Boats escaping from Norway - WW II

starting with U

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More details on voyages will be added as time allows

 M/B Ulabrand (M 38 H) 
Owned by Peder Austnes.

Left Haramsøy on March 16-1941 with 7 people (who had stolen the boat), and arrived Baltasund on March 19 - later went to Lerwick. En route they encountered trouble with the motor, and when they tried to start up again it caught on fire. At the last moment they managed to drop the anchor, the fire was extinguished but not before having resulted in quite a bit of damage. They were towed into Lerwick by a trawler.

On board were:
Per Kåre Austnes, Martin Gundersen, Severin Larsen, Erling Sverre Longva, Leidulv Refsnes, Trygve Remme, Alf Arnold Årseth.

 M/B Ulf (M 381 A) 
Left Ålesund around Dec. 6-1940 with 7 people, among them were 2 British officers. The arrived Shetland on Dec. 8 after a difficult crossing.

These came along:
Skipper Simon Vik, his son Ernst Vik, Kyrre Berg Danielsen, and Thomas Grande + the 2 British officers.

 M/B Ulstein (M 27 U) 
Departed Ulsteinvik on June 16-1941 with 17 people. Shortly after departure they experienced technical problems, made more difficult by heavy weather, and eventually went into Vevang, where the problem was fixed, then continued the journey, arriving North Shetland on June 24.

On board were:
Johan Reidar Dimmen, Per Dimmen, Harald Joakim Eiken, Sigurd Asbjørn Eliasen, Kåre Flø, Kristian Hestad, Arthur Gustav Osnes, Asbjørn Osnes, Ewald Osnes, Anna Josefine Saunes, Odd Arne Saunes, Simon Spjutø, Normann Ulstein, Olav Ulstein, Ole Johan Andreasen Ulstein, Ragnar Leif Ulstein, Peder Bernhard Årseth.

 M/S Utnøring (H 76 M) 
Pre war history (from T. Eriksen, Norway - His source: "Fraktefarten i Moster"Moster Sogelag 1998:
Buil at Varaldsøy in 1902, wooden hull. Sold in 1930 to Hans M.Stokka, Siggjarvåg, Bømlo (H-76-M), in coastal service. In the wintertime she was used in the herring fishing.

WW II: Departed Bremnes on Sept. 28-1941 with 22 people, including 3 women, and arrived Lerwick on the 30th. This voyage was organized by the "Bremnes Group". Utnøring was, with her 72' among the largest vessels that crossed the North Sea with "fugitives". A horrendous storm was encountered and she almost shared the fate of Valborg and Knut in that storm.

The following were on board (incomplete list):
The owner's sons Magnus Stokka (skipper), Karl Stokka, Åsmund Stokka and Lars Konrad Stokka. Also, Conrad Gran Blytt, Jakob Daniel Gjøseter, Leif Andreas Olsen Gjøsæter, Martin Kristoffer Gjøsæter, Sigurd Martin Jakobsen Gjøsæter, Torvald Hetland, Arthur Husevik, Alf Lerøy, Anders Johannesen Lunde*, Jenny Raaheim, Ingeborg Skoghaug, and Ottar Sæbo.

* This may be the A. Johannesen Lunde, who, after having been captured by the German battle cruiser Gneisenau when serving on D/S Granli on March 16-1941 spent some time in German imprisonment before being sent home to Norway, then later escaped.

T. Eriksen has told me that Utnøring was in use in England for the rest of the war. Karl Stokka died in England in 1941, while Magnus died when taking part in an operation with the Shetland Bus vessel Gullborg on the coast of Norway in 1943.

I've received the following newspaper article by B. Whittingham-Jones from Helge Folgerø-Holm, whose uncle, Åsmund Stokka escaped with her in 1941 (in spite of what the clipping states, his uncle claims she was in use in London):
"An ex-Norwegian drifter which escaped from Norway in October, 1941, carrying 30 refugees, is now the chief fireboat operated by the National Fire Service in a north-western port and one of the largest and most powerful in the entire service. Her name is Utnøring, which means Outer Rock. She is a stout little 30-year-old craft of 50 tons, formerly carrying fish from the Lofoten Islands to Bergen. Originally constructed as a sailing boat, she was engined a few years ago and is capable of eight knots in still water. When the N.F.S. took her over her 12 foot-square hold, which used to be crammed with deep-sea fish, was equipped with powerful fire-fighting apparatus. Under the defence arrangements in this port a river patrol of the larger fireboats provides cover for vessels lying in or using the river. Others are posted for duty inside the dock system. For this purpose converted pleasure boats from seaside resorts have sometimes been utilised. Naturally, Utnøring, one of the few fireboats capable of withstanding heavy seas, has been assigned to the river patrol.

I spent the day aboard her when Column Officer A. Humble, ex-seagoing marine officer, now Area Fireboat Officer, in charge of all the port fireboat services, was making an inspection. On the walls of the station watch-room where we assembled hangs the plan of the dock system showing the lcoation of each one of them. The plan is designed to allow the utmost rapidity of mobilisation with the fewest possible number of dock gates to be passed. Here is available, too, all that complicated information, by chart and graph and table, concerning currents and channels, depths and tides, sandbanks and sunrise, which must be known to those who sail the boats. The Utnøring's complement is five - O.C. (coxswain), first and second engineers, mate (bowman) and sternsheets. Fireboat crews must all combine the duties of seamen and firemen, and a river-going fireboat must have a nucleus of seamen who can handle her in all weathers. They are handpicked men. When a fire is reported a team of firemen comes aboard from the nearest dock station and the boat goes off to the job.

I stood in oilskins in the wheelhouse beside Leading Fireman F. Chapman, holder of an extra master's certificate and skipper of the Utnøring ever since she came into commission as a fireboat. "Nothing will sink her", he told me, "but she will do everything except stand on her head in heavy weather." We slid quietly past a destroyer and a corvette through the dock gates into the open river and thence made our way to the patrol station. Here was an incoming cargo vessel heavily laden and a few moments later we saw an outward bound trooper. Baloon ships were taking station. Tugs and tankers gave animation to the scene. Within the docks and without lay a variety of naval craft, large and small. Every vessel in the whole of this crowded area was covered by the Utnøring's patrol. Our fire fighting equipment consisted of four heavy-unit pumps, with four deliveries off each pump, and one forward monitor. Each pump, I was informed, can pump 700 gallons of "foam" a minute. The centre of power and action is, as I have said, the 12 foot hatch. An oxy-acetylene apparatus is at hand if it should be necessary to cut a hole in a ship's side to get at a fire. The fireboat is an ideal pumping machine because there is no "lift". A suction hose over the dockside may have to lift water 20ft and lose something like 60 percent of its power in consequence. The fireboat takes in water with at most a 12 inch lift, and therefore suffers no loss of volume.

The fireboat service is still only in its infacy at this port, but its advantages over appliances ashore for certain types of fires on land, added to its mobility and range in dealing with ship fires, ensures for it a developing future. Indeed it would not be rash to prophesy that it will ultimately develop, on national lines, into a marine, instead of a purely land service." (The article is undated).

POST WAR (T. Eriksen):
Sold in 1949 to Fritjof Olsen, Kopervik, Karmøy. Sold again (that same year?) to P/r Lars P. & Jacob P. Espeland & Gunnar Totland, Mosterhamn (1/3 1/3 1/3), fishery No. H-42-M. At that time she was 46.22 gt. Extensively repaired and rebuilt in 1950 at Varaldsøy Treskipsbyggeri, Varaldsøy. As per 1952 she was 64.6’ x 18.9’ x 7.7’, 46 gt., and by 1954 she had a 1cyl 2tev Wichmann 40bhp (1937). Later (as per 1954) deleted from the fishery registry and used in coastal service. Owner in 1964 was Lars P. Espeland, Mosterhamn. Sold at some point in the 1960's to unknown owner in the south of Norway. Ran aground and sank in 1968 in Blindleia between Blikksund and Krossholmen near Lillesand, voyage Oslo-Haugesund - crew was saved.

 M/S Utvær (M 164 A) 
Built in Kristiansand 1914.
171 gt.

The owner of this vessel, Ole Solbjørg, was 75 years old when the war broke out in Norway and owned 3 vessels at the time, namely Gå-På, Eldøy and Utvær. He wanted to do something for the allied war effort and, based on the reasoning that the British would need not only weapons and soldiers but also food in order to continue the fight, he decided to do his part. On May 3.-1940 he departed Ålesund with Utvær and a crew of volunteers, reaching Thorshavn a couple of days later. His intention was to start fishing right away, but instead determined to try and get the other 2 vessels over as well. People at Thorshavn laughed at him when he made plans to return to Norway in a dory, thinking he was joking. When he departed together with a young able seaman 3-4 days after he had first arrived with Utvær, nobody expected to ever see them again. Their predictions very nearly came true, when the 2 sailors encountered a storm with heavy seas after a couple of days, which very nearly was the end of them. In spite of dropping 2 sea anchors they drifted helplessy westwards. Eventually Solbjørg took some sheets, bundled them up and tied a line to them, then used that concoction as a 3rd sea anchor, then fought against the seas and storm hour after hour until they finally reached land near Måløy where some of the damages were repaired, before continuing to Ålesund, arriving that same night without further mishaps.

Solbjørg went home and slept from Friday night until Sunday morning, exhausted that he was. Gå På was at that time in Ålesund, but Eldøy had been en route to Sweden with a cargo of herring when the Germans invaded on Apr. 9, thereby ending up right in the middle of the invading forces on the Norwegian coast. In the chaos that followed Eldøy was ordered to Flekkefjord where the cargo was unloaded and the crew sent home. In the middle of May Solbjørg and a crew went to Flekkefjord to pick up this vessel and took it back to Ålesund. Some fishing gear was added, and about 6 dories hauled on board (in addition to the one they had used to come home), but while this was taking place German aircraft were circling above the quays and Solbjørg was told his vessels would be taken by the German navy. Taking advantage of the heavy fog that came in that night, Solbjørg sent Eldøy on her way, and she arrived the Faroe Islands about 2 days later.

In the meantime, rumours of the old man's escapades had reached the ruling authorities and on the evening following Eldøy's departure the police arrived Skarbøvik where Gå På had been readied for departure. The police waited for Solbjørg and his crew to show up, but he had been notified so they all stayed at home. The police got tired of waiting and around 11 that night they figured no-one would leave that late, so they took their leave. Solbjørg was again notified of the developments, and around midnight he and his crew entered the vessel, then reached the Faroes safely.

These vessels were later put into the Sea Transport service on Iceland. Ole Solbjørg was awarded the St. Olav's medal in gold (this must be a mistake, the medal was made of silver, perhaps he received another medal?), and his story became well know on both sides of the ocean, especially in the Ålesund area (nicknamed "Little London" during the war). He returned to Ålesund on board Gå På and got quite a reception, with speeches, flags and music. He died in 1948, 83 years old. ("Krigsseileren", Issue No. 3 for 1980).

According to a posting to my Ship Forum Utvær was requisitioned by Royal Navy in Sept.- 1940 as Minesweeper. Fitted out in South Shields 11.1940-1.1941. FY.1924. Stationed in Granton 5.1941-1.1943. Calibration Vessel 7.1943-6.1945, Derry. Returned to owner 27.10.1945.

NOTE: In the book "Menn uten medaljer" (Men without medals) Ole Solbjørg describes the voyage across the ocean in the dory (he gives his age as 80). My sources page has suggestions for how to find a copy of this book; unfortunately it's only in Norwegian (not sure if it was ever translated into English).

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