Mr Hans Martin Monsen Birkeland was born in Bremnes, Søndre Bergenhus, Norway on 19 December 1890 and was baptised early the following year in Finnås.
He was the son of Mons Jonson Birkeland (b. 1845), a teacher, and Sina Elisabet Kahrs (b. 1850) and was brother to eight known siblings: Kristoffer Andreas Kahrs (b. 1873), Kaspar John (b. 1874), Karen Andrea (b. 1878), Hermann Olai (b. 1881), Kari Sofie (b. 1883), Hanna Lovise (b. 1885) and twins Marta Elisabet and Henrik Daae (b. 1894).
Hans grew up on a family farm in Bremnes. He lost his father at an early age and his brother Kristoffer died in the early 1900s when the ship he was serving aboard, Vanadis, foundered. Undettered, Hans also went to sea from a young age, working out of Bergen.
In April 1912 he was to join the Norheim as a seaman, that ship then docked in Philadelphia. Travelling with him to that ship were two other Norwegian men, Knud Rommetvedt and Albert Moss. The three men boarded Titanic in Southampton as third class passengers, Birkeland travelling on ticket number 312992 which cost £7, 15s, 6d. They shared a cabin on F-deck's forward portside.
On the night of the sinking Hans and his cabin mates were asleep but were awakened by a shudder running through the ship. The three men dressed and left their cabin, joining other steerage passengers who were gathering on the aft well deck. From here they watched several lifeboats depart. Albert Moss became separated from his two friends after returning to his cabin and he never saw them again.
Birkeland died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
His mother Sina later received £50 in assistance from the Mansion House relief fund among other payments. She remained living on the family farm up until her death in 1929.