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Tunsberg Castle

Updated Aug. 24-2010

To Tunsberg Castle on the "Ships starting with T" page.

A picture is available on this external page (click in it to make it larger - not great quality).

Tonnage: 1010 displ.m. tons

Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend on Tyne, launched in the fall of 1943, delivered the following spring. Previous name: Shrewsbury Castle.

5 British built, Flower class corvettes were taken over by the Norwegian Navy in the U.K. They were Montbretia, Eglantine, Acanthus and Rose in 1941, and Potentilla in Jan.-1942. The Norwegian navy was to be responsible for supplying the crews, their salary, food and uniforms, while other expenses were to be paid by Royal Navy. They were used as escorts in the North Atlantic and carried out over 80 attacks against U-boats. When Potentilla was returned to Royal Navy in March of 1944, she was replaced by a Castle class corvette, which was officially taken over on Apr. 17-1944 and name changed (from Shrewsbury Castle) to Tunsberg Castle under the Norwegian flag. Buttercup, also Flower class, was transferred after the loss of Tunsberg Castle in 1944. See individual links for details on each corvette.

Related pages on this website:

 Convoy Escort Duties: 

Transcribed from a document received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database.

Follow the convoy links provided for more details on them - the links in bold text go to pages on my own website.

* The ON convoy mentioned below will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section; in the meantime, the ships sailing in them (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys.

See also the page listing HX convoy escorts and the page naming SC convoy escorts, as well as the narrative below.

Dates present:
Convoy departed and arrived:
OS 79/KMS 53
(external link)
June 3-June 11
From Liverpool June 2, split up June 11
(external link)
June 12-June 13
OS 79/KMS 53 had split up, KMS portion arrived Gibraltar June 13
(external link)
June 20-June 22
From Gibraltar June 20, rendezvoused w/SL 161 June 22
SL 161/MKS 52
(external link)
June 22-July 2
Convoys rendezvoused June 22, arrived Liverpool July 2
OS 83/KMS 57
(external link)
July 12-July 23
From Liverpool July 12, split up July 23
(external link)
July 24-July 25
OS 83/KMS 57 had split up, KMS portion arrived Gibraltar July 25
(external link)
July 29-July 30
From Gibraltar July 29, rendezvoused w/SL 165 July 30
SL 165/MKS 56
(external link)
July 30/Aug. 10
Convoys rendezvoused July 30, arrived Liverpool Aug. 10
ON 252*
Sept. 8-Sept. 18
From Liverpool Sept. 7, to New York City Sept. 22
Sept. 26-Oct. 5
From New York City Sept. 21, to Liverpool Oct. 5
ON 260*
Oct. 17-Oct. 27
From Southend Oct. 15, to Halifax Oct. 30
Nov. 6-Nov. 17
From Halifax Nov. 2, to Liverpool Nov. 17
JW 62
(external link)
See also
this external page
Nov. 29-Dec. 7
From Loch Ewe Nov. 29, to Kola Inlet Dec. 7
Struck a mine on Dec. 12-1944, Convoy RA 62 - See narrative below.

 Misc. War Details: 

As mentioned further up on this page, Tunsberg Castle, a Castle class corvette, was officially taken over on Apr. 17-1944 after Potentilla had been returned to Royal Navy the previous month. She had a complement of 110 and after training on the northwest coast of Scotland she became part of the B2 escort group and escorted 4 Liverpool-Gibraltar convoys (according to a personal story written by someone who served on board, who had also been on board Potentilla - he probably means 2 convoys from Liverpool, and 2 back; convoy information in table above). In Aug.-1944 she was included in the B6 group for escort service in the North Atlantic.

The following month, she escorted the westbound North Atlantic Convoy ON 252* for a while (Commodore in Geisha), together with Acanthus and Rose (see ON convoy escorts - Buttercup is also mentioned, but note that this corvette did not come under the Norwegian flag until after the loss of Tunsberg Castle). All of them went back to the U.K. again with Convoy HX 310 (see HX convoy escorts), for which Reinholt served as the Commodore Vessel, while the Vice Commodore was in Høyanger. In Oct.-1944 she's mentioned among the escorts for Convoy ON 260* (Commodore in Høyanger), again with Buttercup and Rose (the latter was sunk, follow link to Rose above for details). Tunsberg Castle subsequently returned with the slow Convoy SC 160 (with Buttercup - see SC convoy escorts).

* The ON convoys are available and will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section in due course, along with further details on each. In the meantime, the ships sailing in them (and escorts) are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys. The MKS convoys and KMS convoys will also be added; see ships in MKS convoys and ships in KMS convoys.

 Final Fate - 1944: 

The crew member mentioned above says that on one of the westbound North Atlantic voyages Tunsberg Castle and Eglantine were ordered to return to Liverpool (not noted in the table above) where they for 2 days loaded food, clothes, shoes and various other goods. Tunsberg Castle also had equipment for 2 radio stations as deck cargo, and on board were several radio technicians and operators. She then proceeded to Loch Ewe to wait for a convoy for Murmansk.

Tunsberg Castle and Eglantine both escorted JW 62 which sailed from Loch Ewe on Nov. 29 and arrived the Kola Inlet on Dec. 7 (ref link in table above). After a few days in Murmansk the 2 corvettes, along with 2 minesweepers, were ordered to proceed to Båtsfjord, a small community at the end of a narrow fjord on the north side of the Varanger peninsula, where there had been no ships since the Germans withdrew, and where a radio station was to be established. Tunsberg Castle also had a small landing force consisting of 1 officer and 10 army soldiers on board. Arnold Hague/Bob Ruegg's "Convoys to Russia" states she was in Convoy RA 62 on Dec. 12-1944 when she struck a mine (Makkaur NW field, laid by Z 33 on Oct 31-1944 - see also this thread on my Ship Forum, as well as this one; it'll be noticed that a post in the latter thread states she was not in a convoy at the time. Convoy RA 62 had departed the Kola Inlet on Dec. 10 - follow the link abovefor more info).

According to the personal account mentioned above there were 2 explosions with less than 1 minute's interval, resulting in the entire after deck and about 25 meters of the port side being blown away. I've also seen another personal account which confirms the 2 explosions. The latter story also indicates that just prior to striking the mine they had "plotted a mysterious wreck" to starboard and had ventured out of the passage that had been swept by the minesweepers, in order to investigate. It had turned dark by then, but in the distance they could see that people at Båtsfjord had lit fires along the beach to guide them in. The author of this story suspects the "wreck" was some sort of a trap to lure them into the mine field. He adds that after things had calmed down somewhat following the explosions they could see the aft deck standing straight up in the air against the dark background, as if they had backed into a mountainside, so this detail conflicts with the former story.

Due to the powerful outward current a couple of the lifeboats drifted off empty. Some men were able to get into a life-net, an oval cork ring with a strong net in the middle to stand in. There were so many in it that they stood in water almost up to their necks. Imagine the cold - there were even ice flakes floating around in the water! They sang and they prayed, until finally one of the minesweepers found them and took them on board. Eglantine, meanwhile, had gone all the way up to Tunsberg Castle, in spite of the danger of mines, and positioned herself so close to the ship that those still remaining on board could get across. The doomed ship stayed afloat long enough for the men to get off, then sank by the stern (70 43 701N 30 07 800E).

5 had been killed (out of about 120); they were Oddvar Bertrand Karlsen, Arthur Peder Nesse, Jens Christian Rolfsen, Arnold Schreuder and Oluf Edvard Thoresen. Several had been severely wounded.

Many of the survivors died in the latter phase of the war, having been distributed on other ships. The loss of Tunsberg Castle also meant that the plan for a landbase at Båtsfjord had to be given up, all the equipment having gone down with the ship.

Note that there's a long message in my Norwegian Guestbook from someone who has researched this incident extensively, and does not believe the official mine theory at all any more. I'm afraid I won't have time to translate this entire message right now, but briefly what he's saying is that his research has lead him to believe that Tunsberg Castle was sunk intentionally by 2 Russian submarines, in order to prevent the Norwegian forces from establishing a direct line of communications between Finnmark and the U.K.

Related external links:
Convoy escort movements - Lists the escort movements of all escorts during the war (including Tunsberg Castle).

Russian Convoys

Ships of the Royal Norwegian Navy

Other Castle Class Corvettes

Back to Tunsberg Castle on the "Ships starting with T" page.

The text on this page was compiled with the help of: Misc. articles in "Krigsseileren", and other misc. (ref. My sources).


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