Norwegians & 52nd Dvn Mountain Warfare training Scotland

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Norwegians & 52nd Dvn Mountain Warfare training Scotland

Post  5KOSB researcher on Fri 27 Nov 2009 - 12:47

Re : Norwegian Brigade Officers & 52nd Lowland Division - Mountain Warfare training in Scotland 1942-44 /
Secondment of Norwegian officers to 52nd Division units for 1944-45 European Campaign in Holland & Germany

I have just joined the list. I am based in England.

I am researching the wartime history of the 5th Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers, which as one unit of 155 Brigade, formed part of the Scottish 52nd Lowland (Mountain) Division.

Between 1942 & 1944, the 52nd Lowland Division were posted to the Scottish Highlands to train as a specialist mountain / arctic unit, supposedly for a planned invasion of Norway.

As a result of this training, they were given the unique honour of being permitted to wear the additional blue & white "Mountain" patch on the shoulders of their uniforms and of subsequently being known as the 52nd Lowland (Mountain) Division.

Their intended role as part of a raiding or invasion force for Norway never materialized and in the summer of 1944 they rapidly retrained as an "air-portable" unit intended to land in gliders as part of the second wave of Operation Market Garden (Arnhem), cancelled at the last minute due to the failure of the initial stages of the operation and poor weather conditions. They finally entered the war as part of amphibious landings on the flattest part of the European continent ! They landed at Flushing on Walcheren Island at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary in early November 1944.

Many of the instructors for their Scottish mountain warfare training 1942-44 were drawn from the recently established Norwegian Brigade and many of these Norwegian officers were subsequently seconded to 52nd Division units during the 1944-45 campaign in Holland and Germany.

In the 5th KOSB there were three Norwegian officers who served with the Battalion during this 1944-45 period:

1. Lieut J Raeder
2. Lieut H Meland
3. 2/Lieut V Wickne (Wikne)

On Siri Lawson's superb website which details Norwegian boats that escaped from Norway in WW2, I have located two entries which may possibly relate to two of the above men :

M/S Straumoy Aug 1941 - left Brandasund and arrived Lerwick Sept 2nd. Included amongst the 30 people on board are an Agnar Wikne & Vilmar Wikne

M/B Telma - Oct 1941 - left Solund and ran aground in the Orkneys on Oct 30th, the 11 passengers being safely helped ashore by local people. One of these passengers was a Hans Jacob Meland

I have not been able to trace any further information about Lieutenant Raeder's escape from Norway and arrival in the UK. However I do know that he subsequently married an English lady and I believe settled in the UK after the war.

Interestingly another Norwegian who served with the 4th KOSB (also part of 155 Brigade / 52nd Division), Lars Gjendemsjo, is listed on Siri's website, escaping on board the M/K Rupee from Bremnes and arriving in Lerwick in Feb 1942. Unable to pronounce his surname, he quickly became known to the Jocks simply as "Jimmy". His fellow Norwegian officer in 4th KOSB was Lt. E Roede.

I believe there is a biography of Lars Gjendemsjo, published in Norwegian, in 1975 by Yngvar Holbaek-Hanssen entitled : En stridsmann for det gode: med Lars Gjendemsjø i krig og fred. He was "Mentioned in Despatches" for his actions during the 1944-45 campaign. I believe he passed away a few years ago, as I have seen an obituary in the KOSB Regimental Magazine. I'd be very interested in tracking down a copy of Lars' biography....and finding someone who might be able to translate it !

Lars is also listed on the following website :

where it indicates that 46 Norwegian officers were attached to 52nd Division during the Walcheren landings, 6 as platoon commanders, one of whom was killed in action. Two were awarded the MC and six others, including Lars, were "Mentioned in Despatches".

I also know of a couple of Norwegian books which are listed on the above website which study the activities of the Norwegian Brigade in Scotland during the war. Regrettably I do not read Norwegian. Is there perhaps someone on the list who might have access to these books and might be able to extract any relevant information for me in English ?

Additionally can anyone perhaps help me in finding out more about the Norwegian troops who were involved in the training of the 52nd Division units 1942-44 and in serving with them in 1944-45. I would also be very interested in making contact with any surviving Norwegian Brigade veterans or the families of these men who might and have more information about their wartime experiences, especially if it were with 52nd Lowland (Mountain) Division units, particularly 5th (& 4th) KOSB.

Are there any primary archive sources in Norway or the UK (& any relevant secondary references) where I could find further information on this subject and on these individuals ?

I'd also be very interested in seeing whether it might be possible to track down any further detailed & specific information relating to the three officers who served with the 5th KOSB and indeed, in seeing whether they might still be alive or have surviving family or relatives in Norway (or indeed in the UK or elsewhere).

Any help or assistance that list members might be able to offer would be very gratefully received.

Many thanks in anticipation,

Rod Barron


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Norwegian Bde - 52nd Dvn Mountain Warfare - SOE recruits

Post  5KOSB researcher on Fri 27 Nov 2009 - 14:45

Hello again.

Following my last posting re the Norwegian Brigade & 52nd Lowland Division Mountain warfare training in Scotland 1942-44, and the three Norwegian officers seconded to 5th Battalion KOSB 1944-45, I just ran a speculative search on the National Archives website and discovered that two of the Norwegian names that I listed from Siri Lawson's warsailors site :

- Vilmar Wikne (arrived Shetland on M/S Straumoy - August 1941)
- Hans Jacob Meland (arrived Orkneys on M/B Telma - Oct 1941)

.....are also listed in currently closed wartime SOE Personnel Files in HS9.

However there is some minimal personal information available :

Vilmar Wikne - date of birth is given as 16/04/1913
Hans Jacob Meland (aka Strand aka Ravel) - date of birth given as 21/01/1921

Perhaps these are the two men who later served with 5th would be very interesting if it were possible to confirm this definitively......

Do you know if there are other archival sources re Norwegian SOE recruitment where I might find further information about Wikne & Meland ?

From another source I discovered that of the 530 Norwegian recruits to SOE between 1940 & 1945, some 160 (30%) did not reach the required standard and were subsequently posted back to the UK Norwegian Brigade forces. Perhaps these two were amongst those latter 160 ?

If any list members can help me with this avenue of research, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Many thanks,

Rod Barron

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52ND Lowland

Post  Cutstone on Tue 19 Jan 2010 - 16:07

I just posted a note that could be related to you her:

Have you read the book "Mountain and flood" by Georg Blake - The history of the 52ND (Lowland) Division 1939-1946? Excellent stuff.
In addition "The Covenant" has a lot of good info. It's the regimental journal of the Cameronians (Scottish rifles). I think it was published once a year. I have copies from one from 1987.
If interested I have all the info about Ådnes escape to England.

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Re: Norwegians & 52nd Dvn Mountain Warfare training Scotland

Post  Bjørn on Wed 20 Jan 2010 - 0:54

Thanks for the interesting postings!
I have not been able to identify the mentioned Norwegian officers yet. There were really no serious plans to invade Norway, at least to my knowledge, in the mentioned years 43-44. Could this topic have someting to do with the intelligence play conducted by the British, intended to trick the Germans?

At the highest level, it was decided to educate troops in mountain warfare, and info was "leaked" to the German intelligence, to make the forces here on alert, while the real plan was to invade France indstead.
Only a few below the ranks of General knew this at that time.



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