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Remembered Today:

Skibotn, Norway 1918 - Recovery of War Materials


KizmeRD
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Does anyone know any details relating to the recovery of a stockpile of war materials from Skibotn, Norway sometime during 1918? From the little I know, these stocks were apparently intended to support Imperial Russia, but following the overthrow of the Zsar and Civil War in Finland, there were fears that that they might instead fall into the hands of the Germans/White Finns.

It appears that there was a ‘Restriction of Enemy Supplies Department’ within the Foreign Office (Ministry of Blockade) and three naval officers were lent by the Admiralty for the express purpose of recovering these valuable stocks. (Commander Day R.N.R.*, Paymaster-Lieut. F. Burke R.N.R., and Sub-Lieut. J. K. Storey R.N.R.).

*Lieut. Cmdr. (Acting Cmdr.) Roderick Wilson Day OBE RNR?

The mission was successful, but it certainly raises some questions (since Norway was a neutral country) and obviously a transport ship would have also had to be involved - so does anyone perhaps know the name of that ship?

For those unfamiliar with the geography of northern Norway, Skibotn is a small harbour town on the Lyngen Fjord, not too far from North Cape.

MB

 

PS Presumably more than just £7 million of dried cod and pickled herring!

 

Edited by KizmeRD
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OK, having spent a few hours on the internet, I finally located a reference to this particular wartime event and so I can now provide an answer to my own question. (‘At Sea with Joseph Conrad’ by J.G. Sutherland).

The main protagonist was indeed Roderick Wilson Day, who as it turns out was no stranger to cold environments, having been Third Mate on TERRA NOVA during the relief operation for Scott in the Antarctic (1903-04).

Following the failure of the Dardanelles Campaign, Allied plans to open up a new supply route into Russia got frustrated. Therefore the British government was forced to make alternative arrangements. One of these was the opening up of a ice road linking the ice free port of Skibotn to the railhead at Tornea in the Gulf of Bothnia, a distance of about 380 miles. Day (working in Murmansk at the time) was considered the perfect man to supervise the Finnish contractors, and the work was completed in three-weeks.

Owing to escalating tension between Russia and Finland this land bridge subsequently got shut down and Day was again sent for (in January 1918) owing to Foreign office concerns that supplies hung up en route might fall into the hands of the Germans. He managed to re-ship most of the goods to England - all but 300 tons metals and 2,500 cases of army boots which got seized by the Germans when they overran the ice road (taking Lieuts Booth and Storey prisoner in the process). Day then went about making it impossible for the Germans to ship their booty off to Tornea, forcing them instead to utilise the Narvick railway into Sweden, where he had diplomatic authorities impound them.

In recognition of his achievements in the face of extraordinary difficulties Acting Cmdr. Roderick Day RNR was awarded the OBE (New Year’s Honours List 1919).

MB

 

 

 


 

 


 

Edited by KizmeRD
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