Maritime inquiry 1939 - 1945
The information below regarding ships in the Nortraship fleet is a direct transcript of the original source "Sjøforklaringer fra andre verdenskrig (1940 - 1945)". The informasjon is collected from maritime inquiries held during and right after the war. The information may differ from the other quality assured information in Krigsseilerregisteret.
The Master stated verbally as follows:
I was on the bridge at about 12.15 on January 27th 1945. Previously I had heard some depth charges explode but had not seen anything. About five or ten minutes after I had arrived on the bridge I heard an explosion in the distance and felt my ship shake which made us all be on the alert to see what was going on. Some minutes later I was looking aft and felt a shock and saw steam coming up from my engine room. I thought it was smoke and was afraid fire might have broken out. As a fire would have destroyed our lifeboats quickly I ordered the crew to the boats. At that moment I was quite positive that the ship was hit by a torpedo but after thinking it over it might have been an acoustic mine. I considered the possibility of lightening the stern part of the ship in order to try and save her but this was so problematical that I considered it better to beach her on the sandy beach. This was attempted but as stated in the logbook we did not succeed.
I have nothing further to add to what is stated in the logbook.
Next appeared as second witness, Second Officer Fritz Karlsen who stated verbally as follows:-
I was on watch from 12 o'clock on the 27th January 1945, on the bridge, and nothing of interest was observed until the Wirless Operator at about 12.30 o'clock came and told me that another ship in the convoy was just torpedoed. Immediately afterwards there was a heavy explosion in the stern of our ship. I was quite sure that we were hit by a torpedo. I signalled to the Engine room but the telegraph was out of order. I went straight to my lifeboat and with six or seven men we rowed to the Rescue ship which at that time was close by. The Rescue ship was ordered to return to our ship where we arrived on Sunday night the 28th January. After that I was on board the "SOLØR" until she was beached. The machinery was under water so no pumps could be worked.
When I came on board again I discovered a crack about an inch wide across the whole of the deck by Number 7 tank.
I was on the boat that went to look for survivors. We found nobody but I saw a body on the poop which I recognized as that of the Messboy Robert McClelland. As far as I could see he had been killed though being hit by something.
Then appeared as third witness, Second Engineer Frank Regi Skare, who stated verbally as follows:-
I was on watch in the Engine room from 12 o'clock on the 27th January 1945, when about 12.35 o'clock I heard an explosion and saw the water coming in. I was thrown over and when I managed to get up again the water was up to my shoulders. I ran up to the First Engineer who was trying to stop the engine but I think the engine stopped by itself and I rushed to the lifeboat. I went with the Rescue ship and came back to the "SOLØR" on Sunday night.
At the time of the explosion I saw Motorman V. Lund standing in the tunnel and in my opinion he was killed instantaneously. On my return on Sunday night I saw the body of the Elecrician F. Johansen jammed between the deck and the ceiling and he must have been killed instantaneously.
Next appeared as fourth witness, Matros Villy Ulleland, who stated verbally as follows:-
I was on watch from 12 o'clock on the 27th January 1945, as the helm, and about 18.40 o'clock I felt a bump and that there was suddenly no connection between the wheel and the Engine room. We were instructed to take to the boats and I went straight to mine.
I was among the crew who sent on board to search for survivors but found nobody. I saw however the body of a dead man lying on the poop but do not know who it was.
Last appeared as fifth witness, Ordinary Seaman Kenneth Bird ... who stated verbally as follows:
I was on watch from 12 o'clock on 27th January 1945, on the top of the wheelhouse. I heard depth charges exploding and I also saw another ship in the convoy which I thought had been hit as a fountain of water went up. I had no special feeling of our ship being hit but when we were ordere to take to the boats I left my post to join my boat. I could feel the after part of the ship sinking. I was taken on board the Rescue ship and went back again to the "SOLØR" on the same ship on Sunday night.
The only one of the missing crew I have seen is the Messboy Robert McClelland whose body I saw lying on the poop. I felt his pulse and he was dead.