Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
User avatar
Erik E
Member
Posts: 4517
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 22:26
Location: Stavanger, Norway

Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by Erik E » 07 Oct 2010 18:42

Hello

When Germany invaded Norway in april 1940, there were a few US freighters in Norwegian waters.
The ships were regarded as neutral, but the Germans seems to have been very interested in the cargo on these ships.

One of these was the freigther "Charles R. McCormick", stuck in a small town north of Bergen. According to German documents, it was believed that the cargo consisted of cars/trucks, and the ship was ordered to Bergen for unloading.
By 1st June 1940, "Charles R. McCormick" was released from the Germans, and went back to USA, but without her cargo.

My guess is that the cargo consisted of cars and/or trucks bought by Norwegian companies before the invasion, and therefore claimed as "war booty" by the Germans...? Reason for believing this is that several photos taken during the summer of 1940 shows German forces in what appears to be brand new Ford V8 trucks!

Hopefully someone here can confirm my guess, and maybe even tell exactly what was in McCormick`s cargo?

Rgds
Erik E

User avatar
LWD
Member
Posts: 8618
Joined: 21 Sep 2005 21:46
Location: Michigan

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by LWD » 07 Oct 2010 19:33

page 386 of http://books.google.com/books?id=XIgnra ... ck&f=false
has some info on the company. Unfortunatly the next few pages which might have the info you want aren't available for free.

This one mentions her carrying locomotives in 43 but no mention in 40 http://www.aviation-history.com/russia/ ... cxing.html

This one: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bi ... 0511.2.100
mentions she was carrying "war materials and relief supplies for Finland" although Narvik is listed as her destination in other sources.

Here's a link to a pay NY times article: http://spiderbites.nytimes.com/pay_1940 ... 00004.html
http://www.its.berkeley.edu/library/cru ... olfec.html suggest that Slow Bell was based on the experiance of the ship and if the cargo is described in that book there's a good chance it's correct as the link mentions the author had access to the company records.

User avatar
Mark McShane
Member
Posts: 337
Joined: 10 Sep 2003 03:00
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by Mark McShane » 07 Oct 2010 19:43

Following on from LWD, the book 'Slow Bell' by Reese Wolf is supposed to be about the incident.

The April 1940 unsuccessful attempt to commandeer the neutral American freighter CHARLES R. McCORMICK (McCormick Steamship Company) by Nazi armed forces invading Bergen, Norway
"Slow Bell" by Reese Wolfe (1943)

http://www.its.berkeley.edu/library/cruel/subject.html

Regards,

Mark

User avatar
Erik E
Member
Posts: 4517
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 22:26
Location: Stavanger, Norway

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by Erik E » 08 Oct 2010 00:26

Hello

Thanks for replies so far :-)
Funny thing that Finnland is mentioned! I would suggest that Narvik would be a perfect harbour for bringing supplies to Finnland, and what makes this even more interesting is that the exact kind of trucks as seen with RAD & Luftwaffe in Southern Norway 1940 can be found in a Finnish museum, so this is indeed something to follow up:
Image

User avatar
Erik E
Member
Posts: 4517
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 22:26
Location: Stavanger, Norway

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by Erik E » 08 Oct 2010 00:37

To follow up on my own post, here is the solution I guess:
http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bi ... 00502.2.83

So thanks for leading me in the right direction!

Regards
Erik E

JamesL
Member
Posts: 1649
Joined: 28 Oct 2004 00:03
Location: NJ USA

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by JamesL » 08 Oct 2010 01:02

The New York Times reported (June 17, 1940) that the Charles R. McCormick was carrying 91 tons of machinegun ammunition, quantities of copper wire, and airplane engines.

Another US freighter, the Mormacsea, had just dropped off 3.5 tons of Thompson submachineguns. In return it picked up $4,500,000 of gold and returned to New York with it. The Germans didn't catch on.

The third freighter, Flying Fish, had its cargo of fish oil confiscated.

User avatar
stril
Member
Posts: 2706
Joined: 10 Jul 2003 10:37
Location: Norway

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by stril » 14 Oct 2010 18:58

Hello
There is something fishy about these ships. Mormacsea was in Trondheim 9th of april, and was said to have delivered arms and ammo in Bergen and got gold in return. Cant find any proof of that, and there seems to be a misunderstanding about the gold. That amount of gold wasnt paid to the captain of Mormacsea according to one source.
The Mormacsea arrived at the Moore McCormack terminal in New York City on 25 April 1940. There is no verifiable record to indicate that $4,500,000 worth of "Swedish gold" was ever deposited at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on or about 25 April. Wartime records indicate that the Swedish Enskilda Bank, located in Stockholm, received $4,500,000 from the German Reichsbank in 1940. Sweden was neutral. The gold disappeared! The Enskilda Bank had long been suspected of freely moving looted gold (stolen from the Jews in the 1930s) and other German "cloaked assets" (identified as Swedish) around the world with a certain impunity
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... ntent;col1
Flying Fish

In Bergen 9th of april, having no cargo, and is noted to arrive "today"(in USA) on 3rd of mai. No notes in Norwegian harbour lists, or in German lists of Foreign Cargoships about her stay, cargo, or when she left(She is pictured in Bergen 9th of april)
Charles R. McCormick
Said to be in a small town/quay north of Bergen. Havent seen in German papers any arms, ammunition or trucks from her being loaded of in Bergen.
This ship was on its way to Narvik, and this is the only boat that seems to get special attention of the 3 boats.
Several ships are leaving Bergen with cargo from Charles R. McCormick and that explains why she was in a small town/quay outside Bergen. She seems to be stuffed with Nitro Cellulose :-)
Before she is leaving Bergen there is one ship(Arna) taking cargo from her, and set sail, soutwards to Stavanger :-)
And that little detail might solve the puzzle. Perhaps the archives in Stavanger have documents showing Arnas arrival and cargo.

There is another twist to this, and that is the cargo from Mormacsea. From the same page as the above :
Is it possible that the valuable cargo, carried in the hold of the Mormacsea, was actually German in origin - rather than Swedish and that the Nazis were intentionally shipping it out of Trondheim?
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... ntent;col1
We might never know, but i could be the germans who bought the lorries, and not the finns :-)
regards
stril

John T
Member
Posts: 1206
Joined: 31 Jan 2003 22:38
Location: Stockholm,Sweden

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by John T » 11 Oct 2015 22:03

Found one tidbit about Ford -
Ford Motor Company Stockholm gave 150 trucks to Finland and British Ford where to send 1 000 trucks for free.

Might been some of the Fords that came from Britain.
stril wrote:Hello
There is something fishy about these ships. Mormacsea was in Trondheim 9th of april, and was said to have delivered arms and ammo in Bergen and got gold in return. Cant find any proof of that, and there seems to be a misunderstanding about the gold. That amount of gold wasnt paid to the captain of Mormacsea according to one source.
Yes, speculation are simply speculation.

According to the Swedish Federal reserve, Mormactide carried gold to New York and left Bergen first of December 1939.
And thats the only shipment mentioned from Norway in the time frame 39-40.

Cheers
/John.

User avatar
stril
Member
Posts: 2706
Joined: 10 Jul 2003 10:37
Location: Norway

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by stril » 12 Oct 2015 14:17

Hello
Found one tidbit about Ford -
Ford Motor Company Stockholm gave 150 trucks to Finland and British Ford where to send 1 000 trucks for free.
Might been some of the Fords that came from Britain.
stril wrote:
Hello
There is something fishy about these ships. Mormacsea was in Trondheim 9th of april, and was said to have delivered arms and ammo in Bergen and got gold in return. Cant find any proof of that, and there seems to be a misunderstanding about the gold. That amount of gold wasnt paid to the captain of Mormacsea according to one source.
Yes, speculation are simply speculation.
According to the Swedish Federal reserve, Mormactide carried gold to New York and left Bergen first of December 1939.
And thats the only shipment mentioned from Norway in the time frame 39-40.
Cheers
/John.
Thank you, interesting information :-)
The boats of the Mooremack lines are interesting. As mention 3 of them was in Norway 9th of april 1940, two of them in Bergen area.
Also found that Mormacwren was in Bergen 10.09.1939, and Mormactide 24.11.1939, and she is also also mentioned 09.12.1939, Mormacsport mentioned 26.10.1939, 12.12.1939, 16.12.1939., 21.12.1939, and 05.01.1940. Info from list of ships in Bergen Harbour 1939/40.
Would be interesting to know the cargo of those ships, most likely all of them having cargo destined for Finalnd.
regards
stril

John T
Member
Posts: 1206
Joined: 31 Jan 2003 22:38
Location: Stockholm,Sweden

Re: Freighter "Charles R. McCormick"

Post by John T » 13 Oct 2015 19:04

stril wrote: Thank you, interesting information :-)
The boats of the Mooremack lines are interesting. As mention 3 of them was in Norway 9th of april 1940, two of them in Bergen area.
Also found that Mormacwren was in Bergen 10.09.1939, and Mormactide 24.11.1939, and she is also also mentioned 09.12.1939, Mormacsport mentioned 26.10.1939, 12.12.1939, 16.12.1939., 21.12.1939, and 05.01.1940. Info from list of ships in Bergen Harbour 1939/40.
Would be interesting to know the cargo of those ships, most likely all of them having cargo destined for Finalnd.
regards
stril
:?
Yes, when I check the article again I see that something's wrong in the article, they mention one Swedish ship from Bergen 1 December and then Maccormactide the same day a bit further down the text, see page 68:
http://www.numismatik.se/pdf/snt32006.pdf

Looks like a mix up of the dates in the article, But it makes sense that the gold exited Bergen, possibly a week later, the 9:th.

Cheers
/John T

Return to “USA 1919-1945”