Marine Küstenbatterie Mesterstrand
In the fall of 1941 the German Navy started construction of a gun battery on the island Kjelmøya north of Kirkenes in the northern Norway. The battery was armed with four 240 mm. guns, with a range of 26 km. They were set in cast concrete open ring posts. They were protected by turrets, and covered with a camouflage screen. The battery was operational in the fall of 1942.
In October 1944 the gun battery participated in fighting against advancing Soviet troops, but as the power of the Soviet troops was too great, the guns and the posts were destroyed by their own crews.
During the summer and autumn of 1944, German forces in northern Norway were pushed west by the Red Army. Following the Finnish armistice with the Soviet Union, a massive German withdrawal began. Operation Nordlicht (Northern Lights) consisted of 200.000 soldiers conducting a scorched earth withdrawal. All positions were abandoned and houses, bridges and roads were destroyed.
Everything useful that could fall into the hands of the Red Army or speed up their advance was removed. 45.000 Norwegians were moved by force and over 10.000 houses, churches, agriculture, schools, etc. were burned. Animals were slaughtered, fishing boats were sunk and over 20.000 telephone poles were felled. In addition, crops were burned and large areas were mined.
After the German capitulation the Norwegian civilians quietly began returning and by September 1945 the last Soviet troops had left northern Norway. The Norwegian army then followed, cleaning up the old German positions and removing the remains of weapons and ammunition. Today on Kjelmøya there are only the remnants of blown up bunkers.