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Taza July 4 - 1941.
According to Capt. Messel's diary, orders came from the chief of police in Safi early in the morning of Thursday July 3 for the whole crew to meet at the police station. They were then sent by bus to Casablanca where they were installed in a separate rail carriage in the evening, and transported to Taza under police escort. They were handed over to the local police in Taza the following day, after having had nothing to eat or drink for 24 hrs. The camp was about 1 km. from town and turned out to be a "labor camp for Arab and negro soldiers who had shown bad behavior". Communication with the outside world was forbidden.
Fes Just west of Taza in Morocco.
I'm not sure where this camp fits in the list.
Oujda July 5 - 1941, border Morocco/Algeria.
Early in the morning orders came for the crew to be sent on to Oujda by train. The authorities did not seem to know why they were there in the first place, nor what to do with them.
Sidi-bel-Abbes, South of Oran in the west part of Algeria.
I'm not sure when they were in this camp. My father places it before Berguent in one of his letters (No. 3). In letter No. 4 he claims that Berguent is located south of Oran in Algeria, but it could be he means Sidi-bel-Abbes. It's possible that this is where only part of the crew was sent to work, while the rest stayed in Berguent, as mentioned in the captain's diary and in Rudzin's diary. In the same letter he has also gotten some of the other camps turned around, so I'm not sure what is correct. But that letter was, after all, written more than 40 years after the war.
Berguent July 13 - 1941, in Morocco.
According to my father's letter (No. 3) they were transported to Berguent in a carriage marked "40 men or 8 horses". There were no barracks nor tents in this camp, so the crew had to sleep outside on the ground. The captain was granted an 8 days' leave in Casablanca, and while there he tried his best to sort out the crew's situation by speaking with Mr. Stanton at the American Consulate, and with the director of the newly established "Office Norvegien", Harald Stornes (the Germans had forced the Norwegian Consulate to close) but not much was accomplished. H. Stornes was also a shipbroker in Casablanca.
Settat Aug. 2 - 1941, in Morocco, south of Casablanca.
My father escaped from this camp with 2 friends, but they were caught after about a month, and after having been kept in jail, first in Fedala and later in Casablanca they were sent back to Settat. (See his letter No. 3 for details of the escape and stories from this camp). The sanitary conditions were terrible and many, including my father came down with various kinds of diseases. Rudzin refers to this camp as No. 5.
Sidi-El-Ayachi Oct. 22 - 1941, near Azemmour, 80 km south west of Casablanca, Morocco.
This was a regular internment camp (as opposed to a labor camp), where most of the crews from the other requisitioned Norwegian ships had already been placed. Mr. Harald Stornes and the American consul had worked persistently to get Ringulv's crew transferred here, and eventually succeeded. But conditions were very bad here too, and the sailors continued to suffer from Typhus, Dysentery and Malaria. Conditions improved somewhat following inspection by U.S.A.'s Vice Consul to Casablanca, Ernest de W. Meyer and the captain of Ringulv (who had been allowed to live in Casablanca), and also by The Red Cross. But shortly after the improvements had been made, a new camp awaited.
Qued Zem May - 1942, in Morocco, 160 km inland from Casablanca, east of Settat.
This is described as probably the worst of the camps. Sidi-El-Ayachi had at least had the fresh sea air, but with this being further inland the climate here was especially gruelling for the Norwegians, who were not used to the extreme heat. As in the other camps the living conditions were terrible. Also, by this time all of them had lost a lot of weight and were weakened not only by disease, but also by the long months of hard work under the relentless desert sun.
Mecheria Sept. 10 - 1942, 50 km south of Oran in Algeria.
Collection camp for prisoners of war in the fall of 1942. All Norwegian sailors from all the camps in Morocco were transferred to this internment camp. When they were able to leave Mecheria on Nov. 16, after the allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch, Nov. 8 - 1942), there were 117 Norwegians in this camp (see The Invasion of North Africa on my Merchant Marine Links page).
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