Day 10 … Does this sound familiar ?(see day 4. Malmo). Had hoped to be here in Alta in 10 days and made it by lunchtime on the 10th day. Just short of 2,600 miles. Wonder if Ruby has a hand in sorting this stuff out?? All is going well and today was no exception.
We had a lovely short drive into Alta. Through a pretty little gorge and into a landscape that was more scenic than the last few days. More lush, the trees seem happier! Even some cows and horses. Still patches of snow on the mountainsides.
Slight blip when we nearly totalled some reindeer, or should I say they nearly totalled us. In most areas the trees have been cut well back from the side of the road, I suppose so that you have chance to see the reindeer. They seem to just run out, like our rabbits at home do. Thank goodness I can stamp hard on the brakes. Also, from previous experience, I had learned to secure our storage baskets on the back shelf, or they would have spilled their contents all over the floor, again!!
20 degrees and sunny still, quite windy.
Parked, by happy accident (or was it?!? thanks Ruby, one of my must sees), beside the Northern Lights cathedral and after a little break we headed the few miles south to the Tirpitz Museum
Northern Lights cathedral in Alta
The museum isn’t far from Alta, just a few miles, through 3 tunnels and over Kafjord bridge. On the right of the bridge as we drove is the area of the last sighting of X5, the midget submarine in which Ruby’s brother Tom died we came over from left to right so the probable site is on the left of the photo
I had already been in touch with Even Blomqvist , the director of the Tirpitz museum, over the course of a few emails and he had been ever so helpful in seeking permission from the Norwegian government to get the required permit to scatter Ruby and Bobs ashes. In our Bunnybus garage we had Toms navy overcoat, jacket, trousers and his medals as well as a picture showing him wearing the garments. These were to be donated to this museum. Even said they had relatively few personal effects from the Xcraft and Operation Source (the secret British midget submarine mission to try to destroy the pride of the German navy, the Tirpitz) so he would be honoured to have them to put on display. Chris’ family all thought it was very appropriate that these items, which had been in a suitcase in Bob and Ruby’s loft, should be given to the museum. The garments were in their original condition, there was even a little bit of tobacco in Toms coat pocket.
We went to the museum thinking we would just be giving Even Toms possessions. We hoped to ask him where we could hire a boat and thought that would be it.
As we arrived there was a group of British Royal Marines just leaving. They had held a service in the nearby church that morning commemorating the brave British Navy men who gave their lives in Kafjord during the Tirpitz attacks in WW2. This year is the 75th anniversary. They were heading from the Russian border down the coast to Oslo by bike and kayak as part of the ‘Norway75′ challenge. Got to say they looked fit enough!! So we had an interesting chat with them. They were pleased to meet Chris and had already been told the reason for our journey. It’s all about respect for one of their own, and honouring their memory. I must look up their twitter/instagram/Facebook sites.
We then had an opportunity to talk to Even. He was so nice and warm, very welcoming, a lovely guy. It was great to meet him in the flesh so to speak. He said, if we didn’t mind, that a friend of his, a diver who had searched for evidence of the remains of the X5 over the years, would take us out in the fjord in his boat tomorrow at 11am to scatter Ruby and Bobs ashes at the site of the last known sighting of the midget submarine. Evens father offered to get flowers to place at the site, for Chris’ parents and Tom but also as a mark of respect to all those who lost their lives, this area being a war grave. He said he had then arranged, following the reunion of Ruby (and Bob) with her brother, a small memorial service in the local church overlooking the fjord. He had also contacted the local paper who were very keen to follow this story. The German occupation of Norway plays a major part in the more recent history of this area. Chris was blown away by this thoughtfulness, as was I.
Chris and Even..This is a scale model of the Bismarck, sister ship to the Tirpitz (apparently the Tirpitz was an improvement, lessons having been learned from the Bismarck)
A model of an Xcraft with saddle charges on either side, 2 tons of amatol (TNT and ammonium nitrate) explosive to be attached to the hull of the Tirpitz.
Detonators believed to be from the X5
We had a guided tour around his museum and watched a couple of relevant films , one of which included an interview with Chris’ Mum talking about Tom. It was all very interesting. Particularly so when you realise that these men in their midget submarines had so little chance of surviving, remarkably some did.
Even has had a lifelong passion for the war history of this area. Fired by his grandfather and the man who used to drive his school bus when he was a child and was a member of the Norwegian resistance. He says it is so important to keep these memories alive for current and future generations.
This was an emotional but very special day for Chris, Evens thoughtfulness and kindness will, without doubt, be remembered.
We can relax now, in a sense, knowing that Ruby and Bob along with Tom will have a fitting and appropriate memorial.