‘På vakt i Gudbrandsdalen april 1940’ By Arvid Kapelrud

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Jimbo09, Mar 22, 2024.

  1. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    Hello everybody.
    I’m looking for information from a Norwegian book written just after the war which may have mention of my Aunt.
    She was Joan Cole-Hamilton, and she worked in the British Legation team led by Frank Foley of SIS, providing coded radio contact between the British Government and the GHQ of the Norwegian forces throughout the month of April 1940. The author was one of the team providing their protection at the time.
    If any one has a copy perhaps they could look through the book for me.
    The book is called
    ‘På vakt i Gudbrandsdalen april 1940’
    By Arvid Kapelrud
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  2. jwsleser

    jwsleser Well-Known Member

    Good day Jim

    I don't have a copy of the book. The following is from Romerike - Hedemarken - Gudbrandsdalen Romsdalen (2 vols) from the Norwegian officials.

    Bind I, p.131. [my translation, all errors are mine]

    Allied representatives at HOK

    Great Britain and France's unsolicited offer on 9/4 to the Norwegian Government to send aid and the Government's natural acceptance of this had the first visible effect at H.O.K. with the arrival of allied personnel from 13/4.
    From the British Legation in Oslo came legation secretary, former captain in the Army Reserve Frank Edward Foley, legation secretary, former captain in the Navy Reserve, J. B. Newill, legation secretary L. K. Mitchell and Foley's secretary Miss Margaret Reid as well as the radio telegraphers H. C. Edwards and Thomas Murphy. The latter two had with them a short-wave apparatus which could correspond directly with the War Office in London.*
    From Helsinki on 14/4 came the British military attache, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Julian Cowan King-Salter, the French military attache, Major Bertrand Vigne and the French naval attache Commander Captain d'Arzure.
    The French intelligence officer Captain Lucien Thiery came from the French legation in Oslo.
    From the British Legation in Stockholm came the air attache, Wing Commander A. S. W. Dore and the military attache, Captain Robert Readhead.
    The British naval attaché, Admiral Hector Boyes, followed the British minister, Sir Cecil Dormer, who in turn followed the Norwegian government.
    On 17/4 a military mission arrived from Great Britain consisting of Commander Captain C. A. Allen, Major Brown (Tank Corps), Squadron Leader Whitney W. Straight and Navy Lieutenant Cyril Smith.
    All of these personnel were attached to H.O.K. through a liaison group with kaptein L. C. Rolstad as commander.
    On 15/4, the allied officers who had then arrived at H.O.K. called together in Øyer police station, where General Ruge emphasized to them how necessary it was for the British and French governments to quickly understand that the promised help had to come immediately. If you didn't act quickly, help might come too late. The allied representatives also sent urgent telegrams via Vigra broadcast station to London and Paris about the fastest possible shipment of troops, aircraft and weapons to Norway.

    *) The shortwave station proved very useful, especially after the Vigra broadcast station was destroyed by bombing on 18/4.


    Kaptein L.C. Rolstad was the duty officer at the H.O.K. in Oslo when the invasion started.

    You might try to find copies of British Foreign Policy in the Second World War and British Intelligence in the Second World War from the UK official history series. Unfortunately they don't seem to digitized online.

    v/r Jeff
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2024
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  3. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    The beginning of the story I have so far:

    Foley and Reid had transferred from Berlin sept 1939, where he had been SIS head of station, and responsible for helping many thousands of Jews escape.In Oslo, Foley took over responsibility for SIS in all Scandinavia from Lt Cdr Newill who had been in place since January that year.

    On the morning of Tuesday 9th, after the overnight invasion, The Legation personnel split up, with H.M.Minister and his party, and the wireless, following the Norwegian Government to Elverum, while Foley, and several others including my Aunt Joan headed north west towards Åndalsnes seeking transport to the UK.
    When in Åndalsnes, the local Norwegian Military Commander gave them access to Vigra broadcasting Station in Ålesund. The message could only be broadcast, there were no radios available. A message was coded, and sent, and repeated hourly, explaining who they were and requesting a wireless operator and equipment to be sent over. It was picked up by Wick radio, forwarded to Rugby and from there to London. The following morning a reply was received by another station that could receive.

    At that point Norwegian CIC Ruge, hearing that contact had been made, requested that Foley and his team join his HQ, at that time located at Klokkergarden near Øyer. This was now 13 April.

    so far my information comes primarily from
    April 1940 En Krigsdagbok: Rolstad and Reid
    Rowland Kenny Papers
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  4. jwsleser

    jwsleser Well-Known Member

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  5. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    She is the one!

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  6. Wobbler

    Wobbler Well-Known Member

    You could try sending a PM to a Norwegian member here, Niklas Lindqvist, although he hasn’t been active here since December 2020. You never know, though, he may respond to your message and may perchance have a copy of the book you’re after, or know somebody who has it. :)

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  7. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    Jwsleser has pointed me towards a route to buy a copy, so we’ll see how that goes
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  8. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    If the purchase option falls through, it looks like the National Library of Norway have some form of electronic version of the book (see link below).

    If you contact them, give them your story, and explain that you don't (I guess) have a Norwegian IP address, they may (hopefully) help and do a look up for you.

    Kind regards, always,


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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

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  10. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    I tried this, and they could issue a pdf version ( if I remember correctly) but there was a need to get the permission of the Author or his estate, and while they pointed me in the right direction I found it too daunting and didn’t take it further.
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  11. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    These are marvellous - I’ll have to go through them.
    they are very similar in style to the maps shown in the other book I mentioned before ‘April 1940 En Krigsdagbok: Rolstad and Reid‘. I wonder if that’s where they came from
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  12. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

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  13. jwsleser

    jwsleser Well-Known Member

    Vol. 1, Page 131 is the only mention of Foley and his operations in the volumes. Cole-Hamilton is not mentioned at all.

    Romerike Officals.jpg
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  14. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    To continue their story:
    Foley and his group had just arrived at Ruge’s GHQ at Oyer, the team consisting of Frank Foley, Margaret Reid, an Elizabeth Kitson and my aunt Joan Cole-Hamilton. Communications were coded by the three women, taken by dispatch rider to Lillehammer, where they were sent by teleprinter to Vigra Radio. There were no radios as the decision by the government to mobilise came too late and most military kit had been abandoned in Oslo.
    The team was set up in a nearby farm called Vollen gaard. The fighting at this time was near Hamar, but both Lillehamar and Aalesund were being bombed to try to stop the communications. On the night of the 14th a group of Royal Marines landed at Namsos. On the 15th French and British military (King-Salter) attachés arrived and Lt Cdr Newill came back from the Legation party with a radio, another coder, and two radio operators. The radio was set up at Strangstad just east of Tretten. The Luftwaffe were now able to fly low level reconnaissance along the length of Gudbrandsdalen, so the team maintained a readiness for a quick retreat.

    GHQ moved in the night of 21/22 April to Nordrum near Ringebu, Foley’s team to follow the next day. On that day the previous GHQ location was bombed, and early afternoon the Foley group, now including Newill and the radio operators, all packed into five cars driving some distance apart and moved north to Nordrum.

    Later same evening CIC Ruge ordered them to travel further to Høvringen Hotel on the plateau NE of Otta, but this only had a single means of access and was too far from GHQ, so next day they moved back to the valley and further north to join GHQ now at Plassen near Brennhaug. The Foley group were stationed at Vigerust farm near Dovre. this was now 24th April

    more to follow
    All errors are mine, and I apologise for many misspellings of Norwegian place names
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  15. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    I got my copy of the book
    I can see that my aunt Joan is not mentioned by name, but there is good descriptions of the people and places where she was and this will help fill out her story.
    I am translating it slowly!

    Attached Files:

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  16. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    Now to finish Joan’s story
    On the 22nd when GHQ moved to Nordrum, the Germans had moved past Lillehammer, by the night of 22/23 April, the Norwegian and British forces had fallen back to Tretten. The Foley team could hear the German artillery as they worked. By the end of 23rd Norwegian troops had taken a position at Fåvang and the British forces withdrew through them during the night.
    while they were at Vigerust more British troops arrived called ‘Sickle force’ and moved directly to Kvam.
    On the 25th the new GHQ, just 6 km from the Foley Group, was bombed, and Foley decided that the situation was too dangerous, and that Joan and Elizabeth should be moved north to Åndalsnes for repatriation. they travelled early the next morning with Commander Newill and the W/T operator, who were to seek radio batteries. Almost immediately after they left, Foley was also told by General Ruges, that he and the rest of his group should move north to Aandalsnes. The front was now at Kvam. Foley’s team stayed near Vigerust, setting up at Arnegard.
    Meanwhile, in Aandalsnes, Joan and Elizabeth were reunited with another person from the Legation, Rowland Kenney, who had been instrumental in arranging their initial move to Aandalsnes. He had stayed in the town as a British representative, putting the incoming British officers directly in touch with the local Norwegian troops. Meanwhile Aandalsnes was being fire bombed severely, and much had been destroyed. Kenney arranged for passage for himself and the two women and some others on a British ship leaving night of 25/26th. But later that night the embarkation officer told them this was no longer possible. They had to get to Molde for the next possible ship, and they got onto a coast boat that took 8 hours to get them to the north side of Moldefjorden. There they were booked onto a vessel Lochnagar which had arrived with convoy TM1. TM1 convoy was full of equipment and supplies for sickle force, but was unable to unload due to the continual air attacks. Most of the equipment was still on board when the convoy left to go back to Scotland. Lochnagar was due to leave 02:00 Sunday 28th April. However, she stopped at Ålesund to collect other civilians and some wounded for repatriation, and after a full day of being targeted by bombing and strafing, being protected by a single sloop (who’s name I can’t remember) she finally got to sea at 2100 on 28th, arriving Shetland 30th, and Scapa Flow in Orkney 1st May. from there they were flown to Aberdeen, and thence by train to London arriving 1930 on 2nd May. Joan was later awarded the MBE, and the Norwegian Krigsmedalje.
    Meanwhile Foley’s team were still with GHQ until the Sunday when GHQ moved to Hole while the front was at
    Troops would soon be evacuated from Dombås to Aandalsnes. Evening of 29th Foley team moved to Batnfjordsøra near Molde, and they sailed on Ulster Princess 0100 1st May. Most British troops were evacuated by 0200 2nd May. General Ruge travelled same day north to Tromsoe.
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  17. jwsleser

    jwsleser Well-Known Member

    I am glad you were able to obtain the book.

    Lochnagar was a 1,619 ton tanker built in 1906. The escort for TM1/1 was Afridi, Amazon, and Witherington. The Amazon had been converted to a escort vessel before the war (or at its out break) as a far as I can tell. Witherington was still in full destroyer outfit, so I assume that Amazon was the 'sloop'. I haven't found any details of the actions of that specific convoy so that is a guess. Another ship might had joined after the convoy reach Norway.

    Pista! Jeff
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  18. Jimbo09

    Jimbo09 Active Member

    Before the war, Lochnagar had been sailing between Aberdeen and London as passenger/cargo vessel.
    Originally she was commissioned as a ferry between Scotland and Ulster.
    In the first part of the war she had been used as a depot ship, but I’m not sure what she was servicing or where.
    When convoy TM1 was put together she was hurriedly summoned to join the convoy to Norway.

    the three ships you mention were attached to TM1 as convoy protection which, while in the fjord and then standing offshore, were also protected by destroyers Sikh and Mohawk, which had been called down from Narvick. I believe they stayed with TM1 when it sailed back home, but Lochnagar, which stopped in Alesund, consequently became detached from the convoy, and later travelled back unescorted I believe.

    Initially in my head I thought the sloop was Black Swan, but she was in Aandalsnes at the time. I’ll keep looking!
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