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.