A Tribute to the Swedish American Line
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25 Years on the Internet


Rune Dahlstrand
Barber on the Gripsholm During WWII

Page 1

Three pages follow, see link below

Mr Rune Dahlstrand, the last survivor of the Gripsholm's World War II exchange and repatriation voyages, sadly passed away in October 2015.

These pictures have been contributed by Rune Dahlstrand.
Many thanks to Mr. Dahlstrand for sharing these unique memories.

Please email us if you can identify persons whose names aren't noted below the pictures. If you recognize yourself or a relative, and in any way are offended by the picture being published, please send an email and the picture will be removed.

Rune Dahlstrand on the Gripsholm

Läs en artikel i GT om Rune Dahlstrand.

Rune Dahlstrand managed the Beauty Salon and served as a barber on the Gripsholm from 1938 to 1946, during the World War II exchange and repatriation voyages.

As a barber, he met and talked with most of the passengers and crew, from POW's to ambassadors and the ship's officers. The barber shop was an information hub. At the age of 90, Mr Dahlstrand has an extensive knowledge of these voyages.

For an introduction, click on this link to read the summary of the Exchange and Repatriation Voyages, written by Lars Hemingstam.

The Gripsholm's crew members were given U.S. Coast Guard passes, and could see movies and attend USO dances when the ship was laid up in Yonkers. There was no USO organization in Yonkers when the ship arrived for the first time, but a group of ladies formed a chapter. Many crew members were employed in bars and restaurants ashore.

The crew was also offered to study at Columbus University. Only two crew members accepted the offer, one of them was Rune Dahlstrand. He studied import/export administration and English. He was studying while the ship was at sea and took examinations when he returned to New Jersey.

When the Kungsholm was purchased by the U.S. Government after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and renamed John Ericsson, many members of the Kungsholm's crew decided to stay in the United States. In order to become U.S. citizens they served in the Armed Forces. After the war, the army veterans were given priority to purchase army surplus products. Rune Dahlstrand left SAL after the war and teamed up with two of the Kungsholms ex crew members who had served in the army. Together, they started a business selling army surplus goods in Sweden. Later, Dahlstrand traveled the USA, selling imported Swedish products to American retailers.

U.S. stock certificate for
Kerby Dahlstrand Inc., from 1948.

Rune Dahlstrand saved newspaper articles from many ports that the Gripsholm visited.

The Gripsholm arrived in New York from the
second Japanese exchange, on December 1, 1943.

The Gripsholm's first exchange voyage went to the neutral port of Lorenco Marques, Mocambique, the second to Mormugao, Portugese India, both for exchanges of POW's and interness with Japan.

The Gripsholm's service during the exchange voyages was the same as during Atlantic crossings prior to the war, with three classes for passengers. When the American passengers left the Japanese and Italian ships and boarded the Gripsholm during the exchange in Lorenco Marques, many thought it couldn't be true when they saw the food on the tables on deck. American children, who were born abroad, and never had been to the U.S., asked if the candy was edible.


A letter sent from Yonkers, NJ, to Sweden in 1944.

Mail to the crew was carried on ships in convoys across the Atlantic.
The crew received the letters when the ship docked in New Jersey.

The stripes on this letter were applied by the censors
to detect secret messages written in invisible ink.

There were rumors that there were counterfeit dollars on board the Gripsholm.
The crew's pay was confiscated by the Customs Service in December of 1943,
and checked by the Federal Reserve Bank before it was returned.


Rune Dahlstrand's cabin on the Gripsholm.

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