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Updated Aug. 24-2010
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.
Transcribed from a document received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database.
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 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.
Related external links:
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).