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

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.