This morning we’re taking a walk from the quay out to the Old Fort….. It is quiet and peaceful and the colors are dazzling……we could not have picked a better morning!
The pleasure boats are in…….
and we can look back and see the shore line of new condos and parks…….and more building is on the horizon too………I think Kristiansand is a big draw in the summer months……….
and looking back over the water from this side ……….
Ah…….there it is, the old Christiansholm Fort……let’s make our way there……
The fort was finished in 1672 and was part of King Christian IV’s plan for the defense, when the city was founded in 1641. Remember, he brought the soldiers in and ordered the families to house them, five soldiers to a house? The fort was built on an islet about 100 yards from the shore, but now there is a paved pathway that leads us to it. Today, the fort is used mostly for weddings and large, but not too large, gatherings.
The only way in, that I remember, was up the spiral stairway…….but that just doesn’t seem right. Who goes in a building at the ceiling? But, had there been another door, surely I would have photographed it for Thursday Doors…..
I don’t see a door on this side either………
The canons are still in place……..
We’re headed back to one more small park along the pier before we go into the village center. I say village center, because that’s what it feels like to me, small, quaint and quiet. In the grass in the park is this memorial to Oberst Bernt Balchen. This is his background and he was quite the guy!
After finishing middle school in 1916, he attended a forestry school until 1918. Then he joined the French Foreign Legion, where his unit was sent to Verdun in WWI. Before seeing any action at Verdun he was recalled to the Norwegian Army and sent to artillery school. After the war and under an assumed name, he fought as a cavalryman with the White guards in the Finnish Civil War against communist Russia. During a cavalry charge his horse was shot from underneath him and he was left for dead on the battlefield. Following months of recuperation from serious wounds he worked hard to get back to a serious athletic level and trained strenuously as a boxer to represent Norway in the 1920 Olympics! In addition to being a championship boxer, he also was an expert marksman and an accomplished skier. He just never gave up! He would use his wilderness and survival skills to his full advantage in the following years. While training for the Olympics he also qualified for flight training with the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service and trained as a pilot. In 1925, he became part of the Amundsen-Ellsworth Relief Expedition, a rescue mission for the missing explorer, Roald Amundsen. His next Arctic adventure came during the Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile Arctic Expedition adventure when he was to fly the lighter-than-air airship, Norge, over the North Pole to Teller, Alaska. In addition to the flying, he trained all the Italian crew members in survival training , as well as teaching them to ski.
In November, 1929, Balchen was one of the first four men to fly over the South Pole. Balchen was the pilot, Harold June, his co-pilot and radio operator, Ashley McKinley, the flight photographer and Commander Richard E Byrd was the leader of the Antarctic Expedition. The flight was considered one of the greatest aviation achievements in history…………
Then in 1931, Balchen was hired by Amelia Earhart as a technical advisor for her planned solo transatlantic flight. Balchen was a good choice because of his polar, transatlantic and aviation history. He flew, with his mechanics, to the Fokker Aircraft Company in New Jersey, where they reconditioned Earhart’s plane, strengthening it to carry extra fuel tanks and adding additional flight instruments. After the modifications, Earhart flew the Lockheed Vega across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20th, 1932, landing in Ireland.
By 1939, Balchen held both Norwegian and American citizenship and had extensive aviation connections. His instruction from the Norwegian Government-in-exile in London, charged him with setting up a training camp and school for expatriate Norwegian airmen and soldiers in Canada. During the war, 2500 Norwegian aviators, navigators and mechanics were trained at the “Little Norway” base in Canada. From 1941 to 1943, Balchen trained the men in cold weather survival skills and rescue techniques which enabled them to carry out rescue missions for downed airman on the Greenland icecap. He also led the bombing raid on the only remaining German outpost remaining on Greenland and took out the radio station and weather station that had provided accurate weather reports for the German forces operating in the North Atlantic.
In 1944, when Balchen was posted in the European theater, he commanded clandestine air transport operations to set up escape routes between the UK and Sweden, that allowed diplomats and others to flee from the Nazis. In “Operation Balder,” manned with OSS crews, they safely evacuated 2000 Norwegians, 900 Americans and 150 internees of other nationalities from Sweden. They also shipped important freight. Supplies such as ammunition were transported from Scotland to the underground in occupied Norway. Life supplies like bales of hay and fodder for livestock, were brought along in addition to a hospital, complete with a doctor and nurse. Overall, 200 tons of equipment, operational supplies, and communication equipment were dropped in Norway in 1944.
From 1948 until 1951, Balchen commanded the 10th Rescue Squadron of the US Air Force located in Southern Alaska. That squadron operated all across Alaska and Canada, rescuing crashed airmen. He continued to develop cold weather search and rescue techniques. He also at that time developed the stratigic air base at Thule, Greenland, secretly built on his recommendation, extending the range of the Strategic Air Command, to deter Soviet aggression during the Cold War.
By 1956, Balchen had retired from the US Air Force, but continued to work as a consultant for several aviation labs and companies. He worked with projects developing ice-breakers, tankers, new epoxy materials for submarine construction, seagoing electronic weather systems and over-snow vehicles. He was also a consultant for Phillips Petroleum to extract oil from Alaska using pipelines. Back in his native Norway, he was the driving force in the establishment of the Norwegian Airline Company which pioneered Europe-US airline flights across the North Pole and later merged those into the Danish and Swedish airlines, then the major carrier, Scandinavian Airlines.
Truly, this is a man to be celebrated and I am so glad I was able to see his monument in the park and learn more about him. He lived to be 100 years old and is buried in Arlington Cemetery, but the Norwegians have made a fine tribute to him here, where he was born near Kristiansand.
Moving along in the park we see huge skate board ramps!
and airplane parts left from WWII are put to use too.
There are lots of flowers here too, with big, big projects to break up the area from the beach-park into the town…….
You can tell it’s early morning and the streets are to ourselves…………..
Further along into the main market square the folks are coming out……….for their morning walks…….
and their bicycle rides into town………
We turn into another big square of shops………where crepes are to be had……….
and we get to look at the big park on the square…………..
and the flower towers ! Oh my! I have no idea what that ugly black door is used for, but I hope it is something very important to deem it necessary right there in front of the Cathedral!
There is also a marker on the street for the Cathedral………
And the large trucks and workmen are out and about, moving the huge pots of flowers around the square!
And there is a very nice, fancy McDonalds here too………….
But, I would say Edgars is the preferred bakery/coffee shop this morning………….
Making our way back to the ship, we pass the most delightful shops……
and surprise, surprise even a steakhouse!
I hope you have enjoyed seeing and learning a little about Kristiansand as much as we did……..we are off for Bergen, Norway next! See you there!