Couple from Norway visit grave in Berwick

A Norwegian couple visited Berwick last week to pay their respects at the grave of one of their ancestors who was drowned during the Second World War.

Thursday, 4th August 2016, 8:50 am
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2016, 9:58 am
Frode Standal and Anne Hauge, whose grandmothers brother was the victim. Picture by Steve Flook

And the trip, which saw the pair lay red, white and blue flowers – representing the Norwegian and British flags – at the grave is just the latest chapter in a story which links Berwick and a small fishing village in Norway.

A number of years ago, the Advertiser reported on resident Beth McCausland and her search for news on the events of February 3, 1940, when the Norwegian ship Tempo was sunk off the Farne Islands by German aircraft, after she found a single war grave in the cemetery.

The grave was that of 38-year-old Andreas Torkelsen from Sand, near Stavanger, who was one of five shipmates drowned in heavy seas.

They were buried in Berwick’s North Road cemetery, before the bodies of four of the men were exhumed in 1955 at the request of their families. But Andreas was left behind.

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Beth and her husband Ernie made regular trips to look after the grave while she researched what had happened and why Andreas had been left behind.

Eventually, a chance meeting with two Norwegian tourists provided her with some leads after she was told that Torkelsen was a common name in Rogaland County and Sand was a small fishing village with a population of around 4,000.

They also suggested writing to the local newspapers in Stavanger and Sand.

Amazingly, Andreas’ niece, Liv Berg Hauge, saw the article and wrote to Beth, enclosing a photograph of her late uncle.

The Stavanger Maritime Museum also wrote to tell her that a few people still remembered Andreas and knew of his brave efforts to swim back to the stricken vessel to save others.

A memorial to Andreas had been built in Sand in 1992 with the message, ‘He gave his life for others’, engraved on it.

Then, the weekend before last, a Norwegian couple came to stay with Steve Flook, who runs Alannah House B&B on Church Street. Their sole purpose in coming to Berwick was to find the grave.

Anne Hauge, whose grandmother’s brother was the victim, and her partner, Frode Standal, from Sofiemyr, did indeed find the grave and laid red, white and blue flowers, representing the Norwegian and British flags,there.

According to Steve, Anne and Frode believe that Beth McCausland, who cared for the grave and carried out the research, has since passed away.

In a contemporary report in the Advertiser, it was reported that the Tempo had been carrying wood pulp and paper from Oslo to Hull, at a time when Norway was neutral in the war. Only one of the crew survived.