This memorial has been erected in memory of Norwegian seafarers who sailed during the First and Second World War.
Unveiled by Lisen Ugland Bergshaven and presented to Grimstad municipality on Norway's Liberation Day, 8 May 2010.
Side one of memorial
Wartime sailors 1914-1918
Sailing for home and country
Side two of memorial
(facing the church)
In times of peace and in times of war, the merchant fleet and its crews have carried crucial supplies of food, raw materials, and fuel from port to port across the seven seas.
At the outbreak of the First World War (1914-1918), Norway placed its trust in that the superpowers would respect the country’s declared policy of neutrality. Norwegian merchant ships carrying non-military supplies should be permitted to call at ports of the warring nations. Still, war zones had to be navigated, risking lives as well as the loss of ships.
Norway's neutrality was ignored when Germany, in 1915, launched unrestricted submarine warfare in the waters around the British Isles. 1 892 Norwegian seafarers lost their lives. 805 ships went down.
In September 1939, at the very start of the Second World War, a significant proportion of Norwegian tonnage transported cargo on the world’s oceans.
Norwegian vessels became the target of enemy U-boat attacks and air raids from day one. Already prior to the German occupation of Norway on 9 April 1940, 380 Norwegian sailors had died and 55 ships had been lost.
One of the aims of the German military power was to gain control of as much as possible of the Norwegian merchant fleet, which was the fourth largest in the world. On 9 April, Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the Norwegian far-right party (Nasjonal Samling), ordered all Norwegian ships to proceed to German-controlled ports.
The shipowners responded by directing all their ships outside German control to Allied ports, in order to join the collective shipping company Nortraship which had been established in London. This was a move fully endorsed by the crews.
With the German invasion, Norway had entered the war on the side of the Allies.
Almost half of the Norwegian merchant fleet was made up of tankers with a capacity that secured the supply of over 40% of Allied fuel requirements. In the early stage of World War II, the Norwegian tanker fleet was given significant credit for the Royal Air Force succeeding in preventing a German invasion of England.
In the next phase of the Second World War, the greatest threat to the Allied war effort came from German planes and U-boats. 1 081 Norwegian ships and some 25 000 Norwegian seafarers, in service to Nortraship in London, were actively engaged in transporting supplies across the Atlantic to prepare for the decisive final campaign for the liberation of Europe.
High-ranking British officials have made the following statements: “Without the Norwegian merchant fleet, we might as well have asked for Hitler’s conditions.” (Admiral Sir Charles Dickens, The Royal Navy, 1941.) “The Norwegian merchant fleet was as important for the Battle of the Atlantic as the Spitfire was for the Battle of Britain.” (Sir Noel Baker, Ministry of War Transport, 1942.)
Convoys faced a constant risk of being torpedoed by U-boats and raiders, hitting mines, or being attacked from the air, and this put the crews under immense mental strain. Many sailors made it into the lifeboats only to suffer a slow and painful death at sea. Others ended up in German or Japanese captivity.
Some 90 seafarers on ships owned by shipping companies in Aust-Agder died during the Second World War. In total, Norway lost 3 734 seafarers and 708 ships. Those who survived were marked for life by their wartime experiences
The Norwegian merchant fleet, the wartime sailors, and the shipowners have contributed an honourable chapter to the history of the world, of Norway, and of the local community.
Maritime Grimstad commemorate the wartime sailors in gratitude to them and the shipowners whose ships helped lead the Allies to victory.
Thanks to their efforts, we can celebrate our liberty and rule of law regained on 8 May 1945, Norway's Liberation Day.
Side three of memorial
(facing the sea):
Wartime sailors 1939-1945
They sailed for our liberty
Side four of memorial
(facing the library)
Captions are provided in clockwise sequence:
- Norway – a fighting ally!
- Convoy gathering
- Always on guard
- Will we make it?
- Sinking of a U-boat
- Prisoners of war from U-boat U-175 \ Rescued from drowning
- India \ Rescued after 33 days in a lifeboat
- Torpedoed in the Indian Ocean \ Those back home in Norway
- 1945 \ The return home
- (No text)
- (No text)
- Convoy. Attack and defence. KNM Stord
- Convoy to Murmansk 43 \ Ice extreme cold storm
- The wartime sailors. Solveyg Schafferer-Sigerus 2010
- KNM crew escorting a convoy. Side text: War in the Atlantic / Caribbean / Mediterranean / Pacific / Indian Ocean
- The merchant fleet 39-45. Wolf packs. D.M.
- (Image in centre) Sinking of a U-boat
Initiator and Author
Shipowning Families Ugland
Shipowning Family Jørgensen
Shipowning Family Tønnevold
Shipping Company Bergshav
Grimstad bys museer
Jørgensen & Vik – Norsafe A/S
Norwegian Hull Club
Redaktør Olav Dyviks og Stud. Philol. Oddvar Dyviks Minnefond
Selskapet for Grimstad Bys Vel
Donations from local fundraising initiatives
Solveyg W. Schafferer-Sigerus