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M/T John Knudsen
Updated Oct. 6-2009

To John Knudsen on the "Ships starting with J" page.

A picture is available on this external page (click in it to make it larger).

Manager: Knut Knutsen O.A.S., Haugesund
9071 gt, 5397 net, 14 250 tdwt.

Delivered in May-1934 as John Knudsen from A/B Götaverken, Gothenburg to Skibs-A/S Hilda Knudsen, Haugesund. 489.6' x 64.4' x 35.5', 2 x 6 cyl. 4 tev Götaverken-B&W, 3400 bhp, 11 knots, 2 props.

Captain: Sigurd Samuelsen

Related items on this website:
Interned Ships - A list of the 26 Norwegian ships interned in North and West Africa during the war.
A thread on my Ship Forum
Another thread - Re. her final fate.

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

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

Voyage Record
From Dec.-1939 to June-1940:

(Received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database).

Follow the convoy links provided for more information on each.

Departure From To Arrival Convoy Remarks
1939 Dec. 30 Corpus Christi Havre Jan. 20-1940 Independent
1940 Jan. 28 Havre Casablanca Febr. 6 A. Hague says:
Possibly in 24 BS Brest to Casablanca.
Febr. 10 Casablanca Corpus Christi March 1 Independent
March 17 Corpus Christi Halifax Independent
March 29 Halifax Havre Apr. 13 HX 31 For Le Havre
Apr. 20 Havre Plymouth Apr. 21 Independent Notional sailing date
Apr. 22 Plymouth OA 133GF Formed OG 27F, Apr. 22.
Convoy available at OA 133
(external link)
Apr. 23 Formed at sea Gibraltar Apr. 28 OG 27F Joined from Plymouth 22
Convoy will be added.
See ships in OG convoys
May 4 Gibraltar Trinidad May 16 Independent
May 17 Trinidad Aruba May 19 Independent
May 21 Aruba Gibraltar June 7 Independent
June 8 Gibraltar Toulon June 11 Independent
June 22 Marseilles Oran June 27 P 8 A. Hague says:
Seized by French 27.6, then German.
Convoy available at 8P
(external link)

 Misc. War Details: 

John Knudsen is listed among the ships in Convoy HX 31 from Halifax at the end of March-1940, cargo of crude oil for Le Havre, where she arrived on Apr. 13. The following month, we find her in Convoy OA 133, which left Southend on Apr. 20, joined up with OB 133 on the 22nd, the combined convoy forming Convoy OG 27F, which arrived Gibraltar on the 28th. John Knudsen had joined from Plymouth on Apr. 22. This convoy will be added to an individual page in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in it (and escorts) are named on the page listing ships in all OG convoys. OA 133 is available via the external link provided in the table above; Leikanger is also listed.

John Knudsen was at Toulon unloading cargo in the summer of 1940 (see archive document) but was ordered to pump the petrol back on board and proceed to North Africa, via Marseilles to pick up refugees, before heading to Mers-el-Kebir near Oran. A French visitor to my website has told me that she sailed from Marseilles, loaded with 14 000 tons of oil fuel on behalf of the French government, on June 23-1940 in a convoy under French escort. The convoy was unnumbered*, ships were emergency evacuated. At Oran June 26. Interned in Oran by the Vichy authorities on June 27-1940.

* Note that A. Hague has included her, together with Langanger, in Convoy 8P (external link), which left Marseilles on June 22-1940 and arrived Oran June 26.

Requisitioned on June 27-1941 and renamed Rourgue. The Norwegian crew left that same day and was replaced by a French crew. Handed over to the Kriegsmarine probably on Jan. 19-1942 and placed in service as supply ship Toni I (R. W. Jordan's "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" says she came under Kriegsmarine control in 1940 as Rouerque). I've received a document from Theodor Dorgeist, Germany which confirms that John Knudsen / Rouerque had the name Toni 1 while under German control. The same document gives Toni 2 for President Herrenschmidt, Toni 3 for Langanger and Toni 4 for Regina - these 3 ships had also been interned. See also this posting to my Ship Forum, which says the following:

"JOHN KNUDSEN had been seized by the French Navy on 16 April 1940 at Le Havre. Interned by the Vichy French at Oran on 26 June 1940, unloaded at Oran and Mers-el-Kébir by 17.8.1940; rammed by the French tanker MASSIS which had broken off her moorings in a strong gale on 2.1.1941; requisitioned by Vichy at Oran on 5.6.1941 as ROUERGUE under the management (from 12.6.1941) by SFTP of Le Havre; taken to Berre on 22.12.1941. However, the Nevers agreement of 28 August 1942 attributed her (under the codename TONI I, as applied to Norwegian motor-tankers) to Germany. So - like all vessels covered by that agreement - the SFTP charter was terminated on 26.11.1942, she was formally returned at Marseilles on 29.11.1942 by Vichy to her owner, Skibs A/S Hilda Knudsen of Haugesund (mgt by Knut Knutsen), and simultaneously chartered by the same owner to the Kriegsmarine (invoking the rights of the occupying power); she took back her previous Norwegian name so as to keep up the fiction".

According to Guri Hjeltnes' "Sjømann - Lang vakt" John Knudsen had a crew of 37, 23 of whom were Norwegian. 1 died (named below), 5 escaped, 9 went home. Under D/S Favør there's a description of a successful escape from Oran in a lifeboat on July 27-1941. From John Knudsen the following came along: 2nd Mate Ole M. Blikshavn, 3rd Engineer Georg Fosen, Electrician Andersen, and Able Seaman Ole Mikkelsen (later joined O. A. Knudsen, which was torpedoed and sunk in March-1942). Follow the link to Favør for some details on the escape.

In March that same year a less successful escape attempt had taken place when 5 men had tried to get away in a boat, but where caught and sent to jail. Among them was Gunnar Johnsen, who after his stay in jail was sent on board Patria, another interned ship, and in July he again tried to escape together with another 12 from John Knudsen. The boat capsized in the heavy seas they encountered, and for more than 24 hrs they clung to the bottom of it, before being picked up by a French ship, which took them back to "square one". This time the punishment was 4 and 1/2 months in jail, under horrendous conditions. In December, 25 Norwegian seamen were sent home to Norway, Gunnar Johnsen among them. Once there he joined the resistance movement, but was arrested in Oct.-1942 and sent to concentration camps, first to the well known Norwegian Grini where he was interrogated under torture, later (Sept.-1943) to Rensburg, then Dreibergen, Germany. He was saved by the "White Buses" in Apr.-1945.

Some more crew members:
1st Mate Erling Styve, Ordinary Seaman Finn Gulbrandsen, 1st Engineer Torleif Skipeli, 2nd Engineer Karl Høie*, Assistant Eyvind L. Larsen, Cook Trygve Klebo, Mess Boy Olav Jensen.

* B. P. Newton had a 2nd Engineer by this name when she was torpedoed in 1943, same person?

Some details from extract of deck log ("Sjøforklaringer fra 2. verdenskrig"):
Able Seaman Johan Kristiansen died after a fall on March 17-1941 (Mers-el-Kebir).
On Apr. 11-1941 the French M/S Monica drifted down on John Knudsen, causing some damages.

 Later Events & Final Fate: 

Said to have been torpedoed by a British submarine on Sept 12-1943 near Lacroma, taken ashore and repaired in Cattaro. However, this may be incorrect? See this thread on my Ship Forum. One of the responses states
"John Knudsen was off Trieste that day, no damage mentioned, but she was involved in fighting with Italian forces. Damaged by aircraft off Dubrovnik 29.9.43."
Anpother says (in German):
"TM JOHN KNUDSEN 34/9071 Mittelmeer Reederei DVGS
27. 6. 40 in Oran als norw. Tanker von Frankreich beschlagnahmt, "Rouerque"
30. 11. 42 in Marseille übernommen, Interimsname "Toni 1"
15. 7. 43 ab Triest, 27. 9. 43 ab Pola zur Ägäis
29. 9. 43 in Dubrovnik Bombenschaden, 3. 10. 43 an Cattaro,
11./13. 10. 43 Cattaro - Durazzo - Korfu, 17. 10. 43 an Piräus
10. 10. 44 in Salamis selbst versenkt"

According to R. W. Jordan, she was scuttled by the Germans on Oct. 9-1944 in Piræus (as blockship Salamis).

Another thread on my Ship Forum, starting with this posting by Platon Alexiades, says the following:
"I came across some information from German documents and SOE files which may be of interest to this site. According to German documents JOHN KNUDSEN was to have been used as a blockship to block Piraeus harbour, she was rigged with eight large depth charges and a load of dynamite. She sank apparently prematurely at 1100/11 October and took two hours to sink. She is referred to by her original Norwegian name JOHN KNUDSEN and not by any other name. The YVONNE organisation (SOE) had been aware that she was to be used as a blockship and had requested the intervention of the RAF as she was too strongly guarded. However, they reported that 0200 GMT/11 October, they had succeded in planting four limpets (two in her stern section and two more in two different holds). These were said to have exploded in the morning and that the Germans tried to tow her to Piraeus but she sank in the afternoon before reaching destination. When British and Greek forces arrived, they found the wreck sunk just off the north end of Psyttalia island. Eventually CAROLA and a small floating dock were sunk at Piraeus entrance but could not block it adequately. I cannot confirm if the YVONNE version is accurate, but it does appear that JOHN KNUDSEN was not scuttled as intended and there may be some truth in it".

Note that there are several responses to this posting.

Related external link:
Some info about Grini

Back to John Knudsen on the "Ships starting with J" page.

Other ships by this name: Haugesund had previously had 2 other ships by this name. John Knudsen (1) was delivered in Jan.-1911, 526 gt, sold in Jan.-1915 to Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab, Bergen and renmed Canis - torpedoed and sunk by U-60 on July 30-1917 on voyage Newcastle-Bergen with coal, loss of 2 men. Another John Knudsen was delivered in Jan.-1917, 1601 gt. Torpedoed and sunk by UB-50 on Sept. 22-1917, 20 n. miles northwest of Falcon light on voyage Cardiff-Oran with coal, loss of 1 man. Both these ships belonged to John Aug. Knudsen. (Våre gamle skip", Leif M. Bjørkelund & E. H. Kongshavn). Much later the second motor tanker John Knudsen was built in 1967, 41 442 gt - became the Chinese Bao Hu in 1975, Ta Ching 252 in 1977 and Bao Hu again in Febr. 1978. Sold for breaking up to Pakistan and beached in July-1982. ("Våre motorskip", same authors as above).

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Våre motorskip" by Leif M. Bjørkelund & E. H. Kongshavn, "Sjøfolk i krig", Leif M. Bjørkelund, and misc. as named within above text - (ref. My sources).


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