By Kurt Monsen
During the last months of 1939, and the first ones in 1940, the German submarines attacked allied ships, mainly in the Atlantic ocean. The range of the German submarines was limited, and they had no ability to attack the very important allied convoys to Murmansk in Russia. In addition to the u-boat bases in France and Biscaya, the Germans needed bases in Norway to be able to really hurt the allies.
After the invasion in Norway, it was decided to build u-boat bases in Tronheim and Bergen.
In may 1942 started the construction of the u-boat bunker in Bergen.
It contained 7 pens, and had a 6 meter thick roof, and the walls was 2,5 to 4 meters thick.
The u-boat bunker was planned to be completed in July 1945.
The 11.Unterseebootsflottille was formed in mid-42 and was stationed in Bergen. By the end of the war, they had been assigned over 190 u-boats of VII, XXI and XXIII type.
When the Germans withdrew from France in 1944, the u-boats was transferred to Norway, and caused a big treat to the allied convoys in the North sea.
The RAF was, because of this, very eager to bomb the u-boat bunkers.
The bomb raid on the bunker in 1944 was to become one of biggest tragedies in Norway during WW2.
It was early morning 09:05, 4.october 1944, when the first planes was observed. They came in from the west and turned north over the city, when they suddenly dropped their bombs. The target was the u-boat bunker, but the bombs hit everywhere, and it seemed like the RAF was carpet bombing the whole of Laksevåg. One of the bombs hit Holen skole, crashing through the roof and exploded over the air-raid shelter that was housing 350 children, teachers and men from the civil airdefence. The rescue teams and firefighters that found the dead children said that at the instant of death, some of the children had clung to their teachers and was now nearly impossible to remove. Others died under collapsing walls, and of suffocation.
It is impossible to imagine the dreadful seconds in the shelter, when the lights went out, and the panic started among the children.
61 children, 2 teachers and 16 men from the civilian airdefence died on Holen Skole that day.
A total of 193 Norwegian civilians died as a result of the bomb raid, 180 was wounded, 60 houses was totally destroyed and over 700 people was homeless.
The Germans lost 12 men,2 u-boats (damaged or destroyed: U-228 and U-993) and at least one auxiliary boat (E. Bornhofen). It is believed that a few russian POW's working on the bunker was killed too, but this is not in any record and remains unknown. The Bunker was hit several times, but the bombs could not penetrate the thick roof, hence no damage was added to the bunker during this attack.
The RAF had used 93 Halifaxes, 47 Lancaster bombers and 12 mosquito's in this raid, and lost only one bomber. 1260 450 kg bombs and 172 225 kg bombs was dropped within 11 minutes.
The raid had been a partial failure.
RAF would later try a second bomb raid on the 29. october 1944, with 244 planes. Due to dense clouds, only 47 dropped their bombs, killing a total of 52 civilians and no Germans. No damage was inflicted to the u-boat bunker. 3 planes was shot down.
The second raid had been a failure.
U-boat bunker today.
3 pens are visible, the one closest to us,
was partially blown up by the british after the war.
It is now restored, and used by the Norwegian Navy.
Who was to blame for these tragic accidents?
Holen skole today.
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