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Owner: A/S Titchfield
Built by Götaverken A/B, Gothenburg in 1927.
Captain: Bjarne Jørgensen.
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Gundersen, on charter to United Fruit Co., New York, departed Tela, Honduras on June 29-1942 with a cargo of bananas for Galveston. Torpedoed in the port foreship (hatch 2) in the evening of July 1* by U-129 (Witt) in position 23 33N 92 35W. At the time of attack she was on course 297° true, sailing at a speed of 13 knots (zig-zagging) in clear weather and calm sea, with bright moonlight and a visibility of 10 miles, wind northeast force 5, 2 lookouts, 1 on each side of the bridge; no other ships were in sight.
The foreship broke off and sank in seconds, the radio antenna was wrecked, the engines stopped, immediately flooding. 3 lifeboats were launched, but the motorboat was destroyed by the ship's propeller, so those who were in it had to be rescued by one of the other lifeboats. 4 were found to be missing, but those in the lifeboat saw some flashes of light on the after part of the ship which was still afloat. However, they were afraid to go too close, fearing she would be shelled, and 20 minutes after the torpedo had struck the U-boat did open fire (about 8 grenades and about 100 shells of smaller caliber). Gundersen caught on fire and sank about 45 minutes after having been torpedoed.
The U-boat approached the boats to ask the usual questions about the ship and cargo etc., then took off on the surface in a northeasterly direction. The lifeboats rowed back to where Gundersen had gone down in order to look for the missing men - 3 were found on a raft and were transferred to the boats. At dawn they rowed around searching for the remaining missing crew member, but to no avail. The British mess boy was believed to have been asleep in his forward cabin when the attack took place and therefore probably killed in the explosion. The 22** survivors were rescued later that morning by D/S Dea and landed in Progreso, Mexico in the afternoon of July 3.
The hearings were held in New York on July 16-1942 with the captain, the 1st mate and Able Seaman (lookout) Nymark appearing. The captain had been asleep in his cabin, while the 1st mate was on watch on the bridge. Able Seaman D. Brown was at the wheel and 2nd Engineer Haarvik and Mechanic Borgersen were in the engine room.
Only 12 hours earlier Witt had torpedoed and sunk another Norwegian ship, D/S Cadmus, which had departed Tela on the same day as Gundersen, and on July 19 he could add another one to his list, D/S Port Antonio - follow the links for details. U-129 had also been responsible for the attacks on Nordvangen and L. A. Christensen. See also Trafalgar and Astrell.
* The poster of the above mentioned Guestbook message has since told me that not only was Clyde Ebanks her cousin, but Alston Scott was her father's brother, and Selvin Scott of M/S Cadmus her dad's brother-in-law, while Clinton Foster (also of Cadmus) was a distant cousin. This is the sort of findings that makes having a website like this so rewarding.
Back to Gundersen on the "Ships starting with G" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Volume I (Norwegian Maritime Museum) - (ref. My sources). The memorandum mentioned in my text above was received from Tony Cooper, England.