The Norge Coast, 1944.

Norway, occupied 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.
To 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.

Bruno today. 
Several of the pens was blown up by the british after the war. 
Only three pens remains, and is used by the Norwegian navy.
After D - Day the allied forces gradually captured the large German
submarine 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 numbers.

Nevertheless, 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.

The 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.
As 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.
As targets the submarines were first priority, then came other Kriegsmarine surface vessels, and last but not the least the convoys of supply and ore ships.
To the Germans these convoys were essential, and as such heavily defended by the Vorpostenbooten, as the Germans called their escort and guard vessels.
These 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.

The Flakships.

The 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.
The Vorpostenboot was almost like a floating arsenal - and had up to 60 crew members, most of them gun crews.

A flakship somewhere on the coastline outside Bergen.
(Private collection)

Defence of the convoys

5. 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.
For this purpose the 5. KSV had to its disposal 3 Flotillen - 55.
Vorpostflotille, 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.
In addition 5.KSV was in charge of the 52. Minensuchflotille, a flotilla
mainly doing minesweeping in the same areas.
Pr. June 1944 the 5. KSV disposed 66 Vorpostenbooten - in addition came the minesweepers.
All 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

In 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 Norway.

Banff in Northern Scotland.
(Photo via Thore Stensrud)
Their 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 to attack.
Also the norwegians often performed an early morning reconaissance flight over their own, but occupied contry.
The 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 a merchantman.

This guy refuels the drop tanks on a Mosquito. 
These where necessary on long range missions to Norway.
(Photo via Thore Stensrud)

In 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.
At 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.
But of course, this led to new types of problems - many a ship ran aground, or they collided.

We`ll 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.


Sognefiord, north of Bergen, 15. Dec. 1944, 0446 o`clock

The night is darker than black as the German convoy crosses the Sognefiord- heading for a very narrow sound in the inner leads, the Krakhellesund.
Onboard 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.
Suddenly 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.
So the Seglstenen comes out of the darkness all to fast - and in a
cacophony 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.
The third escort, the V 5305 "Jäger", ex. Norwegian whaler "Hval VI" receives order to stay by "Ferndale" as does "Fairplay X".
Inspection 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 speed.


Krakhellesund, 16. December 1944, 1030 o`clock

S/S "Ferndale" is still fast on the rock - and way up in the sky captain Wagner observes a single unidentified plane pass over them.
They all know what that means - and the alarm sounds onboard every vessel.
V 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".
In 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".


The Norge Coast, west of Sognefiord, 1140 o`clock

20 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
real 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.
The 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.
Only 4 minutes after landfall the disabled S/S "Ferndale" is observed - and the force prepares to attack.

Krakhellesund, 1147 o`clock

The 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.
First in is 248. Sqdn, as "Anti Flak section".  Their task is to "clear"
the 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".
But 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.
The surviving crews later reports the AA fire to be ;" Intense and
experienced, 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".

On 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.
This is the situation for about one hour - when the Germans once again can hear the engine sound of fast approaching enemy aircrafts.


Krakhellesund, 1243 o`clock

The 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.
The 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.
Ken 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.

A 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" and "Parat"
(Picture 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
brothers and a sister.
The 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.
But instead Ken continued into his second "Tour" of operations, and was promoted Flight Lieutenant when only 22 years old.

And 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.

Leutnant 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".
S/S "Ferndale" and "Parat" are sinking - and the Banff Strike Wing can add another two ships to its already long list of sunken ships.
Kenneth Cupples Beruldsen was only 22 years of age, when he came from the other side of the world to fight for a free Europe.
16. 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
father`s land, Norway...

Kenneth Cupples Beruldsen 
lost his life for Norway.

Today K.C.Beruldsen and T.D.S. Rabbits are buried at the Allied War Grave
Cemetery, at Sola, Stavanger.
Text and research ;
Halvor Sperbund,
Bergen, 16.12.98

Sources ;
ORB 235 Sqdn. RAF,
ORB 248 Sqdn. RAF,
"The Strike Wings", book by Roy Conyers Nesbit
Informations from Andrew Bird
Correspondense with Jim Beruldsen
Interwiev with G.D. "Bill" Sise, via Jim Beruldsen
KTB Admiral der Norwegische Westküste. (war diary)
KTB 5. Küstensicherungsverband. (War diary)
"Vernehmung", maritime declaration S/S "Ferndale" captain Karl Wagner
Maritime declaration, salvagevessel "Parat", captain Olaf Ellingsen Borgen
Survey at chrash site - by author

Jim Beruldsen, Ken's brother, at the crash site in 1987:

Kenneth 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 hand.

This was once a crankshaft in one of the Merlin engines in Ken C. Beruldsens Mosquito.

All pictures/material unless otherwise stated, are owned or supervised by NDWW2/NUAV's webmaster. You are not allowed to copy, publish or in any way distribute material from these pages without the webmaster’s written permission.This site do not represent any kind of political statement, it is made by people with the historical interest of Norway in the period between 1940 - 1945. Copyright 1999, 2000 © Kurt Monsen.