Commemorating war history in London
On Wednesday, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince attended the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Special Operations Executive and the 70th anniversary of the Special Forces Club in London.
Norway has a long history of close ties with England. As part of the events in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Liberation, Crown Prince Haakon was in London on 25 February to honour the veterans for their service during World War II.
The programme began with a luncheon, during which the Crown Prince had the opportunity to meet the Norwegian veterans taking part in the commemoration:
- Joachim Rønneberg – a member of Kompani Linge (Norwegian Independent Company) and best known for leading the operation to destroy the Vemork heavy water production plant in Rjukan.
- August Rathke – head of the youth front of the Communist resistance movement in the Bergen area and later a member of Kompani Linge. He also served as editor of the illegal newspaper Fortroppen.
- Ragnar Leif Ulstein served with Kompani Linge during the landing at Reine in 1941. Beginning in autumn 1944, he led the build-up of the home forces in the Sogn district.
- Richard Zeiner-Henriksen was a member of Milorg, the main resistance movement in Norway, and of Kompani Linge. In the final years of the war he worked for the Special Operations Executive in the Rondane and Dovrefjell area.
- Erling Lorentzen – a member of Kompani Linge and regional head in Hallingdal from 1944.
Both Norway’s Ambassador to the UK Mona Juul and Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide gave speeches during the luncheon.
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a secret British military unit, established on 19 July 1940, for the purpose of planning, leading and conducting underground activity and sabotage missions in occupied Allied countries.
The SOE Norwegian Section recruited its first Norwegian agents in autumn 1940, and at that time established a base on the Shetland islands for conducting operations in Norway.
Special Forces Club
The Special Forces Club (SFC) was founded in 1945 by men and women who had served in the SOE. The aim was to establish a permanent meeting place in London where the veterans could gather in pleasant surroundings.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Crown Prince visited the club building, where he was welcomed by chairman Roger Blundell and secretary Wally Vincent. Following a guided tour, the Crown Prince had the opportunity to meet guests and representatives of the SFC.
The gala dinner marking the anniversary took place in the Natural History Museum on Wednesday evening. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark were also in attendance.
The King and Queen opened the new MUNCH
"I think that I speak for all of us when I say that we have been looking forward to this day! It is finally possible for us to gather together, and soon the great doors will open up a new attraction – not just for our capital city, but for Norway, and for the world," said His Majesty The King.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Estonia.