EIGHT-year-old Tore Fauske awoke to the sound of gunfire on the morning of 9 April 1940. When he looked out from his family’s apartment overlooking Bergen, he saw that the harbour was full of warships, signalling the beginning of the German occupation of Norway. It was the most exciting thing he had ever seen in his young life, far exceeding cowboy adventures at the cinema.

Thus started Tore’s account of growing up in Norway during the Nazi occupation of WWII. In a talk which was full of humorous moments he nevertheless brought home to the audience the deprivations and restrictions imposed on the people of that country over the next five years. Most food having been requisitioned by the Nazis, it was the humble herring which saved many a Norwegian family from starvation. Fish also had a part to play in keeping the population shod. Shoes had to be made of fish skin (and in the case of ladies’ footwear, papier maché). Tore’s first such pair were tuna-skin; he recalls his father asking the shoemaker whether or not they were waterproof.

All radios were confiscated. Newspapers and private letters were censored. And occasionally the population of Bergen suffered when allied bombing of the U-boat facility and of the warships in the harbour missed its intended target.

Perhaps the worst incident recounted by Tore occurred in 1942 when two senior Gestapo officers were killed on the island of Telavåg, southwest of Bergen, in attempting to seize Norwegian officers who had been brought over on the Shetland bus. Nazi reprisals were quick and brutal. On 30 April, all buildings were destroyed, all boats were sunk or confiscated, and all livestock taken away. All men in the village were either executed or sent to a concentration camp. Women and children were imprisoned.

This talk concluded the Historical Society’s programme for the 2016/2017 season. The new season will open on the evening of Thursday 28 September 2017 with a talk by Keith Cattell on one thousand years of stained glass.

For more information visit the Society’s website: www.valeofeveshamhistory.org or contact Gerry Harte, on 01386 870665.