Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Source for "In Memoriam Ingvald Bjorndal And His Comrade"

Just thought I'd give you a taster of my latest Lowry research.

I have been diving deeper and deeper into Lowry - I was reading Chris Ackerley's excellent "Explanatory Annotation" in the The Collected Poetry Of Malcolm Lowry. I was sitting there thinking of what Chris had written and how my own "encyclopedia" was growing. His essay could have been a preface to what I am trying to achieve! I was thinking that the more I delved the more I was connecting with Lowry's sources.

As I leafed through Chris's annotations to the poems, I noticed that he had been unable to discover the source of Ingvald Bjorndal in the poem In Memoriam Ingvald Bjorndal And His Comrade. I thought let's have a try and behold Lowry's source rises from the deep of the Net in the form of a Montreal Gazette newspaper article from January 29th 1941 as seen above.

Lowry has virtually used all the words of the article for his poem. This discovery does shed some light on how Lowry scooped up material and "assembled" it into his own work. He may have written down notes or, as you can see in the University Of British Columbia archives, he cut out articles and pasted them into notebooks. The best published example of how he "assembled" his work can be read in La Mordida which was only published in 1996.

In both the above article in the Montreal Gazette and Lowry's poem, you are left with the impression that Ingvald Bjorndal perished. However, I did turn up the following possibility that he survived.

I found this extract on the War Sailors website concerning the last voyage of a Norwegian ship Thorstrand:

Captain Anthonius Stave. Thorstrand departed Liverpool alone on Febr. 27-1943 with about 1500 tons general cargo for St. John, N. B. She was torpedoed and sunk on March 6 by U-172 (Emmermann), position 41 23N 42 59W. Page 4 of the archive documents gives the time as about 19:17 (J. Rohwer gives time as 23:07). The torpedo struck on the port side in No. 3 hatch, destroying the port midships lifeboat. 4 died while 35 crew and the 8 passengers survived.

The next morning, the motor lifeboat took the other 2 lifeboats in tow, heading for the Azores. 1 of the lifeboats had to be given up due to leaks, and after 3 injured men had been transferred to the motorboat it was ordered to go on ahead. It was located on March 14 by an American ship and its occupants landed at Casablanca on the 21st, while the lifeboat continued sailing for 11 days until they on March 17 were taken in tow to Flores by a motorboat which came out ("Nortraships flåte" gives the sinking position as 41 23N 42 50W).

Listed in the survivors was one Ingvald Bjorndal a mechanic - I wonder!

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