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Boat visit to cement Buckie's bond with Norway

By Alan Beresford

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BUCKIE'S role in providing a safe haven for Norwegians fleeing the Nazi armies in World War II is to be commemorated by a team of sailors from the country.

This April will see a four-man crew comprising Tony Teigland, Svend Svenson, Thor Einer Midho and Willy Pederson set sail from Kristiansand in April on a 22-foot craft as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations for VE Day, which marked the end of the war in the European theatre of operations.

The trip will also pay homage to Buckie's role in sheltering hundreds of refugees from Scandanavia, the town becoming known as Little Norway and even boasting its own Norwegian consulate.

Helping the preparations on this side of the north sea is Portgordan man Prof Peter Reid, who was the driving force behind a project detailing the experiences of Norwegian and Danish refugees plus their descendants.

A contact out the blue was to set a train of events in motion, as Prof Reid explained.

He said: "Last year I was contacted by Bjørn Tore Rosendahl who is a historian at the Akivet in Kristiansand (Arkivet is the Norwegian Archive for Peace and Human Rights, which is based in Kristiansand).

"He is the expert on Norwegian sailors during the Second World War and had been put in touch with me by Aberdeen Maritime Museum because of my Little Noway research.

"In the course of the conversation we had on Skype, he mentioned that there was a local group in Kristiansand who wanted to take a boat over to Scotland in April this year to mark the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Norway and then the subsequent escape – on similar little boats – of so many Norwegians to Scotland.

"As a result of our conversations, it seemed that Buckie was the obvious place to come given that Shetland and the Shetland Bus is so well-known and has been commemorated in different ways over the years and Little Norway in Buckie seemed a good fit and as has been proven a lot of the Buckie stories are less well known.

"The intention is to sale from Kristiansand on April 9 (and the voyage can be tracked on the web) and then to land in Buckie."

Prof Reid went on to say that preparations were afoot to give the Norwegian sailors an official welcome at Buckie Harbour at the end of their voyage, hopefully also attended by Prof Rosendahl. He added that it might be possible to organise a public talk by Prof Rosendahl in Buckie about the Norwegians who came over on these boats in 1940 and 1941.

Moving on from his extensive Little Norway project, Prof Reid is hoping to create a research network to further explore the subject of wartime Norwegian exiles working in conjunction with Prof Rosendahl and his Swedish colleagues should funding be successfully obtained.

To find out more about Buckie's role as Little Norway, visit Prof Reid's website http://www.littlenorway.org.uk

Spurred on by the fact that the Scandinavian community in Buckie during World War II was something of a forgotten story, Prof Reid joined forces with the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Museum in 2018 in a bid to change that.

The project was to attract a NATUR artist residency, with the Danish-based Norwegian composer Eyvind Gulbrandsen making two trips to Buckie in 2018 to meet the descendants of those who found sanctuary in Buckie.

During his first visit in September that year, Mr Gulbrandsen focused on the stories and archives connected to the Scandinavian exiles, making uses of the resources and research of both Prof Reid and the heritage centre.

The second visit a month later saw an open day held at the heritage centre with an open invitation extended to descendants of the refugees to come along and share their stories.

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