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D/S Hydra II
Manager: Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., Drammen
Built in Shanghai in 1919.
Captain: Lars Røed
Hydra II arrived Bangkok from Singapore (bound for Hong Kong) on Nov. 11-1941 (note that Page 3 of the archive documents gives arrival date as Nov. 29), took on board some cargo in Bangkok then went to Koh-Sichang (52 miles from Bangkok) on Dec. 2 in order to complete the loading, commencing that same morning. During the afternoon, when loading was completed, a telegram was received from the Consulate in Bangkok with instructions to stop at Koh-Sichang to await further orders, owing to the strained situation, then the following day another telegram was received ordering her to continue to Hong Kong, so she left with her cargo of 2000 tons rice and salt.
When the news of Japan's entry into the war was heard over the wireless on Dec. 8-1941 she was 100 n. miles off Varella Light in Cochin-China. The 6 Norwegian officers decided to set a course for the nearest Island in the Philippines, then later proceed to Iloilo. During the morning of Dec. 11 they passed through a little strait on the north side of the island of Pelavan (Philippines) bound for Iloilo, then at 16:30 that day, when in the Zulu Sea, they were stopped by 2 British destroyers advising them to continue to Manila, as it would be easier there to decide what to do, as well as obtain coal and provisions, so at 17:00 they set course for Manila. They arrived just outside (2 n. miles) of Manila at about 21:00 on Dec. 12, engines were stopped, all lights turned off; the intention was to go in early the next morning. This was 2 days after the Japanese had landed forces at Luzon, and the situation in Manila was rather tense.
Around 21:40 a torpedo detonated on the starboard (port?) side of the ship, a little forward of amidships in No. 2 hatch. The awning of the bridge (made of wood), the chart room and the wheel house were blown away by the explosion. The lifeboats had been made ready and swung out clear of the ship's side that day, and axes had been placed in the boats in order to be able to cut the lashings quickly, but as the 6 Norwegian officers came up to the port boat all the inventory had disappeared in the explosion, and as a result they were delayed in getting the boat on the water. As the ship sank in 1-2 minutes the davits became hooked over the lifeboat and it capsized with the 6 Norwegians in it. The 2nd mate, 2nd engineer and 3rd engineer managed to hold on to some wreckage as did 6 of the Chinese crew until they were rescued at noon the next day by the Swedish M/S Colombia, which was en route from Manila to Fremantle. The 2nd mate, who had been on duty on the bridge, had sustained a heavy blow over his right eye and a fracture of his wrist and had also bruised his hand, while the 2nd engineer had injured his back and had a wound on his leg; both were given first aid on the Swedish ship.
They arrived Fremantle on Dec. 24 and Hydra II's survivors disembarked on the 26th. The Norwegians were accommodated at His Majesty's Hotel and the Chinese crew members at the Sailors' Home. The Norwegian Vice Consul at Perth arranged for the Norwegians to continue to Melbourne with the British M/S Duntroon on Jan. 3-1942, arriving Jan. 10. That same afternoon they boarded a train for Sydney with arrival the following day. The hearings were held there on Jan. 25 with the 2nd mate and the 2nd and 3rd engineers appearing. Already at that time they suspected that an American vessel was responsible for the attack on Hydra II because the torpedo had come from the shore side, and they doubted that a Japanese vessel could have been in that area. Also, the crew of Colombia had seen many small American torpedo boats cruising between the islands. According to the website "Hyperwar" that I've linked to at the end of this page the torpedo had come from the American submarine S 38 (SS-143). The text for Dec. 12-1941 reads as follows:
Captain Røed, the 1st Mate and 1st Engineer as well as 38 Chinese crew were killed, or drowned while running to the lifeboats, as the ship just disappeared under them.
Related external links:
DANFS - submarines - The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting ships. Info on SS 143 can be found on this page. The sinking of Hydra is simply referred to as "On the 12th, after firing on an enemy vessel with unconfirmed results, she moved into the Cape Calavite area....".
Stavern Memorial commemorations - Norwegians only.
Back to Hydra II on the "Ships starting with H" 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).