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M/S British Columbia Express
To British Columbia Express on the "Ships starting with B" page.
Owner: Skibs A/S Victoria
Built by Götaverken A/B, Gothenburg in 1936. Fruit carrier, which operated for Skibs-A/S Fruit Express Line.
Captain: Alf Sigfred Paulsen.
Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.
(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).
Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.
Errors may exist, and several voyages are missing.
When war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940, she was on her way from Cristobal to Portland, Oregon - see Page 1. Her 1941 voyages start on Page 2 and continue on Page 3. The latter document shows a long stay in Seattle, where she had arrived on Dec. 18-1941; departure is given as on Febr. 3-1942. Further 1942 voyages are listed on Page 4, while Page 5 has the rest, as well as her 1943 voyages. It'll be noticed (at the end of Page 5), that she spent a long time in Sydney, where she had arrived from Brisbane on Nov. 15-1943. She did not leave until March 18-1944, when she proceeded to Milne Bay, later returning to Sydney and Brisbane. See also Page 6 and Page 7 (to Apr.-1946) - occasional long stays in port are shown. Convoy info for some of her voyages can be found in A. Hague's Voyage Record above.
She was in service on the Pacific coast, later chartered by the US Army and fitted out as troop ship, carrying troops and equipment to the front, and wounded soldiers on her return voyages. She caught the attention of Douglas MacArthur, who chose her as his "personal" ship, and she performed many a special task for him.
She took part in the operations at Leyte during the first phase of the landings, carrying a group of generals and escorted by the destroyer O'Bannon. En route, she was attacked by Japanese bombers but escaped with small damages. (See what General Fleischer endured at Leyte).
In Febr.-1945, MacArthur entrusted her with the special task of bringing his wife and son from Brisbane to Manila, along with some troops and officers.
She was the first non-American ship to land at Baatan on March 6, escorted by a number of warships. Some seamen in a prison camp outside of Manila (Santo Tomás) heard about her arrival, and with the help of a war correspondent they were allowed to visit the ship. The captain of British Columbia Express, Alf Paulsen could hardly believe his eyes when he realized that one of them was his childhood friend and colleague, Captain Thomas Eilertsen of M/S Ravnaas. It took him a while to recognize him; he had lost 48 kg. Captain Paulsen managed to arrange passage to Australia on board his ship for some of the prisoners, but en route she was redirected to Hollandia to pick up more troops for Manila, so the former prisoners had to disembark and were placed in Camp Walker, an American camp. When he again returned to Hollandia he found they were still there, and for the first time he took advantage of his friendship with General MacArthur, and sent him a telegram about the plight of his friends. Only a few days later the Norwegian seamen were on their way to the U.S. on the Liberty ship S. I. Reid (Note: I cannot find a Liberty ship by this name), arriving San Francisco on May 8-1945, on the very day Norway was liberated. (See my page about Ravnaas for more info on what had happened to her crew).
Owned from 1950 by p/r Quadriga (Willy Bruns GmbH), Hamburg as Quadriga. From 1961 by Shanghai Dev. Co., Keelung, Taiwan as Chiau Kuo. From 1962 by Chiau Kuo S.S. Co. Ltd., Keelung, Taiwan, same name. Sold in 1969 for breaking up in Taiwan
Back to British Columbia Express on the "Ships starting with B" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939", Roger W. Jordan - and misc.