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To Vigrid on the "Ships starting with V" page.
Owner: Skibs A/S Gdynia
Launched Nov. 14-1922 by Deutsche Werft A.G., Hamburg (Yard No. 60), completed Febr. 11-1923 as Titania for Wilh. Wilhelmsen, Tønsberg. Sold on Jan. 27-1937 to Bruun & von der Lippes Rederi (Bruun & von der Lippe), Tønsberg and renamed Vigrid. Sold later that year to Skibs A/S Gdynia (Olav Ringdal), Oslo. According to the external page that I've linked to above, she was renamed Ringunn in 1941, but before she got to use this name she was torpedoed.
Captein: Harald Holst.
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.
In the book "Sjøfolk i krig" by Leif M. Bjørkelund there's a story told by one of Vigrid's crew members, Rasmus Meland, who had previously served on D/S Sydfold (pre war) and later on M/S Ida Bakke. The book is largely based on interviews with seamen 50 years after the war. Meland says Vigrid was in the Gdynia America Shipping Lines Ltd., and was in service U.S.A./Poland when he joined her in 1938. They took on a general cargo in Gdynia, then went to Ålborg where cement was added to her cargo (used for building hotels in New York), before heading straight to New York. He adds that the engine crew consisted of 3 engineers, an assistant, an electrician, 6 motormen and an oiler. She was in Gdynia every 3 months. In the U.S., New York was the port of arrival but they also visited several other ports along the east and south coast. Their last trip to Poland took place just before the war broke out in 1939. They arrived Gdynia in the middle of August and was ready for departure on Sept. 1. Vigrid was one of the last ships to get out, and they could see warships and aircraft as they left. She stopped in Gothenburg, where they were able to catch up on the news, before heading to Ålborg, again for a cargo of cement. While there, one of the crew got married. The bride ended up travelling with them for the next 9 months, instead of the planned round trip U.S./Denmark. Once out in the North Sea on their return to the U.S. they encountered thick fog, and were then surrounded by British warships for a contraband check, whereupon her voyage was resumed.
The service to Poland could, of course, not be continued, so Vigrid was now attached to the Mærsk Line, A.P. Møller, Copenhagen, and after having loaded cargoes in various U.S. ports she was ordered to Tacoma to pick up a cargo of copper for Vladivostok, USSR., arriving there just before Christmas, then proceeded to Yokohama, where Christmas was celebrated. The voyage continued to Kobe for New Year's, then on to Shanghai early in 1940, where a crack in her deck was repaired (this had occurred en route to Vladivostok during the storms they encountered on the voyage, which had taken 36 days instead of the usual 20). On to Rangoon, Burma (still for the Mærsk Line), then to Calcutta for a general cargo and ore in Vizagapatam on the east coast of India, then to Madras, before returning to Boston, U.S.A. On Apr. 9, Vigrid passed the Equator and that same day they received the news that Norway had been invaded. She arrived Boston on the 18th, continuing to New York a few days later, where Meland payed off, so he was not on board when she was torpedoed in 1941.
In June-1940, she can be found among the ships in Convoy HX 50 from Halifax. The A 1 form for this convoy gives her destination as Brest, general cargo, whereas the Advance Sailing Telegram gives her destination as Portland for orders. According to the archive document, she arrived Portland, via Weymouth Bay, on June 29. The document says she was bound for London, where she arrived July 1 and it looks like she remained there for about a month. We later find her in Convoy OA 202, which left Methil on Aug. 21 and dispersed on the 25th (ref. external link provided in the Voyage Record). Vigrid arrived Table Bay on Sept. 25, continuing to Melbourne the following day, with arrival Oct. 24. Having made voyages to Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville and Balboa, she proceeded to Bermuda, and from there, she joined Convoy BHX 104 on Jan. 21-1941, bound for West Hartlepool with zinc and sugar. She arrived that destination, via Loch Ewe and Methil Roads, on Febr. 16, remaining for several weeks, before proceeding to Middlesbrough on March 31.
The following month, she shows up, together with Belita, James Hawson and Rena, in Convoy OB 308 (link in Voyage Record), which originated in Liverpool on Apr. 6 and dispersed Apr. 13, Vigrid arriving New Orleans on May 4, having started out from Loch Ewe on Apr. 8. From New Orleans, she headed to Bermuda a month later, arriving there on June 12, embarking on her last voyage 2 days later.
Vigrid left Bermuda again with Convoy (B)HX 133 on June 14, bound for Belfast and Manchester with 6000 tons of general cargo (1000 tons of spelter, 500 tons of copper and 752 tons of iron and steel). Due to engine trouble, she became a straggler in the evening* of June 23 and was about 40 n. miles behind when she was torpedoed and sunk in the morning of June 24 by U-371 (Driver), 54 30N 41 30W (south/southeast of Cape Farewell).
Vigrid had 47 people on board, 10 of whom were American Red Cross nurses on a voyage to Europe. Vigrid was rapidly sinking after a 2nd torpedo had gone into Hold No. 4, but 4 lifeboats were successfully lowered and the ship abandoned. It was decided to sail on in independent groups rather than trying to stay together, whereupon 2 boats set course for Ireland, the other 2 for Greenland. 1 of the eastbound boats disappeared underway, the other, containing 2 nurses, 2 officers and 3 crew was located by HMS Keppel on July 17 (or 13th?) and its occupants taken to Londonderry that same day, where they were all taken to a hospital.
Meanwhile, the 2 northbound boats stayed together, but storms and heavy seas made the sailing a nightmare, and one night one of the boats disappeared, while the captain's boat with 9 crew and 4 nurses managed to keep going. Just as their willpower and hopes of survival were diminishing, as were their food and water supplies, they were found on July 5 by an American Naval fleet en route to Iceland to land occupation forces there. The destroyer Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) took the 14 exhausted survivors (including 4 nurses) on board and searched for a long time for the boat that had disappeared, but to no avail. The 14 were landed in Reykjavik on July 8, where an inquiry was held on July 10 with the captain, the carpenter and the 2nd engineer attending.
26 had died, including 4 of the American nurses, 21 survived.
M/S Soløy (sunk), M/T Havprins (rescued 9 nurses from the Dutch Maasdam, follow the link for more details) and M/T Kongsgaard (torpedoed, but not sunk) were also in Convoy HX 133, as were several other Norwegian ships - again, see my page about Convoy HX 133 for more convoy information; the page includes the Commodore's notes and his narrative of voyage. See also the external links at the end of this page.
"To be completely fair and as a sign of my gratitude I am not speaking for myself only, but for all 10 nurses. We were all treated like queens aboard your ship, with the attention, politeness and service we could never even have dreamed of. The crew showed perfect harmony and excellent cooperation between them; aboard the lifeboat we experienced gentlemanly behaviour and cooperation of the kind I only thought existed in fairytales. It was a horrible experience, but if any compensation can be found for it, it is this: to see that men can act so perfectly in an emergency".
Torpedoed June 24-1941 at 10:35 GMT, in No. 1 and 2 holds and in No. 4 and 5 holds. Number of crew is given as 38, with number of nurses as stated in my own text (making the total number of people on board 48, as opposed to 47). These records also agree with the number of lifeboats getting away, and the fact that 7 survivors were landed at Londonderry by HMS Keppel. Further details from these records state that the U-boat came to the lifeboat and asked for the ship's name and cargo and promised to send a W/T message. The captain's boat had 4 nurses, last seen drifting near position of attack on the 24th. The 2nd mate's boat had 4 nurses, last seen in the same position, the 2nd mate was considering heading for Greenland. Other boat not seen after the 24th and thought to be heading for the U.K., as did the 1st mate's boat with 2 nurses, 4 ratings and chief engineer, while 2 ratings, 1 Norwegian and 1 British died of exposure. HMS Keppel picked up survivors on July 13th, in 60 38N 23 15W at 02:30, landed at 23:30 on July 17. Note: I'm not quite sure how to interpret this report; the way it's written it looks like either 6 or 8 survivors were picked up by Keppel, depending on how it's read, in that it says the following:
Crew & Passengers:
Related external links:
Hyperwar - Scroll down to July 5. "The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II", Robert Cressman. According to the text here the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, John Winant reported on July 11-1941 that out of the 27 American Red Cross nurses who had been en route to England, 9 had arrived safely, 10 had been rescued, 4 of whom were in serious condition, and 8 were missing. Position for the torpedoing is given as 58 58N 36 35W. The total number of rescued nurses found in my Norwegian sources doesn't quite add up with what is listed by Cressman. As far as I can tell, he does not mention the 2 rescued by Keppel, nor the 9 rescued by Havprins.
Charles F. Hughes - DD-428 - The rescue of the 14 survivors is mentioned.
In the 1st Chapter of Joining the War at Sea, there's also a mention of the rescue of the American nurses. The author, Frank Dailey states the following: "June 15, 1941. Iceland, just 450 nautical miles from Scotland, named outpost of Western Hemisphere. On June 16, President Roosevelt ordered US troops to relieve British garrison on Iceland", and adds: "First US Naval Task Force, TF 19, organized for foreign service. On July 1, 1941, US Marines left Argentia in a force of 25 ships, with destroyer USS Buck heading the outer screen. On July 5, screen destroyer, Charles F. Hughes, sent to rescue survivors of SS Vigrid, torpedoed June 23. At dusk, Hughes found remaining lifeboat with Vigrid skipper and four US Red Cross nurses. Other boat with six remaining nurses never found. Hughes rejoined at Reykjavik on July 8, 1941". F. Dailey has since told me that he at one time was in touch with one of those nurses via her son who worked in an Albany N.Y. hospital, but later lost contact.
Back to Vigrid on the "Ships starting with V" page.
Other ships by this name: According to an entry on my ship forum, Olav Ringdal had previously had a tanker by the name Vigrid, built 1930, sold to Japan in 1935 and renamed Kiyo Maru. This ship was sunk by the American submarine Rasher (SS 269) (external link) in the South China Sea, 05 46N 108 36E on Jan. 5-1944. Norway had also lost a steamship by this name to WW I, built 1915, 1617 gt - torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the English Channel on Dec. 31-1917. Bachke & Co., Trondheim later had a liner named Vigrid, delivered May-29-1951, 2671 gt (2684 gt?), built in Sarpsborg. This ship had originally been contracted by Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab in 1946, contract sold to Th. Brøvig, Farsund in Dec.-1947, contract sold again in 1950 to Bachke & Co. Became Rosto of Haugesund in May-1963 (service Liverpool-Halifax, Canadian Pacific), then Orion of Stockholm in Febr.-1965, Greek Silver Crest from Apr.-1968, broken up in China in 1973.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Wilh. Wilhelmsen fleet list, "Sjøfolk i krig, Leif M. Bjørkelund, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Tusen norske skip", Lise Lindbæk, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume II (Norwegian Maritime Museum), and misc. others as mentioned in the above narrative - (ref. My sources).