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To Fernhill on the "Ships starting with F" page.
(Uboat.net has another picture of this ship - external link)
Manager: Fearnley & Eger, Oslo
Built by Kockums Mekaniska Verksteds A/B, Malmö, Sweden in 1926.
Captains: Tore Eidbo-Hansen until Sept.-1942 (joined Bestik) - later, K. J. Neuberth Wie.
Related item on this website:
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.
Errors may exist, and some voyages are missing.
According to Page 1 of the archive documnts, Fernhill was on her way from Macassar to Aarhus, Denmark when war broke out there in Apr.-1940, and was diverted to Marseilles and Liverpool. On May 28, she's listed as bound for Marseilles with copra in station 53 of the Gibraltar-U.K. Convoy HGF 32, but is said to have left the convoy at 13:34 on May 30, returning to Gibraltar, subesequently heading to Marseilles independently on June 1, with arrival June 6. A French visitor to my website has told me that she on June 19 sailed from a southern French port (Marseilles) in convoy 7 P under French escort and was at Oran on June 22. This agrees with Hague's Voyage Record above, but conflicts with my information for Bosphorus, which according to a personal story says that a Fearnley & Eger ship was allowed to leave the convoy and proceed to Gibraltar, and Fernhill was the only Fearnley & Eger ship in this convoy, so it looks like she barely missed being interned in North Africa like so many other Norwegian ships at the fall of France that month. (K. G. Meldahl and Tønsbergfjord are also listed Convoy 7 P). The archive document says Fernhill arrived Gibraltar on June 23/24 (Oran is not mentioned). We now find her in Convoy HG Z from Gibraltar on June 24. She had a cargo of copra and was bound for Liverpool, where she arrived on July 4, the convoy having joined up with the Freetown Convoy SL 36 on July 1, according to A. Hague (ref. link provided in the table above - Belmoira, Bianca, Sandanger and Slemmestad are also listed - like Fernhill, Bianca came from Convoy HG Z).
About a month later, she's listed in Convoy OB 195, departing Liverpool on Aug. 8, dispersed Aug. 12, Fernhill arriving Baltimore independently on the 25th. Her subsequent voyages are shown on Page 1 and Page 2 of the archive documents.
Skipping now to Nov. 22-1941, when she was scheduled for the slow Sydney (C.B.)-U.K. Convoy SC 56, but she instead joined the next convoy on Nov. 28, SC 57, general cargo for Hull, where she arrived, via Loch Ewe and Methil Roads, on Dec. 21, subsequently remaining there for several weeks (unless some movements are missing from her record).
Together with Laurits Swenson, Montevideo and Tai Shan, as well as the Panamanian Norbris (listed under the N's on this website), she returned across the Atlantic again with the westbound Convoy ON 69, which originated in Liverpool on Febr. 20-1942 and dispersed March 6, Fernhill arriving Baltimore March 10 (having started out from Loch Ewe on Febr. 20). This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section in due course, in the meantime, the ships sailing in it (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys.
Fernhill had arrived Liverpool from Freetown at the beginning of June-1943. She had sailed from Freetown on May 11 in Convoy SL 129, which joined up with Convoy MKS 13 from Gibraltar on May 24, the combined convoy arriving Liverpool on June 1. She had a general cargo as well as explosives. The Norwegian Belnor, Heimvard and Vest are also listed. Follow the link provided in the Voyage Record above for more convoy details.
She left Liverpool again in the morning of July 18, bound for Montevideo and Buenos Aires with general cargo including explosives, joining convoy OS 52/KMS 21 on the 19th - see also Page 3. This convoy was attacked by 12 German aircraft 200 n. miles off Lisbon on July 27 and 2 ships were lost, namely the British Halizones (initially damaged, later sank - no casualties) and El Argentino (4 died), but Fernhill escaped harm at that time. The Norwegian Borgholm, Hallfried, Jenny and Spurt were also in this convoy (link in table above).
Off Bathurst the convoy was split up on July 28, and Fernhill was later ordered to continue west on her own at 19:00 GMT on Aug. 4 (as can be seen, A. Hague gives detachment date as Aug. 1). At 02:30 GMT the following day she received orders from the Admiralty to alter her originally planned route, and these orders were immediately followed. At 21:10 GMT on Aug. 6, the 1st mate, who was on the bridge, spotted a U-boat close to her port bow and she nearly collided with U-757 (Deetz) which then submerged 10-15 meters in front of her, but later reappeared on the starboard quarter. An "enemy report" was sent out and repeated several times, giving the position as 07 15N 19 46W. At the time, Able Seaman Swan was on lookout duty on the bridge, Ordinary Seaman Jones was at the helm, there was a gunner in the port pillbox on the bridge, another in the starboard pillbox amidships and a third on the gun platform on the poop. All guns were now manned, and through continuous course alterations Fernhill attempted to keep the U-boat behind her, and also fired at it with her 4" gun at 22:05 GMT when the distance between them was about 300 yards, but missed (at that point the U-boat submerged). Another enemy report was subsequently sent out, giving position 07 07N 19 48W, acknowledged by Freetown Radio. At 22:30 a coded telegram was received, saying "Catalina aircraft will be in your vicinity AM tomorrow Saturday".
After having chased Fernhill for over 3 hours the U-boat fired a torpedo which hit her in the engine room, port side at 00:40 GMT on Aug. 7, resulting in a tremendous explosion. The motor lifeboat and the port boat were completely destroyed with parts of them flung high into the air. She listed to port and sank in the course of 5 minutes, position 06 58N 19 15W (depth: 2600 fathoms). The starboard lifeboats were launched but the explosion had messed up the tackles and several of those who were in them fell into the water when the boats were lowered (they were later picked up). The majority of the crew had to jump overboard from the after deck as the ship sank and 15 of them managed to get onto rafts floating nearby. These had been launched by Able Seaman Egge who was later credited with saving the 15 lives. About 5 minutes after the ship had gone down they saw a U-boat circling in among the debris for a few minutes, then about 20 minutes later they again saw a U-boat (they believed it to be a different one), which later disappeared in the same direction as the first one.
In the course of a couple of hours, 39 men had been assembled in 2 lifeboats (1 of which was damaged and leaking) and 3 rafts. 5 were found to be missing, though Gunner Henrietts (Harrlits?) believed that a crew member had been picked up from the water by the U-boat - this was, in fact, 3rd engineer Nils Bremer Johannesen; I have no further details on what later happened to him. 3 of the missing men were believed to have been killed in the engine room when the torpedo struck there, while Gunner E. C. Smith had been on deck, but was not seen after the ship had gone down. The 3rd engineer had also been seen on deck.
At 08:25 GMT, a Catalina aircraft came over the lifeboats and dropped several packages containing food, water, clothes, cigarettes, radio etc., and signalled that help was on its way. At about 10 in the morning of Aug. 8 another Catalina came over and dropped more food and water, then at 14:15 the American M/T Idaho picked them all up, position 07 13N 19 59W. The boats were also hauled on board, but the rafts were set adrift. Idaho arrived Freetown in the morning of Aug. 10, where the officers were given rooms at Grand Hotel (British Sailors' Society) while the others were accommodated at The British Seamen's Mission (The Grammar School). 19 of the survivors were later given passage to Liverpool on the British Rangitiki, which was on a voyage from Buenos Aires and Montevideo and arrived Liverpool, via Freetown, on Sept. 24 (having sailed in Convoy SL 136 - see this external page). The maritime hearings were held there on Sept. 28-1943 with the captain, the 1st and 2nd mates, the boatswain, Able Seaman Swan, and Mechanic A. H. Karlsen appearing.
For info, U-757 was sunk with all hands in Jan.-1944 - see the external link at the end of this page for more details.
Back to Fernhill on the "Ships starting with F" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum) and misc. other for cross checking details - ref. My sources.