Norwegian ships in RFA Service

Sunset and evening star
and one clear call for me!
and may there be no moaning of the bar
when I put to sea
But such a tide as moving seems asleep
too full for sound and foam
when that which drew out the boundless deep
turns again home
Twilight and evening bell
and after that the dark!
and may there be no sadness of farewell
when I embark
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
the flood may bear me far
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
when I have crossed the bar.



When Germany invaded Norway on the 9 April 1940, the Norwegian ships that were in allied or neutral waters at the time were requisitioned by the Royal Norwegian Government, which early in the war had managed to escape to the UK (The King of Norway was evacuated in June 1940).  The Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission was established in London at the end of April 1940 and the name became abbreviated to Nortraship, following a suggestion from the British Post office.


Several offices were subsequently opened in various parts of the world.  The three main offices were in London, New York and Montreal, with sub-offices in several cities in the UK, USA and Canada, as well as Bombay, Calcutta, Cape Town, Reykjavik, Santos, Suez and Port of Spain.


Dozens of ships of every type and size now came under allied control and were made available for vital convoy work, bringing in much needed supplies for the allied war effort, of these a number of tankers were requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as RFA’s, they were all employed on freighting duties, supplying oil to the many Royal Naval bases around the world.


Whilst these ships retained most of their original Norwegian crews, there was a need to supplement some of the crews with seamen from various nationalities including British, American, Canadian, Australian, Greek, Chinese and Indian Merchant Seamen.  To a man, they all served as RFA seamen and every one of the ships in this list was sunk by enemy action, this is the story of the Norwegian RFA connection.

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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