Dumfries Railway Station

Arriving in Dumfries:

After Germany’s invasion of their homeland 3,000 Norwegians escaped to Britain in June 1940, being directed to Hamilton by British authorities where Lt-Col. Carl Stenerson was in command.[1] Of these refugees 300 were sent to Dumfries on 28th June, including 250 whalers of the merchant fleet who had defied the Quisling government’s order and sailed for Allied rather than German or neutral ports.[2]

For most war time Norwegians, whether king, soldier or whaler, the railway station was their point of arrival. Due to his familiarity with the area, having settled in Mouswald with his Scottish-Swedish wife before the war, Anders Tomter became Stenerson’s Aide-de-camp and recounted that:

“The main body was to proceed by train; the Colonel and I travelled in advance by car to make the necessary reconnaissance… I went to the station to meet the main body. The whole force ‘fell in’ with some kind of order and, led by two of Police Superintendent Hogarth’s men, marched to our quarters in Troqueer Mill. Being the first foreigners to arrive in Dumfries, we caused considerable stir as we marched along the old streets. And that is how the Norwegians came to Dumfries in June, 1940.”[3]

Hundreds of Norwegians continued to alight at Dumfries station in the following days. Sometimes they were greeted by dignitaries like the Provost and Town Clerk or notable locals with a friendly disposition to Norway, such as Noёl Dinwiddie the printer. He had visited Norway before the war and was frequently employed by the Norwegian government and military.[4] Dinwiddie was also a founder of the Scottish Norwegian Society.

As former Town Cleark James Hutcheon later recalled “many of the top Norwegians [came] to the Headquarters at Dumfries and we of the Municipal Chambers had to meet the London train on many a frosty morning to give full civic honour to distinguished visitors.”[5] Although not every arrival was greeted with such fanfare, they were well met by Doonhamers, at least according to Erik Aanesen of No 5 Independent Company:

“The following day, 20 June, we Norwegians from the No 5 Independent Company were on the train to Dumfries, still not knowing what would meet us there. At the station in Dumfries, we asked a man if he could tell us where we could find the Norwegian military authorities. And in the town it was certainly clear that people were already well informed. Oh yes, now then. Walk downwards in this direction by Kings Arms Hotel which you will see on your left hand, round the corner and straight down to the bridge over the river, and a short walk up the hill on the other side, you turn left again. Straight down the street you will find Troqueer Mills, and that is where the Norwegians reside. You can’t miss it.[6]

[1] Dumfries Museum, ‘Norway and Dumfries: a special friendship’ (1990) p.7

[2] Dumfries Museum, ‘Norway and Dumfries: a special friendship’ (1990), p.5

[3] James McKenna, ‘History of the Scottish Norwegian Society’ (2002), p.2

[4] James McKenna, ‘History of the Scottish Norwegian Society’ (2002), p.3

[5] James Hutcheon, ‘When the Norwegians Came to Dumfries’, p.3 – Courtesy of Dumfries Museum

[6] Erik Aanensen, Når vi kommer inn fra havet: historien om Den Norske Brigade i Skottland 1940-1945 (Oslo: Dreyer, 1974), p.49

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