Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 24

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 24
The British come to Iceland By an Icelander Long before the dawn of May 10th, I was awakened by the thundering of aeroplanes over Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. This was somewhat astdonishing. What were they doing?They might be Icelandic . . . but at that early hour surely not. We have only a few civil planes. We use them to carry passen- gers over the inland desert, between the North and the South. But nobody ever flies at that hour in Iceland. The only other planes we have are the her- ring spotting planes. This, I know, sounds a little unreasonable, for the tasty herring is no bird, nor is it a flying-fish, even up here in Iceland. We use our „spotting planes” to lo- cate the shoals of fish — a shoallooks like a dark blue blot against the usually greenish colour of the sea. But the thundering of aero- planes surely did not come from our delicate little herring planes. For the noise came con- stantly from directly above the roofs of slum- bering Reykjavik. Was this thundering the sound of war? The thought made me uneasy, but I soon fell sleep again. Probably it was an hour later, when what sounded like a single plane scudded over the city again and wakened me with a jerk. Through the open window of my bedroom I saw it was not an Icelandic one. As a sound of its high-powered engine died away, another sound floated through my window. It was a sound I never heard before, and a sound which has not been heard in my country, Iceland, for about seven centuries. It was the rhyth- mical tramping of soldiers. I said something to myself in my own lan- guage which, politely translated into English, was: „Can it be that the „Maddogs” of Ger- many have arrived?” This was the most un- pleasant thought I have ever had in my life. I knew that the little would-be „Maddogs” of Iceland did not like me any better than I liked their chief German, “Herr Maddog” (pronounced “mad dog”). I really thought that the “Maddogs” had arrived, and for some moments I felt all the bitterness of the defeated. To crown it all, a frensh batch of troops came tramp-tramp- tramping close to the building. But from my window I could not see them. I thought for a while. Then I said to myself: “You know you are disposed to bad humor if you don’t get your eight hours’ sleep“. So I decided I would have it. I tried to forget what I had heard, and to get some more sleep. I succeeded in. both. When I awoke again it was about eight o’clock and, going to the window, I heard all the usual sounds of my home town. I could see — from my window — nothing unusual . . . . only the morning fires smoking thick- ly, an occasional motor horn, newspapers boys yelling loudly — everything seemed so usual. I was sure I must have been dreaming. I dressed and went downstairs. When I came out of the lift I met the porter, who asked me what thought of the British. The British? Yes. The British had arrived! There were thousands of soldiers, with machine guns, cannons, aeroplanes and everything. I went out. The streets and cafes were full of people. I felt quite embarrassed. I must have been one of the last of the towns in- habitants to rise from bed that morning. Sol- diers were to be seen everywhere — singly and in small detachments. I liked the young, clean and well-uniformed men. Their chief merit, however, was that they were not Germans. Then I heard all the news from friends of mine. They said: ,,It has been declared that the British will stay here until the war is over. They have said that they will quit the coun- try then. During the stay they will in no way 22 CR1STMAS IN ICELAND


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