British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II
Overview
 
The British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II, also known as "Operation Valentine," was implemented immediately following the German invasion of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

In April 1940, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 occupied the strategically important Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

to pre-empt a German invasion. British troops left shortly after the end of the war.
At the time of the occupation, the Faroe Islands had the status of an amt
Amt (subnational entity)
Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only found in Germany, but formerly also common in northern European countries. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a U.S...

 (county) of Denmark.
Encyclopedia
The British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II, also known as "Operation Valentine," was implemented immediately following the German invasion of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

.

In April 1940, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 occupied the strategically important Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

to pre-empt a German invasion. British troops left shortly after the end of the war.

The occupation

At the time of the occupation, the Faroe Islands had the status of an amt
Amt (subnational entity)
Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only found in Germany, but formerly also common in northern European countries. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a U.S...

 (county) of Denmark. Following the invasion and occupation of Denmark
Occupation of Denmark
Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, and lasted until German forces withdrew at the end of World War II following their surrender to the Allies on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish...

 on 9 April 1940, British forces launched "Operation Valentine" to occupy the Faroe Islands. On 11 April, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 — then First Lord of the Admiralty — announced to the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 that the Faroe Islands would be occupied:

We are also at this moment occupying the Faroe Islands, which belong to Denmark and which are a strategic point of high importance, and whose people showed every disposition to receive us with warm regard. We shall shield the Faroe Islands from all the severities of war and establish ourselves there conveniently by sea and air until the moment comes when they will be handed back to Denmark liberated from the foul thraldom into which they have been plunged by German aggression.


An announcement was broadcast by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 radio. An aircraft of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) was seen over Tórshavn on the same day.

On 12 April, two destroyers of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 arrived in Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. It is located in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the north west of the town lies the high mountain Húsareyn, and to the southwest, the high Kirkjubøreyn...

 harbour. Following a meeting with Carl Aage Hilbert
Carl Aage Hilbert
Carl Aage Hilbert was the Danish Prefect of the Faroe Islands from 1936 until 1945. During this period, the Faroe Islands had the status of an amt of Denmark....

 (the Danish Prefect of the Islands) and Kristian Djurhuus (President of the Løgting
Løgting
Løgting is the unicameral parliament of the Faroe Islands, a self-ruling dependency of Denmark.The name literally means "Law Thing" - that is, a law assembly - and derives from Old Norse lǫgþing, which was a name given to ancient assemblies. A ting or Þing has existed on the Faroe Islands for over...

, the Faroese Parliament), an emergency meeting of the Løgting was convened the same afternoon. Pro-independence members tried to declare the independence of the Faroe Islands but were outvoted. An official announcement was later made announcing the occupation and ordering a nighttime blackout
Blackout (wartime)
A blackout during war, or apprehended war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, for example during the London...

 in Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. It is located in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the north west of the town lies the high mountain Húsareyn, and to the southwest, the high Kirkjubøreyn...

 and neighbouring Argir
Argir
Argir is a village in the Faroe Islands.*Population: 1907*Postal code . FO 160*Location: *Municipality: Tórshavnar kommuna*Football team: AB...

, the censorship of post and telegraphy and the prohibition of the use of motor vehicles during the night without a permit.

On 13 April, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Suffolk
HMS Suffolk (55)
HMS Suffolk was a County class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy, and part of the Kent subclass. She was built by Portsmouth Dockyard, Portsmouth, UK), with the keel being laid down on 15 November 1924...

 arrived at Tórshavn. Colonel T B W Sandall (the British military commander) and Frederick Mason
Frederick Mason
Sir Frederick Cecil Mason KCVO CMG was a British diplomat, who served as ambassador to Chile and the United Nations.- External links :*...

 (the new British Consul to the Faroe Islands) then met with the Danish Prefect. The Prefect responded with what Sandall took to be a formal protest, though Hilbert maintained that owing to the occupation of Denmark he was unable to formally represent the Danish government. He duly accepted the British terms on the basis that the UK would not seek to interfere with the internal affairs of the islands. A formal protest was however made by the Løgting
Løgting
Løgting is the unicameral parliament of the Faroe Islands, a self-ruling dependency of Denmark.The name literally means "Law Thing" - that is, a law assembly - and derives from Old Norse lǫgþing, which was a name given to ancient assemblies. A ting or Þing has existed on the Faroe Islands for over...

, though expressing the wish for friendly relations. 250 Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 were disembarked, later to be replaced by other British troops. In practice, cordial relations were maintained between the British forces and the Faroese authorities.

In May, the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 were replaced by soldiers of the Lovat Scouts
Lovat Scouts
The Lovat Scouts were a British Army unit. The unit was first formed during the Second Boer War as a Scottish Highland yeomanry regiment of the British Army and is the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit...

, a Scottish Regiment. In 1942, they were replaced by the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). From 1944, the British garrison was considerably reduced.

A notable visitor to the Faroe Islands during World War II was the author Eric Linklater
Eric Linklater
Eric Robert Russell Linklater was a British writer, known for more than 20 novels, as well as short stories, travel writing and autobiography, and military history.-Life:...

, then serving as an officer in the British Army. His 1956 novel The Dark of Summer was set in the Faroe Islands during the war years. He also wrote The Northern Garrisons: The Army at War (HMSO, 1941) and the foreword to Kenneth Williamson
Kenneth Williamson
Kenneth Williamson was a British ornithologist who had a strong association with Scotland and with bird migration.Williamson was born in Bury Lancashire. From 1941-1945 he served with the British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II, in 1944 marrying Esther Louise Rein of Tórshavn with...

's 1948 book The Atlantic Islands: a Study of the Faeroe Life and Scene.

Consequences

‎A plaque has been erected by British veterans in Tórshavn Cathedral
Tórshavn Cathedral
Tórshavner Cathedral is the second oldest received church of the Faroe Islands, on Tinganes in the old town of Tórshavn. Painted white, and roofed with slate, it was established in 1788. The cathedral church lies in the north of the peninsula Tinganes and is one of the main attractions of the town...

 expressing thanks for the kindness shown to them by the Faroese people during their presence. Approximately 170 marriages took place between British soldiers and Faroese women. The British Consul Frederick Mason (1913-2008) also married a local woman, Karen Rorholm. They subsequently left the Faroe Islands; in 1943 he was appointed British Consul in Colón
Colón, Panama
Colón is a sea port on the Caribbean Sea coast of Panama. The city lies near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. It is capital of Panama's Colón Province and has traditionally been known as Panama's second city....

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

. He would later, as Sir Frederick Mason CMG, become British Ambassador to Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 (1966-1970) and finally British Permanent Representative to the Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 Office of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (1971-1973).

The Faroe Islands received occasional attacks by German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 aircraft in the course of the war, but a full-scale invasion was never attempted. Drifting sea mines proved to be a considerable problem and resulted in the loss of numerous fishing boats and their crews. The trawler Nýggjaberg was sunk on 28 March 1942 near Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

; 21 Faroese seamen were killed in the worst single loss of Faroese lives in the war. During the war, Faroese ships had to hoist the Faroese flag
Flag of the Faroe Islands
The flag of the Faroe Islands is an offset cross, which represents Christianity, following as with other Nordic flags the tradition set by Dannebrog. The flag is called Merkið which means "the banner" or "the mark"...

 and paint FAROES / FØROYAR on the sides thus allowing the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 to identify them as "friendly".

To prevent inflation, Danish banknotes in circulation on the islands were overstamped with a mark indicating their validity only in the Faroe Islands. The Danish Krone
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

 (in the Faroe Islands) was fixed at 22.4 DKK to £1 Sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

. Emergency banknotes were issued, and specially-issued Faroese banknotes were later printed by Bradbury Wilkinson
Bradbury Wilkinson
Bradbury Wilkinson & Co were an English engraver and printer of banknotes, postage stamps and share certificates. The original company was begun in 1856 by Henry Bradbury . In 1861 the company was established at New Malden in Surrey where it remained until the 1986 when it was acquired by De La Rue...

 in England; see also Faroese króna
Faroese króna
The króna is the currency of the Faroe Islands. It is issued by the Danish National Bank. It is not an independent currency but a version of the Danish krone. Consequently, it does not have an ISO 4217 currency code. The ISO 4217 code for the Danish krone is DKK...

.

During the occupation, the Løgting was given full legislative powers, albeit as an expediency given the occupation of Denmark
Occupation of Denmark
Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, and lasted until German forces withdrew at the end of World War II following their surrender to the Allies on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish...

. Although Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 became an independent republic in 1944, Churchill refused to countenance a change in the constitutional status of the Faroe Islands whilst Denmark was still occupied. Following the liberation of Denmark and the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in Europe, the occupation was terminated in May 1945 and the last British soldiers left in September. The experience of wartime self-government did, however, mean that a return to the pre-war status of an amt
Amt (subnational entity)
Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only found in Germany, but formerly also common in northern European countries. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a U.S...

 (county) was unrealistic and unpopular. A referendum on independence was held in 1946; subsequently formal autonomy was established in 1948 (albeit within the Danish realm).

The largest tangible sign of the British presence is the runway of Vágar Airport
Vágar Airport
Vágar Airport is the only airport in the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, and is located east of Sørvágur. Due to the Faroe Islands' rather anomalous status, the airport is not fully subject to the rules of the European Union...

. Other reminders include the naval guns at the fortress of Skansin in Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. It is located in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the north west of the town lies the high mountain Húsareyn, and to the southwest, the high Kirkjubøreyn...

, which served as the British military headquarters. A continuing reminder is the Faroese love of fish and chips
Fish and chips
Fish and chips is a popular take-away food in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada...

, and British chocolate such as Dairy Milk
Dairy Milk
Dairy Milk is a brand of milk chocolate currently manufactured by Cadbury; except in the United States where it is made by The Hershey Company. It was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1905 and now consists of a number of products...

(which is readily available in shops throughout the islands, but not in Denmark).

In 1990 the Faroese government organised British Week, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the friendly occupation. The celebration was attended by and a Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 band. Sir Frederick Mason, the former wartime British consul to the Faroes, was also present.

Fatalities

More than 200 Faroese seamen lost their lives at sea during World War II, most due to the war. A monument to their memory stands in Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. It is located in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the north west of the town lies the high mountain Húsareyn, and to the southwest, the high Kirkjubøreyn...

's municipal park. Several Faroese vessels were either bombed, or sunk by German submarines or by drifting sea mines. Faroese fishing vessels harvested the sea near Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 and around the Faroe Islands, and transported their catch to the UK for sale there.

Airport

The only airfield on the Faroe Islands was built in 1942–43 on the island of Vágar
Vágar
Vágar is one of the 18 islands in the archipelago of the Faroe Islands and the most westerly of the large islands. With a size of 178 km² , it ranks number three, behind Streymoy and Eysturoy....

 by the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. The majority of the British personnel in the Faroes were stationed at Vágar, mostly working on the construction of the airfield. Although disused after the war, it was reopened as the civilian Vágar Airport
Vágar Airport
Vágar Airport is the only airport in the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, and is located east of Sørvágur. Due to the Faroe Islands' rather anomalous status, the airport is not fully subject to the rules of the European Union...

 in 1963. Left-hand driving was in force on the roads of the island of Vágar until the British troops left the Faroe Islands.

The status of the Faroese flag

Following the occupation of Denmark by Germany, Faroese vessels were no longer permitted by the British Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 to fly the Danish flag
Flag of Denmark
The national flag of Denmark, Dannebrog is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side...

. This was of considerable significance given the importance of the fishing fleet to the Faroese economy. Following some intensive discussions between the British occupation authorities, the Faroese authorities and the Danish Prefect, as well as discussions between the UK Foreign Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 and the Danish Embassy in London, on 25 April 1940 the British authorities recognised the Faroese flag — the Merkið — as the civil ensign
Civil ensign
The civil ensign is the national flag flown by civil ships to denote nationality...

 of the Faroe Islands. The traditional Faroese coat of arms
Coat of arms of the Faroe Islands
The coat of arms of the Faroe Islands first appears in one of the mediæval chairs in Kirkjubøur from around the 15th century. It depicts a Ram on a shield. Later uses show a Ram in a seal used by the , members of the Old Faroese law Court, the Løgting....

 was, however, not reintroduced until the formal introduction of home rule on 23 March 1948.

See also

  • Invasion of Iceland
    Invasion of Iceland
    The invasion of Iceland, codenamed Operation Fork, was a British military operation conducted by the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and a small Canadian task force during World War II....

  • Faroe Islands
    Faroe Islands
    The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

  • Lovat Scouts
    Lovat Scouts
    The Lovat Scouts were a British Army unit. The unit was first formed during the Second Boer War as a Scottish Highland yeomanry regiment of the British Army and is the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit...

  • Occupation of Denmark
    Occupation of Denmark
    Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, and lasted until German forces withdrew at the end of World War II following their surrender to the Allies on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish...

  • Operation Weserübung
    Operation Weserübung
    Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

     — the German invasion of Denmark and Norway
  • Politics of the Faroe Islands
    Politics of the Faroe Islands
    Politics of the Faroe Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. The Faroe Islands are politically associated with the Kingdom of Denmark, but...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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