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Manager: E. B. Aaby, Oslo
Built at Jarlsø in 1916.
Captain: Herman Olai Johansen.
As will be seen when going to Page 1 above, Ala arrived Oporto (from Lisbon) on Apr. 6-1940, 3 days before war broke out in Norway. From there, she proceeed to Bordeaux, with arrival Apr. 15.
In Nov.-1940, she's listed among the ships in Convoy HG 47 from Gibraltar to the U.K. Her destination is given as Liverpool, where she arrived Dec. 4, general cargo. Follow the link for the names of other ships in this convoy.
Ala had departed Port Talbot with a cargo of coal on May 6-1941 heading for Queens Dock, Swansea where she was wiped. The intention was for her to join a convoy on May 7, but due to the fact that she didn't have a complete crew she ended up having to wait for the next convoy. She left again on May 10 to join the convoy, however, she had to return to Swansea after having experienced some technical problems while at Mumbles Roads, and anchored up at Prince of Wales Dock, Swansea where repairs were made. She departed again in the morning of May 13, joined a convoy for Falmouth, departed Falmouth early in the morning of the 16th then anchored up at St. Helen's Road that evening in order to wait for the tide (compare w/details found on Page 3). She continued alone for Shoreham the following day, May 17 (which is Norway's Constitution Day), but when around 2 n. miles off Shoreham Pier about 4 enemy aircraft attacked with machine guns. Ala's gunners defended her as best they could with her 3 machine guns, but when the aircraft dropped bombs (torpedoes?) she was hit by 2 of them, 1 near the foremast, the other amidships, the latter ripping up the deck and cabins on the starboard side, continuing through the port side of the ship then exploding near the ship on that side. Mess Girl Rebecka Emma Hansen (steward's wife) was killed when she was hit in her temple by shrapnel, having gone out on deck together with her husband. She was buried in Shoreham on May 21. (According to the captain's statements at the hearings in London on Aug. 14-1941, Ala had a complement of 16 at that time, incl. the captain).
Ala started to sink but the captain and 1st mate went back on board when another Norwegian ship nearby, D/S Botne came over to assist with towing. By the time she landed late that afternoon (Page 3 gives arrival Shoreham as May 19), with the additional aid of a tug from Shoreham, her decks were under water which reached up to 1' from the railings. The lifeboats with the crew were towed to land by misc. small vessels that had come out to assist.
By June 13, she had been unloaded and sufficiently repaired to be taken in tow* to Southampton, but off Selsey Bill, just before arrival, she was suddenly lifted up by a huge explosion from underneath the foreship, and sank by the bow within a few minutes. It was assumed that the bombing on May 17 had made the ship magnetic again, causing a mine to explode (it had not been possible to get wiping done at Shoreham, the captain had spoken to the chief of the Naval Control about this). The 1st mate, who was in the wheel house, was killed* when he was struck in the temple, possibly by pieces of cement slabs on the bridge. The survivors were rescued by an escorting vessel and a lifeboat from D/S Douro, which sailed nearby.
The captain had sustained an injury to a leg bone in the explosion, resulting in a 2 months' stay in hospital. The 2nd engineer, who lived in Swansea, also had a leg bone injury and had to have an operation, while the chief engineer injured a bone in his back and was still in hospital at the time of the hearings in London on Aug. 14, as was the steward, who had taken ill.
Survivors & Casualties:
The 1st mate is included at the Commonwealth War Graves Comm. website as Arnold Peterson, June 14, Gosport Cemetery - see this external page. The messgirl, who was married to the steward, is also listed, with the date May 17 - see this page. Cemetery is given as Shoreham by Sea.
Related external link:
Back to Ala on the "Ships starting with A" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I, and misc - ref My sources.