Three legendary 331 squadron pilots most likely in Canada before going to Britain. From left to right; unknown looking down (maybe some of our members can name him?), Stein Sem (standing), Arnt Hvinden and Leif Lundsten. Hvinden and Lundsten came from Hadeland and Toten respectively, seperated by just a 30 minutes drive by car these days. Of the named pilots, Hvinden would be the only survivor (photo via Tor Idar Larsen).
The P-51D G-SHWN owned by Shaun Patrick and operated by the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation has been moved into the hangar now to begin winter maintenance with the Aircraft Restoration Company joining the Sea Fury G-INVN currently undergoing its winter maintenance. So I thought I’d share a few shots of Lars in the Mustang and Eskil in the Sea Fury during practice displays leading up to Flying Legends last season to remind us of those summer months. Photo’s by Neil Cotten
It is with great sadness that we report the loss of our friend and much admired Flying Legend participant, Daniel Koblet after his heroic battle with a long illness. We have happy memories of seeing Daniel at past Flying Legends airshows with his unique aircraft, the Morane D-3801 (MS406) Blue skies Daniel.
332 Squadron were again sent down to Manston one day in November of 1942.
“This is good stuff
for a joke, but are we really suppose to do this?”
The briefing room
falls quiet at the words from the Norwegian pilot, Olav Ullestad. They’re all
feeling rather poorly from last night’s party. Normally when “Zulu” Morris
arranges parties in the officer’s mess, it’s when they have the next day off from
flying. Not this time around. Finn and 332 have been sent down to Manston in
the early morning, still with last night’s alcoholic beverages having an impact
on their bodies. None of them knows what to say. It is the most dangerous
mission the Squadron has ever been given.
Mohr clears his
throat after Ullestad’s comment, choosing not to reply to it, continuing with
his briefing. Low cloud, bad weather – rain. Flying low, exposing themselves to
massive amounts of ground fire. The Norwegians are shaking their heads in
At a specific time, in a specific position, we would rendezvous with a squadron of Boston bombers. These bombers would bomb the airfield at St. Omer and then St. Ingelvert. We were to fly just ahead of them and shoot up flak batteries. It is pretty hard to meet up with other squadrons at low altitude, because we can quickly disappear from each other’s view, due to our high speed. St. Omer was also one of the most heavily defended airfields in our area of operations.
“We’ve done some dangerous flying before, but this is just
crazy you know….”
332’s youngest pilot talks to Finn after the briefing. The tension is building.
Both of them remember Mohr’s choice of words during the briefing: ”The
survivors from St. Omer will proceed to St. Ingelvert to do a second low level
Eriksen and Finn
head for their Spitfires lined up on the field; Finn with his regular AH-J, and
Eriksen in AH-P. With Eriksen strapped in his cockpit, waving a short and
gloomy goodbye to Finn, he walks the last meters down to his own Spit.
“Finn, wait a
catching up with him on his way to AH-W.
“Listen, I got
hold of Wing-Co Duncan Smith on the telephone. He tried to cancel the entire
affair, but it was simply impossible. He couldn’t talk them into dropping this
“At least he gave
it a try. Can’t ask for much more” Finn replies.
Mohr seems tense
and nervous when he walks down to his Spitfire and grabs the parachute from the
wing. It’s a rare sight for Finn to see their boss like this.
Waiting to take
off, Finn lights a cigarette and smokes it quickly. Finishing it, he starts on
another one. The nerves are running high, and he wants to calm them down with
the old trick of a few puffs.
To his left, Thor
Wærner and the Dane, Kjeld Rønhof, get ready in their cockpits. Finn can hear
Wærners nervous voice before he jumps up on the wing of his Spitfire:
then Kjeld. We won’t be seeing each other again.”
It sends shivers
down Finn’s spine. The chaps are giving themselves little chance of survival,
and with every right. It’s verging on a mission of suicide.
At 09:30, they’re all ready. 12 Spitfires ready for take off from Manston with Wilhelm Mohr leading. It’s a solo escort, without the rest of the Wing. Only 332 this time around, and just six Boston bombers to look after. The task will be difficult. Trying to keep track of the bombers in poor weather and low cloud is terribly hard work. In addition, they get the task of doing low level strafing on machine gun posts and flak postions around the airfields before the Bostons come in. Even if the Luftwaffe doesn’t show up, there will be plenty to do.
of water hit Finn in the face when he straps into his Spitfire. Light drizzle
is not the best Spitfire weather. He simply has to hope for the best, and that
the weather does keep itself steady enough for the mission. They have to get
those bombers over to France, and back home again. It feels like an impossible
mission being in front of those bombers, beating up extremely well defended
“Friendlies in sight!.”
Just five minutes
after take off from Manston, Mohr spots the slow bombers in formation over
North Foreland, just barely touching the extremly low cloudbase. Mohr gives his
messages over the radio, and Finn spots the bombers just where their boss told
them they would be. They’ve made contact.
Just under the
dark, grey clouds, 332 is flying ahead of the bombers heading for the French
coast. Over Calais, the Germans fire their first rounds towards them. The
bombers keeps on flying courageously towards St. Omer as if nothing has
happened, never wandering off their course.
Finn looks over
to his left. He has one of the Bostons
relatively close, just a little behind. He can vaguely see the pilot and the
men behind their machine guns. The pilot stares ahead, busy keeping in
formation, while the flak is exploding around him.
Germans hit their target. The explosion rips through the doomed bomber. It
steeply rises up in the air with half of the bomber already engulfed in a
massive fire, before it flips over and crashes into a farm in a gigantic ball
No one saw any parachutes. The bomber was too low for any
of them have a chance of getting out. Now, there are five left and they still
have a good way to go before reaching their target.
We continued flying in a zone with plenty of flak, and we saw tracers fly everywhere around us. To avoid German flak as much as possible on these missions, we had to fly as ’wild men’, up and down, and turn as much as possible. It was also important to stay as low as possible. Sometimes, we came back with leafs and branches on our Spitfires.
332 crosses the coast just six miles east of Calais. A
hailstorm of ground fire meets the Norwegians from the sand dunes. Finn spots
one of the Norwegians open fire on one of the several Germans positions on the
beach, and the German soldiers around it, falls dead to the ground.
Suddenly it goes
quiet again. No hostile Germans, just friendly French civilians waving a warm
welcome to their squadron of Spitfires.
Finn keeps his Spitfire as low as he possibly can, supporting the
Bostons. They have no choice, over them there’s just a massive layer of cloud.
Then the fire
opens up again. They have no choice but to fly through it, and Finn desperately
tries to make himself smaller where he sits. Then it happens; one of the
Bostons gets it bad. The big bomber suddenly pulls sharply upwards before it
stalls and goes straight down. Finn can clearly see a Spitfire by a hairs
bredth avoiding a collision with the stricken bomber. With it’s bomb load still
intact, the explosion is enormous. It crashed into a French farm, totally destroying
the entire group of farming houses. No one had a chance, not those in the
bombers, and not those on the ground.
Finn has no time
to think more about the incident, as the squadron race into another heavy rain
shower with the Germans still firing everything they got at them. Taking his
eyes off the horizon in front for a mere second, Finn can spot a church to his
right. His eyes are wide and shocked when he realize he have to look up to see
the chuch spire.
Closing in on St. Omer, the Bostons are already split up.
332 leaves the Bostons to do their job, and Mohr leads the squadron up. Finn
breathes out in relief when they finally have a little height and go into «line
“This is Red 2.
My glycol system is hit!”
Finn sees Red 2,
Thor Wærners Spitfire, in the formation. White smoke pours out of the doomed
“I will try to
climb for altitude and bail out!”
Wærner pulls his
Spitfire upwards. With not enough speed, and a bad engine, it will never hold.
He will never manage to get enough height to take to his chute. Wærner realizes
the same just seconds after Finn and aborts the climbing, tipping the nose of
his Spit down again.
“This is Red 2.
Good luck, boys.”
Wærners voice is
cracking up, full of horror.
“I think you need it more than us.”
A Norwegian pilot
responds to the galant message from Wærner.
Finn can see the
glycol is gushing over the Spitfire’s windscreen. He can see him aim for a
small field just ahead. The last thing he sees is the wheels appearing
underneath the ill-fated Spitfire. The field is big enough. With a little luck,
he will make it there safely. However, poor chance of seeing Wærner again
“Bandits, ten o’ clock!”
The warning is
given. There are definitely Germans around. Finn sights the formation of 190s
ahead, just where they were reported to be. They are a good distance away from
the flak that 332 have to endure. They won’t attack as long as 332 is being
fired at from the ground. Too risky. If none of the 332 Spits drop out of the
formation, they will be relatively safe for the time being. It’s more than
enough to handle the stuff they get from the ground.
finally give up their mission with the call of 190s in the area. They drop
their bombs wherever they may be around the St. Omer area and heads up into the
cloud to fly home.
332 climbs to
6,000 feet, into the deep grey clouds, and heads for home. The Germans fire off
their last rounds just when the clouds give them cover. They’re out of the
worst part now, with one man less than they came with. Flying into the fog,
Finns Spitfire is met with a wall of rain, hail, and wind. He doesn’t care as
long as they get themselves out of France. A few minutes longer and he’s
convinced more of them would have gone down.
Halfways over the
channel, Mohr gives a call for them to drop out of the clouds again. Finn can
breathe more easily now, but his body is still shaking from the low flying and
extensive ground fire they had to endure for so long. Mohr reports a sighting
of oil on the water in the channel, and they circle the spot until another
squadron of Spitfires takes over.
Finally approaching Manston, Mohr calls up on the radio,
asking specifically to be given room to land first. Mohr says he can smell fuel
in his cockpit and needs to land at once. Finn can see him go straight in for
landing, and looks to be alright.
We finally got back to
Manston where we had a de-briefing with the intelligence officer.
The fog slowly covers Manston like a grey carpet and
engulfs 332’s Spitfires in wet drizzle. Most likely they have to stay at
Manston for the night. Shaken, Mohr had got down in one piece, his engine
stopping when he touched the ground. A couple of bullets had hit his fuel
system. Jolly good luck he made it home in one piece. Johan Gilhuus had been
the Spitfire who just avoided the Boston hitting the farm. With a gloomy face,
he had told them all that he was so close he had seen the face of the
tailgunner of the Boston before it hit ground.
Finn can’t deny the fact that even with a bad result, 332 did pretty well in a very difficult situation. A near to perfect rendezvous with the Boston bombers in horrid weather conditions. They never lost their place in the formation either, even with plenty of flak and lots of poor luck. Even if the result was not the best, they showed superbly good work as a team. Something to be pleased with, indeed. And, they had all gotten away with it. All except one.
Thursday October 17th was a historical day for us in the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation. In a closed event at Akershus Fortress, the Minister of Defence, ambassadors and representatives, descendants of the veterans, officers and other invited guests were presented our project to restore Spitfire PL258 to flying condition. A Spitfire with Norwegian wartime history and a flying memorial to all Norwegian airmen during WWII. Here is a quick summary of the whole event. The full presentation will be released soon.
It was a very well received presentation and Carl Stousland, the son of Spitfire pilot Carl Jacob Stousland that last flew PL258, held a moving and memorable speech that still reverberates beyond the hall where his personal story of his father was told.
Norwegian Spitfire Foundation to restore a historical Norwegian Spitfire
30 JANUARY 2019
The Norwegian Spitfire Foundation (NSF) has for some time worked to bring an operative and flying Spitfire, with Norwegian wartime history, to Norway. Now, the restoration of Spitfire IX, PL258 will commence.
The aim of the project is to bring to the attention of present and future generations the story of the Norwegian pilots and groundcrews formidable involvement in the Allied fight against Nazi-Germany during the Second World War.
In February 2018, and in cooperation with the Norwegian Defence Museum, the Norwegian journalist and aviation Historian Cato Guhnfeldt and Lars Ness, Chairman of the NSF, travelled to the Netherlands to try and track down the remains of any Spitfires flown by Norwegian pilots. Both Cato and Lars knew that they were looking for the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’, and this then 70 years too late. It was therefore quite surprising what they did find. In Holland, the remains of Spitfire IX, PL258 FN-K, from 331 (Norwegian) Squadron – flown by Fenrik (ensign) Carl Jacob Stousland, and which crash landed on the 29th of December 1944, was discovered. The aircraft landed on its belly in a field near the village of Tubbergen. The story behind both aircraft and pilot are memorable.
The Norwegian Spitfire Foundation has now purchased the remains of PL258. These form the core of a restoration and restoration project, and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK has allocated G-NSFS as a temporary registration. When the aircraft restoration is finally completed and test-flown, PL258 will be transferred to the Norwegian register.
NSF will own the project and promote it as it wishes. Already now during the restoration process, PL258 will be used to tell the story of the Norwegian fighter pilots and the ground staff in the UK and on the Continent during WW2.
The restoration will for the most part take place at and be managed by the Aircraft Restoration Company in England.
For further details about the story of PL258 and NSF, contact Lars Ness at email@example.com
A special memory from Gullknapp Airshow 2017 in Norway. Spitfire Mk.IX RR232 was painted as PV181 to remember Wing Commander Rolf Arne Berg. The commander of RAF 132 Wing. PV181 was his personal Spitfire and it whore his intials RAB. More on the story behind this can be read here.
In this photo RAB is piloted by Lars Ness.
Photo: Eirik Østensjø
Now this beautiful Spitfire is back in its normal colour scheme as City of Exeter.