Sjøforklaring 1939 - 1945
Informasjonen nedenfor vedr. skip i Nortraships flåte er direkte avskrift av orginalkilden "Sjøforklaringer fra andre verdenskrig (1940 - 1945)". Informasjonen her er fra sjøforklaringer holdt under og rett etter krigen og kan derfor avvike noe fra den øvrige kvalitetssikrede informasjonen i Krigsseilerregisteret.
APPEARED Captain A.M. Fredhjem ...
I was the Master of the Motor Ship "Hird" when she was on a voyage from Newport News to Malmo with a cargo of coal.
She was then on Time Charter to Continental Grain Co.
We left Newport News having loaded a full cargo on 31st March 1940. In consulted the British Naval Authorities before sailing and they advised me that I was a neutral ship bound for a neutral harbour, there was no necessity for me to proceed in convoy.
On the 9th of April I heard over the wireless that Norway had been invaded by the Germans but, notwithstanding this, I proceeded on my course. My Log Books have gone down in the subsequent wreck of the "Hird" but, so far as I can recollect we must have proceeded on our way for 3 or 4 days more.
I then heard over the wireless a broadcast from Sweden stating that the harbours of Gothenburg and Malmo were closed to shipping and had been mined. On receiving this information I decided to alter course. I decided to proceed to Greenock which seemed to me to be the nearest safe port on the line of our voyage.
When I arrived at the Tail of the Bank off Greenock I had already been in communication with the Naval Control who boarded me at the Examination anchorage. As a result of this boarding the Customs had instructions for me to proceed into the Gareloch and anchor there. We anchored in the Gareloch on 18th April.
After getting to the Gareloch, as soon as I could do so, I got into communication with the Norwegian Ambassador in London and reported my position to him. As a result of this, Mr. Denholm, Shipowner, Glasgow, came onboard representing the Time Charterers. I went on shore with Mr. Denholm and we sent a cablegram to the 'Time Charterers in New York and a telegram to James German, Cardiff, who were the Time Charterers General Agent's in the country. This telegram reported the position of the ship and asked for orders.
While still lying in the Gareloch I got a telegram from the Norwegian Trade Mission in London authorising me to proceed in accordance with the instructions contained in the Time Charter and stating that my ship was duly covered by insurance including War Risks. I also got a telegram from the Norwegian Consul General in New York advising me that the coal whcih had been consigned to Malmo had been sold for delivery in Dunkirk. I also got a communication from Messrs. James German ordering the ship to Dunkirk and giving me the name of the Agents on shore there to whom I had to report.
I got permission from the Naval Control and went through all the necessary formalities to enable me to carry out these orders, on the completion of which I left the Gareloch for Dunkirk on 4th may.
My instructions from the Naval Control were to call at Calais for my route orders before proceeding to Dunkirk and I proceeded accordingly to Calais on the track laid down by my sailing orders. I arrived at Calais on 7th May about 11 p.m.
We got into touch by Morse with the Examination Vessel and her instructions to us were to anchor for the night. The next morning I was taken on shore by the Naval Officer and visited the Shore Office of the Naval Control. I was given route instructions, to take me to Dunkirk and I then went back to my ship and left about 1 p.m. on the 8th of May. We arrived at Dunkirk about 6 p.m. and anchored in the roads, reporting to the Examitaion Vessel before --- in charge of the Pilot who had been sent onboard by the authorities. We moored alongside another vessel in the harbour about 3 p.m.
I went on shore and reported to the Agent whose name had been given to me by Messrs. German. The Agent took me to the Naval Control where I also reported the arrival of the ship.
There was no berth available for us to discharge which was the reason why we were moored outside another vessel. We did not get ordres to proceed to another berth until Saturday 11th. May when we got orders to shift to a discharging berth. At 10.30 a.m. on Saturday 11th May the ship was moored alongside the quay and discharging commenced at 11 a.m.
The discharge was conducted to my satisfaction by cranes from the shore and at 5.15 p.m. on Friday 17th May, the discharge was complete.
I had been endeavouring to get instructions from the Agent at Dunkirk as to my destination after discharging, but he was unable to give me any orders.
At that time no civilians were allowed by the authorities to send messages out of Dunkirk, all the postal arrangements being in the hands of the Military. I therefore went to the Norwegian Consul and explained my predicament to him. The Norwegian Consul was able to get authority to send a message to the Norwgeian Legation in Paris who, in turn, were able to communicate with the Legation in London. By this means it was hoped that at message asking for instruction would be communicated to the Agents for the Time Charterers acting in England.
When I went to the Consul's Office the following day to ascertain whether a reply had been received, I discovered the Consulat was deserted, the Consul having left Dunkirk. I went to the Agent's Office but I found that he had also evacuated.
I then went first to the Harbour Authorities who were French Officials and the to the Naval Control who were French Naval Officers, asking for permission to leave the harbour.
This permission was refused on the grounds that there was cargo which had to be taken out of the port and they proposed to put this cargo onboard my ship before she left.
I went onboard after receiving these instructions to prepare my ship for the cargo, which was wheat. I gave the necessary order to my officers which were proceeded with at once. On the 22nd of May first thing, I reported that the ship was ready to receive the cargo of wheat and I got orders from the Harbour Master to shift to another berth and to commence loading. When we got to the berth ordered it was discovered that my ship was too long for it. It was, therefore, decided to put the cargo onboard from lighters. The loading was very much interfered with by enemy aerial activity and nearly all the lighters had been sunk before any progress had been made with the loading.
We got orders then to load a cargo of wool, but before the bales could be loaded they were set on fire by incendiary bombs.
From then on we got various orders from the Harbour Authorities to proceed to different berths in the harbour but no further cargo was ever shipped. Finally, on 28th May, we got orders to have ship ready to leave. These orders came from the French Admiralty. We had steam up and were ready to leave at once. It was not at any time possible for me to leave the port without authority.
The Admiralty asked me to take troops onboard, which I agreed to do. At 7 p.m. the troops started to embark and at 10.30 we left the harbour with about 2.200 French and British troops onboard. My orders were to follow a French War vessel which had proceeded us out of harbour. Following her we reached Cherbourg on 30th of May about noon. We went alongside on the orders of the Naval Authorities and disembarked the troops.
When we were lying in Dunkirk we were in the midst of an enemy bombardment. Bombs were falling in very close proximity to my vessel, some on the quay alongside her, some in the water. The explosions from these bombs were shaking the whole ship and splinters were flying about doing considerable damage to her hull, superstructure and apparatus. The lifeboat was full of holes. There were severeal holes in the ship's side right down to the waterline and doors were blown in and broken.
We had a smooth passage to Cherbourg but, in my opinion, the ship was quite seaworthy so long as she was light.
In Cherbourg I reported to the Naval Control, who were British Officers of the Royal Navy. I ascertained them that there were no facilities for repairs at Cherbourg and obtained permission to proceed to Weymouth for further orders.
The Naval Control kept me at Cherbourg until Saturday, 1st June, as it was intended to use my ship for taking troops across. Before we sailed, however, two troopships came in and embarked the troops and we therefore proceeded to Weymouth without troops, for further orders.
When I reached Weymouth the Naval Officials came onboard. I went on shore with the Officer and reported to the Norwegian Trade Mission and to Messrs James German. As a result of my message the Norwegian Trade Mission made arrangements for me to go to Cardiff for repairs and orders were given to me to proceed a few days afterwards. I am not sure of the exact date on which I got these orders but I think it would be about the 5th or 6th of June. I proceeded to Cardiff on the track laid down by instructions given to me by the Naval Control but not in convoy.
I duly arrived at Cardiff and went into drydock where the ship was repaired by the Mount Stewart Drydock Co. Ltd. After repairs were completed and the ship certified as seaworthy, we proceed to sea on 24th June at 8.35 p.m. We proceeded to the Gulf of Mexico under ordes given to me by Messrs. James German.
ALL which is Truth as the Deponent shall answer to God.
A. M. FREDHJEM