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M/S Herstein
Updated Oct. 20-2011

To Herstein on the "Ships starting with H" page.

Very kindly sent to me by Historical Department, MAN B&W Diesel, Copenhagen - (see also their museum website).

Manager: Sigurd Herlofsen & Co. A/S, Oslo
5100 gt, 3050 net, 9030 tdwt.
Call Sign: LKCE.

Built in Copenhagen in 1939.

Captain: Gottfred M. Gundersen

Related items on this website:
Complete Crew List - Herstein

A Guestbook message
Another Guestbook message (from someone looking for the "model" of Herstein).
Guestbook message - From a relative of one of the crew members, 2nd Mate Benn Bolt.

Her voyages are listed on these original images from the Norwegian National Archives:
Page 1 | Page 2

Please compare the above voyages with Arnold Hague's Voyage Record below.

Voyage Record
From July-1940 to Jan.-1942:

(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 as can be seen, this record is incomplete.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1940 July 7 Suez BS 1 A. Hague says:
Dispersed July 10.
Convoy available at BS 1
(external link)
Page 1 gives arrival Aden July 14
(also, missing 1940 voyages).
1941 Nov. 30 Fremantle Adelaide Dec. 5 Independent A. Hague says:
Previously traded Indian Ocean & Australia.
See Page 1 above & Page 2
Dec. 6 Adelaide Melbourne Dec. 8 Independent
Dec. 10 Melbourne Sydney, N.S.W. Dec. 11 Independent
Dec. 27 Sydney, N.S.W. Port Moresby Jan. 4-1942 ZK 5 Convoy available at ZK 5
(external link)
1942 Jan. 10 Port Moresby Rabaul Jan. 14 Independent Notional sailing date
Sunk - See "Final Fate" below


Judging from the information found on Page 1 of the archive documents, it looks like Herstein was in Calcutta when war broke out in Norway on Apr. 9-1940. She had arrived there from Hong Kong on Apr. 7. Together with Bronxville and Orwell, she's later listed among the ships in Convoy BS 1, which left Suez on July 7. It'll be noticed, when following the link to this convoy provided in the table above, that there's a note in connection with Herstein saying "not in convoy?". According to the archive document, she arrived Aden on July 14, proceeding to Durban about a week later. The same document also shows that she made a voyage to Boston and New York the following month, and she remained in the U.S. until Oct. 1-1940, when she left New Orleans for Cristobal, then on to Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. Some of her 1941 voyages are also listed on Page 1, while the rest are shown on Page 2.

She was one of the Norwegian ships that helped search for survivors from HMAS Sydney in Nov.-1941, but none were found. Pan Europe and Hermion were also involved in this search, and according to this posting on my Ship Forum, Nordnes and Ohio also took part. Sydney had sunk, and had herself been sunk (with the loss of all her men) by the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran on Nov. 19 (survivors from the German cruiser had been rescued from rafts and lifeboats southwest of Carnarvon, West Australia by allied ships on Nov. 24). The external websites that I've linked to below have more details.

Related external links:
The sinking of HMAS Sydney
History of MAS Sydney and several others.

HMAS Sydney Honour Roll - Names of her casualties.

 Final Fate - 1942: 

Herstein, on charter to the Australian Government, departed Sydney on Dec. 27-1941 (or Dec. 28, depending on time zone - see also Page 2), together with the British Sarpedon and Cunard Line's Aquitania. They carried 4250 troops and 10 000 tons equipment for reinforcement in the defence of Port Moresby in New Guinea. Four cruisers were escorting. The convoy, designated ZK 5 (again, see link in the table above) reached its destination safely on Jan. 4-1942 and after the cargo had been unloaded, Herstein continued to Rabaul, New Britain, which had been attacked by Japanese aircraft several times. She arrived the latter on Jan. 14 to unload some general cargo that had been loaded in Sydney and Port Moresby (about 1200 tons). Having finished discharging on Jan. 18, she was moved in order to start loading a cargo of copra in all her holds the following day.

On Jan. 20, after having loaded around 2000 tons of copra, about 100 aircraft attacked the harbour. At that time, Captain Gundersen was ashore visiting the agent's office, but he saw her being bombed. 3 dive bombers came down low and Herstein was hit by 3 bombs amidships, 1 of them exploding in the engine room, resulting in a fire that quickly spread all over the ship. Her anti aircraft guns were in continuous use, until the second bomb exploded in the bridge area, rendering both guns inoperable.

The crew and officers had to jump overboard and swim ashore. The Swedish Steward Karl Thorsell was on his way down the gangway, but returned to the ship and was not seen again, so he was assumed killed in the bombing and subsequent fire. The rest of the crew made it ashore, where they were accommodated at a hotel (see crew list). 1st Engineer Peter Brandal, Boatswain Gerhard Olsen and Cook Arthur Landhaug had to be admitted to a hospital, while another 4 had received minor burns. In the course of the night, Herstein drifted across to the other side of the harbour, and was still on fire the next morning. Total loss.

That afternoon, confirmation was received that the Japanese were preparing to land in Rabaul. Herstein's crew was given some money and advised to leave the city or try to get away from the island altogether. Those who were able to, headed towards the coast or up to the mountains. Captain Gundersen was separated from the others, and joined a group of Australians, then wandered more than 300 miles overland and along the coast for 78 days. Half of them died from illness or hunger, while some were killed by Japanese soldiers on the way. Those who survived were eventually rescued by an expedition from New Guinea and taken to Port Moresby. Captain Gundersen was picked up by a motorboat together with some British men and was later sent to Sydney, arriving on Apr. 26. Hearings were held there on Aug. 13-1942.

I've come across an article on the Internet dated Oct. 3-2002. It's entitled "A judge you'd follow into the jungle" - I think this might be about the same group that Captain Gundersen joined, because so many of the details are very similar to his story. It also mentions a book entitled "Hell and High Fever" (the article appears to be an obituary for Judge David Mayer Selby, the author of that book). The book is out of print, but I found 2 used copies at

Meanwhile, the rest of Herstein's crew members had been taken prisoners by the Japanese. On July 1-1942, they were under transport on the prisoner ship Montevideo Maru, when that ship was torpedoed and sunk by the American submarine Sturgeon (SS-187), about 65 miles west off Cape Bojeador, Luzon, 18 37N, 119 29E. About 1050 allied POW's en route to Hainan Island lost their lives (position and numbers from Robert Cressman).

My page "Merchant Marine Prisoners of War" has the names of Herstein's crew members who died when Montevideo Maru was sunk. One of the casualties was the Australian Saloon Boy James Tynan, who is commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra - follow this link to Commemorative Roll Database. By using his last name as keyword, James Tynan will appear in the search result. He was 16 years old.

External websites with info related to the text on this page:
RMS Aquitania
More Aquitania - Several pictures
This website states that the British Anglo Indian also sailed with Herstein, Aquitania and Sarpedon on Dec. 28 (it's a section of Children of Far East Prisoners of War, and gives a list of ships involved in SE Asia). The convoy designation ZK 5 is given, and it also says Herstein's attackers were "Val" Dive bombers.

Stavern Memorial commemorations - Norwegians only are commemorated at Stavern Memorial (again, see also my own Crew List).

Website about Montevideo Maru - A detailed account, which also has this link to an interview with a survivor who indicates there might have been several more survivors than earlier reported.

The sinking of Montevideo Maru - A section of The Australian War Memorial, includes a picture of the ship, and downloadable PDF files, one of which contains a list of some of the people who left New Britain on board Montevideo Maru (contains 168 names), the cover letter is dated Oct. 10-1945.

The sinking of Montevideo Maru

The forgotten prisoners of Rabaul - from the website Brave Women

Back to Herstein on the "Ships starting with H" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Misc. sources, incl. "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, and "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume I - ref. My sources.


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