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Gunvald Tomstad

Gunvald Jørg Tomstad (2 August 1918 – 12 May 1970) was a Norwegian resistance member during World War II. From 1941 to 1943 he was a double agent and radio operator in the Flekkefjord area.

He was born in Nes, Vest-Agder as a son of a farmer. His father died 1918, so Tomstad was raised by his maternal grandfather. In addition to working as a farmer, he was a typographer in the newspaper Agder, but the newspaper was closed due to the Nazi German takeover of Norway. He soon became the operator of an illegal radio, brought to his farm by Norwegian Independent Company 1 member Odd Starheim. The radio served to contact exiled Norwegians in the United Kingdom. The operation was named Cheese, and was organized by the Special Operations Executive. His personal codename was Tom.[1]

When the Nazi authorities confiscated all radios in 1941, Tomstad started distributing the illegal newspaper Kongsposten. However, he had joined the Fascist party Nasjonal Samling (NS) and the Hird as a double agent earlier that year, and since NS members were allowed to own a radio, he circumvented the confiscation. For two years he supplied the officers in the United Kingdom with intelligence about German warship movements, troop movements, supply lines and military construction projects. He had several helpers, including the dairy worker Sofie Rørvik (1920–2002), whom he married in September 1945.[1] The actual operation of the radio was conducted by Andreas Lone.[2] As an NS member, Tomstad actually rose to become a leading party member and ideologist in the Flekkefjord district—until being discovered in 1943.[quote 1] With the NS he was actually responsible for helping the Germans to find illegal radio sets, but instead was able to protect those operating the sets.[3] After a party of 40 men was landed in South Norway to attack shipping, the lengths to which he had to go to try and protect the men eventually meant he was discovered, he fled to the United Kingdom via Sweden.[1][3] He underwent further training in the United Kingdom with the intention that he should return to Norway, but as a result of the stress he had been under as a double agent, his health was not good enough.[3]

He was decorated for his resistance efforts, and received a certificate of commendation from the British, but reportedly buried his medals in his garden after the war.[1][3] He was weary of war and agentry in general, and bitter due to the loss of several friends. In addition, most of the local populace had been unaware of his resistance role and it was thus socially and emotionally fatiguing to act like a Nazi.[1] During the war he had also inflicted a motorcycling injury upon himself to avoid being sent to the Eastern Front.[2] He died in 1970, before his 52nd birthday.[1] His experiences were made into a book by Per Hansson, named Det største spillet ('The Grandest Play'), and later a film of the same name.[4] A bust of Tomstad was raised in Flekkefjord.[5]

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Løberg, Lars (2005). "Gunvald Tomstad". in Helle, Knut (in Norwegian). Norsk biografisk leksikon. 9. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 10 April 2009.  
  2. ^ a b Jacobsen, Hans E. H. (27 January 2006). "Ny bok om krigshelt" (in Norwegian). Stavanger Aftenblad. Retrieved 10 April 2009.  
  3. ^ a b c d "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—Tomstad, Gunwald" (fee usually required to view pdf of full original recommendation). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. Retrieved 15 January 2010.  
  4. ^ Kraglund, Ivar (1995). "Tomstad, Gunvald". in Dahl, Hans Fredrik. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45. Oslo: Cappelen. Retrieved 10 April 2009.  
  5. ^ Tjomlid, Oddvar (16 January 2006). "Ber om hjelp til ny bok om Gunvald Tomstad" (in Norwegian). Sirdølen. Retrieved 10 April 2009.  
  1. ^ Quote: "Motstandsmannen Tomstad vart etter kvart ein leiande NS-mann og framståande nazi-ideolog innan partiet i Flekkefjordsdistriktet". In English: "The resistance man Tomstad eventually became a leading NS man and prominent Nazi ideologist within the party in the Flekkefjord district". Cited from Norsk biografisk leksikon.

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