Sea War Museum Jutland

Gert Normann Andersen at a canon salvaged from the SMS

The First World War was not only fought in the muddy trenches of Flanders, but also on the stormy North Sea, and Sea War Museum Jutland tells that dramatic story.

The museum is situated in Thyborøn on the West Coast of Jutland, and the location was chosen with care. The North Sea is its nearest neighbour, and from here it was possible to follow the Battle of Jutland in 1916. One could not see the big ships, but the sound of the big guns came in from the sea like rolling thunder.

It was the first and only clash between the German High Seas Fleet and the British Grand Fleet, and the result was devastating. 250 ships and 100,000 men met with the sole purpose of destroying and killing each other, and the amount of firepower was so great that it could have destroyed a big city.

For 24 hours the big guns kept firing gigantic shells that could penetrate even the strongest armour. It was history's greatest naval battle, and when it was over, 25 ships lay on the seabed, and 9000 young men would never see the light of day again.

The Sea War Museum Jutland not only tells the story about the Battle of Jutland, but also about four years of war, which was fought on, above and below the surface of the sea. It was four brutal years with submarines and zeppelins, with mine war and destroyer war, with trade war and cruiser war. Men fought and died in the cold waves of the North Sea, and in reality the war might have been decided here. Whoever controlled the sea-lanes to England would also win the war, and the North Sea consequently came to play a crucial role.

The Sea War Museum Jutland has been created by the Danish diver and businessman Gert Normann, who as a young diver explored the wreck of U-20. It was this submarine, which in 1915 sank the liner Lusitania and changed the American attitude to the war. The following year, U-20 stranded on the west coast of Jutland a few kilometres south of Thyborøn, and in this wreck he felt the presence of history. It dawned on him that World History was on his doorstep.

Since then he has collected artefacts from the First World War, and as the owner of the large Subsea firm JD-Contractor A / S he has financed a wide range of diving expeditions in the North Sea. As a result The Sea War Museum Jutland possesses a unique collection that cannot be seen elsewhere.

The museum is housed in historic buildings that formerly belonged to The Danish Coastal Authority. It will eventually be part of a larger museum area with several specialized museums. Some are already in place, including Kystcentret, an activity centre for children and adults, as well as a Cold War museum in a former German WW II bunker. Later there will be an exhibition of ship portraits, of antique diving equipment, of mines and maybe even more.

The Sea War Museum Jutland is funded by Realdania, Lemvig Municipality and JD-Contractor A / S and is supported by Maritimhistorisk Selskab – Maritime Historical Society.

Knud Jakobsen

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