Honouring Bamse

60 years to the day after he was laid to rest, the sea dog Bamse was honoured by the Norwegian Navy, the family that owned him and the Montrose community, where he was a well known character during WWII.

23/08/2004 ::

Bamse was taken onboard the KNM Thorodd by his owner, the ship’s captain, Erling Hafto in 1942. Soon he became the sailors’ best friend, and Hafto had to leave the dog behind when he finished his duty onboard the Thorodd.

In battle the massive St. Bernard would take up his position at the foremost gun tower. Photos of him were printed on patriotic Christmas cards sent to the Norwegian forces all over the world.

Bamse also looked after the crew while the ship was in harbour:

- Oh, yes, I remember seeing Bamse going round the pubs in Montrose rounding up the men of the Thorodd, says war veteran Reidar Pedersen, 85, who served onboard the KNM Urædd. – He was a wonderful dog and a symbol to us all in very difficult times.

Mr Pedersen, now living in Dundee, was together with Captain Hafto’s daughter Vigdis the only two who had actually known Bamse at the memorial service on Sunday 4th July. Vigdis Hafto attended together with her son, placing flowers on Bamse’s grave.

- Bamse is a very special symbol to the Norwegian Navy, says Captain Øistein Jensen of KNM Utvær. Members of his crew formed a guard of honour at the grave. – It is amazing to see how much Bamse means to the local community here, and it is an honour for us to represent the Norwegian Navy.

For Bamses funeral 60 years ago the schools in Montrose closed, and several hundred school children attended his funeral. Bamse was laid to rest in a man-size coffin, with his head towards Norway.

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Vigdis Hafto and the St Bernard Harriet, representing Bamse, at his grave.Photo: Royal Norwegian Consulate General

War veteran Reidar Pedersen talks to the Norwegian sailorsPhoto: Royal Norwegian Consulate General

Bamse with his Norwegian Navy hat.