The allied forces of the British and American armies put up stations in Iceland during the second World War. For example, they put up airports in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula, one of which you may have landed on to get to Iceland. The Allied Forces used their bases in Iceland to thwart German naval ships and submarines and protect their shipping routes in the Northeast Atlantic.
Close to Reykjavik they set up bases in Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord) during WWII where their fleets, both naval and commercial, paused on their routes and gathered forces for their journeys. Large fleets often lay anchored right outside Hvammsvik containing some of the largest war vessels of the world.
On Hvítanes Peninsula, one of the more picturesque waterfront trails in Whale Fjord, the British army built a naval station to protect the fjord and its fleets. Their station held storage facilities, repair shops, living quarters, a hospital and anything to do with servicing the naval fleet as well as a cinema, shop, diner, and recreational center. On the Northern side of the fjord the US Army built a large fuel station that made sure that the vessels that stopped by in Hvalfjordur fjord had plenty of oil for their journeys.
The US Army comes to Hvammsvik
At Hvammsvik the US Army built a holding station for ammunition and deep sea bombs along with a recreational center for troop of the US Naval fleet. Another recreational center was built in Hvammsey Island – the small island that you can see as you relax at the Hvammsvik Hot Springs. On the large Hvammur Hill that looks over the whole of Hvammsvik, was the residence of the Whale Fjord Harbormaster, a British naval officer. From here, him and his men ran the comings and goings of every ship in the fjord. This residence, The Hilltop House, still stands today and is one of the accommodations available at Hvammsvik.
As WWII progressed and the allied forces got the upper hand against the German submarine fleets, fewer and fewer ships came to Hvalfjordur fjord. The British Fleet maintained their base at Hvítanes Peninsula until the war ended. As the allied armies disappeared from the area their bases were left empty and bare. Most of their equipment, aside from weapons, was bought or taken over by the Icelandic government as payment for destruction of land during the occupation. Hvammsvik became farmland again and the land was repaired but you can still see quite some remains from its brief part in WWII history.
If you’d like to know more about WWII history in Hvalfjordur fjord we recommend a trip to the War and Peace museum on the northern side of the fjord. It’s a great stop during a short day tour from Reykjavik and of course you can finish the day with a relaxing soak at Hvammsvik Hot Springs.
Bonus: If you take a stroll along any of Hvalfjordur fjord’s beaches you might find your own war memorabilia such as pieces of broken china from some of the vessels that sought cover in the fjord during the war.