Courage in Action. A Mutiny Averted
Statement by Vigdis HaftoDaughter of Capt. Erling Hafto, Royal Norwegian Navy
Made 30th January 2006
Even before the Second World War began, our family pet, a St Bernard dog called Bamse, had shown extraordinary devotion to duty. When I was just a child I became very ill, and was not expected to live. For twelve days and nights Bamse guarded my bedside, and would not let anyone approach, except my Mother and the Doctor. He did not leave his post until the crisis was over. Bamse was at sea with my father when the War began. His ship, the Thorodd was drafted into the Royal Norwegian Navy on 19th October 1939. Bamse became an official member of the Crew on 9th February 1940, and remained with the Thorodd until his death on 22 July 1944, a total of four and a half years unbroken service. My father was in command of the Thorodd when the Nazi invasion overtook Norway in June 1940, and the Navy escaped to Scotland. He remained in command until September 1940 when he was posted to the patrol vessel “Norkapp” at Iceland. Of course my father wanted to take his faithful dog with him, but the crew thought differently. Bamse had become essential to the morale of the ship. My father described how he had shown great courage when the vessel was in action. He had not cowered below decks, but had stood at the bow acting as an inspiration to the crew. Such was their concern for his safety that they made a special tin helmet for him to wear. So the crew confronted my father and said he could not take Bamse with him. They threatened that they would not return to sea without him. Realising that the morale of the ship was critical, my father agreed to lend him to the crew until the war was over. Sadly Bamse did not survive long enough for them to be reunited. Much more has been written about Bamse over the years. I can only add to this by saying that my father’s descriptions and stories in his lifetime entirely supported all that has been said about this remarkable courageous and heroic dog.
Ó 2006 The Montrose Bamse Project/Montrose Heritage Trust/Vigdis Hafto