Captain Knut O. Bringedal

Captain Knut O. Bringedal, center, of the Haugesund area of Norway. On March 6th 1942 Bringedal and his crew of mostly Norwegians put up a valiant fight against the German submarine U-128 under Ulrich Heyse. From just after dawn to well after dusk Bringedal and the men shuttled back and forth to their ship from lifeboats four times, sometimes starting the engines and motoring for nearby Abaco, sometimes getting more fuel for the motor lifeboat, other times fixing the radio aerials and sending Mayday messages which were received in Florida and Nassau.

Alas, no help was sent, though it was only an hour or more by air from Florida and some 200 miles from teh Florida coast. Exhasperated, Bringedal and a team of bold sailors were forced off their ship, the O. A. Knudsen of Knutsen OAS, then the largest Norwegian tanker afloat (though it had been built for Unliver in Germany). With the tanker aflame and an old World War I Japanese gun exploded, sending splinters into the bodies and in one case the eye of the sailors, they leapt off the ship towards a waiting boat.

After sailing and motoring they met with the sailing lifeboat, then were rescued off Hole in the Wall Light Abaco by a sponging sloop under Captain Sherwin Archer named the Arena, which took them to Cross Harbor. The converted yacht Content S. then took most of the survivors to Nassau by the 8th of March. The Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, as head of the Bahamas Red Cross, as well as the Duke of Windsor and others met them at the dock in Nassau.

Sadly the 57-year-old Norwegian miner and fisherman Olaus Edvin Gamst Johansen of Finnmark County and Svalbard died back at the lumber camp in Cross Harbor named Cornwall, despite efforts by Dr. Lyon & Dr. Cruikshank to save him as well as the lumber company owner J. W. (John Wilson) Roberts.

Bringedal was honored by the Duke of Windsor, Governor of the Bahamas, Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, and King Harald of Norway as well as the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission in New York under Oivind Lorentzen. After an absense of many years he returned to his family in Norway and lived to the late 1960s. His daugther and a son are still living in the Kvinnherad province.

The US government praised Bringedal’s bravery, citing it in their manual “How to Abandon Ship” published during the war. Bringedal visited an aunt and sister in Iowa and Illinois and was mostly based in Brooklyn during the war. He commanded several ships, at least one other of which was torpedoed and sunk. Earlier in the war he managed to get the O. A. Knudsen out of the grasp of the Axis powers in Naples and Oran, Algeria, making it to Gibraltar.