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Bomarsund & Notvikstornet

My friend and I continued our travels around the Åland Islands. Next up…a history lesson! Although not much is left of Bomarsund and Notvikstornet, it was still interesting to visit a historical site and see the strategic location of the tower. Especially now that the Åland Islands are demilitarised.

I remember it being quite hot that day. Up on the hill where the Notvik tower was located, there was more of a breeze and some nice shade provided by the building. It was lovely up there. And the views were amazing!

Here’s a bit of the history of the place, for those interested (source):

“Bomarsund was a 19th-century fortress, the construction of which had started in 1832 by Russia in Sund, Åland Islands, in the Baltic Sea. Bomarsund had not been completed (only two towers of the planned twelve subsidiary towers had been completed). When the war broke out the fortress remained vulnerable especially against forces attacking over land. Designers of the fortress had also assumed that narrow sea passages near the fortress would not be passable for large naval ships; while this assumption had held true during the time of sailing ships, it was possible for steam powered ships to reach weakly defended sections of the fortress.

On 21 June 1854, three British ships bombarded the Bomarsund fortress. Artillery from the shore, however, responded and, while both sides suffered some damage, the casualties were light. The first battle was indecisive. During the battle, Charles Davis Lucas tossed a shell overboard which had landed on board. The shell exploded before it reached water. For saving his ship he was the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

By the end of July 1854, a British fleet of 25 ships had surrounded the fortress and only waited for the French ground troops to arrive. Both defender and attacker had acknowledged that the fort could not be defeated by naval forces alone and made preparations accordingly, Russian forces destroyed the surrounding countryside in an effort to force British and French forces to break away from the assumed siege. Landing on 8 August, the British troops established a battery of three 32-pounder guns on a hill, the French establishing several batteries. On 13 August 1854, the French artillery opened fire on a tower and by the end of the day were in a position that while artillery suppressed the defenders of subsidiary tower of Brännklint, French infantry assaulted it. Defenders found their position to be hopeless and withdrew the bulk of their forces to the main fort leaving only small detachment behind to supervise demolition of the tower. While French troops managed to capture the tower before it was demolished, it did not save the tower since the Russian artillery now opened fire at the captured tower and on 15 August 1854 scored a hit to the gunpowder magazines. The resulting explosion demolished the tower.

The bombardment of the main fortress started late on 15 August 1854 with land based guns and the navy opening fire. The second tower, Notvik, was also destroyed after British artillery opened fire from their hill opposite to the tower. With only a few guns capable of firing in the direction of the bombarding ships, the Russian forces hoped for the French and British forces to attack over land. However, after the bombardment continued into the 16 August without any indication of landings, it became apparent to the Russian commander that British and French intended to reduce the fortress with artillery fire. After eight hours of bombardment they managed to create a gaping hole in the fortress’s walls. After most of the guns had been destroyed, the commandant of the tower surrendered to the British and French forces on 16 August 1854.

The early surrender came as a surprise to the French and British. 2,000 men laid down their arms and became prisoners.“

Bomarsund

Notvik tower (and the beautiful views from it!)

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