I Was There! - I Was Doctor on the Bombed Hospital Ship

The War Illustrated, Volume 2, No. 37, Page 533, May 17, 1940.

In spite of denials by the German news agency, the bombing by German airmen of Norwegian Red Cross ships at Aalesund were confirmed by several trustworthy eye-witnesses, including Professor Leif Kreyberg, of Oslo University. Here is Professor Kreyberg's story of the air attack on the hospital ship Brand IV, of which he was chief doctor.

"The German 'planes", said Professor Kreyberg, "came back again and again, machine-gunning the defenceless Norwegian hospital staff as they took refuge ashore.

"There were about 30 of us aboard", he continued. "The five bombers obviously could not help seeing the large red crosses all over the ship.

"Four high-explosive bombs hit us. The effect was appalling. Two men, standing on either side of me, were killed outright, and we were all more or less seriously wounded. The ship altered course towards land, and ran aground. We left the vessel, expecting that the German pilots had finished their work.

"But the 'planes returned and raked the ground with machine-gun fire. Bullets whistled round us. The nurses had to strip off their white uniforms, which provided too good a target.

"Running for our lives, we sough shelter behind rocks and boulders fro more than an hour, while the 'planes attacked us again and again.

"It makes me shudder to think what would have happened if the sick-berths had been full of wounded.

"A wounded German officer who had been conveyed in the Brand IV had certified to the German authorities by telegram that the ship was only used for Red Cross service." (Reuter's Agency)

Articles in the I Was There! category