Or banana peel. That's right!
The secret air scirmishes of the cold war
Erik Bye -
national icon and teenage spy
Many young Norwegians may not know who Erik Bye (1926-2004) was, and few outside the country know of him. But a poll in 2005 ranked him the third most important Norwegian in the 20th century. It was as a singer, TV personality most knew him as. Especially his big Christmas shows vere legendary. Few knew he was a member of the resistance and the biggest, most secret and important inteligence orgnisation in occupied Norway during the war. He was actually born in Brooklyn, NY, but he grew up in Norway. He had an American passport. His parents ran a boarding house even though his father was really an opera singer. German staff officers soon occupied the boarding house too. He later said: "From that day the occupation became a an issue 24 hours a day for me. After the Germans moved in it was no longer my home. They were under the same roof as us, their smell was in the walls and stairs. We had our own apartment, but we couldn't avoid meeting them and greeting them in a stiff manner. They were on us like lice. ..... I hated those people."
In 1942 when he was sixteen years old Erik was contacted by someone he knew. He was asked to report on anything he could find about about the Germans. His "guests" worked in the office of Josef Terbofen, Hitlers highest representative and de facto dictator of Norway. Later he was called to a meeting wearing a blindfold. The blindfold was removed and he saw that everyone else in the room was wearing a mask. He was asked if he wanted to join a inteligence organisation. The organisation was named XU, maybe short for " unknown (X)" "undercover agent (U)". The organisation was not mentioned in public until 1988 and members were sworn to secrecy until then. Some who had gone undercover and worked for the nazis had gone to jail for treason and said nothing. (to be continued ...)
That sounds as if the most interesting part is still to come. Tell us more, N24.
Inteligence report sendr by a XU-agent to the UK.
Erik Bye started working as a teenager spy. He reported on who their "guests" were. The German officers were so high ranking XU could tell just by their name and rank what units were probably in the country. He also reported on telegraph lines and other military infrastructure. The teenager also has a talent for drawing. He was tasked with forging official papers and ID cards using the right type of paper, rubber stamps and a steady hand. As an old man he claimed he could still copy the signatures of major nazi police officers. Erik even took the risk of hiding weapons for the resistance in his room. He figured it was safer so close to the enemy leaders.
After a couple of years he got a message telling him to love the guns out of there quickly. He packed his backpack and a bag full of guns and was just finished when his father suddenly came into the room. Erik's father never entered his son's room without knocking, and the boy saw his father was upset. The man looked at the luggage om the floor and asked what he was doing. "I'm going hiking" lied Erik. His father wasn't convinced, so Erik tried a bluff: "If you don't belive me you can look for yourself", hoping he was to polite to actually do it. But his father opened the backpack and imediately saw a stengun submachinegun. The father turned white. How could he be so stupid? How could he, just a boy, take such silly risks! It was the most important and emotional conversation father and son ever had, and it was all said in whispers. The enemy was next door. "It's all going out of here today anyway" argued Erik. "Don't be silly, boy. The Germans doubled their security today. There are more check-points." Erik knew, but he has a solution. He would follow some of the German officers living there as they walked to HQ, practicing his German talking to them. No-one would stop them. His father was about to leave, whispering "Don't be stupid, boy". But he stopped, turned and asked: "How do these things work, anyway?" pointing at the stengun. So the two on them ended up on the floor og Erik's room, taking the gun apart and whispering instructions.
Later, in the last year of the war, Erik had to flee to neutral Sweden. He was in too much fanget to continue. We don't know a lot of details, but like many others he walked through the forrest towards the border. At one point a German patrol was getting close to where he was hiding, finger on the trigger of his submachinegun and ready to open fire. But luckily the patrol turned a short distance from him and walked away. The rest of the war he served in the Swedish-trained "police troops".
Later in life he felt a strong connection to child soldiers he saw on the news and his travels. Erik Bye said he has been in situations as a boy where he could have killed, and he has the state of mind to become killer too.
He only talked about his war experiences near the end of his life and with great humility. Dispite being one of the most famous Norwegian for decades, few know what he was involved with. But in one of his poems he wrote:
"And who has said you're the one who's supposed to live, my friend?"
Thanks for that.
Phantom Fighters - 1950's Green Berets
This is an early documentary on US Army Special Forces ("Green Berets"). This may be one of the first times the unit is mentioned in public. It shows US SF soldiers in the 1950's Germany training mountain and winter operations. The legendary Finnish special forces officer Lauri Thörni can be seen with the name Thorne on his uniform, but I very much doubt it when the movie claims it's him narrating later on.
I'm listening to th eBBC podcast "Desert island disc" and the episode where the famous historian Antony Beevor choses his desert island songs. Beevor has sold millions of Books like "Stalingrad", "Berlin. Downfall 1945". In the program he speaks of his parents' war. His father was in the SOE, working in Portugal and Italy. John (Jack) Beevor was in fact SOE station chief in Lisabon.
So was his mother who grew up in Italy. None other than Ian Fleming himself wanted to parachute her into Italy, but it wasn't possible because she was pregnant with Antony's older brother at the time.
Here's quite a find!
This is Ian Fleming's cerification (what's the right term?) from vice admiral Godfrey saying commander Fleming was working for him in Naval Inteligence during WWII.
"So was his wifw mother who grew up in Italy. None other than Ian Fleming himself wanted to parachute her into Italy, but it wasn't possible because she was pregnant with Antony's older brother at the time."
Why? I know IF is seen as a bit of a womanizer, but what kind of a devilish plot would involve dropping pregnant women on nazis sitting in trattorias?
The sentences should've been: "So was Antony's mother, who grew up in Italy." Fleming wanted to drop her into the district of Italy where she grew up because she knew the area and dialect perfectly. The plan was stopped because she was pregnant.
Many of us have heard of Operation Mincemeat, a secret and imaginative operation in WWII that came from Ian Fleming's fertile brain. The western allies had conquered north Africa and next they were going to attack Italy. Unfortunately this was the obvious thing to do and the German forces were waiting for them there. The allies needed to trick the Germans into beliving the attack was coming in Greece. Ian Fleming wrote a list of ideas for secret operations, including "not a very nice one" for this exact problem. Let a corpse in staff officer uniform and a suitcase attached to his wrist float on shore in nazi-friendly Portugal. The suitcase would contain fake documents "proving" the upcoming invasion would come in Greece. It's an incredible story, Ben MacIntyre has written a fabelous book about it.
Now there's also a movie about it, based on MacIntyre's book. There is also a 1956 movie titled "The man who never was". The new movie is titled "Operation Mincemeat". It stars Colin Firth, Mathew MacFadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Simaon Russel Beale (Churchill), Jason Isacs (admiral Godfrey "M") and South African actor Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming. The movie is on BAFTA's longlist for "Outstanding British film".
IMDB entry; Operation Mincemeat (2021) - IMDb
Trailer: OPERATION MINCEMEAT Trailer (2021) - YouTube
Promo photo (Ian Fleming on the far left).
Having read the book (and several others on the subject), I am very much looking forward to seeing the film. I recently saw quite a long preview of it and it looks very good, except for the portrayal of Churchill. Everything looks great except him.
Here's a promo from the Norwegian armed forces featuring the navy special boat operators. The operators are the "drivers" of the other SF units, specializing on a range of seagoing vessels.
Here are some of the SBS' fast boats. I wouldn't mind seeing vessels like these in a Bond movie!
I saw this ad in a newspaper today. Do you think I should apply? Do I have the intelligence? 😂
THE INTELIGENCE SERVICE
We are seeking people with an interest in China
We hire and educate personell in Chinese starting the autumn of 2022.
Ian Fleming was one of the planners of Operation Tracer. If the Germans took Gibraltar six men would be bricked up inside a cave and observe and report for two years while being trapped in the cave. Here is a video from Stay Behind Cave: The WW2 plan to bury six men alive inside The Rock of Gibraltar - YouTube
This boat looks perfect for a relaxing day of fishing for the whole family: 😀
Very Bond...or maybe very Bond villain.
I knew someone involved in the Norwegian Navy "coastal corvette" project, at the time officially the fastest navy vessel in the world at 60 knots. But he said he had seen a navy SEAL vessel that was faster, but officially didn't exist. I guess he was talking about someting like that boat.
Skjold-class coastal corvette:
It's a "cool" ship.
The American OSS NORSO group's secret mission in Norway during WWII
In WWII the non-communist resistance was mostly backed and often based in the UK. But there was an American unit called the OSS Norwegian Special Operations Group (NORSO) that fought in Norway. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the WWII forerunner of the CIA. The OSS had operational groups (OGs) that were trained in sabotage, guerilla warfare and other more commando type missions. The OGs were trained by and very much in the mould of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).
OSS NORSO was a small unit of about 100 Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans. The unit's activities in Norway were limited in time and geography, This was the only special operation mission the US did in Norway during the war and supposedly the only one were US troops were dropped by parashute to operate on skis during the whole war. It was commanded by William Colby who later became the Director General (leader) of the CIA. While the men were brave and deserve more attention, the communist resistance did more damage to the Germans in Norway in some nights than NORSO did during the entire war. But this part of history is interesting and few even in this country are aware of it.
Here's a link to an organisation honouring their memory: The Norwegian Special Operations (NORSO) Group — TEAM NORSO
This is another article in English on this operation with some photos: Operasjon Rype - Gjefsjøen Fjellgård | Operasjon Rype | William Colby (gjefsjo.no)
Operation Sepals - Secret US-backed bases in neutral Arctic Sweden
While US troops/agents only did one mission in Norway during WWII, the US were involved in special operations based in Sweden. It was organised by the OSS. Some sources saySwedish authorities weren't informed,but I'm listening to an interview where a policman from the area says he drove down to Stocholm to tell the Minister of Defence. The minister said he knew about Sepal and had signed off on it. The inteligence organisation of the Swedish general staff, the C-Byrån (C-bureau), were actively involved. So was the British MI6 and SOE and the Norwegian inteligence organisation XU. The OSS financed the use of four bases in cabins in the far north of Sweden, near the borders of both Norway and Finland. Each cabin had a crew of ten. This is north of the Arctic Circle. The personel in the cabins were all Norwegians. SOE-trained agents from Company Linge, local couriers who crossed the border frequently and troops from the Swedish police troops. The police troops were refugees from Norway trained by the Swedes to help take control of German troops in Norway when the war ended. The "police" troops had units trained in parachuting, mortars and anti-aircraft cannons. The personel on the bases were equiped with Swedish and Finnish weapons. At least that's what a couple of sourses say. But another sourse says the weapons were sent by deplomatic mail from the USA. I can see an American submachinegun in one photo. The men on the Sepal bases were not allowed to contact the civilan population even when they were relatives and they all had cover names. Weapons, food and money was transported by train to the nearest town and on to the Sepal bases by Swedish ski troops and indiginous Sami - One of the cabins had a tunnel hidden under a hatch that went about 30 meters/100 feet into a ravine. This tunnel could be used to escape in case the cavin came under attack.
The bases were active in 1944-45. The goals of Operation Sepals were sabotage, inteligence, weather reports, storing equpment like weapons and helping refugees. Agents walked or skied into occupied Norway for days observing any enemy activity and getting familiar with the terrain before returning to the cabin to report to Britian via radio. Some German instalations in Norway were also blown up, but the sabotage activity was supposed to really kick in in case of major fighting in the region. The weather reports were important. Weather in the far north often impacts weather further south. This is why the Germans had secret weather bases on Svalbard (the last German unit to surrender in WWII because they had trouble finding anyone to surrender to) and an automatic weather station on a Canadian island. The Sepal weather reports also helped allied bombing raids in Norway, including the bombing of the battleship Tirpitz. A final reason for the Sepal Operation was preparing for what could happen after the war. What if the Soviets got that far into Norway fighting the Germans before the Germans surrendered? And what if the Soviets didn't pull out of Norway after the war as tehy had promised to do in the Potsdam treaty? The Sepal bases could be important if this happened.
Once a German patrol got lost in the mountains, walked into Sweden and got dangerously close to one of the Sepals cabins. The Sepals personel ambushed and arrested the German soldier, pretending to be Swedish border guard troops. Then they turned the prisoners over to the real border guards. Everything had to be top secret and much of what we know about Sepals didn't become public until many years after the war.
There were some dogs on the Sepal bases. Is the flag in the background Swedish or Norwegian?
Sami transporting supplies for Sepals
At one time one hundred of these sledges were packed full of weapons for the Sami to transport them to the Sepal bases. The Sami were also used to transport weapons into Norway. They were very usful because they were issued by the Gemans with special border passports alowing them to cross the borders freely. They had herded their reindeer across the Arctic for centuries without bothering with national borders anyway, so it was the most practical way to handle it.
Agents using wild reindeer as a food source.
I can see an American Thompson submachinegun in this photo:
Martial arts training?
The cabins were given Norwegian names as code names, "Måns", "Truls", "Anna" and "Marit". At least some of them were owned by the Swedish Tourist Association an organisation that promotes hiking in the mountains. Normally people can pay a small fee and use the cabins. (There is a simular Norwegian organisation. I was walking between Tourist Association cabins when I once ran into Joakim Rønneberg, the leader of the legendary Vemork sabotage mission). The Sepal cabins are still in use by the Swedish Tourist Association. Here is one of them today:
One of the cabins back during the war. We can see the small wind turbine used to power the generator for the radio,
Supposedly the Sepal agents once burned down a very isolated Norwegian tourist Association cabin. The reason was the cabin was used by German patrols. The Sepal agents returned a long time after and found ten enemy soldiers dead near the ruins of the cabin. The soldiers probably wanted to seek shelter in the cabin in a storm, but only found a ruin.
A program from Sveriges Radio (Swedish Radio) about Operation Sepal. It's mostly in Swedish:
Operation Sepals: CIA i Norrbotten 3 april 2011 - P3 Dokumentär | Sveriges Radio
Erika Wendt was born in Germany in 1917 with the last name Schwarze. During WWII she was the secretaery of the station chief of the Abwehr (German military inteligence) in Stockhom in Sweden. In 1942 she was recruited by the Swedish military inteligence organisation C-bureau. They gave her the code name Uncle
She helped the Swedes get the identities of German agents in Sweden. When she was ordered to return to Germany in 1944 the C-bureau geve her a secret identity in Sweden. She worked as translator under that name and didn't take her real name back until she became a senior citizen.
In 1998 she wrote an autography about her wartime service titled "Code name UNCLE"
Searching German Ranks for Gestapo Agents
Allied intelligence personnel in Oslo, Norway, lead a disguised informant past a row of captured German soldiers, looking for Gestapo officers hidden among the men.
That looks to my eye to be the Finnish flag.
One source claimed there were Sepal bases in Finland too. Since you write Suomi better than me (perkele!), perhaps you can check it for us?
A quick G'le gave me nothing, but one thing I did notice: That second guy from the right is holding a 9.00mm KP/-31 "Suomi" with a 50 round "coffin" magazine.
A couple of sources say Sepal used Swedish and Finnish weapons, another claims they got American guns via diplomatic mail. Based on the photos I'd say both is correct. A photo clearly shows a Thompson SMG.
It could also be a battlefield pick up. Finland sold 3000 M31s to Germany during the war, and they were used on several fronts by German forces.
I tcould be, but several sources say Sepal had Swedish and Finnish weapons. Some of them were from the "police troops" and they had Swedish weapons. Sweden had Soumi SMG's so the Sepal could've gotten it that way.