 2, she left Bermuda on March 7 and arrived Halifax on the 10th. She's listed as bound for Clyde in the Bermuda portion of Convoy HX 114 on March 9 (Hidlefjord was sunk, Kaia Knudsen damaged - follow the links for details), but is crossed out on the form. This time her stay in Halifax was a little longer because she had a gun installed (the preparatory work for this gun had been done while in dock in New York in Nov.-1940), then on March 26 she departed in convoy, arriving Liverpool on Apr. 15. This voyage had been made in Convoy HX 117. (According to J. Rohwer the Dutch Prins Willem II became a straggler and was torpedoed and sunk by U-98 on Apr. 9, and the British Armed Merchant Cruiser Rajputana was torpedoed and sunk by U-108 on Apr. 13 - follow the link to my page about this convoy).
Vanja left the U.K. again in convoy for Curacao on Apr. 23, with arrival May 16. (She had sailed in Convoy OB 314, which had been dispersed on Apr. 30 - again, ref. link in the Voyage Record; Ferncastle, Grado, Velox and Ørnefjell are also named). She was ready to leave already the next day, May 17, but as 2 crew had not come back on board the rest of the crew, with the exception of officers, refused to depart. However, the 2 were brought back to the ship with the help of policemen and she could take her leave. May 17 is a very important date to Norwegians (Norway's Constitution Day, which is usually celebrated with fervour), so I would imagine the longing for home and family was even more intense than usual, this affecting the morale on board. The missing seamen may have been out celebrating.
Vanja now proceeded directly to Halifax then on to St. Johns, N. F. where several warships received some of her cargo. She also paid a visit to the British battle ship Repulse, which was at Belle Island, but after having replenished her, she returned to St. John's to finish replenishing some destroyers, corvettes etc. She was not the only Norwegian ship there at the time. One day, on June 15, the Norwegian Ingerfem drifted into Vanja causing some damages in her side, but it could not have been too serious because Vanja left for New York on June 23, took on more cargo there and was ready for her next voyage across the Atlantic (having proceeded to Halifax), but developed engine problems and had to return (Convoy HX 138). Having been repaired she left Halifax again on July 16-1941 with Convoy HX 139 (see also the Commodore's report), this time bound for Londonderry, heading back in the other direction the following month in Convoy ON 6, which she appears to have joined from Londonderry. She arrived Curacao on Sept. 5, the convoy having been dispersed on Aug. 24 - Page 2 of the archive documents has further dates for the voyages mentioned here, as well as info on her subsequent voyages (as can be seen, she had quite a long stay in Boston that fall). Christmas that year was celebrated while in Convoy HX 165, which departed Halifax on Dec. 15. Several other Norwegian tankers also took part in this convoy. According to the archive document, Vanja arrived Reykjavik on Dec. 26.
(She continued in this service - U.S. -West Indies-U.K. - until Dec.-1942, with Johannes Amundsen as captain until Oct. that year).As mentioned above, Vanja had arrived Reykjavik from Halifax at the end of 1941. She left again on Jan. 4-1942, joining the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 52*, which had started out in Liverpool on Dec. 31-1941 and dispersed Jan. 11-1942, Vanja arriving New York on Jan. 22. Montbretia and Rose are name among the escorts - see ON convoy escorts. The following month, we find her in Convoy HX 174 from Halifax, together with the Norwegian James Hawson (returned), Athos, Fernwood, Høegh Giant, Thorsholm, Beth and Anderson (lost - follow the link for details), as well as the Panamanian Norvinn (Norwegian managers - returned). Rose is again named among the escorts, as is Acanthus. Going back to Page 2, we learn that Vanja again stopped at Londonderry, proceeding to Liverpool about a week later. She now joined the westbound Convoy ON 75*, departing Liverpool March 10, dispersed March 19, Vanja arriving Trinidad March 30. From there, she later continued to St. Michaels, then back to Trinidad, where she had quite a long stay, before heading to Freetown, where she arrived June 17.
According to the first external website that I've linked to at the end of this page, Vanja had been scheduled for Convoy SL 113 from Freetown on June 15 (together with Thorhild, Thorshavet and Fagerfjell), but instead joined the next convoy, SL 114, which departed Freetown on June 25 and arrived Liverpool on July 17. Vanja is listed as sailing in the fast portion of the convoy, cargo of fuel oil for Londonderry, where she arrived July 16. A. Hague says she had been involved in a collision on June 30; I have no further details on this. The Norwegian Belnor, Norholm, Solfonn and Villanger also took part in SL 114, as did Norbris (Panamanian flag), while Sveve was scheduled but did not join (sailed in the next convoy). From Londonderry, Vanja subsequently joined the westbound Convoy ON 116*, which had started out from Liverpool on July 25 and dispersed Aug. 12, Vanja arriving New York the next day, remaining there for over a month. Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 2 and Page 3 of the archive documents, while convoy information is available in the Voyage Record.
On Oct. 24 that year Captain Amundsen allowed himself a break and on the 30th, while in New York, Captain Arne Andreassen replaced him. Vanja then headed for Londonderry again with her cargo; she had been scheduled for Convoy HX 213 from New York on Oct. 26, but instead joined the slower Convoy SC 108*, which departed New York on Nov. 1-1942 and arrived Liverpool on the 19th; Vanja arrived Londonderry on the 18th, and 9 days later she headed back towards the U.S. in Convoy ON 149* (originated in Liverpool Nov. 26, arrived New York Dec. 12), but south of New Foundland she was ordered to leave the convoy and go on alone to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Dec. 13 a suspicious vessel, believed to be an enemy sub was spotted; the alarm was sounded and guns manned. The gunners were ordered to fire, but fortunately this order was withdrawn at the last minute when the sub turned out to be an American one. Vanja arrived Guantanamo Bay on Dec. 15, then joined a convoy there for Trinidad (see Voyage Record), with arrival Dec. 25.
She left Trinidad again (with cargo) in Convoy TM 1 for Gibraltar on Dec. 28, escorted by a destoyer and 3 corvettes. At that time she had a Canadian priest as Radio Operator. TM 1 was the first direct convoy from Port of Spain; the tanker convoys started to go straight from Trinidad, without first going to Halifax at this time, thereby saving valuable time when bringing much needed supplies to the Allies in North Africa. The Norwegian Albert L. Ellsworth and M/T Minister Wedel were sunk in this convoy, as was M/T Norvik (Panamanian flag). Follow the first 2 links for more details (see also my page about TM 1 and the external link provided in the Voyage Record, as well as the link at the end of this page for more info). After Minister Wedel had gone down on Jan. 9-1943 the gunners on Vanja were on duty 24 hours a day for the last part of the voyage. According to the captain's report she barely avoided a torpedo herself on Jan. 9. He says he was on the bridge with the 3rd mate and the 1st mate when he suddenly heard the 1st mate command "hard port wheel", having observed a torpedo coming towards them from the port side. For a while it looked as if it would hit them, but their evading manoeuver saved them. They also saw the U-boat about 500 meters away and fired at it, but this didn't succeed in anything other than making the escorts aware of its position. The ocean around them was an inferno of flames so it was difficult to manoeuver, and debris was "raining" all around them when the flames reached the ammunition on the sinking ships, causing further explosions.
Vanja was now 1 of only 3 ships left of the convoy of 9 tankers, escorted at that time by 2 of the corvettes as the others stayed by the torpedoed ships. On Jan. 11, another destroyer and 2 corvettes were sent by the British to reinforce the escort. By then the ships had arrived within the reach of the aircraft patrols, so the attackers finally withdrew, but when Vanja reached Gibraltar on Jan. 14, only 1 other ship was with her, namely the British Cliona. In addition to the Norwegian ships mentioned above, the British Empire Lytton, Oltenia II, British Dominion and British Vigilance had been sunk. On arrival Gibraltar the surviving officers from all the ships were called to the battle ship Renown where they were questioned about the voyage.
At that time it was believed that Vanja had successfully finished off one of the U-boats attacking Convoy TM 1. The captain says about 200 machine gun shells had been observed hitting the tower of the U-boat, but the 4" aft gun had a better result. According to a gunner's report they fired 4 shots, the 1st one missing, the 2nd hitting right below the tower resulting in a greyish smoke, followed by a whistling sound. The 3rd shell went in front of the boat and the 4th hit exactly where it had just submerged, with the smoke from it continuing for quite a while. The Admiralty was cautious in its comments after the report had been submitted, saying "The attack by Vanja on 10th January, 1943, has been assessed as U-boat present, insufficient evidence of damage", and "The Admiralty consider that the efficiency displayed by the Vanja is most praiseworthy". Those on Vanja who had already received Krigsmedaljen, were awarded a star for their medals after this incident (follow the link for an explanation of what that means). This took place in Glasgow on arrival there on a later voyage in Oct.-1943.
Captain Andreassen, 1st Mate Ragnar Henningsen, who had been on Vanja since Nov.-1937, and 2nd Mate Eilert Eilertsen, who had also been on board since before the war.
From Gibraltar, Vanja continued to Oran on Jan. 18 to unload her cargo, arriving Jan. 20 (Convoy KMS 7*, according to A. Hague), enduring a hefty German air attack that evening but was not hit. After having unloaded her cargo of fuel oil she returned to Gibraltar with Convoy MKS 7 (scroll down a little in my table for this convoy) - see also Page 3. Gibraltar in those days was not exactly a resting place for worn out nerves, because every 5 minutes, all through the night, depth charges were dropped in order to keep possible midget submarines at bay. Vanja remained in Gibraltar until Febr. 22 at which time she headed for New York in a convoy consisting of 45 large ships, all in ballast, escorted by 6 American destroyers with a large American(?) naval tanker as Commodore Vessel (according to A. Hague, this voyage was made in Convoy GUS 4, which started out in Oran on Febr. 19 and arrived New York March 12 - see external link in the Voyage Record). "The story of 19 Oslo ships during WW II" claims that 2 of the American destroyers were torpedoed that same day, about 10 n. miles northwest of Cape Spartel, and Thorsholm also received a torpedo in the foreship. These details appear to be erroneous; please see my text under the heading "Some Detective Work" on my page about M/T Thorsholm for an explanation. From New York, Vanja proceeded to Baltimore for repairs on March 14. When she arrived the dock it turned out she had several leaks, believed to have been caused by all the depth charges that had been dropped on the Trinidad-Gibraltar voyage.
The repairs were completed a month later and Vanja returned to New York where it was decided she was to go to a yard again, this time for the installation of an extra deck to enable the transport of aircraft. (Vanja had originally been scheduled to sail to the U.K. in Convoy HX 235 from New York on Apr. 18). On Apr. 26-1943, she departed New York for Boston in order to join a convoy for Halifax, with departure Boston Apr. 28 (convoy info in Voyage Record), and on May 2, she headed to the U.K. in the slow Convoy SC 129 from Halifax. The British Antigone (with a cargo of grain, general and MT) and the Norwegian Grado, cargo of lumber and iron were torpedoed on the port side of the convoy on May 11. From Vanja they could tell that the British ship received the torpedo in the engine room, the boilers exploded and she sank immediately. Jürgen Rowher gives the culprit as U-402 for both, as does Arnold Hague who adds that Antigone had 3 dead. My page about Grado has some more details. The Norwegian James Hawson and Grey County are also listed in this convoy. Vanja arrived Belfast Lough on May 20 and the following day she joined a convoy for Milford Haven, then continued to Plymouth with arrival May 22. Having unloaded her cargo there she left the U.K. again on May 31 in a large convoy for New York. This must have been Convoy ON 187*, in which she's listed. The convoy originated in Liverpool on June 1-1943 and arrived New York on June 15 (Vanja had started out from Milford Haven on May 31, and according to Page 3, she arrived Halifax June 15, though it looks as if an attempt has been made to erase the word Halifax). On this voyage she had some problems with her machinery so in New York she went to a yard again.
The repairs took about a month, whereupon she picked up a cargo of diesel oil and via Boston and Halifax she again headed across the Atlantic, having joined Convoy SC 138 from Halifax on July 30. According to the source mentioned earlier, this convoy encountered heavy fog, resulting in a Liberty ship becoming a straggler and receiving a torpedo, but again, I believe some of this info might be erroneous (or a simple memory lapse). On checking with Rohwer, I find only 2 Liberty Ships sunk or damaged on a date that remotely fits this, nameley Richard Caswell and John A. Poor. The former was sunk on July 16 in a different area completely (plus the date is too early to fit), so that can be ruled out. The latter could be the ship referred to in the Norwegian source; however, she was not torpedoed but damaged on July 26-1943 after striking a mine laid by U-119 on June 1 (Uboat.net has more details on this, external link). This ship was en route from Boston to Halifax in Convoy BX 65, but had lost touch in fog; Vanja had also been in this convoy to Halifax, before she joined SC 138. Evanger, Norse Lady, Norsktank and Solsten are also named in the BX convoy (ref. link in the table above), all of which, except Norse Lady, subsequently joined SC 138 (Norse Lady sailed in the next convoy).
Vanja unloaded her cargo in Grangemouth, before leaving for Methil Roads and Loch Ewe on Aug. 18, heading back to the U.S. in Convoy ON 198*, which had originated in Liverpool on Aug. 21. According to the Norwegian source mentioned, this convoy was also attacked by U-boats that same afternoon but no ships were lost; note that Rohwer reports no attacks on this convoy. In New York, where she had arrived on Sept. 4, Vanja loaded fuel oil and a deckload of 13 aircraft, before heading to Lynhaven, then departed in convoy on Sept. 15 for the Mediterranean (see link to UGS 18 in the Voyage Record - also, Page 3). However, due to engine failure she had to return to Norfolk for repairs, which were completed on Sept. 23, at which time she was sent to New York again in order to continue from there to the U.K. The original aircraft were taken off while in New York and replaced by 13 new ones before she left on Oct. 1, via Boston and Halifax for Glasgow, where her cargo was discharged (with sun fuel and aircraft, she's listed in station 22 of Convoy SC 144 from Halifax on Oct. 11, and arrived Glasgow on Oct. 27).
She subsequently went to Greenock for the installation of equipment that would enable her to replenish the escorts at sea. While there, Captain Amundsen returned on Nov. 1; he had served in the Navy for a year. Vanja departed for New York again on Nov. 14; according to Page 4, she sailed from Londonderry on that date, and she joined Convoy ON 211*, serving as Escort Oiler, with arrival New York Nov. 29 (Commodore was in Elisabeth Bakke). Captain Andreassen came with them on this voyage but left the ship in New York on Nov. 30. Vanja left New York again on Dec. 10 for Boston, remaining there for a month before proceeding to Halifax in order to join a convoy back to Loch Ewe. She had been scheduled for Convoy SC 149 from Halifax on Dec. 15, but is crossed out on the form (she was still in Boston at that time) and does not show up again until Convoy SC 151 on Jan. 14-1944; she served as Escort Oiler again, and arrived Loch Ewe on Jan. 31 (Commodore was in Para). Eglantine and Rose served as escorts for this convoy for a while (see SC convoy escorts). Vanja's cargo was discharged in Shellhaven.
On Febr. 14-1944, she left Loch Ewe with destination Baltimore in Convoy ON 224 (Escort Oiler), then went to a yard in Maryland and was not ready to sail again until the middle of May - again, see Page 4. In New York, she took on board 60 depth charges, as well as a deck cargo of 43 tons of aircraft, joining convoy Convoy HX 292 for the U.K. on May 19. A couple of voyages were now made between New York and the U.K. with oil and aircraft: In June, we find her in station 43 of the westbound Convoy ON 240*, originating in Liverpool on June 10 (Vanja sailed from Clyde that day), arriving New York on the 28th (Vice Commodore in Høyanger), and in July, she's listed in Convoy HX 298 from New York. Vanja arrived Loch Ewe on July 17, proceeding to London the next day. She left London again on July 26 for Curacao, via Methil and Loch Ewe, joining Convoy ON 247*, which sailed from Liverpool on Aug. 2 and arrived New York on the 15th; Vanja, which had started out from Loch Ewe on Aug. 2, parted company with the convoy en route in order to proceed to her destination Curacao, where she arrived on Aug. 21. Via Guantanamo Bay and New York, she later headed back to the U.K. (London) on Sept. 16 in Convoy HX 309, for which Laurits Swenson acted as the Vice Commodore's ship. According to Page 5, Vanja arrived Shellhaven on Oct. 3. She was subsequently ordered to Corpus Christi, where she arrived on Nov. 1, having crossed the Atlantic in Convoy ON 258*, which had left Southend on Oct. 6. A. Hague says she had been detached from the convoy on Oct. 16 (ON 258 arrived New York Oct. 24).
This was followed by some short voyages in somewhat safer waters than her previous ones. On Nov. 16, she departed Houston for New York with arrival Nov. 25. After having removed depth charges and the equipment for replenishing the escorts, as well as her cargo, she was sent to Galveston where she was docked from the beginning of Dec.-1944 until the middle of Jan.-1945. For the last part of the war, Vanja was in service between U.S. ports in the Gulf, with an occasional voyage to Boston and Philadelphia. On May 3-1945, she departed Philadelphia for Port Arthur and was at sea between Cape Hatteras and the Florida coast when Germany capitulated. Having loaded a cargo in Port Arthur, she left for Philadelphia on May 15; no convoy was necessary and all lights were lit for the first time in many years. (Compare with the details found on Page 5 - see also Page 6).
According to this external page, she was owned from 1946 by Skibs A/S Nordheim (H. Ditlev-Simonsen & Co), Oslo, no name change. From Dec.-1948, she sailed as Kvint for A/S Ranella (Jørgen P. Jensen), Arendal. In March-1950 managers became Einar Christiansen, Arendal, same name. From June-1952, owned by A/S Jensens Rederi V (E. Christiansen), Arendal. From 1955, A/S Jensens Rederi I (E. Christiansen), Arendal. From 1958, A/S Jensens Rederi I (Marlow Wangen & P. Christiansen), Arendal. Sold to Spain for breaking up in Sept.-1961.
Back to Vanja on the "Ships starting with V" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "19 Oslo-skips historie under verdenskrigen, fra April 1940 til krigens slutt i 1945" (The story of 19 Oslo ships during WW II), Harald Nicolaisen - 1945, "Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two", Jürgen Rohwer, "The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague and misc. - (ref. My sources).