Clandestine radio operatorHaakon Sørbye

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On the day Sørbye started school at the Norwegian Institute of Technology to study engineering — 1 September 1939 — World War II broke out. By April, the war reached Norway; the Norwegian army surrendered by May. Sørbye joined the resistance and, with his technical background, was part of the “Skylark B” group: a radio communications team operated mostly by students in Trondheim, which relayed German troop and materiel movements to the Secret Intelligence Service in London. In addition, the Germans captured a hydroelectric power plant in Tinn, which was the first plant in the world to mass-produce heavy water: a building block for the atomic bomb. The team relayed details of this to London too. Skylark B was tracked by the Gestapo and in September 1941, most of the team members were arrested by the Nazis.

Sørbye and others were imprisoned, and then sent to death camps. Seven of 11 members died, but Sørbye survived and was rescued by the “White Buses” — an operation by 300 Swedish Red Cross staff in the spring of 1945 to rescue 15,345 concentration camp survivors and bring them to neutral Sweden. After the war, Sørbye returned to school, and then later was a professor of telematics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology — and continued to be an amateur (“ham”) radio operator. In addition to the Defence Medal awarded to military and civilian personnel who participated in the fight against the German invasion and occupation of Norway between 1940 and 1945, Sørbye was decorated with the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom. He died on September 15, at 96.

From This is True for 18 September 2016