In June 1972 a
Royal Navy Minesweeper, HMS Laleston commanded by
Lt-Commander Alan Padwick, visited Andenes on the
island of Andoya in order to attend the dedication of
a new Bell Tower in which would be hung the bell from
the Vandyck. It is believed that the bell was
recovered by local fishermen in the days following the
abandonment of the Van Dyck (the ship had remained
afloat but burning for several days).
This page contains articles and photographs of the
event. Click on each image for a larger one.
|As reported in the
Andennes Congregation newsletter.
A translation provided by Alan Padwick,
Commanding Officer of HMS Laleston
Navy visit casts a festival air over a church
day full of rich memories in Bleik.
bell tower in Bleik should be raised and
dedicated Sunday 11 June (1972). The ships
bell from the British troop transport "Van Dyck"
will be used as the church bell. This was saved
from the ship during its sinking off Andoya on
10 June 1940. The 160 soldiers who were onboard
reached land at Stave, Bleik and Andenes - the
greatest number arrived onshore at Bleik. It was
here that 5 of the dead were buried in the
churchyard until after the war in 1945 they were
disinterred and reburied in the British war
cemetery in Narvik. The survivors were cared for
by the civil population for several days before
the Germans came and conducted them to captivity
in Germany. At the invitation of two men in
Bleik the British Navy decided that a visit
could be made in connection with the dedication
of the bell tower. This led to the minesweeper
HMS Laleston with a crew of about 50 onboard
berthing in Andenes in order to visit Bleik and
give honour and thanks for the help given in the
June days of 1940.
the ship's captain presented a memorial brass
plaque on which was engraved a recollection of
the help efforts in 1940. The British Navy
offered thanks and acknowledgment to those who,
in danger to their own lives and their own
safety, opened their homes and took part in the
effort to offer aid. The memorial plaque
was received by Ole Vestfjord on behalf of the
many fishermen from Bleik who took part in 1940.
On Sunday a
number of the visitors took part in the church
service which was conducted in both Norwegian
and English. The ship's captain read one of the
days texts from his English bible and the whole
service was translated into English by the
people. Erling Norheim opened the celebrations
on Sunday with a short speech to the several
hundred people who had gathered at the tower on
Sunday morning. He emphasised the bond that has
been created between the Norwegians and the
British and passed to the youngest member of
Laleston's crew the duty of ringing the bell for
the first time. Norheim also emphasised that the
tower with its cross on the top, can be a good
To the Right:
Erling Norheim opens the solemnities with a
speech directed to the ship’s captain and the
people of Bleik. The British Navy sailor
rings the bell for the first time.
- then the bell chimes for the church
service and calls for a solemn and holy gathering
for God’s word.
BRITISH NAVAL VISIT......
Continued from page 16
…focal point. After that, the bell rang
while the people gathered for a church service in
the interim chapel in the Health Centre, as far as
places allowed. About 150 people found seats
inside and many were gathered outside, where they
followed the service over loud speakers.
The Parish Priest, in his sermon, directed thanks
to the British Navy, the company, which owned the
ship in 1940 and the men of Bleik, who had saved
the bell and looked after it. It had become
the church bell and found a fine new
function. He accepted that it will be a
memorial bell three times over: It will
recall memories of dark years in the history of
the west – when it demanded sacrifice and the
lives of people to win through to freedom.
It will also serve as a reminder that no freedom
or happiness in people’s lives can be preserved
without effort and struggle for the good.
Finally, it can remind of eternity; our life’s
clock will strike its last stroke one day and
no-one knows the departure time. But a pilot
will be found for the coasts of eternity and a
lighthouse, which is Jesus and his word.
After the service, church coffee was served in the
school. Community singing and the coffee
brought everyone together and underlined
brotherhood in spite of differences in language.
Photo: S Pettersen
|The bell tower
eventually fell down, and the bell was relocated
to the side of the church meeting house. The
photo opposite was taken in 2013 by Alan Padwick
on his return visit.
Bell detail here
In the heat of the fire on Vandyck some coins on
the deck were welded together. Click image
opposite for more pictures.