Født: Bjelland - 11 juni 1921
Bosted: Grindheim - Audnedal kommune.
Død: 09 mars 1943
Torje Refsnes seilte som matros i alliert fart, og omkom 9. mars 1943, da M/S ”Tabor” ble torpedert på vei fra Aden til Cape Town.
Kildene forteller:Krigsseilertreffet skriver:
M/S ”Tabor” ble torpedert 9/3 og synker syd av Cape Agulhas i pos. S 38.20', E 23.10' av tysk ubåt U 506 på reise fra Aden til Cape Town. 12 personer omkom.
At 06.13 hours on 9 March 1943 the M/S ”Tabor” (Master Halfdan Andersen) was hit on the port side by one torpedo from the german, type IXC u-boat U-506, commanded by Kapitänleautnant Erich Würdemann, holder of the german Knights Cross, southeast of Cape Agulhas.
The torpedo struck in #4 hold and set the engine room on fire, killing one man on watch below and seriously burnt the first engineer. The ship was disabled completely and all lights went out, forcing the survivors to abandon ship in four lifeboats before a coup de grâce hit the engine room at 07.14 hours. The M/S ”Tabor” remained afloat so the U-boat commenced shelling the ship until she sank at 08.57 hours, also burning at the bridge and amidships.
The Germans questioned the survivors before leaving the area, however the vessel was mistakenly reported as the British steam merchant Pearlmoor.
The injured survivors were transferred to the motor boat and another lifeboat, that went ahead of the others but the first engineer died the first evening and was buried at sea. The lifeboats were separated by stormy weather and high seas and two of them, containing 22 survivors, made landfall at Still Bay on 17 March. Ten survivors in another boat landed at Cans Bay on 18 March. On 19 March, the last lifeboat with 12 survivors capsized about 5 miles off Cape Agulhas, although they all managed to get back into the boat all but two died of exposure during the day.
Minnehallen i Stavern skriver:
M/S ”Tabor” var på uavhengig reise fra Aden til Cape Town i ballast. 9. mars 1943 ble hun torpedert av tysk U506 ( Kapitänleutnant Erich Würdemann ) i posisjon 3820 S og 2310 W. To mann omkom i selve eksplosjonen.
Resten av besetningen gikk i fire livbåter. Ubåten sendte nok en torpedo inn i skipet, hvoretter den skjøt M/S ”Tabor” til vrak. Livbåtene møtte stormfullt vær med voldsomt hav. I 10 døgn gikk det bra, skjønt kaldt vær og hardt arbeid med å holde båtene lens for vann tok på kreftene. 17. mars landet to livbåter med 22 mann i Still Bay, og natten etter kom den tredje båten med 10 mann inn til Cans Bay.
Kontakt med den fjerde båten ble mistet i overhendig vær. Båten kantret, de 12 krabbet om bord igjen, men maktet ikke å holde båten tom for vann. I det kalde vannet ga de opp å ro mot land. 19. mars hadde 10 mann i livbåten gitt opp. De to gjenlevende fortsatte å ro inntil båten støtte på et korallrev. Her fikk de hjelp av soldater og brakt til legebehandling i Bredasdorp, Sør-Afrika. 10 mann omkom.
De norske som omkom med M/S ”Tabor”:
Karl Emil Mathiesen - Båtsmann, Kjell Foss Hansen - Motormann, Edvard Arthur Edvardsen - Elektriker, Torolf Torkildsen - Båtsmann, Harald Stavdal - Maskinsjef, Torje Refsnes - Matros, Leif Aage Næss - Lettmatros, Sverre Aksel Bengtson - Motormann, Ove Aronsen - Motormann, Erling Norman Andreassen - Motormann.
Final Fate - 1943:
M/S ”Tabor” was torpedoed southeast of Cape Agulhas by U-506 (Würdemann) on March 9-1943, position 38 30S 23 10E, when on a voyage from Port Said via Aden to Cape Town in ballast (200 tons salt).
M/S ”Tabor”had sailed from Aden on Febr. 22. The torpedo, which came from the port side, detonated in the tunnel in No. 4 hold and set the tunnel and engine room on fire.
The elctrician was killed there, while the 1st engineer managed to get up on deck but was very seriously burnt all over his body. 1 man in the tunnel (Mechanic Sørensen?) was blown aft by the force of the explosion and was able to climb up the ladder. All electric lights went out and machinery was rendered inoperable.
SOS was sent out with the emergency set, but this was not acknowledged.
The survivors were able to get away in 4 lifeboats before a 2nd torpedo hit in the engine room (at 07:00, half an hour after the first one according to the captain's report), causing a tremendous explosion and fire, but when M/S ”Tabor” still didn't sink the U-boat started shelling her until she finally sank 2 hours later. The shelling had set the bridge and midships intallations on fire as well.
After the ship had gone down, the U-boat came over to the lifeboats to ask the usual questions about ship and cargo. Several of the men were injured and were taken care of as best they could, the wounded having been distributed in No. 4 boat (motor boat) and No. 3 boat.
It was decided that these 2 boats should go on ahead in order to reach land as quickly as possible to get help for the injured. The 1st engineer died quietly the first evening and was buried in the sea the next day.
The boats encountered stormy weather and high seas, so that boat No. 1 lost contact with the others. On March 17, No.'s 3 and 4 boats with 22 on board arrived Still Bay where the men were given medical care, then moved to Riversdale the same day.
Mechanic Sørensen and Able Seaman Jakobsen were admitted to a hospital. Boat No. 2 arrived Cans Bay on March 18 with 10 survivors who were sent to Hermanus the following day (see the note and pictures further down on this page).
The men in the No. 1 boat had seen land in the morning of March 19, but that same day, when about 5 n. miles off land near Cape Agulhas, their boat capsized, and though all 12 had managed to get back in they were unable to keep the water out of it due to the heavy seas. They tried to row towards land, but in the cold water they eventually gave up and at 3 o'clock that afternoon Mechanic Foss Hansen died; by 6 o'clock another 9 were gone. The sea washed 6(?) of the bodies overboard, while the 2 survivors, 2nd Mate Devold and Able Seaman Vindnes desperately tried to reach land, until they only 20 meters from shore encountered a coral reef stretching as far as they could see in both directions. Too exhausted to row around it, they took the risk of heading straight for it and were thrown across by the seas (7 miles west of Cape Agulhas). They broke into an empty house they found and slept there till the next morning, when they met some soldiers who helped them get to Bredasdorp where they were given medical care, before being moved by ambulance to Fairmont Nursing Home in Cape Town. 12 had died, 34 had survived.
Jürgen Rohwer lists Tabor as a steamship, but that's incorrect. He gives the position 37 30S 23 15E (also found in Lloyd's War Losses). U-506 gives his grid position at the time of attack as KY 9415 (37 27S 23 12E). Charles Hocking gives the date as March 7, position "about 250 miles south of Port Elizabeth.
Våre Falne skriver:
REFSNES, TORJE, matros, Grindheim i Vest-Agder. Født 11. juni 1921 i Bjelland, s. av Tobias Aagedal Refsnes, f. 1884, og Guri, f. 1884, begge i Bjelland. Skoleskipskurs. Seilte under krigen i alliert fart, og omkom 9. mars 1943 da M/S ”Tabor” ble torpedert, på vei fra Aden til Cape TownKilder: Krigsseilerregisteret,www.uboat.net, Minnehallen i Stavern, www.warsailors.com og Våre Falne
Registernummer London: 33633
Registernummer New York: 4482