The largest troop movement to the Faroe Islands during the second world war was for the building of the airport in the summer of 1942. The initial occupation in 1940 was nothing in comparison to the impact the increase of soldiers had on the local population of Vagar in 1942. At its peak, there were around 8.000 soldiers on the island and just over 2.000 villagers.
The officers lived in Miðvág. Col Adamson who was the commanding officer, lived in the rectory. Everyone was issued a pass and a gas mask. The pass was used on a daily basis, the mask was fortunately never used.
Some remains from the war
On ‘Níputrøð’ are the bases for 8 telegraph antennas. They were around 90 feet high and were surrounded by barbed-wire. There was always an armed guard and no one was allowed near.
These antennas were connected to the air-traffic control tower and other antennas around the islands.
When the transport ship carrying coal had not made it to the Faroe Islands,
alternatives to coal had to be found. The villagers had sheds for storing turf, which were requestioned. When a normal household used around 200-300 loads of turf in a year, and there were around 300 households on the Island, it had a resounding impact on the winter supply of fuel.
When the coal ship finally did arrive, the people were given one sack of coal for every three sacks of turf.
One day when some people were out gathering turf, a German plane came so close to them that they could clearly see the pilots. They threw them selves behind a stone-wall because they did not know if the plane would open fire or not. Luckily it did not shoot but flew on. When they came home they heard that the ship ‘Vesturvarið’ had been bombed in Sørvág. It had also shot a salvo off in to the village. No one had been killed, but one man had the tip of his cap shot off, whilst he was wearing it.
Ground braking radar station at Trælanípan
A radar station had been constructed at ‘Trælanípan’ and experiments were undertaken to test the technology. The station was concealed inside a tent. Because of the unique weather conditions here in the Faroe Islands the radar had some difficulty being accurate when the wind, rain, snow or other was more then the equipment could handle. One day, some smart fellow suggested that building a house in the lower end of the radar, and constructing a canvas cover for the top would maybe solve the problem.
Vagar during the occupationof this system was done at Trælanípu and was a precursor to the modern dome that now covers large radar antennas and satellite dishes. Supposedly the radar at Trælanípan was one of only two that the allied possessed during the war. The other one was in England. From the Radar Station in the Faroe Islands, it was now possible to see clearly all the way over to Norway. It was such a closely guarded secret that there was a double guard all day every day and the whole area was surrounded by land mines and explosives, so that if there was any chance that it might be compromised they could blow the whole thing up.
At the lake shore there is a ‘concrete wharf’. It was to accommodate the supplies and troops for the area. In the beginning of the occupation the army did not have all the equipment they needed and all the weapons, so they improvised wood cannons, anti aircraft guns, foxholes, pillboxes and such, all over the Faroe Islands. Miðvágur was no exeption, out by ‘Bøsdalafoss’ there was a wood cannon.
‘Trælanípan’ ( Slave-cliff ) is a promontory, more then 130 meters straight down in to the Atlantic ocean. The name supposedly derives from pagan times when it was used to dispose of old or useless slaves. Legend goes that they blindfolded them and forced them over the side. This has never been substantiated.
In order to defend the airport and the seaplane-port the allies set up defensive positions at ‘Gróthústanga’. It was named ‘Chester Camp’. It had four 8” cannons, anti-aircraft guns and ‘wire-shooters’. There was also a air-raid shelter
and two ammunition stores, around 20 barracks and a mess-hall. It was the responsibility of the Royal Artillery to defend the base. Between 400 and 500 soldiers were stationed there.
The allied memorial cemetery
At the allied memorial cemetery there stand 14 headstones guarding the last resting place of soldiers who lost their lives during the war. Most of them died in work related accidents, and one airplane crashed in 'Trongisvág' where five men lost their lives. They to are buried there.