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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maggie Gyllenhaal and the Beetles

Maggie Gyllenhaal and a whole lot of these will be on TV tonight. PHOTO: J.M. Garg.

Tonight my famous distant cousin Maggie will be in the PBS TV show "Finding Your Roots". I am curious about the end result.

What I did was to provide the connection with the curator of the Leonard Gyllenhaal insect collection. This collection is well-known among Swedish Gyllenhaals but our American relatives seem to have mixed up beetles with butterflies. No big deal, but now this TV show will surely set the record straight once and for all. Leonard Gyllenhaal was a cavalry officer but his true passion was not battles, nor butterflies, but beetles.

I know from the net that the beetle story will be in the actual show. What I am curious about is if they will also mention our common forefather Nils, who probably saw more battles than beetles. I also hope they will include Maggie's grandfather Hugh, who was a US cavalry officer under Patton from France to Germany. I sure would have liked to have met him but was too late in that ambition. What I have learnt about him from correspondence is in Swedes at War.

Well, I reckon several US relatives will see this blog post so let me say how much I look forward to returning to the United States some day. It has been twelve years since my dad and I came over on our little tour. We then had the good fortune to be able to meet relatives both in Pennsylvania and California, including Maggie (on stage too, a strong performance). Take care and hope to see many of you in a not too distant future. Also, remember that you are most welcome over here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Narvik Helmet Saved in Luleå

This French helmet from Norway, probably Narvik, was about to be melted down in Luleå, Sweden.

I visited the owner of this helmet during the weekend. It was about to be melted down in the steel plant in Luleå some year after the war but was saved by my friend.

It had no insignia when he saved it from the fire. The Foreign Legion badge he added after a trip to Paris. I wonder, might it as well originally have had the "RF" insignia? But I suppose there is no doubt it really belonged to a legionnaire if the chasseurs alpins wore no helmets while in Norway. Does someone out there know?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nordland Panther in New Swedish Book

The cover of the new book for those with a special interest in the Panther tank.

The Swedish publishers Canfora have a special, and very heavy, corner in military history: books about WWII armour. I just got their new book Panther and can just say that I am in awe at the many magnificent photos.

Photographs is what Canfora books are mostly about. Large, high-quality and to a great extent unpublished. Scale models are a big part too, but I think also AFV-buffs not into modelling will appreciate Canfora books.

What I especially liked about Panther was seeing that Panther from "Nordland" and the photographs from the Hungarian battlefields, both from 1945, just after the war and today. Astounding to see the many AFV parts found in recent years, with paint fragments etc.

Overall an amazing book, although the language sometimes could be improved. Looking forward to more Canfora books, hopefully some day also about armour on the Finnish and Norwegian fronts!?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Polish Navy at Narvik in 2010

The best display I have seen I saw at Narvik in 2010 and here it is again!

Two years ago I blogged about the 70th anniversary events in Narvik. Just today Mikael, my friend and travelling companion to Narvik, found a nice video from that day.

The clip shows the most impressive gymnastic abilities of the Polish Navy. Note also their use of the unofficial theme song of our Narvik trips...

BTW I would love to hear more from you Polish visitors of this blog. I can see from the statistics that quite a few people are interested of or have read my book in Polish i.e. Europa Pólnocna 1939-1945 ("Northern Europe 1939-1945"). My questions to you are these:

1. Which Polish town are you writing from?
2. Have you been to Narvik yet?

If you have not been to Narvik yet you might want to click on the words "Poland" and "Narvik" below this post and you'll see all posts about Poland and Narvik that I have written on this blog.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Swedish Contribution to the Falklands War

Sweden's probably most important contribution to the British inventory in the Falklands War: BV 202.

It is now 30 years since the Falklands War of 1982. Sweden played no direct role in this war but three Swedish products were put to good use by the British task force in the war.

I have been unable to find any Youtube-clip of the BV 202 during the war but here is a photograph of some lucky Royal Marines riding a BV towards Port Stanley.

Photos of Swedish Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles during the war exist but none AFAIK showing the British marine shooting his Carl Gustaf against an Argentine war ship. It rather seriously damaged the ship in question. By the way this incident was part of the battle of Grytviken and that place not only sounds Swedish. It indeed got its name from a Swede.

The third contribution was boots and as it happens I was very affected to learn about how appreciated these boots were during that war. So when I became a soldier in 1988 I of course got myself a pair of the same, i.e. a pair of Lundhags. I used them extensively in the army and later on many, many trips to Russia and Norway. It was a sad moment when I had to get a new pair about six years ago. But they had a long and healthy life...