Pengolodh (s.c) (pengolodh_sc) wrote,
Pengolodh (s.c)

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Montrose, Scotland, honours Norwegian seadog

A Norwegian St Bernard dog that became a symbol of freedom for millions of Norwegians during World War II, is to be honoured with a statue in Scots city Montrose.

Based on articles from:
The Scotsman

Mascot. Legend says that when Bamse (1935-1944) once fell into the sea, the entire crew of the minesweeper Thorodd jumped in to save him.

The statue will in all cost £50,000 (NOK 600,000), and the project is being championed by Henny King, a member of the board of the Montrose Port Authority, according to The Scotsman.

The dog was called Bamse and spent his early years in Honningsvåg, in the very North of Norway. When owner Erling Hafto assumed command of the minesweeper Thorodd, a he brought the dog with him, and that was the beginning of a dog's life that few fourlegs would dream of having. When the war came to Norway, captain Erling Hafto and his crew sailed to Great Britain in the flotilla that escorted King Haakon VII, and Bamse came with them.

The dog quickly became a mascot for all the Norwegian forces during the war, and a symbol of freedom for all those that had to flee the country. The photo of Bamse wearing the Norwegian Navy service cap was mailed as a postcard to Norwegians around the world at Christmas and on celebrations of May 17th (Constitution Day in Norway).

KNM Thorodd was eventually stationed in Montrose and Dundee in Scotland, where she remained for the duration of the war. When Erling Hafto on September 9th 1940 was transferred to take command of another minesweeper, the KNM Nordkapp, he wished to take the faithful ship's dog with him. This caused such big protests among the crew, however, that Bamse remained in Montrose, and Erling Hafto had to board his new command on his own.

Took the bus to the pub
Bamse quickly became known to schoolchildren and adults across Scotland. The navy dog had well-developed instincts, and would often pick up his ship's mates on the local pubs late in the evening to take them back to the ship. Bamse knew about all the pubs in the city, and had his own bus card hanging around his neck in a chain. He always went to the top deck if riding a double-decker bus, because he knew that dogs weren't allowed on the lower deck.

If any Norwegians got in a fight, he'd quickly be on the spot to intervene, but he'd never bite anyone, but instead he'd rise on his hind legs and show his claws. The dog eventually became so well known in the city that bus drivers pick him up when they passed him on the roads.

Weaker at sea
He was not quite as strong as sea, and if the weather got rough, he'd prefer to sail inshore. With six minesweepers operating in rotation, he wouldn't mind staying at shore waiting while KNM Thorodd was on patrol. Still, he knew his place onboard. The crew had made a gunner's helmet for the dog, and he always took up station in the forward gun mount when the ship went into battle, and would not leave his post until the action ended.

Buried by lighthouse
In the summer of 1944 nine years old Bamse died. He was not old, but had lived a hard life in the navy. The ship's dog was buried some way outside Montrose, near a lighthouse, with his head towards Norway. Around 800 schoolchildren and the crew of eight Norwegian navy vessels followed Bamse to his grave.

In the years following, the Norwegian dog has repeatedly been honoured, and July 4th last year, marking the sixtieth anniversary of Bamse's death, the crew of the Norwegian submarine KNM Utvær, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Øistein H. Jensen were present. Even the larger British national papers made not of this event. The Navy also was present at the celebrations of the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the dog's death.

Largest dog. The cross at the burial-site reads: "BAMSE 22-7-1944. Faithful friend of all onboard the "Thorodd". Largest dog of the allied naval forces." A St Bernard dog had also been mobilised for the commemoration.
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