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Thread: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

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    Default SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    NAVARINO MOWT 165913
    DROMORE CASTLE MOWT 143836
    SS KALEV MOWT 165996

    Thank you for allowing me aboard and A BIG THANK YOU to the owners, as well as anyone contributing to this website and forum. I really appreciate your efforts!


    Mission

    I’m searching about my Grandad’s WW2 Merchant Navy service, including Atlantic, Africa, Arctic Convoys, the Normandy Campaign, the Liberation of France & Europe (1939-1945).

    My focus is on the arctic convoys and about an event during the liberation of France.

    I have a lot of child-hood memories from stories about his life at sea and from the war. The problem is just the way he told those stories, Normandy was simply a place where he handout biscuits, chocolate and sweets to the kids of Caen.

    My search is based on what I know from him, info I gathered or from documents I have, such as his Certificate of Discharge, as well as medals and so on.

    Initially it seemed quite promising and the first two entries in his certificate yielded good results. Within in a short time, the internet allowed me to find the records of those 2 vessels with the entire voyages and entries of all destinations he sailed to.But the third and final vessel was just one dead-end after another.

    It’s almost 20 years since he passed away and my search began. Believe it or not, it took me around 3-4 years until I got my first breakthrough and was able to identify the name of that vessel – SS KALEV.


    My Main Search Topics > Events aboard the SS Kalev (5.Dec.1941 – 30.Nov.1945)

    Chapter 1 - SS Kalev & Russian Convoys

    I came across a medal issued by the Soviet Union with a certificate, hand signed by Mikhail Gorbachev. It is the so-called Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945", issued 1985.

    Unless someone had made a mistake, the only reason why this medal was awarded to him, could only be because his name was in a Soviet database, which means that he must have taken part in the arctic convoys to Russia. However, there was nothing in his documents or anything I could find to back this up.

    I contacted the National Archives to obtain his records. I hunted down all leads, but it turned up nothing. Some records were either missing, got lost or have yet to be found. Bottom line is, I’m still searching for information about the reasons behind this Soviet medal.

    During the entire time I was searching, I think I sent emails to anyone and anywhere from Russian Embassies to Ministries and perhaps even to Putin himself, but I never got any feedback. However, a few month ago, I made a fresh attempt and sent another email to the local Russian embassy. To my amazement, just a few days ago, they actually wrote back and told that on their behalf, my request was sent to “Moscow”. Therefore, I have more hope than ever, that one of these days, I might receive an email from Moscow and hopefully they will be able to tell me why Grandad received that medal.

    Perhaps there is someone here who might know another way or source to check out.


    Chapter 2 – SS Kalev Normandy, D-Day, Sword Beach, Liberation of Caen

    The SS Kalev also took part in the Normandy Campaign. The following events I am interested in took place after D-Day and include the keywords “Sword Beach”, “Caen Canal” and “City of Caen”.

    The entry in his Certificate of Discharge for Description of Voyage is “Special Operation” 21/4-13/10/44.

    From the National Archives I obtained the details of the actual convoys as follows:

    He sailed from Barry on the 8th of June and arrived in Normandy area on the 11th of June, on convoy EB.5.
    They stayed there until the 26th of June and then sailed back to Southend on convoy FTC.19.
    They sailed back to Normandy on 20th of July on convoy ETC.43 and sailed back on 27th of July on convoy FTC.48.
    On 5th of August they sailed from Southend on convoy ETC.59 but somehow the records then are listing a second departure on the 7th of August and arriving in France on the 8th, with convoy ETC.61

    This continues until the end of September 1944.

    The 6th of August was the date of the Liberation of Caen, narrowing down date and search area in question.

    I want to find out when, where, and what took place while he was there.

    He had a child-hood story he always told, about handing out candy to the kids in Caen after D-Day!

    Before he passed away, I asked him if he remembered the story about handing out candy which he used to tell me when I was a young boy. He was already too old to provide exact details, but he started to explain, that his vessel had a “flat bottom” and they were supposed to get to some place to offload their cargo, consisting of construction materials. The plan was to run the vessel aground on the “river” bed (note, he mentioned river, not beach!). He explained, because it had a flat bottom, it was able to maneuver into shallow waters and sit stable on the bottom, without tipping over, and after offloading, the vessel would re float again so they could go.

    Apparently, they reached their target destination and were in the right place at the right time. It remains unclear when and where this was or what exactly happened next.

    However, from his accounts, while they were sitting and waiting to offload (no clue how long that took), a sudden order was given to abort mission and immediately retreat. Before they understood what was about to happen, the Germans started shelling the entire area. He said, the orders were to dump everything overboard to get afloat and sail out to sea.

    During that period, in the middle of dumping cargo, is when this “Candy Event” took place.

    He said most civilians ran for shelter, only some kids stayed on, desperate for food. That’s when he decided to disobey orders and instead directed the crew to get all their food supplies which they somehow brought ashore and handed them out to those kids.

    This experience stuck with him for the rest of his life, always wondering what had happened to those kids. Now I’m the one who’s a bit obsessed, hoping to find out what happened to those kids, or where that was, when it was and what exactly was going on.


    I hope one day I’ll find someone who might know or have heard about this event. If anyone has any feedback or recommendation to share, I would love to hear from you!


    PS: I haven’t used the search button here yet, which was one of the reasons I registered, in order to use it. That’s where I’m headed next…

    Cheers
    Dennis

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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    Hello Dennis
    Thank you for the Thread and the story, its nice to know that you are still looking into the reasons etc.
    I hope at some stage that some here may be able to shed more light on the events for you.
    As for me well i will delve into it as well, and if anything comes up of interest i will surely post it here.
    Thanks for joining
    Cheers

    The only Ship named Kalev that has movement Cards is this one at the NA but its too early for your one i fear
    Cheers

    Reference: BT 389/17/106
    Description:
    Ship Name: Kalev
    Gross Tonnage: 1867
    Country of Origin: Estonia
    Date: 1939-1946
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 30th April 2021 at 10:47 PM.
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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Vernon View Post

    The only Ship named Kalev that has movement Cards is this one at the NA but its too early for your one i fear
    Cheers

    Reference: BT 389/17/106
    Description:
    Ship Name: Kalev
    Gross Tonnage: 1867
    Country of Origin: Estonia
    Date: 1939-1946
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Dear Doc,
    This is the correct vessel. But the movement cards I obtained from the NA are missing data for nearly 2 years.

    I have them on my laptop and will try to post them here once I get home.

    Cheers
    Dennis

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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    As it was during the War Years , possible that records of Movements were kept under wraps as i know that all documents for Convoys were held secret!
    So the full records would not be available ??
    Cheers
    I have these Movements from 1940 to 1945 from the Archives??
    Is this what you are after at all??
    Cheers

    I can send them to you in Email which will be better.?

    Cheers


    Have sent a PDF File through Email Dennis hope its of use!
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 1st May 2021 at 07:33 AM.
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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    Dear Doc,

    Yeah, I have those too, thanks anyway! I mixed things up, when I got those movement cards, I sent them to Tony Cooper and he tried to look into it but as I recall, he said one probably would have to go to Kew and dig around there.

    What I have not been able to find and have been lloking for, are the convoys between August 1941 to beginning 1944. There's nothing I could find in Arnols Hague's data base on the convoyweb or warsailors.

    The theory of "secret/classified" info also came to mind, especially as I read several comments that crew members were told not to use real port name in case their documents came into enemy hands.

    Therefore, I started to try and see if the Russians are able to help. At the same time, I keep looking and over the years, new bits and pieces come up.

    I was hoping that maybe perhaps some data bases have been updated or new ones get published. Anyway, once again thanks for your kind support and if you come up with any other idea, let me...

    btw, got your mail but thought better to respond here.

    Cheers
    Dennis

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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    In addition to what I wrote earlier, I might add the following regarding the Normandy Campaign and my search about those events.

    As mentioned, my focus is around Sword Beach and the Caen canal, which is correctly called the river Orne.

    Furthermore, the operation was interrupted by German shelling, assuming it was artillery. His convoy EB.5 arrived in the Seine Bay area on June 11 and they stayed until the 26th.

    If it took place during that period, there is following entry I found in the Naval archives for the “Timeline of Operation Neptune” for June 15:

    “Germans regained control of the east bank of the mouth of the Orne and shelling of ‘Sword’ Beach intensified”.

    The other entry of interest dates to June 25th:

    “Continued enemy shelling of ‘Sword’ Beach forced abandonment of unloading by all but minor craft”

    Both sound quite matching with the story he told and especially the one on the 25th, which would nearly fit the departure date, 1 day before the official departure date of convoy FTC.7

    From speaking with a veteran from the royal engineers, I forgot his unit, there likely could have been many other dates and places, considering the repeated attempts to move forward and take Caen.

    Anyway, this is the way I have been trying to narrow down locations and dates, but it then starts to get difficult with finding more detailed information, such as lists of vessels or troop reports which would give more accurate insight.

    Perhaps someone here can recommend possible sources or data bases to sift through?

    Regarding my other quest, the arctic convoy topic, I can add two more clues I have.

    My father mentioned he was once a POW for a short period, by mistake, locked up in a Russian prison. My father explained that the Navy simply mounted an Oerlikon gun on the vessel, put Grandad on it and made him Gunner and Captain of the ship. Because it was an Estonian vessel and crew, Grandad was in charge of the ship and when they went to Russia, they considered them as enemy, as Estonia was by then either a traitor nation or occupied by the Nazis, something like that. Whatever, that is another clue speaking for the fact that they did sail to Russia at some point.

    On my last visit to Grandad, he was very focused on the Scharnhorst and asked me to search his drawers for a video cassette where he had recorded a documentary about finding the wreck of the Scharnhorst. He was quite upset about the documentary and kept saying, “those idiots, I told them all along where she was, but they never bothered to listen”. He said that he even drew maps and sent them to the Navy. It annoyed him that they’d been searching for decades while he knew exactly where they should look and would find her. He said he knew those Fjords like the knuckles on the back of his hands. And he also said he used to see her all the time on the radar or sonar (?), when they were trawling and kept the net clear from the wreck, to not get tangled up in her guns.

    What I don’t know is if he knew about that because he put one and one together during his fishing career after the war, or if he was somehow involved in the hunt and sinking of the Scharnhorst.

    Whatever the case might be, to me, this might be another indication of participating in arctic convoys.

    Thought I’d better share, perhaps it could be helpful.

    Cheers
    Dennis
    Last edited by Dennis Billaney; 2nd May 2021 at 10:42 AM.

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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    This is taken from the Convoy base, i guess the same as what we already have ?
    Cheers

    KALEV (Est) 1,867 tons, built 1917.


    Arr. Port Dep. Cargo Convoy Pdt Remarks
    BERGEN 13.03.1940
    20.03.1940 NEWPORT 08.04.1940
    08.04.1940 MILFORD HAVEN 10.04.1940
    27.04.1940 SHEET HARBOUR .05.1940
    09.05.1940 HALIFAX NS 11.05.1940
    28.05.1940 PRESTON 30.05.1940
    30.05.1940 BARROW 15.06.1940
    17.06.1940 ARDROSSAN 19.06.1940
    07.07.1940 THREE RIVERS 18.09.1940
    22.09.1940 SYDNEY NS 27.09.1940
    12.10.1940 RIVER CLYDE 29.10.1940
    29.10.1940 GLASGOW 05.12.1940
    17.12.1940 RIVER CLYDE 17.12.1940 ANCHORED
    17.12.1940 GLASGOW 31.01.1941
    01.02.1941 RIVER CLYDE 01.02.1941
    02.02.1941 WORKINGTON 10.02.1941
    14.02.1941 PLYMOUTH 21.02.1941
    22.02.1941 NEWPORT 03.03.1941
    05.03.1941 FALMOUTH 05.03.1941
    06.03.1941 DARTMOUTH 06.03.1941
    07.03.1941 SOUTHAMPTON .03.1941
    22.03.1941 FALMOUTH 22.03.1941
    24.03.1941 NEWPORT 28.03.1941
    30.03.1941 FALMOUTH 15.04.1941 REPAIRS
    15.04.1941 DARTMOUTH 16.04.1941
    17.04.1941 SOUTHAMPTON 24.04.1941
    27.04.1941 WEYMOUTH .04.1941
    28.04.1941 FALMOUTH 29.04.1941
    30.04.1941 NEWPORT 09.05.1941
    11.05.1941 FALMOUTH 11.05.1941
    12.05.1941 DARTMOUTH 13.05.1941
    13.05.1941 SOUTHAMPTON 17.05.1941
    20.05.1941 DARTMOUTH 21.05.1941
    21.05.1941 FALMOUTH 22.05.1941
    23.05.1941 CARDIFF 28.05.1941
    30.05.1941 FALMOUTH 31.05.1941
    01.06.1941 SOUTHAMPTON 06.06.1941
    07.06.1941 DARTMOUTH 08.06.1941
    08.06.1941 FALMOUTH 09.06.1941
    10.06.1941 BARRY 17.06.1941
    18.06.1941 MILFORD HAVEN 19.06.1941
    20.06.1941 BIRKENHEAD 27.06.1941
    .06.1941 HOLYHEAD 28.06.1941
    30.06.1941 CARDIFF 04.07.1941
    05.07.1941 MILFORD HAVEN 05.07.1941
    13.07.1941 REYKJAVIK 28.07.1941
    02.08.1941 RIVER CLYDE 02.08.1941
    03.08.1941 GREENOCK 14.08.1941
    14.08.1941 RIVER CLYDE 14.08.1941
    16.08.1941 OBAN 17.08.1941
    19.08.1941 METHIL ROADS 20.08.1941
    20.08.1941 METHIL 25.08.1941
    28.08.1941 HULL 11.09.1941
    13.09.1941 TYNE 20.09.1941
    20.09.1941 GRAVESEND .09.1941
    23.09.1941 LONDON 27.09.1941
    05.10.1941 GRANGEMOUTH 09.10.1941
    10.10.1941 METHIL 15.10.1941
    17.10.1941 GRAVESEND .10.1941
    18.10.1941 LONDON .10.1941
    .10.1941 SOUTHEND 20.10.1941
    22.10.1941 METHIL ROADS .10.1941
    24.10.1941 METHIL 25.10.1941
    27.10.1941 GRAVESEND .10.1941
    30.10.1941 LONDON 30.10.1941
    . .1941 GRAVESEND 02.11.1941
    02.11.1941 SOUTHEND 05.11.1941
    07.11.1941 TYNE 14.11.1941
    14.11.1941 TYNE 19.11.1941 PUT BACK DYNAMO TROUBLE
    22.11.1941 GRAVESEND .11.1941
    24.11.1941 LONDON 24.11.1941
    24.11.1941 GRAVESEND 27.11.1941
    27.11.1941 SOUTHEND 30.11.1941 ANCHORED
    01.12.1941 HULL 06.12.1941 REPAIRS
    06.12.1941 SPURN .12.1941 ANCHORED
    12.12.1941 IMMINGHAM 12.12.1941
    12.12.1941 RIVER HUMBER 14.12.1941 ANCHORED
    16.12.1941 GRAVESEND .12.1941
    19.12.1941 LONDON 19.12.1941
    19.12.1941 GRAVESEND 21.12.1941
    22.12.1941 SOUTHEND 23.12.1941 ANCHORED
    25.12.1941 HULL 01.01.1942
    01.01.1942 SPURN 03.01.1942 ANCHORED
    05.01.1942 GRAVESEND 06.01.1942
    06.01.1942 LONDON 06.01.1942
    .01.1942 GRAVESEND 07.01.1942
    .07.1942 SOUTHEND 10.07.1942
    12.01.1942 HULL 12.01.1942
    18.01.1942 GRAVESEND 19.01.1942
    24.01.1942 TYNE 30.01.1942
    05.02.1942 SOUTHEND 05.02.1942 ANCHORED
    05.02.1942 GRAVESEND 05.02.1942
    05.02.1942 SOUTHEND 07.02.1942 ANCHORED
    09.02.1942 SUNDERLAND 07.03.1942
    09.03.1942 GRAVESEND 10.03.1942
    10.03.1942 LONDON 10.03.1942
    10.03.1942 GRAVESEND 10.03.1942
    11.03.1942 SOUTHEND 12.03.1942 ANCHORED
    14.03.1942 TYNE 20.03.1942
    21.03.1942 TYNE 22.03.1942 PUT BACK
    27.03.1942 GRAVESEND 28.03.1942
    28.03.1942 LONDON 28.03.1942
    .03.1942 GRAVESEND 30.03.1942
    30.03.1942 SOUTHEND 31.03.1942
    02.04.1942 SUNDERLAND 13.04.1942
    16.04.1942 GRAVESEND 16.04.1942
    17.04.1942 LONDON 17.04.1942
    17.04.1942 GRAVESEND 19.04.1942
    19.04.1942 SOUTHEND 20.04.1942 ANCHORED
    21.04.1942 BLYTH 27.04.1942
    29.04.1942 HULL 30.04.1942
    02.05.1942 ROCHESTER 03.05.1942
    04.05.1942 SOUTHEND 04.05.1942
    06.05.1942 SUNDERLAND 09.05.1942
    11.05.1942 ROCHESTER 15.05.1942
    15.05.1942 SOUTHEND 16.05.1942 ANCHORED
    18.05.1942 BLYTH 23.05.1942
    25.05.1942 GRAVESEND 08.06.1942
    08.06.1942 LONDON 08.06.1942
    09.06.1942 GRAVESEND 09.06.1942
    09.06.1942 SOUTHEND 09.06.1942 ANCHORED
    12.06.1942 BLYTH 19.06.1942
    21.06.1942 GRAVESEND 21.06.1942
    22.06.1942 LONDON 22.06.1942
    27.06.1942 BLYTH 03.07.1942
    05.07.1942 GRAVESEND 05.07.1942
    06.07.1942 LONDON 06.07.1942
    06.07.1942 GRAVESEND 08.07.1942
    08.07.1942 SOUTHEND 09.07.1942 ANCHORED
    10.07.1942 BLYTH 13.07.1942
    15.07.1942 GRAVESEND 18.07.1942
    18.07.1942 LONDON 23.07.1942
    25.07.1942 GRANGEMOUTH 28.08.1942
    29.08.1942 METHIL 18.09.1942
    18.09.1942 METHIL ROADS 19.09.1942
    19.09.1942 GRANGEMOUTH 27.09.1942
    28.09.1942 METHIL ROADS 28.09.1942
    29.09.1942 GRIMSBY 03.10.1942
    07.10.1942 BLYTH 09.10.1942
    11.10.1942 GRAVESEND .10.1942
    24.10.1942 LONDON 24.10.1942
    24.10.1942 SOUTHEND 26.10.1942
    28.10.1942 IMMINGHAM 29.10.1942 REPAIRS
    31.10.1942 BLYTH 04.11.1942
    07.11.1942 GRAVESEND 09.11.1942
    09.11.1942 LONDON 12.11.1942
    12.11.1942 GRAVESEND 14.11.1942
    14.11.1942 SOUTHEND 16.11.1942 ANCHORED
    18.11.1942 HULL 22.11.1942
    22.11.1942 GRAVESEND 22.11.1942
    23.11.1942 LONDON 23.11.1942
    23.11.1942 GRAVESEND 25.11.1942
    25.11.1942 SOUTHEND 26.11.1942
    28.11.1942 HULL 04.12.1942
    07.12.1942 GRAVESEND 07.12.1942
    08.12.1942 LONDON 08.12.1942
    09.11.1942 SOUTHEND 09.12.1942 ANCHORED
    12.12.1942 GRANGEMOUTH 17.12.1942
    17.12.1942 METHIL ROADS 18.12.1942
    20.12.1942 GRAVESEND 22.12.1942
    22.12.1942 LONDON 22.12.1942
    23.12.1942 GRAVESEND 23.12.1942
    24.12.1942 SOUTHEND 24.12.1942
    27.12.1942 GRANGEMOUTH 31.12.1942
    31.12.1942 METHIL ROADS 02.01.1943
    02.01.1943 METHIL 04.01.1943
    09.01.1943 GRAVESEND .01.1943
    11.01.1943 LONDON 11.01.1943
    11.01.1943 GRAVESEND 11.01.1943
    11.01.1943 SOUTHEND 12.01.1943 ANCHORED
    13.01.1943 MIDDLESBROUGH 27.01.1943
    29.01.1943 IPSWICH .02.1943
    .02.1943 HARWICH 03.02.1943
    04.02.1943 GRAVESEND 05.02.1943
    05.02.1943 LONDON 09.02.1943
    09.02.1943 GRAVESEND 11.02.1943
    12.02.1943 SOUTHEND 13.02.1943 ANCHORED
    16.02.1943 METHIL 22.02.1943
    22.02.1943 METHIL ROADS 23.02.1943
    26.02.1943 BELFAST LOUGH 01.03.1943
    01.03.1943 BELFAST 05.03.1943
    07.03.1943 NEWPORT 10.03.1943
    11.03.1943 BRISTOL 25.03.1943
    26.03.1943 RIVER MERSEY 26.03.1943
    26.03.1943 LIVERPOOL 26.06.1943 REPAIRS
    28.06.1943 MILFORD HAVEN 29.06.1943
    30.06.1943 PLYMOUTH 10.07.1943
    11.07.1943 FALMOUTH 18.07.1943
    20.07.1943 CARDIFF 23.07.1943
    .07.1943 RIVER MERSEY .07.1943
    25.07.1943 LIVERPOOL 09.08.1943
    13.08.1943 METHIL ROADS 14.08.1943
    16.08.1943 SOUTHEND 16.08.1943
    16.08.1943 GRAVESEND 22.08.1943
    24.08.1943 HULL 25.10.1943
    25.10.1943 IMMINGHAM 01.11.1943
    03.11.1943 METHIL ROADS 06.11.1943
    12.11.1943 NEWPORT 20.11.1943
    26.11.1943 GRAVESEND . .1943
    02.12.1943 LONDON .12.1943
    .12.1943 GRAVESEND 04.12.1943
    04.12.1943 SOUTHEND 06.12.1943 ANCHORED
    07.12.1943 HULL 16.12.1943
    17.12.1943 SOUTHEND 23.12.1943
    25.12.1943 PLYMOUTH 29.12.1943
    29.12.1943 FALMOUTH 30.12.1943
    31.12.1943 AVONMOUTH
    03.01.1944 BRISTOL 05.01.1944
    .01.1944 AVONMOUTH 06.01.1944
    06.01.1944 NEWPORT 12.01.1944
    14.01.1944 LIVERPOOL 19.01.1944
    20.01.1944 BARRY 23.01.1944
    23.01.1944 NEWPORT 28.01.1944
    28.01.1944 SWANSEA 29.01.1944
    31.01.1944 SOUTHAMPTON 04.02.1944
    05.01.1944 SOUTHEND 06.02.1944
    07.02.1944 HULL 14.02.1944
    16.02.1944 TYNE 24.02.1944
    25.02.1944 METHIL ROADS 25.02.1944
    28.02.1944 BELFAST 06.03.1944
    08.03.1944 BRISTOL 13.03.1944
    13.03.1944 PORT TALBOT 22.03.1944
    25.03.1944 GLASGOW 30.03.1944
    31.03.1944 BELFAST 03.04.1944
    05.04.1944 PORT TALBOT 11.04.1944
    11.04.1944 CARDIFF
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 2nd May 2021 at 10:55 PM.
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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    Thanks Doc,

    Most of those dates I have in the movement cards, but I haven't got it in such a nice table! If you have this table in excl or pdf format, please send me by email.

    I looked and saw a few dates which I didn't have or wasn't able to identify. However, from looking at the entire voyage history, there just seems nothing which indicates any kind of arctic convoy, considering each way would last anywhere from 9-15 days or more.

    There's only one window which would allow such a journey, that is the entry 24.8.43 HULL 25.10.43. However, in the movement cards from the NA I take it that they were doing repairs "std 22.8.43, est comp 30.9.43, completed 22.10.43". Perhaps this was "code language" or maybe he and the crew joined another vessel during that time? But then again, I cannot find any convoys matching those dates either, there's only JW.53 in Feb'43, followed by JW.54A in Nov'43, unless there's another series for the summer/autumn 1943 time frame.

    The only other possible time frame would be 29.8.42 Methil 18.9.41, seem a bit too short tough. Or maybe I'm reading these card wrong?

    But I really don't wish to be bothering you with my puzzle too much. Glad for what you already shared here. Thanks again!

    Cheers
    Dennis

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  15. #9
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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    Let me share my latest find and as tiny it might seem, it felt like digging up a treasure.

    I came across this Oral interview about MN Veteran Mr. Boyes Harry and his time in the war. It’s about his entire life, before, during and after the war, covering all his ships, mainly the SS Gemstone and his time as POW.

    The reason I found this Interview was because the vessel SS Kalev was listed in the table of contents (listed below).

    It’s a fascinating memoire and Mr.Boyes is very gifted speaker. I enjoyed it very much and can only recommend it to anyone who’s interested in this kind of topic. It’s split into 4 x 30min parts, 2hr in total.

    As I was listening along, getting towards the end of Part 1, just as I was getting ready to start Part 2, I went from standby mode to WIDE AWAKE! He mentioned the adrenaline kicking keyword KALEV!!!

    Nothing could be more rewarding than finding an oral testimony where for the first time in your life, you hear someone talking about the ship which has been in your imagination for years. It was stunning!
    Although he barely spoke about that ship, which was just a short episode in his life, he did mention the name and a few other interesting details (he speaks about the Kalev in the last minute of 1of4 & at the start of 2of4).

    He said that in Nov/Dec 1941 he was sent to the MN Pool in Hull and they put him on the SS Kalev. Was funny how he described the Kalev as “a strange coaster” and he also clearly stated the ship & crew were under Estonian flag….
    He goes on telling how they saild to London, where he received new orders, ending up on the SS Gemstone and sailing to New York.

    I could trace that convoy or her voyage and given those dates as well as all the details he mentioned, I think it could be possible that he knew my Grandad or maybe they even sailed together from Hull to London. The dates would match!

    Most important is however the clarification of various matters which have hereby been confirmed as true or correct facts. Such as the Estonian issue, the dates and places and also his short description of the vessel “strange coaster” is very interesting. I hope it might help somewhere down the road.

    Anyway, it’s just so exiting and it’s moments like these that keeps you driving.
    Should anyone who’s struggling with their own search read this, I hope it might serve as inspiration to keep hope. It’s not important how long or how hard you search, it’s only about never giving up.

    Here you can enjoy Mr.Boyes remarkable story: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80010085

    Cheers

    PS:
    Quick side note: a quick search here showed a related thread “SS Gemstone” where this Oral History is mentioned too, not intending to double post, thought it is OK to post it here again due to the content relating to this thread.
    Here is the other thread about the Gemstone: https://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/...-gemstone.html

    Boyes Harry Oral History
    Content description
    REEL 1 Aspects of period as apprentice, seaman and officer with Merchant Navy, 1930-1939: reasons for joining Merchant Navy; work with Rowland Marwood Shipping Coy; conditions on board SS Runswick; period of hospitalisation; promotion. Aspects of period as second officer aboard SS Egton in Atlantic and North Sea, 1939: modification to ship on outbreak of Second World War; duties as second officer; encounter with German raiders off Norway, 11/1939; reasons for leaving ship. Aspects of period as second officer with Merchant Navy in North Sea and English Channel, 1940-1941: nature of east coast convoys, late 1939; escape from Belgian port, 5/1940; escape from French coast, 7/1940; view of German bombing of Tilbury, GB, 9/1941; transfer to SS Kalev, 1941. REEL 2 Continues: transfer to SS Gemstone. Aspects of period as officer with Merchant Navy aboard SS Gemstone in Atlantic, 1942: first voyage; encounter with German auxiliary cruiser Stier (HSK-6) in South Atlantic, 4/6/1942; destruction of confidential papers and abandoning ship; attempted escape and German sinking of ship. Aspects of period as POW aboard Stier (HSK-6), SS Charlotte Sleeman and Dogger Bank (Schiff 53) and in South Atlantic and Far East, 6/1942-8/1942: capture by Germans; character of auxiliary cruiser Stier; encounter with American freighter; treatment of POWs; transfer to SS Charlotte Sleeman; separation of POWs; at anchor off Martin Vaz Island; transfer to ex-British ship and German blockade runner, Doggerbank (Schiff 53); German method of passing ships off as British merchant vessels. Aspects of period as POW aboard SS Leuthen in Yokohama, Japan, 8/1942-9/1942: arrival in Yokohama; frequency of shipping between Germany and Japan; German offer of repatriation to Norwegian seamen; transfer to mainland, 9/1942; treatment by Japanese; comparison between treatment by Germans and Japanese. REEL 3 Continues: incidents as POW aboard SS Leuthen; rations available on board SS Leuthen; Japanese rations; medical facilities; mixed nationalities amongst POWs; work undertaken. Recollections of period as POW in Fukuoka No 3-B Camp, Kokura, Japan, 12/1943-8/1945: move to camp, 12/1943; Allied air raids and Japanese threat to kill POWs in event of Allied invasion; personal determination to survive; knowledge of progress of war; beatings and safeguarding false teeth; possibilities of sabotaging vehicle repair; US Army Air Force raids, summer 1945; feeling of vibration of atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki whilst sheltering in railway tunnel, 8/8/1945; end of Second World War, 15/8/1945. REEL 4 Continues: US supply drops and death of POW during one; obtaining supplies in Yawata; sight of devastation in Nagasaki; treatment by American Red Cross and Royal Navy personnel; journey to US via Philippines; period of recuperation in US; return to GB aboard RMS Queen Mary, 11/1945. Reflections on period as POW: physical condition on arrival in GB; work as deep sea pilot with Japanese shipping company in North Sea during 1970s; relations with Japanese crew and employers.

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    Default Re: SS Kalev Arctic Convoys & Normandy Campaign

    You could try the Facebook group Arctic Convoys - Forgotten Heroes for any knowledge within that group, which includes Russian members

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