Bamse returns to Honningsvåg. Almost 70 years after he left Honningsvåg Bamse returned home - in a manner of speaking. His inspirational story, the success of the Montrose Heritage Trust Bamse Project, and the wonderful statue erected at Montrose Harbour were all keenly observed in Norway.
As a boy Sigurd Berg-Hansen had known both Erling Hafto and Oscar Jensen in Honningsvåg, and he had learned from them about the war, about Thorodd and about Bamse.
He felt that Bamse should be commemorated in his home town, as in Scotland. Bamse’s story would help to remind people what had happened in Mageroya during the war; it would commemorate the sacrifice of those who left, never to return, and it would pass the lessons learned on to the next generation. With the backing of Mayor Kristina Hansen, the Kommune and Port of North Cape, Sigurd launched their Bamseprosjekt to raise funds for their own full sized bronze statue of the famous dog. In only eleven months they had achieved their objective and commissioned a replica of the one at Montrose, which will be seen by many of the quarter of a million visitors who pass through Honningsvåg every year.
So it was that, on 19th June 2009, a parade assembled at Honningsvåg’s War Memorial, in front of the church, the only building to survive the war and now the heart of a thriving modern town. The combined bands of the Skolekorps (Honningsvåg school brass band) and Lathallan School pipe band, specially flown over for the occasion, filled the air with music. After a short wreath-laying ceremony the bands led the parade down the town’s main street, drawing in almost the whole population behind it. Reaching the quayside everyone assembled around the shrouded statue of Bamse. Amongst those who had travelled from Scotland were Provost of Angus Ruth Leslie-Melville, members of the Montrose Heritage Trust, and the sculptor Alan Herriot. Vigdis Hafto, Willie Nilsen, and Christine Jensen formed direct links with the story of Thorodd and her ship’s dog. Dignitaries and supporters from Norway, Sweden and even Canada swelled the crowd. In a moving gesture, two children from each school performed the unveiling of the statue, which was greeted with enthusiastic applause. In her speech Mayor Kristina Hansen welcomed Bamse back to his original home, emphasising that his presence and his story will sustain the memory of the dark war years, whilst drawing Norway and Scotland closer together. “If you look at a map you will see that our Bamse is looking south west towards Montrose, and your Bamse is facing north east towards Honningsvåg. This will keep us in mind of each other in years to come”.
AGMW / AWO: July 2009