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.
Extract from the log book of the M/S "TALABOT" from the time of her being taken over on charter by the British Sea Transport Department until she was lost at Malta in consequence of bombing by enemy aeroplanes
M/S "Talabot", belonging to Wilh. Wilhelmsen, Tønsberg, 6798 tons gross and 4177,7 tons net, was taken over on charter by the British Sea Transport Department on the 1st March, at 1800 o'clock, with 260,98 metric tons of Diesel oil. The vessel was lying at Haifa.
Monday the 2/3.
Left Haifa at 1530 o'clock, ordered to Alexandria, and escorted by a corevette. Draught:- Forward 10' 05", Aft 17' 06".
Tuesday the 3/3.
Arrived Alexandria at 1940 o'clock and anchored in the roads.
Wednesday the 4/3.
Shifted alongside the quay and were moored at 1100 o'clock.
Commenced loading on the 7th March and finished on the 19th March at 1700 o'clock. Had loaded in all 9250 tons according to the draught. The cargo consisting of 600 tons ammunition, 600 tons benzine, 200 tons paraffin, 880 tons coal and otherwise general cargo, wheat and flour. Draught:- Forward 26' 07", Aft 28' 00". At 1715 o'clock shifted away from the quay and anchored in the roads at 1800 o'clock.
As passengers in the ship were 21 officers, 29 soldiers, 3 naval signallers, and as auxiliary crew 6 gunners and 4 naval signallers as well as a naval liaison officer. During the stay at Alexandria the vessel had been equipped with 2 Breda guns on the forecastle and 2 on the bridge. The toral armament now consisting of one 4" anti-submarine gun, 3 machine guns, 2 rocket parachute guns, 4 Breda guns; in addition the soldiers brought with them machine guns of which 5 were placed in position. The crew and the soldiers were distributed as gun crews and fire extinguishing crews with their fixed places during attack. Also, only two watches being kept.
Friday the 20/3.
Gentle westerly breeze, slight swell, clear atmosphere. At 0730 o'clock lifted anchor and left Alexandria bound for Malta in convoy. The convoy consisting of 4 vessels escorted by 8 warships. The day passed without any noteworthy occurrences.
Saturday the 21/3.
Gentle westerly breeze, smooth sea. Steering zig-zag courses as given by the escort. More warships have joined in and the escort now consists of 18 warships. At 1000 o'clock the guns were manned because of aircraft being in sight; these, however, were found to be friendly.
Sunday the 22/3.
Southerly gale with choppy sea, hazy atmosphere. Steering the convoy courses.
At about 1000 o'clock were attacked by dive-bombers and torpedo aeroplanes. All the guns in use, no damage. There was now a pause until about 1400 o'clock when the main attack came and continued until darkness. 5 attacks were made with the "Talabot" as the target and the bombs fell close by forward, close alongside and close by aft, for a while we were afraid that the rudder had been damaged as the vessel took such a long time before she answered the helm whilst swinging in order best possible to avoid the bomber aeroplanes. However, it was probably the sea which had meanwhile increased quite considerably.
At 1600 o'clock received signal from the Admiral's ship that hostile surface vessels were in the neighbourhood and that the escort was going to attack. Orders were given to steer 180 degrees true and to lay a smoke screen. Before the escort went away it laid a smoke screen to windward of us. 6 destroyers were accompnying the convoy. All our smoke-floats were gradually used.
At about 1700 o'clock the "Talabot" was attacked by 6 dive-bombers simultaneously, the bombs falling very close all round the vessel, but no hits. 2 men on the bridge slightly injured by splinters.
The attacks were continued until darkness, but it seemed as if the other vessels have now become the targets. 2 aeroplanes were seen to be shot down.
The sea battle between the warships was going on just to the north of us and some projectiles were seen to strike the water close by us.
Before it became dark, signal was received that "Operation B." was to be carried out, that is to say, every vessel was to steer a different course for 2 hours and thereafter to proceed on hr own with maximum speed to try to reach Malta. One destroyer was to acccompany us as escort. The convoy speed, which was 13 knots, was to be increased to the vessel's maximum. Later another destroyer arrived and the escort is now doubled.
At 1910 o'clock the Commodore signalled the course for the "Talabot" as 260 degrees true and which was steered until 2100 o'clock, after which the course was set for Malta, 326 degrees true. According to dead reckoning we should be about 180 miles off the S.E. point of Malta. The weather was fresh gale from S.S.E. with rough sea and hazy athmosphere.
Monday the 23/3.
At 0100 o'clock the destroyer, which we had on our port bow, signalled asking us to stand by her as there was something wrong (it was later found that a projectile had passed through the boiler room). We circled round her at slow speed. At 0125 o'clock there was rung full speed again as the destroyer signalled that she could proceed at 17 knots. The night otherwise passed without any noteworthy occurrences.
At daylight, at about 0630 o'clock, bomber aeroplanes were again seen, which shortly afterwards dive-bombed the vessel, but without hitting, all the guns in action. At about 0800 o'clock sighted land, the atmosphere very hazy and the range of visibility about 4 nautical miles. Shortly afterwards 2 British fighter planes arrived and the enemy aeroplanes withdrew, but tried to get in position for attack. One dive-bomber dropped its bombs which fell into the sea about 1/2 a ship's length away. At 0930 o'clock, as we were about to steer in between the piers to the Grand Harbour, an aeroplane was seen on the starboard side, but fire was not opened either by the destroyer or by us as it was assumed to be a British fighter plane. Almost right above us it dropped its bombs which frell close by the ship's side, then turned round and opened machine gun fire on a following vessel.
At 0945 o'clock arrived in the Grand Harbour; manoeuvred the vessel round and moored to buoys forward and aft at 1011 o'clock. The air attacks were constantly going on and the mooring was not completed until about 1700 o'clock as the boatmen go into shelters during each attack.
Lighters were placed from the ship to the quay to be used as shore gangway for the stevedores and crew to proceed to the shelters during attacks. At 1900 o'clock finished with this.
Tuesday th 24/3.
At 0700 o'clock commenced rigging up for discharging and discharging with 6 gangs until 1800 o'clock. The discharging was contiually interrupted by air attacks and only discharged about 100 tons.
Wednesday the 25/3.
Continuing the discharging with 6 gangs from 0700 o'clock and with 7 gangs fro 0800 o'clock until 1800 o'clock. The discharging continually interrupted by air attacks, several bombs falling close by the ship's side. Discharged about 450 tons.
Tuesday the 26/3.
Continuing the discharging with 7 gangs from 0700 o'clock. Continuous air attacks during the forenoon. At 1250 o'clock fresh attack which increased in violence with a great number of Stuka and Junker bombers. At about 1400 o'clock the "Talabot" was struck by a bomb on the port side of the boat deck and which passed through the electrician's cabin, the shelter deck and down into the engine room where a fire started. All the cabins, both on the port as well as on the starboard side, were blown to pieces by the blast. The fire in the engine room developed quickly and it was impossible to get down in order to get the auxiliary machinery started. The Captain got in communication with the Colonel of the Depot and asked for fire hose and foam sprayer and the Colonel of the Depot promised to supply these as quickly as possible; the Captain spoke to the Chief of the S.T.O. over the telephone and asked for tug with fire extinguishing equipment as well as for foam sprayer. Both these arrived shortly afterwards, also naval auxiliary men, who at once set to work with the extinguishing. Fire hoses were also laid from shore, but the fire was continually spreadning, now also to Nos. 3 and 4 holds. During the extinguishing work there were air attacks and bombs were falling close by the ship's side damaging the bottom of the tug and putting the pumps out of order. Extinguishing was carried out in Nos. 3 and 4 holds, but the fire was below the shelter deck and we could not get at it directly with the water.
As i was feared that the ammunition which consisted, among other things, of ordinary bombs, 2 ton bombs and 16 torpedoes in the No. 4 hold might exlplode it was decided, after conference between the Chief of the S.T.O. and the Captain, to blow a hole in the ship's side in order to get the ammunition below water. That part of the town, in the neighbourhood of the vessel, had in the meantime been evacuated. At about 1700 o'clock the captain pointed out where the depth charge should be placed to best advantage. The amidship deck was then glowing with the heat and in order to get ashore we hat to get into a boat from the fore deck. Shortly afterwards fire also commenced in the No. 1 hold where the benzine was stowed and a huge mass of smoke and flame rose up. The fire continued with violence the whole night and the next morning there was only the poop which remained undamaged. The forward part of the ship was lying submerged to about 2 feet below the upper deck.
The vessel is considered a total loss.
At sea, on board a cruiser, the 3rd April 1942.
Albert Toft, Master
L. Lauritzen, 2nd Officer
Kjell Larsen, Chief Engineer