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Events to mark remembrance of Second World War casualties who died in Norway

26 May 2015

With the German invasion of Norway occurring 75 years ago, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is supporting a programme of commemorative events this week in memory of those who died seeking to protect and liberate the Scandinavian country and its important sea routes.

The programme will begin with a Gala Concert and Dinner on 27 May, with wreath laying ceremonies to follow at Narvik Town Square, Veteran's Square and Narvik Cemetery on 28 May.

United Kingdom and Northern Area Director Deirdre Mills will represent the CWGC. Delegations from the British, French, Norwegian and Polish governments and the Narvik Town Council will be among those paying their respects.

An interactive history of the battles and its protagonists will be available to visitors on the day and thereafter, following the installation of the CWGC's latest visitor information panel.

Over 500 of these modern forms of commemoration are being integrated into cemeteries globally.

The two Battles of Narvik that took place inside the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway 75 years ago saw almost 150 Royal Navy servicemen lose their lives during naval clashes in one of the region's fjords.

The bravery shown by Commonwealth forces in the April 1940 battles is reflected in the Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee, along with Norway's War Cross, the country's highest award for bravery.

Warburton-Lee died leading HMS Hardy into the Ofotfjord for the first battle, an Allied attempt to overthrow German forces targeting iron ore supplies that ultimately failed.

While the Allies briefly succeeded in liberating Narvik following a second battle, they were forced to evacuate the country shortly afterwards.

War graves can be found at cemeteries around the fjord, including Narvik New Cemetery, where a wreath laying ceremony will be held on Thursday.

CWGC United Kingdom and Northern Area Director Deirdre Mills said: "The CWGC works with partners in Norway to maintain the world war graves at Narvik New Cemetery and others in the region and encourages visitors to pay their respects at these places of remembrance."

Earlier this month, veteran Arthur Harrison visited his brother's war grave in Norway for the first time.
"The cemetery was perfect - so well looked after and clean," said Mr Harrison, 91.

"It means a lot to know that Edward has been laid to rest with his comrades and has been looked after so wonderfully."

Mr Harrison was given the chance to visit Norway after his family entered him into a Christmas wish contest run by the Elite Fish and Chip Company in Lincoln.

Those who died in Norwegian waters with no grave but the sea are commemorated on the three CWGC naval memorials in the United Kingdom in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, and RAF casualties at the Runnymede memorial in Surrey.

Full press release