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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Never imagined I could end up in a war"

Dan Norrgård fought at Remagen Bridge, here depicted in a US Army painting.

In August 1939, the month that Hitler and Stalin agreed to divide Poland between them, Dan Norrgård joined the crew of the large passenger liner MS Kungsholm. Norrgård had recently left his small village of Skäggsta outside Timrå in north Sweden and to quote him about what he then still thought about his future: "I never imagined I could end up in a war".

But that is precisely what happened to Norrgård and many other Swedish sailors - literally several thousand of them became part of the many convoys that supplied the arms, ammo etc vital for the Allied war effort. What has been far less known, until now, is that many of them instead or also became soldiers, airmen etc in the US Armed Forces (I have focused on the US Army including the USAAF).

As a member of a machine gun platoon, Dan Norrgård was one of the first Allied soldiers to cross the river Rhine, after a bloody fight for Remagen Bridge (official name: Ludendorff Bridge). I portray Norrgård as well as his sailor colleagues Helge O. Persson and Sivert Windh in Svenskar i strid mot Hitler i.e. Swedes In Combat Against Hitler.

In mainstream accounts of Swedish WWII history the many thousand Swedes in Allied units - such as Dan Norrgård - have so far, for some reason, been largely ignored.