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D/S Norfalk
Updated March 16-2012

To Norfalk on the "Ships starting with N" page.

Crew List

Manager: Nortraship
5674 gt
Signal Letters: LNAP

Barbara Mumford (who runs the Convoy ONS 154 website) has sent me some information from Mitchell & Sawyer's "Empire Ships" which says this ship was among the ships requisitioned by USSB and purchased from U.S.A. by the British Ministry of Shipping at the beginning of WW II. Built by Ames Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Seattle, Wash. Ordered in WW I as War Hector for Shipping Controller, London. 5674 gt, 410 ft x 54 ft. Engines: T3cyl. Completed as Western Ally (USSB) in Jan.-1919. Named Forbes Hauptmann (McCormick SS Co. San Francisco) in 1929, then Empire Kittiwake (MoWT) in 1940.

This was one of 19 ships transferred to Nortraship in 1942 (my page "Ship Statistics & Misc." has the names of the other 18 under Empire Ships). As Empire Kittiwake she arrived the U.K. from Halifax with Convoy SC 80 early in May-1942 and was taken over in Mersey on May 15, renamed Norfalk. Most of the ‘Empire’-named ships that were transferred from the British to the Norwegian flag during the war years were given the prefix ‘Nor’, others were named for members of the (exiled) Norwegian Royal Family.

Captain: Einar Thoresen

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

  Voyage Record
From May-1942 to July-1944:  

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each (where the Convoy column is left blank, it means convoy is not known).

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1942 May 19 Liverpool New York City June 8 ON 96 For Philadelphia.
Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
June 9 New York City Philadelphia June 9 Independent
June 20 Philadelphia New York City June 20 Independent
June 22 New York City Buzzards Bay Independent
July 2 Cape Cod Canal BX 27D A. Hague says:
Detached July 4.
Thence Sydney, C.B., arrived July 5.
Convoy available at BX convoys
(external link)
July 4 Detached from BX 27D Sydney, C.B. July 5
July 10 Sydney, C.B. Loch Ewe July 23 SC 91
July 23 Loch Ewe Methil July 25 WN 313 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
July 25 Methil Hull July 26 FS 864 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
Aug. 6 Hull Methil Aug. 8 FN 780 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Aug. 10 Methil Loch Ewe Aug. 12 EN 122 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Aug. 12 Liverpool* ON 121 *From Loch Ewe
(Page 1).
For NYC.
Dispersed Aug. 27.
Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
Aug. 27 Dispersed from ON 121 New York City Aug. 28 Independent
Aug. 30 New York City Baltimore Aug. 31 Independent
Sept. 13 Baltimore New York City Sept. 20 Independent Voyage data unknown
Sept. 26 New York City Oban Oct. 14 SC 103 Convoy will be added.
See ships in SC convoys
Oct. 14 Oban Methil Oct. 17 WN 349 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Oct. 18 Methil Immingham Oct. 20 FS 937 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
Nov. 7 Immingham Methil Nov. 9 FN 859 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 9 Methil Loch Ewe Nov. 11 EN 160 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 17 Loch Ewe New York City Dec. 6 ON 147 Convoy will be added.
See ships in ON convoys
Dec. 31 New York City Philadelphia Dec. 31 Independent
1943 Jan. 11 Philadelphia New York City Jan. 11 Independent
Jan. 14 New York City Liverpool Febr. 2 HX 223
March 4 Liverpool Halifax March 23 ON 171 For NYC.
Convoy will be added.
See link above
March 25 Halifax Cape Cod Canal March 27 XB 39 Convoy available at XB convoys
(external link)
March 27 Cape Cod Canal New York City March 28 Independent
March 29 New York City Baltimore March 30 Independent
Apr. 9 Baltimore Hampton Roads Apr. 10 Independent
Apr. 12 Hampton Roads New York City Apr. 14 Independent
Apr. 15 New York City Boston Independent
Apr. 20 Boston Halifax Apr. 23 BX 45 Convoy available at BX convoys
(external link)
May 2 Halifax Loch Ewe May 20 SC 129
May 21 Loch Ewe Methil May 22 WN 430 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
May 23 Methil Hull May 24 FS 1123 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
June 13 Hull Methil June 15 FN 1046 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
June 15 Methil Oban June 18 EN 243 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
June 19 Oban OS 50/KMS 17 For Philipeville.
Convoy split, June 27.
Available at OS 50/KMS 17
(external link)
June 27 Convoy split Gibraltar June 29 KMS 17G
June 30 Gibraltar Bone July 4 KMS 17
(link above)
July 19 Bone Philippeville July 19 GUS 10 Convoy available at GUS convoys
(external link)
July 28 Philippeville Gibraltar July 31 MKS 19Y
Aug. 2 Gibraltar Casablanca Aug. 3 GC 28 Convoy available at GC 28
(external link)
Aug. 5 Casablanca Gibraltar Aug. 6 CG 53 Convoy available at CG 53
(external link)
Aug. 14 Gibraltar Loch Ewe Aug. 26 MKS 21 Gibraltar to UK.
Aug. 27 Loch Ewe Methil Aug. 29 WN 472 Convoy available at WN convoys
(external link)
Aug. 29 Methil Hull Aug. 31 FS 1207 Convoy available at FS convoys
(external link)
Left Hull, Nov. 20
(Page 2)
See also narrative below
Nov. 22 Spurn Ex Hull Methil Nov. 23 FN 1184 Convoy available at FN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 23 Methil Loch Ewe Nov. 25 EN 310 Convoy available at EN convoys
(external link)
Nov. 25 Loch Ewe OS 60/KMS 34 For Sicily.
Convoy split, Dec. 7.
Available at OS 60/KMS 34
(external link)
Dec. 7 Convoy split Gibraltar Dec. 9 KMS 34G Convoy will be added.
See ships in KMS convoys
Dec. 9 Gibraltar Bizerta Dec. 13 KMS 34 For Bizerta.
See link above
(stop at Gibraltar not mentioned, Page 2).
Dec. 15 Bizerta Messina Voyage data unknown.
1944 Jan. 14 Messina Augusta Jan. 15
Jan. 15 Augusta Gibraltar Jan. 22 MKS 37 Augusta to Gibraltar
Jan. 22 Gibraltar MKS 37G
(link above)
Rendezvoused w/SL 146, Jan. 23.
Jan. 23 SL 146 & MKS 37 joined up Clyde Febr. 2 SL 146/MKS 37 Convoy available at SL 146/MKS 37
(external link)
Febr. 13 Clyde ONS 29 Convoy will be added.
See ships in ONS convoys
Febr. 28 From ONS 29 Cape Cod Canal March 1 XB 98 Convoy available at XB convoys
(external link)
March 1 Cape Cod Canal New York City March 3 Independent
March 17 New York City Gitmo March 24 NG 423 Convoy available at NG convoys
(external link)
March 25 Gitmo San Juan, P.R. May 29* *Should be March 29.
Later arrived Macoris, Apr. 10
(Page 3)
Apr. 23 Macoris Gitmo Apr. 25
Apr. 28 Gitmo New York City May 5 GN 129 Convoy available at GN convoys
(external link)
May 19 New York City Clyde June 2 HX 292 Again, see also Page 3
(as well as narrative below)
July 16 Clyde Milford Haven July 17 Independent
July 18 Milford Haven EBC 45 En route to Arromanches as Blockship, sunk.
See "Final Fate" below.
Convoy available at EBC convoys
(external link)

 Misc. Convoy Voyages: 
For information on voyages made in between those mentioned here, please see the documents received from the National Archives of Norway and A. Hague's Voyage Record above. Follow the convoy links provided for further details; the Commodore's notes are also available for some of them and several Norwegian ships took part.

As mentioned further up on this page, Norfalk was taken over by Nortraship in Mersey on May 15-1942. As Empire Kittiwake, she had arrived the U.K. from Halifax with Convoy SC 80 earlier that month. Just a few days later, we find her, together with Berto, Bollsta, Carmelfjell, Fagersten, Granfoss, Ingerfem, Norelg and Rolf Jarl, in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 96*, departing Liverpool on May 19, arriving Halifax June 7. Norfalk, however, was bound for Philadelphia, where she arrived, via New York, on June 9, returning to the U.K. a month later with the slow Sydney (C.B.)-U.K. Convoy SC 91, general cargo for Hull, with arrival there July 26 - see Page 1. With B. P. Newton, Carmelfjell, Gallia, Idefjord, Lista and Norfjell, she later joined the westbound Convoy ON 121*, departing Liverpool on Aug. 12, dispersed on the 27th, Norfalk arriving New York on Aug. 28, having sailed from Loch Ewe on the 12th.

From New York, she proceeded to Baltimore, spending a couple of weeks there before returning to New York, and according to Arnold Hague, she now headed back across the Atlantic in the slow Convoy SC 103*, departing New York on Sept. 26, arriving Liverpool Oct. 14 - Norfalk stopped at Oban that day. She had again been in the company of several other Norwegian ships, namely Ada, Boreas, Ingerfire, Rio Branco, Rolf Jarl, Solitaire, Carmelfjell, Jan, Pan Aruba, Solhavn, Solstad and Vinland. Her last Trans-Atlantic voyage that year was made in the westbound Convoy ON 147* (from Liverpool Nov. 17, to New York Dec. 4 - Norfalk joined from Loch Ewe and the archive document gives her arrival New York as Dec. 6). Abraham Lincoln (Commodore Vessel), Bralanta, Egda, Katy and Nortind are also listed.

In Jan.-1943 we find her in Convoy HX 223 from New York (see also Kollbjørg and Nortind) and in March she's listed, along with Ferncliff, Henrik Ibsen, Iron Baron, James Hawson and Maud, in the westbound Convoy ON 171*, which left Liverpool on March 4 and arrived Halifax on the 23rd. In May she's named among the ships in Convoy SC 129 from Halifax, in which Grado was sunk - follow the link for more details. Norfalk's voyages in this period are shown on Page 2.

That summer she was somewhat altered at King George Dock and fitted out for service in the Mediterranean. At that time she had 2 Norwegian and 5 British gunners on board, under the command of Juel Jahren. She left the dock on June 13 for Spurn Point to await a convoy, and witnessed an air attack on Grimsby early the next morning, before continuing to Oban. She's said to have departed on June 16 with Convoy OS 50/KMS 17 (the archive document gives her departure Oban as June 19, which is probably the correct date, because she had arrived there on the 18th), arriving Gibraltar on June 29, the convoy having split up on June 27. (Lysaker V was also in this convoy, but lagged behind and became a straggler. Other Norwegian ships in the Gibraltar portion, which is available in my own Convoys section at KMS 17, were Evviva, Kristianiafjord, Marga and Vigsnes. Names of ships in the combined convoy are available at the external link provided within the Voyage Record). Norfalk left Gibraltar for Bone the following day with arrival on July 4 and commenced unloading on July 12. On the 19th she departed for Philippeville, then went back to Gibraltar (listed in Convoy MKS 19Y - scroll down to the third table on that page) where 30 tons bombs were taken on board before she headed to Casablanca on Aug. 2. 4 days later she was back in Gibraltar, just 2 days after Thorshøvdi had been destroyed by limpet mines - follow the link for more info.

Norfalk remained in Gibraltar awaiting a convoy until Aug. 15. That same morning a southbound convoy in which Tigre, Facto and Selvik took part had been attacked by aircraft west of Cape St. Vincent (this was Convoy OS 53/KMS 23 - the British Warfield was sunk in this attack - Norjerv is also listed; ref. links at the end of this page), so an anti aircraft cruiser and 2 Liberator aircraft were added to the escort for the northbound convoy. In the afternoon of Aug. 17 a German FW Kurier came towards it but was shot down by the Liberators, and the convoy arrived Loch Ewe on Aug. 26. This must have been Convoy MKS 21, in which Norfalk is listed with a cargo of phosphates for Hull, together with the Norwegian Sneland I. Norfalk subsequently went to a yard in the Humber, where she stayed for several months (Page 2).

According to A. Hague, she later joined Convoy OS 60/KMS 34*, which left Liverpool on Nov. 25 and split up on Dec. 7. This matches up with the details found on Page 2 above, which shows that Norfalk left Loch Ewe on Nov. 25 and arrived Bizerta Dec. 13. Gabon, Hardanger, Kaldfonn and Norefjord are also named in this convoy.

Norfalk is also listed in Convoy SL 146/MKS 37 in Jan.-1944, together with the Norwegian Boreas, Troubadour and Tiradentes. The SL convoy had started out from Freetown on Jan. 12 and joined up with the MKS convoy from Gibraltar on the 23rd, the combined convoy arriving Liverpool on Febr. 2 - Norfalk, cargo of lemons, arrived Glasgow on Febr. 3*. The Gibraltar portion is available in my Convoys section at Convoy MKS 37 - note that she had previously arrived Gibraltar from Augusta; again, see also Page 2.

*I've received an E-mail from Chris Scott, who says:
"I have come upon your website while trying to find more information re KM convoys on one of which I sailed from Glasgow to Sicily in 1943. I rather think that I am not on the right link for that but you might be interested in my only contact (so far as I know) with a Norwegian merchant ship. You might even be able to trace the name of it. It loaded a cargo of lemons in Messina for the UK round about November/December 1943. It was the first such export since the war with Italy began (1940) and a shipload of the fruit, by then in short supply in UK, was a matter of some interest. (I can supply an amusing account of the loading procedure if required!). We had no idea, of course, to which port the ship was bound --- neither had its master! --- but it landed up in Glasgow. Any record??"
Searching through my website, and using the elimination method, I was able to determine that this was Norfalk, and I later received the following from Chris:
"She was being loaded 24/7 which was not uncommon given the shortage of shipping which we suffered. The loading was really none of my business as a military officer but I took a keen interest in any vessel on my ‘patch’. Officially the loading was being supervised by the British Ministry of Food and they had sent out just one civilian officer for the task. The lemon growers brought their produce to the dockside in the most amazing variety of transport. There were some ancient motor vehicles but it was mainly a matter of  horse-drawn and ox-drawn carts of all sizes and even hand-carts from the immediate neighbourhood. As each vehicle reached the quayside it was inspected by the M of F official who either let it proceed to shipside for loading or waved it away if the fruit seemed below standard. In such a case the driver would whip up his beasts and dash round the block to join the queue again, usually with the same result. This was all very well, but the poor chap had to sleep and since the loading continued all night his presence was something of a farce.

I always made a point of visiting any sort of ship within the harbour (mule transports and a cable laying ship included) so I duly had coffee with the master of the Norfalk one morning. He asked me if I would like to send a crate of lemons to my folk at home, an offer which I gladly accepted. Each crate weighed 56 lbs (c. 25 kgs) so I duly brought labels for my home near London. As I said, no-one had any idea what the port of discharge would be; Liverpool or Glasgow were the most likely, so there was the problem of how this precious package could be onward routed on arrival. My solution was to beg a second crate which I addressed to “Movement Control at Port of Disembarkation” with an envelope nailed on to it asking whoever opened it to accept the crate as a gift in return for sending on my personal one. This worked well, except for two drawbacks. One was that on the long rail journey south from Glasgow the precious fruit was pilfered to such an extent that only about half of it arrived home. Even 13 kgs of lemons, however, caused mother some trouble. We had no refrigerator and a household of only two persons, unaccustomed to using lemons much anyway, was quite unable to cope with more than a dozen or so. So the rest had to be hawked around friends and neighbours who would each take only a similar quantity! However, it was something for the diary ---- and worth recounting now, I hope".

We now find her in the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ONS 29*, which left Liverpool on Febr. 12-1944 and arrived Halifax on the 29th. Norfalk joined from Clyde and was bound for New York, arriving there on March 3, according to A. Hague, who has also included Atlantic, Geisha (Commodore Vessel), Heimgar, Iron Baron, Nordanger, Ruth I, Suderøy, Tercero and Vav in this convoy. Acanthus, Eglantine and Rose are named among the escorts (see ONS convoy escorts). With a cargo of sugar for London, Norfalk was scheduled to go back to the U.K. in Convoy HX 291 from New York on May 10 (Vice Commodore in Høyanger), but instead joined the next convoy on May 19, HX 292. Her destination is now given as Greenock - see also Page 3.

* These convoys will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section in due course, with more information on each; in the meantime, the ships sailing in them (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys and on the page for ships in all ONS convoys. Also, the entire SC series will eventually be updated and completed, including the already existing convoys (some have already been updated), but for now, please go to ships in all SC convoys. Additionally, the KMS and MKS convoys will be added, see ships in all KMS convoys and ships in all MKS convoys.

For more details on the other Norwegian ships mentioned here, please see the alphabet index at the end of this page, or go to the Master Ship Index.

 Final Fate - 1944: 

On July 20-1944, while in a convoy 7 n. miles south of Barfleur Norfalk struck a mine and sank when en route to Normandy to be used as blockship during Operation Overlord - See also Page 3. Arnold Hague has included her, along with Fridtjof Nansen, Gaston Micard, Skum and Torfinn Jarl, in Convoy EBC 45 - external link. According to an excerpt from the ship's journal, she had started her voyage in Glasgow and was headed for St. Laurent, sailing as "No. 4 in the starboard column". When the explosion occurred she was about 1.5 miles east of "Buoy No. L 3". On the bridge at the time were Captain Thoresen, the 3rd mate and the helmsman, Able Seaman Husevåg, while Able Seaman Holm was on lookout duty. Engine Room Assistant Eliassen and Stoker Olsen were in the engine room.

She developed a leak in No. 5 hold, all electric lights stopped functioning and due to broken steam pipes it was impossible to get to the engine room. The main engine was stopped from the boat deck. The British trawler HMS Steepholm (T 356) and the American salvage vessel Diver arrived, whereupon attemps were made to tow her the rest of the way to Normandy, but in spite of continuous pumping the water kept rising in her holds, so her crew was ordered to Diver while crew from the salvage vessel took over. Several more attempts at towing were made but eventually given up late that afternoon and she was abondoned in a sinking condition (she sank 2 n. miles from her destination).

The 1st engineer, the donkeyman and the carpenter, who had been on the after deck when the explosion occurred were injured. The former 2 were picked up by an American MTB and subsequently transferred to a hospital ship, while the carpenter was treated on arrival port. All 3 were later left under medical care on the French coast.

Crew List - No casualties:

Einar Thoresen
1st Mate
Sigurd Arnt Bryde
2nd Mate
Knut Hornburg
3rd Mate
Sveinung Nordstrand
Harald Hovøy
Gunnar B. Hansen
Able Seaman
Ove Holm
Able Seaman
Karl Lysell
Able Seaman
Peder Husevåg
Able Seaman
Erling Kristiansen
Able Seaman
Alsjer Berg
Able Seaman
Ole Andersen
Able Seaman
Ole Jelsett
Ordinary Seaman
Peter Sharnock
Deck Boy
William Wallace
1st Engineer
Anton Helle
2nd Engineer
Iver Vikøren
3rd Engineer
Arne Thorvaldsen
Elias Eliassen
Gustav Wettermark
Rolf Olsen
Olaf Tollefsen
Einar Nicolaisen
Lorang Christensen
Birger Mortensen
Hilmar Hillesdal
Engine Boy
Jan Tsykowski
Lyder K. Oshaug
Waldemar Jensen
Galley Boy
Maxwell Muir
Mess Boy
Harold Smith
Saloon Boy
Percy Eccles
Percy G. Dayton
Steven Kent
James Smith
Richard Morris
Lionel E. Hinchley
Victor Wheeler
Leslie Brewer
John Todd

Related external links:
The Empire Ships - On the "Mariners" website. War Hector / Empire Kittiwake is listed on this page.

OS/KMS convoys - Convoy OS 53/KMS 23, mentioned in my narrative above, is included. Here's A. Hague's listing for this convoy.

Mulberry - From the comprehensive website Skylighters.

Back to Norfalk on the "Ships starting with N" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume II, and misc. (ref. My sources).


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