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Norwegian Victims of Atlantis

D/T Ketty Brøvig

Manager: Th. Brøvig, Farsund
Tonnage: 7031 gt, 4411 net, 10 940 tdwt.
Call Sign: LCTS.

(Click on Ketty Brøvig in the box above to go to that ship on the Ships starting with K page).

Her voyages prior to capture are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway.

Captain: Erling Møller

Departed Bahrein on Jan. 21-1941 for Lourenco Marques with estimated arrival about Febr. 8. Captured by Atlantis, disguised as the Norwegian Tamesis west of the Seychelles, position 04 30S 50 50E on Febr. 2-1941. Ketty Brøvig was shelled, and some of her crew injured; she had no armament on board. Captain Møller, 1st Mate Martin Ramsland, 3rd Mate Olaf Knudsen and 4th Engineer Gudmund Listeid * were taken on board the Atlantis, while 2nd Mate Jens Egelund Aarnes, Chief Engineer Abraham Abrahamsen, 2nd Engineer Alfred Larsen, 3rd Engineer Daniel Nedrebø, Steward Jon Tønnesen and 32 Chinese crew had to stay** on board Ketty Brøvig, along with a German prize crew. With her cargo of 6370 tons fuel oil and 4125 tons diesel oil, she subsequently served as a fuel depot for the German ships in the Indian Ocean. On Febr. 12 some of the prisoners were transferred from Atlantis to the supply ship Tannenfels, which took them to France, arriving April 20. They were subsequently sent home to Norway. The others stayed on Ketty Brøvig, which continued serving as fuel depot for other German ships in the Indian Ocean.

It appears the Norwegian chief engineer, or possibly the captain, had a narrow escape at some point in Febr.-'41, when one of the Chinese crew members, Ching You went after him with a meat cleaver, in response to being reprimanded for dumping garbage out his porthole.

* The chief engineer stated at the subsequent maritime hearings that 3rd Engineer Nedrebø and 4th Engineer Listeid were both injured in the initial attack, as they were on deck at the time; the former in the shoulder, the latter in the leg (knee cap shot away) and forearm. The doctor from Atlantis, when visiting Ketty Brøvig later on to see to a sick man, had told the chief engineer (who had remained on Ketty Brøvig) that Listeid would probably get a stiff knee from his injuries. However, he's listed in "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig" (Maritime Hearings from WW II) as having died shortly after the attack. "Nortraships flåte" says 1 of the officers died on board the Tannenfels. Statements at the hearings indicate that Captain Møller, 1st mate Ramsland and 3rd Mate Knudsen were transferred from Atlantis to another raider (this must have been Tannenfels?) and sent to a German controlled port, then to Germany where they were briefly interned before being sent home to Norway. There's no mention of the wounded 4th engineer in connection with this information. The memorial for seamen in Stavern, Norway (link at the end of this text) commemorates a Pumpman Gudmund Harlof Sakariassen - he may of course, have died in a separate incident - however, the Norwegian text states that 1 Norwegian died en route to France aboard Tannenfels.

** According to statements at the hearings, only the chief engineer and the 2nd mate were initially kept on board Ketty Brøvig, but the 2nd engineer and the steward came back to the Norwegian ship that same evening. 3rd Engineer Nedrebø came back 10 days later after having been treated for his wound aboard Atlantis.

On Febr. 14 the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was replenished from Ketty Brøvig about 100 n. miles from the northernmost point of Madagaskar, and by this action the Norwegian vessel enabled Admiral Scheer to stay at sea, far away from the German bases, and attack shipping north of the Mosambique channel. On Febr. 26 Admiral Scheer was again supplied by Ketty Brøvig, before withdrawing to the Atlantic Ocean. British Naval forces had now been alerted and initiated a search across the oceans. The Australian cruiser Canberra met up with the cruiser Leander from New Zealand near the Seychelles on March 3 and they headed east together. The next day, March 4 they encountered Ketty Brøvig with the German supply ship Coburg alongside (escaped from Eritrea). The remaining Norwegians from Ketty Brøvig had just been transferred to this ship, in order to go to France. The Germans attempted to scuttle the ships (04 50S 56E) after all on board had been ordered to the lifeboats.

According to "Nortraships flåte" Coburg was shelled and set on fire, while an aircraft from Canberra dropped 4 bombs close to Ketty Brøvig. The pilot observed that people were about to go in the lifeboats, and that Ketty Brøvig was about to sink, so he went down on the water, swam over to the ship for a quick survey, gathering up all the documents he could find. He then swam back to the aircraft and signalled to Canberra that Ketty Brøvig could possibly be saved if attempts were made immediately. Leander then came to the scene to keep an eye on Coburg, while Canberra sent people over to Ketty Brøvig, but found she could not be salvaged afterall so the attempt was abandoned. She was then shelled in order to make her sink more quickly. 10 minutes after Coburg had gone down, Ketty Brøvig also sank.

From a visitor to my website I've received an excerpt from a book entitled "HMAS Canberra" by Alan Payne, which gives an account of the above incident as seen from Canberra's point of view, and might further clarify the situation. This book says that Canberra and Leander had in fact parted company in the afternoon of March 4, and that it was Canberra's aircraft that spotted Coburg and Ketty Brøvig that day. The report from the aircraft stated: " Two unknown types of ships bearing 117 degrees 45 miles from position". The enemy was reported as an armed raider in company of a tanker. Canberra subsequently sighted the 2 ships, steering westwards. Captain Farncomb's report is included in this book, saying: "Sighting must have been mutual for at 16:54 the tanker altered to the southward. The tanker was ordered by V/S to steam North and the other ship first to stop, and to steer South. These signals were ignored, at 17:05 I ordered a warning salvo to be fired ahead of the Merchant ship. This warning was also ignored and I therefore decided to engage the enemy and opened fire at 17:06, 1/2 at about 21,100 yards. At this stage I was still under the impression that the enemy was an armed raider, as reported by the aircraft, and though she did not immediately reply to my fire, I considered that this was due to the fact that we were outside of his maximum range. I also thought it possible that he would withold his fire in the hope that Canberra would close and present a favourable torpedo target. HMAS Canberra was therefore manoeuvered to keep the range over 19,000 yards."

The captain's report goes on to say that the enemy ship was seen to be burning abaft the bridge a few minutes later, and that the returning aircraft reported that the fire was initially due to scuttling action, and started at the time of Canberra's warning salvo. Captain Farncomb says: "At 17:20 an explosion was observed on board the tanker well aft. It was subsequently established that this was scuttling action and that HMAS Canberra's aircraft had dropped warning bombs in the tanker's wake."

The report also mentions Lieutenant C. V. S. Malleson R.N., the observer on the aircraft, who was the one who swam over to Ketty Brøvig after the Walrus had landed near her. Malleson later reported: "I regret that the sensible course of action of using the rubber dinghy did not occur to me, and for my own peace of mind I did not see the several sharks that were cruising round until I was safely back in the aircraft". This book excerpt repeats what is found in "Nortraships flåte" with regard to his boarding Ketty Brøvig and his suggestion of placing a salvage party on board, adding from the captain's statements: "Malleson had done it again very much to Leading Telegraphist E. M. Hutchinson's concern, who recorded: 'She was obviously sinking, so Malleson instructed me to cover the boats with our bow Lewis gun while he stripped to his underwear and swam over to Ketty Brøvig......The plane and the boats were brought alongside Canberra who interned the German element under guard'. The Chinese crew of 33, free again were naturally highly delighted." Captain Farncomb says the "German element" consisted of 17 officers and ratings.

According to this account Leander did not appear on the scene until 18:38 and was requested to stand by Coburg while Canberra sent the salvage party on board Ketty Brøvig, but before Leander could reach the German ship it sank at 18:50 and the crew was picked up by the New Zealand cruiser. Ketty Brøvig, meanwhile, took longer to sink so Captain Farncomb ordered her sunk by gunfire at close range. However, it appears he was less than happy about the results, saying: "The 'shoot' of the 4th March was an excellent rehearsal for the real thing, with the added advantage that the enemy was unable to profit by our errors." Canberra had fired 215 rounds of 8-inch ammunition "an extraordinary expedition considering both enemy ships promptly took scuttling action. As there can be little doubt that Canberra's fire control was reasonably accurate, the only explanation would appear to be that delayed action shells were used in error". More mistakes were to follow the next day when Canberra's aircraft reported an enemy pocket battle ship (believed to be Admiral Scheer), and course was altered to head for this enemy with the intent of attacking with torpedoes at nightfall. At the same time, all British warships (including Leander) in that area of the Indian Ocean altered course in the direction of the reported position. But in the end, the "enemy" sighted turned out to be Leander, which had parted company with Canberra that morning.

The 2 cruisers sailed together again during the night of March 6th/7th and arrived Port Louis, Mauritius on the morning of the 8th, where the Norwegian, Chinese and German survivors were handed over to the military authorities. With the Dutch M/S Tegelberg the 3 engineers were sent to Cape Town on March 28, with arrival Apr. 4. The maritime hearings were held there on Apr. 17-1941, with Chief Engineer Abrahamsen, 2nd Engineer Larsen, and 3rd Engineer Nedrebø appearing. 2nd Mate Aarnes and Steward Tønnesen travelled to Durban from Mauritius.

Ketty Brøvig as she's sinking - sent to me by David Martin.

Related external links:
1 who died - Pumpman Gudmund Harlof Sakariassen is commemorated, with the Norwegian text saying that 1 Norwegian died en route to France aboard Tannenfels (quite a bit of the info on this site comes from "Nortraships flåte").

Admiral Scheer - Jervis Bay website.

History of Canberra - Includes the encounter with Ketty Brøvig. Here's the main page.

M/S Silvaplana

Manager: Tschudi & Eitzen, Oslo
Tonnage: 4793 gt gt, 9325 tdwt.
Call Sign: LKAI.

(Click on Silvaplana above to go to that ship on the Ships starting with S page).

Captain: Niels Stange Nielsen

Related item on this website:
Guestbook message from the grandson of Captain Nilsen.

This picture was received from Markus Berger, a visitor to my website, who says Silvaplana was named after a village near St. Moritz in Engadine, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland (many Swiss ships later had this name). He add's that this was Mr. Felix H. Tschudi's most beloved ship. He was very sad when she was lost, and afterwards the company has not used Swiss names for their ships, but even today a lot of the names start with the letters Si. The company still has the coat of arms of the Swiss Canton Zürich on the funnel, in honour of Felix H. Tschudi's mother, who was from Zürich. The Tschudi family had emigrated from Canton Glarus a long time before, and settled in Norway.
Received from, and painted by, Jan Goedhart, Holland
Some crew members; Erling Engenes in the middle (see crew list), received from his granddaughter.

Silvaplana became Atlantis' 6th Norwegian victim when she was captured on Sept. 10-1941, 26 16S 164 25W, when on a voyage from Singapore to New York via Batavia, with a cargo of 5500 tons sago, 2199 tons kautsjuk, 500 tons tinn, hides, lumber?, coffee and spices (a visitor to my website has told me that Silvaplana had been chartered by the Java-New York Line for one voyage). Her voyages prior to this are listed on this original document received from the National Archives of Norway. According to this, she had left Singapore on Aug. 6, arriving Batavia Aug. 9, departing again on the 13th for Sourabaya, with arrival there Aug. 18. Left Sourabaya Aug. 23 for Thursday Island but arrival there is not given. Departed Thursday Island for New York on Aug. 29.

A prize crew was placed on board, but not before a signal had been sent out, which was received by British radio stations. Silvaplana's radio operator was ordered by the Germans to send a cancellation message, which was also received on land, though with great suspicion, and therefore a reply was sent requesting a repeat of the cancellation, but this time in code, but this request was not met. On Atlantis this radio activity had been noted and Rogge, therefore, found it best to leave the scene as quickly as possible, and the two ships did not meet again until four days later further south, at which time Silvaplana was ordered to position 27 40S 15440W to wait there. On Sept. 20 and 21 Komet (with her prize Kota Nopan) and Atlantis met with the supply ship Münsterland and the decision was made to send Silvaplana to France alone, under the command of Dittman. She was fitted out for the voyage by the 27th and, following a route around Cape Horn, she arrived Bordeaux on Nov. 17, delayed because of bad storms and engine trouble.

26 Norwegians, 1 Dane, 4 Swedes and 1 from Poland were at first sent to Marlag und Milag Nord, but were subsequently sent home to their respective countries in Apr.-1942.

My Guestbook has two, very interesting entries on Silvaplana, one of which includes more details on her voyage to Bordeaux
Entry 1 | Entry 2
See also this Guestbook message

Crew List - All survived:

Niels Stange Nilsen
1st Mate
Aage Magnus Olsen
2nd Mate
Hjalmar Skjervik
3rd Mate
Magne Bakkevik
Radio Operator
Almar Nilsen
Abraham Abrahamsen
Nils Totland
Able Seaman
Sverre Bruknapp
Able Seaman
Erling Engenes
Able Seaman
Halvor Halvorsen
Able Seaman
Aage H. Olsen Bakkevik
Able Seaman
Olaf Kvenvær Hernes
Able Seaman
Sverre Jakobsen
Able Seaman
Helge Sørensen
Able Seaman
Ludvik Wallasik
1st Engineer
Reidar Tharaldsen
2nd Engineer
Einar Gogstad Næss
3rd Engineer
Ragnar Hoff
Rolf Magnussen
Trygve Halberg
Sigurd Jacobsen
Erik Carlsson
Nils Strand
Folke Markstrøm
Erik Salander
Sven Skreros
Johan Hansen
Fritjof Nøstdal
Tosten Jakobsen
Galley Boy
Magnus Espeland
Galley Boy Boy
Halvor Ellingsen
Mess Boy
Rolf Kristensen

As it turned out, this was Atlantis' last prize as she on her way home (camouflaged as the Dutch Polyphemus?), was located and sunk by the British cruiser Devonshire on Nov. 22 while replenishing U-126 south of the Equator. U-126 took the lifeboats from Atlantis in tow until the German supply ship Python could take the people on board. On Dec. 1 this ship was in turn located by the British cruiser Dorsetshire and again Atlantis' crew had to head for the lifeboats, and again they were taken in tow, heading north. After having been towed more than 5000 miles Rogge and his crew finally reached French port.

Silvaplana, meanwhile, was renamed Irene in 1942 (blockade runner). She was intercepted by minelayer HMS Adventure on Apr. 10-1943, and was scuttled to avoid capture, 43 18N 14 26W.

From Richard Batley, Scotland (see his Guestbook message) I've received some interesting newspaper articles related to the sinking of Atlantis, as well as the scuttling of Silvaplana (and Regensburg). I've added a transcription of them below:

IN SOUTH ATLATNIC - Sighted By Plane ("Evening Star" Dec. 1-1941):
Believed to be a German armed merchant raider, an enemy vessel which was apparently refuelling with oil was blown up and sunk by HMS Devonshire in the South Atlantic on Nov. 22nd without damage or casualties to the British cruiser. Aircraft from the Devonshire spotted the vessel, which gave unsatisfactory replies to signals, and tried to escape behind a smokescreen. In 10 minutes the ship was on fire and the magazine exploded. Owing to the presence of a U-boat, survivors could not be picked up. An Admiralty communqué issued this (Monday) morning, reads: On the 22nd November the dawn aircraft reconnaissance from HMS Devonshire (Capt. R. D. Oliver, D.S.C. R.N.) on patrol in South Atlantic, sighted a merchant vessel stopped. HMS Devonshire closed at full speed and flew off an aircraft for a more detailed examination. This revealed a boat ? (next word hard to read) off containing oil drums and the general appearance of the ship indicated a similarity to one of the German armed merchant raiders. The replies made to HMS Devonshire's signals were unsatisfactory. This further confirmed the hostile nature of the suspicious ship, and fire was therefore opened. The enemy ship endeavoured to escape behind a smoke-screen, but in ten minutes was on fire and the crew abandonbed ship into their boats.

Magazine Exploded:
The magazine exploded, and the vessel sank. The presence of a U-boat which had been suspected was confirmed. In the circumstances it was not practibable to pick up survivors. No damage or casualties were sustained by HMS Devonshire or her aircraft. The Devonshire, which was built in 1927, is a 9.850 ton cruiser of the London class. She is armed with eight 8-inch guns, eight 4-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 3-pounders and fourteen smaller guns. Her speed is over 32 knots and her normal complement is 650. For some years she had a run of bad luck, and came to be regarded as a "hoodoo" ship by some of the more superstitious sailors. Perhaps her success last Monday will break that "hoodoo". Her record of ill luck includes: June 1929, one officer and 10 other ranks killed in a gun-turret explosion at Skiatho, Greece. March 14th, 1934, one man killed and another injured during exercises. July, 1934, one officer killed and another injured during exercises. July, 1934, one officer killed and another wounded when Turkish sentries fired on a sailing party off Samos Island. In November, 1935, she dragged anchors near Alexandria, and was saved only just in time from colliding with an ammunition ship.

Related external link:
Atlantis - Ship 16 - more details on the sinking of this ship. Also has a picture of the survivors in the lifeboats and a picture of some of crew after arrival St. Nazaire.

("Evening Star" May 18-1943):

"An Admiralty communiqué last night stated: Two more enemy vessels which attempted to break through the Allied Nations' blockade have been scuttled after interception by H.M. ships. One of the blockade runners, the German armed ship Silvaplana of 4.793 tons, was Inward bound from the Far East with a valuable cargo of rubber and tin. She was sighted by the cruiser HMS Adventure (Capt. R. G. Bowes-Lyon, M.V.O. R.N.) about 200 miles off Cape Finisterre, and ordered to stop. Within a few minutes, and even before the Silvaplana had lost way, her personnel proceeded to abandon ship. Flames enveloped the blockade runner's bridge and a series of internal explosions rent? her hull. Burning fiercely, and with her ammunition exploding, she heeled over and sank, stern first. The entire ship's company of the Silvaplana, including more than 100 personnel of the German Navy, were rescued by H.M.S. Adventure.

The other enemy blockade runner, the German motor vessel Regensburg of 8.098 tons, was also heavily laden and inward bound from the Far East. She was intercepted between Greenland and Iceland by the cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. K. M. Evans-Lombe, R.N.), patrolling in the Denmark Strait, and brought to with warning shots. Signs of panic were immediately apparent on board the Regensburg. A number of her company were seen to jump over the side. The enemy then signalled "I stop" and HMS Glasgow ceased fire. Soon afterwards the Regensburg fired scuttling charges, and her crew abandoned ship in boats and rafts. Every effort was made by the ship's company in HMS Glasgow to rescue the Regensburg's personnel, but, owing to the effects of icy water and heavy weather, only six out of a large complement survived. Capt. Bowes-Lyon is a first cousin to the Queen, and Capt. Evans-Lombe is a 42-year-old Londoner.

HMS Glasgow, 9.100 tons, completed in 1937, carries a normal complement of 700. Her armament includes six-inch guns, and she is equipped with catapult aircraft. Among her trophies are a pair of silver mounted carvers made from the trotters of a German pig called "Tirpitz" which was picked up after the sinking of the Dresden in 1915 by the Glasgow of the last war. HMS Adventure is a special "cruiser minelayer" type completed in 1927. Standard displacement is 6.740 tons, and she carries a normal complement of about 400. Her armament includes 4 7-inch guns.

The sinking of the blockade runners is of far-reaching importance to the Axis Powers, says the Ministry of Economic Warfare. The vessels might be described as number one priority ships. This traffic, which the Axis partners attempt to maintain at such high cost to themselves, is two-way. That is because in many important respects the economic resources of Germany and Japan are complementary. Germany requires raw materials. Japan needs chiefly machine tools. Since last autumn attacks on blockade runners have become increasingly successful. Cargoes bound for Europe and intercepted since last November probably include 30.000 tons of rubber (or 80.000? hard to desipher number), 5.000 tons of tin and 25.000 tons of edible oils, and smaller but equally important quantities of tungsten and quinine. The cargoes lost to Japan consist of heavy machinery and machine tools and engineering components and dye stuffs.

NOTE: According to an article in the very last issue of the Norwegian magazine "Krigsseileren" (2000) Suderholm, on a voyage alone from Aruba to Cape Town, barely missed an encounter with Atlantis. Suderholm had to turn in order to avoid running into the lifeboats from Atlantis being towed by a U-126 after having been sunk by Devonshire. This is also mentioned in "Skip og menn".

Main Page / Tirranna & Talleyrand
Previous Page / Teddy & Ole Jacob

The text in this section was compiled with the help of various sources, including "Skip og men", Birger Dannevig, "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, "Handelsflåten i Krig" (The Merchant Fleet at War) Guri Hjeltnes, "Tusen norske skip", Lise Lindbæk, "German Raiders of World War II", August Karl Muggenthaler, "Atlantis, the story of a German Surface Raider", by Ulrich Mohr, as told to A. V. Sellwood, "Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig", Norwegian Maritime Museum, Volume II (all listed in My Sources), and documents received from visitors to my website.

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