THE SHIP, WITH A CARGO of fish bound for Germany, was anchored on the west side of Vadheim in Sognefjorden in Norway. She was in convoy with another merchant vessel and two escort ships, V5301 and V5302, old armed whaling boats.
Twenty-one RAF Beaufighter and 16 Mustang aircraft then turned up, and the ships’ crews were mistaken if they thought the high mountains around the fjord would afford them any protection.
Their AA guns went into action, but several rockets struck Oldenburg beneath the waterline, and she started taking on water and sinking.
There is an old picture showing her lying lopsided and burning, but only one of the crew and seven of the AA crew were injured.
Albert Carr, a former 489 Squadron pilot who took part in the attack, visited Vadheim in 1987.
He said that on that morning in 1945 he had expected a warm welcome from the well-armed German ships and his plane had been hit, although he had managed to fly back to base.
Later, the British aircraft clashed in the outer part of Sognefjorden with German planes based near Bergen, with losses on both sides. The other cargo ship, Wolfgang LM Russ, survived, although it was to be sunk the following month in Danish waters.
The stern lies at a depth of 75m. Unfortunately the gun has fallen off and is lying in the mud.
The wreck of the Oldenburg lies on the west side of the fjord, and it’s a shore-dive. A small road leads down to a red house with a private parking area, but the owner doesn’t mind divers parking there if they put the required fee (the equivalent of £5) in the mailbox near the steps he has placed to make it easy to get into the water.
Ultimately he tells me that he plans to rent out the house, which would be perfect for diving.
From the steps, it’s 80m out to the buoyed wreck, and there is normally a buoy on it.
On descent, the first thing you notice is the stern at around 27m. The vessel lies on its starboard side and the stern, with its big anchor openings, is raised some metres above the bottom. It seems that the wreck must have slid down the slope.
The anchor and chain is gone, but the anchor-winch is still on the deck.
A little further down lies a platform for an anti-aircraft gun, possibly a 20mm flak gun. There is a steel plate around the edge, but it lies inverted in the mud and it appears as if the gun is still down there.
After the first cargo hold comes the mast and loading frame, which trail down to the seabed with overgrown wires still connected picturesquely to the railing. The crow’s nest still hangs on the mast.