Monday, January 7, 2019


The story of the Radio Operator

The Captain on M/S Taronga had decided to seak port of refuge in the City of Larvik- a Norwegian seaside city. Norway was attacked by Germany. An official message was forwarded all Norwegian ships ordering the ships not to go to Norwegian harbours. On board M/S Taronga the Radio Operation Sven Johan Johansen  was working. He must have received the news. No Norwegian ships must go to Norwegian harbours. The Radio Operator left the ship. The date of his disembarkation of the ship is still unknown. But on April 9, 1940 he is still working on the ship as a Radio Operator. We do not know the reason why he left the ship and how come that he is noted signed on a new ship in Suez, Egypt on May 5, 1940? What happened to the Captain and the rest of the crew? No official information about the crew has been published –so far.

Radio Operator Sven Johan Johansen- born January 28, 1907 in Oslo- signed on a new ship May 5, 1940. The name of the ship is: D/T Captain A.F. Lucas. The ship is recorded in Panama. The shipping company is: Balboa Transport Corporation, Panama. The ship was built in New York in 1903. In 1948 the ship was scrapped-broken up.

What happened to the Radio Operator who left Norway in 1940 to join the Norwegian merchant fleet – Northraship – to fight for Norway?
He was a sailor from 1940 to 1945. The list of the ships he embarked contents  of 8 ships:
-M/S  Taronga, D/T Captain A.F.Lukas, M/T  Trondheim, M/S Prins Harald, D/S Tanafjord,M/S Hai Lee, D/S Wyern and D/S Ek.
We do not know the date of his arrival in Norway. The last ship where he had signed on was D/S Ek. The date was August 31, 1945. On May 28, 1980 was awarded the Norwegian “ Krigsmedalje” for his participation during the WWII.
So far the official information about Sven Johan Johansen is that he left a ship in Norway in 1940 and returned to Norway in 1945. If you take a look at the list of ships where he had worked, let us focus on the story of one of the ships: M/S Prins Harald.

The ship was transporting war materials for the battlefields in North Africa. The cargo contented some ammunition. The convoy KMS3 was attacked on November 20, 1942 by a German submarine U-263 about 240 miles west of Gibraltar. M/S Prins Harald was hit by a torpedo in the starboard side. On board the ship was Captain Westbye Foss-Sørensen [1]and First Mate Jaampa Krog.[2] They made an attempt to save the ship. Invain. The ship was blown up in a tremendous explosion. The remaining officers and a British gunner, Jack G. Jones were killed. The Radio Operator Sven Johan Johansen survived the German attack. An inquiry about the event was held in London December 7, 1942. He had to report to the inquiry about the sinking of the ship. He was searching for the Captain asking him if the use of radio was necessary: Negative answer to the question from the Captain. Then he entered the lifeboat.

The official story about the Norwegian ship which refused to die has not been written yet. Anyway we have got one name of interest to the story of the ship: The story of the Radio Operator Sven Johan Johansen who was born in Oslo but his address was officially Peder Grønsgt.2, the City of Sandefjord – a seaside city of Norway.
The most interesting part of his story is how he managed to sign on a ship in Suez, Egypt on May 5, 1940? – and how many of the members of the crew went with him?

[1] No information about the Captain in the book about Norwegian sailors killed during WWII: VÅRE FALNE 1939-1945. Sjøfolkenes innsats
[2] First Mate Jaampa Krog was the son of the famous Norwegian journalist and playwright Helge Krog. Jaampa Krog is noted in the book: VÅRE FALNE 1939-1945.Sjøfolkenes innsats. Page 301.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


The City of Sete – known as Cette until 1928- is a commune in the Herault department in the Occitanie  region in southern France.
“… A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in a war…” – so far the definition of war memorials and the aim of setting up war memorials.

When I walked along the streets of Sete, I found a nice public park where a war memorial was set up for public viewing and information. From a historical point of view, I think any information about military events, political conflicts and issues dealing with a country,are facts of common interest even if the facts are unpleasant. The French wars in the French Indochina and the former French colony Algeria are controversial political issues that many want to forget. Many French soldiers were killed during the conflicts mentioned. Even if many disagreed with wars, people wanted to set up war memorials to pay homage to those who died. In Sete a war memorial is set up to in memory of the soldiers who died during the war in Algeria- “ La Guerre  d’Algeria A.F.N 1952 -1962 “. Some are  of the opinion that war memorials are made ony to glorify the wars, but some want to honor those who died even if the wars were not  wanted wars.

Historical facts are facts even if you dislike the information given to you.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

“…An aphorism is a short witty sentence which expresses a general truth or comment  or a pithy observation which contains a general truth…” so far the definition of aphorism.

The famous Norwegian aphorist, Gunnar Hauk Gjengset, has made it again publishing his own written aphorisms. His latest book was released in 2018 by his own publishing company HAUK Forlag AS. It is a small book contenting a critical selection of his already published aphorisms. Only 114 pages. The Norwegian title of the book is: “ Som oftest er det snarere tvert imot og andre sukk”. HAUK or Gunnar Hauk Gjengset, began writing aphorisms about 40 years ago. The Norwegian newspaper “Adressavisen ” located in the City of Trondheim,Norway,  found his writing interesting . For about 25 years the newspaper published his aphorisms. The aim of writing short sentences contenting witty observations mixed with some truth is not to make you laugh only. No. The writer is making an attempt to create general statements in the texts to convey a moral or philosophical idea hoping to present an universal truth. Anyway , reading the book I could not resist the temptation of laughing too much because I saw the fun described in the texts. But I know that HAUK is a serious working man. He is not an easy going man but rather a complicated person whose life is a story of dramatic events. For your information only: He was arrested in the former Soviet Union in January 1970 for demonstrating against the Brezhnev regime. Leaflets supporting the release of author Yuri Galanskov and Pyotr Grigorensko  were distributed by Gunnar Hauk Gjengset in Leningrad .He was sentenced  to one year of imprisonment . Due to international pressure ,he was released after a month in prison. His experience as a prisoner in Soviet Union was published in his book: “ Behind The Iron Curtain”.

Under the pseudonym ,HAUK, aphorisms are still published in the national newspaper, KLASSEKAMPEN. The daily column, Dagens sukk, - or in English: Sign of the DAY, has made the newspaper famous in Norway.
Gunnar Hauk Gjengset has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Umeå University in Sweden. He has written several books including plays and a biography of Gustav Vigeland the famous Norwegian sculptor.

Let me give you an impression of the content of his latest book. Sorry, but I have to quote in Norwegian.
“…Litteratur er en neddempet versjon av virkeligheten…”,  “…å passe tiden er anstrengende – den løper hele tiden fra en…”, “ … det viktigste ved enhver dag er at den aldri kommer igjen…”, ” …kunnskap er ikke å vite alt, men å vite hvor kunnskap finnes…”- and so we can go on for ever.
Good luck reading the book yourself. How to get the book: Contact the writer. or

 Gunnar Hauk Gjengset  is making a presentation of his book.

 Tedd Urnes( left in the photo) and Gunnar Hauk Gjengset 

Friday, November 16, 2018

If you want to get an easy access to the most dramatic stories about the history of Estonia that took place from about 1918 to 1945, I will recommend viewing of some interesting movies. Any movie dealing with historical events must add some fictional scenes mixed with facts of the events. The positive results of the viewing are that you have a good time at the same time as you get some facts about what went on during some dramatic years. Let me comment on three movies that I bought in Tallinn last week: “ 1944”, “NIMED MARMORTAHVLILL ( Eng.Title: Names In Marble)” and “ TUULEPEALNE MAA (Eng.Title:WINDWARD LAND)”.

The movie is a dramatic war film where you not find any heroes only soldiers who were fighting a war without any positive hope. When the German army liberated Estonia from the military and political occupation of Estonia during the Second World War, many hoped that the Germans would support the setting up of an independent Estonia state. Therefore many young boys and girls joined the German army to fight the Russians. Even some believed that the Russians supported an independent Estonia state too or they accepted the political change making Estonia a state with the Soviet Union. All of the participants in the fighting for Estonia were betrayed. Between the German army and the army of the Soviet Union, a three fighting force had been established: The Forest Brothers. Those forest fighters managed to liberate parts of Estonia for a short period. But no support was given to the forest fighters because Soviet Union was supporting the Allies fight against Germany. The Estonians found themselves trapped in a difficult political and military situation. No victory for those who believed in a new Estonian state. The content of the movie deals with the feelings and hopes of the soldiers fighting in three different groups. A splendid movie directed by Elmo Nuganen. The film was released in 2015.

We have to return to 1918. The Estonia War of Independence is a reality. The movie deals with some students who had decided to fight on the nationalist side. The students are all boys. They are not well trained for military duties but they all fight hard. Some of the students got killed too. The movie reveals the conflicts between two ideologies: Estonian nationalism and Communism. The war lasted to 1920. The enemy was the army of Soviet Russia. The film was released in 2002. The story is based on a novel by Albert Kivikas. The director of the film is Elmo Nuganen.

I have viewed all the episodes of the Estonian television miniseries yesterday. Time consuming business viewing all the episodes  on one day! The movie deals with some of the most dramatic years of the history of Estonia. The movie was aired in 2008 and 2013. The series takes place from World War One, encompassing the war of Independence of Estonia , the story of an independent Estonia nation, the democratic struggles to make a democratic state of Estonia, the occupation of Estonia by the army of Soviet Union. The series was directed by Ain Prosa. The series make use of archival footage showing how the German army was welcomed by people in Tallinn believing that the Germans would support the fight for an independent Estonia state. We get to know the Forest Brothers too and the Fascist Vaps Movement of 1933.The members of the Forest Brothers fought the invading Soviets even when the WWII was ended in Europe. World War II decreased the Estonian population by 200,000 people. About 30,000 of the population were killed in battles, half of them wearing German or Finnish uniforms. About 800,000 people fled abroad. The guerilla warfare in Estonian forests continued for more than a decade.

All the movies can be bought at the Estonian Film Museum/ Estonian History Museum situated at Maarjamae Palace, Pirita tee 56, 10123 Tallinn,
Good luck with your historical education made by viewing historical movies.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Last week I stayed in Tallinn. I bought two small books about the history of Estonia dealing with the Second World War. Two small books and a movie too. The books were written by Mart Laar: “ Estonia in World War II” and “ Rød terror. Den sovjetiska ockupationsmaktens førtryck av Estland-Red terror. Repressions of the Soviet Occupation Authorities in Estonia”.
 A review of “ Estonia in World War II” was made by me January 7, 2010. Eight years ago. But the book is still topical as a historical document. Mart Laar was born in Viljandi. He graduated in 1983 from the University of Tartu. History was his favorite subject. In 1995 Mart Laar received his Master’s degree in Philosophy from the same university and his Doctorate in 2005. I think he is qualified to make historical statements about the different political and military issues dealt with in his books. The title of the movie I bought is: “1944”.
The movie is splendid contenting the complicated political and military situations for Estonian during the WWII. The film was released in 2015. The war drama was directed by Elmo Nuganen. The film deals with the mental conflicts of young Estonians who had been conscrited into the German forces and of those who had joined the Soviet forces. You do not find any heroes in the movies. The story of the battles are described to make you understand the difficult situations for all Estonians who were betrayed by all: The country was first occupied by Soviet Union, then the country was occupied by the German forces and finally occupied by the Red Army.The movie contents information about Scandinavians who sided with the German forces fighting in Estonia. But the Norwegian soldiers are not mentioned only the Danish soldiers. The Estonians hoped to gain independence by supporting the German forces. Betrayed by the German forces independent Estonian resistance movement tried to liberate the country by hard fighting. The Forest Brothers made an attempt to fight the communist terror and occupation- but invain. I cry for you, Estonia. You have suffered too much. Good luck.
The young Norwegian boy was only nineteen years of age when he died in Estonia.His name was: Thorvald Sandli Bergum.

Monday, November 5, 2018



The main aim of cruising in Mediterranean was not to view modern sculptures and modern art collections set up on the cruiser. No. But I was impressed by the art collections on the ship. I got a new activity hunting and exploring sculptures which were set up on sites where I did not expect to find modern art. The name of the ship is: “ Celebrity Constellation”. A splendid cruiser. Splendid crew. Splendid food and above all: Excellent entertainments in the evenings. An exhibition of modern art too.Please join me in my admiration for the art on board. I took some photos. But I could not find any information of the artists who made the sculptures? By doing some research I found the name of the sculptor who made the" man in uniform" sculpture: Daniel Oates.
Placards with names of the artists should be put close to the sculptures, I think.

Some fact about the cruise ship: GTS Celebrity Constellation is a Millennium –class cruise ship of Celebrity Cruises. The ship was built at the Chantiers de L’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France.During the summer period the ship sails to Mediterranean and the Caribbean(winter).

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tom Andrew Lehrer was born on April 9, 1928. He has retired as American musician, professional songwriter, singer, piano player, satirist  and above all: Teacher in mathematics. His humorous songs were recorded in the 1950s and 1960s.

“… I was only 18 years of age. But I did it. I went to his house, I rang the bell and I asked for a meeting  with Tom Lehrer. He accepted my request about a meeting. He is a nice person I recall…”
The story was told during a meal on the cruiser “ Celebrity Constellation”  by a   stranger about a week ago. The main reason for the talk about Tom Lehrer was my quotation from one of his famous songs: “ …we will all go together when we go…”. The ship was in trouble due to bad weather. We did not know about the next harbor for the ship. Anyway the talk with a person whose name I forgot to get made me think about my personal memories connected to Tom Lehrer. For your information only: The cruiser called Celebrity Constellation was inaugurated in 2002. The ship can take about 2,184 guests.
In 1967 the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) transmitted a television programme where Tom Lehrer performed playing piano and sang his own written songs. I was fascinated by the content of his songs. When I came home from travelling I did some research on Tom Lehrer by contacting WIKIPEDIA. With reference to Wikipedia the performance in Norway was recorded on video tape September 10 and aired that autumn. I still remember the performance.
Wikipedia was my main source for further information about Tom Lehrer: Life, career, songs, performances and statements about the reasons for his early retirement from public performances. Anyway I was surprised to see that no information about a Norwegian presentation of a selection of his songs recorded on long playing - full frequency range recording in 1967. The songs selected for the recording were: “ The Marines”, “ My Home Town”, “ So Long, Mom”, “ Pollution”, “ Brotherhood Week”, “ Be Prepared”, “Who’s Next”, “Smut”, “ MLF Lullaby”, “ I Hold Your Hand In Mine”, “ The Wienerschnitzel Waltz”, and  “ We Will All Go Together When We Go”.
The songs were all translated into Norwegian by August Mauritzen. Songs were performed by Sølvi Wang and Ola B. Johannessen.

For your information only: Tom Lehrer is 90 years of age. He wrote songs contenting issues that we need to evaluate today too. He might be regarded as an old man but his mind and songs are young and topical even today – and that is sad because we should have made some changes in the fields mentioned in his songs- welcome back Tom! We need you more than ever!