Den Norske Legion / Frw. Legion Norwegen
In 1933, a Norwegian pro-Nazi party was instituted by Vidkun Quisling and was called the "NASJONAL SAMLING" (National Unity). April the 9th 1940, Germany invaded the Norwegian coastlines because Hitler feared that the British fleet would invade Norway's vital strategic seaports and take control of its natural iron resources. During the German occupation of Norway, the pro-Nazi Party under Quisling's leadership actively supported the Germans. There was a Norwegian interest in forming an expeditionary force to fight along side the Finnish against the Soviets. With German support represented by Reichskommissar Josef Terboven, the pro-nazi party called for a meeting of four high officials of the Norwegian Army to create a legion. A massive recruiting rally was held on the University Square in Oslo on 4 July 1941.
The Norwegian Government intended to form a full regiment of two battalions but due to strict admissions standards and brief six terms of enlistment only one battalion was realized. They were to be titled "Gula" and "Frosta" (later the named for the 1st battalion was changed to VIKEN, the other battalion was never formed).
The flag of "Viken Bataljon"
The Legion was sent to Bjolsen Skole camp in Norway where uniforms were received. The Legionnaires were surprised to receive German SS uniforms since they had expected to wear Norwegian uniforms. The only difference was the Norwegian national flag sleeve patch. Many volunteers were already wearing locally made collar tabs with the Norwegian emblem made of metalor embroidered. In addition, some volunteers wore the locally made "Den Norke Legion" cuff title.
(You can here see the Norwegian flag sleeve patch)
On 29 July 1941, the first 300 Norwegian volunteers arrived in Kiel, Germany, and were sent to Fallingbostel Training Camp. By August 1941 the total number of recruits had grown to over 700. By the end of 1941, it had the strength of 1218 men with an additional reserve battalion provided for replacement. The officers were sent to Lauenburg training camp.
In these training camps small quantities of German made insignia were issued. A collar tab displaying a Norwegian lion holding an axed was issued and worn on the right collar. In addition, a cuff title bearing the name "Frw. Legion Norwegen" was issued or awarded. Members of the "Nasjonal Samling" and its para-military arm "Hird" were allowed to wear their emblem, a circular St Olaf's Cross with upright swords sleeve patch in white and black for EM/NCO and silver and black for officers. However according to reliable sources these sleeve patches were not only worn by members but by all Norwegian legionnaires.
The Legion was officially named "Den Norske Legion"
(The Norwegian Legion).
The Legion was commanded respectfully by Major Jorgen Bakke and Major Finn Kjelstrup (both ex-Norwegian Officers) however both officers resigned in early December 1941. In December 1941, after completing six months enlistment, Legionnaires reenlisted for another six months. Originally the plan was to have them serve in the Finnish sector of the Eastern Front but because of the critical situations elsewhere in Russia, the Legion was transported by train to the Leningrad Front. This Legion had no contacts with their compatriots in the Wiking Division who were considered full Waffen-SS cadre personnel.
In February 1942, the Legion under the Command of Sturmbannfuhrer Arthur Quist was sent to the quietest sector near Leningrad front to support the 2nd SS (motorized) Infantry-Brigade and 250th Spanish Blue Division.
The 2nd SS Brigade was an international unit, which included Dutch, Flemish and Latvians.
(SS-Sturmbannführer Arthur Quist with the "DNL" collar tab)
In Norway the recruitment continued unabated. In April 1942, the effective strength of the Legion amounted to 1150 men with another 150 on reserve. By May 1942, the entire Legion, having taken almost half in casualties over the previous three months, was relocated to Konstantinovka for refitting. In July the losses combined with earlier casualties and six months enlistment caused a manpower shortage in the Legion.
In August 1942, the Legion was reinforced with 200 new recruits. In addition, another 93 men contingent arrived from the 1st Norwegian Police Company. By the end of December 1942, the Legion's strength dropped to 20 officers and 678 other ranks. On 1 March 1943, the Legion including the 1st Police Company was withdrawn from the Front lines and sent to Norway on home leave. In May 1943, about 600 veterans were sent to the Grafenwohr training camp in Germany where the III SS Panzer Corps was being formed. Here in the Grafenwohr training camp, the Legion was disbanded and the Norwegian volunteers were offered to re-enlist in the new "23. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Norge," (23rd SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Norway).