Another day, another warning. Today I be mostly talking about gun batteries. So if this is not for you then perhaps skip over this bit. Chris says that there are those that are described as “Anoraks” and there are those that the Anoraks describe as “Rivet Counters” and on some subjects she feels I fall well into the latter category. She did once say “Your brother thinks your a rivet counter and he’s a rivet counter”. I have to say a part of me took a good deal of pride in that statement. There’s a fine line between hobby and mental illness as they say. As I mentioned yesterday a reliable source had told me of a uniquely historical artefact left lying about on the Norwegian coast. As luck, or good design, would have it we stayed at a campsite a short distance away. So having packed up the tent we drove the few miles to the said site.
As it was only about 9:30 finding the gates closed was no real surprise, as most things do not seem to open until 10:00 am anyway. Then my IT consultant dropped the bombshell. “It doesn’t open until June 22nd”, she said with a faint smile. Ah well as we are here anyway…..
As with most of Scandinavia there is a right to roam, and to foot traffic those locked gates posed no obstacle. Either walk around the gate posts, on the well used track, or indeed use the pedestrian gate alongside them which was not locked.
I walked along the gravel track and very soon started to see a low concrete wall and girders either side of the track. This I presume were anti-tank obstacles, although due to the terrain the Nazi’s must have had an over-inflated view of what allied tanks were capable of. There was a junction in the track and to my right I could see a locked compound, in which was a 150 mm gun turret and obviously the entrances to two large bunkers into the hillside. As my way was barred I returned to the original path and continued the walk to the top of the hill. I was now following a lady who was clearly out for a stroll, so felt that there would be no issues. I then came to another bunker, which from it’s position I would presume was to cover against any attacking force from the landward side. This had embrasures for a machine gun and what is known, by those in the know, as a Trobruk. This was a machine gun position that allowed 360 degree view for the gunner to shoot from while fully protected by concrete.
Lower down the slopes were more of those positions, presumably to cover any seaborne attack. There were a number of other bunkers, each numbered, and I am sure had I had a guide, they would have fully explained the purpose of each one.
As I continued to climb there was an obvious path to my left, with a finger board. Taking this route, I descended a slope, close to 45 degrees, covered in gravel. This is clearly meant to be used by the visitor, but, be warned it is steep and slippery. After a short distance walking along the top of what looked like a scree slope I came across another bunker. Inside was a mount which I believe was for a range finder.
The graffiti is clearly not contemporary to the original building. The mount still turned freely, although clearly having been in place for many decades. There were no makers plates on it, so the exact date was not clear. Returning to the original path I came across the ubiquitous sea mine, and the museum entrance. There ahead was the reason for this whole place.
I was able to look around as this part of the museum is fully accessible to the public. There are another five floors below the turret.
Having taken many, many pictures, I felt it was time to return to Chris. As I retraced my steps I saw a pick-up drive into the locked compound I saw earlier. I followed it and saw the gates were open and there were several cars parked. Walking into the compound the driver came from a Porta-cabin. I asked if the museum was opening. He said it wasn’t, but, after I told him we had come from the UK, which he must have thought meant just to see the battery, he said “I can give you a quick look in the turret”. He did not have to offer twice, and so the door was unlocked and I was inside.
I know we have said this before, but, the photos do not do justice to the size of these things. Although employed by the local authority, they were there to do routine maintenance, he was clearly keenly interested in the history of this place. After the Nazi’s decided to up-gun the Gneisenau, the three original gun turrets were ear marked to become batteries in the Atlantic Wall. The turrets were removed from the ship in Kiel, then transported, via Sweden so much for neutrality, before being brought by road to the various locations in Norway.
It is claimed that each gun could fire three to four rounds per minute, and the crew trained using much smaller munitions. During the war the battery never fired in anger. Their last combative firing had been at a British coastal battery as the Gneisenau, the Scharnhorst and the Prinz Eugen made a daylight run up the channel in February 1942. After the defeat of Nazi Germany the Norwegian military took over control and the battery was in operation until 1979. During the 34 years the guns were fired seven times. Originally they asked the Germans to return to show them how to operate the systems. Once the battery was de-commissioned the German Naval Museum asked if they could have the battery back. My guide stated they were told they could, but, would have to pay for the removal themselves. Needless to say they are still in Norway. He also said that there was very strong local opposition to them being taken away.
And there in my view is the point of all this, if you eradicate the evidence of history you are likely to forget the past and the obvious dangers that raises. You also have to appreciate that this turret is as rare as Stonehenge, there isn’t another one out there.
‘NORMAL’ PEOPLE CAN CONTINUE TO READ FROM HERE.
The rest of our day was taken by driving from Austratt to where we are now Baeverfjord near Surnadal. We used the main roads, which although designated as such are in no way close to being a motorway. After using the ferry from Brekstad to Vilsted, which boasts that it is an electric ferry, complete with F off charging points on the dock, at a cost of 220 NOK, we stopped for lunch.
We joined the E39 at Orkanger and started to make our way to Kristiansund. This road again provided spectacular scenery time and time again which is nigh on impossible to capture by photography.
There are not enough superlatives to describe the ongoing rolling beauty of this country. The owner of tonight’s campsite clearly did not understand our view when we spoke to him about it, but, of course he sees it everyday.