This is a summery of the book “Fast Försvar av Nordkalotten”, made by Lars A. Hansson. This is my own translation, so any grammatical error is my own mistake.
The prefaces page 4-7
My preface has a map over the protected areas of Boden and Kalix describing which roads can be used and for how long.
To visit the Boden area is to visit one of the only true fortress in Sweden. Although Hemsö and Fårösund also was called fortress it was mainly to get a higher budget.
After a few visits to Boden in early days I had the fortune to be able to visit all five forts internally in 2021 and in combination with a good result in the national archives gave me an opportunity to make a book over the area. With trips and visits to numerous Norwegian forts I was also able to describe how they reused ex-German guns and forts into the Cold War era.
I have focused on the main fortifications in and around Boden in combination with the forts made along the two defence lines along the Kalix and Luleå rivers. A lot of material on smaller fortifications had to be left out of the book.
I have given tables of shooting data a lot of space and time. Most of the guns in the Boden fortress has been identified with how many shots they have fired. These are in some cases incomplete, and it is also easy to add errors both in this manuscript and in the original books.
The other preface is written by Peter Englund, historian, battery chief from a site in the Luleå defence line and member of the Swedish Academy. Born and raised in Boden
Defence of the north of Scandinavia page 8-11
Nordkalotten is a geographical area consisting of the northernmost counties of Norway, Sweden and Finland, “Cap of the north”. This was to be a battleground in both the second world war and if the Cod War was to be turned into a war.
For many hundred of years the area was populated by the Sami people and was not of any importance to neither of the governments. Sweden ruled over Finland up until 1809 and after that in a union with Norway until 1905.
When Sweden lost Finland to Russia in 1809 the former Baltic superpower found Russia as a border neighbour for the whole stretch of what now is the border between Sweden and Finland. When iron was found in huge quantity in northern Sweden a few decades later the region got interested for the people in Stockholm.
In the late 19th century industrialisation went quickly. In Sweden hydropower could power the railway between Luleå and Narvik in Norway, brining iron ore to both harbours. The railway from the south had at this time reached the Luleå/Boden area. In Russia main harbour was made both in the Baltic and in the Murmansk area. To have control over the outlet of the Baltic and the navy routes north of Norway was found extremely important during the second world war and was the main reason for the invasion of Denmark and Norway. Germany attempted to block Russia from exiting the Baltic sea and to control the shipping routes north of Norway to/from Murmansk.
This was during the Cold War still very important. One of the Soviets main targets was to control northern Norway and quickly get to Narvik, either from the northern Norway or in combination via northern Finland and Sweden.
The foundation of the defence during the Cold War can be seen on the map on page 8-9. Circles are firing ranges for either fixed costal or army batteries. The line blocking an area in northern Norway is the Froy defence line, a Norwegian stronghold with origin from a German defence line called the Lyngen-Line. This is where Norway is as thinnest and easy defended.
Sweden would also made its defence in coordination with its geography. Here three rivers flowing from the north to south was used together with a limited amount of river crossings and bad/small roads going east to west. With this could an enemy be channelled to a few river crossing that was easy to defend.
Both nations gathered strength behind these lines with storages, maintenance facilities, command posts and airfields. All this was done before the Cold War, updated when the atomic warfare entered and strengthened during the Cold War period. At this time Norway was a NATO member, Finland had a non-aggression pact with the Soviets and Sweden was officially neutral.
In Sweden the defence along and behind the Kalix and Luleå rivers were strengthened with a big number of batteries, smaller strongholds, bed-rock storages and airbases in Jokkmokk, Boden, Gällivare and Kiruna. This part of northern Sweden was heavily defended but even further north there was a lack of defence. The area between Vittangi, Kiruna and to the northern tip of Sweden was a white-zon where a Soviet airborne attack could make it via Kiruna to Narvik. As for the Norwegians they trusted Sweden to be a buffer towards Russia/Soviet for most of its territory and could focus on the area north of Narvik. Behind the Froy defence line the Nord brigade would mobilise up to 5.500 men in the Bardufoss area. Up until the late 1980s this line was updated and had at the end of the Cold War more than 300 positions from the sea up to the mountains at the border. This would have been a very difficult line to penetrate for an invader but it was also a risk that it could be a new Magino-line via the area in northern Sweden, even if there were no roads in the area. Here, Sweden agreed with Norway to give Norway/NATO control over the area in a war situation. The air space would also be divided along the 67th latitude with Task Force 22 in charge of air battels north of the point and the commander of the Swedish army in the area below that line.
40 guns were placed along the two Swedish defence lines with ex-navy guns from destroyers and cruisers with 12 and 15,2 cm guns. They formed either local defence batteries (three digit numbers) or divisions (2 digit numbers). Some like Siknäs and Vuollerim were made in bigger fortifications. The costal artillery were also upgraded, both in Norway with Bofors guns and outside Luleå in Sweden.
The Swedish guns were dismounted in the late 1990s and a few years later also the Norwegian forts were dismounted.
Pictures shows the front of HMS Fylgia with one of the four 15,2 cm twin-turrets later placed at Siknäs and HMS Drottning (Queen) Victoria’s 28 cm and 15,2 cm twin-turret with the later reused at Vuollerim.
Boden fortress page 12-27
First picture shows the Södra Åberget fort with Boden and the Rödberget fort in the background.
After the loss of Finland it stood clear that Sweden needed a stronghold in the northern part of Sweden. Especially later in the 19th century when the union with Norway started to fall apart, iron was found in the north. Up to this point the quickest way to get to Luleå was with ships on the Baltic but with the building of railway it was also easier to transport goods from south to north. The combination with a railway on the Russian side connecting St Petersburg with the Swedish border and the risk for an invasion, especially in the winter time.
In the planning stage both Boden and Kalix was under investigation. Kalix was by some a better choice due to it forward position with Boden too far to the west but the people against thought it could be flanked like the Maginot-line.
Boden was finally chosen due to the Luleå river crossing at Trångforsen (page 14) that was the only place along the Luleå river where a rail crossing could be done. This made Boden a vital railway crossing and with the growing community the fortress could surround the town and protect the planned regiments and storages within the fortress.
1892 saw the first proposal, that was quite different to the final fort delivered 20 years later. Map and table on page 15 describes the 1892 proposal with numbers of inf(antry) and art(illery). The cost in 1892 was first set to 5.047.000 SEK but later raised to 6.595.000 SEK.
1895 saw the next proposal. There is still six forts, a number of quick firing batteries and “Mellanverk”, which was positions between the forts that covered blank spots in their range. They should also house a larger group of infantry to stop an enemy trying to get into the fortress. In 1895 and 1898 the light batteries were changed from 47 mm, first to 57 mm and in 1898 to 8 cm guns in turrets. The flanking galleries still had machineguns, that later would be 57 mm guns.
The fortress was designed to hold for a longer siege by the Russians, that would have a problem to supply an army this far to the west. All forts were designed to withstand 12 to 15 cm howitzers and guns and up to 20 cm mortars. Even if the whole north of Sweden would be occupied Boden should be “a preserved spot for the country”. The guns in the fort should be able to disturb an enemy on 4-5 km range with its 12 cm guns. The 6 cm quick firing guns in the smaller batteries should hold of infantry in the 600-1200 meter range but would need additional movable guns and mortars to cover areas that the forts didn’t reach.
The Swedish parliament approved the building of the Boden fort on the 7th May 1900 and a year later the first blast was made at Gammelängsfortet. Among everything else more than 10 km of roads had to be made up to the forts before they could be built.
Page 18 has the forts, batteries and “Mellanverk” marked on a map with the modern area of Boden and the modern road network.
In 1904 a new summation of costs was made, especially for the three bigger forts, and raised from 8,7 MSEK to 18,9 MSEK (equal to € 118.000.000 in 2022). It was now also considered that 12 cm howitzers were too weak, and 15 cm were proposed. Also, the quick firing batteries were to be upgraded from 6 cm to 8 cm.
The five major forts should contain 39 mid- or long range guns and include hundreds of meters of internal tunnels so more than 2,2 km of tunnels were made, often around 10 meters wide and in some cases also 10 meters high. In the early 20th century there were no possibility to get electricity to the construction sites, so pneumatic drills couldn’t be used. Holes for the dynamite had to be made by hand for the first eight years. To blast big forts like this was fairly new in Sweden, Oscar-Fredriksborg and Vaberget had been made and specialists were brought up from southern Sweden to Boden for the more precise blasting, for instance the spines up to the turrets. First the dry mount was blasted down to the correct depth, followed by the tunnels into the main part of each fort. Dynamite was used throughout except for the area around the turrets where cracks in the bed-rock should be avoided by all cost. In those areas black powder was used.
Work continued unchanged up until 1904 but with the rising costs the majesty demanded that the military should form a committee, that was to be called “the smaller Boden committee”. It never finished a report before being merged into the “bigger Boden committee” but did decide to stop any new fortifications and also stop the construction of the sixth fort at Kölen.
This committee already at this point changed the focus for the fortress. It was again said that the amount of infantry was too low and that every fort should have a bigger amount of infantry attached and 220 per fort was later decided. It was also stated that the fortress didn’t need to fulfil a longer siege and that it instead should care for Boden to be a secure mobilisation site for the army and that an enemy should be stopped to cross the Luleå river. The fortress should also care for that Swedish troops should have a secure crossing of the same river.
The committee filed its report on the 19 December 1905 and this became the Boden fortress at it was built. A bigger fort at Paglaberget was deleted, same with the two “Mellanverken” and two of the quick firing batteries.
From May 1903 Bofors had started the production of guns and turrets. With the amount of guns in production Bofors was not able to produce the turrets for the 15 cm howitzers and those was instead manufactured by the French company Chatillon. A complete turret had a weight of around 100 ton and even if parts didn’t exceed 10 tons it was difficult to transport up to the forts. All heavy transports were made in the deepest winter when hardened ice-roads could be made for the up to 14-horses carridges (page 21) to pull the parts. 15th January 1907 saw the first shooting by a turret in the Gammeläng fort.
Other parts were made ready between 1907 and 1910 with the infantry positions ready by 1912. The fortress was now divided into three artillery groups (table page 22) and four infantry groups. In addition the army supplied movable artillery with 15 cm howitzers with 292 men and 14 movable 8,4 cm guns with another 230 men. These were later changed into two 21 cm howitzers m/17 and ten 7,5 cm guns m/02. Movable searchlights should be able to lit up the battlefields.
1918 saw the entry of AA defence positions throughout the fortress. Six batteries were made but the guns were not in place until 1927 with ten 7,5 cm AA gun m/00-17.
Conclusions from the first World War gave that the Swedes thought that a Russian invasion would be made by six divisions with approx. 150.000 men each. It was believed that those could be supplied through Finland and be actively fighting on Swedish territory. New threats like gas turned Mjösjö fort into a test site for gas protection, a test taht wasn’t successful. Another result was that the secure place for the fortress commander was upgraded and placed in what later was called “Site 8”.
The period between the was saw a decrease in funding and in 1937 the fortress saw a huge lack of ammunition. Already at this stage guns were moved further east towards the Kalix river with fixed 57 mm guns that was brought from the Vaberget fortress in southern Sweden.
With the entry of air force some changes were made within the fortress. The fixed artillery guns were prepared for aerial attacks with the possibility to move the barrels into the turrets. The fire control on the other hand that had used a huge balloon to direct the guns had to change and the balloon was disused and the big balloon-hall was turned into storage. The Swedish air force came into the fortress in 1916 with sea-planes and from 1940 with an airbase at Heden.
The beginning of the second world war gave more coclusions, especially from the successful Finnish defence against the Soviet invasion. Smaller movable units and fortifications made during the war and in the right areas became very successful and more in line with the modern motorized warfare with quicker changes during an invasion. One defence line was not enough anymore, and the defence needed to be further east than the Boden fortress. The area between the Kalix- and Luleå rivers was found to be perfect for such a defence and this was the end of the glory days for the Boden fortress. The first river crossing for an invader would be the Torneå river that also is the border between Finland and Sweden. This river is shallow with shallow beaches and is easy to pass and hard to defend. The Kalix river is quite the opposite, with deep waters and steep beaches. Here bridges is needed and those were made so they could easily be defended by the Swedes.
In Boden the three groups were changed into four areas – North, East, West and South table on page 23 – and the fortress was now a protection for the regiments and head quarters that was moved to Boden.
The town and fortress saw some traces of the war, especially in 1941 when the Engelbrecht infantry division was transferred, fully battle ready, from Norway via Sweden and Finland to the east front in Russia. At this time Finland was on the German side of the war. 14.712 men were transferred during 19 days and all trains stopped at Boden south for food. Even though the amount of German soldiers per train were too low to be able to make an assault on the fortress all guns were aimed on the Boden south railway station. Apart from this transport a huge amount of German soldiers were transported through Boden and Sweden with wounded and soldiers on leave back to Germany.
The last time the preparedness was raised in Boden was in late 1944 when it was believed that retreating German soldiers from Finland could go through Sweden to reach Norway, something that never happened.
When the Boden fortress was established in 1901 the inhabitants were not more than around 6.000. Even though it only grew to the double during the next 40 years the amount of conscripts that has spent a year in the Boden area can be counted in the 100.000’s. Most of these were from the southern part of Sweden and may never have experienced proper snow and minus degrees. The table on page 25 shows the regiments within Boden.
The Cold war even more established the move of the defence towards the east and the fortress was downgraded into the 30. Fixed local defence gun battalion. Guns and fortifications were modernised with an upgrade of the 8,4 cm guns in each fort, 1970 was the addition of the training battery “Satellite” at Rödberget and in 1979 the old howitzers at Rödberget were changed into modern 12 cm turrets. The same howitzers at Mjösjö fort was not changed at that fort was taken out of service, leaving four active forts.
The end of the Cold War saw the ending of the last four forts, Degerberget and Gammeläng was taken out of service in 1992, Södra Åberget in 1997 and Rödberget fired for the last time on New Years Eve of 1997.
The regiments and head quarters also saw the same downgrade and the once huge “site 8” was decommissioned and sealed in the early 2000.
With the huge amount of fortification the bigger sites had a, for Sweden, unique numbering system. It started with the five forts and by some reason Rödberget started the series then after that continued anti-clockwise. Number 6 and 7 was the two batteries at Norra Åberget and Leåker. Site VIII was the huge command structure at Klinten, IX a bed-rock tool-shop/maintenance at Pagla and X a hydrogen manufacturing site close to the Balloon hall within the northern front. For most these ten represented the number series for Boden but the author stumbled by accident over number XIV close to Pagla (page 26). When researching the book sites XI and XII were found to be reserve generators for two regiments in Boden.
Also the guns and turrets were numbered and shooting books were made. From the start the barrel, the breach and turret had the same number but with extensive shooting barrels were changed. The table on page 27 shows the five forts, when each gun-type went into service and what serial number each gun had. The year to the far right is when the guns were decommissioned.
The fortress guns – page 28 – 55
The 15 cm fortresshowitzer m/06 had the barrel totally withdrawn into the turret at all times. The turret and most of the foundation was manufactured by French Chatillon as Bofors didn’t manage to produce in time. Range was 7.000 meter from the start with five different charges and was raised to 7.900 meters with a new grenade m/34 and a sixth charge was added in 1942. Mjösjö had its guns ready by 1906 and Rödberget the year after. Rödbergets were changed to 12 cm guns in 1979, at Mjösjö the original howitzers are still on site.
The table on page 29 shows the number of live shots fired with each barrel, two reserve barrels were made and delivered in 1917 (page 30). Table on page 30 is for blank shote. That table also have a total amount of live/blank shots up until 1943 (354/46 for number 1). Gun #5 is preserved outside Rödberget, pictures on page 31 shows guns inside Mjösjö. Page 32-33 shows the power transmission to the moving turret, the lower part of the turret and the ammunition elevator.
Page 34 – the 12 cm gun m/99 was another turret with the gun fully retracked into the turret. This gun was first used at Varberget at Karlsborg, with the turret made by Chatillon and designated m/03C. The guns were made in 1901 (Vaberget), 1903 (Degerberget), 1904 (Gammeläng) and 1905 (Södra Åberget and at least one reserve barrel). The turrets for Boden were made at Bofors and designated m/03B.
The range was to start with 8.500 meters and with a modern grenade m/34 and an extended elevation from 25 to 40 degress it could be extended to 10.300 meter with one source saying 12.000. They were also modernised in the 1940 with electrical elevating to sped up the loading, that still was only around six shots per minute.
Each fort had around 8000 grenades and powder in four different sizes. Firing worn down the barrels, number 11 exploded in 1925 and number 13 was also destroyed in 1927, both were replaced by guns from Vaberget. Most likely were all ex Vaberget guns in Boden soon after Vaberget were decommissioned in 1912. In Boden one reserve barrel were made for each fort and a complete reserve turret m/03B was placed in Boden. All of the six barrels that shot the most were all placed at Södra Åberget. Drawings on page 37 shows the roof-mounted transportation line to transport the ammunition from the central tunnel up to the turret. Later in the service another ammunition elevator was installed and a smaller entrance to the shaft were made, pages 38-39.
Pages 40-41 shows barrels without breaches from forts in 2021, a reserve barrel left in Södra Åberget and the vertical ammunition elevator inside the turret.
Page 42 – the secondary artillery in the forts 8,4 cm guns
All five forts got four 8,4 cm guns m/94-04 in turret m/03B except Mjösjö that had three. The barrels were taken from movable artillery and modernised by Finspång during 1904-07 for use in turrets. A similar turret was used at Tingstäde fortress, Gotland. A variant, m/94-06, a movable version (picture page 42) were used in the Leåker and Norra Åberget batteries as well as all the T-batteries with quick firing guns throughout the fortress.
Table page 46 shows that it was again Södra Åberget and Rödberget tht fired the most. Rödberget got numerous of the other batteries reserve barrels when the original barrels were worn out.
Pictures on page 46-47 shows a test position of turret #101 at Karlsborg fortress. In the early 1900s Boden artillery corps were a detachment to the regiment at Karlsborg. The barrel is gone but the turret is still preserved and shows marks from tests of the strength of the turret.
In 1950-52 all the fixed 8,4 cm guns were replaced for the 8,4 cm m/47 that was a more modern gun that could fire 10.400 meters. A complete cartridge and a half-automated mechanism increased the firing from 5 to 15-20 rounds/minute.
This barrel was a bit longer and is visible outside the turret, 19 new barrels and turrets were made along with five reserve barrels.
A similar gun 8,4 cm m/02-47 was positioned as entrance gun in each fort, to be able to fire through the entrance tunnel. It was a former 7,5 cm m/02 gun that was widened to use the same ammunition as the other guns in the forts. The gun at Rödberget (page 53) is probably the only preserved gun.
Page 54 – the flanking galleries 57 mm guns m/07. All forts except Södra Åberget got 8 guns each. There were mostly two guns per battery that was placed in the end of a dry moat, in some cases a double gallery were formed in an edge of the moat. What is extraordinary is that the guns fired live rounds within the moats. Four guns are preserved in and around Rödberget. In 1977 these guns were replaced by machinegun m/58.
Page 56 – 59 12 cm batteries with 12 cm gun m/24C
Sweden made 10 destroyers named after towns in Sweden. When they were decommissioned or changed into frigates in the late 1950s most of the three 12 cm guns on each ship were shipped to northern Sweden. They were equipped with blast and halfpansar shells that could be fired up to 15.000 meters. With the addition of the modern m/80 grenade it was extended to 19.200 meters.
The guns were placed in ten local defence gun batteries around the Norrbotten county, especially along the Kalix river. Designed as three gun batteries they were similar to heavy tanks in fixed positions in the middle of the huge Lapland countryside. Even if the guns were old they were designed to fire on moving targets from a rocking ship. Now they were in fixed positions, shooting at fixed positions – for instance bridges or sections of a road. Movable observation groups directed the fire to pre-set positions with pre-set codes.
The five batteries made in the late 1960s were built in parallel with the 15,2 cm batteries in the Luleå defence line. The later were funded by governmental funds and didn’t cost the military much. Therefor those fortifications were made big and strong. On the other hand the five 12 cm batteries, and also the later made in the 1970s were funded by the military and were also positioned closer to the frontline. This combination made them extremely small and tight. With only standard 10-men shelters combined with the gun emplacement where the back of the turret was open as on the ship.
The last six guns were stored for over 15 years before they were positioned around Gällivare, far north, in 1985-87. In 1984 the road from Kiruna to Narvik was finished, before that it was only railway. This made it possible by vehicle to travel from the Finnish border to Narvik, via Gällivare, and a stronger defence was needed in the Gällivare region.
The seven batteries were placed in the middle of nowhere and should be kept as secret as possible with just a limited of practices at each place. Therefore a training site was established at Rödberget with two guns that also added fire-power to the Rödberget fort.
The four 15 cm howitzers at Rödberget was changed into this type of gun and was labelled m/24C-77.
Page 60 – 65 15,2 cm batteries with 15,2 cm gun m/98, m/03 and m/12
A similar modernisation as with the 12 cm guns was also made in the Swedish Navy regarding ships with 15,2 cm guns. Costal battle ships and heavy Cruisers were dismounted in the early 1950s and many of the secondary artillery were moved ashore. Three of the six turrets on HMS Äran were moved to Luleå and formed the costal artillery battalion that could protect the Luleå harbour and steel work, something that the Boden fortress couldn’t reach.
HMS Fylgia was a cruiser that had four 15,2 cm m/03 twin-turrets on board and everyone were moved to form the Siknäs battery.
The last Costal battle ships were also the biggest made in Sweden. The secondary guns on “Sverige” (Sweden), “Drotting Victoria” (Queen Victoria) and “Gustaf V” consisted of one 15,2 cm twin-turret m/12 and six single turrets. Of the 24 guns on these ships 14 were moved to Norrbotten and positioned between 1963 and 1970.
Page 63 shows schematic pictures of the single turret m/12D. Five men were in the turret, the chief (P) and two ammunition loaders (L1/L2), traverser (SR) and elevator (HR). A ammunition elevator was the communication between the turret and the lower part with a loading room with three people. Another two-three men handled the ammunition from the storages to the loading room.
Page 66 – 95 Fort I Rödberget
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
The dry moats were blasted down into Rödberget, the steep mountain was used for the forth side of the moat. Mostly inside but also outside and under the ground tunnels were made to house dormitories, kitchen, battle control and storages. A wide staircase led up to the centraltunnel that had connections to the guns. The fort was modernised up to 1978 with the change of the heavy artillery and ended its days on New Years Eve 1997 with an open house for the public. Soon after it was transferred to a national Trust and is now a popular museum.
1892 saw the first drawings of a fort on Rödberget. Much smaller with four 47 mm guns in movable wagons. Maps on page 69.
1903 saw the moat as they later would be. The main different being that the light tower with searchlight was inside the moat. Page 71 shows extended dormitories for the increased artillery personnel, now 268 men but still only 21 infantry. Same page also shows an extensive infantry protection line around the fort, something that wasn’t built together with shelters for infantry on the way up to the fort. The larger amount of infantry, 202 men, became standard in 1905 but it wasn’t until drawings in 1909 that indicates that they were to be built close to the artillery part but outside the moat. Page 73 has the 1924 drawing that must be seen as a update as to what was built. The changes from todays fort are mainly that the flanking galleries in the front moat had to be entered from the outside in the moat. The sick bay was not added yet and the Cold War battle control hadn’t been added yet. Modernisation was later made up through the 1940s with added gas protection, additional electricity and with that it was possible to seal all windows and chimneys from heaters to get a better blast protection. Two of the artillery dormitories were expanded.
Page 74 shows the entrance part with the back moat and the 8,4 cm entrance gun. In this moat there was a loose guard-dog that barked and attacked anyone except its owner. A microphone in the moat was connected to a speaker in the guard room inside so they could hear if the dog barked and in that case could check what was happening. When the moat was blasted down to the correct depth the tunnels into the fort could be blasted. Picture shows which tunnel is in two stories. At the end of the moat there is two flanking galleries that originally had a water moat in front.
Page 76 shows the office area for the chief of the fortification and part of the infantry central tunnel and page 77 is the first part of the tunnel leading towards the spine up to the central tunnel.
Page 78-79 is the modern battle control room with switchboard and the place for the chief of the battery. The two circular tables are the fire control table for each of the heavy and light batteries.
The last part of this level has the generator room, that from the start had a coal fired engine, and sanitation areas without any privacy as shown on 80-81.
Halfway up the staircase to the central tunnel has another staircase going off to the right. This goes to the officers dining hall, offices and the forth 8,4 cm gun.
Page 83 shows the central tunnel with tunnels and spines to the guns and also up to the top of the fort. Every gun has its own number, 3:12 is the third 12 cm gun.
With the change to 12 cm m/24-77 saw an addition of a ammunition transportation up to the guns ammunition elevator. The lower level of the gun had the crew for the traverser and elevator. The loader and the firing officer were up in the turret.
Page 87 has a drawing with the added tunnel under the front moat to access the two flanking galleries in this area. As late as June every year sees ice inside these galleries. Drawing in page 89 shows the infantry positions and protected transportation on the top. Machinegun nests were added as well as eight positions for 8 cm mortars. Both batteries had their own observation posts under protected covers on top of the fort.
The end for the fort as active came on New Years Eve 1997. TV was there to document the total of 345 grenades fired in 84 bursts, representing the years of service, during a 30 minute salute. The final shot was fired by the chief of the fort; Henry Rova, at 14:11.
Page 96 – 101 The Satellite
This two gun battery was set up on Rödberget in 1970 to have a practice battery close to the A 8 regiment inside of driving many hours to the guns in the defence lines.
If the fortress would have been engaged in battle, these two guns would have been incorporated in the heavy battery at Rödberget with the same type of guns.
The guns were placed on a ridge a bit north of Rödberget with the battle control station (b-plats) a bit lower on the same ridge. All made in a low standard with tight spaces to resemble the war time batteries. They are made around the standard SK10 shelters. As on the war time batteries there was a generator bunker (kragg).
Picture on page 98 shows the main room in the b-plats. A chief (C) was positioned across from the plotting table with six more men inside the room. Connections made it possible to connect radio aerials on top of the bunker as a reserve to the cable communications that connected the parts of the battery.
The gun shelter was reached from a short tunnel from the gun itself and a bit lower. A room with ten beds protected by a blast door was the only room for the crew.
Page 102 – 129 Fort II Södra Åberget
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
As well as at Rödberget one side was made as a vertical side with in this case a large flat area in front of it. This area was from the start protected by an infantry line. Dry moats were blasted down on different levels with six flanking batteries protecting every part.
All guns, artillery dormitories, kitchen, battle control and storages were placed inside the moat. The infantry dormitories were placed on the other side of the back moat.
During the mid 1960s the fort undertook a huge remake, perhaps due to a Swedish spy that had been selling information to Soviet for many years. But why only this fort in that case was tampered is unclear. The upgrade saw bigger storages inside, modern blast doors made it possible to have a proper Cold War protection inside. The entrance tunnel was sealed and a new entrance made.
1892 saw the first drawings of a fort on Södra Åberget. This fort was from the beginning one of the bigger with four 12 cm and four 47 mm guns, all in turrets. Maps on page 104.
1901 saw a fort almost as it later would be. The main different being that the light tower with searchlight was inside the moat and that the infantry line on top was not added yet.
Page 106 has a map of how must was blasted (in red) at New Year 1902 but nothing was down to proper depth. Blasting in the early 1900s was quite another thing then today. No electricity, harsh environment and only man-power. Sweden had already made hydro power dams so knowledge on blasting was known. Some fort had also been made down south and people were imported to do more work.
1905 saw three drawings from September, October and November with the one from October being most accurate to what was made. One main difference in the drawings were how the infantry was positioned – inside the fort or in a different position.
Page 110 has the 1924 drawing that must be seen as a update as to what was built. The changes from todays fort are mainly that most of the flanking galleries had to be entered from the outside in the moat. Modernisation was later made up through the 1940s with added gas protection, additional electricity and with that it was possible to seal all windows and chimneys from heaters to get a better blast protection. Page 112-113.
Page 114 shows two modernisations that wasn’t made.
Page 115 below is the drawing with the added ammunition storage that was added in the 1960s modernisation.
The back moat was changed a lot in the 1960s modernisation with modern blast door in the main entrance.
All five forts have Royal signatures. King Gustaf V’s visited all five forts in 1921 with signatures on all places. For some reason Södra Åberget has a lot more, “Oscar” is King Oscar II from 1903. His 3rd child, Prins Carl and his wife Ingeborg was together on the trip. King Gustaf VI Adolf replaced his father in 1950 and made a tour of Sweden in 1951, perhaps is the signature from that time. He was back in 1961 with his wife queen Loiuse and finally Swedens present King Carl XVI Gustaf signed in 1974. This wall represents all Kings of Sweden between 1872 to present day (2023).
Pictures from 118 onwards shows the forts different parts with pictures taken in 2021. The entrance area also consisted of a kitchen and dormitories and the staircase to the upper floor and the central corridor for entrance to the guns.
A sick-bay was added as a corridor between the entrance part and the spine to one of the flanking galleries, page 120. This was later converted to infantry dormitories when the outer infantry system was closed. The old picture may be from Fort II or a very similar installation in Boden.
Page 122 shows the larger addition in the 1960s modernisation, a long ammunition storage with a semi-vertical elevator for ammunition up to the central tunnel.
Like at Rödberget there is a upper floor with more dormitories for officers and also the entrance to 8 cm gun nr 1. A battle command room was added here as soon as that was added to each fort, first in room 22 and later in the larger room 23. Room 22 was then converted to a storage with a extra blast door as protection. Page 126-27 has then and now pictures of the battle control room.
Page 128 has maps over the infantry protection of the fort as well as how the trench on top of the fort was established with infantry positions and mortars.
Page 130 – 149 Fort III Gammelängsfortet
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
The eastern front was the only front that had two active forts at Gammeläng and Mjösjö mountains. Together with natural obstacle like lakes and swamps they should stop the attack in the most possible direction – from the east.
Compared to the Rödberget and Åberget mountains Gammeläng was much higher and wider. This made it possible to blast a almost square dry moat and make a fort with only one level inside.
In the corner with the most sloping mountain an infantry line was added in front of that corner. The fort was from the beginning one of the bigger with four 12 cm and during a long time five 8 cm guns until it was changed to the standard four guns.
It is the only known fort that for a longer time had a raisable 110 cm search-light inside the moat.
1892 didn’t see any fort in the eastern front so it was no drawings before the 1895 revision, with both forts in smaller versions. Page 132 shows a three legged moat with the entrance not positioned as it would be yet. The heavy battery already had 12 cm guns and the light 57 mm but with handwritten notes 8 cm. They were also five, with two positioned outside the moat, very similar to the Vaberget fortresses outside Karlsborg.
In 1901 the front moat had been added, now with a total of eight flanking guns. All nine turrets were now inside the moat. What still wasn’t made was dormitories for the infantry.
Page 134 had the drawing of how far the blasting had proceeded on New Years 1902-03. The interior of the moat was finished to 9/10 and the moat itself to 4/5. The fort still had five light 8 cm guns at this late stage. This was corrected in 1904.
By 1909 the infantry part was added as an add-on in the southern part of the fort, just on the outside of the moat. An underground tunnel led under the moat to this part. Page 137 has the 1924 drawing of the finished fort.
The fort was reopened in 2021 after being sealed for more than 20 years. This was to check that the demolition had been done correctly and nothing left behind. The status of the guns was also checked. Page 140 onwards shown pictures from 2021-2022, staring with the entrance part with the main corridor along the kitchen, dormitories, generators etc.
From page 146 are pictures from the central tunnel with wide stairs going to the heavy guns.
Page 150 – 183 Fort IV Mjösjöfortet
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
Site IV had the shortest active period of the forts. Together with Rödberget the heavy battery had 15 cm howitzers. In 1977 those were updated to 12 cm guns at Rödberget but instead of doing the same at Mjösjö it was closed instead. It was also the only fort with only three guns in the light 8,4 cm battery.
Already in 1895 there is a rectangular moat and as in fort I and II it was built in two floors. The infantry part was later added around the entrance tunnel, seen as a flat area on page 150 and 151.
When closed in 1979 everything non-military, except the guns, were left inside the sealed fort to see how the material deteriorated. In 1991 it was reopened to look for the result, also knowing that local youth had been braking in for the last years. In 1998 it was made a National Trust and sealed once again, still untouched. In 2021 it was again opened, this time to have a proper clean-out and also a check on the status of the guns.
The smaller fort from 1895 can be seen on page 152, with the light battery being two 57 mm turrets, placed outside the moat. The 1902 drawing was almost as it would be with all seven guns in the correct spot. At New Year 1902-03 the blasting of the outer parts had come 2/3 way but most blasting inside was yet to be done. The moat in the back should still be deepened with 10 meters. In 1905 the dormitories for the infantry had been added on both sides of the entrance tunnel, also accompanied by sick-bay, kitchen and a heater.
In the 1920’s and 30’s a number of modernisation took place (page 156-157) as on the other forts. The major addition here were another four dormitories that was added and became the new quarters for the infantry as the old parts (page 157) was reused for a number of staff HQs.
159 onwards are pictures taken before and after the clean-out in 2021. Kitchen area before/after, page 162-63. Heaters and generators are part of the heritage and was not taken out, unfortunately hooligans have destroyed some of the unique machinery. (165-168)
The oil-storage was originally six smaller cylinders, replace with one bigger at some point. It is possible to walk through the flanking gallery in the end of the back moat and enter the infantry quarters (171-173).
The central tunnel starts at the top of the wide and huge stair-case, mostly like the one at Rödberget. From here all seven guns could be reached. This fort became a test-site for gas protection and overpressure was established by adding better doors and a ventilation system around 1925. Before and after pictures on page 176-177.
Each fort had two observation posts, one for each battery. The heavy battery at Mjösjö had the speaking tubes left inside, all the way from the upper posts to each gun. (178-179)
180-181 shows the upper floor, including rooms for dormitories, canteen and in the far end the single room for the chief of the fort. This was also the staircase to 1st 8 cm gun.
Page 184 – 205 Fort V Degerbergsfortet
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
Myths around the Boden fortress have been many, with hidden floors in fort, tunnels between forts etc. have been many during the years.
Degerberget has have its own since the 1980s but true, although in some cases exaugurated. Part of the Swedish gold reserve was stored in the fort until 1982, as one of five locations within Sweden. It can have been stored here from the 1920’s as it is only this fort that has a dedicated room labelled “safe”.
Degerberget is a high mountain with good conditions so the fort could be made wide and with one floor. The mountain was cut in the eastern direction so all four heavy guns could fire in all directions.
The internal design of this fort was a bit different to the other forts. There are many parts of the internal fort inside the moat that isn’t blasted with many corridors and tunnels to each part of the fort.
Page 186 – the northern front was prioritised from the beginning, with three different version already in 1892, with a strong influence from Vabergets fort outside Karlsborg. The moats were made different but the heavy 12 cm guns were positioned the same in all versions.
1895 had a version with the central moat and an additional two batteries outside (p187). The four main 12 cm guns were inside together with three of the four 57 mm guns, with the last positioned outside the moat.
Early 1900s saw a detailed cost proposal for this and each fort. A total bill of 1,46 MSEK was needed to finish the fort. This was a rise from the original with 553.000 SEK. The work with the fort (blasting etc.) has risen with almost 95 %!
The blasting of the moat had on New Year 1902/03 reached around ¾ but most of the tunnels inside were still untouched.
Drawing son page 192-93 from 1908 is the first that has the safe included, pictured on page 195. It is said that three lorries all of a sudden came to the fort in 1982.
Page 196-97 pictures photos from 2001 showing the entrance parts, with sanity, dormitories, kitchen etc.
Page 204-205 shows the top of the fort. A strange thing on Degerberget is that mortar positions wasn’t made here as the only fort without them. They should have been added in a war situation!
Page 206 – 211 Fort VI Norra Åbergsfästet
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
To protect the gaps between the line of fire from the five main forts two additional forts were made, one in the southern front and one in the northern.
Norra Åberget was in 1892 designed as a fort with a dry moat and fixed 8,4 cm and 47 mm guns but later changed to the four movable 8,4 cm guns instead.
With the increased threat from the air these forts were decommissioned in 1943.
In the 1940s an upgrade was made to these forts as well, sealing the windows and chimneys.
Page 212 – 227 Fort VII Leåkersfästet
The table shows the ready fort and the number of people are from the 1910s.
To start with the design was similar to Norra Åberget to help Degerberget in the north. A much stronger fort was later designed with ten 8,4 cm movable guns and a bigger fortified structure.
Drawing on page 217 shows the distance between the artillery part and the infantry fortification.
This fort was also reopened in 2021.
Page 228 – 241 Site 8 “Klinten”
One of the largest fortifications in Sweden was active up until 25 years ago at Klinten in the northern front. Codename “Site 8” with sub-codenames “Rutger”, “Myggan” (the Mosquito) and “Illern” (the Ferret).
Work began 1901 in the small part bottom right on the map on page 229. This was to be the commanders new protected HQ. Later additions were ING III and IV and the whole area behind, that for the inner part had two floors. “Västerlånggatan” “Kungsgatan” and “Österlånggatan” were long corridors with rooms, dormitories, kitchen, offices etc in between. “Nya delen” between entrances I and II started in 1952 and was called “Klinten New”. This part concisted of large chambers that was ammunition storage in peace-time. Behind chamber 8 a three-story air force command HQ was added at this time.
Numerous staffs were located here, part of the regional army HQ, the local army HQ, regional weather centre and the community Civil Defence command center. The later was a bit later kicked out.
Page 230 shows part of the air force command centre “Illern”, one of six in Sweden.
Many rumours have been around for “Site 8” with talk of over 1000 rooms. From a exercise in 1983 it can show that the older part had well over 130 rooms and with all parts active a total men power of something between 1150 and 1300 men.
The ammunition in storage in the modern part would at a mobilisation be shifted out to the forts and closer to the front. This would make it possible to turn these chambers into a proper field-hospital with x-ray machines, operation theatres for a total of around 200 patients. Drawing page 235.
Page 236-237 has a proposal of a new Civil defence command centre that was never built. The community had to find another mountain to build a new centre in, codenamed “The Turkey” that is described later in this book.
Page 240-241 has a few original photos that either are from Klinten or site 9. Those are the only possible.
Page242 – 243 War time maintenance site for guns, ammuntition etc.
“Tyg” (Cloth) is a old military description of guns and other hardware used by the military. At Boden fortress this function was fortified within the northern front. It is a huge site that was planned already in 1892, then with train tracks all the way up front and with a protective infantry position down by the Luleå river.
To be continued…