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Sørsandfjord nature reservation

The Sørsandfjord is a small and incredibly beautiful fjord in the western part of Sørøya, opposite of Breivik. The fjord measures about 2km at its widest part and about 1,5 km in length.

Copyright © 2003, Anne Olsen-Ryum

To get here, one has to drive from Hasvik to Breivik. Drive a few meters past the turn-off to the village and park at the right side of the road (small gravel parking lot). Follow the marked path over the mountains in wonderful surroundings to Sørsandfjord. This will take roughly one hour.

The area of Sørsandfjorden became nature reservation in 1991. The aim is to protect the sand dunes and the unique flora in the area. It is for example not allowed to light a campfire or to collect firewood in the dunes. It is not allowed to use any kind of motor vehicle or to introduce new plant species.

Sørsandfjord was the site of the following drama in April 1942:
March 28th, 1942, "M/S Raceland" was sunk in the coastal waters of northern Finnmark. The vessel was part of the Murmansk-convoy of the allied forces. The boat had a crew of 45 men, of whom 15survived the attack and suffered severely in a small life boat in bad weather  for one week before they reached land in Sørsandfjord.

They were discovered by Katrine and Adolf Olaussen from Breivik who had come to the fjord in the beginning of April to fetch stored hay. By then, eight of the sea men had died already. Two of the crew, a Dane and a Norwegian, were found in the hay. They were convinced of having reached  Russian territory and did not believe that they were in western Finnmark. The two were not alone.

Around a fire at the beach laid six other sailors, one of them dead, the rest in a piteous state. One of them, the Norwegian Jens Jensen, had suffered severe hypothermia in both his legs during the week in the life boat. While sleeping at the beach, he tried to warm his legs at the fireside. Both legs looked like burned coal.

The dead was a teenager from Canada, aged about 16 or 17. It looked as if he was sleeping sound, and his young, peaceful face left a deep impression on everybody at the site. The survivors reported that the boy had cheered up the rest of the crew during the week in the lifeboat and that he was in a good mood until his last breath. He reached the shore alive, but died soon afterwards.

The survivors were two Norwegians, two Danes, a Russian, a Spaniard and an Estonian. The boat "Heimdal", a 30 feet vessel owned by Harry Dahl from Sørvær came to collect the survivors. Konrad Dahl and Per Hustad were onboard, too. In Sørvær, the survivors were taken to a house with beds. The locals came with food and linen and Magda Dahl, a midwife, took care of them. After a while, a German navy vessel came to pick the sailors up. The Germans gave them medical treatment and beds to sleep in. All the seven sailors were brought to the prisoner camp "Sydspissen" in Tromsø.

The bodies of the eight sailors were picked up some days later. This time the boat "Liljen", a 37 feet vessel, owned by Trygve Pedersen from Sørvær, drove to Sørsandfjord. Per Hustad was on the ship this time as well.

Sørsandfjord - facing the open sea
Copyright © 2003, Anne Olsen-Ryum