Daily Event for May 1, 2015

The third Norwegian ship named Dronning Maud was built at Fredrikstad Mekaniske Verksted in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1925. She was 235' long and was registered at 1,489 tons. She could carry 400 passengers and was used on the so-called "Hurtigruten" service, an express service between Bergen in the south and Kirkenes in northern Norway. She remained on this service until the Germans invaded the country on Apr. 9, 1940.

At that time she was requisitioned as a troop transport for the Norwegian government and she immediately commenced trooping duty. She made two trooping voyages by Apr. 20 and it was then decided to have the ship carry medical company along with supplies from Sørresia to Foldvik. For this voyage she would wear a 10' by 10 ' Red Cross flag on her bridge deck and flew two other Red Cross flags from her masts. However the ship had not, as far as I can tell, been officially declared as a hospital ship and had not been painted as such.

With only one Red Cross flag on the bridge deck and excited Germans attacking what ever they could find available Dronning Maud was an easy target. The ship was not escorted and carried no anti-aircraft guns and the Red Cross flag did not protect her when she was spotted alongside Foldvik (about 20 miles north of Narvik) by the Luftwaffe on May 1, 1940. She was just arriving when the Germans dropped a number of bombs and raked the ship with machine-gun fire. At least two direct hits tore great holes in the ship and set her ablaze. It is unlikely that the young German pilots had seen the flag, and because the was painted black, even if they had seen it they may have thought is was a false flag.

It was fortunate that the ship was so close to shore because only two lifeboats could be launched, the others were either destroyed by or too close to the fires to be used. Most of the survivors apparently made their way to land by themselves, but sadly at least eighteen people had been killed and one other man died from his wounds in hospital on the 2nd. While modern sources differ on the number of casualties, the Norwegian's reported to the press on June 4th that twenty had been killed. They also claimed that the survivors had been machine-gunned in the water, however because of the limited information I have available I am unable to determine if this was in fact true or not.

While still on fire the ship was towed away from the pier and allowed to burn herself out. She grounded not far off shore and later sank, the wreck remains there to this day. Protests were made by the Norwegians, but protests to Hitler and his Nazi government were of little concern. After all he had just invaded Norway, so why would the loss of one little ship, Red Cross flag or not, be of any concern to Hitler.

This was the last ship to date named Dronning Maud, perhaps the Norwegians find the name unlucky when used on a ship. There were two previous ships named Dronning Maud, both were freighters and both were lost in the Great War. The first was sunk by a mine on Sept. 1, 1916 and the second was torpedoed and sunk by SMS U-34 on Apr. 22, 1918.
© 2015 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Dronning Maud
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Brynildsen, Eifel B.
Dahl, Gunnar J.
Einnes, Harald S.
Ellingsen, Thoralf R.
Førde-Olsen, Birger O.
Hegstad, Georg M.
Hindberg, Petra
Hoel, Isak
Landmark, Johannes
Myhre, Egil J.
Ness, Magna B.
Nilsen, Odd M.
Nygaard, Erling V.
Died of wounds May 2
Solvang, Birger K. S.
Sørensen, Meyer J.
Svee, Ellen E.
Svendsen, Simon E.
Utgård, Olav
Wahl, Edna O.

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