by the Germans in 1940 - and now, at the last stages of war one of the
last stands for Hitler`s once large submarine fleet. As headquarters for
the 11. U-Bootflotille, the town of Bergen could be suitably nicknamed
like the "Submarine town".
According to plan the 11. U-Bootflotille was assigned with more than 100
submarines - but the plan was not an easy one to accomplish.
the Germans Bergen was a very important strategic port, located as it was
and is along the long and scarred norwegian west coast, with good connection
to eastern Norway via a railway. Bergen also compromised many large shipyards
and a huge submarine shelter, the Bunker Bruno.
of the pens was blown up by the british after the war.
three pens remains, and is used by the Norwegian navy.
D - Day the allied forces gradually captured the large German
bases in France. In advance the German HQ had ordered most of the boats
to sail for Norway. But such a mission was a dangerous one - and many a
submarine was sunk, or damaged on their way to Festung Norwegen, or the
Fortress of Norway as the Germans called it. Also submarines going to,
or returning from their operational areas in the oceans were sunk in increasing
the submarine movements to and from their repair facitilities and home
harbour Bergen were steadily increasing - as was the German convoy traffic
with iron ore from northern Norway, as well as the supply ships following
the same route to and from Germany.
allied HQ was very well aware of all this - and after the invasion of France
it was able to deploy aircraft and men from other duties, such as cutting
off the German transportation lines along the norwegian coast.
a result of this, the Royal Air Force Coastal Command, 18 Group, was able
to establish some more air bases in northern Scotland - in order to sink
all kind of German shipping sailing along the Norwegian coast.
targets the submarines were first priority, then came other Kriegsmarine
surface vessels, and last but not the least the convoys of supply and ore
the Germans these convoys were essential, and as such heavily defended
by the Vorpostenbooten, as the Germans called their escort and guard vessels.
vessels, packed with all sorts of weapons, were by the RAF officially called
T.T.A`s or Trawler Type Auxilaries - but the aircrews of the Coastal Command
soon learned to call them Flakships, owing to their terrible fire power
and determined gun crews.
typical Vorpostenboot, or Flakship, intended for escort duties was a captured
whaler, about 250 tons or larger, rebuilt, strengthened - and filled up
with a large number of automatic AA guns, ranging from 20 mm., through
37 and 40 mm., up to 88 mm. In addition machine guns, both heavy and light,
depth-charges -and out 1944 some were equipped with a "secret" weapon,
the RAG, or Raketen Geschuss. As the name indicates this was a rocket -
with a wire fastened to it, and a small parachute at the end of the wire.
The intension of the weapon was to shoot it up in front of attacking planes
- so that the hanging wires would cut off a wing or in other way damage
the attacking plane.
Vorpostenboot was almost like a floating arsenal - and had up to 60 crew
members, most of them gun crews.
flakship somewhere on the coastline outside Bergen.
Defence of the
Küstensicherungsverband, or 5. coastal security detachment, with its
headquarters in Bergen, was responsible for the escort and guard duties
along the coastline in the Leads north and south of Bergen.
this purpose the 5. KSV had to its disposal 3 Flotillen - 55.
intended for guard duties, stationed near Bergen at the Stütztpunkt
Florvaag, 53. Vorpostflotille, with the best, most heavily armed and fastest
ships intended for escort duties, stationed in the Leadsnorth of Bergen
at Stütztpunkt Maaløy, and 51. Vorpostflotille, intended for
guard duties, stationed near Bergen at the Stütztpunkt Westwärtsbucht.
addition 5.KSV was in charge of the 52. Minensuchflotille, a flotilla
doing minesweeping in the same areas.
June 1944 the 5. KSV disposed 66 Vorpostenbooten - in addition came the
those Flakships, other Kriegmarine vessels - including submarines and destroyers,
lots of AA guns mounted on the merchant vessels, the Bordflak, and a number
of coastal fortresses were what the men of the Coastal Command had to face
when they attacked shipping along "the Norge coast".
The Strike Wings
the autumn of 1944 Coastal Command began operations from two airfields
in northern Scotland - Banff and Dallachy became the base for two Strike
Wings. Both the Banff Strike Wing and the Dallachy Strike Wing consisted
of crews put together from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and
in Northern Scotland.
via Thore Stensrud)
sole purpose was to attack all kind of shipping along the norwegianwestern
coast. A Strike Wing consisted of several Squadrons, with all together
around 30 - 35 attack planes operational and combat ready constantly. Owing
to theirknowledge of the "Norge coast" the Norwegian 333. Sqdn. often had
a special duty - to fly "outrider" for the main strike force. This meant
that they flew in advance along the leads looking for a suitable target
- when located they sent a radio message to the main force, who went in
the norwegians often performed an early morning reconaissance flight over
their own, but occupied contry.
attack aircraft of the strike wings were the De Havilland Mosquito,a two
seater twin engined plane,very fast - but vulnerable, and the Bristol Beaufighter
- also a two seater, twin engined plane, not so fast but very sturdy. Both
types were equipped with machine guns and cannons, but the main weapon
was the rocket -8 for each plane. These rockets soon proved to be more
effective and easier to aim than bombs - and one such armour piercing rocket
could penetrate both hulls of a submarine as well as both hull sides of
guy refuels the drop tanks on a Mosquito.
where necessary on long range missions to Norway.
via Thore Stensrud)
the autumn of 1944 there were no operational German fighter squadrons at
Fliegerhorst Herdla, the German airfield just outside Bergen. So, for that
time being the Strike Wings could cruise around in this specific area without
the direct menace of German fighters. This made the Strike Wings highly
effective, and they sank a lot of tonnage - as did the Norwegian MTB`s
operating from Shetland.
last the German Admiral der Norwegische Westküste had to order his
convoys to sail only at night, during day they should hide away in the
many fiords, surrounded by steep mountains.
of course, this led to new types of problems - many a ship ran aground,
or they collided.
go through a typical Strike Wing attack, with the typical result - but
this time also with a very special human destiny - mixed with the bitter
irony of fate.
north of Bergen, 15. Dec. 1944, 0446 o`clock
night is darker than black as the German convoy crosses the Sognefiord-
heading for a very narrow sound in the inner leads, the Krakhellesund.
the leading ship, the ex. Norwegian S/S "Ferndale", captain Karl Wagner
looks for the dim light from the Klaus - Feuer, as the germans call it,
the small lighthouse showing the very small entrance to Krakhellesund.
it comes up in front of him, as almost from nowhere. He orders a new course,
north by northeast, in order not to run aground on the Seglstenen - the
rock in the middle of the narrow lead. But the current is very strong at
the time, and he has not reckoned with it.
the Seglstenen comes out of the darkness all to fast - and in a
of metal tearing the S/S "Ferndale" hits the rock, and is stuck on it.
The other ships in the convoy, the S/S "Wilhelms" and the tug "Fairplay
X" just narrowly passes the disabled "Ferndale". Via radiotransmission
with the 5. KSV in Bergen S/S "Wilhelms" is ordered to sail on, along with
two of the escorts.
third escort, the V 5305 "Jäger", ex. Norwegian whaler "Hval VI" receives
order to stay by "Ferndale" as does "Fairplay X".
of the damage on "Ferndale" soon shows they need divers to repair the badly
damaged hull. So the salvage vessel "Parat" is ordered to the site at full
16. December 1944, 1030 o`clock
"Ferndale" is still fast on the rock - and way up in the sky captain Wagner
observes a single unidentified plane pass over them.
all know what that means - and the alarm sounds onboard every vessel.
5305 "Jäger" moves into the shades of the steep cliffs, just southwest
of "Ferndale". "Jäger" is well camoflagued and almost invisible
against the cliffs. "Fairplay X" is not far away, and "Parat" is moored
to t he star-board stern of "Ferndale".
few minutes all guns on board the ships are manned - the Bordflak onboard
"Ferndale", as well as all the AA guns and the the RAG on board "Jäger".
Coast, west of Sognefiord, 1140 o`clock
Mosquitos roar in over the Utvær Lighthouse, at the western entrance
of the Sognefiord. These planes are most of the Banff Strike Wing, on their
usual "Anti-shipping rover" along the coast. This part of the Wing is made
up by 9 aircrafts from 143. Sqdn. R.A.F, 4 aircrafts from 248. Sqdn.R.A.F,
5 from 235. Sqdn. R.A.F, and 2 from 333. Sqdn. R.No.A.F. acting as outriders.
The force is led by Wing Commander J.M. Maurice, a very experienced French
pilot. "J.M.Maurice" is not his
name, but he has choosen this as a cover name - to avoid trouble for his
family living in occupied France, his real name is Max Guedj.
force has orders to make landfall at the Utvær lighthouse, then break
off and fly north along the inner leads. In advance they have received
information that a large vessel is aground at Krakhellesund, and this isvery
soon confirmed by the outriders.
4 minutes after landfall the disabled S/S "Ferndale" is observed - and
the force prepares to attack.
sound of 40 Rolls Royce Merlins for full power are deafening as the 20
Mosquitoes go down low through the narrow sound, attacking the ships from
south. Now also the engine sound mixes with gun fire, both from the planes
and the AA guns onboard the ships - creating an inferno.
in is 248. Sqdn, as "Anti Flak section". Their task is to "clear"
decks with machine gun and cannon fire, this in order to wipe out the German
AA gun crews.Then comes the rest of the wing, with TseTse guns and rockets.
The attack is over only after some two minutes - but the damage is heavy
on the ships. S/S "Ferndale" is burning fiercely, as is "Parat".
the German AA fire has been effective. Mosquito "R", 248 Sqdn. turns slowly
away, burning and losing height rapidly - and has to ditch. Both F/L H.H.K.
Gunnis and F/O W. Rolls survive the ditching, only to drown later. Another
Mosquito has its windshield shot away, and a lot of other planes are more
or less damaged.
surviving crews later reports the AA fire to be ;" Intense and
both from ships and shore". Today we know that there were no German AA
guns on shore - so this is the AA fire from the camoflaged Flakship stucked
away in the shadow of the cliffs, the Flakship V 5305 "Jäger".
board the burning "Ferndale" and "Parat" the crews are trying to put out
the fires - but this is very difficult owing to exploding AA ammonition.
is the situation for about one hour - when the Germans once again can hear
the engine sound of fast approaching enemy aircrafts.
remaining part of the Banff Strike Wing, 4 planes from 248 Sqdn. and 2
from 235 Sqdn. are hunting for a reported submarine with escort north
of Bergen. No submarine is observed, but as they pass the Hellisøy
Lighthouse they observes the smoke from Krakhellesund.
force, led by Wing Commander G.D. "Bill" Sise then decides to finish off
the ships in Krakehellesund. Coming in from south they takes a turn over
the sound and attacks from north - going down to "Mast height" into the
sound just like a row of pearls.
C. Beruldsen from Australia is the pilot of Mosquito "S", 235. Sqdn., and
at his side sits his navigator, T.D.S. Rabbits, from Britain.
dramatic Picture! Probably Ken C. Beruldsens Mosquito is just visible to
the right. This was the last picture of this Mosquito, few minutes later
it crashed on the ground marked "X". The boats on fire is S/S "Ferndale"
via Jim Beruldsen)
As Ken`s last name indicates he has Norwegian origins. His father, Einar
Bjørn Beruldsen, left Norway for Scotland as a young man. He met
a Scottishgirl, and they married. In 1922 Helen Yates Cupples Beruldsen
gave birth to Kenneth, as the youngest of three
and a sister.
Beruldsen family emigrated to Australia in 1923, Ken being one year old.
Like so many Australians, Ken volunteered the R.A.A.F. in 1941 and was
educated a pilot. In 1943 he was posted to the 235. Sqdn., R.A.F. After
a little more than a year he had participated in 35 strikes on the French
coast, and 20 along the Norwegian coast. After having completed 50 operations
he could have chosen another type of duty, if he had wanted to.
instead Ken continued into his second "Tour" of operations, and was promoted
Flight Lieutenant when only 22 years old.
now he is once again facing the inferno of exploding shells, fire andnoise
as they thunder towards the target. But the gun crews onboard the V 5305
"Jäger" have lined up at them - and so a direct hit explodes in Mosquito
"S", 235. Sqdn. R.A.F.
zur See Otto and his crew on board "Jäger" shouts with joy as they
watch the doomed Mosquito hit the mountain of Losna, only some hundred
metres opposite the burning "Ferndale and "Parat".
"Ferndale" and "Parat" are sinking - and the Banff Strike Wing can add
another two ships to its already long list of sunken ships.
Cupples Beruldsen was only 22 years of age, when he came from the other
side of the world to fight for a free Europe.
December 1944, 1045 o`clock, Kenneth took off from an airfield in his mothers
land, Scotland, - only to die exactly two hours later, in his
his life for Norway.
K.C.Beruldsen and T.D.S. Rabbits are buried at the Allied War Grave
at Sola, Stavanger.
and research ;
235 Sqdn. RAF,
248 Sqdn. RAF,
Strike Wings", book by Roy Conyers Nesbit
from Andrew Bird
with Jim Beruldsen
with G.D. "Bill" Sise, via Jim Beruldsen
Admiral der Norwegische Westküste. (war diary)
5. Küstensicherungsverband. (War diary)
maritime declaration S/S "Ferndale" captain Karl Wagner
salvagevessel "Parat", captain Olaf Ellingsen Borgen
at chrash site - by author
Beruldsen, Ken's brother, at the crash site in 1987:
Cupples Beruldsen, brother, Jim Beruldsen at the crash site. The Mosquito
crashed right into the mountain. Jim holds a part of the Mosquito in his
was once a crankshaft in one of the Merlin engines in Ken C. Beruldsens