Norwegian Motor tanker
|Completed||1941 - Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow|
|Date of attack||20 May 1942||Nationality: Norwegian|
|Fate||Sunk by U-108 (Klaus Scholtz)|
|Position||31° 22'N, 55° 47'W - Grid DE 4177|
|Complement||48 (0 dead and 48 survivors).|
|Route||Glasgow – Gourock (7 May) - Corpus Christi, Texas|
|History||Launched on 11 Sep 1941 as British Empire Pict and completed in November 1941 for Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 6 May 1942, transferred to Norway at Greenock and renamed Norland. |
|Notes on event|
At 18.39 hours on 20 May 1942 the unescorted Norland (Master Eugen Christoffersen), dispersed from convoy ON-93, was hit on the starboard side in #8 tank just forward of the bridge by one G7e stern torpedo from U-108 while steaming in clear weather on a non-evasive course at 12.5 knots about 460 miles east of Bermuda. The explosion blew the bottom out of the tank and ripped the side up in a length of 50 to 60 feet. The engineers on watch stopped the engines and the crew readied the lifeboats for launch, but after investigating the damage the master ordered to restart the engines and headed at full speed towards Bermuda. About 10 minutes later a lookout spotted the periscope and the gunners at the 4in gun on the stern fired one round in its direction. The U-boat retreated and surfaced in some distance in order to shell the ship because they had no torpedoes left. At 19.57 hours, Scholtz ordered to open fire with the deck gun from the unusually long range of 8000 meters with the rate of about one round per minute and the Norland returned fire with the stern gun (the only other armament were five machine guns) but they had difficulties to see the small silhouette of the U-boat and all 15 to 20 rounds fell short as it was out of range. With the big hole in its side the tanker was unable to build up speed and after the first four hits near the bridge and the engine room, the master ordered his crew to cease fire and to abandon ship at 20.30 hours. Distress signals were sent but it was unknown if they were heard as the receiving set had been damaged by the explosion. All crew members and gunners left in three lifeboats that initially remained nearby but then sailed away after the ship caught fire amidships and to avoid being hit by the continuous gunfire. U-108 came closer and fired the last rounds for the deck gun from a distance of 1000 meters, having fired well over 100 shells and observed only 14 hits. At 23.00 hours, the Germans continued shelling by firing holes into the empty tanks at the waterline with all AA guns until the ammunition for the 37mm gun was also spent 30 minutes later. Norland settled slowly and sank by the stern at 01.58 hours. As the lifeboats were no longer in the vicinity the U-boat left the area without questioning the survivors.
All lifeboats set course for Bermuda, but lost contact to each other after three to four days due to a heavy rain storm. The 19 men in the motor boat in charge of the chief officer were picked up by the Dutch motor merchant Melampus and landed at Halifax on 31 May. The 14 occupants of the boat in charge of the second officer were picked up by Polyphemus in 32°35N/64°12W on 25 May, but she was torpedoed and sunk by U-578 (Rehwinkel) two days later. However, all survivors from the Norland survived the second sinking. On 7 June, the master and 14 men in the third boat were picked up by USCGC CG-453 about 25 miles south-southeast of Cape Lookout after being sighted by plane, their lifeboat taken in tow by USCGC CG-473 and taken to Morehead City, North Carolina.
|On board||We have details of 48 people who were on board.|
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