Denmark’s Strategic Location
Denmark’s position as the “plug in the Baltic” was vital to both the NATO and the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War. The only way out of the Baltic was through Danish waters. No merchants or warships could enter Danish waters without either being observed or perhaps even shot at. The main task of the Stevnsfort was to protect any mine deposits in the southern part of the Sound and the Fakse Bay.
The construction of the Fort.
The fort (SOLA) was built from 1952 to 1953, and in 1954 the nearby barracks were completed. Before the building, there had been extensive studies of German positions built in Denmark during World War II. Furthermore, they had looked at an English plant in Dover, which had an geologic underground similar to that on the Stevns peninsula.
The main armament of the fort was two naval gun towers, each with two 15 cm each. They wereoriginating from the German battleship Gneissenau and later mounted a shore at the Graadyb Battery at the island og Fanö.
The fort was built by the Danish engineering firm Rasmussen & Schiøtz.
1.7 km. tunnel was drilled and blasted into Stevn’s underground. It is located at the end of a cliff and construction was started from each end at the water’s edge. The buried material was thrown into the water, and the next morning, all the material was gone, thanks to the heavy stream at the coast.
The special subsoil on Stevns Klint (geologically known as Bryozo limestone) was particularly well suited for the purpose. The lime with the inlaid flint layers was very resistant to quakes, why explosions from grenades or aerial bombs on the surface did not have the great effect 18 meters down. However, the personnel were quite exposed. A hit on the fort with a tactical nuclear bomb would have a pressure of approx. 9 G on the crew.
The Gneisenau guns at the Stevns Fort.
The fort’s main armament was four 150 mm guns in two gun towers. The towers were connected to the fort’s tunnel system. Initially, the cannons were set up as an mdium guns on the German battleship Gneisenau of the Scarnhorst class.
During Operation Cerberus in 1942, Gneisenau, with the battleships Scarnhorst and Prinz Eugen, broke the English blockade in the English Channel and shifted from the French port of Brest to German ports. In this operation, Gneisenau was damaged by a mine.
During repair at the shipyard in Kiel, the ship’s ammunition magazines were unusually not emptied for ammunition, and during an English aircraft attack, the front triple 280 mm cannon tower wss hit. The entire foreship was destroyed and 112 people were killed.
Gneisenau was then sailed to Gothenburg (Gdynia) in Poland for repair and new armament in the form of 380 mm cannons.
However, this was never realized. In 1943 Hitler issued a decree (Führerbefehl) that all major units, from light cruisers and upwards, should be disbanded. He didn’t think they served their purpose. After this, the artillery was peeled off the ships and used on the Atlantic Wall.
Of the large cannon towers, Caesar is preserved in the Austrått Fort by Ørland in Norway, while the remains of the “Bruno” tower are found in the Netherlands. The towers of Anton and Dora “have disappeared.
The two towers that came to Stevns were originally mounted on Fanø in Batteri Grådyb (Battery Gneisenau). They were moved to the current location on the Stevns Fort in 1952.
For each gun there was an ammunition magazine with elevator to the cannon tower.
In 1957 a 12.7 cm. gun for shooting with illumination grenades was mounted a little begind the to gun towers.
This cannon was replaced by a 15 cm gun in the early 1960s.
The gun had an range of 23 kilometers. For a time, it had ramps for light rockets mounted on the side of the tower. Where this cannon comes from is unknown, but it is of German origin.
Possibly this is a German SKC-28, left in a coastal battery after the surrender in 1945.
This type of cannon was in the Hesbjerg Battery at Gilleleje.
The Anti aircraft guns
In addition to the main armament, there were two batteries of dual 40 mm anti-aircraft guns.
A northern and a southern battery, both consisting of 3 guns.
It was possible to get to the southern battery from the underground, while one could not get to the North by teh tunnels.. It is not known whether this peculiarity is due to the nature or economy that ther was no tunnel to the northern battery.
Both batteries were discontinued and scrabbed on the site in the late 1970s.
Furthermore The fort also was equipped with a number of mobile 20 mm. anti aircraft guns, and later a number of mobile 40 mm. anti-aircraft guns. Originally 8 pieces, but the number increased significantly, to 18 guns in 1997
Two 150 cm floodlights were set up to illuminate the artillery targets. These were only active in the first 20 years of the fort.
The Fort itself
Not much of the fort was visible on the surface. Some ventilation towers, some gas filters, the cannons and some stands for the battery comand.
These were used for manual calculation of distance and course on ships. A rangefinder could also be placed at this location.
To the west of the light cannon was the radio bunker. It was referred to as bunker 18.
Its existence was not known for a long time. and on the first years of guided tours, the guides got off to a glance when asked about it.
The fire command management was in connection with the entrance bunker by the stairs to the tunnels.
The only way down into the underground and tunnels was through the bunker at the north end. Here, there were three flanking constructions for the close defense.
Inside the bunker there are two underground access options – a staircase and a lift. Furthermore, there was an entrance to the firefighter’s entry for booklet # 1
At the foot of the stairs there are two entrances.
One normal and one through an ABC cleaning point.
This gas-lock with cleaning equipment prevented chemical fighting agents from being brought into the tunnel system from the surface. Here it was also possible to treat personnel who had been contaminated by chemical or nuclear warfare agents. Washing and clean clothes was the primary treatment.
The Stevns Fort was a naval fortres and it makes its mark.
The passageways in the underground were named for old danish naval heroes. Later, however, they were given less romantic terms by NATO standard. However, the old names got stuck.
The tunnels were drilled and blasted from the seaside, south and north tunnels. Also called Fox-hole North and South.
Both tunnel ends were protected by heavy steel doors and a flank position inside the tunnel.
The main tunnel had a curved course with heavy steel doors inserted. The separation was approx. in the middle and separated the two indentical artillery sections.
The sections was designed to limit the risk of fire spreading and to stop any intruding enemy midway.
The heavy steel doors are either taken from old German plants or made at the Navy’s yard at Holmen. German is most likely.
In all places where tunnels crossed the main tunnel, dents have been made in the lime of the walls. This was to prevent explosition to the spread from the side tunnel to the main tunnel.
From the tunnel system there was access to concrete wells for the radar antenna. These could be closed at the top with a 5 cm armor cover.
In the event of collapses or weakening of ceilings and walls, there was at best maritime storage of accident timber in the tunnels. Accidental timber is a maritime term for timber to support a weakened ship’s hull.
In order to keep the tunnel system running with heat, ventilation and emergency power, large amounts of machinery were needed. This was in two machine centers. One at the north, and one at the south end.
Much that the heavy equipment used inside til tunnels was too large to be transported in place through the normal entrance or elevator. A large submersible shaft was made in the southern part of the fort where the equipment could be lowered by crane. The hole was later closed with an armored plate.
If the fort were to be activated, several hundred people would have to live here, 20 feet under the ground for months. There were no kitchen facilities for so many, so they had to live by standard rations.
In peacetime they were eaten at the nearby barracks.
The other underground facilities were also pretty primitive.
It was a naval fort, and accommodation was in bunks. Here was room for one battery crew.
36 bunks for the ordinary ranks and 10 bunks for petty officers in the back.
Due to the limited space, the fort’s main tunnel could also be used for accommodation.
Part of the old operating center complex. The three doors are 7-8-9 in the drawing above the complex. At the end is the door to the command office.
The phonetic alphabet still hangs on the telephone exchange wall
There were two permanent 40 mm anti-aircraft gun batteries on the northern and southern parts of the fort area, respectively. The southern battery was connected to the tunnel system.
The Operation center.
The operating center was the last active part of the fort. Originally it was furnished in the southern part, but after a modernization in 1982-84, it was moved to the former hospital (see below) in the northern part of the fort.
The Naval Radio and the Navy’s Marine District were located here until the fort closed.
The Artillery Central
The artillery center was part of the original operations room. Here, the targets were plotted and shot data calculated. It was before the time of the computer, and these were both large and complicated machines. The target speed, wind direction and speed, air pressure and flight time of the grenade should be taken into account over a distance of up to 23 km. This data was set on the small black wheels at the top of the machine.
The fort’s hospital
From the beginning, the fort had its own hospital with two surgery rooms. It had a reception room with 18 beds and an actual hospital ward with 36 beds. In case of severe injuries, the hospital could have 80 bunks in the corridors in the northern part of the fort. There was an X-ray and there were stocks of both medicine and bandages. There was no blood bank, but the blood types of the personnel were known. The hospital was able to treat severe burn injuries, in cases of napalm, phosphorus or nuclear weapons attacks.
There also was a chapel, in two smaller rooms where killed soldiers could lie until they could be handed over to the families or an emergency funeral could be made in the area of the fort.
The hospital was closed during a remodel in the period 1982-84
It was not intended that there should be anyone other than the highest needed personnel in the fort during peacetime. On the other side of Korsenabvej lay the Peacetime Barracks. Today it is a closed institution.
Test with napalm as coastal defense 1975.
Experiments were conducted using napalm as a mine. It was laid out in a number of disposed 600 liter drop tanks from the air force which were ignited.