Posted by: Sarah | December 16, 2010

The Tree In Trafalgar Square & WW2 Heroes Of Norway

Last week there were a few riots in London and at one point a small group of protesters started to burn the Xmas tree that stands in Trafalgar Square.  This hit the news in Norway because every year the Norwegians give the tree as a gift to the UK in thanks for their support during WW2.   It made me realise that perhaps folks don’t really know how closely linked the UK and Norway became during WW2.

Norway was occupied by the Nazis during WW2 and the Norwegian government and royal family narrowly escaped to the UK for safety, days before the Nazis arrived in Oslo.  Despite having no government or monarchy in place, the Norwegian spirit remained strong and were determined to fight.  The resistance was strong.  Here are some things I learned:

  • They lived in the mountains for days in the snow with little food – they knew the mountains better than anyone
  • They would ski from Oslo to the Sweden to regroup and discuss tactics, receive training and equipment 
  • They would transport messages around the country inside logs and boots
  • They would ski from hut to hut to avoid their radio transmissions being tracked
  • They destroyed Nazi ships and supplies – most famous the Telemark heavy water sabotage
  • Fishing boats would leave the west coast in the morning and they would return in the evening – little did the Nazi’s realise that the ones coming back actually came from the UK stocked up with trained fighters and supplies

If you’re ever in Oslo you MUST go to see the resistance museum at the fort.  There you will learn about some truly amazing Norwegian heroes – I’ve listed just two below but there are many!

  • Max Manus:  Max was a pioneer of the Norwegian resistance movement and was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941. He escaped to the United Kingdom for training and went back as a saboteur for the Norwegian Independent Company 1, better known as Lingekompaniet.  He was famous for being one of the most brilliant saboteurs during World War II.  He was awarded Norway’s highest decoration for military gallantry, the War Cross with sword.  In addition to his Norwegian decorations, Manus received the British Military Cross and Bar.  There’s a great film about Max Manus and his teams.  (Wikipedia)
  • Gunnar Sønsteby:  He is known for being the most highly decorated person in Norway, including being the only one to have been awarded the War Cross with three swords.  After saboteur training in England in 1943, he became the contact for all agents in eastern Norway and head of the Norwegian Independent Company 1 group in Oslo. This group performed several spectacular acts of sabotage; among them smuggling out plates for printing Norwegian kroner from the Norwegian Central Bank. Sønsteby became a master of disguise. He operated under 30 to 40 different names and identities, and the Germans did not acquire his real name until near the end of the war.  Whilst Gunnar is still alive today, there is a statue near Solli Plass of him on his bike in honour of his great work.  In 1945 he was awarded the British Distinguished Service Order.    (Wikipedia)


  1. […] Gunnar Sønsteby – a WW2 resistance fighter in Norway and local […]

  2. […] Gunnar Sønsteby – a WW2 resistance fighter in Norway and local […]

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