S.S. Walnut

A voyage to Freedom - 1948

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Into God's Hands

 A stormy sea -
the water 
looms endless -
cold and frigid;

We leave behind 
those we have loved
things we have known;

All my possessions
in one small suitcase -
are easy to pack;

What fate awaits us?

Together we came
with dread -
yet filled  with hope;

Into God's hands -
we placed our dreams
and our lives;

Deliver us all
from evil
Your kingdom come;

We thank You -
for this second chance
our lives anew.

Tiiu Roiser 
Dec. 2008



S.S. Walnut - Facts About the Ship


Engineering sketch of Walnut ship.


Steamship S/S - 755


  • Built in England by Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. in 1939, in accordance to the Rules of British Corporation and Lloyds Register;

  • Steamship S/S - 755;

  • Hull - steel;

  • Length overall - 164' 00;

  • Breadth - 27' 6";

  • Depth mld - 15' 00;

  • Service drafts - 12' 6" and 8' 6";

  • Gross tons - 550,11 ap;

  • Net register - 278,95 ap;

  • The possible cargo capacity when converted - about 700 tons;


  • One 850 HPT, triple exp. steam engine 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);

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;

Original Walnut engineering summary.

Review original Walnut statistical summary.


Report of Survey (Abstract)

Latest report of survey made by surveyors to Bureau Veritas in Gothenburg, 16th of October 1948, declares:

  • ...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]



History of the Ship

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  • Originally built as a British Naval Corvette;

  • A Swedish company purchased three such ships and converted them into cargo ships;

  • Refugees begin search for a ship and collect funds under name "Lennuk" [plane, but probably meaning "flight fund"];

  • 10th of September, 1948, an organization is formed in Göteborg to purchase a ship - Compania Maritima Walnut S/A;

  • With proceeds from the sale of shares and passage monies collected, Walnut is purchased from Swedish firm Stem Olson Company Limited;

  • Purchase price is 225,000 kr; $63,000;

  • Refitting takes place in Göteborg;

  • Purchase of necessary lifeboats costs and additional 140,000 kr;

  • Ship is moved to the small port of Lysekil, near boarder of Norway, in order to avoid public interest.



Views From Aboard

Crowded decks.

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Crowded decks. Passenger luggage.

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Shoveling coal. The engine room. Keeping fires burning.

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Some of the crew. Navigation Crew.

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Tying off the ship. Women's washroom. Crew.


View assorted ship's documents:

Report on sailing of ship.

Partial minutes of Walnut Minute Book.

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


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

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A Thank you booklet was made for an Immigrant Official.  At left, the cover.  At right, the inscription.  
All passengers signed the booklet as a Christmas present.

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Original coal purchase docket from Sligo, Ireland.

Walnut shareholder list.

An original coal purchase docket from Sligo, Ireland.

Shareholder List



The English translations 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 the webmaster. 

The seal of the co-operative.

Eduard Roiser was the Secretary for the "Compania Maritima Walnut S.A." executive and kept the Minute Book.  It is currently in the possession of family Roiser.

Left:  The co-operative's seal.



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

# 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 traveling 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.

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 meeting ended at 22:30."



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.


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