WW2 Bunker Archaeology: “Batterie Vara”, the coastal artillery fortress that never fired a shot

Interviews, WW2

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos by Will Wangensteen Ponissi used by permission

Side view of the 38 cm calibre gun

A nice example of a beautifully restored WW2 bunker complex is the giant Vara Battery in southern Norway.

Looking through the barrel of the gun: With a range of up to 55 km (34 miles), it could effectively sink any ship that might have ventured to enter within its range

Mr. William Wangensteen Ponissi, recently visited the area and kindly submitted his photos and remarks to www.ww2wrecks.com

Location of the Bunker Complex close to Kristiansand, Norway
Location of the Bunker Complex close to Kristiansand, Norway

“We are looking at a quite impressive bunker complex dating to the WW2 period.

A specially built  narrow gauge funicular railway was used to transport ammunition from inside the bunker to the artillery gun positions

It was built by the Germans close to Kristiansand, following the capitulation of Norway and was used as a coastal artillery fortress effectively controlling the seaways between the southern coast of Norway and Denmark on the other side of the Skagerrak Straits.” Mr. Wangensteen Ponissi says to www.ww2wrecks.com, adding:

Outside view of one of the Gun emplacements. Damage visible on some of the reinforced cement construction was caused by the Norwegian Army sappers in 1959.

“This prestigious construction has withstood the test of time, as the local authorities have wisely decided to restore it to its former glory back in the 1990s, exactly as it was during WW2.

Restaured wallpainting: "Fidelity is the sign of honor"
“Fidelity is the sign of honor”, is written on the wall of the bunker, adorned with the Nazi emblem of the eagle and swastika

Their concept was simple, yet very wise: By restoring this bunker complex, they attracted more tourism in the area, thus giving the local companies and the local economy in general a vital money supply.

The barrel of the 38 cm naval gun

Thousands of tourists from all across Europe flood the Coastal Artillery Complex, taking a glimpse of a bygone era, when the World was at War”

The 38 cm calibre gun is one of the largest in the world; the barrel alone weighs 110 tons, measures almost 20 m in length and has a range of up to 55 km (34 miles).
The 38 cm calibre gun is one of the largest in the world; the barrel alone weighs 110 tons and measures almost 20 m in length.

“A similar Coastal Battery was located on the opposuite coast in Denmark, thus blocking the Skagerrak to any enemy shipping willing to get caught in the crossfire.”

Massive artillery rounds in the bunker, are vivid reminders of WW2

The only thing is that this Coastal Artillery was actually never tested in battle and essentially never fired a shot, apart from some training rounds. They were obviously a massive deterrent to the Allied Navy” Mr. Wangensteen Ponissi says to www.ww2wrecks.com

The largest naval artillery gun that was to be here, never made it to Norway as the ship carrying it was sunk in February 1945