Week 26 – Legend

A legend lives on in the stories people tell each other. Jørgen Joakim Lendal is a legend in our family and one I will write about this week.

Name: Jørgen Joakim Lendal
Birth: 27/9/1908 – Hejninge, Slagelse, Sorø
Marriage: Never married
Spouse: N/A
Death: 28/9/1942 – North Atlantic Sea

Jørgen, my 4th cousin, was born in south-eastern Sealand, the eldest boy in a sibling flock of five boys and one girl. His father was a blacksmith as well as a farmer, but it must have been stressed around the dinner table that a trade was important because his brothers ended up being a bricklayer, electrician, painter and typograf.

Jørgen had other ideas. He wanted to see the world and at the age of 20 is recorded as having crewed a ship into New York from Denmark. The following years have Jørgen working on various cargo ships between New York and the Dominion Republic.

Much later, in 1939, he is again noted as entering New York on a ship and had in the passing years worked his way up from Ships Boy to Chief Officer. This time he was crewing the Danish owned ship ‘M.V. Almena’, which in 1940 was captured by the French Vichi Government and renamed ‘Saint Phillippe’. Jørgen was no longer on this ship, but in 1941 the ‘Saint Philippe’ was handed to the Germans and renamed ‘Bengazhi’ and its faith was sealed in 1942 when it was sunk by the British ‘HMS Turbulent’.

M.V. Almena

Imagine being a crew member on board a merchant ship during WW2. A ship, powered by steam, on her way from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Milford Haven in Wales with a cargo of timber desperately needed in war-torn England. This ship, named ‘S.S. Lifland’, was built in Denmark in 1921 but was in 1940 taken over by Britain and transferred to the Ministry of War Transport. It seems likely that the crew went with the ship when it was transferred as 22 of the 29 seamen on board were Danish nationals, including the master. Only seven were British, whereof three were gunmen from the Royal Navy.

S.S. Lifland

Imagine further being one of these crew members when the ‘Lifland’, straggling the rest of the SC-101 convoy, learned of a German U-boat closing in. In effect, the ship became an unescorted decoy as the convoy sped up and the ‘Lifland’ being unable to keep up with the other ships, was left behind.

U-610 captained by Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen started the chase but it took a full nine hours before a torpedo from the U-boat managed to strike the ‘Lifland’.

Now imagine being forced to abandon ship in the middle of the North Atlantic, where the sea is rarely calm. Whilst sitting in the lifeboats the Germans fired a coup de grace within 20 minutes of the first attack, but this torpedo proved to be a dud, so a third torpedo was fired shortly thereafter striking forward of of the bridge setting the ‘Lifland’ on fire.

The U-boat subsequently surfaced and approached the lifeboats to question survivors, but left soon after as they couldn’t understand the Danish language. Sadly the survivors were never seen again and the ‘Lifland’ was reported missing and presumed sunk in position 56 degrees 40 minutes North/ 30 degrees 30 minutes West in the North Atlantic.

How many hours or days did it take for the surviving crew to finally succumb to the elements?

Such was the fate on the 28th September 1942 of Chief Officer, Jørgen Joakim Lendal, aged 34.

Jørgen is ‘Remembered with Honour’ at the Tower Hill Memorial, Panel 64, Trinity Square, London.

It is of little comfort to learn that U-610, still under the command of Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allemendingen, was sunk in the Atlantic near Ireland a year later by depth charges from a Canadian Sunderland Aircraft. All 51 crew perished. In one year this commander was responsible for the sinking of 4 ships and damage to a fifth. The ‘S.S. Lifland’ being his first casualty.

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