Text Box: Colonel Hansen marching in front of his men on the way up to the Royal Castle in Oslo some time during the summer of 1945.


On the 22nd May 1945 Brigadier General  Owen Summers issued the orders that Task Force “A” be moved to Norway to assist in the de-arming of the 400,000 Wehrmacht soldiers present in Norway.

The Battalion was issued brand new uniforms with the Battalion Badge on one sleeve, and the Regiment Badge on the other.  Very early in the morning of the 30th May the convoy of 13 loaded LST’s and one cargo ship left the port of Le Havre destined for Norway.  The convoy carried the full 474th Infantry Regiment, a total of 3000 men plus vehicles and supplies.

On the 3rd June the Coast of Norway became visible on the horizon.  For many, this would be the first time they could return to their home country since the war had started in 1940.  For others it was the first time in the country their parents left many years ago.  The excitement among the troops was high, and for many it was a very emotional moment.

At noon on the 4th June, the LST’s arrived the city of Drammen to unload parts of the Regiment which was to be stationed there.  The convoy then proceeded to Oslo, where they arrived the next day.  The first night was spent onboard the ships, but most of the soldiers were granted leave to go ashore for a few hours.

The next morning on the 6th June, the Battalion was moved to Camp Smestad in Oslo, which would be their new home during their stay in Oslo.

On the 7th June, King Haakon VII returned to Norway from 5 years in exile.  The 99th Battalion was given the duty to be Honor Guards upon the King’s arrival.  Soldiers of the 99th would be lined up immediately in front of the King for his first speech to the Norwegian people, with the rest guarding the King’s route on his way back to the Royal Castle.

The soldiers of the 99th Battalion were extremely popular with the Norwegian people, and close friendships were bonded during this time.  They were treated like true heroes by the Norwegian people.  It also gave them the chance to visit family and old friends around the country.

The Battalion's main job was to assist in disarming the Wehrmacht and their return to Germany.  But it was also a way for the United States to show the Norwegian people the close cooperation and bonds between the two nations that existed.

The stay in Norway also gave the soldiers of 99th Infantry Battalion a well deserved “vacation” of sorts.  After nearly one full year in the battlefield, the time in Norway allowed them to enjoy life and the new freedom in Europe. Due to their popularity among Norwegians, it gave them plenty of opportunity to socialize and create new lasting friendships.  Many of the soldiers fell in love with a Norwegian girl, and there were quite a few that got married during the stay in Norway.

The 474th Infantry Regiment and the 99th Infantry Battalion stayed in Norway until orders was received in October that all U.S. forces was to be withdrawn.  The full regiment had their last parade in Norway where the King was handed the banner of the 474th Regiment.

The 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) was the last battalion of the regiment to leave Norway on the 17th October when the S/S “BIENVILLE” left Oslo.  The ship arrived Boston on 1st November 1945, and the Battalion’s World War 2 service came to an end.

The 99th was part of the special forces of the US Army in WW II and while in Norway for four and one half months after the German surrender were attached to and part of the 474th Infantry Regiment (Separate) which was part of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Mission to Norway under the command of General Sir Augustus Francis Andrew Nicol THORNE, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.  The 474th was made up by soldiers from the 99th Inf. Bn. (Sep.), the First Special Service Force (FSSF), the First, Third and Forth Ranger Battalions plus the 552nd Anti-Tank Company.


All of these units making up the 474th were and are noted for their extraordinary achievements in many of the battles of WW II.  The 474th’s three battalions were the 1st Battalion from the FSSF , 2nd Battalion from the 1st, 3rd, & 4th Ranger battalions and finally the 99th Inf. Bn. (Sep.).  Hollywood has told the story in popular motion pictures about the achievements of these Rangers and of these FSSF soldiers prior to their forming the 474th Regiment. However because at full strength there were only 1001 99ers in the Norwegian-American Viking Battalion “The men with the Ship on their Shoulder”, their story is far less well known when compared to the story of the many thousands who were in the FSSF of WW II and again the story of the many thousands in WW II’s Ranger battalions. The 99th’s extraordinary story has been unknown and overlooked by both documentary and Hollywood motion picture makers.  We are all aware that Scandinavians and Norwegians in particular think it is very impolite and improper to brag and tell about all the great things you have done and this attitude may also go a long way toward explaining why the 99th’s heroic story is so little known.

Text Box: The stay in Norway also included many “Victory” parades.  In addition to King Haakon VII’s return on 7th June, the Battalion paraded on the 4th July, Allied Forces Day plus numerous other occasions.  Often in front of Royalty or high ranking Generals.
Text Box: During the Spring of 1945 the Battalion received a lot of new mechanized equipment, including the M8 Greyhound.  The M8 was light all wheel drive armored vehicle armed with a 37 mm cannon and a 50 caliber machine gun.  Above and left photos shows a M8 from M (D) Company.
Text Box: “Boys, This Is a —.” The Yank Can’t Find a Word for Jeep in His Norway Guide. (National Geographic Magazine November 1945)
Text Box: Right:  Jarvis Taylor in his uniform sporting the Battalion Viking Ship on the right sleeve.  This photo was taken after his arrival back to the United States.
Text Box: A Shorts Sunderland flying boat of the Norwegian 330 Squadron which operated out of England during the war.  Here photographed after its arrival to Oslo.
Text Box: Jarvis Taylor of D Company, left in front of “his” M8.  On right on the hood of a Jeep overlooking the city of Oslo.
Below Jarvis Taylor is photographed with Medic Anthony Sciacca showing off  part of the stockpiles that the Germans left behind.
Text Box: Norway was full of military equipment that the German occupation force had left behind.  Above is a Junker 52 transport aircraft being examined.
Text Box: Homeward-Bound.  Liberated Russians Get a Gala Send-off from the Yanks in Norway (National Geographic Magazine, November 1945)
Text Box: Pfc Joseph Hoffland of HQ Company photographed at Camp Smestad in Norway
Text Box: The Medical Detachment photographed in Norway.  Notice the Battalion Badges on their right sleeves and the Regiment Badges on the left.
Text Box: King Haakon VII and the Royal Family arrives to Oslo on 7th June 1945.  The little boy with flag is today’s King Harald V.  On the left side of the photographer is parts of the 99th Infantry Battalion lined up as the King’s Honor Guard.  Below photograph the Battalion  can be seen marching past the City Hall  down towards the port area.
Text Box: The document on left, signed by Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V) was awarded to each member of the 99th Infantry Battalion. Below the officers of the Battalion photographed with Crown Prince Olav (front center) during his visit to Camp Smestad .
Text Box: Because the 99th Battalion was a separate unit, it also had its own dentist.  Here is the Battalion dentist, Captain Gustav Svendsen (on right) visiting his Norwegian friend from College, dentist Arthur H. Aarhus (back center) and his family in Sarpsborg.  On left Capt Raymond K. Minge, Battalion Doctor, who accompanied Svendsen on this trip.  On Svendsens arm is the webmasters mother, Elisabeth Wiborg (Aarhus), while Mrs Inger Johanne Aarhus is standing in the front.  99ers were very popular house guests in Norway,.  Photo Courtesy:  Elisabeth Wiborg
Text Box: This interesting and very unique postcard was mailed back to S/Sgt Leonard Berg, Platoon Leader of B (K) Company from Harold D. Hansen, Commander of the Battalion.  Berg was wounded in April 1945, and thus never made it to Norway.  The postcard shows the scene in front of City Hall the moment when King Haakon arrived on 7th June. Hansen has drawn an arrow so Berg can see where the 99th Battalion was lined up as the King’s Honor Guard.  Courtesy:  Robert Daniel Collection.
A larger version of this photo can be seen here.
Text Box: Red Wells (“D”) riding a horse at Camp Smestad.  Photo courtesy:  Sharon Wells Wagner
Text Box: Col Hansen at Camp Smestad.
Text Box: 17th October 1945.  The 99th Battalion’s service in World War 2 comes to an end as they board the S/S “BIENVILLE” heading back to the USA.  Above the S/S “BIENVILLE” is ready to leave the port of Oslo with the Battalion members congregating on the front deck. Below  the soldiers of the 99th are walking up the gangway. On right, shows the crowd of thankful Norwegians that had found their way to the port to wave the Battalion goodbye.  Photo courtesy: Jarvis Taylor
Text Box: While in Norway, many members had 99th Battalion calling cards made.  Above are the cards of Anthony Sciacca and Jarvis Taylor
Text Box: The “Party Boat” on the Oslo Fjord became famous among 99’ers.  Owned by Norwegian friends, and fueled and maintained by the 99th motorpool, it became a social gathering place throughout the summer of 1945.  Photo: Hadley Jensen
Text Box: 30th June 1945 was celebrated in Norway as “Armed Forces Day”.  Here are a couple of  M8’s from HQ Company on their way up in front of the Royal Castle. Above is Albert Smith, Roy Carlson and Harry Olson.  The flowers covering the soldiers and the vehicles were thrown by the Norwegian bystanders.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Jarvis Taylor and Kenneth Raby saying goodbye at Camp Smestad just prior to their departure back to the United States.
Text Box: Members of the 99th Battalion lined up as King Haakon VII’s Honor Guard upon his arrival to Oslo.
Text Box: Bjarne Kvingedal (HQ Comp.) after his arrival to the United States.  Noticed his mismatched uniform and his Ruptured Duck on his chest.  Photo courtesy: Bjarne Kvingedal
Text Box: The battalion commander, Col,. Harold D. Hansen.
Text Box: The 99th Infantry Battalion upon their arrival in Oslo.  Some of the LST’s that took them over from France are visible in background with their bow doors open.
Text Box: Sven Martinsen (HQ Company) in front of one of their Jeeps
Text Box: Company C on their way to Norway on an LST.  Photo: Wilfred Jacobsen
Text Box: The 99th Soccer team played all over the Oslo area and was a popular team to watch for Norwegians fans.  Photo:  Wilfred Jacobsen