Concluded in Narvik
The State Visit from Poland was concluded at Håkvik cemetery this evening. His Majesty The King, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Poland Mr Andrzej Duda and First Lady Mrs Agata Kornhauser-Duda paid homage to the Polish soldiers who died in Norway during the Second World War.
Defence cooperation between Poland and Norway has been a major focus of the State Visit, and this morning King Harald and President Duda visited the Norwegian Joint Headquarters in its mountain complex at Reitan outside of Bodø. The unit is responsible for planning and implementing Norwegian military operations both domestically and abroad.
The battle for Narvik
Narvik was captured by German troops on the morning of 9 April 1940. Their objective was to gain control of the iron ore that was shipped out from the Kiruna mine – a critical resource for the German arms industry. The Norwegian 6th Division fought the Germans, and after some time received support from the British Navy and French and Polish troops.
Poland had been invaded by Nazi Germany in September 1939, and 5 000 soldiers from the Polish brigade-in-exile fought courageously alongside British, French and Norwegian soldiers in Narvik. The Allied forces recaptured Narvik on 28 May 1940. This was the first major defeat of the war for Nazi Germany.
Honoured the fallen Polish soldiers
King Harald made note of the Polish effort in his remarks on Monday evening:
“Brave Poles came to Norway to provide support and assistance during the Second World War. In May 1940, the Polish Podhale brigade took part in the dramatic battle for Narvik together with Norwegian, British and French forces. Two of the Polish navy vessels were sunk during the battle, and 97 Polish soldiers lost their lives. King Haakon VII presented the Podhale brigade with a fourragere in the Norwegian national colours in gratitude for their efforts. To the best of my knowledge, the Podhale brigade wears this military award on their uniforms to this day.”
This evening, King Harald, President Duda and Mrs Kornhauser-Duda took part in a ceremony at Håkvik cemetery in Narvik. The cemetery contains monuments commemorating the war efforts of individuals as well as countries. A wreath was laid this evening at the war memorial for the fallen Polish soldiers.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.