Diving on the D/S Oldenburg Vadheim, Norway, 2005
by Darren H. Tanke* and Robin M. Rondeau
* While Mr. Tanke is an employee of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, the SS Mount Temple and Oldenburg projects are of a personal interest only. The authors' contact information is given at the end of the article.
Curiously, early Alberta palaeontological fieldwork history has unique ties to nautical military history. In late 1916, the German surface raider SMS Möwe (Figure 1) sank the Canadian Pacific merchant ship SS Mount Temple (Tanke, 2003; Tanke et al., 2002; Tanke and Enright, 2003).
Möwe began her career in 1914 as the refrigerated banana transport D/S Pungo. Soon after launching, WWI broke out and Pungo was converted into a heavily armed auxiliary merchant raider and renamed Möwe. Despite her humble beginnings, Möwe went on to become the most successful surface warship of all time, sinking, mining or capturing nearly 50 Allied ships, including the British battleship HMS King Edward VII (Enright, 2004).
Among Mount Temple's general cargo of foodstuffs and over 700 horses destined for war service in France, numerous important Late Cretaceous dinosaur or other rare fossil specimens from today's Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta were sent to the bottom (Tanke, 2003). Besides personal grief, the loss of these fossils caused veteran American fossil collector Charles H. Sternberg severe financial hardship until insurance matters could be resolved (Spalding, 2001). The fossils collected by Sternberg and his youngest son Levi were the second of two shipments being sent by them to the British Museum (Natural History) in London, England for study and public display.
Möwe survived WWI, was ceded to England under war reparations, converted back to a banana hauler and renamed SS Greenbrier. She was sold to the German shipping firm Deutsche Seev-erkehrs AG "Midgard" in 1933, her last designation being D/S Oldenburg.
In WWII, she acted as a transport ship in support of Germany's military occupation of Norway. On the evening of April 6,1945, Oldenburg and several other German ships, part of a convoy en route to Germany from the northern Norwegian port of Narvik, split away and took refuge in the narrow harbour at the small town of Vadheim.
The ships counted on protection from air attack provided by the steep mountain valley walls, which around the harbour reach heights of 780 metres (Anonymous, 1988). However, Oldenburg was sunk in port the next day by anti-shipping Bristol Beau-fighter aircraft. Despite her antiaircraft armament, several heavily armed escorts, and shore-based guns, she was holed below the waterline by armor-piercing rockets (Søgnen, 2003). The attack on her lasted about 10 minutes (Sognen, 2005).
Flying Officer Tom J. Higgins and his navigator, Warrant Officer Alan J. Mirow of RAAF 455 Squadron are credited for scoring the fatal rocket hits that sank Oldenburg. Higgins and Mirow, who were with 455 Squadron eight months and veterans of twenty-nine dangerous operational sorties, were sadly killed several weeks later while leading an attack on enemy shipping and warehouses in South Vaagso, Norway (Gordon, 1995). Their plane, code number UB-B (NE 444) had also participated in the disastrous "Black Friday" raid near Førde, Norway on February 9, 1945 in which 10 Allied planes were shot down, resulting in the deaths of 14 Allied airmen (10 Canadian) and 3 German fighter pilots (Gordon, 1995).
Figure 1. Photograph of a 1:1250 scale model of the WWI German surface raider SMS Möwe (later D/S Oldenburg). Image modified slightly from: http://www.german-navy.de/hochsee-flotte/ships/auxcruiser/mowe/i mage1.html
Oldenburg, with her dark ties to early Alberta palaeontological history, caught fire, flooded and sank with a cargo of 2,900 tons of fish destined for the hungry German populace.
Photographs in Berge (2003) and Søgnen (2003) show her issuing thick white smoke from her funnel and numerous places along her length, rolling about halfway onto her starboard side, sinking by the stern (figure 3, top). She sank within an hour of being attacked.
When moored, Oldenburg was positioned parallel to the shoreline. After sinking, she came to rest on a sloping site. From the post-attack photographs and the position of the wreck today, it seems likely the heavier water-filled stern pulled that end of the ship down and away from the shore, pivoting about the bow which now lies in shallower water.
Some reports suggest there was also a cargo of either bicycles or motorcycles. It seems likely these were motorcycles and other military equipment being evacuated back to Germany from the northern Russian front near Finland (Halvor Sperbund, pers. comm. to DHT, 2005). These were likely being returned for the final defense. While we were in Vadheim several members of the community told us there might be uranium ore from Russia on board, but other townspeople and Sperbund, a Norwegian WWII military historian scoffed at that suggestion. He rightly pointed out that most shipwrecks are surrounded by mystery and intrigue of which this was yet another example.
Growing public interest in the Mount Temple story and lost fossils led to a number of public lectures by the senior author and province-wide radio interviews, one of the latter linking the two authors. After giving a presentation on the Mount Temple project to the second author's diving colleagues in Wainwright, Alberta in late 2003, the first plans to send a diving expedition overseas to Norway to visit the Oldenburg wrecksite were conceived (Friesen, 2004; Tanke and Rondeau, 2004a,b, 2005). This was done in support of research for an ongoing book by the senior author.
Interest in the fascinating story of the Mount Temple and her attacker continues to grow, with additional television, newspaper and magazine appearances (Anonymous, 2003; Kelsey, 2003; Kucher, 2003; Talbot, 2003; Wilson, 2003; Curley, 2004; Friesen, 2004; Anonymous, 2005a; Johnsrude, 2005a; Schafer, 2005; Talbot, 2005), and a segment reviewing the ongoing research airing on the Canadian science show Daily Planet, first airing September 16,2004 (see www.exn. ca/dailyplanet/view.asp?date=9/16/2004 then scroll down and select the "Discovery at Mount Temple" link for a six-minute segment).
Before we arrived, the media in Norway were contacted, which generated a number of articles (Ballestad, 2005; Eide, 2005a-c). This was done not only to alert people to our project, but also to have people with historical recollections ready to meet and speak with us upon our arrival.
Post-expedition activities include an oral and video presentation on the Oldenburg expedition by the second author at the SHIPWRECKS 2005 conference in Vancouver, BC on April 2, 2005; an eight-minute segment on French CBC TV (airing on April 6); and continued newspaper coverage (Johnsrude, 2005b).
At the conclusion of the Oldenburg expedition, the author was also able to do a museum side trip in London and achieve some important palaeontological results—these are briefly included here.
The Oldenburg expedition and dive details
Figure 2. The Project Oldenburg 2005 expedition team, Vadheim, Norway, March 3, 2005. Left to right: Darren Tanke, Dave Basiove, Maurice Van Welter, Rob Rondeau, Ståle Tveitane, Øystein "Stone" Dragvik. Mount Flöyen (elevation 765 m) at the west entrance to Vadheimsfjorden is in the background. The fjord at Vadheim has been measured as deep as 378 metres (Anonymous, 1988).
The expedition team (Figure 2) consisted of:
- From Canada
- •Darren H. Tanke, 44, Drumheller, AB. (Expedition leader, Mount Temple and Oldenburg raid researcher, historian, expedition surface still photography).
- •Rob M. Rondeau, 40, Hardisty, AB. (Professional diver and Oldenburg dive team leader).
- •Dave Basiove, 50, Vancouver, BC. (Professional diver, published author and underwater photographer/video).
- •Maurice Van Welter, 52, Ottawa, ON. (Financial consultant and expedition surface video cameraman).
- From Norway
- •Ståle Tveitane, 35, Nortech Diving, Grimstad.
- •Øystein Dragvik, 31, Nortech Diving, Grimstad.
The Canadian crew left on February 27 and met up in London, England before flying on to Bergen, Norway. From there, on the evening of March 1 we travelled three hours by bus and car ferry to our hotel in Vadheim where the Norwegian support divers awaited. We spent four and a half days in Vadheim, beginning our return home on the morning of March 6, stopping for a day and evening in London, England, and then returning to Canada on March 8.
Vadheim is a small town (population roughly 400), founded some 1000 years ago in a remote part of southwestern Norway. Some local citizens believe the Vikings originated in or near this district.
Since 1907 there has been a local chemical factory producing sodium chlorate as a bleaching agent for the pulp and paper industry. The nearby industrial town of Høyanger (23 km drive to the east) is an important aluminum smelting and aluminum machining centre. Aluminum engine blocks and wheels for domestic Audi, Porsche, and Volvo automobiles and Formula I race cars are an important export. Heavy industry makes use of deep, high mountain lakes by piping water down to sea level and driving electric generators to make their own electricity for factory use as well as for the local community.
Other regional industry includes forestry, salmon fish farming, and this is a popular destination for bicycle tourism. In Vadheim, German, British and Scandinavian divers exploring Oldenburg are also an important tourism commodity; but we were the first North American team to explore her.
A good number of people living in Vadheim commute to work in Høyanger; so in a sense Vadheim is a classic "bedroom community". The entire municipality is lightly populated: only some 4,000 residents.
The area is extremely rugged, with steep-sided mountains pierced by numerous deep fjords. The industrious Norwegians have carved highway tunnels through many mountains in the district. Despite its northerly latitude of 61° 12´ N (further north than the southern tip of Greenland, and close to same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska), Vadheim is influenced by the moderating Gulf Stream current, so winters are quite bearable—but wet—and the port ice-free.
During our visit, temperatures ranged from daytime highs of+5°C to overnight lows of about -7°C, but the humidity made the cold temperatures feel more like -10° to -12°C.
Three group dives (of three divers each) were conducted. The bow of Oldenburg is at 35 metres depth, the bridge about 38 metres and the stern 80+ metres (Young, 2004). The maximum dive depth we attained was 45.7 metres (150 feet). Bottom conditions were good with little current and excellent, clear viewing conditions with a visibility of 30-35 metres. Water temperature at the bottom was about 5°C.
Figure 3. Historical photograph pair. Top: April 7, 1945, the burning Oldenburg rolls onto her starboard side and begins sinking by the stern. The transport ship behind her and to the left is D/S Wolfgang L.M. Russ. Bottom: The same scene nearly 60 years later, taken March 4, 2005. Due to some apparent landscaping changes, the precise spot the original picture was taken from may no longer exist. Differing camera formats can also make exact matching of historical photographs problematic, but this is the best match. The road, bridge over the Ytre river and several residential buildings are present in both photographs. By handheld GPS, coordinates for this location is: N 61 °, 12.626'; E 005°, 49.273'.
The wreck has a thick coating of mud in places, but is in excellent condition with the ship's black and white "dazzle" or splinter camouflage paint scheme still visible when the mud is scraped away. The bridge area shows much wood construction and while this is somewhat corroded and parts peeled back, the structure is still held together. Some gauges are visible and even a few panes of glass in the wheelhouse are still intact.
Several hours of high-resolution underwater video footage of the wreck was recorded and over 500 pictures were taken on the surface of the dive preparations, historical-related subjects, general area and local culture. Four local people were interviewed regarding Vadheim history, German occupation of the town in WWII, and the Oldenburg raid. One man gave us a detailed written account of his experience during the attack.
Despite the fact that the incident occurred 60 years ago and most of the interviewees were young at the time—one was a young adult and the rest were children—their recollections largely corresponded, indicating the accuracy of their memories, which also jibed with the gun camera pictures and military reports. With these resources, it has been possible to reconstruct the events of the 1945 attack with great clarity.
Parts of the ship have been salvaged by wreck divers. A bell with the script "Møwe 1916" and the ship's wheel and pedestal are figured at http://homepage. mac.com/superscuba/PhotoAlbum85.html
The bell is curious, as the "o" in Mowe should appear with an umlaut, i.e. Möwe, not with the Nordic "ø", i.e. Møwe. Another bell, bearing the Greenbrier name has also been recovered.
A large calibre deck gun was removed from the forecastle 10-15 years ago, but its current whereabouts is uncertain. Project Oldenburg 2005 did not remove any artifacts from the wreck. Our hotel's owner, who had been given some artifacts collected by other divers over the years, donated some china, a bottle and a wooden stock from a 7.62 mm bolt-action rifle, the latter possibly Russian in origin (war booty?). These will be curated at the Vancouver Maritime Museum (soon to be renamed the Canadian Maritime Museum—Pacific).
Day 1—February 27, 2005.
A long travel day, each team member found his way to London, England where we met up at the airport.
Day 2—February 28.
Continued travelling with a late connection; we flew to Bergen, Norway in early evening and spent the night there at the Grand Hotel Terminus. This was Bergen's first luxury hotel, opening in 1927. Fresh snow fell earlier in the day; seems none has fallen for some time prior to our arrival.
Day 3—March 1.
A relaxing day spent in Bergen. Visited harbour area, historical downtown, fish market, and took the Fløien funicular railway tram up Mount Fløien (320 m ASL) to view Bergen from up high.
At our hotel, met up with Norwegian WWII military historian Halvor Sperbund and the Norwegian press regarding the upcoming expedition. Our media presentation was done using a table and room utilized by famous Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen during planning for his last and fatal arctic foray in 1928.
Later we explored more local attractions and sampled Norwegian beer—very expensive, at $10 a pint! Mid-evening we took the bus to Vadheim, crossing Sognefjord by car ferry at Oppedal to Lavik, arriving in Vadheim late evening. Our hotel in Vadheim is conveniently very close to the Oldenburg wreck—only several hundred metres away.
Chilly, overcast day with light snow; winds calm.
Day 4—March 2.
We had a logistics and a dive planning meeting in the morning, followed by a first dive on Oldenburg after lunch. The bow and bridge of the ship are marked by buoys. This was a reconnaissance dive only, no cameras were taken. The bow region was explored. The shipwreck is in excellent condition with underwater visibility (with underwater lighting) of 30-35 metres: excellent by any standards. The wreck was soon verified as being that of Oldenburg—despite nautical history books saying she was "raised", "scrapped", "dynamited", or otherwise removed in 1953 (e.g. Hoyt, 1969; Walter, 1994). These comments are in error. Collectively, our experienced dive team has explored many shipwrecks and all agree Oldenburg is a "10". However she is a wreck not to be trifled with—in two instances, a diver, inexperienced or untrained in wreck penetration went inside her, became disoriented, ran out of air, and drowned.
This was a chilly, overcast day with snow flurries and squalls; winds light from the south. After a couple hours on the open dive boat, a hot shower in the hotel was a welcome reprieve.
Day 5—March 3.
Norwegian support diver Ståle Tveitane leaves this morning due to prior commitments. The other diver, Øystein "Stone" Dragvik, stays with us for the rest of the expedition.
Drove to Førde region some 30 km to the north. A short memorial service was conducted with us at the Førde airport monument honouring the 10 Canadians, 2 Australians and 2 English fliers killed during the "Black Friday" raid nearby on February 9, 1945. Their planes were shot down during an attack on
the German Narvik-class destroyer Z-33 and other enemy ships in the harbour.
According to the attending Norwegian officials, we are the first group of Canadian civilians to specifically pay homage at the monument since it was erected in 1985 on the 40th anniversary of the attack. In our conversations with the Norwegian officials and television media present, it was clearly evident to us that they have not forgotten the sacrifice of the Canadians and other Allies lost in WWII, helping liberate Norway from Nazi oppression. As the monument says under the names of the lost: "DEI GAVE LIVET FOR VAR FRIDOM" ["THEY GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR OUR FREEDOM"]. In total, fifty Canadians were lost in Norway's struggle for freedom.
We then proceeded further west to Hoydalsfjord and dove on a Bristol Beaufighter wreck (Ulvedal, 2005). The television media also accompanied us. This plane was lost on the "Black Friday" raid: shot up by a German Fw 190 fighter plane, the badly damaged Beaufighter limped away from the battle and made a forced landing onto the water here. Both crewmembers survived but one was badly injured in the attack and ensuing crash. We later learned this was an aircraft (code number PL-Y; NE 743) from RAF 144 Squadron, crewed by P/O Fred "Spike" Holly and P/O Percival C. Smith.
The second author placed a wreath in the cockpit of this plane on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion. The wreath was provided by the Canadian Government and commemorates the Canadians lost in the Black Friday attack (Eide, 2005d). After the dive, we visit the Luftkamp Museet (Black Friday Museum), near Naustdal (see http://home.no.net/kjell-sor/naustdal). A number of engines and pieces of wreckage from Beaufighters and a German Fw 190 lost during the attack are on display. The Beaufighter dive was shown on Norwegian television tonight. An underwater picture of this plane wreck can be found on www.nrk.no/nyhetei7distrikt/nrk_sogn_og_ljor-dane/fylkesleksikon/1360178.html (Anonymous, 2005b).
Sverre Søgnen joined us this evening. In 1945 he was a boy of 12 and only a few hundred metres away from Oldenburg when she was attacked. Caught in the open, he was in the path of the Allied planes' fire and German antiaircraft crossfire and lucky to escape injury or worse. He was interviewed for our documentary.
Chilly overcast day, breezy south winds at times.
Day 6—March 4.
Strong winds from the south overnight bringing heavy wet snow, then sleet, then rain in morning made everything slushy. Clouds lifted and began to break up in afternoon but still overcast with occasional flurries or squalls and fog patches.
Sverre showed the senior author around, giving his recollections of Vadheim WWII history. It was known that during the Oldenburg attack some errant German antiaircraft rounds hit homes in Vadheim, but Sverre related an amazing story. During the attack, a group of about a dozen people took refuge in the basement of a home directly in the line of fire from the German ship's antiaircraft guns. One elderly woman sat upstairs in a rocking chair. As the attack developed, one antiaircraft round came crashing through an upstairs window and snatched the slipper off the old woman's foot! The people in the basement heard a loud crash as the round embedded itself in the wood floor above their heads. But this was not a simple solid projectile. It was a large calibre round fused to explode after travelling a certain distance from the gun. Someone in the basement had the presence of mind to rush upstairs with a shovel and dig the smoking and sputtering round out of the floor and then fling it into a snow bank outside. It did not explode. Had the shell gone off as designed, the explosion would have torn the small wooden house apart and likely killed all inside.
At 1:00 p.m. we had a meeting and luncheon with the local reeve of the Municipality of Høyanger which includes the town of Vadheim. From all the local attention, one gets the feeling we're the biggest thing to happen in Vadheim since the Oldenburg was sunk. While in Vadheim (and after we left) we created a lot of local television and newspaper interest (Eide, 2005a-c; Geithus, 2005; Haug, 2005; Ulvedal, 2005).
Later in the afternoon, Sverre and his older brother Arthur (another witness to the attack) again toured us around Vadheim. Sverre was interviewed on videotape about his experiences on that fateful day and later, the senior author was filmed narrating some portions for the planned short expedition documentary.
We learned of yet another remarkable story. Some photographs of Oldenburg in Vadheim were taken by one of her crew, both before and after the attack. He climbed a low hill north of the ship and snapped off a photograph or two, showing the German ships in the harbour. After the attack, it seems he had the presence of mind to return to the exact same spot and take more pictures as the ship burned and sank. We are told that this unknown sailor dropped off his film for developing in Oslo in 1945 but he never came back; it sat unclaimed for decades. During a cleanup of the shop some 30 years later, the film and its historically important pictures were rediscovered.
The senior author relocated the 1945 vantage point of these pictures and takes new matched photographs (Figure 3). The armor-piercing rockets that claimed Oldenburg and the planes that fired them would have passed directly overhead. The many hundreds of spent 20 mm shell casings from the Beaufighter's nose-mounted cannon (four per plane) would have literally rained down onto our position.
The rest of our group dove on Oldenburg; today underwater photography was conducted. The bow, foremast, crowsnest and bridge area were examined. The bridge shows some damage, but is still recognizable. Steel cables supporting the foremast are still in place.
Day 7—March 5.
A beautiful, sunny and windless day—the only one we had the entire trip. The third and final dive on Oldenburg was conducted, again exploring the bridge and forecastle areas on the high port side. More underwater video footage was recorded. The senior author and Maurice took the expedition's inflatable boat and cruised Vadheimsfiord, getting spectacular still and video footage of the harbour, town and surrounding snow covered mountains. We took the boat further up the narrow fjord toward Sognefjord, following the route the Beaufighter aircraft took as they made their escape after attacking Oldenburg and other German shipping. It was easy to imagine the snarling roar of the planes' Hercules engines as they passed less than 100 metres overhead.
In the afternoon we interviewed Mrs. Gunvor Vik. A local variety store owner, she was 24 when the attack came; the planes flew right over her house, rockets flying and guns blazing. Her house is plainly visible in the gun camera still pictures. She told us, through a local translator, that when the planes came, she was cowering in the basement.
Tonight we were shown WWII gun camera footage of attacks on German shipping in Norwegian waters, on videotapes lent to us by Halvor Sperbund. We were joined by some local citizens.
Still images of the Oldenburg attack had been seen previously, but as we went through the video footage, the senior author was stunned to see there was actual 16 mm motion picture film from attacking 489 (RNZAF) Beaufighter aircraft spraying the German transport ships Oldenburg and D/S Wolfgang L.M. Russ with concentrated 20 mm cannon fire.
As the first scene of Vadheim came onto the screen, a collective gasp was heard from some of the older citizens in the back. After all, they were there for the real thing, but now, and without warning, were seeing it again sixty years later, this time from the pilot’s perspective. Tracer fire can be seen streaking down onto the ships. Numerous large geysers of water from missing rounds can be seen erupting around the ships. In one attack sequence a second Beaufighter suddenly appears and almost fatally flies through the attacking plane's gunfire. With explosive 20 mm shells from four nose-mounted cannon pouring out a combined rate of some fifty rounds per second, the plane would have been instantly shot down and given the low altitude the crew would have perished. The individual attack runs took longer than we had imagined, a grim reminder of how long the attacking planes were exposed to the many anti-aircraft guns on shore and aboard the heavily armed ships.
We were also made aware of a wartime movie made to commemorate the anti-shipping strike squadrons in a late WWII propaganda film called The Ship Busters produced by the Royal Air Force. This includes much high-quality gun camera footage of Beaufighter rocket attacks on German shipping in mostly Norwegian waters. [Excellent gun camera stills of attacks on various German shipping in European coastal waters can be seen at www.oldcmp. net/ns1.html].
Day 8—March 6.
Overcast and cool. We left Vadheim mid-morning by bus, the Lavik-Oppedal car ferry and then arrived back in Bergen. Had a quick visit with Halvor Sperbund in the bus depot, before proceeding to the international airport. There, and with 45 minutes advance warning we discovered that our tickets were somehow wrong and we were a day early! We were very lucky to get on the plane on standby status. The person behind us was turned away. Arrived in London where we spent the night.
Day 9—March 7.
Some important Alberta palaeontological information, supplemental to the Oldenburg expedition was learned today. While the others took in the sights of London, the senior author visited The Natural History Museum in London, guided by British dinosaur researcher Dr. William T. Blows. First, we examined the 1916 Sternberg fossil collection from Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP). This was the first of two batches of fossils C.H. Sternberg shipped to London; the second was lost aboard the SS Mount Temple (Tanke, 2003; Tanke et al., 2002). Among the first batch was material from a purported Styraco-saurus bonebed located near the mouth of One Tree Creek in DPP. As it is of extreme interest to relocate this potentially important site, a sample of distinctive hard, dark brown mudstone was taken from London for onsite comparison in DPP.
The second matter involved a lost dinosaur. A Chasmosaurus partial skull and skeleton was collected by William E. Cutler in DPP over the winter of 1919-1920. Due to the lack of a buyer, it was placed in storage in Calgary for a time (Cutler, 1922).
History concerning the fossil became confused at this point. Cutler left for fieldwork in East Africa and died there in 1925. The whereabouts of the specimen was subsequently lost and confused; the last word on it was that it was at the Calgary Zoo (Russell, 1966), but efforts to relocate it there or in any North American museum proved fruitless. The senior author recently reinvestigated the problem and believed it was in London. Dr. Blows was able to find paperwork in London indicating it had been shipped to England in 1923. Further confirmation was required. Field photographs of the disarticulated skeleton included a "humerus" with several distinctive post-fossiliza-tion cracks. We were able to match these cracks on the right humerus of the London specimen (BMNH R4948), thus confirming the specimen's whereabouts and clearing up an 83 year old mystery (Tanke, in prep.).
Overcast, chilly, damp day, with light rain showers in afternoon. Spent the night in London. A fine celebratory dinner was had in a local Greek restaurant.
Day 10—March 8.
Up early and began long journey home by train and plane, the senior author arriving in Calgary at 11:15 p.m.
A daily account of the expedition is also posted on the Internet and can be viewed at the SS Mount Temple (Dinosaurs in the Deep) website: www. ssmounttemple.com Click on the "Site updated…" link at the top of the website's main page, or divers' flag link at the bottom of the page to access the daily trip account.
There are plans to return to Norway in 2006. Work in Vadheim will continue, with more intensive dive activities on Oldenburg and continued historical research. The second author would like to spearhead efforts to try and relocate a 404 Squadron (RCAF) Beaufighter lost in deep water (approx. 300 m/1000 ft) near Naustdal during the Black Friday attack. All aircraft (Allied and German) lost in the incident except this one have been relocated. Discovery of the missing Beaufighter would add to the growing list of well documented WWII plane wrecks located across Norway (Anonymous, 2005c). The second author is also considering leading
diving charter tours to the Oldenburg wreck and perhaps setting up
a small museum or exhibit in the town site.
Figure 4. The minisub Free Diver is similar to this 1990 SportSub II seen on a wheeled cart. Manufacturer: International VentureCraft Corporation, Burnaby, BC (Website: www.ivccorp.com). Dimensions: L 3.05 m, W 1.83 m, H 1.40 m. Weight (dry): 565 kg (1250 lb.); Payload capacity (in water): 180 kg (400 lb.); Occupant capacity: 2; Maximum diving depth: 40 m (130 ft); Top speed (underwater): 5 knots (9.25 km/h or 6 mph); Hull construction: fiberglass; Powered by 2 continuously variable thrusters at port and starboard, 75 pounds thrust each. Photograph from company's website.
Owing to financial considerations, earlier plans to have a small submersible explore and film Oldenburg in 2005 fell through, but it is hoped corporate or private sponsorship for a 2006 expedition will allow this. It will cost roughly CDN $10,000 to transport the minisub Free Diver (Figure 4) to and from Norway. Financial sponsorship is actively solicited. Corporate advertising opportunities are also possible. Major donors will be allowed to accompany the expedition and take dives to the Oldenburg wreck in the expedition’s submarine.
The Oldenburg expedition fits nicely into the still growing trend among dedicated marine archaeologists worldwide to explore, study, and preserve historical information regarding military ships and aircraft lost in recent history (Delgado, 2001; SCRET, 2005). Diving on, and researching the demise of Oldenburg provides us not only information on this little known military incident, but also with a closing chapter of an obscure yet fascinating aspect of Alberta's early palaeontological heritage.
Through the help of numerous colleagues, Project Oldenburg 2005 was a great success. Contacts on both sides of the ocean helped make this so, and we gladly acknowledge them here.
In Canada/USA, we thank Mr. Egil Bjørnsen from the Royal Norwegian Consulate, Calgary, who provided logistical support and loaned a Norwegian flag. P.J. Enright (Seattle, WA), a Möwe historian in his own right, posted the expedition daily updates. Dr. Eva Koppelhus (Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, AB) did some translations.
In England, thanks to Drs. Angela Milner and Sandra Chapman (The Natural History Museum, London) for access to the palaeontology collections, Dr. William T. Blows for assistance, and Catherine Witt, Enquiries Section, Commonwealth War Grave Commission (Maidenhead).
In Norway, we thank: Mr. Lasse Olav Bell (Vadheim Electrochemiske Fabrikker A/S); NRK Television (Førde); Dr. Karin Pittman (Canadian Consulate, Bergen); our support divers, Messrs. Øystein Dragvik and Ståle Tveitane for their able assistance; Messrs. Sverre Søgnen (Gol), Arthur Søgnen (Førde), Knut Haugen (Vadheim), Ole Systad (Vadheim) and Ms. Gunvor Vik (Vadheim) for their recollections of the sinking of the Oldenburg in 1945. Tom Erik Guldberg (Oslo) provided figure 3 (top). Thanks to Miss Aud Slettehaug (Naustdal), curator of the Black Friday Museum for her recollections of the "Black Friday" raid near Førde and for hosting us. Dr. Jørn Hurum (Geologisk Museum, Oslo) and Mr. Halvor Sperbund (Bergen) made contact with Norwegian media and the latter offered helpful advice and information. The warm welcome and assistance of our hotel hosts at Vadheim Fjordstue (www.vadheim-fjordstue.no/), Mr. Børge L. Forthun and Mrs. Marie Karin Kuammen is gratefully acknowledged. Ms. May Britt Eide (Vadheim) provided some translation service. We also wish to thank Mr. Kjartan Longva (Reeve of the Høyanger municipality) and all of Vadheim's citizens who made us feel welcome.
The senior author and the rest of the team wish to thank the second author who funded virtually all aspects of the expedition. The manuscript was edited by Patty Ralrick (Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Calgary).
Our personal and corporate sponsors were: Mr. Sheldon Graber (Grande Prairie, AB); Grande Prairie Regional College; Nortech Diving, Grimstad, Norway; PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors; www.padi.com); Procom Diving (www. procomdiving.com); and Whites Manufacturing Ltd (www.whitescoldwater.com). Their support is gratefully acknowledged.
Contacting the authors
Darren H. Tanke
SS Mount Temple Research Project
Canada T0J 0Y2
Robin M. Rondeau
5135, 50th Street
Canada T0B 1V0
Anonymous 1988. Vadheim, Norway [Map]. Norge 1:50,000. Topografisk Hovedkartserie, Serie M711, Blad 1217 III.
____2003. Dinosauren har fått igjen Halen sin. [The dinosaur has got its tail back again]. In Norwegian. Aftenposten Nettutgaven newspaper, September 8, 2003. Online Dec. 21, 2004 at: www.aftenposten.no/viten/article621313.ece
____2005a. Des experts espèrent récupérer des fossiles de dinosaures dans une épave. [Experts hope to recover dinosaur fossils from a shipwreck]. In French. Online January 25, 2005 at: http://mesnouvelles.branchez-vous.com/Nationales/050117/ N0117116U.html
____2005b. Luftslaget over Sunnfjord. [Airbattle over Sunnfjord].
Online April 15, 2005 at: www.nrk.no/nyheter/distrikt/ nrk_sogn_og_fjordane/fylkesleksikon/1360178.html [There is a link for a 13 minute Norwegian-language NRK television news story on the Black Friday raid at this website. It was made in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the attack. Go to the website main page, look for the box with the title "LYD OG VIDEO", and click on the link "Den Svarte fredagen" [The Black Friday]. Lots of WWII gun camera footage, etc].
____2005c. Flyvrak-World War II aircraft wrecksites in Norway. Online April 14, 2005 at: http://home.no.net/kjellsor Ballestad, A.G. 2005. Dykker i Dypet for Discovery. [Dive in the deep for discovery]. Agderposten, Monday, February 7, 2005, p. 6-7.
Berge, K.-R. 2003. Fem farlege år på Kysten. [Five dangerous years]. p. 124-127. In: Havet Tok-78 Forlis og Skipsulukker i Sogn og Fjordane. [The sea took-78 shipwrecks and ship accidents in Sogn and Fjordane]. Edited by M. Toft. Førde: Selja Forlag.
Curley, V. 2004. The PT interview: Darren Tanke. Prehistoric Times, No. 66, p. 49-53.
Cutler, W.E. 1922. The badlands of Alberta. The Canadian Illustrated Monthly, January, p. 19-25, 50-51.
Delgado, J.P. 2001. Lost warships: An archaeological tour of war at sea. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver.
Eide, M.B. 2005a. Historia om "Oldenburg" blir Dokumentarfilm. [History of Oldenburg to become a documentary]. Firda Måndag, Monday, February 7, 2005, p. 20. Online March 31, 2005 at: www.firda.no/nyhende/lokaleny-hende/article 1446 111 .ece
____2005b. "SS Mount Temple" og "Oldenburg". [SS Mount Temple and Oldenburg]. Online March 31, 2005 at: www.firda. no/nyhende/lokalenyhende/article 1446113.ece
____2005c. Ein heil Delegasion. [A delegation]. Online March 31, 2005 at: www.firda.no/nyhende/lokalenyhende/ar-ticle1446114.ece __2005d. La ned Krans på Fjordbotnen. [Lay down wreath on the bottom of the fjord]. Online March 11, 2005 at: www. firda.no/nyhende/lokalenyhende/article1489229.ece
Enright, P.J. 2004. Hilfskreuzer SMS Moewe. www.smsmoewe.com
Friesen, M. 2004. Dinosaurs of the deep: 2005 expedition will view the ship that sank five tons of dino bones. Lookout (CFB Esquimalt, BC), vol. 49, no. 13, p. 8-9.
Geithus, R. 2005. Frå Dinosaurjakt til Vadheim. [From dinosaur hunt to Vadheim]. Ytre Sogn, Friday, March 4, 2005, p. 6.
Gordon, I. 1995. Strike and strike again: 455 Squadron RAAF 1944-45. Banner Books, Belconnen.
Haug, T. 2005. "Oldenburg" blir Discovery-Documentar. [Oldenburg to become a documentary on discovery]. Bergens Tidende, Thursday, March 3, 2005, p. 32.
Hoyt, E.P. 1969. The phantom raider. Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.
Johnsrude, L. 2005a. Diving for dinosaurs at the bottom of the Atlantic: Alberta experts lead team hoping to recover bones sunk by Germans in First World War. The Edmonton Journal, Monday, January 17, 2005, p. A1, A7.
____2005b. Ghost of the abyss comes alive for Alberta shipwreck explorer: Dive team hopes German warship will lead to Canadian vessel carrying dinosaur bones. The Edmonton Journal, Monday, April 11, 2005, p. A1-A2. Also online at: www.canada.com/co.../printstory4.aspx?id=d986cbb3-cba9-416d-abd6-d8ebdb4be74 [Reprinted as: Albertan explores sunken "mystery ship": Cargo aboard German warship remains a puzzle 60 years later. The Calgary Herald, Sunday, April 24, 2005, p. B6].
Kelsey, E. 2003. Deep-sea palaeontology. In: Canadian dinosaurs. Maple Tree Press, Toronto, p. 24-25.
Kucher, G. 2003. Fossils may be recovered from Atlantic Ocean. The Drumheller Mail, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003, p. A1, A3.
Russell, L.S. 1966. Dinosaur hunting in western Canada. Royal Ontario Museum, Life Science Contribution No. 70.
Schafer, T. 2005. Dinosaur bones sunken treasure to local man. The Drumheller Mail, Wednesday, February 16, 2005, p. 6.
SCRET (Submerged Cultural Resources Exploration Team), 2005. Online April 5, 2005 at: www.scret.org
Søgnen, A. 2005. Senkinga av "Oldenburg" i Vadheimsfjorden, April 1945. [Sinking of Oldenburg in Vadheim Fjord, April 1945]. Eyewitness deposition (penned February 9, 2005) in possession of senior author, 2 p.
Søgnen, S. 2003. Piratskipet på Botnen av Vadheimsfjorden. [Pirate ship on bottom of Vadheim Fjord]. In: Havet Tok: 78 Forlis og Skipsulukker i Sogn og Fjordane. [The sea took: 78 shipwrecks and ship accidents in Sogn and Fjordane]. Edited by M. Toft. Selja Forlag, Førde.
Spalding, D.A.E. 2001. Bones of contention: Charles H. Sternberg's lost dinosaurs. In: Mesozoic vertebrate life: New research inspired by the paleontology of Philip J. Currie. Edited by D.H. Tanke and K. Carpenter. University of Indiana Press: Bloomington, p. 481-503.
Talbot, N. 2003. Lost treasure: Paleontologist embarks on search for fossils in sunken ship. Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune, Monday, September 22, 2003, p. 5.
____2005. Paleontologist involved in area digs now on trail for
long-lost fossils on the ocean floor. Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune, Friday, January 21, 2005, p. 4.
Tanke, D.H. 2003. Dinosaurs in the deep: The sinking of the SS Mount Temple and related military histories. In: Alberta Palaeontological Society, Seventh Annual Symposium, abstracts volume. H. Allen (ed.). Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, March 15-16, 2003, p. 62-77.
____in prep. Paleo cold case: On the trail of Cutler's lost dinosaur.
____and Enright, P.J. 2003. Dinosaurs in the deep. Internet website launched January 11, 2003. URL: www.ssmount-temple.com
____and Rondeau, R.M. 2004a. What lies beneath: The 2005 Oldenburg expedition. In: Alberta Palaeontological Society, Eighth Annual Symposium, abstracts volume. H. Allen (ed.). Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta. March 20-21, 2004, p. 61-64.
____and____2004b. Dinosaurs in the deep six: The 2005 D/S Oldenburg Expedition. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 24, no. 3, p. 120A.
____and____2005. Project Oldenburg 2005: Return to Germany's most successful warship, Vadheim, Norway. In: Alberta Palaeontological Society, Ninth Annual Symposium, abstracts volume. H. Allen (ed.). Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta. March 19, 2005, p. 36-38.
____, Hernes, N.L. and Guldberg, T.E. 2002. The 1916 sinking of the SS Mount Temple: Historical perspectives on a unique aspect of Alberta's palaeontological heritage. Canadian Palaeobiology, no. 7, p. 5-26.
Ulvedal, T. 2005. Heidra Krigsoffer med Krans på Fjordbotnen. [Acknowledgement of war dead with wreath on fjord bottom]. Bergens Tidende, Friday, March 4, 2005, p. 5. Online March 18, 2005 at: www.bt.no/lokalt/sf/article346893
Walter, J. 1994. The Kaiser's pirates: German surface raiders in World War One. Arms & Armour, London.
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Young, P. 2004. Norway, part 3. In: SubScript: The Sunstar Sub Aqua Newsletter, May, 2004, p. 2-4. Online December 25, 2004 at: www.sunstar.org.uk.subscript/2004-05_subscript.pdf
Last Revision: June 15, 2005.