NORWAY Sonsteby, Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann

John Robertson

Staff member
Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann
  • UNIT
SN Section SOE
  • RANK
Distinguished Service Order,Silver Star (US),Medal of Freedom with silver palm (US)
Norway 1943-45
born 11.1.1918 Rjukan,Norway
Capt. Philip Hanstens Company,Nordmarka,Oslo 1940
courier for British Intelligence,Sweden October 1941
attached SOE Sweden 1942
Resistance 1942-43
Kompani Linge spring 1943
Chief of Milorg's actiongroup November 1943
"Oslo-gang" 1943-45
aka Kjakan (The Chin) and No 24
Norwegian awards
War Cross with 3 swords (the highest in Norway)
Commander of St Olav
Spouse: Anne-Karin Jarlsby
Children: Marianne Sonsteby, Elisabeth Sonsteby
Died 10.5.2012, Oslo (Aged 94)


Distinguished Service Order : During 1941 and 1942 this Officer was the central control at OSLO of the courier lines to and from STOCKHOLM. The service he rendered in this capacity was of the highest value.

He was brought out to the U.K. via SWEDEN in May 1943 for intensive training. On a sixth sortie, one of the failures entailing the jettisoning of all containers and packages in the North Sea owing to a broken feed pipe, he was dropped back into NORWAY in November, 1943.

On his arrival he took up his former work and also organised and led the "OSLO DETACHMENT OF NORIC" (Norwegian Independent Company). This consisted of U.K. trained officers and men in the OSLO area who planned and took part in various sabotage actions, with or without local trained men.

From May to October 1944, Fenrik Sønsteby took the leading part in the planning of 17 separate actions in the OSLO area. He also advised and collected intelligence in regard to several others. He worked in liaison with the C.O.S. of the Military Organisation and under W/T instructions from LONDON.

His campaign opened with the series of attacks on Labour records and Labour exchanges in and near OSLO. This was followed in July by the capture of 75,000 ration books.

The destruction of records defeated the German intention to mobilise labour and strengthened the resistance of the people generally. The capture of the ration books enabled the Home Front to strike a bargain with the authorities and have a cut in rations cancelled.

The main successful sabotage actions in which Fenrik Sønsteby was personally concerned were:

1) With one other he destroyed the sulphuric acid concentration ovens and storage tanks at LYSAKER Chemical factory. (28.Jun.44).

2) After two unsuccessful attempts, he led a party of four into the main hall of the OSLO TRAMWAY Company's depot at KORSVOLL, captured the Norwegian watchman and kept the bus-cleaners engaged in conversation while the rest of the men laid their charges in the basement where aircraft were under repair. He was the last to leave the premises after releasing the Norwegian guard and clearing out the cleaners. The whole place was under German guard but sentries and patrols were evaded. 36 aircraft were destroyed and 8 badly damaged, together with the instrument shop, spares and tools (12 Aug.44).

3) With two others, he put out of action a 400 h.p. ASEA locomotive, repairs to which had just been completed, at the Railway workshop at SKABO (13 Sep.44). This engine had been damaged by sabotage on the ORKLA THAMSHAVN Railway in November, 1943. The plant was patrolled by five Norwegian guards and two armed guards were in the immediate neighbourhood. An air raid alert immediately prior to the action brought large numbers of N.S. and German police quickly to the scene, but the three got safely away, one with a broken wrist.

4) Again with two others, but this time local unarmed men, he broke into the KONGSBERG Arms Factory and laid explosive charges, which destroyed 4 Bofors guns, one 15-cm field gun, 2 milling machines and the largest boring machine (15. Sep.44). The 50 metres long machine shop was almost completely wrecked. The factory had a guard of over 20 Norwegian Germanske S.S., was constantly patrolled with dogs and was also guarded by land mines. This action has been characterised as one of the moat daring and successful sabotage actions ever carried out in NORWAY.

5) Despite scattered German guards in the OSLO Harbour area, a lorry with Fenrik SØNSTEBY and four other members of the "OSLO DETACHMENT" was driven into the Vacuum Oil Company's storage depot at SØRENGA on 12 Oct.44. By a liberal use of petrol, incendiary bombs and H.E. a large fire was started which destroyed 200,000 litres of lubricating oil and 4,000 litres of special gear oil. The building was badly damaged.

His leadership of the "OSLO DETACHMENT" has been an inspiration to the others, all of whom, some senior to him in rank, have placed themselves voluntarily under his command. All his work has been praised by the H.Q. of the Military Organisation in NORWAY in the highest terms. By his initiative, courage, ability and example he has possibly done more than any other to maintain the morale of resistance and to destroy enemy equipment and material of all kinds.

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