Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1920 & 29

Anton Berntsen (1889 - 1922)

Anton Berntsen was a Norwegian merchant seaman and Chief Officer of the SS Breidablick and tragically drowned in Salford Docks on Christmas Eve 1922 aged 33.


He was born on 13th January 1889 at Selje, a coastal village about 100 miles north of Bergen, Norway. Selje is famous for the ruins of a 12th century Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saint Sunniva, on the nearby Selje Island Saint Sunniva is the country's only female patron saint and is also the patron saint of Bergen.


Not a lot is known about Anton or his ship although the SS Breidablik was registered in Bergen and carried general cargo. The name Breidablik is derived from the home of the Norse God Baldr and means broad gleam. In 1899, the Lloyds Agent at Gravesend reported that "the Norwegian steamer Breidablik from Valencia and a large barge, Alice Mary of Rochester, Kent, collided on Tuesday afternoon above the Nore Light. The latter vessel foundered and all crew saved. The former vessel was uninjured." The maritime news reports have identified some of the ports that the S.S. Breidablik docked at, but it is not known when Anton joined the ship. Lloyd's List 5th February 1900 - Manchester sailed for Cardiff. Shields Daily News 8th December 1900 - arrived today from London. Sunderland Daily Echo 18th December 1901 - arrived on the Tyne today from Nantes. Shields Daily 6th March 1902 - sailed today to West Indies. Lloyd's List 17th May 1904 - at Philadelphia. Lloyd's List 17th November 1906 - Greenock for Malaga. Lloyd's List 11th December 1907 - at Barcelona sailing to Glasgow. Lloyd's List 19th August 1909 – at Prince of Wales Docks, Swansea. Also reported on 10th November 1917 "the S.S. Breidablik was in collision with a deep sea trawler, the Fermo, which foundered 3 miles north east of the Humber Light Vessel." Shortly before Anton died, the Westerham (Kent) Herald of 30th September 1922 reported "Anton Berntsen, a Norwegian chief officer on the S.S. Breidablik, which arrived in the Regent's Canal Dock from Rouen was fined £18 18s at Thames Police Court for smuggling 12 bottles of brandy." Probably for his own use.


It was felt fitting, that on the centenary of Anton's death, the Friends of Salford Cemeteries Trust showed a mark of respect for the seafarer from foreign shores. His grave was covered by a large Norwegian flag and a holly wreath was placed on the centre of the cross of Saint Olaf. Pete Kilvert read out the slim details of Anton that were available, and also read three verses of the poem "Norwegian Seaman's Song" written by Bjornstjerne Bjornson. Norwegian seamen are, A folk grown strong 'neath sail and spar, Where boats can find a way, The best men there are they, On high seas or at home, In calm or when the storm-waves comb, To God their prayer they make, Their lives they gladly stake. In Norway's mountain coast, Our land's own mother-breast we boast, With food for us and tears, For sons whom danger fears. In it each deed has lot, And there no brave son is forgot, For Hafurfjord's great day, To the last castaway. Hurrah for them today, Who the Norwegian flag display! Hurrah for pilots true. Who forth to meet them flew! Hurrah for them who ply, Their merchant ships 'twixt sea and sky! Hurrah for all our boast, Our skerry-skirted coast!