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.
Captain Henrik Nicolaysen appeared ...
On the 8th June 1940 the m/s "TROPIC SEA" sailed from Sydney, Australia, with a full cargo of wheat in bulk, bound for New York via Panama Canal. The ship was in good seaworthy condition, well found, and manned by a crew of 33 including the wife of Captain Nicolaisen who signed on as Stewardess.
The voyage was uneventful until the 18th June at 7 am. sighted a large steamer on the Starboard bow and at 10.30 am. when in position 28o 4' South 166o 4' West, the ship was abreast, our speed being about 9 knots and the other steamer about 7 knots. The ship was proceeding on about the same course on our Starboard side, distance 1 to 1 1/2 miles.
A shot was fired across our bows, then two more shot were fired, I was below and ran up on the bridge as soon as I heard the first shot. The Third Officer was on watch, and as soon as I came up although we were the overtaking ship after the first round I saw the raider increase speed and when the second two shots wee fired, which straddled the "TROPIC SEA" I decided to stop the engines.
We noted that the ship hoisted a signal not to use Wireless and I ordered both Lifeboats amidships to be got ready and lowered into the water. The weater was calm and fine.
I saw that the raider was preparing to launch a boat, but shortly after this the raider manouevred to lie astern of the "TROPIC SEA", so I decided to take my ship's papers over to the raider in the Starboard lifeboat. When part way over to the raider I saw the raider's boat coming towards us. We met midway between the two ships and the Officer in charge ordered me to return to my ship.
Then he decided I should be sent to the raider on receipt of fresh orders from the Captain.
When I came on board the raider I was told to go in the saloon, the ship's papers were examined by the Captain and Officers of the raider. They found that the cargo was shipped at an Australian Wheat port and was to be delivered at New York to Order of the Commonwealth Bank.
At about 2 pm I was ordered to stay on board the raider for about four days as they had to communicate with Germany as to what to do with the ship and cargo.
During the same day my Chief Engineer, Chief and Second Officers and 11 men of the crew were taken on board the raider, we were all locked up in the Ship's hold i rooms specially prepared for prisoners, I myself and my Officers were brougth on deck every morning for about 6 days and locked up in a small mess room on the port side of the bridge deck and kept there until 9 pm at which time we were again sent below and locked up in the hold.
During the last 6 days we were kept in the hold without daylight or fresh air, except for one hour on one day only when we were allowed on deck. The crew were kept below except for one hour daily for the first 6 days, after that nothing for the last 6 days except one hour on one day on deck.
On the 19th June the Commander of the raider handed me letter formally notifying seizure, copy of which I attach herewith.
On 28th June orders were received that on the 30th June we were to be sent back on board the "TROPIC SEA" and we together with the Master and survivors of the crew of the British ss. "HAXBY" were to proceed to Germany under a German Prize Crew of about 28 men.
Later on we learnt that the destination was Bordeaux.
After arrival on the "TROPIC SEA", my wife and I were placed int he Chief Engineer's room, and the Norwegian Officers in the Officers cabins on the Starboard side, two in each room.
The British Officers were put in Officers cabins on the Port side, two in each room.
The Norwegian and British crews were placed iln the crew's quarters aft. All were treated as prisoners of war.
When we returned to the ship later, I was informed by the German Commander that he had placed six bombs in vital parts of the ship, and in the event of any attempt being made to re-capture the ship, the ship would be scuttled. He also infomed us that he had orders that under no circumstances was the ship to be allowed to fall ito British hands.
The Prize Crew had two machine guns and each guard was armed with a revolver.
We parted company with the raider on 30th June, we passed Cape Horn on the 24th July, after which they steered a course to pass about 150 miles East of the Falkland Islands, then steering a mid Atlantic course Northward until abresat of the Azores when the ship was steered Easterly for Bordeaux.
One night just before we passed the Azores, I am uncertain of the exact date, a red flare and flashlight, believed from a boat was sighted by the German lookout. The ship was turned round to look for it but nothing more was seen and the ship resumed her course after about half an hour's delay.
On 3rd September about six in the morning, we were called out and told that a submarine had been sighted, the submarine was coming up astern about five miles off.
For awhile nothing was certain but after half an hour the submarine sheered off to Port and the Commander og the "TROPIC SEA" ordered the engines to be stopped. I believe about this time the Germans realized it was not a German submarine.
W received orders to go into the lifeboats, we had previously received orders not to take any clothes in the lifeboats except what we were wearing, with the exception of my wife who was allowed to take a small hand bag. My wife fell into the sea in getting into the lifeboat and badly hurt the left side of her body. I was allowed to take a handbag with crews accounts etc. in it. The Germans kept all ship's papers and I was not allowed to see the Deck log books.
All log books were lost with the ship.
FIRST WITNESS:- Captain Cornelius Arundell who deposed that on the 24th April 1940 the ss. "HAXBY" under his command was sunk by a German raider in approximate position 31o 30' No. 51o 30' W in the North Atlantic. He further declared that he and the survivors of the "HAXBY" remained on the raider until 18th June when the Norwegian m/s "TROPIC SEA" was stopped by the raider in the South Pacific.
The Captain of the "TROPIC SEA" and some of his Officers adn crew were seen to be on board the raider the same evening, and remained on board until 30th June, when together with my Officers, self and crew, they were all transferred to the "TROPIC SEA" which carried a German Prize Crew.
On the morning of the 3rd September at about 5.30 am apparent time of ship, we were all called by one of the guards stating that the alarm had sounded. On proceeding on deck found that the alarm was caused by sighting of a submarine, a good distance off, on our Port Quarter, and approaching the "TROPIC SEA".
The German Prize Crew at first thought it to be a German Submarine but on near approach they realized it was a British submarine and we were ordered to take to and lower the boats.
Having been told during the voyage that the vessel would be scuttled to escape capture we immediately got into the ships lifeboats and pulled away from the ship.
The German Prize Crew, excepting the Commander and three others also got off into the lifeboats, the Commander and the others got off in a rubber boat after setting off the time bombs, which started exploding about ten minutes after we left the ship. We heard only three explosions although we had been told that there were six bombs in all.
The weather was fine, but the most severe damage was done by bomb on the Forepart Port side where one plated had been blown clean out on the water line.
The "TROPIC SEA" kept afloat about half an hour and sank suddenly after it had been agreed beween the submarine Commander and the Norwegian Captain Nicolaysen that she was too badly damaged by bombs to remain afloat.
The "TROPIC SEA" had been overloaded by the Germans placing additional oil bunkers on board for the voyage round the Horn, large quantities of stores had been removed both deck, cabin and engine room. Otherwise the "TROPIC SEA" was well found and in every way seaworthy. The boats when launched were in good condition.
I was taken on board the submarine and was asked by the Commander how many British were in the boats, and answered 23 all told. I was asked how many Norwegians and answered 33, and how many Germans and replied about 28.
The Submarine Commander then said the he was very sorry that he would only be able to take the Britishers aboard the submarine, and even this I considered to be a grave risk.
However when I mentioned the fact that the Norwegian Captain and his wife were in one of the boats, he without hesitation said "I will take those two as well" which he did.
The Norwegian Captain was very concerned as to the safety of his crew, and on mentioning the fact to the Commander was assured that something would be sent to their assistance.
I may mention that he was only really relieved on this point after at Gibraltar when he heard by broadcast, that they had been safely picked up and conveyed to England.
... The Second Witness Chief Mate Lockhart Dobbie Mc Kirdy appeared and deposed that:-
I was Chief Officer of the ss. "HAXBY" at the time she was sunk by a German raider in the North Atlantic on 24th April 1940.
I was kept on board the raider until transferred to the Norwegian m/s. "TROPIC SEA" on 30th June when said ship parted company with the raider, the voyage was uneventful until 3rd September when a submarine was sighted by the German Prize Crew.
When the submarine was ascertained to be British we were ordered to the boats which were launched.
All aboard got into the boats except the German Commander and three men who remained to set off the time bombs which started exploding about ten minutes after we left ship.
All the British survivors as well as the Norwegian Captain and his wife were taken on board the submarine, before I went below I saw she was settling and I saw the damage was such she could not remain afloat, since one plate was blown out bodily forward on the Port Side.
The Chief Officer Henning Drevik appeared and declared that ... The "TROPIC SEA" sailed from Sydney on the 8the day of June last with a cargo of wheat in bulk bound for the Panama Canal. On her departure the ship was in every respect well found perfectly seaworthy and properly manned. He was unable to produce the Log Book of the ship, the Crew List or any of the ship's papers as they were taken out of the possession of the ship's officers in circumstances hereafter appearing. He declared that everything went well on the said intended voyage until the 18th day of June last when at about 7 A.M. they sighted a ship on the starboard quarter distant about 10 miles. As she came nearer she looked like a Merchant Ship heading in the same direction as the "TROPIC SEA". About 10 A.M. she came up within two miles of the said ship and hoisted a signal "STop". The said vessel was immediately stopped an turned around with her stern to the other ship which it was then observed was flying the German naval flag. That at the time she signalled to them to stop she fired a heavy shell accross the bow of the said motor vessel and four or five shots on the starboard side of her. That the said vessel was stopped and a lifeboat lowered in which the Captain accompined by the Second officer went towards the German cruiser which was a converted Merchant Ship and looked like a merchant trading ship. That a boat was also put out from the German ship. That the Captain proeceeded to the German ship and was taken on board; meanwhile an armed guard from the German boat came on board the said motor vessel and took charge of the bridge, radio and engine room. A naval lieutenant from the German ship asked from what port the said motor vessel had sailed and was informed from Sydney to the Panama Canal. That at 7 oæclock that evening he together with the Chief Engineer and the rest of the deck crew were transferred from the said motor vessel to the German cruiser and kept there as prisoners until the 30th June when they were sent back to the said vessel. Meanwhile the said vessel was manoevered slowley accompanied by the cruiser. That while they were on board the said cruiser they were kept below and they discovered there were British prisoners in another part of the ship. That when they were returned to the said motor vessel the British prisoners were sent too and under the direction of the German Commander the ship was placed on a southerly course and they understood she was to go around Cape Horn and proceed to Europe. That at the same time the cruiser with a small tanker which had evidently brought supplies to her went of in a westerly direction. That the position of the said motor vessel when she was captured was longitude 160o 3-8' West and latitude 28o 48' South.
That nothing remarkable happened on the voyage to Europe until Tuesday the 3rd of September when at about 8:30 A.M. A British submarine came alongside and ordered the said vessel to stop. That he noticed that her name was "TOURANT" and her No. N. 68. That the engines were stopped and everyone on board took to the boats except the German Commander and three other members from the German cruiser who remained to carry out the firing of the bombs which ultimately destroyed the said motor vessel. That he heard the German Commander shouting down to the Wireless Operator and Chief Engineer who were below and he subsequently saw them come up and they all went away in a rubber boat towards the British submarine which was lying nearby. That shortly afterwards he heard two explosions come from the port side of the said motor ship amidships and the said vessel began to heel to port slowly and ultimately sank with her cargo of wheat about 10 A.M. That at that time the said vessel was about 200 miles from Bordeaux in longitude 46o 30' north and latitude 11o 30' west. That the British prisoners together with Captain Henry S. Nicolaysen (the Master of the said motor ship) and Mrs. Nicholaysen were taken on board the submarine. That he with 5 Norwegians and 2 Danish members of the crew proceeded in their lifeboat on a course south east which he calculated would take him to the nearest shore. That on the next day they approached another lifeboat which was filled with Germans and appeared to be overcrowded and took from it a Norwegian and a Finnish sailor. That at about 4:15 p.m. on 4th September they observed a British Flying Boats circling over their heads. The boat came down on the water and signalled to them to approach. They rowed over to the flying boat and wee taken on board. Immediately the said flying boat took off and proceeded on a northerly course and arrived at Plymouth at 7 p.m. where they were duly landed and provided with accommodation.