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POWs of HMS India interned in Norway


knittinganddeath
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I am trying to research internment camps in Norway, both for British and German soldiers. Ran into some roadblocks and was hoping that someone with more expertise could advise.

 

1) There is a POW, Harold Rhys Jenkins from the HMS India, whose impending marriage to a local girl was announced in several Norwegian newspapers. But there is no marriage certificate in the Norwegian archives. This may be because the marriage was celebrated at the English church in Oslo. My conjecture, based on other archival documents, is that he did marry her but only under the orders of his superiors, and later abandoned her.

 

Using British records, is there any way to figure out whether any of the above are true? Unfortunately I only have his name and my attempts to find a POW card (hopefully with a service number) were unsuccessful.

 

2) There are many reports of bad behaviour from British internees at Jørstadmoen camp. In fact, Sailor William Oakley of HMS India and Corporal Philip, who seems not to be associated with that ship, were even charged in civilian courts and sentenced to prison. Would this be reflected in their service records? The above-mentioned Harold also did something bad enough to be sent to prison in Kongsvinger, which was where he met his future wife.

 

Thanks for any help!

 

 

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If it was an English church in Oslo, someone at Lambeth Palace Record Centre may be able to tell you who holds the records. Unfortunately they were already in the middle of transferring to a better standard of record housing when All This interrupted things, so it may be a while before they can advise. Meanwhile, here's the link: https://www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/content/cerc.

 

Best of luck,

sJ

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This looks to be your Harold Rhys Jenkins.

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8291257

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14631220

 

According to UK, Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939 -1953 on Ancestry he died in Grimsby Hospital on 27 May 1948 of a fractured skull while serving as second mate on the SS Stanlodge. No obvious mentions of a marriage in Norway, or anywhere else for that matter.

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For what it's worth, I find a Harold Rhys Jenkins, age 47, leaving Newport (Wales) on 20 July 1945 as second mate in S.S. Fort Miami, and arriving in New York on 1 August.

 

(Oddly, another Harold Rhys Jenkins was born on 30 April 1914, but in Tynemouth (died 1984) - can't see how they can have been connected, though).

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seaJane and Tawhiri, thank you for your help! Now the mysteries both somewhat resolve yet also deepen... 

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You may find the article on http://www.naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-08-HMS_India.htm of help. He is recorded on the same site as a Midshipman. 
To quote from the above site:


„According to information contained in The National Archives documents ADM 1/8429/227 and ADM 116/1440, some of the survivors were taken to Narvik by SS Gotaland and HMT Saxon; others went ashore at Helligvaer in the ship's boats. The men landed by SS Gotaland were allowed to return to the UK but the rest were interned.
HMT Saxon was allowed to leave the neutral port of Narvik within 24 hours. Commander Kennedy of HMS India was offered the chance to sail with her but chose to stay with his men. The dead were buried in Narvik cemetery.“

 

Charlie

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Harold R. Jenkins joined P&0 in March 1915 (SS india) straight from school (Training Ship Conway) and almost immediately his ship was hired by the Admiralty as an armed merchant cruiser. He was appointed a Temporary Midshipman RNR on 24 March 1915. He was interned in neutral Norway following the sinking of his ship on 8th August the same year (but he should not be referred to as a Prisoner-of-War), and there does not appear to have been a marriage registered (he was barely 18 when released). I find the conjecture that he was ordered to marry by a senior officer is somewhat bizarre. The is also no evidence as yet of any marriage ever having taken place (are you suggesting that he got a local girl pregnant?).


According to the postings on Ancestry the name of the woman he was supposed to have married is Theresa Grieg who apparently was a local doctor (again seems very unlikely).

 

Photo and further information here (not all of which is 100% correct)...

 

https://www.theauxiliaries.com/men-alphabetical/men-j/jenkins-hr/jenkins-hr.html

 

The National Archives also has a lot of info on British internees in Norway, but unfortunately this is not available online.

 

Finally, as far as I’m aware, there was a survivor of the sinking named Oakby, who was a Trimmer MMR (but nobody named Oakley, however it could be an OCR issue), and as you say, Corporal Philip was never a member of HMS India’s crew. Have you any information regarding the crimes they may have committed?

 

MB

 

Edited by KizmeRD
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KizmeRD - Thanks for the information and the link. My sources were Norwegian newspapers, which of course are not always reliable, and Riksarkivet. His age does call the whole thing into question, but if he was indeed born in May 1898 then he would have been 20 at the time of the purported marriage.

 

The Marriage Mystery

There is an article from February 1918 headlined "Tamed Nevertheless," in which it is explained that a British internee was sent to Kongsvinger fortress from Jørstadmoen for bad behaviour ("indisciplinær optræden" to such an extent that the newspaper noted he had to be interned alone--"for sig selv"). While at prison he met a local woman "and they are now engaged." The article does not give names.

 

In May of the same year, different newspapers report on the impending marriage of Therese Johansen, daughter of the mason Th. Johansen & wife of Kongsvinger, and Lieutenant Harold Rhys Jenkins, RNR, of Jørstadmoen internment camp. Then in June, on the day of the wedding, the same information is printed again. According to the newspapers, the marriage was celebrated at 1 pm at the English church in Oslo followed by lunch at the Grand Hotel.

 

There is a concerted effort, it seems, to publicise Jenkins' marriage. Two other internees also married local women, but these unions were afforded much less fanfare by the press. Yet as you have pointed out there is no official documentation of the marriage. Furthermore, Harold Jenkins is never present in the Norwegian archives afterwards. Yet a woman named Therese Jenkins, born in 1898, died in the late 1980s, does appear. A Vera Grace Mary Jenkins was born in June 1918--only a few days after the marriage--and died in the early 2000s. Vera's birth certificate is not available; nor does the death certificate list her parents' names. Jenkins is a very uncommon surname in Norway, and it together with the dates and first names made me wonder if these people have a relationship to Harold.

 

There was a lot of bad press about the British internees. One of the reasons that I thought he could have been forced to marry her is because by 1918 the Norwegian press/public would have gone completely mad if it came out that one of the internees had impregnated a local woman and then abandoned her.

 

Crimes Committed by Phillip and Oakley

In October 1917, Corporal Phillip and Sailor Oakley were both in court for having hit a Norwegian camp guard in the face on 17 March 1917. Phillip was further charged for encouraging other internees to break out and come to his help while he was being arrested for that offence, as well as insulting the station master at Fåberg. Phillip was sentenced to 60 days in prison, and Oakley to 21 days; the court found mitigating circumstances when it considered Oakley's case, but doesn't say what they were. They were also fined 15 kroner each for court costs.

 

A list of HMS India survivors that was posted here on the forum several years ago does list a William Oakley as well as Harold R. Jenkins, but I don't know where that list originally came from. As far as I understand, there were other Brits who arrived to be interned in Norway after 1915 so possibly Phillip could have been one of them.

Edited by knittinganddeath
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I look forward to what more can be discovered, as there’s still plenty of uncertainty.

 

If as you say, the marriage took place in June 1918 in the English Church in Oslo, it should be fairly easy to view the details recorded in St. Edmond’s marriage register (the church is still going today). Also it can’t be that difficult to get hold of a copy of the birth certificate of Vera Grace Mary Jenkins in order to check who her father actually was (the surname is not uncommon in UK).

 

Midshipman Harold Jenkins returned to UK in 1918 and was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant RNR in 1919. He then became an ADRIC officer (Ireland) 1920-22. During WW2 he was again at sea as a merchant navy officer, once more surviving the torpedoing of his ship and receiving a commendation (1943).  Died in 1948 of fractured skull (due to accident occurring onboard SS Stanlodge).

 

MB

Edited by KizmeRD
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Certainly many recorded instances of trouble between the internees and their guards, especially after the men’s once a week trip into Lillehammer when they may have returned to camp a bit intoxicated. The men in general appear to have considered their treatment by the guards rather harsher than it needed to be, and frustrations grew as the number of years ticked by - not helped by the fact that the quality and quantity of food became steadily worse (in common with what the Norwegian population in general were experiencing). Boredom and homesickness was also a big factor in their deteriorating morale.
The officers had a lot more liberty and were allowed to live off camp. Several marriages with local women did in fact take place, but still can’t be sure if Mid. Jenkins was one of these.

MB

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