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Walnut ship

S.S. Walnut

Originally built as a British Naval Corvette, the Walnut was purchased by a group of individuals intending to use her as their escape to freedom.

The HMS Walnut  (T 103) was built by Smiths Dock Company at South Bank, Middlesbrough for the British Royal Navy during the Second World War.   Completed in 1939, it was built as a tree-class trawler which were a class of anti-submarine naval trawlers.  It was part of a group of ten minesweepers that were commanded by New Zealanders in the 24th and 25th anti-submarine and minesweeping flotillas where they protected convoys on the east coast of Britain.  The ships faced numerous Germain air and sea attacks.  After the war, a Swedish company purchased three such ships and converted them into cargo ships.  

The Walnut group as we now call them, where meanwhile looking for a way to escape to Canada.  They began to collect funds under the name "Lennuk", which literally means "airplane" but probably had the meaning "flight fund".  On the 10th of September, an organization named Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. is formed in  Göteborg for the purpose of searching for and purchasing a ship.  With the proceeds from the sale of shares and passage monies collected, the SS Walnut is purchased from the Swedish firm Stem Olson Company Limited for a price of 225,000 kr; $63,000.

Refitting begins in Göteborg and necessary lifeboats are purchased for an additional cost of 140,000 kr.  Public interest is intense in the upcoming voyage so the ship is moved to the small port of Lysekil, near the boarder of Norway where passengers eventually board once preparations are complete.

Walnut ship drawing

Design, Description, Service

The British Royal Navy allied warship fleet included 9,514 warships made up of 52 different types of ships, one of which were the MS Trawlers (724 ships).  One class of trawlers was the Tree Class (20 ships).  

All ships of the Tree Class:

HMS Acacia (T 02) 
HMS Almond (T 14) - Lost on February 2nd, 1941 
HMS Ash (T 39) - Lost on June 5th, 1941
HMS Bay (T 77) 
HMS Birch (T 93) 
HMS Blackthorn (T 100) 
HMS Chestnut (T 110) - Lost on November 30th, 1940 
HMS Deodar (T 124) 
HMS Elm ( T 105)
HMS Fir (T 129)
HMS Hazel (T 108)
HMS Hickory (T 116) - Lost on October 22nd, 1940
HMS Juniper (T 123) - Lost on June 8th, 1940
HMS Mangrove (T 112) 
HMS Olive (T 126) 
HMS Pine (T 101) - Lost on January 31st, 1944 
HMS Rowan (T 119) 
HMS Walnut (T 103) 
HMS Whitethorn (T 127)
HMS Wistaria (T 113)

Commands listed for HMS Walnut (T 103)

1.  Skr. Tom Smith, RNR - from December 16th, 1939 to July 23rd, 1940

2.  Lt. Cdr. Gordon Bridson, RNZNVR - from July 23, 1940 to September 26, 1941.

3.  T/Lt. Charles Patrick Hamilton-Adams, RNVR - From September 26, 1941 to February 14th, 1944.

4.  T/Lt. George Robert Clews, RNVR - From February 14th, 1944 to December 12th, 1945.


Service Timeline


HMS Walnut

Name:  HMS Walnut
Builder:  Smiths Dock Company, South Bank, Middlesbrough, England.
Yard number:  755
Laid down:  June 15, 1939
Launched:  August 12, 1939
Completed:  December 31, 1939
Identification:  Pennant number T103
Fate:  Sold to Stem Olson Company Limited in 1948
Source:  Miramar Ship Information Databased, Record No. 5185985

Speed:  11.5 knots
1 x QF 12-pounder (76 mm) anti-aircraft gun
2 .5" AA (1x2)
4 MG AA (2x2)


SS Walnut

Owner:  Stem Olson Company Limited
Port of registry:  Gothenburg, Sweden
Acquired:  1948
Fate:  Sold to Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. in 1948.


SS Walnut

Owner:  Compania Maritima Walnut S.A.
Port of registry:  Panama City, Panam
Acquired:  1948
Fate:  Court Auction in 1949, Salvaged, Sold to Borromee Verreault Company 1951



Owner:  Borromee Verreault Company
Port of registry:  Halifax, Nova Scotia
Fate:  Broken up Les Méchins, Quebec, December 1976 by Nittolo Metal Company
Source:  Miramar Ship Information Database, Record No. 5185985

Armed Trawlers

Their Role during the Second World War

Courtesy of the Guildford BSAC HMT Pine Project - Project Report April 2012-May 2013 by Members of the Guildford Branch of the British Sub Aqua Club.  Author:  Anne-Marie Mason, Diving Officer, Guildford BSAC.  © GBSAC 2013.  Used with permission.

The Role of Armed Trawlers

Armed Trawlers played an important role in the Second World War. The start of the Second World War saw a huge rise in the industrial needs of Great Britain. Our allies and trading partners had only one way to get the raw materials into this country and that was via the sea - we are after all an island nation. Raw materials were brought in from across the globe to British ports and harbours, but they required protecting throughout their journey. This protection was afforded by merchant ship via the Royal Navy, but it left one vital link in the chain unguarded and that was the final approach to our coastline.  

Initially the armed trawler was a simple and effective attempt to protect the ports and harbours of the country. The navy quickly saw the benefit in converting fishing trawlers to protection duties around the approaches to our major ports; after all who better to police the local area than the local fishermen? Many trawlers were quickly converted to both antisubmarine and mine-sweeping duties and crewed with the experience of the local fishing fleets.   

This worked well for the fishermen as the boats they knew how best to handle were the very fishing boats being converted for war. Those self-same boats were highly seaworthy and able to put out to sea in all weathers. They became the work horse of coastal protection with many and varied roles, from the opening and closing of boom gates, barrage balloon tethers, anti-submarine warfare and sweeping the approaches for drifting submerged mines.   

The navy initially classified the requisitioned trawlers’ by manufacturer and 3 classes of requisitioned trawler came about; they were the Mersey, Strath and Castle classes. It was only later that the navy began to commission new trawlers to be built and all subsequent classes of trawler had the same ancestry. It was the trawler Basset built in 1935 that all subsequent armed trawlers’ were based upon. There were 13 sub classes of armed trawlers, they were Basset, Tree, Dance, Shakespearian, Isles, Admiralty, Portuguese, Brazilian, Castle, Hills, Fish, Round Table and Military class, in total 250 armed trawlers were built between 1935 and 1945.   

With the invasion and subsequent liberation of France, a new phase in the war emerged and the armed trawlers were suddenly called to serve in a new and unfamiliar capacity, this time as convoy protection; a role they were woefully unsuited for both in fire power and manoeuvrability. Many convoys’ plied the coastal routes and armed trawlers were called to provide protection from submarines to these convoys. The slow speed of the trawlers meant that often should a trawler be called away to investigate a submarine sighting or engage the enemy of any kind they would quickly drop behind the convoy and many hours would go by before the trawlers’ could return to their positions.   

The German U-boat captains knew of the short comings of the trawlers and would play a cat and mouse game with the armed trawlers. The U-boats could outpace the armed trawlers on the surface so would let themselves be sighted before turning and trying to outrun the armed trawlers to get to a position enabling them to engage the allied convoys. (Page 62-63)  

Armed trawlers were stationed in small fleets anywhere the admiralty thought they were required. Many stationed around the coast of Britain, in Shetland, Plymouth, Portland, Portsmouth and Rosyth. A number of armed trawlers were stationed further afield from Iceland through Gibraltar and the Mediterranean to the Azores and South Africa. The humble armed trawler made her presence felt across the globe. (Page 64).

Ship Statistics

 Based on 1948 Report of Survey (Abstract)

Report of survey made by surveyors to Bureau Veritas in Gothenburg, 16th of October 1948, declared: 

"...have found the hull of the ship in good condition... ...The main and auxiliary machinery has today been tested in working condition without any remarks.   ....that the ship with machinery in our opinion is in good and seaworthy condition... Reason for selling: Owners, a group of immigrants who.... [part of document is missing]"


- Class and type: Tree-class trawler
- Displacement: 545 tons
- Length: 164' (50 m)
- Breadth: 27' 6" (8.43 m)
- Depth mid: 15 feet
- Service drafts: 12' 6" and 8' 6"
- Hull: steel
- Gross tons - 550,11 ap;
- Net register - 278,95 ap;
- The possible cargo capacity when converted - about 700 tons;


- One 850 HPT (630 kW), triple expansion reciprocating steam engine, 1 shaft, with two fed water pumps and 1 air pump, w bilges;
- Cylinders: 13 1/2", x 23" x 38" diam.;
- Stroke 27";
- Boiler type - Scotch, cylindrical ret. tube 3 furnace;
- Pressure 200 lbs, heat surface 2650;
- Fuel consumption about 10-12 tons, 24 hours and speed for such at 10-12 knots;
- Bunker capacity 180 tons;
- Fresh water capacity 28 tons (feed) domestic water 40.8 tons (3 tanks); 

Walnut ship statistics

Auxiliary Machinery:

- Circulating pump 1; Generators 2-7, 5 and 15 kw. fan - 1 for forced draught, all steam driven; (Make: Sison & Co. England) Dynamo 15kw 110v L S&E Gen. SC 7" x 4 1/2"; All in very good working condition;  
- Winch - 1;  


- Power anchors - 2, each about 700 kg.;  
- Stream anch. 1 - 150 kg and 180 fath.; 
- 28 mm stud chain cable; 
- Lifeboats 5, rafts 4, life belts 300; 
- Fire fighting equipment in each large room are a fireplug, hoses and fire extinquisher; 

Sanitary Equipment:

- Baths - 2;
- Washrooms - 2;
- Closets - 4; 
- Frigidaires - 2; 

Special Navigational Equipment:  

- Gyro compass - 1;
- Echo impulsator - 1;
- Radio direction-finder - 1; 
- Radio transmitter and receiver - 1;  


- Good for all crew members and officers;
- 2 kitchen; 

Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. Artefacts

Undated Sailing report prepared by Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. Executive

Walnut sailing report

Partial Minutes

Partial Minutes from the 1st meeting of the Compania Maritima Walnut S.A.

Walnut ship shares

Ship Shares

Those interested in traveling with the ship were required to purchase shares to cover the cost of ship sale and retrovitting.  (Names have been blurred.)

Coal slip

Coal Invoice

Invoice slip of additional coal purchased in Ireland.

Compania Maritima Walnut S.A.

Compania Maritima Walnut S.A.

The seal for the passenger co-operative.

Walnut Minute Book

Minute Book

Eduard Roiser was the Secretary that kept the minutes for the co-operative.

Walnut Minute book first page.

First Page

The first entires (in Estonian) forming the Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. co-operative.

Walnut Minute Book

Minute Book Entries

Minutes of all meetings relating to the ship's purchase, retrofit, boarding, etc. were noted.

Ship co-operative "Compania Maritima Walnut S.A." 
formation meeting minutes.

The English translation of the following portions of the Co-operative Minute Book are not a verbatim exact duplication of the Estonian text, but rather a very close English version of the original.  Translated by Tiiu Roiser-Chorowiec . Some names are identified only with initials to protect their privacy. If the individuals involved, or their families, wish full names shown or removed, please contact us.  

Ship co-operative "Compania Maritima Walnut S.A."  formation meeting minutes - Meeting # 1 

"The meeting was held at Samla Kvibergskola rooms, Artollerigatan 8 in Göteborg on October 27th, 1948. The meeting commenced at 18:30.  The meeting was opened by Mr. Suursööt. Mr. Suursööt was unanimously elected to chair the meeting. The meeting agenda was presented as: 

1. Meeting opening; 
2. Information reporting;
3. Compania Maritima Walnut S/A Statutes; 
4. Elections;
5. New business. 

The agenda was approved as presented. 

The Chairman presented an overview concerning the purchase of a ship. He advised that a voyage under the flag of Sweden was not possible and that it was necessary to acquire for the ship a different flag as well as an official co-operative since our ship is not appropriately appointed for passengers according to the rules of Sweden.

The ship is now registered under Panama and can operate world-wide. Since time was of the essence, the previous "Lennuk" executive appointed a temporary executive to continue matters until a general meeting, since in the interim it was not possible to stop work since the winter is approaching. Mr. Suursööt expanded on difficulties faced since it is prohibited for fugitives to purchase decent ships. Only old inappropriate ships are available for purchase, and others only with the approval of the King. To stop working on the acquisition of a ship may have taken over a year. This route was not possible.

An accounting was next given indicating that a ship had been purchased and most of the renovations had been completed and paid for. There is a balance of 60 000 kroons which should be sufficient for the purchase coal, food and other minor expenditures. 45% of shares have been paid in full, 55% are in reserve. Mr. Remmel advised that the invoices have been checked in general and agree with the bookkeeping records. Due to a shortage of time, it was not possible to review every aspect in great detail.  

The general meeting took note of the accounting report and continued with the meeting.

The statutes/bylaws of the Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. were read allowed by Mr. Kalbus..."

[There are 10 Sections with 33 paragraphs under the headings of:    

(I) Intent, activity and location/Eesmärk, tegevus ja asukoht; 
(II) Assets/varad;  
(III) Rights/õigused;  
(IV) Institutions/Organid; 
(V) General Meeting/Peakoosolek;  
(VI) Executive/Juhatus; 
(VII) Audit Committee/Revisjonikomisjon; 
(VIII) Reporting/Aruandmine;  
(IX) Member Rights and Responsibilities/ Liikmete õigused ja kohustused;   
(X) Liquidation/Tegevuse likviteerimine. 

The aim of the co-operative is as follows: The "A/S Walnut" is established for all kinds of shipping, passenger transport, and fishing purposes under the location of Panama, under which delegates may operate all over the world for a period of 99 years.

The Minutes of the first meeting also included discussions concerning to whom to sell shares with some of the opinion not to sell to anyone not travelling on the ship while others encouraging the sale to anyone.

A new Executive was elected:

Mr. S
Eduard Roiser
Mr. L 
Mr. V 

The audit committee included Reginald Remmel, Mr. V and Mr. K.
The meeting ended at 22:30

Further excerpts indicate that more renovations to the ship were necessary than previously anticipated. The Captain explained that Swedish officials had surveyed the ship and were demanding extra lifeboats. He further stated that barring anything unforeseen, passengers may soon be called to assemble.

The Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. Minute Book was donated by Tiiu Roiser to the Pier 21 Museum August 2016.  
It is now a part of the Museum's permanent Walnut collection.

Tiiu Roiser

Above:  Tiiu Roiser and Jennifer Hevenor, the Collection Manager at Pier 21 Museum.

Further entries in the Minute Book describe the following events:  

October 28, 1948 onboard the Walnut - It was decided that all passengers need to bring their own bedding. A doctor would be taken on board under the following conditions:  Free passage including a free share.

November 22, 1948 -  Another entry into the journal was made while onboard the ship in Ireland. In attendance were the Executive and Audit Committee. On the agenda was final ship investments --

"Due to ship inspections resulting in further expenditures, (ca. 10,000 kr.), the two-week delay in beginning the journey (ca. 10,000) and the unexpected necessity for more coal, the co-operative has had larger than budgeted expenses."

To cover the extra expenses it was decided to sell the remaining shares below face value for $40 each. This mentioned sale is for current shareholders only."

The bulk of the Minute Book deals with the payment of crew and the disposition of the ship. In order to acquire assets, it was decided to sell the ship as quickly as possible. They were looking to sell the ship for $30,000. There is some mention of an offer for $28,000 that seems to have fallen through and another offer of $20,000 with a buyer that needed a week to gather funds. Another offer of $10,000 was received which was further reduced to $7,500.  As reported in Halifax newspapers, in December of 1950, the ship was vandalized, stripped of her brass fittings and the sea cocks opened. She sank in 20 feet of water on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbor.

At some point an undated summary of events was prepared - written in English - assumedly prepared by the Executive? The following are excerpts:  

"The Compania Maritima Walnut S.A. was founded in the interest of a group of people (refugees) who had seen the red terror in their homeland and now wished to get further away from it choosing the free Canada as their destination. In accordance with Swedish regulations these people got organized whose aim was to cross the Atlantic in a vessel purchased by a common effort. So a company was founded, the statue of which was registered in the Register of Panama. It was understood that the company was not to aim for any financial gains and that this common enterprise was to be liquidated as soon as the vessel got sold on reaching Canada, as everybody knows, the company has not possessed any other funds besides the vessel.

The management (Board of Directors) has never received any pay for their duties and since arriving in Canada has not been hiring any extra help to whom one could have given the job of informing the shareholders...In connection with our bookkeeping we possess documents in four languages (English, Swedish, Spanish and Estonian).... If we had to have these documents translated copies made of and sent to .....the expense would be considerable and the majority of the shareholders do not find it acceptable... 

On arriving in Canada everybody on the vessel was detained in a detention camp for medical and political screening. This lack of freedom to move outside the camp hindered the company's next step - selling of the vessel. Later when more freedom to move outside the camp was given the Management started busy activities in trying to sell the vessel. The sale offer was advertised in newspapers, shipbrokers were consulted etc. After a time we received the permit from the Canadian authorities to remain in this country and the members of our organization left the camp for various destinations all over Canada. The vessel had been docked in the French Cable Wharf, Halifax and according to the CNR regulations it was necessary to arrange a watch on her. As the company did not possess any funds it was agreed with the watch that as soon as the vessel was sold the watch would get his pay. The long and busy activities in trying to sell the vessel did not give any results. The Management of the company was very anxious to get the vessel sold because they are holding the biggest number of shares. It was also understood that any of the shareholders was welcome to have a try at selling the boat. Several shareholders tried, but unfortunately without any success. Then the CNR needed the wharf and the vessel was moved by them to another place where the expenses for watch duties properly carried out would have been considerably greater, and at the shareholders meeting it was decided against raising any funds for a more adequate watch. Also the suggestion to bring the vessel to Montreal or Toronto where the watch could have been arranged more cheaply was turned down. Some shareholders even commented that let the boat sink rather than that they should finance her any further. When the sinking really happened it came as a blow to everybody. The Canadian authorities believe that the cause of sinking was hooliganism. Some time later, the vessel was sold by Canadian authorities in view to pay the watch who was asking for the pay due to it...."

Records indicate that as at 1949, total income for the co-operative was $7,714.85.  Expenditures totalled $7,045.97.  After the Walnut was salvaged and sold, the Courts paid out $3,439.85.  From these monies attorney fees and various claims were paid.  

Pier 21 records indicate that the ship was sold at auction in 1951, rebuilt by Borromee Verreault of Mechins, QC, renamed KETA and traveled on the St. Lawrence and in the Arctic until it broke up in 1975.

Captain August Linde, was a Master Mariner, ticketed for the deep sea.