Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage6,568 tons
Completed1920 - William Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland 
OwnerA/S Westfal-Larsen & Co, Bergen 
Date of attack23 Jun 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateSunk by U-84 (Horst Uphoff)
Position39° 40'N, 41° 30'W - Grid CD 5194
Complement37 (4 dead and 33 survivors).
ConvoyHX-194 (dispersed)
RouteNew York - Halifax (14 Jun) - Capetown - Alexandria 
Cargo8000 tons of war materials and general cargo, including tanks, ammunition, beer and gliders in crates as deck cargo 
History Completed in October 1920 as Grande Gaard for Henrik Østervold, Bergen. In June 1923 taken over by Bergens Privatbank and in December 1939 sold to A/S Westfal-Larsen & Co, Bergen. 
Notes on event

At 16.29 hours on 23 June 1942 the unescorted Torvanger (Master Leif Danielsen), dispersed from convoy HX-194 on 19 June, was hit on the starboard side amidships and at #4 hatch by two torpedoes from U-84 about 450 miles west of the Azores and sank by the stern after three minutes with a starboard list and breaking up. Three men on watch below and another crew member were killed. The remaining survivors managed to launch two lifeboats, but many had to jump overboard and cling to debris or floated free aboard some rafts. The Germans questioned the survivors in one of the lifeboats, provided them with canned bread, rum, cigarettes and salt water soap and offered to take an injured survivor on board for medical treatment but this was refused by the sailor.

One of the lifeboats had been damaged by crates from the deck cargo, so they dragged it upon a raft and repaired the hole, but it was still leaking and had to be bailed constantly. They also found a swamped gig which was straightened, bailed and occupied by five survivors. First the three boats sailed together but parted company on 25 June, because those in one of the boats wanted to row all day to reach land as soon as possible while the others wanted to rest. On 30 June, the master and 15 crew members in the damaged lifeboat were picked up in 39°53N/34°43W by the Dutch motor passenger ship Ruys (Master Verstelle) and landed at Liverpool. On 5 July, the remaining survivors in the other boat and the gig arrived off Horta and were towed 15 miles into Fayal by motor launches from the harbour. On 15 July, they left on the Portuguese steam merchant Lima, arrived at Lisbon after nine days and were later taken to Gibraltar.

On 2 June 1942 the Torvanger had encountered a lifeboat shortly after leaving New York and picked up eleven men from Polyphemus and two men from Norland, transferred them to the American fishing boat Elva and Stella later that day and continued her voyage. The following day they picked up 32 survivors from two lifeboats of Mattawin and the master decided to land them at Halifax. First it was planned that the ship will leave the harbour with convoy HX-193 on 7 June, but she then sailed in position #94 of convoy HX-194 and left it as planned on 19 June to continue her voyage to Capetown.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 37 people who were on board

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