The Norwegian air force in exile was organized with a training unit in Canada and combat units in Great Britain. Norwegian pilots fled the country and reported for duty. A story of such a flight, the so-called long route via Asia and Africa, is described in the diaries of Kjell Løchen.
The air force training camp was officially opened November 10th 1940. The camp was called ”Little Norway” and was placed in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario. The camp had a crew of approximately 300 men, divided between the Army’s air force and the Navy’s air force. In 1941 these were placed under joint command. The task was to recruit and educate air and ground personnel. After completed training and education in Canada, the Norwegian pilots were transferred to Great Britain for active service in the squadrons.
In May 1941, a holiday and recreational estate for the air force personnel was purchased. It was also placed in Ontario, about 160 kilometers from Toronto, and was of substantial size. After restoring an old timber building, and building of a new one, the estate could house 150 men. It was officially opened by crown princess Märtha 18 January 1942 and was given the name Vesle Skaugum (Little Skaugum).
The archive from the air force’s training camp contains thorough documentation of the activities in the camp. This includes the Expedition Office, the Press Office, the camp commanding officer, the Training Department and Norwegian Training Base.
In the summer of 1940, Lieutenant Commander Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen was appointed leader of the Navy’s air force, and Bjarne Øen for the Army’s air force in Canada. Major Ole Reistad became in charge of the training centre ”Little Norway” in Toronto. The Air Force joint command was established in March 1941 with Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen as the leader. Reistad’s archive includes correspondence, orders, accounts and newspaper clippings from the war years. Øen’s archive contains material on the establishment of the air forces during the war, and photos from the pilot’s lives in Great Britain.
The combat units in Great Britain were organized as squadrons. These were organized under the RAF, and were operational parts of this. Squadron 330 (the first squadron) was established in 1941 with a base on Iceland. Then followed squadron 332 and squadron 333, which were localized at Woodhaven in Scotland. From 333, squadron 334 was separated for missions to Norway and Stockholm. Except from squadron 333, the administrative archives of the other squadrons are for the time being not available for search in the directory. Neither is the archive of the Department of Defense in London.
In the archive of squadron 333 there are several reports from air raides. The following is quoted from a report after Mosquito F7333’s ship reconnoitering trip between Kvitsøy and Lista on May 8 1944 when it came into battle with a German airplane:
”The Mosquito opened fire immediately, and the enemy airplane did the same. The crew members observed several hits in both wings, but they were also hit themselves. The front glass had a direct hit, which made it completely frozen so that the pilot couldn’t see. A direct hit also destroyed the instrument panel, and pilot officer Jensen had several splints in his body (…) Despite the fact that the pilot was badly injured and didn’t have any instruments to guide him, and at the same time couldn’t see through the broken front window, he managed to bring his plane safely back to the home station and landed there. He was immediately taken to the hospital where the doctor removed grenade splints from his chest and a glass splint from his right eye.”
In the 333 squadron’s other material you can find letters, authorization books, order books for flying, logbooks for airplanes and crew, administrative archive and watch journals. Several reports from reconnoitering trips describe battles with enemy airplanes and attacks on submarines. Some reports contain photos from the air raides.
In total 334 Norwegian pilots were killed during the war. In the Armed Forces Military History Department you will find documentation of the air force’s casualties 1940-45. In the Legation in Bern’s archive there is correspondence about missing Norwegian pilots in series D, box 63.
RAFA-1997 Flyvåpnenes felleskommando (casualty lists 1942-1945)