Weekend Feature: Violent reminder of war
The west coast town of Voss was reminded of its history Wednesday afternoon, as an unexploded bomb from the Second World War was uncovered in the middle of the town centre. The bomb was found several meters under the main street, Vangsgata, in front of one of the only wooden structures still found in the town centre.
Voss was repeatedly bombed in April of 1940 by the invading Germans. Subsequently, most of the old town centre burned to the ground. Voss’ unique stone church, and just a few wooden structures were spared, and have since been surrounded by concrete structures, built after the war.
Throughout the war Voss served as a base for Germans in the inner-Hordaland region, and after the war has hosted Norwegian army barracks at Tvildemoen, Bomoen, and Mjoefjell, which has a firing range. In recent years, the army presence at Voss has diminished, with only a few activities still ongoing at Bomoen and Mjøfjell. However, Nato exercises continue each year, with the arrival of British troops for winter training.
Wednesday’s bomb was uncovered during current street works, aimed at replacing sewage and plumbing lines, work which has closed the town centre.
The Mine Removal Team of the Haakonsvern naval base responded to Voss, accessed the bomb to make it transportable, and then moved it to the Mjoefjell firing range for disposal. This was carried out later the same day, without incident.
This bomb was a reminder of Voss’ past, but it is not unique to the mountain hamlet. Unexploded bombs are routinely recovered around Europe, in the forests of France and even London railroad yards - mementos of the past two world wars.
The fear and wonderment of being evacuated, and photos of the bomb itself serve as glimpses of war and battles being currently fought around the world today. As any historic reflection should, this unexploded bomb makes Voss and Europe ask the question: what have we learned from the past.
Norway Post reporter at Voss: Erick Haukebø Larson