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Biography of Charles Anton Bertun



Charles Anton Knutson Bertun was born in Alesund, Norway, September 28, 1868, and died in Decatur, Illinois, June 6, 1967.

He went to sea at the age of 15, and was shipwrecked in 1885 on the Norwegian barkentine COURIER. He later became an American citizen in 1895, graduated from New York Nautical College and captained F. Marion Crawford's yacht, EZRA NYE, an ex-Sandy Hook pilot boat, in the summer of 1896 from New York to Sorrento, Italy.

Bertun joined the American Line (International Navigation Company) as fourth officer, gradually working his way through the grades until he commanded the ocean-going steam yacht, ALVINA, owned by the company president. In 1903 he became Marine Superintendent of the line. A merger of the company with several others resulted in a general reorganization of personnel, and rather than taking command of small vessels, Captain Bertun became master of the steam yacht, VENETIA, owned by Morton Plant of New London, Connecticut. He then commanded the IOLANDA, built by Plant in 1908. In 1911 the vessel was sold to Plant's Russian friend Mme. Elisabeth Teretchenko.

In August 1914 Bertun and the yacht were interred by the Germans in Trondhjem, Norway. Secretly chartering the yacht to the British Admiralty in 1915, he escaped from Trondhjem on the excuse of needing dry dock repairs in Bergen, and then delivered IOLANDA to the British in Southampton. After the fall of the Czarist and White Russian Governments in 1917, he went back to Trondhjem as United States Consul. At the end of the war, he went to England and took possession of the IOLANDA from the British Government. The owners later instructed him to sell the yacht to Camper and Nicholson.

From 1918 to 1929 Bertun ventured out on his own as a shipping/purchaser's agent, and then in the commerical fishing industry, but he was not successful. In the Spring of 1929 he went to Wilmington, Delaware to supervise the building of a private yacht at the Pusey and Jones Yard. He worked with various state shipping and fishing interests until World War II. 

By 1934 he was married with four children, Charles, Anna, Dorothy and Kurt. In 1942 he supervised the construction of the S.S. CAPE HENLOPEN, and then became her chief officer. In her he sailed with general cargo from New York to Suez and back. Until May 1945 he commanded various vessels of the Merchant Marine, sailing in war zones all over the world.

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