Ships hit by U-boats


Norwegian Steam merchant

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

Type:Steam merchant
Tonnage5,681 tons
Completed1918 - J. Coughlan & Sons Ltd, Vancouver BC 
OwnerChristian Haaland, Haugesund 
Date of attack31 Oct 1942Nationality:      Norwegian
FateDamaged by U-510 (Karl Neitzel)
Position36° 06'N, 16° 59'W - Grid CF 9882
Complement? men (0 dead and ? survivors).
RouteColombo - Freetown - UK 
History Built as British Alaska for Furness Withy; 1921 turned over to Christian Haaland, Haugesund and changed to Norwegian flag; 1930 renamed Peel County; 1934 renamed Alaska; 1951 changed to German flag and renamed Reg III for Deutscher Seeverkehr AG Eric Lubert & Co, Hamburg; 1954 renamed Ebba Blumenfeld for B.D. Blumenfeld GmbH, Hamburg; 1957 renamed Manfred Stansfield for Nordatlantische Kohlen-Schiffahrts-GmbH, Hamburg; 1958 scrapped Hamburg 
Notes on event

At 21.29 hours on 30 Oct 1942 the troopship Président Doumer was sunk by U-604 (Höltring) and the Alaska (Master Berge Mevatne) was ordered to rescue the 345 men aboard the troopship in very bad weather, because the regular rescue ship was sunk earlier. Panic broke out and the lifeboats were cut down and crushed. Many of the survivors were struggling in the sea. Two crew members from the Alaska jumped into the water with ropes tied around their waists to save as many as possible. But it proved to be too risky and the attempt had to be abandoned. The second and third mates were sent down to one of the crushed lifeboats and managed to rescue 46 of the 48 onboard, despite the fact that many of them struggled in panic. They also picked up a few Danes from the Tasmania which was sunk 25 minutes after the troopship.

While picking up survivors, the Alaska was hit by a torpedo fired by U-510 at 00.03 hours on 31 October. The 56 survivors who had been saved from the troopship again broke out in panic and the crew of the Norwegian ship had their hands full to prevent the lifeboats lines being cut before they reached the water.
On her way to Maderia she came across a British corvette, which was escorting the torpedoed Silverwillow to Portugal and was ordered to follow the little convoy. But the Silverwillow sank on 5 November and the corvette had left. The Alaska reached Lisbon safely on 11 November.

The master Berge Mevatne later received “Krigskorset” (The War Cross with Sword), the highest ranked Norwegian war decoration, which has only been awarded to 19 in the merchant navy.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 15 people who were on board

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