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During the summer of 1942 a Norwegian volunteer SS Ski Company, with a strength of 120 men, was formed in Finland. The prime instigator behind the formation of this unit was a Waffen-SS volunteer named Gust Jonassen, (a Dane who had married a Norwegian and assumed Norwegian citizenship). He had passed the idea of constructing a Norwegian ski unit on to other Waffen-SS officers and the notion swiftly went up the command ladder to the SS Main Administrative Office which approved of the endeavor.

The first recruits for the Ski Company were chosen for their skiing abilities, and few had had any extensive military training. Those who had attended Norwegian Army NCO schools were selected as candidates for troop leader positions. In September 1942 the embryonic company was sent to the Waffen-SS Germanic Volunteer Camp in Sennheim, Alsace for basic military training.

At the same time, those chosen for command positions were shipped off to NCO schools or the SS Junkerschule "Tölz" in Bavaria for officers' training. At Sennheim the Norwegian enlisted men were put in the care of a Finnish SS- Hauptsturmführer who oversaw their program of instruction. Infantry training continued until about Christmas, when it was decided that the formation of the actual Ski Company could now commence.

At this point in time the only instructors for SS ski units came from the German Police, so the Norwegian company was transferred to the Police exercise grounds near Dresden for specialized training. Unfortunately there was little or no snow there during that winter, so there was no ski practice but there was plenty of intensive drilling.

In early February 1943 the company was sent by train to Danzig, where it was joined by its contingent of newly commissioned Norwegian officers an NCO's. The company commander was Obersturmführer (Ostuf. - 1st Lt.) Gust Jonassen, who was actually its "founder" as well. In Norway Jonassen had been a Professor of Physical Education and an assistant leader of a Norwegian National Socialist youth movement known as the Nasjonal Socialistiske Ungdom Forening or the N.S.U.F.

Some German administrative personnel and a senior NCO or "Top Sergeant" were added to the company, and it was then shipped by sea to Finland. Upon arrival it proceeded by rail to the sector of the 6th SS Mountain Division "Nord". In the Karelian area of northeastern Finland where it was attached to the division's SS Reconnaissance Detachment 6.

For the next several months the Norwegian Ski Company participated in a variety of duties, including scouting missions, and gained some valuable combat experience through skirmishes with the enemy. Casualites were also taken, and Ostu£. Jonassen was an early fatality. He was replaced by Ostu£. Otto Andreas Holmen a former member of the Norwegian Royal Guard and a graduate of the SS-JS "Tölz." He had been a member of Quisling's Nasjonal Samling since 1934. In July 1943 the members of the company were sent home to Norway on an extended furlough. The unit reassembled with the "Nord" Division in Finland in September, and because of its skillful performance during the previous months the decision was made to expand it into a full battalion

To do this, new personnel had to be obtained by recruiting a new company of Norwegian volunteers and by accepting transfers from the SS Panzergrenadier Rgt. 23 "Norge" (Division "Nordland"). In most cases the soldiers obtained from Regimen "Norge" were those who had expressed a preference for serving in Finland, which was seen as a "sister" Scandinavian nation to Norway. The goal at the onset was to make the battalion as purely Norwegian in content as possible, making it the legitimate successor to the "Frw. Legion Norwegen".

The formation of the new Norwegian SS Skijaeger Battalion (which was also given the title "Norge" and a sleeve title bearing that name), took place at military training grounds in Oulu, Finland in the autumn of 1943. The following Norwegian Untersturmführer(s) (Ustuf. - 2nd Lt.) were assigned to command companies in the battalion: Martink Skjefstad, Tor Holmesland Vik and Rolf Uglestad. The battalion CO and a four company commander were both Germans. A few German enlisted men were also included in each company as a "stiffening" element. For the most part the Norwegian officers were young men who had obtained front line experience with the "Wiking" Division or the "Frw. Legion Norwegen" before going on to the SS-JS "Tölz."

The Norwegian Ski Battalion was strictly light-weight in nature consisting only of one staff company and three ski (or infantry/assault) companies. Unlike the other battalions normally found in a German mountain division there was no 4th Heavy Weapons Company assigned. Each of the Norwegian ski companies contained the following sub-units: three platoons consisting of 3 squads each along with 1 machine-gun troop and 1 mortar section. The staff company contained the administrative personnel, a weapons and clothing dispersal office, an engineer platoon, a signals platoon (communications), a medical section and truck and horse supply columns. The standard issue weapon for the battalion was the efficient MP-40 machine-pistol, which was deemed the best type of armament for the unit's mode of operations.

Hard training, often under difficult circumstances, continued at Oulu throughout the remainder of 1943. Some misunderstandings developed between the Norwegian and German personnel due to language difficulties, but it was felt that these problems would soon iron themselves out. SS-Skijaeger Battalion "Norge" was declared ready for action at the end of the year, and in January 1944 it was sent back to SS Recce Detachment "Nord" at the front in northeastern Finland.

The battalion was placed in position in the northern flank of the "Nord" Division by Kaprolat Hil, which was about 30 kilo meters north of the division HQ. Quarters consisted of wooden huts and tents heated by small ovens. The Norwegians had the job of patrolling the division's left wing up to Tiksje Lake.

This part of the Eastern Front had long since lapsed into static warfare apd the idea was to prevent Soviet infiltration through no-man's-land.

Late in March 1944 a Russian force began building up positions in a previously unoccupied area between the lines. This posed a self-evident threat so the "Nord" Division staff constructed a battalion-sized battle-group to deal with these new fortifications. Two companies from the Ski Battalion were assigned to protect the left flank of the task force.

When the SS mountain troops began carefully to probe the enemy positions, a surprisingly intense battle rapidly developed. The Soviet side brought its heavy artillery to bear on the "Nord" battle-group, forcing it to break off its attack, but not until after it had inflicted heavy losses to the enemy side. Still the SS soldiers took substantial casualties as well and these were further increased when the Germans and Norwegians attempted to rescue their wounded in front of the Red Army lines. In the end what appeared to be a stand-off turned out to be a "Nord" victory when the enemy soldiers abandoned their "new" positions to return to their old lines.

The Ski Battalion was not the only Norwegian volunteer unit to serve with the "Nord" Division. In October 1943 the 2nd Norwegian Police Company (out-' fitted and run by the Waffen-SS), had arrived in Finland for a six-month stint' at the front. The company had been formed from Norwegian police volunteers by Hstuf. Reidar Egil Hoel, an ex-engineer captain from the Royal Norwegian Army. He soon turned command over to Ostuf. Lothar Lislegard, another veteran Norwegian Army officer who had served in the occupation police before joining the Waffen-SS.

The Police Company was deployed at Schapk-Osero, a strong-point about 10 kilometers behind the left wing of the "Nord" Divisional front. One platoon was situated even farther to the north at the Medevara outpost, which was a collection of well dug-in wooden bunkers situated on the highest forested ground in the area. The Norwegian police troops had the mission of guarding and patrolling the rear area of the "Nord" Division's very thin northern flank.

It was soon discovered that the Soviets coveted the Schapk-Osero strong- point. In early 1944 an entire Red Army regiment began a major assault on the hill which was held by a few commandos from the 2nd Police Company. A violen struggle ensued but the Norwegians held their composure despite 10 to 1 odd against them. Fortunately they also had an open field of fire in every direction and the enemy simply could not gain any ground. Leaving their dead piled high before the Norwegian positions, the Soviets eventually pulled back. This decisive defensive victory brought immediate recognition to 2nd Police Company an resulted in the issuance of many decorations to its members. In the course further fighting in March 1944, two of the company's best Norwegian office Untersturmführer(s) Erling Markvik and Øystein Bech, were killed in action.

After the major fighting in no-man's-land in March, the 2nd police company was sent to occupy the large strongpoint at Sennosero. Although operating in the vicinity of the Ski Battalion, it had remained an independent element within the "Nord" Division, but now, due to heavy losses, the Police Compay was temporarily merged with the 1st Company of the Ski Battalion.

In April 1944, the Ski Battalion received its first Norwegian commander, Hstuf. (later Stubaf.) Frode Halle, who was a transfer from the Regiment "Norge" on the Narva Front. In the same month 2nd Police Company was pulled out of the front-lines and sent back to Norway, having completed its allotted stay at the front. As a consequence the Ski Battalion had to extend its lines and take over the northernmost sector of the "Nord" Division.

The key defensive spot in the battalion's lines remained the strongpoint at Kaprolat, which was constructed on hilly ground. Language problems still plagued the unit and hindered the resupply system in particular so two new clerks, one German and the other Norwegian, were added to the staff to deal with this problem. Throughout the month of May there was minor skirmishing with the enemy, but as the snow and ice melted, the ski-troopers found themselves converted to line infantry.

In June, the Soviets began to assemble two divisions to attack the SS "Nord" lines, their major offensive getting underway on the morning of 25 June. Shortly an entire Red Army regiment was able to break through and surround the Ski Battalion's positions on a hill at Kaprolat. A period of desperate fighting now began for the Norwegians having to hold out at all costs until the "Nord" Divi- sion managed to relieve them. When the battle opened, the Commander, Stubaf. Halle, was back in Norway on a duty assignment, but left for the front imme- ~diately when he received the news

With the loss of 2nd Police Company, the battalion had a net strength of only around 300 men and in the course of three days of heavy fighting, 135 of these men,would be killed, wounded or captured. From 24 to 26 June, the Norwegian positions came under persistent artillery, mortar and small arms fire. Continual ground attacks were also driven off. On 26 June troops from SS Mountain Regiment 11 "Reinhard Heydrich" managed to break the Russian encirclement and link up with the Ski Battalion. New defensive lines were then constructed and the last enemy attacks began to peter out towards the end of the month. At about same time a contingent of 15 Norwegian volunteers who had fallen into Soviet handss managed to escape and make their way back to the German lines.

The next several weeks were fairly peaceful ones for the Ski Battalion. One company was dispatched to man a strongpoint on an island in Lake Pundom few kilometers to the south of Jeletj. From here scouting patrols were able to control the terrain up to the larger Lake Pja. Some small enemy groups werespotted to the south of Lake Wiks but these were dealt with at long range by "Nord" artillery.

Bulk of the Norwegian battalion spent the summer months preparing new positions on the Sohjana River between Lake Top and Lake Pja. In the middle of august 1944 the unit received 200 new replacements from Norway including the 150 members of the 3rd Police Company which was incorporated directly into the battalion.. The commander of this company was Hstuf. Aage Henry Berg. He would be replaced in a short time by Ostuf. Oscar Olsen Rustand. Third Police Company disbanded early in 1945, but in April 1945, Ostuf. Rustand and his staff tried to resurrect it in Oslo with the aim of putting up a last ditch resistance to the "Bolsheviks"

The Norwegian Ski Battalion now engaged in further training and reequipping until 4 September 1944, the day of the Finnish capitulation. The fighting at Kaprolat on 25/26 June had cost the unit dearly in terms of leader- ship with the loss of two company commanders: Ostuf. Tor Holmesland Vik was seriously wounded, while the other, Ustuf. Axel Steen of 3rd Company, was killed.

Finland's surrendering to avoid Soviet occupation threw the entire frontline situation on the borders of the country into confusion. The Germans had im- mediately to begin a withdrawal to Narvik in northern Norway nearly 1,000 ",kilometers away. There was not enough manpower at hand to occupy Finland and hold it against both the tough Finnish Army and the Red Army as well. From the first day of the retreat, the Norwegian Ski Battalion had to cover and protect the pullback of the "Nord" Division~ Initially there was little pressure applied to the withdrawal as there were few Finnish troops to be found in the northern part of the country and those that were encountered were simply disarmed and released.

All of the retreat routes eventually converged on the crossroads town of Rovaniemi where the Kemijoka River flowed through on its way out to the Gulf of Bothnia. Two pontoon bridges had to be protected here until the last withdrawing German units passed through. After doing some security duty in Kuusamo,the Norwegian Ski Battalion was sent to Rovaniemi to guard the evacuated town and its bridges. Quarters were taken up in some farm buildings located between the river and some surrounding low hills. The battalion was to be stationed here for three weeks and during that time two companies were assigned to guard ,the bridges while the other two companies underwent further operational training; duties rotated between the companies.

On 14 October 1944. the last retreating German forces passed over the Rovaniemi bridges with hostile Finnish troops following them from the east. mally one of the bridges was destroyed and when the Norwegian volunteers passed over the other one, it too was detonated. At the Rovaniemi railroad station a munitions train belonging to 20th Mountain Army had been blown up and this started an accidental firestorm that virtually destroyed the entire town of Rovaniemi, the buildings in which were mostly wooden. This severe destruction was later labeled an "SS war crime" due to the proximity of the 6th SS Moun- tain Division "Nord," but the damage was clearly unplanned. The "Nord" itself was victimized by the explosion which destroyed its main field. hospital and killled and maimed many Waffen-SS men.

In the night of 16 October, the Fmns attempted to sever the German route of retreat through the woods to the north of Rovaniemi. The Norwegian Ski Bat.along with parts of SS Mountain Regiment 12 "Michael Gaissmair" engaged the Finns in a brisk firefight and succeeded in keeping them off of themain road. The rest of the withdrawal was marked by sporadic, often deadly, clasheses with the Finnis, until theNorwegian border was reached.

(Sketch from August-44)