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Norway Liberation Day – 8th May

Dutch Remembrance Day
Two members of the KGL Norske Marine (the Royal Norwegian Navy) on a goodwill visit to the Norwegian town of Molde on 16 May, 1945 (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89210)

Frigjøringsdagen 8 Mai

May 8th is the National Day of Liberation in Norway. This day marks the end of Norway’s occupation during the Second World War, and also serves as its Veterans' Day. The images below detail a visit made by two Norwegian MTBs, and one British, from their base in Lerwick, Shetland, to the Norwegian town of Molde in May 1945.

Young Norwegian women line the quayside at Molde to welcome home the Norwegian sailors from Lerwick (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89207)
Members of the Norske Marine meet and greet the crowd quayside at Molde on their visit there after VE Day in May 1945. The boats and their crews had earlier visited Florø, and Ålesund (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89199)
Crew members of one of the Norwegian 'Dog Boats' relax after their long journey from Lerwick to Molde. Just days earlier, another Coastal Forces boat, MGB 2002, with an additional complement of senior officers for a journey to Sweden, had been lost in the Skagerrak with all hands—bar two survivors—after striking a mine, showing the perilous nature of such journeys at the time (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89200)

Kongelig Norske Marine

The German invasion, and subsequent occupation of Norway commenced in April 1940, and by June of that year the Norwegian forces had been forced to surrender. Thirteen naval ships with around 500 officers, petty officers, and men, left for Britain with the King and his government, to form the nucleus of the Royal Norwegian Navy in exile.

Two Norwegian MTBs, 5 & 6, were the first ships commissioned for the Norske Marine in Britain. They operated in the Channel from early summer 1940 as part of the British 11th MTB Flotilla. On the introduction of the Fairmile 'D' class, eight boats formed the 30th MTB Flotilla, deployed in November 1942 to Lerwick in Shetland. From there offensive operations started against German shipping along the western coast of Norway. With the allocation of several more 'Dog Boats' the 30th MTB Flotilla became the 54th MTB Flotilla, and carried numerous clandestine missions amongst the Norwegian Leads, right up until V.E. Day

The Lerwick boats used to carry a full load of additional fuel on deck in cans on the outward leg of their journeys across to Norway, which they used to refuel their boats as they went, providing them with sufficient range to sail there and back, as well as spend time operating amongst the many islands and inlets of the Norwegian coastline.

The image above shows the Royal Norwegian Navy encampment at Lerwick in Shetland, home to the 54th MTB Flotilla. The houses visible behind the camp are in Browns Road, Lerwick, and look much the same today, although the area in the foreground occupied by the camp in the Second World War is now a car park serving the nearby Shetland Museum & Archives. The quayside area around the site comprises Hay's Wharf, and the Anglo-Scottish pier, and was the location of an incident in November 1943, when a fire and explosion initiated by accidental gun fire, destroyed MTBs 686 and 626 preparing for sea, with the loss of eight lives—seven British, and one Norwegian.
Elements of the Norwegian 54th MTB Flotilla are seen here alongside the quay in central Lerwick. The distinctive building in the background with the octagonal tower was the fish market, located at the time on the Esplanade in Lerwick. Long since demolished, the market has now been replaced for a second time, by a state-of-the-art facility opened in 2020 on the outskirts of the port, which today forms Britain's second largest fish market.
Royal Norwegian Navy Officers of MTBs (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89205)
Dutch Remembrance Day
The three Fairmile 'D' Dogboats that made the visit comprised two Norwegian, and one Royal Navy vessel. The two Norwegian boats nearest camera, were MTBs 713 and 709 of the 54th MTB Flotilla based at Lerwick in Shetland. (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.40531)

IN MEMORIAM

  • U/kvm Knut Johan Åkra, MTB 5
  • U/mm Tore Andersen, MTB 5
  • U/dm Kåre Andreassen, MTB 620
  • U/dm Ole Joakim Andreassen, MTB 623
  • Løytnant Alv Haldor Andresen, MTB 345, Age 28
  • U/dm Haakon Olav Austrheim, ML 125
  • F, Georg Berntsen, MTB 5
  • Maskinist Agnar Ingolf Bigset, MTB 345, Age 28
  • U/f Alfred Julius Blomberg, ML 210
  • Kom II Per Thore Erwolder Elholm, MTB 5
  • U/dm Adelsten Gangsø, MTB 625
  • U/lt Asbjørn Harr Grøneng, ML 210
  • Matros II Oskar Bastian Grunnvold, MTB 626
  • Maskinmann Kjell Øystein Hals, MTB 345, Age 22
  • Kvartermester Hans Thorvald Bærevahr Hansen, MTB 345, Age 22
  • U/dm Jan Kristian Hetland, MTB 5
  • U/f Harald August Johannessen, ML 125
  • Kvartermester Bernhard Kleppe, MTB 345
  • Matros Jens Klipper, MTB 345, Age 24
  • U/kvm Alf August Litle-Kalsøy, ML 210
  • U/mm Ivar Martinsen, ML 210
  • U/dm Johannes Mongstad, MTB 620
  • U/dm Magne Sigvart Mortensen, ML 1252
  • Kvm Gustav Nærland, MTB 688
  • Matros I Arve Aleksander Paulsen, MTB 717
  • Matros II Johannes Olaus Siglen, MT 625
  • U/mm Jon Riis Sigurdsson, MTB 7116
  • U/mm Einar Smith, ML 210
poppy wreath

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them

Dutch National Remembrance Day / Liberation Day

Dutch Remembrance Day
MTB 240 of the Dutch 9th MTB Flotiulla painted by Harold Garland (courtesy Jacques Bartels)

Mei 4 Dodenherdenking

May 4th is the National Day of Remembrance in the Netherlands, on which day the victims of the Second World War are commemorated with a nationwide two minute silence held at 20.00hrs. Each year the commemorations have a theme, and the theme for 2022 is Freedom in Connection

Freedom in Connection logo
Freedom in Connection Logo

Coastal Forces Veterans recalls the contribution of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Koninklijke Marine, during the Second World War, in particular those members who served in Light Coastal Forces. The Dutch initially helped man boats of the 3rd MGB Flotilla, then two flotillas of MTBs, the 2nd and 9th MTB Flotilla, operating primarily from HMS Wasp at Dover

Sub-Lieutenant Hubert Pontier RNN of MTB 240 (© Jacques Bartels)
2nd MTB Flotilla crews at Dover in 1944
Members of the Dutch 2nd MTB Flotilla at Dover in 1944

Mei 5 Bevrijdingsdag

On the 5th May each year, the Netherlands celebrates the liberation of the country in 1945, and that its people have lived in freedom ever since. On this day the country also reflects on the value of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Lieut E H Larive, DSC, RNN Senior Officer of the Flotilla, who was in command (© IWM A 19512)
Lieut H C Jorrison, RNN, Commander (centre) is seen with his First Lieut, Sub Lieut H Van Mastrigt, RNN, and members of his crew (© IWM A 19510)
Lieut J L Bommezyn, RNN, C/O of one of the MTB'S with his First Lieut, Sub Lieut GPM Bodowls, RNN (© IWM A 19513)
Sub Lieut H Van Mastrigt, RNN (First Lieut) with his C/O Lieut H C Jorrisen, RNN (right) (© IWM A 19514)

IN MEMORIAM

National flag of the Netherlands

Able Seaman Korpl Macht Lucas Willem Fernhout MGB 46 Age: 28
Korpl Telgr Petrus Theodorus Kint MGB 114 Age: 24
Matr I Ment Pronk MTB 418 Age: 24
Matroos 1e KL Adriaan Cornelis Van Vegten TMB 51 Age: 27
Stoker O/M Antonius Franciscus Verbeek MTB 203 Age: 28

poppy wreath

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them

MTB 460 of the 29th MTB Flotilla off of Normandy
  MTB 460 of the 29th MTB Flotilla at sea in the Spring of 1944. (© Libraries & Archives Canada)

ANNIVERSARY

The Loss of MTB 732

La Combattante, a Hunt Class destroyer manned by the Free French Navy, which was involved in the friendly-fire incident with MTB 732. La Combattante was herself sunk in February 1945 when she hit a mine, and 117 of her crew were lost

The English Channel: 28th May 1944

The night of the 28th–29th May 1944 saw the largest single loss of life suffered by Coastal Forces through friendly fire, when MTB 732 was sunk by gunfire from the Free French destroyer La Combattante in the English Channel, after being mistaken for an E-boat.

MTB 732 acccompanied by MTB 739 had been ordered to search for two E-boats, sighted in an area of the Channel where La Combattante was also conducting a sweep. Despite both MTBs sending up recognition flares, the destroyer opened fire on MTB 732, sinking the boat, and killing 15 crew.