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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What Mattered In 2012

The book of the year, if you ask me.

Looking back at 2012 I would say it again was a year of the rise of Asia and in particular China. As for my own work during this year, North Africa was a major focus.

Judging from recent reports, the world in 2013 will be no less shaped by what takes place in Asia, starting January 1.

The Syrian Civil War may evolve into something much worse. Another serious hotspot is of course Iran, and, as always, there is Israel and North Korea. The latter country is the subject of this year´s strongest book IMHO, Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. But for some reason I reckon that the East China Sea holds the greatest dangers during 2013.

In case we are fortunate enough that no new major wars break out in 2013 the world may still suffer greatly, perhaps as much as from war, by further inactivity in the field of energy, i.e. by not seriously going for alternative energy sources. Here the US, China and the EU probably hold the largest keys.

Moving away from things of global importance to my own work, in 2012 I was writing mostly on a book about a special forces unit in North Africa, Ghost Patrol. It was released a month ago. I also wrote several articles about more or less recent military history, one which was extra special, as it to a great extent was the result of exciting discoveries in the mountains by some very energetic readers of mine.

Speaking about readers, I only now found this study in English about Swedish volunteers in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, partly based on Swedes at War. Well, in 2013 I will return to the subject of Swedish volunteers, first those in Finland and Norway in 1940, and then, in another book, all over Europe and Asia.

Goodbye 2012 and wishing all my readers a Happy New Year!

When I wrote the above I was not aware of this article re. the worsening security climate China-Japan.

But, you may ask, what about a Swedish connection to Escape From Camp 14? Well, although the book makes no reference to Sweden or any other Nordic country, Sweden played a largely unknown role during the first combat phase of the still unfinished Korean War. There was both a Swedish field hospital where everyone wore US uniforms and in addition a handful of Swedish volunteers and many more Swedish Americans in US combat units. More about them in a coming book by me and Lennart Westberg. Although Escape From Camp 14 is not about a soldier but about a man born in a North Korean concentration camp, it does provide valuable insights also into Korean history. In addition, yours truly during four years lived right beside the North Korean embassy in Switzerland. This gave me several opportunities to learn about North Korea. I got to talk with several persons living inside the embassy, especially one Kim. It was, however, not the Kim now ruling North Korea, as he arrived in Switzerland only after I had left the country. Still, I have some idea about the wonderful environment where he spent some of his formative years. I tend to think those years must have done him and the world some kind of good.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Panzers, New Photos

"AFV Photo Album vol 1: Armoured Fighting Vehicles on Czechoslovakian Territory 1938-1968" by Marek Solar, Petr Dolezal and Vladimir Kos.

In my post "Nordland Panther in New Swedish Book" I mentioned the young Swedish publishers Canfora. They have since then become an even more interesting English language publisher for Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) buffs and modellers.

Canfora's AFV Photo Album vol 1 is quite simply a treasure trove for AFV buffs and modellers. What you get is 224 A4 size pages with an incredible amount of large and high quality photos of mostly German, Soviet and US tanks and other AFVs in Czechoslovakia, mostly in 1945. I doubt if anyone outside the region has seen any of the book's images from 1945 before. Several photos are ideal for those into restoring or building vehicles and/or dioramas.

I would like to especially mention a photo in the book of a Bergepanther with a 37 mm Flak gun, a probably unique example of late-war improvisation. I was also intrigued by four photos of Jagdpanzers (38) abandoned in May 1945. Inside one of them was a woman in SS uniform, according to the authors. There is no photo of this woman in the book, nor her name, but I find the caption possible as she perhaps was not a regular tanker but someone from a staff, being transported. Could she have been a crew member? Well, considering that there did exist a handful of female Luftwaffe pilots, not impossible.

One of the very few negative things about this book is the main title, as it says too little about the contents. Otherwise it is a goldmine for AFV enthusiasts.

"The Nordic Edge Model Gallery Vol 3" edited by Toni Canfora.

The Nordic Edge series from Canfora is focused entirely on scale models made by modellers in the Nordic countries. However, even if you are not into modelling yourself I reckon these books could be of interest. Because they are simply astounding in their quality. Both the models, dioramas and the quality of the books.

Volume 3 is 143 pages in A4 size with both superb large size photos and text about the thoughts and work behind every subject. It is easy to get inspired by these books, and also to get practical tips from them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Stunning Christmas Story From WWII

This is quite simply one of the most unusual stories to come from WWII and I saw it for the first time only today.

Of course, Sweden is mentioned too... there is always a Swedish connection! And with this peaceful and inspiring story from WWII I wish all my readers GOD JUL! as we say in Sweden i.e. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

1945 Reenactment in Ukraine

I have never seen reenactment photos like these before, especially the last ones.

Ukrainian and Russian reenactors are obviously not only into reenacting Stalingrad and Kursk. The theme of the above reenactment earlier this year was Graz, Austria, 1945. This enabled not only reenactors in Soviet and German kit to participate but also in US and British uniforms.

I had never thought there would be so many US Airborne and British Army reenactors in Ukraine and Russia. Note that one of the "Wiking" reenactors has a Norwegian arm shield.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lars Wars

The Lars homestead in Tunisia was in bad shape but was recently restored by some true fans. If you read this: well done, guys.

As a Swedish fan of Star Wars from the very start, i.e. 1977, I have always been extra happy with my name, a Nordic version of Lawrence, even though Owen Lars of episode IV was far from heroic. But what about other Star Wars connections to the Nordic countries?

I am into Star Wars trivia, as you may have noticed from some of my previous Star Wars posts. But there are some things I have yet to do, like travel to the Star Wars locations above and below. The below one in Finse, Norway, actually not being that far, far away.

The Star Wars fan guide to Finse, Norway.

Another Star Wars project I would like to start is the one I intend to start right here and now, by compiling Star Wars trivia connected to the Nordic countries. I am priveleged to have relatives in all Nordic countries and have a special love for travelling within our area.

Obviously, the Finse connection to the planet Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back" is the main connection (Hoth = Finse). But then we also have Mark Hamill´s Swedish family roots. Incidentally, I saw a scene in a Swedish action movie being shot in Murmansk, with Hamill as the main villain. The movie in question, "Hamilton" (1998) was not one of the best motion pictures ever made, but not all that bad either.

Finally, Shmi Skywalker Lars, mother of Anakin Skywalker and grandmother to Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, is portrayed by Swedish actress Pernilla August. More about Shmi Skywalker Lars here.

Well, that is all that comes to my mind right now. But what about Finnish and Danish connections? And surely there are some more Swedish and Norwegian connections. Please help, you are my only... comment below please.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Burnt By The Critics

The actors playing Stalin and Beria have an uncanny likeness to the real persons. This trailer has no subtitles, but the DVD has.

I just saw a grand Russian war movie, "Exodus", the first half of "Burnt By The Sun 2". For long I chose not to see it. Because I believed in the massive flak that the movie got. Well, I was wrong.

Of course, many scenes and details can be questioned. But, if you treat the movie like a novel about WWII I think it works fine. Some things are in fact better than in most WWII movies. In particular, I believe, the way many things look, like the uniforms. Most uniforms in this film look as if they have actually been used for months or even years.

Bluntly put, forget the critics and see the movie yourself!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Swedish Cyber Threat Book in English

The best book I have read about information warfare is about to be published in English as The Dark Sides of the Internet. I read it in Swedish (Internets mörka sidor) when it came out earlier this year.

I would say that the book is written in a manner that makes it accessible to virtually anyone interested in the subject while at the same time not being too shallow. It provides fascinating insights into information warfare in practice during recent wars and conflicts.

The author of The Dark Sides of the Internet is Roland Heickerö, Associated Professor at the Swedish National Defence College (SNDC). His research examines different aspects of information warfare and cyber threats. Between 2003 and 2012 he was Deputy Research Director at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) in charge of cyber defence research.

The Dark Sides of the Internet is about to be published by international academic publishers Peter Lang and here is the publisher's info about the coming book.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Grave of General Engelbrecht

Today, for the first time, I stumbled upon a photo of General Engelbrecht's grave. He was the commander of the German division that was allowed to pass through Sweden during WWII, the 163rd Infantry Division.

The website where the photos are seems well worth some future visits.

Monday, December 03, 2012

First Victoria Cross Won Close to Sweden

Here, at Bomarsund in Finland, the very first Victoria Cross was won.

It is not every day that I am really surprised by military history. But today is such a day. I have learnt that the very first Victoria Cross was won during the Crimean War on one of the Finnish Åland Islands.

The first action to render a Victoria Cross (VC) was fought not that far from our capital, Stockholm. The man behind the heroism in 1854 was Charles Davis Lucas. I learnt this from a very short letter published in the latest issue of the Swedish journal Militär Historia, i.e. Military History.

I also learnt, from some online articles, that the fall of Bomarsund was seen as a large victory in France. In fact, there is an inscription to that effect on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Incidentally, the latest VC recipient, Bryan Budd, was born in Northern Ireland, just like the very first recipient.

After peace was signed in Paris in 1856, Russia promised not to have any military infrastructure on the Åland Islands, and they have ever since been a demilitarised area. Residents are also exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Captain of "Saving Private Ryan" Dead

The real captain was Swedish American and his name was Ralph Goranson.

It was a great honour for me to get a reply from Ralph Goranson, the Swedish American who was the reality behind Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan". The other day his obituary reached me. I am ashamed to say that no Swedish papers have yet reported his death.

In "Saving Private Ryan", Tom Hanks commands company C of the 2nd Rangers in Normandy on D-Day. A great deal of what Tom Hanks does in the opening scenes is what Ralph Goranson actually did. But John Miller, the name that Hanks has in the blockbuster (nominated for eleven Academy Awards), is pure fiction.

I was in touch with the very real Ralph Goranson, thanks to his children, in connection with writing the passage about him in Swedes at War.

I am ashamed, but not surprised, to say that no Swedish papers have yet reported Goranson´s death. It took ten days until a Swedish newspaper reported the death of the most respected Swedish citizen in British WWII service, Allan Mann. And that piece was not a news story but a family page text. The first article about Mann's death was published only a month after his death.

Thank you for your courage on D-Day and many other days, Ralph Goranson. Rest in peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ghost Patrol Release

My co-author in the front jeep´s front passenger seat. PHOTO: Toby Savage

Today the first book in Swedish about the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) will be officially released by Fischer & Co in Stockholm. I am now very much looking forward to soon meeting and celebrating with my co-author and others who made the book possible.

Ghost Patrol, as the title translates, is also the first book about WWII in Africa that I have written, partially that is. Karl-Gunnar Norén is the main author and has lots of African experience and has already written several books about Africa. The above photo by Toby Savage was taken during his and Karl-Gunnar´s "2300-mile Sahara epic". To see more photos by Toby, visit his website.

Karl-Gunnar has done what no Swede has done before, reenacted a LRDG patrol where they actually took place, in a 1943 vintage jeep, LRDG style. The book is both about the LRDG story and what it was like for Karl-Gunnar, incidentally born also in 1943, to drive in their tracks. As for me, I have only visited the former LRDG HQ in Cairo.

Ghost Patrol is dedicated to Toby Savage and LRDG veteran Bill "Swede" Anderson. The latter is very much the reason for my interest in the unit.

Well, here we go, Karl-Gunnar!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Norwegian Ninja Takeover

Teaser for "Norwegian Ninja", my all-time favourite action comedy

The recent BBC report that Japanese Ninjas are soon only history need not cause alarm. Norwegian Ninjas lead the way!

"Norwegian Ninja" is a Norwegian action comedy about the classic Cold War.

Time to face the music, move over Japan!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swedish OSS Gems

The first two books in Swedish about the OSS.

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) is an amazing subject as it was both a classic spy agency and a military special operations outfit. It worked in places where no other US forces operated, like Swedish Lapland. Want to know more about the OSS? I have some tips.

The news that remains of the OSS base Sepals Gorgon have been located in Swedish Lapland has generated a fair amount of attention. One of Sweden's most popular radio stations interviewed me about the find and I know there will be some more media attention soon.

So, where do you go if you want to know more? Well, the first stop I suggest is Roger Albrigtsen's website about the OSS Sepals bases. If you read Scandinavian you might then read his books in Swedish or Norwegian and my books in Swedish that partly deal with the subject. But what about other OSS operations? In that case I warmly recommend starting with a novel, Call It Treason by the former OSS officer George Howe, first published in 1949. It is best in the original language, English, but the Swedish translation Jagad av landsmän (1950) is not that bad, if you can find it (see the cover above).

Although it is a novel, Call It Treason, is filled with facts and simply an amazing read. It does not pretend to be about the whole OSS, rather it focuses on the most startling OSS missions, with German non-Jewish OSS volunteers parachuted into Germany to spy for the OSS with forged papers but wearing their old uniforms or other German uniforms. The novel also gives a good idea of the period image of the Waffen-SS special operations specialist Otto Skorzeny.

In modern language, Call It Treason is about special operations focused on extreme tactical Human Intelligence (HUMINT). I will return to the movie made from it in a special post. I saw it for the first time just the other week.

For a purely factual book about these OSS missions, read Piercing the Reich (1979) by Joseph E. Persico. Not very new but I reckon it still is a good source about the German operations.

Well, if you then want to move on to reading about the whole OSS there are many modern books to choose from. But you might start with a really old one, I reckon the very first one: Sub Rosa (1946) by Stuart Alsop and Thomas Braden. Why such an old book? Well, it has a lot of atmosphere and was written very close to the events. In Swedish (see above photo) it was published in 1947, as O.S.S. Det amerikanska spionaget bakom fiendens linjer.

Finally, returning to Otto Skorzeny, he made a lasting impression on the US Armed Forces during the Battle of the Bulge. It is my great pleasure to here announce that a friend and fellow Swede is soon releasing a book about that battle, that I gather will have a fresh perspective and present new facts. In fact, I believe it will even bust some myths. He is well-known among aviation buffs for his superb books (written with other specialists) in the series Black Cross Red Star. His name, Christer Bergström and here he presents his coming book in Swedish. Since Black Cross Red Star is in English I hope that his coming book will be translated.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Last OSS Base in Sweden Found

This is when I had just reached the OSS base Sepals I. Now, finally, the base Sepals Gorgon has been located.

Today most Swedish kiosks will be reached by some rather exciting news about Sweden during WWII. In the latest issue of the magazine Soldat & Teknik I reveal that the OSS-base Sepals Gorgon at last has been located in Swedish Lapland.

As I have documented in Germans and Allies in Sweden I have visited the WWII OSS bases Sepals I to III. They were basically secret US bases in the Swedish mountains 1944-45, with Norwegian soldiers - some of whom had been "police troops" and some of whom had been trained by the British SOE. In the new issue of Soldat & Teknik there is a six-page article about Sepals including some new photos and the news that the last unlocated base, Sepals Gorgon, now has been found.

Neither yours truly nor the author of the book Operation Sepals, Roger Albrigtsen, have managed to locate the fourth base, Sepals Gorgon, which for some time was the HQ for all Sepals bases. Well, now it has been located - by three of our readers!

Roger and I have known the approximate position of Sepals Gorgon but have still just not been able to find anything. This is somewhat explained by the difficult terrain and the fact that the buildings were taken down at the end of the war. But all military bases leave traces behind and we have therefore not stopped thinking about someday finding remains of Sepals Gorgon. So, three hikers from southernmost Sweden have beaten us to it. They started searching in 2005 and it took them six hikes until the final proof was secured this fall. Well, let me say congratulations to you, gentlemen! The proof is in the November issue of Soldat & Teknik.

In spite of the new discovery there are things about Sepals we do not yet know, and also about the equivalent British SOE bases on Swedish soil. Well, preparations have commenced for a new Sepals expedition and a special blog about this has just been started by the ham radio enthusiasts behind the project. Check it out, as well as this site in English about their previous project, about the Lancaster bomber "Easy Elsie" in Porjus (with Lancaster engine sounds, turn up the volume).

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Saved From The Flea Market

War medal of Norwegian "police trooper" saved from flea market.

One of the weirdest aspects of WWII and Sweden is that the many thousand Norwegian soldiers that were trained in Sweden starting in 1943 are almost forgotten. Recently a remainder of them surfaced in a flea market.

It was my friend and coauthor Karl-Gunnar Norén who rescued the above medal and diploma once awarded to Norwegian "police trooper" Ernst Tönning. The set have now been donated by Karl-Gunnar to the Defence Museum in Boden, as that museum i.a. deals with the thousands of "police troops" that passed through or were stationed in northernmost Sweden, where Boden is situated.

I have written about the so-called Norwegian "police troops" in Sweden most recently in my book Germans and Allies in Sweden.

Just recently, a 1945-made documentary about the 46,000 Norwegians that fled to Sweden was released on the web. The second half of it is largely about the "police troops" and even has some dramatic scenes. Note that at the time there was no stigma attached to using letters in viking rune style, even the S-rune in the same style as the S in SS. In fact, the Norwegian armed forces in exile used the viking theme quite frequently. Only after the war did viking runes become instantly associated with the Germans and the SS.

Also now on the web is a the only known film showing the ten C-47 Dakota aircraft that transported the police troops from Sweden to northernmost Norway. The film is mainly not about the aircraft but about the US and Swedish effort to save Soviet and Yugoslav ex-prisoners of war in Arctic Norway just after the war. But nevertheless you see the aircraft and some USAAF crew quite well, starting at the their base on the Kallax Peninsula just outside Luleå in north Sweden. The USAAF officer saluting in the beginning is the Norwegian-born colonel and aviation pioneer Bernt Balchen. Sadly, this film has no sound.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Narvik Military History Bookstore Update

Now in central Narvik, lots of military history books. Both new and old.

Some really rare old books, in several languages, are now for sale in Narvik.

It is with great pleasure that I now can announce that my friend Trond Kristansen in Narvik has moved his military history bookshop to central Narvik, to Kongens gate number 22.

Of course, the bookstore has extra many books about WWII in Narvik and the north in general. Congratulations and best wishes from Arctic Sweden! All you have to do now, Trond, is make a short English summary on the shop´s website.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Swedish Afghanistan Type Mission In Iran

Uniform and memorabilia of the Swedish officers and NCOs who volunteered for Persia (Iran). PHOTO: Leif Nilsson/SMHA

Swedes at War begins with the Swedes who volunteered to form a gendarmerie in Persia (Iran). What started in 1911 as an Afghanistan type security assistance mission evolved, for the Persians, into the genesis of the Iranian Army.

Thousands of Persians were trained by the Swedes, partly with Swedish equipment, and led by Swedes in security operations. Not only the largest British and German papers in 1913 and early 1914 praised the Persia Swedes, even in China one could read that the Swedes had been successful. For several of the forty participating Swedes, service in Persian Gendarmerie uniform (see above photo) was a springboard to entering German, British and Finnish service. After the outbreak of WWI some of them entered German service in Persia and on other fronts. Quite a few went on to fight in other wars, a handful even during WWII. For example the Swedish Persia veteran Martin Ekström in 1919 took Narva from the Red Army and during WWII was a battalion commander in the Finnish Army.

Together with some other persons with a special interest in Persia I some years ago suggested that the Swedes who volunteered to create the Persian Gendarmerie should be part of the permanent exhibition of the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm. Last week this display became reality and you may now there study several original items from the Swedes in Persia.

A complete uniform, orders, medals, maps and photos are now on display in Stockholm. PHOTO: Leif Nilsson/SMHA

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ghost Patrol Update

Soon printed: "Ghost Patrol" by Karl-Gunnar Norén and yours truly. The front features an original LRDG scorpion badge inside the Swedish title.

The back features a hitherto unpublished LRDG photo (more inside) and a colour photo of the 2012 LRDG tour in Egypt (more inside!).

Today I finished the rather tiresome but very important work of responding to questions from the editors of Ghost Patrol, Karl-Gunnar Norén´s and my coming book about the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and its legacy.

Thank you Lena and Kajsa for all your work! I am very pleased and especially that the photos of the WWII wrecks still in the desert, taken just some months ago, will be printed in colour. Thank you Mikael at Yours for the superb cover! I always want to work with you when it comes to covers. Right now I feel quite elated because all that is left now for me to do is to check the complete book just before the first edition is printed, which will happen in not that many days time.

Feeling good and thank God its Friday! (have to find that old disco song...)

Yes, there is some interest abroad among publishers. But too early to say more.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unique Red Army Diorama?

Yes, the Red Army infantrymen are placed in an ordinary drinking glass.

Recently two friends presented me with a Russian-made 1/35 scale WWII diorama (or vignette) of a kind I have never seen anywhere before. The idea is so simple, yet...

During my teens I was an active modeller and took part in some national competitions. Once I won a prize. I haven't done any serious modelling since then, but have recently done some simpler kits with our son, and found great joy in so doing. Sometimes I pick up modelling magazines, and when in Stockholm I at times check out hobby stores, to see finished kits on display and see whats new. I do not have to buy anything as I have lots of unbuilt kits. So, I kind of have an idea of what is going on in the modelling world, yet I have never before seen anything like this glass:

Note the barbed wire, very fine stuff. I reckon the soldiers are modified Zvezda figures.

Note the helmet straps and telogreika winter jacket on the closest man.

Unfortunately, my friends who gave me the glass do not know who made it, as they are not even sure who gave it to them. They were presented with a lot of stuff on their recent trip to Russia, by a lot of different people. Someone gave them this glass without showing it, it was covered.

In Sweden, giving away presents is a serious matter. In Russia people just love to give away stuff even to people they have just met. I have experienced this myself. The Russians are truly generous hosts, I dare say.

Well, have you ever seen a diorama (or vignette) like this before? If so, where?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BIG, Really BIG Models in Sweden

Yours truly in wooden Swedish-made Mark V in Sangis, Sweden. I reckon the scale is something like 1:1,5. PHOTO: Mikael Norman

I recently wrote about the British Mark V that has been magnificently restored in Arkhangelsk, Russia. Well, it is not the only British WWI tank in the Arctic if one takes into account this wooden model standing right beside the E4 highway in Sangis in northernmost Sweden.

Yes, the doors open so one can go inside.

This Bf 109-inspired model scale ca 1:3 is beside the tank.

The German fighter is in a dogfight with this Spitfire-inspired aircraft.

Sangis is a small village between Luleå and Haparanda. Beside the models there is a military surplus store that at least has had some WWII items. I understand that the models are unique and made by one and the same person, a friend of the owner of the surplus store.

Since I wrote this in 2012 some additional large scale models have been added like a wooden Jeep and a UFO.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Arctic WWI Tank Restored in Russia

Captured British tanks were even on Red Square in Moscow, as this amazing clip from Russian TV shows.

In Swedes at War there is a page about Swedish volunteers in the Russian Civil War working in close cooperation with British tanks. One of those tanks is still around, in Arkhangelsk. It was recently restored and there is now even a book about it.

The tank in question, now even has a very detailed Wikipedia-page. The above clip from Russian TV describes the restoration process and also has some amazing footage from the Russian Civil War era.

As you can see from the Wikipedia page the tank is now inside a protective structure. When I visited tank Mk V No. 9303 some years ago it was out in the open. Still, it was not in a poor state, not at all. So, I was quite surprised by the thorough restoration, which must have been costly.

I was also pleasantly surprised the other day when a friend lent me this book about this particular tank:
It contains a great deal of photographs, so that even if you do not read Russian, I reckon you will find it quite amazing. However, I do not know how you might order this book from outside Russia. Well, there are many good reasons to visit Arkhangelsk. Now there is one more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Luftwaffe vs RAF in Norway 1940

"Into the White" seems like a really well-made movie about Norway in 1940.

Hm, when will this one be shown in Sweden? Will it ever get to our cinemas or must we wait for the DVD?

UPDATE 12/10: It was released on DVD in Sweden one month ago.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mountain Warfare Flame Thrower

A flaming hot alpine WWI reenactment produced just some weeks ago.

Being especially interested of war in the Nordic area I have grown interested of mountain warfare in general and therefore I cordially recommend this new video from the alps.

What an extravagant Monte Grappa reenenactment, with flame thrower and all. I have personally found some WWII German flame throwers up here in the Arctic that looked almost the same. I have some photos of my finds somewhere. If memory serves me right I found them on Kola and by Kirkenes. Have also seen some on the Narvik front and in the Lyngen line? Not sure about the latter, I am starting to mix up my trips!

Thanks for the tip, Klemen!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Norwegian James Bond and Swedes in Ukraine

Alfred Henningsen was both in the British Secret Intelligence Service, Soviet NKVD and Norwegian Army. His uniform and weapons are on display in Setermoen.

Alfred Henningsen, a most unusual and highly decorated Norwegian WWII veteran, has passed away. Like Lars Åhlander, who also recently passed away, he was very helpful towards me.

Alfred Henningsen was incredibly active during WWII, serving as a Norwegian soldier in 1940; secret agent for the Soviet Union; special operator for the British Secret Intelligence Service and finally as a Norwegian Army officer in the Arctic. In 1945 he was in close combat against SS-soldiers, just barely survived and was taken prisoner. The full story will appear in a coming book of mine.

Here is Alfred's Wikipedia-page and obituary, published today. His uniform and many medals - only the Norwegian ones are on the uniform above - are on permanent display in the Troms Defence Museum in Setermoen.

Who was Lars Åhlander then? A talented writer and editor and certainly one of the greatest researchers on the subject of the Swedish minority in Ukraine. During both WWI and WWII these Swedes were conscripted to fight, during WWII both for the Soviet Union and the Third Reich. Many of the most interesting passages about them in Swedes at War 1914-1945 are the result of Lars Åhlander's research. Here is his obituary.

Thank you, Alfred and Lars, for all your support.

Friday, September 07, 2012

New WWII Trip Blog

Just back from a family vacation in Denmark and south Sweden and will soon start blogging again. But let me recommend a new WWII trip blog right now, that I am unable to add to my blog list, for some weird technical reason: WW2 Landmark Scout. Check it out, and my blog list to the right that has some new additions.

Hat tip to Tom for the tip about Landmark.

Friday, August 24, 2012

German Infanteriekarren Just Salvaged

Last night this German WWII infantry cart was salvaged outside Lakselv, Norway. PHOTO: Roger Albrigtsen

It could carry ammunition, food, other supplies, even mounted weapons, and be pulled by horses, dogs, men, motorcycles and Kettenkrads. PHOTO: Roger Albrigtsen

Almost exactly two years ago I reported about some underwater finds in Lakselv, Norway. Last night one of them was finally brought up by a team of local enthusiasts, my friend Roger Albrigtsen just reported to me.

The condition is obviously not that good, but the wheels could still spin - after some 68 years below water.

Now there is even this Wikipedia-page about the cart in question, the Infanteriekarren IF8. For more about this find and other WWII finds and projects in that area of Norway - go to the WWII blog of my friends up there.

Thanks for the photos, Roger!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

See Thiele Before Its Too Late

Just some good Narvik then-and-now photos that I hadn't seen before. Remember, the destroyer Georg Thiele could slip down into the fjord any year now, and probably suddenly. So, if you have not visited it yet...

Hat tip to Mats for the tip!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SOS From Swedish Defence Bloggers

I seldom use this blog for comments on the current state of the Swedish Armed Forces and Swedish security policy. But today I make an exception. This is because I have signed a declaration together with just about all the other Swedish bloggers writing about military affairs. The declaration is a kind of SOS entitled "Defence and Security Policy Roll Call".

Many Swedish combat arms today consist of one single unit. The Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces recently made clear that if our government does not wake up and act, Sweden will soon lose not only several combat arms but a whole branch, such as the whole navy or army.

It is my firm belief that the Swedish government has an obligation to make sure we have a credible defence. Ignoring this obligation is not only endangering our sovereignty already in times of peace, it is simply dangerous for the whole Nordic region. Our vacuum will by sheer military logic force our neighbours to redo their calculations for the event of a major crisis or conflict in the Nordic-Baltic area.

Aside from finally increasing the defence budget, the Swedish government needs to revise Swedish defence policy as a whole. For many years now Sweden has been without a defence policy in tune with funding, recent history and the unstable future.

I do not have the time, nor mandate, to do a proper translation of our declaration, but I am quite sure that you will get the gist of it by computer translation. So, here it is in Swedish:

Försvars- och säkerhetspolitiskt upprop!

Ända sedan den så kallade strategiska ”time-outen” som den då sittande regeringen medvetet valde att ta i samband med försvarsbeslutet 2000, så har Försvarsmakten i ett högt tempo monterats ned och stora delar har helt avvecklats. När detta beslut fattades ansåg man att det inte längre fanns något militärt hot mot Sverige.

På grund av detta beslut består en stor del av Försvarsmakten i dag av förbandstyper i singular med mycket begränsad förmåga att verka över mer än en mindre geografisk yta i händelse av kris eller krig. När den sittande regeringen tillträdde efter valet 2006 trodde många att säkerhets- och försvarspolitiken skulle ses över och förstärkas. Resultatet visar nu tydligt att så blev inte fallet. Försvars- och säkerhetspolitiken har till synes hamnat än längre ner på den politiska agendan. Detta trots att det nu återigen byggs upp en avsevärd militär kapacitet i Östersjöområdet där det satsas enorma summor på militär uppbyggnad och upprustning samtidigt som sociala områden som vård, skola och omsorg får stå tillbaka.

ÖB har den senaste tiden tydligt påvisat att Försvarsmakten måste tillföras ytterligare medel ur statsbudgeten för att ens kunna bibehålla den nuvarande mycket begränsade insatsorganisationen bortom 2015. Regeringen har tyvärr uppvisat ett stort ointresse i denna för Sverige mycket viktiga fråga. ÖB har i samband med detta även påpekat att den omdebatterade uppgraderingen av JAS 39 Gripen inte kan genomföras inom nuvarande ekonomiska ram utan att det kommer att medföra stora konsekvenser för Försvarsmakten, där avveckling av försvarsgrenar skulle kunna bli en tvungen åtgärd för att hålla sig inom nuvarande budgetram.

Det svenska försvarsanslaget är idag det lägsta i Norden med 1,15% av BNP och har kontinuerligt sjunkit sedan 80-talet. Detta är en konsekvens av att inga ekonomiska satsningar har gjorts inom politikområdet samt att anslaget inte har kompenserats fullt ut för ökade kostnader under många år, vilket i praktiken inneburit en anslagsminskning sett över tiden. Detta exemplifieras av att materielanslaget i praktiken halverats sedan 2006.

Försvar- och säkerhetspolitik kräver ett kontinuerligt handfast ledarskap som inte enbart gömmer sig bakom framtida utredningar. Omvärldsläget i stort, och militär kapacitetsuppbyggnad i vårt närområde måste analyseras löpande och generera justeringar av den förda säkerhetspolitiken, och i förlängningen även av försvarsanslaget.

Vi anser att regeringen nu måste ta sitt ansvar för Sveriges säkerhet inte bara i teorin, utan även i praktiken. Regeringen måste således tillföra Försvarsmakten de ekonomiska medel som krävs, och som ÖB tydligt påpekat, för att kunna upprätthålla en acceptabel försvarsförmåga.

Vi anser dessutom att frågan om ett NATO-medlemskap måste lyftas till debatt och att en luftförsvarsutredning för perioden 2020-2040 måste genomföras till skillnad från den nu planerade som endast avser att behandla tiden bortom 2040.


Chefsingenjören, driver försvarsbloggen http://chefsingenjoren.blogspot.se/
Cynisk, driver försvarsbloggen http://cynismer.blogspot.se/
Hans Jakobsson, driver den militärhistoriska bloggen http://hjak.se
J.K Nilsson, driver försvarsbloggen http://insatsen.blogspot.se/
Kaj Karlsson, författare och bloggare http://www.aldabergr.se
Lars Gyllenhaal, författare och bloggare: http://larsgyllenhaal.blogspot.se/
Lars Wilderäng, författare och bloggare http://cornucopia.cornubot.se/
Morgonsur, driver bloggen http://morgonsur.wordpress.com/
Observationsplatsen, driver försvarsupplysningsbloggen http://oplatsen.wordpress.com/
Signatory, driver bloggen Gripen News http://gripennewsthread.blogspot.se/
Skipper, driver försvarsbloggen http://navyskipper.blogspot.se/
Wiseman, driver försvarsbloggen http://wisemanswisdoms.blogspot.se/

För att påvisa för regering, riksdag, försvarsutskott och försvarsberedning att det är hög tid att ta frågor rörande säkerhets- och försvarspolitik på allvar så vill vi även tipsa dig som läsare om möjligheten att skriva under detta upprop: http://upprop.nu/IALB i syfte att visa ditt stöd för dessa viktiga frågor. Skribenterna ovan har ingen koppling till det länkade uppropet.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

My Epic Friend

Karl-Gunnar behind the wheel. That tyre by my thumb has been out there since the WWII patrols. Photos of WWII vehicle wrecks on the following pages.

My friend and co-author Karl-Gunnar Norén who this April with UK and US friends in 1943-dated Jeeps reenacted the patrols of the Long Range Desert Group is featured in the British Classic & Sports Car August issue in a 5-page story described on the cover as a "2300-mile Sahara epic".

The article "Arabian Knights" states that the trip in Egypt was "the ultimate off-roading adventure". I find it hard to disagree. But is it OK to do a trip like this, in these for Egypt dramatic times? I would say yes, as I believe that the trip showed that it is still very possible to visit Egypt - and the country certainly needs tourism for its economy, now more than ever.

If you have not seen the Youtube-clip from the epic trip, here it is.

Monday, July 30, 2012

British Army Swede Missed By Vatican

Yesterday I got a sad tiding about Lars Rooth, one of the Swedes who during WWII voluntarily joined the British and who is featured on several pages in Swedes at War. My namesake passed away on July 21.

Lars Rooth was most helpful to me even though he probably did not like remembering his wartime days. He served in the British Intelligence Corps (the only Swede in that branch) and the unique British 79th Armoured Division, full of very specialized tanks, and then went on to serve the Vatican as a very radio savvy priest, becoming a friend of the former pope, John Paul II.

In fact, the Vatican has issued this news article about the death of Lars Rooth.

As the Swedish media is still mostly on holiday, his death has yet to be reported by Swedish newspapers.

Lars Rooth died 90 years old in Uppsala, and will be buried there on August 22.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Photos From Coming Stalingrad Movie

Fedor Bondarchuk directed "The Ninth Company", about an airborne company during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

As I have said before, one of the most well-made modern Russian war movies is "The Ninth Company" directed by Fedor Bondarchuk. Now, new photos have just been released from his coming "Stalingrad".

I find it rather fitting that Thomas Kretschmann, one of the Germans from the 1993 German "Stalingrad", partly filmed up here in the Arctic, is also part of the new cast. You may also remember him as the SS-general Hermann Fegelein in the movie "Downfall" ("Der Untergang").

The new "Stalingrad" will be in 3D too, something I personally find unimportant, but hey - it may make some younger people more interested.

Considering the director, the subject and the photos it ought to be well worth watching. I gather it will be released next fall.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stalingrad Swede Alive

Today it is exactly seventy years since Hitler issued one of his most fateful directives, the one to attack Stalingrad. "The early destruction of the city of Stalingrad is especially important", to quote Hitler´s directive.

There is a special ring to the name of Stalingrad. I reckon this was true even before the name became synonymous wíth one of the bloodiest battles of mankind. I recently learnt that the only Swede known to have fought in Stalingrad, Oskar Friberg from Estonia, is still alive. I mention him in Swedes at War in the chapter "Stalin´s Swedish Soldiers" as he was one of them, he had been enlisted into the Red Army.

Sadly, but understandably, he is not that keen to talk about the subject. However, I have seen the documents proving that he was there, thanks to a relative of his in Sweden.

Amazingly, the never issued "Stalingrad has been taken"-poster that I have blogged about earlier seems to have been made by a Russian living in Norway during the war (see the first comment under that post). Who knows more about him and his fate?

Swedish readers of this blog post can take note that Oskar Friberg is not mentioned in the Swedish editions of Swedes at War, as I was not aware of him when those were written. The English version of the book is the most comprehensive one.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gebirgsjägers, Monty and Gebirgsmarine

Amazing what you can find on the surface in Arctic Norway, a Gebirgsjäger´s personal ice pick. Karl-Gunnar found it "just like that" walking in a Wehrmacht dumping area.

This year´s WWII in the Arctic summer expedition largely followed the route of last year´s trip, but we went higher up in the mountains, and consequently got to see more.

Like last year we this year had the privelege of having a desert war expert among us, Karl-Gunnar Norén. This may sound odd but Karl-Gunnar has an interest in the Arctic too, having been to Arctic Russia´s battlefields with me. And as for me, aside from a strong interest in the Arctic I have always had an interest in the special forces of the desert war, especially the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). Thus it was only a matter of time before we teamed up to write a book about the "Ghost patrol".

This year´s trip started off with Karl-Gunnar immediately walking into a Gebirgsjäger ice pick, just lying about on the surface. Nobody in our Arctic fellowship, now 8 men strong, had so far discovered such an artifact...

The Opel Olympia staff car in dunkelgelb is still there in 2012, but aside from the main body very little remains.

We revisited the Wehrmacht staff car in the stream, and by standing in the not exactly lukewarm stream I was able to take the new photo above.

The ice pick was a nice discovery, but then I made a pretty weird one myself by finding a British WWII "flimsy" petrol can. A type Karl-Gunnar had seen a lot of in Egypt in April while searching for traces of the LRDG. How come a flimsy ended up there? Either the Germans took it there with some captured British vehicle from Dunkirk, or the British or Norwegians did in 1945 or soon after.

German pressure cooker in Norwegian stream.

Moving on into another valley not that far from Sweden´s northernmost point we found i.a. a Wehrmacht pressure cooker in a stream. The cooker is of the same type as the one in the Björnfjell area. Not far from it is a water tower built for the Germans by some local firm and reportedly built with some conscious flaws. But it is still standing.

One of the best then-and-now experiences was finding this German shelter, just as the ones pictured by a British war artist.

Just barely still standing was a shelter of the same type depicted by a British war artist. Great of Simon Orchard to find the painting and good that we together could locate one of the houses, possibly the last one standing and very hard to spot from just ten metres away.

One of the most intact German mountain positions around, with Karl-Gunnar in the door. Note the amount of snow although it is July 8.

Then we went up to some of the top positions and saw there was more snow up in the mountains than can be expected in July. It was rather nice to nevertheless discover some positions we had never seen before. We had been in that valley before but had somehow missed a number of positions. Well, perhaps not that strange considering they were meant to be hard to find.

The remoteness of the area also means that most, if not all, WWII artifacts that we had seen on previous trips were still there in the open, or inside shelters. On this trip we came across two primus stoves marked RAD = Reichsarbeitsdienst. I know for sure the RAD built a hangar in Tromsö, so perhaps they also worked up here? In some cases, as with remains of uniform garments out in the open, we moved artifacts to inside the shelters, so that they may be preserved longer.

The remains of an early model gas mask, from 1930, after 67 years in the open. However, for most of the time it is covered by snow.

Metal case for 98k rifle cleaning kit, after 67 years on a rock.

Name plate on ski identifying the owner as Obg = Obergefreiter Vasold. What happened to him?

Inside the remains of an anorak among the rocks there was this label, Johann clearly belonged to GJR 137 but his last name is hard to tell. I can´t see what it says, can you?

This seems to be a very elaborate Wehrmacht toilet, or could it be something else?

Moving down from the mountains we again met our friend in the Tamok valley with several WWII artifacts. According to the previous owner of this sledge it once transported the wounded commando hero Jan Baalsrud, who i.a. was awarded an MBE.

Sweden´smajor expert on the British Army in North Africa, Karl-Gunnar Norén, standing on the spot where Montgomery stood by the Rundhaug hotel, well above the polar circle.

As tradition has it we then visited the Troms Defence Museum in Setermoen and got to see a new vehicle very much connected to Sweden during WWII, a Volvo issued to the Norwegian "police troops" that were trained in Sweden 1943-45.

This year we finally took the time to climb the Reinnesfjellet mountain, where U-boat crews have left their mark, here stones commemorating the U-657. It is amazing that the stones are still there, but there are also some other "tags" up there of more recent vintage.

Exhibits in the Abisko museum. This German helmet was found in the 1970s in an Abisko mouintain pass, well inside Sweden. It is a mystery how it got there. Just to the left of it is a rather special iron cross.

The last museum we visited was on the road back to Luleå, the Abisko Border Defence Museum. It is located in Swedish Abisko but has several WWII artifacts as the battle for Narvik on several occasions "spilled over" into Sweden.

Personally, the three top highlights of the trip was being in Lyngen again, our fabulous stay at the former headquarters of the 20th Mountain Army (Gebirgs-AOK), Rundhaug gjestegård in Rundhaug (very intact and with some remains from 20 Gebirgs-AOK) and finally standing by the stones from the crew of U-657.

Speaking of U-boats, I wonder if not the "Baltic Sea UFO" (USO would be more correct, S = Unidentified Submerged Object) currently being investigated by a Swedish "X-team" turns out to be some kind of German anti-submarine installation? Or might it be something from the 1950s Cold War?

If you plan to visit both the Narvik area and WWII sights above it, like the Troms Defence Museum, the Tromsö War Museum or the Tirpitz Museum by Alta
I can think of no better - yet still affordable - place to stay than Rundhaug gjestegard, i.e. the former HQ of 20 Gebirgs-AOK and also the place where Kaiser Wilhelm and General Montgomery stayed when they came to the area.

UPDATE 23 July: The last name of the GJR 137 Gebirgsjäger was most probably Entsellner, writes a friend in Germany. Thanks for the help.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stauffenberg On My Mind

Stauffenberg's grandson Philipp von Schulthess plays a minor part in the most recent movie about operation Valkyrie. This is an interview with him not on the "Valkyrie" DVD.

Today it is the 20th of July and I am thinking a bit extra of the 1944 bomb plot to kill Hitler on that date, for two reasons.

First, I recently read a new and riveting autobiography by one of the officer conspirators against Hitler, Knight's Cross holder Baron Rudolf-Christoph von Gersdorff. I learnt a great deal from it both about the German officer corps (especially from the cavalry) and the fighting on the Ostfront and in Normandy. In English it is entitled Soldier in the Downfall. I have by now read many books by German veterans and can say that this one ranks as my all time favourite German memoir alongside Black Edelweiss and A Mind in Prison.

Secondly, the recent bomb against the Syrian leadership made me think a lot about "Syria's Stauffenberg". I wonder what his fate will be?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Swedish Military Vehicle Museum

A German-designed Swedish m/38 tank with a Czech-designed m/37 in the background. Tempo Vidal grille far right.

A few weeks ago I finally got to visit Arsenalen, the new national Swedish military vehicle museum. It is not as good as Bovington (the British tank museum), but is certainly worth a visit if you are in the Stockholm area.

The museum is focused on armour somehow connected to Sweden, from WWI to the present day, but also has some really interesting "soft skins", such as a German Tempo Vidal G 1200, which for some strange reason was purchased by the Swedish Army.

The influence of German design in early Swedish tanks is apparent, the reason is very simple: the main tank supplier was initially a German plant on Swedish soil, Landsverk. For instance, the above pictured Landsverk m/38 was virtually the same vehicle that in Hungary was known as the Toldi. Interestingly, the only two surviving Toldis are in Russia.

A very rare Landsverk AA-tank, based on the Anti that served Finland and Hungary (as Nimrod) in WWII.

A US-made M8 armoured car, one of four captured by the Swedish Army in Congo.

One of the most exotic vehicles in Arsenalen is the captured M8 Greyhound, once used by the Katanga Province Gendarmerie and then by Swedish UN troops in Congo in the early 1960s.

The museum also features some large dioramas with real vehicles, such as this one with a Hetzer:

I reckon this illustrates the end of the Third Reich quite well. But the Hetzer is rather clean...

In the smaller rooms there are many small dioramas and don't miss the upper floor scale models.

Foreign Legion Viking Record

Henrik Angell from Norway joined the French Foreign Legion and fought against the WWI German Army and early Red Army.

Thanks to Henrik L, a fellow Swedish armoured troops cadet in 1989, I recently became aware of a very special Norwegian colonel who volunteered for France in WWI and served her as a 1st lieutenant (was that also his last French rank?).

His name was Henrik Angell and he survived fighting the WWI German Army but not the combat in the Arctic during the Russian Civil War. The above photo of Angell in a 1918 Swedish weekly paper was found by Henrik and states that Angell is on his way to the Murman-front, i.e. Murmansk.

I reckon Agnell must be the oldest Scandinavian volunteer in the French Foreign legion. He was 63 when he joined!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Third Reich Comics in Swedish Book

A page about a Afrika Korps soldier's survival ordeal in the desert from the Third Reich comic book "Bilderbogen vom Kriege".

I had no idea there were comics in the Third Reich until I found Swedish comics historian Fredrik Strömberg's book Comic Art Propaganda. Nor did I know that the SS in its journal Das Schwarze Korps attacked Superman in 1940.

In Comic Art Propaganda you will find some fantastic images from the Third Reich comic book Bilderbogen vom Kriege (Picture Stories from the War) and the Superman article in Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Corps) and many, many examples of comic art used as propaganda until the present day. The author Fredrik Strömberg has put together an impressive collection, albeit not only related to war and sometimes he uses the term propaganda a bit too generously in my opinion.

Strömberg provides several gems of information about American comics in WWII and during the classic Cold War period. Sadly, there is little in his book about Soviet and Russian comic art. Thus the general impression of the Cold War era that one gets is rather one-sided (very common, but I do not think that is a good excuse). I have in my collection even a quite recent Russian election poster using comic art.

There is a German website with some other samples from Bilderbogen vom Kriege.

Friday, June 22, 2012

WWII Special Forces Memorial in Sweden

The OSS NORSO Group memorial in Lien as it is today. PHOTO: Mats Hurtig

The only memorial in Sweden to the memory of a WWII Allied special forces unit has just been refurbished. The background to this unique place is explained in this previous post.

Lien is a tiny place, but look on the map for Krokom, the main town in the municipality, and you will find the area. I reckon that still today, if you ask around in Lien, you will find one or two people who as kids experienced the dramatic day when foreign paratroopers landed. At first they did not know if they were German or Allied soldiers...

PHOTO: Mats Hurtig.

Thank you, Mats Hurtig from Krokom, for contributing these photos!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Swedish and Swiss Schwimmwagens

This Schwimmwagen-video comes from my former homeland Switzerland.

One of the most magnificently restored Schwimmwagens is to be found in the Swedish Military Vehicle Museum Arsenalen, not that far from Stockholm.

Even if you do not speak a word of Swedish you will want to see this recent article about the Schwimmwagen in Arsenalen, because the online article contains an exclusive video of it.

For photographs of the same vehicle from all angles, check out this photo gallery.

Now, if you want to see more Schwimmwagens I can only say: do not miss the Swiss Schwimmwagen-site.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Helpful Heroes

Gunnar Sønsteby DSO, Norway's most highly decorated warrior, has just passed away. He helped me with one of my books. Here he is portrayed in central Oslo. I took this photo last winter.

Arne Pettersson, standing to the right, who was both in Finland and Norway during WWII, has also just passed away. He helped me with several of my books. Here he is in 1941 with his typical smile and his best friend, Onni Niskanen.

Norway has just lost its most highly decorated warrior, Gunnar Sønsteby DSO. Sweden too has just lost a special soldier, Arne Pettersson. I had the privilege of meeting both and they both will continue to inspire me.

I got to know Arne Pettersson thanks to my parents, who lived close to him. He was a very warm, social person but it took me several years to understand just how experienced he was, both as an officer and an athlete. Partly because he had experienced so much, partly because he was a humble man. In Finland he served as a volunteer platoon commander on the Hangö front. Back in Sweden he commanded a ranger platoon on the Norwegian border and on several occasions performed recon missions inside Norway, i.e. spying on the German troops in Norway that Gunnar Sønsteby fought against.

Gunnar Sønsteby I met only once, at the funeral of our common friend, the Swedish SOE operator Allan Mann. But he made a very strong impression on me and later he helped me over the phone. I wrote a chapter about his wartime outfit, the SOE Linge Company and its modern heirs, in my book Elitförband i Norden ("Nordic Elite Units", a book that is yet to be translated). Arne Pettersson also contributed to that book.

When I think about people that have motivated me and that I feel strongly about, I think about these men. Their generosity, not least towards me personally, I will never forget. Their personal courage are an example for generations to come.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Ghost Patrol

The first public presentation of the cover for "Ghost Patrol" is part of this short film.

I am currently writing three books - but thankfully I am writing two of them together with trusty friends, one of them being Karl-Gunnar Norén, who just two weeks ago returned from the above adventure in the Egyptian desert.

The subject matter of the book I am writing with Karl-Gunnar is the Long Range Desert Group, amazing pioneers not only in long range desert patrols but also in a bunch of other fields as well. Aside from the history of the unit we cover its postwar impact and not least the expedition some weeks ago that i.a. resulted in the discovery of a previously unknown LRDG vehicle still out there in the desert...

Many thanks to Jack Valenti of the LRDG Preservation Society for several valuable wartime images for the coming book, especially for the front cover photo and the portrait of Bill "Swede" Anderson, whom I corresponded with in the 1980s. Yes, of course the LRDG had a Swedish connection!

The book will be out in October/November and the title Spökpatrullen translates as "The Ghost Patrol". Hopefully, it later can be translated into English.

Thanks dad, for making the above Youtube film.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Narvik On My Mind

Swedish volunteer Jan Danielsen back in Narvik two years ago, with local reenactor John K. Johnsen. Jan wore the same uniform in 1940.

Today I am preparing for this Sunday's speech at the Defence Museum in Boden about Jan Danielsen, one of a dozen Swedish volunteers who fought at Narvik in Norwegian or French uniform.

All in all some 300 Swedes went over to Norway in 1940, all to join the Norwegian Army and none to fight for Germany. There would have been many more if the Swedish government had not suppressed this volunteer movement. There were hundreds, if not some thousands, in the SFK, the just disbanded Swedish Volunteer Corps for Finland that Jan had also been in, that were eager to also fight for Norway. But the Swedish government virtually stopped this from happening.

I just spoke to Jan a few moments ago. This is something I really appreciate - because not only is he the last surviving Swedish volunteer, he is simply a wonderful person that inspires me with his vitality and ideas. And he is soon 95.

Thanks to veterans like Jan I much better understand how rich life is with possibilities and how very small most of my "problems" are. Therefore I am currently writing a book about Jan, I have worked on it for two years now alongside other projects. On Sunday, in Boden, I will provide more than a glimpse into this project.

I am also, as always, very eager to do at least a few days of hiking around Narvik this summer and will then also for the first time visit the brand new book shop of my friend Trond Kristiansen. I can see from the photos he just sent me (below, with permission) that he even has managed to find some older Narvik books that I do not yet have!

The book shop is not in central Narvik but in the southern outskirts of Narvik in an area called Ankenes. For more info check out Trond's website. I have previously written about one of the latest books published by Trond, Slaget om Narvik, Sydfronten, that is simply essential for hiking in the WWII history of Narvik.