This Day In Icelandic History: Trading Vessels And A Nazi Attack

This Day In Icelandic History: Trading Vessels And A Nazi Attack

This Day In Icelandic History: Trading Vessels And A Nazi Attack

Published May 17, 2018

Phil Uwe Widiger
Photos by
Þórhallur S Gjöveraa

One thing Icelanders are not particularly known for is their participation in wars. Even though Iceland suffered casualties during the Cod Wars in the late 20th century, Iceland had been relatively sheltered from the horrible effects of the World Wars.

Thus, when Iceland’s shipping line, Skipaútgerð Ríkissins, bought a coastal trading vessel from Sweden in 1930, they could have never imagined the consequences. The coaster named “Súðin” arrived in Iceland from Gothenburg on May 18th of that year and went on serving its purpose for 13 quiet years. But on an eventful day in the summer of 1943, this would all change.
On June 16 1943, Súðin was attacked by two German fighters in the north of Iceland. An article published the day after in one of Iceland’s biggest dailies, Morgunblaðið, describes the dramatic events:

“The pilots cast two bombs on the ship but none of them hit it. However, they exploded so close to the ship that its sides became damaged and consequently, it became apparent that it was leaking. When the pilots descended to try to hit the ship with other bombs, they fired their machine guns onto the members of the crew. Four of them were seriously injured in the attack, among them the sailor that was steering the ship.”

While the coaster managed to reach the coast in Húsavík safely, two fo the crew members did not survive the vicious attack. Súðin was sold to England in 1949 and became a fishing ship but its story remains extraordinary in the books of Icelandic history.

Read more on Iceland’s history here.

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