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Remembering Second World War casualties who died defending Norway

19 May 2015

With the German invasion of Norway occurring 75 years ago, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is highlighting the memory of those who died seeking to protect and liberate the Scandinavian country and its important sea routes.

The two Battles of Narvik that took place inside the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway 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, the first to be announced during the Second World War.
Warburton-Lee died leading HMS Hardy into the Ofotfjord for the first battle, an Allied attempt to overthrow German forces targeting iron ore supplies which 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 service will take place as part of a programme of commemorative events from 27-28 May.

The event will be attended by CWGC United Kingdom and Northern Area Director Deirdre Mills, representatives from the Norwegian and other European governments, and the Narvik Town Council.

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.

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