Recent trip to Iceland

Discussion in 'WW2 Museums. Events, & places to see.' started by Mathsmal, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    Hi all

    I recently went to Iceland for a week with the family. I wasn’t expecting there to be many WW2 sites but I was pleasantly surprised so thought I'd post a few bits of info which might be interesting for you:

    The main site of interest is Fossvogur Cemetery. The cemetery contains two Commonwealth plots, which have 197 graves – 110 are RAF men, mostly killed in crashes in the Iceland area. There are also 48 graves of Merchant Navy/RN/RCN sailors killed including those who died in the sinking of HMS Niger (sunk when it accidentally entered a minefield off Iceland on 5 July 1942), HMCS Skeena (lost in a storm near Reykjavik on 25 October 1944), and SS Shirvan (torpedoed by U-300 off Iceland on 10 November 1944. Survivors were rescued by the Icelandic SS Godafoss, which was then torpedoed by the U-300 with considerable loss of life). There are 48 Army burials in the cemetery, men who served with the occupying regiments.

    There are also Norwegian graves within the Commonwealth plot, and French and Polish graves elsewhere in the Cemetery.
    The graves of 17 Luftwaffe crew who were killed during reconnaissance sorties over Iceland are also found in the cemetery. Their memorial is rather overgrown and moss-covered, making most of the names difficult to read.
    In comparison, the Polish memorial has been very well looked after, and displays a large flag – you can’t miss it.
    The cemetery also features a number of memorials to lost aircrews, and a memorial to the ships lost on Russian Convoys. I’ll try and post some photos later.

    Domestic airport
    While picking up a hire car by the domestic airport in Reykjavik I noticed that there were a number of nissen huts in the area. I checked afterwards and discovered this used to the RAF Reykjavik. I didn’t have chance to explore properly, so someone else may have more insights into whether there is anything left of the original structures.

    Hvalfjörður is a large fjord north of Reykjavik. It was the site of two US Navy and one Royal Navy base during the war, and was the place where the early Russian Convoys were formed up, before departing for Murmansk. On the southern edge of the fjord are the remains of one US and the RN station. There is a rusty jetty but I didn’t see a lot of other remains (although I admit I didn’t stop to look as I wasn’t aware of the history of the jetty at the time). On the northern edge there are a number of large oil tanks and huts which are still in use as holiday homes. These were part of the second US Navy station.

    On the northern edge of Hvalfjörður is the very interesting Occupation Museum. This private museum provides a very good overview regarding the occupation of Iceland, with displays on the US and Royal Navy bases at Hvalfjörður, information on the allied units in Iceland, and an exhibit on HMS Hood which was sunk in the Denmark Strait near Iceland. There are some very good video displays with colour footage of troops in Iceland, as well as good displays of personal equipment, photos, documents, etc. Highly recommended for a visit. Free tea/coffee as part of your entry ticket too. It is open every day during the summer.

    Other info
    For general information about air crashes in Iceland, this site is excellent -

    Finally, there is one other Second World War museum in Iceland, on the west coast. The Icelandic Wartime Museum is located at Reyðarfjordur which was a fjord, also used as a congregation point for convoys to Russia and was also a British Army base. I didn’t make it there so can’t comment on it, but more info can be found here:
    I just found this info on the Fred Olsen Cruises website as well, which may be of interest:

    The Museum portrays life in Iceland during the war as well as the harrowing tale of the journey by the ill-fated Kings’ Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) in January 1942. The platoon were marching over the mountains from Reydarfjordur when, just two kilometres from their destination of Eskifjordur, they got into trouble near a small farmstead called Veturhus. A young man inspecting his family’s modest property for weather damage, came across a KOYLI soldier, barely alive, and realised he would not be alone. He and his younger brother searched through the night for the remaining platoon members on the slopes of Eskifjardaheidi and, over several hours and in blizzard conditions, they rescued 48 soldiers and took them into their home. Four soldiers found their own shelter but eight soldiers lost their lives that night – the greatest loss of life sustained by British troops in east Iceland during World War II.

    If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to help!

    ramacal, dbf, CL1 and 2 others like this.
  2. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Newsclip regarding the Godafoss

    Attached Files:

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  3. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Some info on those lost on the HMS Niger

    Attached Files:

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  4. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    The smaller Commonwealth plot

    Graves of RCN men from HMCS Skeena

    The larger Commonwealth plot with Norwegian graves

    The German graves / memorial

    The Polish graves / memorial

    Russian Convoy memorial
    BereniceUK, ramacal, dbf and 4 others like this.
  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Thank you for posting
  6. spidge


    Great photos Matt! Certainly does not live up to the name with all that lovely greenery.

    There are five Australian RAAF lads at Fossvogur Cemetery. 17,000kms from home.


  7. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing Matt, interesting post, like the pictures to.

  8. Kikaoshea

    Kikaoshea Member

    Hi Matt
    Thanks for your post.
    My grandad was in Iceland in 1940 with the 711 middlesex county council company royal engineers.
    Did you hear any mention of those gentlemen and their labours?
    Thanks again

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