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The shipping broker - Derek Berg

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On a winter’s day in 1913, Sverre Berg left Norway to get experience in shipping offices in Glasgow and Nantes. While Sverre was in Glasgow, war broke out. He describes the devastating effect first of German surface raiders and later U-boats on ship owners and indeed on the course of the war. In Nantes, 200 miles south-west of Paris, Sverre describes his life in the cafés and brasseries along the Quai de la Fosse and the close friendships he struck up with Jimmy Bullock of the Gladiator, Captain Lefevre of the Pilot Service, Madame Rollins, Captain Bonnet of the barque Belle Île and, importantly, Terese. Sverre’s next appointment was to Hong Kong. So in late 1916 he travelled across Russia and Siberia by train just before Russia’s first revolution. His travelling companions included an attractive dance troop and an American selling artificial limbs. Sverre spent twenty-four years in Hong Kong. For a time he was the Norwegian Consul. Business and official duties brought him into contact with warlords, communist revolutionaries and Japanese officials. He witnessed the rise of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek and their endeavours to unify China. It all came to an end on Christmas day 1941 when Sverre Berg of the Royal Hong Kong volunteers was wounded while defending a six inch gun at Fort Stanley and he became a prisoner of war.

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