British occupation of the Faroe Islands

British occupation of the Faroe Islands

British occupation of the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands in World War II were occupied in 1940 as part of Operation Valentine fromBritain, whileDenmark was occupied German.

This led to a complete isolation of the then Danish administrative district from the mother country, and ultimately the autonomy of the Faroe 1948th While under British occupation of theFaroe Islandsexperienced enormous economic growth through the fishing, their sailors paid a high price for this. About 0.5% of the population remained at sea.

At times up to 8,000 British soldiers were stationed in theFaroe Islands, which then had about 30,000 inhabitants.

Review article: History of theFaroe Islands

Strategic location of theFaroe Islands

During the First World War, the British naval blockade ofGermanywas built between Orkney, Shetland andBergeninNorwayneutral, the strategic situation in the North Atlantic after surgery Weserübung (the invasion ofDenmarkandNorway) was more complicated.

Britainnow had to rebuild its blockade between Shetland, the Faroes andIceland, whileGermanyhad the long Norwegian coast as a base of operations. After the occupation ofDenmarkandNorwayfrom a British perspective haste was necessary in order not to lose these strategic items.

The strategic importance of theFaroe Islandsin the Cold War (and still) determined the political fate of the country again.

The outbreak of war


Even after the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 prepared themselves against theFaroe Islandson the possible consequences with respect to the supply situation. A Control Council was created, which was to ensure that essential goods such as salt (which hung from the fishing industry), and also fuels were available in sufficient quantity as clothing and food.

Since the beginning of 1940 Danish ships were victims of German U-boat war, and so the combination of the Faroe Islands withDenmarkdeteriorated rapidly. In February, the last mail fromDenmark. Only after the war, the connection is reestablished.

On 11 March 1940 called for the Control of all Faroese to exercise the utmost economy and increasingly grow potatoes and vegetables for their own use of the islands. At the same coal was rationed as imported (and later the domestic coal from Hvalba) and appeals to the people to revive the almost-forgotten tradition of peat stabbing again. Landowners were also held, landless fishermen provide plots available where even those could grow potatoes.

The fleet activity in theNorth Atlantichave been the end of March, beginning of April, and more intense, so you are immediately prepared for the worst.

Chronology of events

Tuesday 9, April 1940. During the early hours of the morning breaks the telegraph system of the Faroe Islands withDenmark. The Danish Radio reported this morning by the arrival of the German Wehrmacht, the futile resistance and the surrender of the king and the government.

About 3,000 Faroese are at this time inDenmark. You will see her home again until the 1945th In the Faroes themselves from the war still is to be felt.

Coincidentally, just sits on 30 January newly elected home rule. The Danish magistrate (Governor) Carl Aage Hilbert consult immediately with the elected representatives on the new situation.

Meanwhile, the sloop Eysturoy stands under Captain Hans Mikkelsen from Klaksvík to sea to bring a load of frozen fish toAberdeen.

Wednesday 10, April. In the morning, turns on the radio Hilbert Tórshavn to the Faroese people. He says that the Danish capitulation was no surrender of theFaroe Islands, and that, together with the home rule retains the government of the country in their hands. The Løgtingspräsident Kristian Djurhuus then turns to the audience. He promises that the home rule will seek to ensure that the fishery can continue.

Hilbert simultaneously prohibits all Danish vessels leaving theFaroe Islandswithout his permission. Your shipments are confiscated for self supply of the islands, however, the yield is smaller than hoped.

In the afternoon, try the People’s Party (Fólkaflokkurin) a coup: The Authority will Hilbert for theFaroe Islands unilaterally declared an end of it and proclaims the home rule as the sole entity in the country. An ultimatum to 18 clock can be set from the Declaration of Independence of theFaroe Islands must be noted. The coup fails because of the rejection of all other parties, which are the majority in home rule.

Meanwhile, the sloop Eysturoy comes in British waters and is applied at the Orkney by a warship of the Royal Navy. The skipper Hans Mikkelsen is prompted to delete the Dannebrog. He is asked by the British, if he had not another flag. He can not be said twice, sets the – by then illegal from the perspective of Denmark – Flag of the Faroe Islands and may continue its journey to Aberdeen. There are many boats in the harbor of the Faroe Islands. As Eysturoy comes with the Faroese flag in sight, will be sought on all boats of the Dannebrog and Merkið hoisted. The war caused forced DANMARK lettering on the sides will boot at all by Faroes – Foroyar replaced.

Thursday 11, April. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Navy states in the House (and the BBC):

On the same day appears a reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal Air Force over Tórshavn.

Friday 12, April. Around noon, the British destroyer HMS Havant (H32) and HMS Hesperus (H57) anchor at Tórshavn. The two commanders are looking at the magistrate Hilbert, who receives them in the presence of Kristian Djurhuus. The British call the Faroese to help to prepare for the landing of Marines inTorshavn and Skálafjørður. Given the state Hilbert explained that there was no other alternative.

Saturday 13, April. The Løgting formally protested to the British Consul in Tórshavn against the occupation of theFaroe Islands. This protest is regarded by all sides as a mere formality, because the population is consistently relieved that the British are and not the Germans occupying their land.

About the telegraph and the radio is the censorship imposed and the overseas postal service suspended.Torshavnblackout is ordered.

In the afternoon, the first 200 Royal Marines land with two armed trawlers, accompanied by the cruiser HMS Suffolk.

Sunday 14th, April. The Marines will be moved to Skálafjørður where the British set up a naval base. The headquarters will be created in the old fortress Havnar Skansin. Large naval guns there are evidence of this period.

Sunday 21th, April. The first fishing boats with the flag of the Faroe Islands come back fromAberdeen. Bailiff Hilbert tried to let these “rebels flag” to be replaced by a green signal flag. This leads immediately to violent demonstrations inTorshavn. Hilbert bows to the will of the people.

Monday 22, April. All Faroese Lighthouses are switched off and in the following years only at the direction of the Allies temporarily put into service to ship bodies to show the way.

Thursday 25, April. BBC announces the Royal Navy, that the flag of theFaroe Islands to be out for the rest of the war on Faroese vessels.

Saturday 27, April. Hilbert writes under an arrangement that the Faroese flag is to be conducted at sea, on land, but is still used the Dannebrog.

Arrangement in terms of the British flag should remain the only interference in the internal affairs of theFaroe Islands. The 25th April is celebrated as a public holiday since (Flaggtag theFaroe Islands). There is no evidence that the British side was aware of the domestic conflicts of the past, they finished it.

25th May The Marines will be replaced by 500 Lovat Scouts from Scotland, the land with the transport ship Ulster Prince. This regiment was supposed to 10th Stay here in June 1942. They were detached from the others also Scottish Cameronians, who remained until 1943.

War events

British activities in the Faroe Islands

The presence of the Allied Forces in theFaroe Islandshad two strategic objectives.

  1. The naval blockade in theNorth Atlantic
  2. Struggle against the German U-boat force

Accordingly maritime were emanating from the Faroes actions.

The British Air Force contributed to the construction of the airport Vágar an important contribution to developing the country’s infrastructure, which nowadays serves as the only airport. Before the airport was completed, the adjacent largelakeSørvágsvatn served as a water aerodrome with an investor at Vatnsoyrar where most Britons were simultaneously deployed. Vágar it was the most fortified island of the Faroes. The residents were given special identity cards, and those who wanted to visit Vágar needed for this a special security pass. Dilapidated concrete bunker just as reminiscent of this time as the British war cemetery in the vicinity of the airport.

Between 1942 and 1944, the largest concentration of troops was in the Faroes This temporarily up to 8,000 men led to surprisingly few incidents with some 30,000 locals. Some individual attacks because of drunkenness, etc. were pursued jointly by agreement of the British military police and the Provisional Government of theFaroe Islands.

Losses and damage to land


The attacks against the Faroe itself remained relatively limited. The German Air Force flew the most devastating attack on 21 February 1941, when the British armed trawler was sunk by two German bombers Lincoln City in Tórshavn harbor. Here were eight British naval relatives killed. The ship sank quickly. Immediately after the first detonation all available Faroese boats rushed to the spot to save even during bombardment, the remaining crew. One of the two pilots was shot down shortly after the aircraft battery in Skálafjørður.

There were other air attacks against theFaroe Islands, but that was all the more damage if too much for Faroese standards, such as the destruction of the lighthouse Bordan 1941st

Floating mines

An entirely different danger threatened by the sea mines and other explosives driving that were washed up on the coast Faroese, and exploded from there and then. Here in the course of the war about 200-300 homes were damaged. 1941, there were two serious accidents when handling such mines, with a total of five so inexperienced Faroese were killed.

As a consequence, warning signs were erected and the best shooters in the villages distributed rifles with which they were able to destroy the mines before they reached the shore. In this way about 850 mines were rendered harmless.

While it was relatively peaceful land, the Faroese fishermen were exposed to a particular risk. As usual, the Faroese fished initially with their sloop n, n saver and trawlers in the north n the waters aroundIcelandandGreenlandto the catcher then export them as either fish or salt cod.

Due to the war,Norwaywas the biggest fishing nation in Europe at that time completely cut off from theUKmarket. Thus, the Faroe Islands,Iceland,Irelandand theUK. The only nations in the British fish market The British fleet was forced to cede almost all trawlers to the Royal Navy, which is strong competition in the North Atlantic was off.

From the perspective of the Faroese market inBritainwas now the only, and there was the demand for unsalted fish a reason to switch the Faroese fishing industry. In addition to that the Icelanders refused to drive without air support fish toBritain. This task then took over the Faroese sloops and schooners. The Faroese Fisheries Færingehavn base inWest Greenlandwas then abandoned for the duration of the war.

This deal was worth it extraordinary. About 20% of British fish consumption was supplied by theFaroe Islands.

The price of the Danish krone against the pound sterling was set during the war in 22.40 to 1. Had the Faroe in January 1941 248.000 sterling balances in British banks, it was in July 1945 2.792.000 pounds.

Factory during the war it came to bereavement among fishermen. 21 vessels were sunk theFaroe Islands, where 132 sailors were killed. The sailor Zacharias Müller Porkeri in his memoirs (2003):

With the Aldan in July 1940, the first six Faroese seamen died because of the war. The largest single loss was the trawler Nýggjaberg from Miðvágur, on the 28th March 1942 againstIceland, with its 21-man crew disappeared without a trace. It is believed a German U-boat attack behind.

The Faroese fishing boats were also exposed to the threat from the air. To defend themselves against air attack may have been from the 21 April 1941 all boats equipped with two light machine guns and enough ammunition. This offer was voluntary, in the wake of a briefing at least two crew members in each UKport will be accepted and was then reviewed by the headquarters regularly Skansin for functionality. These weapons had some deterrent effect, if you compare what a German war plane compared to a Faroese sloop worth. In one case, the Sloop Skipper George succeeded Joensen from Eiði aboard Thor Sørvágur on 12 June 1941 launch one. He took 15 nautical miles north of Rattray Head (a former Royal Navy air base nearAberdeen), a German Heinkel from heaven, and got in 1942 by King George VI. Awarded the British Order of MBE (Member of the Order of theBritish Empire).

A monument in the city park Havnar recalls the maritime remaining civilians.
Faroese on the German side

Of the approximately 3,000 remaining in Denmark and Färingerinnen Färingern came forward during the war, a handful of volunteers for the Waffen SS: Sverri Djurhuus (1920-2003), Richard Joensen (like Narva in 1944), John Toftum (like in Narva) and Leivur Restorff. There should have been another volunteer, but who deserted and reportedly said of the Sverri Djurhuus later: That was not a real Faroese. S. Djurhuus also told of a visit toBerlin, where he happened to meet some Faroese nurses during a bombing raid.

From Berlin, the German radio broadcast from time to time propaganda broadcasts in Faroese. They were read by German Skandinavisten Theophron Huiying, who presumably died in a 1944 bomb attack in Londonkilled. Hongxin the broadcasts had the pseudonym Jógvan í Garði. Witnesses describe his Faroese as fluently but with a German accent. He should have been in the 1930s in theFaroe Islands and thus have learned the language.

Supply situation of the population

The supply situation of theFaroe Islandsduring the entire war was comparatively well. In the villages the supply was slightly better than inTorshavn. Goods such as sugar, coffee, tea and margarine were indeed rationed, but the population suffered at no time material hardship

Fishing the High Seas Fleet was almost entirely for export to the UK, so the coastal fishing with small boats of villages formed the backbone of self-sufficiency from the sea. Besides the native potatoes were just a matter of survival as well as bird catching and pilot whales (grindadráp), with the participation of the tradition says the British soldiers. The catch of Sandur on 10 October 1940 was the largest in the history of the Faroe Islands Grindadráp with 1,200 dead pilot whales. The Skinnatal (Faroese weight unit for pilot whale meat and bacon) was not measured, so it is not for this year completely.

The supply of clothing was still intact because of the old home village economy not a big problem. This could be based on the Faroese wool. Only shoes were more expensive at the end of the war.

Faroese politics

Shortly before the British occupation on 30 Rotational basis in January 1940 elected a new home rule. The newly formed, then decidedly separatist Fólkaflokkurin (People’s Party) of Jóannes Patursson went emerges stronger from this. You could triple their two seats in 1936 to six. Sjálvstýrisflokkurin, (the older Independence Party) lost half its seats and only had four. Sambandsflokkurin (Unionists) retained its eight mandates, Petur Mohr Dam s Javnaðarflokkurin (Social Democrats) was also unchanged six seats.

Provisional Government of the Faroe Islands

As mentioned above, the People’s Party tried on 10 April of the year, a day after the German occupation of Denmark, a coup and the Declaration of Independence of the Faroe Islands. This was rejected by the other three parties, who formed the majority. Nevertheless, the People’s Party insisted on their demands, and so they agreed on 9 May 1940 a provisional government of the Faroe Islands (Bráðfeingisskipan) -. All this with the connivance of the British Military Administration, which turned out was completely out of the internal affairs of theFaroe Islands and on the contrary, was glad that everything worked smoothly

The current Danish laws remained in force, only the magistrate and a three-member Løgtingskommitee reigned wherever else a ministerial decision ofCopenhagen would have been necessary. Legislative initiatives could assume both the magistrate and the home rule, but had just can not go on home rule and are adopted by the majority, and bailiff ratified and promulgated. In addition to the legislative power, theFaroe Islands also received its own jurisdiction.

Own monetary policy

End of 1940, the Provisional Government was in Faroe own diplomatic negotiations withLondon, when it came to the question of the Danish currency and its convertibility. This delegation traveled to theUKand agreed to discuss with local Danish Ambassador Eduard Reventlow that theUKfor the duration of the war continue to make all the financial support that came before fromDenmark. A fixed minimum price for Faroese fisheries products was also agreed as a fixed exchange rate of the Danish krone and the pound sterling. However, were the Faroe own provisional bills.

The British steamer SS Sauternes sank on 7 December 1941. Svínoy in a storm off when he should not only bring Christmas gifts for the soldiers, but also much needed coins to the Faeroe Islands, which were also produced in England

Rise of the People’s Party

The temporary independence from Denmarkand took advantage of the economic recovery in the wake of the new People’s Party (Fólkaflokkurin). In elections to the Folketing in 1943 she was given the relative majority before Samband and the Social Democrats, the only elected representatives could not because of the war go toCopenhagen in order to take his place.

In the Løgtingswahlen same year, the People’s Party took 12 of the 26 seats. While the People’s Party had previously been in the opposition to the provisional government (a coalition of the three other parties), she got a seat there now because the other parties in the home rule but still had the majority, Fólkaflokkurins further independence movements had no effect.


As in 1944, more and more apparent that the Allies would win the war and the front has now shifted to the continent to Western Europe, large contingents were withdrawn from the Faroe Islands. Many British soldiers left the Islands on 18 March 1944 the troop ship Empress of Russia.

At the end only about 400 military personnel stationed in theFaroe Islands, which until recently supervised the aircraft on Vágar and the naval base at Skálafjørður.

On Friday, the 4th May 1945, at 20:45 clock struck in the Faroes, the news that the Wehrmacht inDenmark, theNetherlandsand northernGermanysurrendered. Spontaneous people inTorshavnflocked to the streets to celebrate – for it was the liberation of their motherland and the hope for an early reunion with Faroe compatriots who persevered inDenmark, and from which one (at most by the post of the Red Cross had neutralSweden) heard.

The following day there were in the whole country thanksgiving services, while the Løgting King Christian X telegraphed his loyalty. Telegraph communication was to 7th May again fully prepared, and now also thanked the Danish government in Hilbert and the home rule for self organization and guaranteed in the same breath the maintenance of self-government. The resultant need to hold negotiations subsequently led to the constitutional crisis of theFaroe Islands.

Still, the Wehrmacht had not capitulated in Norway. And so the general joy was muted something that was reinforced by the fact that the same day a German plane, coming from Norway, attacked a Faroese fishing boat. This ultimate act of aggression against the Faroe Islandsbut had no success, and on 8 May onwards the Norwegian brothers were freed.

On 13 May in Tórshavn be a big victory parade of the remaining British troops, and on 16 September the last soldiers left the country. About 170 soldiers were married in the Faroe Islands and then took their wives to theUK. There were also two or three husbands, who remained in theFaroe Islands.

In the fishing season 1946 finally, the Faroese Fisheries began before Færingehavn again. The decimated and outdated fleet was fundamentally renewed in the 1950s. Subsequently managed the Faroe connection with the world leaders, but remained – until today – almost exclusively on fishing and related industries depend.

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