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D/S Selje
A/S Rederiet Odfjell, Bergen

(Norwegian Homefleet WW II)

Back to Selje on the "Homefleet Ships starting with S" page.

Photo by Herbert Baasch (b.1920-d.1997). Sent to me by the new owner of Baasch's collection. The German text on the back of the photograph says "blockship in Stavanger in-Apr.-1940, through M 1. Lay still there without speed. In 3 hours the crew lay their ship from the harbour with the stern part on the rocks and the foreship held steady by her 2 anchors". Picture taken 1941, possibly in the Baltic or North Sea.

Tonnage: 6698 gt, 3891 net, 12 120 tdwt.

Delivered in Apr.-1930 from Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co., Ltd, Jarrow and Hebburn-on-Tyne? (995) as Selje to Skibs-A/S Selje (Rederiet Odfjell A/S), Bergen. 448.3' x 59.2' x 27.7', Tripple exp. (yard), 576 nhp. Sold in 1932 to Tenax Steamship Co. Ltd., London (same manager), then sold back to Skibs-A/S Selje in 1935 (same manager).

 WW II: 

In German control from 1940 and used in the ore transport from the north of Norway.

Captain Karl Johan Karlsen. Selje had been at a yard in Rotterdam for about 2 months for installation of extra armament, then departed on May 15-1942 with a cargo of coal for Norway, and a crew of 40 Norwegians(?), as well as 22 German Navy personnel on board. She was in a convoy with 3 other ships (2 Swedish, 1 Danish) and 8 German escort vessels. Bombed by allied aircraft that same day and sunk off Frisian Islands. 11 aircraft attacked the convoy in two waves. In the first attack she was hit by 3 bombs in her side, but nobody was hurt in that attack. The lifeboats were made ready for launching, but a second attack occurred and this time Selje was hit by several bombs amidships and on the boatdeck, where 3 of the lifeboats were destroyed. After the attack was over 4 men were found killed and 9 wounded, while 5 men were not to be found; they had been blown overboard by the explosion on deck.

Selje stayed afloat and while she was taken in tow by one of the vorposten vessels, the 4 most seriously wounded were moved to a cabin to be taken care of there, but as the ship took on a heavy list to starboard the decision was made to transfer the crew to one of the German ships that came to assist. While the captain and steward were in the cabin in order to help the 4 wounded out of there, Selje suddenly capsized and sank, taking all 6 down with her. Those who were on deck jumped overboard and were picked up by German escorts.

"Minner og minnesmerker fra 1940-1945" by Øistein Wiik names the following casualties in addition to the captain (in alphabetical order):
Deck Boy Frank Malvin Andersen, Stoker Eugen Kristoffer Bjerke, Mate Olav Bremnes, Engineer Tor Engø, Donkeyman Adolf Robert Hansen, Able Seaman Karl Kumle, Stoker Alf Malvin Larsen, Stoker Norvald Larsen, Engineer Harald Kornelius Lillebø, Jr. Ordinary Seaman Oddvar Henning Ommundsen, Cook William Solheim, Mess Boy Karel Andreas Thomassen, Stoker Trygve Tørrisen, Steward Ragnvald Otelius Weddegjerde.

From David Fuller, Toronto, I've received the following:
"The planes were British RAF bombers from 407 Sqn Coastal Command, not American, and they were Lockheed Hudsons, not Wellingtons (the squadron got Wellingtons later). I have a report on the raid with names of all the air crew who were killed. (This is jus a correction of what the Stavern Memorial claims - ref. link at the end of this page).

I have received an account of the action from the German Marine Museum:
'Our main source in the case of the convoy of 15 May 1942 is the war diary of the German Seekriegsleitung (supreme naval war staff of the former Kriegsmarine).

On 15 May 1942 it drily states: 'North of Terschelling in the evening of 15 May air raid of 8 bombers against convoy. By bomb hits patrol boat V 2002* and steamer SELJE (6.698 BRT) are lost. 5 attacking airplanes are shot down by escorts. Attacks and losses as well in this case as in the air raid off Cape de la Hague show the urgent need of sufficient fighter cover for our convois and for the forces engaged in route-survey and minesweeping.'

*The patrol boat V 2002 was the ex MADELEINE-LOUISE. It is a British-built (1933) ex French fishing trawler of 464 GRT, taken over from the French Marine Nationale by the Kriegsmarine in 1940. She was armed with a 10,5 cm or 8.8 cm gun plus several 20 mm AA guns and had a crew of round about 35 men.

Two of the aircraft that bombed the SELJE and the V 2002 crashed on landing back at their base in England due to flak damage. One of the crew killed in the plane that crashed at RAF Docking was a student at my son's high school and it was his name that lead me on this research."

He adds a link to the following site for more info on the bomber crew.

In a subsequent mail he says:
"In addition, the planes from this attack were from 407 Sqn RAF and 320 Sqn RAF (Dutch). Of the 407 squadron planes that I have records for, four were lost in the attack (therefore one must have been from the Dutch squadron, which was also flying Hudsons). Three 407 Sqn planes crashed on return: one crew were all killed and one Observer, the fellow I am researching, died in the crash of another aircraft. One pilot won a Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing his plane back safely, although he was wounded. In all, seven of the squadrons 12 aircraft were lost or damaged, so it was a very costly attack for them.

I just received the following additional details about the convoy from Ross McNeil, the moderator of RAF Commands, who is preparing a book on Coastal Command losses:
The Dutch bomber, called 'Malang' may have taken off from [RAF] Docking for an attack on a convoy off Terschelling comprised of 10 merchant vessels and 1 destroyer flying 4 balloons. It was claimed shot down by a Luftwaffe pilot."

Related external link:
Stavern Memorial commemorations
- The Norwegian text here claims that American Wellingtons (incorrect) attacked in 2 waves Northeast of Terschelling and Selje was hit, as were 3 of her 4 lifeboats. She was taken in tow but started listing more and more, until she capsized and sank on May 16 off the island Ameland in North Holland. 15 Norwegians were killed, 2 of whom were trapped in a cabin, 5 died during the sudden capsizing. No German casualties. She's referred to as a motor vessel on this site.

Back to Selje on the "Homefleet Ships starting with S" page.

(Main Source: "Handelsflåten i krig", book 5: "Hjemmeflåten - mellom venn og fiende" by Lauritz Pettersen).

Other ships by this name: This company had previously lost another steamship by this name, originally built as Dutch Kinderdijk in 1900, 2180 gt, becoming Norwegian Selje in 1915. Sank following a collision with Norwegian barque Stifinder on May 24-1917, voyage Baltimore-Callao (Peru) with coal. Another Selje, originally built in 1921 as Hallgrim for P. Kleppes Rederi, Bergen, and later renamed Selje for Rederiet Odfjell, Bergen in 1927 (6598 gt), sank following a collision with S/S Kaituna (2042 gt) on March 29-1929, 120 miles off Port Phillip, on a voyage from Melbourne to England with cargo of grain. Another Selje had originally been delivered as Utvær in 1943 to the Kriegsmarine, 922 gt. This ship was taken over by the Norwegian State as a war reparation after the war, renamed Slotterøy 1945. Renamed Selje for Rederiet Odfjell in 1956. Later names: Thuntank VI 1960 (Swedish), Skodvik 1962 (Oslo owners), Laura Terkol 1965 (Danish), Fjordoil 1972 (Fredrikstad, Norway) and Fjordtank in 1974 - broken up 1983. Yet another Selje was delivered in 1963, 5855 gt. Later names: Sulfo 1973, French Petro Soulac 1975, Nigerian Amanda C 1992, Asa Eze 1993.

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