During the war, there was formed a rather special
and unique unit, which served with the US Army. This unit, named ”99th
Battalion (separate) was to participate in an upcoming Norwegian campaign.
This is their story….
On the 9th May, 1942, the american
War Department issued an order to the Commanding General, Ground Forces,
”1. It is desired that you take
the necessary steps to organize at the earliest practicable date a battalion
of Norwegian nationals to serve as part of the US Army.
2. This unit will be organized
as an Infantry Battalion. (..)”
All men who were transferred,
or volunteered, to the 99th battalion, had to know how to speak norwegian,
and many originated from the ”norwegian” areas in Minnesota. Only a very
few had actually ever been to Norway, but as many as 950 men of Norwegian
heritage started their basic education at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.
(The original purpose of 99th,
was to participate in ”Operation Plough” – the concept of advanced sabotage
actions in Norway, and men from this unit were the only americans ever
to operate on Norwegian soil during WW 2. That particular operation was
”Operation Rype” in the Tröndelag area. The "Rype" group consisted
of 15 men, and they were transported in two groups. The first group, however,
jumped out over Swedish territory, and got interned for a period.
This operation, main target:
the railway, took place during the autumn of 1944, and consisted of a group
of saboteurs led by Major William Colby. They stayed in the border areas
between Norway and Sweden until the liberation of Norway.
The ”Rype” group is also known
for an incident which took place on the 2nd May, 1945, when they caught
a German patrol consisting of 1 Leutnant with 4 men. The Germans were executed
a few hours later, after having been forced to dig their own graves.)
The 99th Battalion was to consist
of a mixture of infantry,- parachute,- and mountaineer specialists, and
their insignia was a shield with a Viking ship, in the Norwegian national
colors red, white and blue.
After basic training, the battalion
got mountain specialist training at Camp Hale in Colorado, partially by
Norwegian instructors. It is believed from American sources, that this
unit got the best winter warfare education ever given in the US Army.
In 1944, 99th was sent to the
UK, and were to participate in the invasion of France. Shortly, these are
the Battles that they were engaged in: The Normandy Campaign, The North
France Campaign, the Battles at Würzeln / Aachen, and the Battle of
the Bulge. About 300 men were killed or heavily injured, and these were
replaced by new ”norwegians”.
In may 1945, the 99th finally
arrived in Norway, and needless to say, this must have been a very special
moment for the 2nd and 3rd generation Norwegians. They stayed in the Oslo
– Drammen area, and their task was guard duties during the repatriation
of the 375 000 Germans.
In October, they were sent to
the US, and arrived in Boston late that month. However, more than 50 men
came home with a new Norwegian wife. The Battalion was disbanded shortly
In Norway: soldiers of the 99th sending liberated
russian POWs back to soviet
The 99th Battalion (separate)
teoretically belonged to the 474th Infantry Regiment, first being sub coordinated
to 2nd Armored Division, later 30th Infantry Division, XIX corps. (XVIII
Airborne corps from January 1945)
Facts of 99th Battalion (Separate) – US
||Orders given to create the unit
”Formation of a Norwegian unit” by Lt.Col. Goodfellow
||99th get basic training at ”Camp
||Unit deployed to ”Fort Snelling”,
Minnesota, for a short period.
||99th get specialised mountain
training at ”Camp Hale”, Colorado. Many of the instructors are officers
from the Royal Norwegian Army.
||99th get orders to move to New
York by train.
||Unit deployed to ”Camp Shanks”,
New York. Waiting to get shipped to Europe.
||Unit embarks the steamer ”S/S
Mexico”; the ship leaves from Hoboken, N.Y.
||99th Battalion arrives in Scotland,
||99th stay at Perham Downs Camp,
located between Salisbury and Andover.
The time is used for hard
||99th move to Wales, Glenusk
Park Camp. This is close to the small towns of Crickhowell and Abergavenny.
||Group to guard 1. Army HQ, Bristol.
||99th leave by ship, heading
||99th disembark at Omaha Beach.
||Unit is in ”Transit area 3”,
||St. Joseph by Cherbourg
||Hau de Haut
||Exercises in the ”H d H” – area
||Attached to 2. Army Division
||99th are now south of Elbeuf
engaged in heavy combat.
||St. Croix de Martin
||Mechelen (without the A, B and
D companies; these crossed the Willens vaart channel.)
||Wurzeln; Germany. 99th engaged
in heavy fighting
||99th get relieved by 116th and
117th I.R, 30th Division. Losses so far: 28 KIA, 25 WIA and 4 LIA.
||Malmédy. 99th get involved
in the German offensive, the Battle of the Bulge.
Actually, since many of the
men spoke bad english, they were arrested by the Americans who thought
they were Germans.
||Northwest of Malmédy,
the B Company is in the town itself. 99th are ”captured” in Malmédy
for 32 days, surrounded by SS forces.
||Unit leaves Tilff
||Arrive at Berneville
||Unit arrives at Aachen
||99th return to France
||Duclair (by Rouen)
||99th leave for Norway
||99th leave for USA.
||99th arrive in Boston
|The Normandy Campaign
||22.06.44 – 24.07.44
|The North France Campaign
||25.07.44 – 14.09.44
|The Rhine Campaign
||15.09.44 – 16.12.44
|The Ardenne-Alsace Campaign
||17.12.44 – 18.01.45
to veteran Thor Krog telling about the 99th in a radio programme broadcasted
in the US, june 1943!
Real media, From the series
"Spirit of the Vikings"
Individual decorations and medals
Silver Stars: 15
Bronze Stars: 20
Purple Heart: 305
Good Conduct: 763
Combat Infantry Badge: 814
Total time in combat: 101
Killed in action: 52
Wounded in action: 207
Lost in action: 6
by Bjørn Jervås