The coastal fort at Helgøya – a short presentation
At Helgøya in Søgne Municipality, a historical war landscape has been protected that was once the German coastal fort HKB 21./979 Ny-Hellesund. The coastal fort is situated within the Oksøy-Ryvingen Landscape Protection Area. The war memorial is maintained by the voluntary association "Forvarshistorisk Forening" i Kristiansandregionen.
Every year during the summer Helgøya gets many visitors from the Kristiansand area as well as a large amount outside of the Agder region. Helgøya has two quays for small boats at the Olavsundet Strait and the ‘German pier’. At both places sanitary facilities and grilling have been set up. Helgøya is also connected to Høllen on the mainland by the ferry Hannibal.
The defense installations on the island are natural draws for visitors and here it is possible for them to walk around the hill facilities and trenches and to see the canons and other equipment that are still in position. The facilities are well known abroad and appear frequently in different journals and books.
From the top of the command bunker near the Hellevardene cairns it is possible to see the entire archipelago between Flekkerøy in the east and to Uvår in the west.
At Helgøya you can see the entire structure of the German coastal fort from the war. In two casement bunkers a French 10.5 cm field canon and a corresponding third cannon stand in an open position. In addition, there is also an anti-tank artillery gun and anti-aircraft artillery gun at the fort. East of the fort the Germans had a bunker and a stand for searchlights. The bunker, which is the only one of its kind in Norway, was there to secure the searchlight against enemy fire. The hall where the searchlight was to have stood is big enough to accommodate a searchlight at a diameter of 150 cm. Today the searchlight stands in a place that is protected by an overhanging cover. Visitors can also see the foundation walls from the living quarters. The largest wall originates from the mess hall that is along the trails up from the Olavsundet Strait.
For those who have flashlights, it is possible to visit three larger underground facilities that are connected to canon positions and other installations. In addition, there are a number of smaller hill facilities spread throughout the island.
A brief history about the German coastal fort at Helgøya in Søgne Municipality (1942-45)
“Heeresküstenbatterie 5./752 Ny-Hellesund” (later renamed 21./979) was established on Helgøya in the summer of 1942 to secure the western flank to Kristiansand’s harbor and sailing route for the German convoys that ran along the coast. The first phase of the work consisted of establishing a network of construction roads on Helgøya. After transportation had been improved, the actual work of setting up the defense facilities and barracks began. The main part of the work was carried out by Norwegian workers under German direction. However, the Germans also had a fixed contingent of about 50 Soviet war prisoners at the fort who did much of the planning work.
The main armaments included four French Canon de 105 Mle 1913 Schneider field artillery guns that the Germans had taken as war booty and were given the designation K 331 (f). The two first years after the establishment of this, the guns stood on open places with simple turntables. From the winter of 1944/45, three of the guns were built into three Regelbau 671 casement bunkers with pedestal mounts (Sockellafette IV) to improve accuracy. The fourth gun was placed in an open position on a pedestal mount in the spring of 1944.
Two French 4.7 cm anti-tank artillery guns, four German 5 cm mortars, a French 5 cm fixed mortar, two German 2 cm anti-aircraft guns, ten static flamethrowers, two 150 cm searchlights, three 60 cm searchlights and a number of mobile machine guns were deployed to defend the fort. In 1943/45 one of the 150 cm searchlights was mounted in a FL 277 searchlight bunker with a narrow-gauge trolley track on the stand place. This bunker was the only one of its kind in Norway. In 1944 the Kriegsmarine set up a radar of the FuMO 215 ‘Scheer’ type that had the task of providing shooting data to the 38 cm guns at Møvik.
In 1945 the fort was protected by 1852 landmines that were laid on both Helgøya and Kapelløya. Between the minefields there were several kilometers of barbed wire with extra fencing around the radar station and gun positions for the main artillery.
At the German capitulation in May 1945 there were about 100 men from the army’s coastal artillery on the island together with 20 men from the marines along with the Soviet prisoners of war.
Today, the coastal fort has the appearance as an open-air museum with guns and reconstructed position networks and bunkers. Since 1987 the voluntary association Forsvarshistorisk Forening i Kristiansandsregionen has maintained the fort and has put in a lot of work and resources in the culture monuments on the site.