Is War Sailor based on a true story?

War Sailor follows the journey of two men who become part of merchant ships sailing in the Atlantic Ocean right before the German occupation of Norway. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

War Sailor starts off in the year 1939, seven months before Germany’s invasion of Norway. Alfred Garnes, a working-class laborer, worries about providing for his family of five.

Alfred’s best friend, Sigbjørn Kvalvag, asks him to join him on a ship to the Atlantic Ocean, as it will pay him enough. Alfred first assumes that his wife, Cecilia, will not allow him to go on a ship for eighteen long months.

Even Cecilia understands that the money they are earning right now is not enough. Therefore, she lets Alfred join Sigbjørn on the ship. Alfred and Sigbjørn probably do know what they are walking into, as news of ships being bombarded and attacked appears daily in newspapers.

After Germany’s invasion of Norway, Alfred and Sigbjørn get trapped in the oceans, fighting for their lives regularly, hoping that one day they will reunite with their loved ones.

How much of War Sailor is true?

War Sailor is based on the true stories of the Norwegian sailors who aided the British when the Germans acquired Norway in 1940. These sailors became ‘war sailors’ after Norway’s deal with the British, which stated that Norway’s merchant ships will lend a hand in the war.

Around 30,000 Norwegians sailed for the Allies in the Norwegian Merchant Fleet. Of those, 4,000 were children, and more than 100 were women. Half of the ships were lost, and one out of nine seamen died.

The characters portrayed in the series are fictional and based on these war sailors, who were not exactly soldiers but were there supplying weapons to their allies in the middle of the war.

The stories of these sailors are not much talked about or well documented. Through War Sailor, director Gunnar Vikene attempted to show the kind of trauma ordinary people who got caught in World War II went through.

Is War Sailor based on a true story? 1
Alfred watches a German submarine come at them

It is more about how these ordinary people back then tried to live another day in their lives than what World War II is all about. Through Alfred’s story, the series captures the challenge he took on just to feed his family, even if it meant surviving in a war where they were not exactly soldiers and might die the next day.

War Sailor also highlights the struggles of a working-class family during World War II through Cecilia’s arc. The environment in Alfred’s family shows how the need for money forces Cecilia to send her husband away, but at the same time, she worries about his well-being.

She spends years waiting for him, and while doing so, she looks for different ways to earn money and send their kids to school. Cecilia’s survival story also involves the bombing of Laksevåg.

On October 4, 1944, 193 civilians were killed, including 16 children from Holen School, when the British dropped bombs on Laksevåg in Bergen while targeting a German submarine.

There are several other characters who have stories of their own to tell. For example, Aksel’s story is about how kids who were not even adults got involved in a war. 

Then there is Kjell Braathen, who chose his life over being part of the collateral damage, despite the fact that he might be considered a traitor and will not be allowed to work for any job back in his country.

Also Read: War Sailor ending explained: Does Alfred return home?

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