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 1st witness:- Jakob Mørbeck Grimstad, chief officer ...
Produced the ship's deck log book, written up to the 23/2/41. Produced report concerning the war loss of the "SOLFERINO" on the 26/2/41, at 10.00 o'clock, bombed by German aeroplane. ...
The chief officer stated:-
I was lying in bed during the attack and was awakened by machine gun fire. When the chief officer came up they were occupied with the lowering of the starboard lifeboat. After the chief had witnessed, the starboard boat being put into the water, Captain Nyegaard came out on to the promenade deck and ordered the chief officer to obtain possession of the ship's papers. The chief officer then, in accordance with the report handed in, did what he could to gain possession of the ship's papers. The chief officer went to his cabin where he took the ship's log book and easily available bed clothes, whereupon he hastened to the starboard side aft where the captain was lying (injured) in the motor boat. After having handed over the blankets and the log book the chief officer made a thorough examination of the officers' cabins amidship in order to make sure that no one was left behind. On the deck he met fireman Johan A. Johnsen who told him that there was no one in the crew's quarters. Thereupon the chief officer went into the motor boat which was rowed across to the Swedish steamer "GDYNIA". The chief officer saw 2 other vessels in the convoy, Nos. 15 and 13, respectively British and Greek, which appeared as if they had been bombed. The last that the chief officer saw of the "SOLFERINO" was the saloon house and the bridge enveloped in flames and smoke, and the vessel had apparently a list of 15 degrees to port.
The nautical assessor, Captain H. A. Nilsen, whished to ascertain whether the German aeroplane was being fired at, to wish there was replied:- Yes, by the escort.
The nautical assessor, Captain Hjalmar Skjervik, wished to ascertain whether the vessel could be considered as still afloat, to which the witness replied that he did not think she would remain afloat.
2nd officer Morten Hoff ... was on watch on the bridge from 8.00 o'clock. At about 9.45 o'clock he remembered that he had not wound up the chronometer whereupon he went into the chart to do this. During this he became aware of an explosion astern of the "SOLFERINO" and he immediately ran out on to the bridge where he caught sight of a German aeroplane making an attack by dropping bombs on the Greek vessel following the "SOLFERINO".
The 2nd officer ran to the starboard side of the birdge where the Lewis gun was ready for use, but before he was able to do anything a bomb hit the port lifeboat and destroyed this. Thereupon another bomb fell in way of the after part of the saloon house causing heavy damaged followed by fire. The 2nd officer stated that ordinary seaman Thorbjørn Larsen was on the look-out on top of the wheel house. After the bomb explosion the 2nd officer did not see anything of the look-out man. He expressed his belief that Larsen was either killed by machine gun bullets from the aeroplane or by the fall of the bomb. After having rendered assistance in putting out and lowering the motor boat he caught sight of Captain Nyegaard who came out on deck in his under-clothes aand in a very bad state, presumably as a result of the explosion. The captain was assisted down into the lifeboat whereupon it left the ship's side after they had made sure that there were no survivors on board.
The 2nd officer omitted to ring stop on the engine telegrafph before he left the bridge. He stated that the enginewas stopped by the donkeyman. The 2nd officer omitted the stop signal as he took it for granted that the engine room staff stopped iton their own initiative after thefall of the bomb as he noticed thaat the engine was stopped.
Carpenter Daniel Børresen ... was on the after deck when, at about 10 o'clock a.m., he became aware of the sound of an aeroplane motor, whereupon he immediately after saw an aeroplane coming from a great height from astern on the same course as the ship, and he saw 2 bombs falling down from the aeroplane towards the "SOLFERINO". The first bomb probably struck the port lifeboat and the other one struck just by the bunker hatch. The carpenter stated that he does not remember having seen the steward at any time on that day, either before or after the explosion. Whereupon he went to his cabin in order to get hold of his papers and his lifesaving jacket. Whereupon he went to his cabin in order to get hold of his papers and his lifesaving jacket. The lifesaving jacket, however, was not there. He thought it had been put aside after a U-boat attack which had previously taken place during the same night. The carpenter stated that he personally observed 3 heavy explosions which were assumed to have been due to the torpedoing of 3 vessels.
Chief engineer Alf B. Andersen ... stated:-
At 9.57 o'clock he heard machine gunning as he was about to fetch some tools from his cabin. He immediately ran to the engine room door adn was met by the donkeyman on the way up from the engine room. The donkeyman had shut off the steam to the main engine immediately he noticed the bombing attack without orders on the telegraph from the bridge. Engineer Andersen thereupon hastened up on to the boat deck and took his place in the starboard lifeboat. He remembered having seen steward Aasmund Kleve between 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock in the morning of the same day on gun duty on the poop, but had not seen him since. Anderesen was afraid that should the fire spread to the bomb thrower ammunition on the port side of the boat deck it was very probable that the damage would be of such an extent that the vessel would sink.
Boatswain Andreas Prydtz ... was at the wheel during the bombing attack at 10 o'clock a.m. on the 26/2/41.
Prydtz did not see anything of the bomber aeroplane as his view was obstructed by a concrete shelter. The 2nd officer and ordinary seaman Larsen were on watch on the bridge at the same time. He had not seen anything of the captain since the U-boat attack on the same morning when they assumed that the following four vessel were destroyed:- "BORGLAND", "DIALA", "RYBOHOLM" and another of unknown name.
The boatswain only saw two explosions. The boatswain then came out of the partly collapsed wheel house and went to his station in the port lifeboat. But as his boat had been destroyed he went over to the starboard boat which was already about to be put into the water. Prydtz went in that boat over to the Swedish vessel "GDYNIA".