Saturday, March 18, 2017
Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann Sønsteby DSO was a member of the Norwegian resistance movement during the German occupation of Norway in World War II. He is also known for being the most highly decorated citizen in Norway, including being the only person to have been awarded the War Cross with three swords, Norway's highest military decoration.
Norway's regular armed forces surrendered on 10 June 1940, after two months of fighting, and the country was subsequently occupied by the Germans. Sønsteby then became involved in the underground resistance, both through Milorg and the illegal press. In 1942 he became "Agent 24" in the Special Operations Executive. After saboteur training in England in 1943, he became the contact for all SOE agents in eastern Norway and head of the Norwegian Independent Company 1 group in Oslo. This group performed several spectacular acts of sabotage; among them smuggling out plates for the printing of Norwegian kroner from the Norwegian Central Bank and blowing up the office for Norwegian forced labour, thereby stopping the Nazis' plan of sending young Norwegian men to the Eastern Front.
Operating in occupied territory, and being high on the Gestapo list of wanted men, Sønsteby became a master of disguise.
In 2008 Sønsteby was the first non-American awarded the United States Special Operations Command Medal. Gunnar Sønsteby died May 10, 2012.