The story of the Faroe Islands' contribution to the war effort is well known here: in the spring of 1940, British troops arrived to occupy the islands (which were then under Danish rule) and the Faroese population quickly made them welcome and co-operated with them. As neighbouring nations, the people of the Faroe Islands and the British Isles had already enjoyed a long friendship, and throughout the conflict, the Faroese fishermen further supported Britain by continuing to supply fish. The Faroese fishing vessels (which had themselves originated in Britain and were known as the 'danger-boats' because of old signage left on them) ran the gauntlet through the troubled waters of the North Atlantic under their own flag for the first time in their history. Not all of them made it safely home.
In 1945, after peace had returned to Europe, Winston Churchill mentioned the people of the Faroe Islands and promised that they would never be forgotten in the United Kingdom, but as time passes, fewer and fewer people in the United Kingdom do remember the small but significant part played by the Faroe Islands in WWII. However, the support of this country was essential and the sacrifices it made were immense.
The aim of the Faroe Islands War Memorial Project is to ensure that this story is retold and will be remembered in perpetuity.
I am a new resident in the Faroe Islands as I arrived last summer, to join my Faroese partner. I had visited the islands many times and was familiar with the War Museum at Sørvágur where I learned a little about the history of this country during the British occupation in WWII.
In particular, I was touched by the bravery of the Faroese fishermen who kept on fishing throughout the conflict and took their catch to Britain - thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, fish was always available when other basic foodstuffs were rationed . As the grand-daughter of a Hull trawler skipper, I feel a particular connection with those families who lost their men in the conflict - in fact my grandfather also died, defending the British coast in his own ship which had been redeployed as a minesweeper.
I am an enthusiastic admirer of the National Memorial Arboretum in the UK so, on my most recent visit, I asked about a memorial for the Faroe Islands and was disappointed to find that there wasn't one. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I wanted to change that... and this project was conceived.
INGOLF S. OLSEN
I’m a journalist living in Sørvagi in the Vagar island, where Worldwar II set its very distinct
footprints in the form of a military airport built by the British, which is still in use as a now
modern civil airport and the only airport in the Faroe Islands (Vagar airport). However, I
grew up in Glyvrar by the Skalafjørd, in the Eysturoy island, but also there, there were plenty of activities and many soldiers during the war.
My father was one of the Faroese men who ran the great risk of sailing fish to the British
Isles during the war, and so did several other of my family members. For this reason, I grew
up hearing a lot of stories from the war, and this made a great impression on me.
The impact of the British occupation on the Faroese autonomy ideas and rights, with all that it meant then and has come to mean later, has also always been of great interest to me.
In the later years, I have had a certain connection to the War Museum, and this has in only sharpened my interest in World War II, and how its history unfolded in the Faroes and among the Faroese people.
Before I met Vanessa, I had no idea about the National Memorial Arboretum just outside
Birmingham, but having become more acquainted with the history and the purpose of the Arboretum, I agree that it is evident that the Faroe Islands and the Faroese contribution during the war – albeit small in the larger perspective – should have its own memorial here.
I moved to the Faroe Islands in late 2020, I had met my partner in England and moved here during the pandemic to work. My family has been in the military going back generations, I myself and my generation have not, and I feel this is my opportunity to pay my dues to those who have been killed in the war. I was somewhat naive to this country and didn't know anything about it until I had met my partner. I believe there are others who know very little about the Faroe Islands and what they contributed to England during the war, and I would like to help remind those who have forgotten and make sure it will never be forgotten again.