View of Jøssingfjord

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A great view along the road from Flekkefjord to Stavanger is at Jøssingfjord. We stop to enjoy the view and realize this is actually a pretty important historic area. Back in the beginning of World War II this was the location of the first military incidence on Norwegian territory before Norway were attacked by the Germans.

A German tanker called Altmark had taken refuge in the fjord – this tanker had been sailing as a support ship for the German pocket battleship Graff Spee the pocket battleship had done great damage to the British shipping in the south Atlantic and sunk several merchant ships – some of the captured crew had been transferred onto the German tanker Altmark. There were a total of 299 British sailors onboard the ship.

The royal navy decided to act on the direct order by the minister of the navy Winston Churchill before he became the prime minister later in the year.

The British attacked the ship and seven Germans were killed in the attack. After the attack Germany strongly criticized the Norwegians for not defending its neutrality against this attack by the British. The Germans were generally outraged and this attack might have been the main reason for the later German attack on Denmark and Norway so the German army and navy would ensure no British navy would attack the area without meeting a strong resistance.

In the end of the war the fjord was also the location of one of the last major actions on Norwegian ground. At the end of the war the remaining German ships had been moved to this area for protection against attacks from the allied. The royal air force decided to attack the ships in the fjord. They send in a group of planes to sink the German ships. It turned out not to be a great success – the planes could maintain their position in the narrow fjord and they only inflicted a minor damage to some of the ships. The planes decide to fly back to the UK but a couple of the planes crashed into each other killing the New Zealand crew on one of the planes on the other plane the crew escaped into the life raft of the plane – but what happened to them later is unknown. There is a small memorial to the dead crew of the planes at the fjord.

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