I’ve written a couple of posts about my Norwegian relatives who joined the resistance movement against the German occupation of Norway during World War II.
One of those was Bertin Kvinge, a grandparent of my cousin, Ragnvald Mjanger. Bertin’s fishing boat, Leda, was part of the Shetland Bus operation, a program in Scalloway, Shetland to train Norwegian saboteurs in guerilla war tactics.
Another article was about Trygve Duesund, a great-uncle of mine who was rescued from the waters of the North Atlantic after his vessel was sunk by a German submarine in March 0f 1940.
Those episodes were risky and terrifying, but neither of them were fatal to the participants. Last week I discovered that two of my Grandfather Ragnvald Duesund Bergeson’s nephews were killed in the war. Not only that, but they were brothers.
Ragnvald and three of his siblings had a half-brother named Halvard Olsen Duesund. They had different fathers, but the same mother. Halvard had five sons, two of whom were named Ivar and Haakon.
In June of 1940, Ivar Halvardsen Duesund loaned his fishing boat, M/B Gneist, to Oskar Lairvåg so that Oskar could take his family to England where they would be safe from the Nazi invaders. The month before, Oskar had helped a group of people (including a British diplomat) escape from Norway to Shetland using a boat named Snål. His mission was nearly thwarted while picking up a couple of passengers in the village of Fonnes. The Germans had received a tip about the escaping boat and had sent a seaplane to the town of Fonnes to intercept it, but Lairvåg was successful in out-maneuvering his would be captors. However, when he returned to Norway, he decided that it was too risky for him and his family to stay there which is why they quickly left for England.
Unfortunately, Ivar Duesund paid a price for aiding Oskar’s work in the resistance. He was arrested by the Nazis and sent to a detention camp for Norwegian prisoners near Bergen called Ulven. He was kept at Ulven for more than a year and then on October 22, 1941 he was executed. Ivar was 36 years old at the time of his death. He left behind his wife, Ingeborg, and three young daughters.
In January of 1942, the vessel M/B Viking II left Sandnes, Masfjorden, with at least 10 people on board. One of the passengers, Haakon Halvardsen Duesund was Ivar’s brother. The only information I can find on this North Sea passage is in the section on the Shetland Bus from warsailors.com. The entry for M/B Viking II lists the names of the 10 passengers and crew and then says simply “never to be seen again (may have gone down in a storm.”)
The Shetland Bus organization was highly successful and was a deadly force against the Nazis during the entire war. However, it was incredibly risky for the participants who were constantly hunted by German submarines and aircraft during the treacherous North Sea crossings. I’m in awe of the courage the resisters had and humbled by the sacrifice of two of my Duesund relatives.