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Warsailor Stories - Page 14

Einar Lauritsen's Story
Received from his son, Norman Lauritsen

My father, Einar Lauritsen, was born in Tonsberg in 1913. His mother died in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, and he was brought up by his father and aunts. He left school at the age of 15 1/2 and enrolled in the seamans school in Tonsberg. He did his national service in the Norwegian Submarine School in Tonsberg "because it was close to home and he could keep up his social life". He served in various merchant ships prior to the outbreak of war, and  was in South Africa at the time. He returned to the UK, where, because of his national service experience he ended up on the RNoNsubs. He served several times on B1, supervised the building of Ula at Barrow and then served on her, and left the Uredd 6 weeks before she sank in the minefield. He transferred to minesweepers, and commanded the flotilla which included Thorodd, Mandal and Drobakk. He was in the convoy which escorted King Haakon back to Norway in May 1945. After the war, he was in command of the Utsira at the time of the Tusk and Cochino incident when the US Submarine sank off Tromso. Returning to Scotland (my mother was Scottish,) he joined Salvesens and spent many years in the Antarctic, on the Southern Main, Venturer and Harvester, before joining Ugland, where he served as Captain for many years on the Livanita, Sarita, Carmencita etc until his retirement in 1977. He died in 2005 at the age of 91.

I have a lot of detail, including many photos, some of which I have copied for my own use from various websites. However, I don't know how much you want or can cope with, so I will just copy you with the timeline of his service, which I have put together. If anything strikes you as interesting, get in touch and I will add as much as I can.

Born Tonsberg Norway, 20.3.1913

Mother died in the great Spanish flu epidemic of 1919

Brought up by father, who was also a diabetic, and aunt (Tante Tine – pronounced tun-te teen).

Did his National service on submarines – because the Norwegian Submarine base was in his home town, and they rarely went to sea, so it didn’t disturb his social life.

Then joined the Merchant Navy, serving with Wilhelm Willemsen Lines.

In 1939 was on a tanker off the East Coast of Africa when war was declared. We have often heard hilarious stories of his activities with the nurses at Port Elizabeth hospital while his ship was waiting to have a deck-gun fitted.

Returned to UK and was commissioned into the Royal Norwegian Navy and sent on the Commanding Officer’s Course for submarines.

Was based initially at HMS Cyclops, the submarine depot ship in Rothesey, then at HMS Ambrose, the depot ship in Dundee.

Narrowly escaped death when he came ashore from the Norwegian Submarine Uredd, which sank on its next mission.

Took part in the Murmansk convoys on submarines which protected the flanks of the convoys.

In 1943 got his own submarine command.

Met his future wife Margaret, who was the daughter of a leading Edinburgh consultant physician, and married her in St. Cuthberts Church, Edinburgh, during a brief leave from his naval base on the Clyde.

In 1944 Commanded a flotilla of four minesweepers, sweeping the Normandy beaches following the Normandy landings.

Was then based at Port Edgar, which was one of the North Sea minesweeper bases, and in May 1945, swept for the convoy which took King Haakon back to a liberated Norway.

About 1949 was commanding officer of the Naval base at Trondheim. During that time they received a delegation from the Russian Navy – the resultant bulk consumption of vodka made him a confirmed whisky drinker for the rest of his life.

In 1950 was involved in the rescue of the American submarine Tusk, after the sinking of the Cochino.

After demob. he bought a tugboat and tried to set up a salvage business in Kristiansand, but life was very difficult in Norway at that stage so in 1952 he brought his wife and two boys to Scotland, and joined Christian Salvesen on the whaling fleet.

Spent many years, until the late ‘50’s, in the Antarctic from October to May, whaling, circumnavigating Antarctica.

As the whaling wound down, transferred to the Norwegian Shipping company, Ugland’s Rederi, commanding bulk carriers and tankets, and becoming one of their senior captains.

In about 1968, he developed insulin-dependent diabetes, whilst in the USA. Christine was with him on the ship at the time.

After being stabilized, returned to his command with Ugland for another 8 years or so until retirement.

He and Mum spent many lovely summers, before and after retirement at their house by the sea (Lillevik) in Kristiansand. Winters were spent looking the other way across the sea in St. Monans, in the house which Mum had had restored from the old butchers shop and net store.

After Mum died, he continued to lead an independent life, caring for himself in St.Monans, and in the last few years was particularly grateful for the friendship of Hilary Wickham and the support of Tosh and the staff at the shop, particularly Elspeth, and of Mrs Reekie.

Although he was becoming increasingly frail, and troubled by back pain which affected his walking, he was still very active. He spent a couple of months in London in the autumn with grand-daughter Judy, her husband Khashi and his great-grandson, Barney. This was followed by Christmas in Comrie with his daughter Chris and son-in-law Stephen, their four children, Barbara, Malcolm, Caroline and Graham, and partners. Then followed New Year in Biggar with his son Norman, daughter-in-law Norma, grandson David, with his wife Susan, and his other two great-grand-children Molly and Mackenzie, who he met for the first time.

Suffering from an infection, which complicated his diabetes, he was taken to Wishaw Hospital on New Year’s day. He was not initially expected to survive, but with his usual strength and determination he made a good recovery, sufficient to see and enjoy most of the members of his family, before relapsing and passing away, quickly and peacefully, on Friday 7th January.


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