In WILLEMOES, you step into the stories of the naval hero Peter Willemoes (1783-1808). Here, you meet individuals with knowledge about the naval hero. Meet the diver Nils Duve, who has retrieved wreckage from the shipwreck Prinds Christian Frederik, lying at the bottom of the sea near Havneby by Sjællands Odde. Also, meet Peter Willemoes’ sister, who recounts her experience with her beautiful clock on the fateful evening in March 1808 when the cannon balls rained down on the ship, and her brother was hit.
In the exhibition WILLEMOES, we focus on the hero and the significance the hero has for us today.
Peter Willemoes was born in Willemoesgaarden in Assens in the year 1783. When he was 12 years old, he traveled to Copenhagen to be educated at the Naval Cadet Academy.
On April 2, 1801, the English attacked Denmark because Denmark had chosen to trade with everyone and not take sides in the war between England and France. England did not want Denmark to trade with France, but the Danes believed they could trade with those who would trade with them.
This resulted in a naval battle in Copenhagen known as the Battle of Copenhagen. Peter Willemoes was 17 years old when he, as a second lieutenant, took command of the naval battery no. 1, which was a timber raft with 24 cannons. The Danish fleet was unprepared for war, and the ships were rigged down for winter (meaning that all sails and masts, etc., were taken down for the winter). Peter Willemoes’ timber raft faced the two large English ships Elephant and Ganges, and both Danish and English sailors could witness Peter Willemoes’ diligent efforts to defend the Danish fleet against the English attack. Therefore, he was already regarded as a hero during his lifetime.
The dramatic naval battle is visually depicted in the impressive work painted by Chr. Møhlsted in 1901, which you can experience in the exhibition. You can also hear experts recount the naval battle and how the large painting came to Assens.
Peter died seven years later during the Battle of Sjællands Odde in 1808. He was on board the line ship Prinds Christian Frederik, which was pursued by the English off the coast of Sjællands Odde. To prevent the English from capturing the ship, the Danish sailors deliberately ran the ship aground. In this battle, cannons were also fired, and Peter Willemoes was hit in the head and died. Christian Møhlsted has also immortalized this scene in a painting, which you can see in the exhibition.
The exhibition is designed for play and exploration and offers experiences for both children and adults. On the ground floor, you can both see and touch. In the maritime activity room, children and adults can, for example, steer the helm and navigate using a compass that is over 100 years old.
The “Museum Vestfyn” App
To enhance your experience, you can download our free app “Museum Vestfyn.” Here, you can learn more about Willemoes’ belongings, the battle of Cooenhagen, and the battle at Sjællands Odde. The app is available on App Store and Google Play.
See here when you can visit WILLEMOES.