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Norwegian Squadrons' 60th Anniversary

 Norwegian flag       North Weald Bassett emblem      

Wednesday the 19th June 2002 was the 60th anniversary of the arrival of two Norwegian Squadrons, 331 and 332, at North Weald. It was the start of a long association with Norway and the village.

On the 18th of June a Royal Norwegian Air Force plane brought six veteran spitfire pilots to North Weald Airfield. General Wilhelm Mohr, who is no stranger to the area, led them. The Norwegian Defence Attache, Lt-Col Marius Johansen and his wife greeted the visitors.

After the welcome the first stop was the King's Head for lunch. This was followed by a nostalgic visit to Norway House, officers quarters during the war, where some of the veterans were able to see the rooms they had occupied 60 years ago. The visitors then checked into the Thatched House in Epping, where they would spend the night.

Returning to North Weald a visit was made to a number of the hangers on the airfield. This was followed by a visit to the museum where there were displays related to the Norwegian air force at North Weald. These included two 1:48 scale model spitfires specially made by a member for the occasion. The markings and numbers were specific to the pilots who flew them, Kristian Nyerrods and Ola Aanjesen.

In the evening the visitors were joined by a number of their hosts for dinner at the Squadron Club followed by a relaxed gathering in the bar. Sylvia Djonne, whose father was a Norwegian spitfire pilot at North Weald, joined them. He married a local girl but was killed 3 days before Sylvia was born. Sylvia's father was awarded the DFC and she brought it with her.

Wednesday 19th June 2002 was the main day for commemoration. The Norwegian ambassador, Tarald Brautaset, the Chairman of Essex County Council, Anthony Peel, the Chairman of Epping Forest Council, Doug Kelly and North Weald Parish Council Chairman, Bob Wood joined the guests. Arthur Moreton, Chairman of the North Weald Airfield Museum Association, who with Marius Johansen, masterminded the two day event, introduced the commemoration ceremony.

Another Norwegian veteran, Inge Ovstedal, who married and settled in Bognor Regis after the war, joined the others.

The commemoration service and laying of wreaths was led by Rayner Harries, former Assistant Chaplain in Chief to the RAF. There was a flypast by a spitfire of the Battle of Britain Flight. A trumpeter of the Band of the Royal Air Force College sounded the Last Post. An opening ceremony for the new enlarged museum was performed.

The Norwegian ambassador hosted a lunch for veterans and guests at the North Weald Golf Club. The Band of the Royal Air Force College provided music. After lunch the veterans and crew returned to the airfield and the Royal Norwegian Air Force plane to return to Norway. A number of people who had taken part in the events were there to wave them off.

Arrival of Royal Norwegian Airforce  Lunch at the King's Head  Visit to Norway House  Norwegian pilots at Norway House  Visit to North Weald Airfield  Hangar at North Weald Airfield

Inspecting a plane at North Weald Airfield     Welcome exhibit at North Weald Airfield Museum    North Weald Airfield Museum exhibit  Guests at North Weald Airfield Museum  Norwegian pilots  Dinner at the Squadron Club

Drinks at the Squadron Club     Sylvia Djonne    Commemoration ceremony  Rayner Harries leads the service  Commemoration service     Speech at commemoration ceremony

Flypast by a spitfire of the Battle of Britain  Norwegian pilots at the North Weald Airfield Museum    Opening ceremony of the enlarged museum     Departure of the guests  Farewell to the guests  lunch at North Weald Golf Club

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