Scots monuments: Bamse memorial

The statue of Bamse in Montrose and his nearby grave are still visited by Norwegians today who view the St Bernard as a national hero.

The bronze statue in honour of Bamse in Montrose. Picture: PA
The bronze statue in honour of Bamse in Montrose. Picture: PA

Bamse arrived in Britain in 1940 on one of the ships in the Royal Norwegian Navy flotilla that carried King Hakon VII and members of his government into exile following the annexation of Norway by the Nazis.

Two years later, he was posted to Montrose when his owner Erling Hafto, a naval captain, took command of the Thorodd, a minesweeper in the Norwegian navy.

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The giant dog of war quickly captured the hearts of locals as his unwavering devotion and courage under fire made him a legend among the thousands of Norwegian sailors, soldiers and airmen in the Allied forces.

Bamse's grave in Montrose

As the Navy’s official mascot, Bamse - Norwegian for “Little One” - would take up a position in the foremost guntower whenever the Thorodd went into battle, never leaving his post until the action ended. He even wore a specially designed tin helmet.

His legend grew when he rescued a drowning sailor who has fallen into Montrose harbour and then saved the life of Lt August Nilsen, the second in command of Thorodd, when he was attacked at Dundee docks.

Bamse was only seven years old when he died by Montrose docks after suffering heart failure in July 1944. Hundreds of people lined the streets of Montrose as he was given a hero’s funeral.

He was posthumously awarded the animals’ George Cross and is buried in the sand dunes next to the town’s GlaxoSmithKline plant with his grave tended to by locals.