Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sinking of the Estonia - 25 Years On

On 28th September 1994 a ferry disaster shocked Europe and led to a complete change in how roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro)ferries operated. In the worst Scandinavian shipping disaster since the Second World War, the Estonia disaster still causes ripples a quarter of a century on.

An inspection of this 515 foot long car ferry had taken place only the day before and given a clean bill of health. Her usual route was between Tallinn, Estonia and Stockholm, Sweden, carrying around 1000 people on each crossing which usually took overnight. The Ro-Ro ferry would have the vehicles enter through one end, lets say the stern doors, then they would exit when the ferry arrived at it's destination by heading forward and raising the entire bow to expose an inner door which acted as a ramp. The photograph left shows the Estonia with her bow door open.

Estonia had been built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany in 1980 and had been named Viking Sally (Viking Line), Silja Star (Silja Line), Wasa King (Wasa Line) before her current name when she was operated by Estline. She had made these journeys hundreds of times, ploughing through the Baltic Sea year after year proving to be a trustworthy and reliable vessel.

But on the early morning of 28th September something went dramatically wrong. The locking pins on the huge bow door simultaneously failed and the visor simply fell off into the stormy sea. The ship had been in rough weather all night and experts believe that the bouncing motion of the waves caused the pins to shear off with the constant battering of the bow.

With the door gone the water flooded into the car deck. As with the Herald of Free Enterprise 7 years previously, the Estonia only needed a small amount of water on the car deck for the ship to be dangerously unstable.

A mayday call was sent out and all ships in the area raced to her assistance. The evacuation of the ship began with the ship turning over onto her side very quickly....too quick to properly launch any of her safety equipment. Liferafts ended up upside down and the by the time the lights went out there was very little that could be done.

With hundreds of people in the water the Estonia turned completely over and sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The nearby ships and helicopters rescued just 137 survivors. The official death toll was placed at 852.

Just days after the disaster the wreck had been located, the bow door missing but later recovered too far away from the ship to have drifted in the sinking. It had clearly been ripped off in the storm and was a crucial piece of evidence in the inquiry.

Today the Estonia is still one of Europes worst maritime disasters, only a migrant vessel in the Mediterranean in 2015 coming close to the same death toll.

In 2018 I visited the memorial in Stockholm which stands at a cemetery behind the museum dedicated to another shipwreck, the Vasa, sunk in 1628. A curved wall lists the names of all those who died with various tributes across the bottom laid by relatives on the anniversary. (Photographs above and left).

Her home port of Tallinn has a very unique looking monument to the victims. Again the names are listed but this is known as the Broken Line, a huge bar striking upwards and ending suddenly, the continuation of this being on the opposite side of the land up the hill that leads to the maritime museum. In all my years of memorial hunting I have never seen something like this before (Photographs right and below).

Needless to say the sinking of this ship is featured in the museums across both sides of the Baltic. A model sits in the Stockholm National Maritime Museum along with her sister ship Diana II. (Bottom photo)

Although the Estonia is today one of the most shocking modern day shipping disasters, it will be a long time before this tragedy is forgotten. The staggering death toll and the shock of the suddenness that something this large could sink this quickly caught people unaware. In the aftermath of this many ferry operators had their fleet welded shut at the bow and only their stern doors used. As the years have gone by the bow door is still used but the safety checks will most likely be as rigorous as they can get.

Nobody wants to see another Estonia. While Europe has very strict shipping laws and safety rules, other countries are drastically lacking such features. Every few years a vessel founders in the same kind of circumstances - water on the car deck or lack of lifesaving equipment. Such is the tragedies of the ferries of Egypt, Philippines, Tanzania and Indonesia who will continue to cost hundreds - if not thousands - of lives.

Estonia's running partner Mariella still works the same route 25 years on. Her door is the same visor style as seen in these photographs taken in late 2018. This vessel was one of the ships that raced to her aid and managed to rescue 15 survivors and served as a helicopter station where she took on board a further 11. 

Today the wreck of the Estonia lies on her side at the bottom of the cold waters of the Baltic. The initial calls to raise the vessel have now vanished and she sits silently in her final resting place. A permanent memorial to her own demise.

On this anniversary there will be flowers, wreaths and ceremonies to commemorate this avoidable tragedy. Before long all that will be left will be the names etched forever on the walls of the monuments in these two Baltic ports, a reminder of our tragic maritime past.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Terror Attack at Westminster - 22 March 2017

On 22nd March 2017 the wave of terrorist attacks that had shook the world came suddenly and cruelly to Westminster Bridge. A man hell-bent on a radical form of religion drove his car across the pavement mowing down pedestrians, tossing them into the air like rag dolls.

At the Houses of Parliament underneath the famous clock tower he crashed his car into the fence and continued on foot where he launched a knife attack on the police guarding the gates. One officer on duty, PC Keith Palmer, was fatally stabbed before the terrorist was shot dead by armed police.

Shocked bystanders ran in every direction until it was obvious the attack was over and it was safe to attempt to help in any way they could. 

Emergency services immediately swung into action and the press were quick to cover the event. Ordinary people stopped what they were doing and ran to help. Traffic ground to a halt as the drivers raced to administer first aid to people laying bleeding on the path and roadside. Thanks to these unsung heroes, a lost more people could have died that day but didn't.
Although despite these efforts, with the attack lasting just 86 seconds, it left five people dead with dozens more injured. Ordinary people such as workers, tourists, MP's and police all caught up in this despicable act. 

Today we remember...

Kurt Cochran
Andreea Cristea
Aysha Frade
PC Keith Palmer
Leslie Rhodes

The ironic thing about such an attack is that these acts are supposed to divide those who they regard as the enemy, but the truth is that it does completely the opposite. Although there is the inevitable deaths and injuries, the actual act of hatred brings people together in what was known almost 80 years ago as the "Blitz Spirit" as strangers give each other the helping hand they need. Friendships are forged and stories of heroism mean that some of these individuals are honoured with medals, plaques and commendations. As with the previous terror attacks around the world, the killers never win. 

If this man's mission was to cause hatred with his murderous rampage then it failed miserably, as all terrorist attacks do. Even the killer was treated by the emergency teams that he so desperately wanted to kill. That is the difference between people like them and people like him. 

Today at the gates to Westminster a memorial plaque for PC Palmer stands proud, unveiled in 2019. Flowers are laid there regularly in memory of a man who tried to thwart this terrible of acts. He will forever be remembered as the hero of the Westminster attack, over time his killer's name will be forgotten.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Crash of the Aquila Airways flying boat - 15th November 1957

In the middle of nowhere on the Isle of Wight lies a tiny area called Brook, a place where farmland rules the eyesight for miles and the winding roads only get thinner and steeper. In August 2018 I was led here by my research to the side of a chalk cliff on the edge of one of these such roads. For it was here that a flying boat owned by Aquila Airways crashed and killed 45 of the 58 people on board. The official cause of this was engine failure.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin was my first visit in this area, it is here that a plaque was placed close to the entrance paying tribute to those who died. A very quiet church with barely a soul around for miles, this church is worth the visit if you can get up the steep hill of stairs. There are several memorials in here to the countless shipwrecks and rescues that have taken place on the island in the last hundred or so years. A visitor book had an entry made by a relative of one of those who died in the crash, this must be a pilgrimage for most of the families every so often.

 Less than a mile north of this church is the crash site itself, recognisable through my research into the location of the disaster.
This time there were a few people at the crash site, most likely living there judging by the caravan and farm equipment/horse boxes nearby. A woman there pointed me in the direction of another plaque which marked the site, the photographs of the crash very different to how it looked now with the trees and vegetation having taken 61 years more to grow. 
The scar on the landscape is still visible in the photograph below. A part of the island that will be forever tainted with tragedy. Standing here in the silence I pondered at just how many people knew this was here and if the families came here often. With the passing of time it is inevitable that less and less people would make that journey through the long country roads where there are few places to pull over. 

Despite the location being one of a major disaster, it was nice to pay tribute to those who died and fitting to see that not one but two memorials make sure that this disaster is not forgotten.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Arandora Star - Italian Internee Disaster

The Blue Star Liner Arandora Star is not one that springs to mind when you discuss wartime sinkings. The ship itself was around 15,000 tons with a length of 512 ft, her job was to make the crossings between Britain and South America with her sister ships.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939 she was considered unsuitable to be converted to an armed merchant cruiser but she was given convoy duties transporting personnel and was put to use pretty much straight away in the evacuation of troops in Norway in June 1940.

On one occasion she was evacuating troops from St Nazaire when on the same day the Cunard liner Lancastria was sunk with thousands killed.

But Arandora Star would not survive for long. It was in the early morning of 2 July 1940 that she was located by Captain Gunther Prien on the German submarine U-47 and fired a single torpedo. Prien had already gained notoriety the previous October when he made a daring mission through the anti-submarine nets and guards at Scapa Flow and sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak.

The liner was hit and immediately started flooding, knocking out all her engines, the radio operators managing to transmit a distress signal while lifeboats were launched. At 0720 she rolled over and sank around 75 miles North West of Ireland.

The shocking part of this disaster is that of the 800+ people who died on this shipwreck, over half were Italian internees destined for Canada.

Although there is no discovery of the wreck to write about (yet!) there are several memorials dotted around and I had the privilege of visiting several of them over the years.

A model of the ship (above) is on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, the port where she sailed from on her final voyage with over 1500 people on board.

These two (above and right) is at St Peters Italian Church in Clerkenwell, London, two monuments highlight this disaster with a long list of names. This memorial was installed in 1960.

The bodies of the victims were washing ashore for months after the sinking, some were unidentifiable but others remained trapped on the wreck when she sank.

A chapel was built in Bardi, Italy, home of dozens of the victims and a street was renamed to honour the ship.

A visit to Glasgow's St Andrews Church (below) reveals another Arandora Star memorial plaque in the churchyard, unveiled on the 70th anniversary. A few miles away at the Western Necropolis a grave bears the name of one of the victims.

A friend of mine, John Patrick Leonard, recently took a trip to Liverpool and sent me this memorial plaque, one that I didn't even know existed until now. It just goes to show that even if you are not aware of such an event taking place, the memorial plaques will tell the stories long after the last survivor or relative has gone. It is these monuments that keep their memories alive and hopefully one day inspire somebody to hunt for the wreck and tell this story in full. Until then we can continue to remember and continue to commemorate.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Wilhelm Gustloff - The Worlds Worst Sea Disaster

It would surprise many people to know that the worlds worst sea disaster (by death toll) is almost not heard of unless you are a ship enthusiast or familiar with World War II history. The name Wilhelm Gustloff was one that was said to promise a new era of relaxation for the people of Nazi Germany in the holiday programmes known as "Strength Through Joy" which saw holiday complexes built and ocean liners commissioned specifically for the entertainment of it's people. Great theory.

But what actually happened was the liners were built as planned but were soon used as refugee ships and in some cases concentration camps. What started as a pleasure cruise on paper ended in reality ships which offered only horror and doom.

But by January 1945 the war had only a few months left and this left a lot of people displaced from their homes on both sides. The 684ft long liner Wilhelm Gustloff was alongside in Gdansk being crammed full of people needing to escape, the longer they stayed the slimmer their chance was that they would all survive. With over 10,000 people on board the ship sailed just after midday on 30th January, destination Kiel.

She would not survive the short journey across the cold Baltic Sea.

By 9 pm that same day the Soviet submarine S-13 located her and got into position for an attack. She fired three torpedoes into her side and she sank in less than an hour. The death toll was shocking - nobody knows for sure exact figures but it is said that over 9000 died. No other shipwreck has even come close to being as bad.

Today the wreck is still intact laying on her side on the seabed. Divers have taken items from her over the years but today there is a ban on any diving near the wreck and she is officially classed as  a war grave.

Her bell, recovered from the wreck, is shown here in December 2018 in  the Museum of the Second World War, Gdansk, Poland.

Items in the Maritime Museum, Hamburg include her lifebuoy (above) and deckchairs (below). With the war service it is so easy to forget that this was originally supposed to be a pleasure/cruise ship.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Memorials of 9/11 - A Personal Journey

It is 18 years ago that the eyes of the world woke up to the news that the word "terrorism" had taken on a whole new meaning. The hijacking of four airliners by 19 terrorists and then using them to deliberately crash them into buildings was something that both shocked and horrified every person who had even an ounce of compassion. The two famous "twin towers" of the World Trade Center in New York City fell in clouds of dust within two hours, an entire side of the Pentagon collapsed in a heap and a fourth plane was taken over by it's passengers and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania before it had chance to conduct it's deadly mission - a sacrifice that immortalised the heroic players in that fight back.

11th September 2001 was without doubt a day that shocked the world and like everybody else it started off like any other day for me, sat out at sea on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean enjoying the sun and looking forward to getting in to Turkey in two days time. That afternoon, after we had finished work, one of the lads came into the mess deck and announced that terrorists had flown planes into the twin towers and that the Pentagon had also been hit. This was surely too far fetched?

I raced up to the radio room and walked up to the man dealing with the messages. "How's it going?" I said casually. "Haven't you heard?" came his reply. It was then I knew that this was no joke as he turned the signal around for me to read. With the internet not at it's greatest ability we managed to upload the BBC News front page and as the first image popped up on the screen of the side of the tower erupting in a fireball, we all just looked shocked. All kinds of questions ran through our heads. Who would do something like this? How many people have been killed? What are going to be the repercussions?

As we pulled into Turkey two days later (with the newspapers here being a day late from the UK) I managed to see the first reports and there the news remained for months, it was all what came to be known as 9/11 and what turned into a war in Afghanistan lasting over a decade.

So as the dust settled and the years went by, I have decided to share with you all the numerous memorials that I have visited around the world that have commemorated the attacks and remembered the victims.

So I will start with New York itself. In August 2017 there was an opportunity to join my in-laws with their American road trips and with a stop over in the Big Apple I wanted to see for myself where these terrible events took place.

The first thing you see is the incredible structure that is the World Trade Center today, built right next to where the twin towers once stood as a show of defiance to any terrorist - we will not be beaten! Rising 1776 ft tall, the elevator ride alone takes your breath away with an animation of how the city was built from mere vegetation to the megalopolis that you see today. A counter with the years tick by in the top corner as you watch buildings rise from all corners, for a brief few seconds the two towers appear then disappear next to you before the doors open. The scene from up there is nothing short of breathtaking, the city spread out like a model village below.
Leaving the WTC you are immediately drawn to the two massive waterfall pools, the original footprints of the towers. Around each of these adorn the names of all those who died in the attacks that day, a rose being inserted into the name of those whose birthday it is today.

The museum in the underground section is both sombre and fascinating. The stories told in here speak volumes about the buildings, the attacks, the people and the lives lived within these buildings in the two decades that they were standing tall. Items on display range from gift shop souvenirs to pieces of the airliners that were used as missiles by the terrorists. A huge piece of the tower which served as a kind of centrepiece for the photographers during the clearup operations is adorned with the graffiti of numbers - the numbers of firefighters lost, police officers from different departments and civilians dead. The remains of a fire truck and the antenna at the top of the North Tower leaves you under no doubt that this huge event that shook the world happened not in some faraway country, but right here at this very spot.

New York has various other memorials to the attacks. At the USS Intrepid, a Vietnam-era aircraft carrier moored at pier 86 down the Hudson River a piece of WTC steed is shaped into a memorial. A plaque at Liberty Island under the famous statue has a Memorial Grove of trees, Battery Park held the famous sphere that once stood between the two buildings and a huge firefighters mural stretches down Greenwich Street and leads the way to more museums dedicated to the event.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum was one that I visited which was just as fascinating as the others. Despite the event being the same, it's amazing just how different they can be. How many more different versions of events could be found? How many exhibits could you possibly get? Who knows. But each one is worth a visit in itself and for somebody who wants to know as much as possible about the events of that day then there is never a shortage of places to go for information. I didn't get chance to see loads more including an exhibition of photographs and various other plaques. The city is simply just too big to discover everything in such a short space of time.

St Pauls Church had a lucky escape when the towers fell, the plaque there today telling the visitor that on the first anniversary a bell was placed in the churchyard to be rung out every anniversary, a symbol of both remembrance and a lucky escape for the historic church. A small Greek Orthodox church closer to the towers was not so lucky and remains one of the smaller less known stories of the fall of the towers.

So we move away from New York and head over the water to New Jersey. Another monument originally to the Polish dead of Katyn Wood during the Second World War now has an image of an angel weeping at the burning towers. Both powerful and upsetting.

Up the road is the memorial known as the Empty Sky. You will find that in Liberty State Park, normally a place where you head off to get the ferry over to Liberty and Ellis Islands, but not far from the terminals is two walls, set apart by just a few feet and pointing directly to the site of where the towers once were. When we arrived there the sun was shining at the perfect angle and created what can only be described as a diamond ring illusion, with the silence of the park and the image before you, it is difficult to to feel emotional at this. Steel from the towers stands at the entrance with inscriptions of those who died running up the sides of the walls.

Also in New Jersey after a short drive away is what can only be described as one of the most beautiful monuments I have ever seen. The Teardrop, donated by Russia, stands 100ft tall overlooking the water towards the site of the towers with a 40ft teardrop hanging through the middle like an oddly shaped needle. The names of the dead run in a circle around the bottom of the monument. What impressed me is that they have included the six who died in the 1993 attack, when a truck bomb detonated in the car park in the first attempt to bring down the towers. 1000 people were also injured that day but the towers stood tall.

So the road trip continued over to Baltimore where a very unique memorial stood outside their city World Trade Center. As I was looking at the twisted steel that made up the monument a segway tour stopped where I overheard the guide tell the people that the memorial was inscribed with lines giving the dates and times of events. Apparently on 11th September the shadow of the building hits those lines at the exact times as the day goes on. If this is true then this is a remarkable feat of planning and engineering. Other stones close by simply say "Pentagon" and "Fight 93, Shanksville, PA."

One thing I did notice is that the 9/11 attacks are not just monuments outside in the street, the stories in museums show their own artefacts, stories and personal effects. The Smithsonian museum and the Ronald Reagan Trade Centre in Washington DC both have steel from t
he towers, the trip taking us over to the small town of Gettysburg where you can still see how they remember the day, despite their own history as being the bloodiest battle of US soil during the Civil War.

My final visit in the States took me to the Pentagon, the site of the crash of flight 77 which cost the lives of 184 more lives. The area where the building collapsed is now repaired and you would never guess that anything untoward had ever happened here. A memorial garden of trees with pools adorned with the names of those who died is set in a background of high security reminding you that the Pentagon is still a US Government building under top surveillance, so much so that you are told not to photograph the building if you are visiting this memorial garden. 

But it is not just the USA where you will find memorials to these attacks. 67 Britons died that day and so a memorial to them was built in Grosvenor Square in London. What looks like a temple complete with columns in a Greek style like a mini acropolis, the names of those lost from the UK in three bronze plaques (below right).

Gdynia in Poland has a small solidarity plaque near the seafront, today a demolition crew is tearing down an old leisure centre but thankfully the memorial is not being disturbed. This is one of those smaller plaques that you would literally miss it if you blinked. For this one you head towards the historic warship Blyzkawica straight ahead, this is on the left hand side as you walk towards it (below).

So these are the monuments I have visited myself which commemorate the September 11th attacks. I have no doubt that there will be many more over the coming years that I will manage to make that journey to and gaze upon the memorials to the citizens of other countries. There have been hundreds of terrorist attacks in just the last 20 years, the cities of London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin have joined the names that were splashed on the front pages. Memorials will continue to be erected to the dead in such shocking events and it is up to us as the good citizens of this world the help keep the memories of these people alive so they continue to be a part of our history. But most of all we remember the heroes of all four flights, the fire crews, the police, the unsung rescuers, the office workers and the people left behind to deal with the pain.

It is too big of an event to ever forget, but we will be assured that the names of the lives lost on that dreadful day 18 years ago will forever be remembered.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sinking of the Munchen

The cargo carrier Munchen was launched in 1972 and was 857ft long which made her one of the biggest cargo ships in the world, plying her trade between Europe and America.

It was on one of these journeys in December 1978 that Munchen found herself in trouble. In the early hours of 12th December a distress call was heard from her which alerted a French radio station that she was in peril somewhere mid-Atlantic. Other ships picked up broken messages which may have come from her, but a rescue operation was immediately launch. It would be all in vain.

That was the last anybody ever heard of her. Her 28 crew and full load of cargo were lost at sea without a trace.
It was known that the ship was sailing into a storm but this wasn't abnormal especially for a ship the size of Munchen. Over the next ten days a huge search was underway which located her EPIRB (emergency beacon), several lifeboats, rafts and various other lifesaving equipment.

Investigations were carried out which led to the conclusion that she had been struck by rogue waves which knocked out her radio equipment and sank her slowly, but there was nothing ever conclusively given as the cause, it was all just theory and speculation.

Her wreck has never been found.

A large model of the Munchen today sits in the Laboe naval memorial in Kiel, Germany. The sinking has featured in several documentaries also suggesting it was a rogue wave. Until the remains are found we will never know for sure.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Battle of Narvik 1940

The small town of Narvik in Northern Norway is the centre point of the iron ore trade which branches out in all directions from the Arctic Circle down to Oslo and beyond. It was this trade that made the area a very important target for Nazi Germany and sure enough the expected invasion was soon to take place in early 1940 in order to secure this land.

The Royal Navy though was already a step ahead and a fleet of ships was already deployed to protect the area despite the growing presence of German warships in the seas around Narvik.

On 9th April 1940 the invasion took place which swiftly sent the two Norwegian warships Eidsvold and Norge to the bottom during a battle involving no fewer than ten German warships. The land was taken in no time at all and the British had to act fast in order to prevent the situation getting worse.

The following days saw ship after ship sunk in this small area of water, the fjords now littered with dozens of shipwrecks from all sides. Ironically the German warships were by now sat around stranded due to the lack of fuel, their tankers being able to get through to replenish the units.

By the end of May 1940 the land had been retaken but unfortunately it was the smallest of victories as Norway fell less than a month later and the Allies withdrew from Narvik.

Today there are remnants of the Battle of Narvik all around the town and in July 2019 I had the opportunity to see them for myself.

To start with I visited one of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries which had dozens of graves from the loss of the British warships Hunter, Hardy and Acasta as well as a section of German graves on the other side of the cemetery. Just this one place really brings it home to you just how many individual sailors alone were killed on these ships. Each person buried here had friends, a family, a home and a story. Some just say "A Sailor of the Second World War" and may never now be identified.

A memorial in the town centre honours those lost on the two Norwegian ships Eidsvold and Norge. These two put up an incredible fight against all odds and were the first casualties of a long battle. Today a peaceful memorial garden is dominated by a free standing stone marking the loss of these once proud ships.

Nearby to the memorial is the Narvik War Museum, a building which is packed with information and relics from 1940 telling the story in several languages and giving an easy to understand view of the events leading up to the invasion as well as displaying some incredible artefacts from some of the wrecks of those ships which over the years have been located and dived upon. A light show over a map of the fjords shows the visitor what happened day by day and gives you a better realisation of the horrors of the war and the history of this tiny town.

But the highlight of this trip was the visit to a site far away from the main town but one which was well worth doing. Taking a car across the bridge onto the main road and then back over the other side, down a country road surrounding by hills and trees and parking up where the road ends near a utilities station, we had to go the rest of the way on foot. Heading through foliage and mud, climbing over rocks and hanging onto tree branches, it was soon apparent that my shoes and jeans were suffering, not that I cared about this by now. For we had come to see the wreck of the German destroyer Georg Thiele, run aground deliberately during the campaign in order to save the crew from certain death after taking heavy damage.

The wreck today is in the exact same location but is now upside down, brown with rust and her bow up on the rocks. The 390ft long ship is now mostly underwater and is a fascinating dive site, but the foc's'le remains above water for you to see, the damage to the underside now exposed, along with the various holes which expose parts of her machinery spaces. Bollards and anchor holes remind you that this was once a fine vessel of fighting capability with a proud crew and a shining personality. Today she is a piece of history that is there for all to see for those who can be willing to make the journey. A journey that is well worth it if you love history and want to see first hand this amazing relic.

The Battle of Narvik is today remembered in the history books and has featured in only a few documentaries and it seems that it is still very much overshadowed by the bigger campaigns of the Second World War. The memories of what happened here together with the graves of all those who died during this campaign will forever lay quietly in a corner of those cemeteries or sit undisturbed underwater in the steel coffins that litter the waters of this tranquil slice of Arctic paradise.

But thanks to the residents of this town and the historians who study this battlefield, the story of what happened here almost 80 years ago will never fade away.