Bengt Nordenskiöld

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Bengt Nordenskiöld
Birth name Bengt Gustafsson Nordenskiöld
Born (1891-09-06)6 September 1891
Sundsvall, Sweden
Died 28 January 1983(1983-01-28) (aged 91)
Österhaninge, Sweden
Allegiance Sweden
Service/branch Swedish Air Force
Years of service 1910–1954
Rank General
Commands held Chief of the Air Staff
Royal Swedish Air Force Staff College
Air Group
Chief of the Air Force
Relations Claës-Henrik Nordenskiöld (son)

Bengt Gustafsson (G:son) Nordenskiöld (6 September 1891 – 28 January 1983) was a Swedish Air Force general who was Chief of the Air Force from 1942 to 1954. In 1910 Nordenskiöld started his military career as a volunteer in the Svea Life Guards (I 1), later attending the Royal Swedish Army Staff College. In 1928, he was made a captain in the General Staff. During 1931 he went through aircraft recognition training at the Royal Air Force Flight Academy, after which he was trained as a pilot. In 1936, Nordenskiöld started to serve in the recently created Air Staff under general Torsten Friis, later becoming a lieutenant general. He was appointed in Chief of the Swedish Air Force in 1942 as the first Chief of Air Force with pilot training. Nordenskiöld was promoted general and retired from active service in 1954.


Nordenskiöld was born in Sundsvall, Sweden, the son of managing director, baron Gustaf Henrik Nordenskiöld and his wife Ester Laura (née Andersson).[1] He was a sea cadet from 1907 to 1908 and passed mogenhetsexamen at Lunds privata elementarskola on 10 June 1910 before enlisting as a volunteer at the Svea Life Guards (I 1) the day after.[2] He enrolled at the Royal Military Academy on 19 October 1911 and graduated and became an officer of 19 December 1912. Nordenskiöld became an became underlöjtnant at the Svea Life Guards on 31 December 1912 and löjtnant there on 28 November 1916.[2] He was then educated at the Royal Swedish Army Staff College from 1922 to 1924,[1] where he graduated first in his class in the staff course.[3] He wan an aspirant at the General Staff from 15 April 1925 to 1927 and was promoted to captain at the Sve Life Guards on 9 December 1927. Nordenskiöld served at the General Staff from 1 January 1928 and was educated in aerial reconnaissance in 1931 and served as a General Staff Officer at the Eastern Military Division (Östra militärfördelningen) from 9 October 1931 to 1933.[2] He was a teacher of tactics at the Royal Swedish Army Staff College from 28 December 1933 to 1934 and major at the General Staff from 27 April 1934 and underwent sergeant pilot training from 1934 to 1936. Nordenskiöld was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Swedish Air Force and was appointed Chief of the Air Staff on 1 July 1936.[2]

Nordenskiöld was promoted to colonel on 1 July 1937 and was head of the Royal Swedish Air Force Staff College from 1 October 1939 to 30 September 1941 and commanding officer of the Air Group (E 1) from 1939 to 1942. He was promoted to major general on 6 June 1941[2] - as the youngest officer in modern Swedish history - which received great attention in the media.[3] Nordenskiöld was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed Chief of the Air Force on 1 July 1942.[2] He was the first pilot trained Chief of the Air Force and during the air wing visits, he flew a J 9 aircraft no. 19, which was to become his "personal" aircraft. It was with this aircraft he crashed during a start from F 5 Ljungbyhed, and was badly injured but survived.[3] When the post of Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces would be appointed in 1951, Nordenskiöld was one of the candidates that were considered by the government. According to Tage Erlander's diaries, his name was dropped because of his impetuous temper and his propensity to make own foreign policy statements.[4] Instead the army general Nils Swedlund became the new Supreme Commander. Air Vice Marshal Ralph Cochrane visited Nordenskiöld and the Swedish Air Force 8-13 June 1952. What was discussed during the visit are not known. Cochrane left F 8 Barkarby north of Stockholm in an English Electric Canberra on the morning of 13 June, the same day as a Swedish radio and radar signals intelligence-gathering DC-3 aircraft was shot down by Soviet Air Force fighter jets.[5] Nordenskiöld was promoted to general on 30 April 1954, two months before his retirement on 30 June 1954.[2]

Other work[edit]

Nordenskiöld was vice chairman of the Royal Swedish Aero Club from 1937 to 1944 and board member of Skånska cement AB and AB Iföverken from 1939 to 1966. He was also chairman of the board of AB Salén & Wicander and Wiklunds bil AB from 1954 to 1972 and AB Godslagring from 1960 to 1972.[2][1] Nordenskiöld was vice chairman of the board of AB Ekensbergs varv from 1955 to 1972.[2] He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences in 1936 (president 1948-49) and became honorary member of the Royal Swedish Society of Naval Sciences in 1954.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Gravesite of General Bengt Nordenskiöld at the Southern Cemetery (Södra kyrkogården) in Kalmar.

On 16 October 1916, Nordenskiöld married Dagmar Werner (1897–1978), the daughter of the wholesaler Carl Linus Werner and Severina (Inez) Natalia (née Jehander).[2] They had two children, Claës-Henrik Nordenskiöld (1917–2003), who also became an air force general, and Brita Christina (1919–1971) who was married 1940–1948 to Prince Ferdinand Aloys Andreas Joseph Anton Maria of Liechtenstein (1901–1981).[6]

Nordenskiöld and Dagmar Werner divorded on 12 September 1934[7] and on 31 October 1934, he married Marie-Louise Elsa Eva Hanna Augusta Lambert-Meuller (1909–1996), the daughter of managing director August Fredrik Lambert Meuller and Elsa (née Flygare). The marriage was childless.[1][2] He was the grandfather of Louise Nordenskiöld and grandfather of Prince Hanno von Liechtenstein.

Nordenskiöld died on 28 January 1983 in Österhaninge and was buried in Southern Cemetery next to Kalmar Castle accompanied by his parents and later his two children.[8]

Dates of rank[edit]

Nordenskiöld in 1941, just before an exercise that he led from his airplane.

Nordenskiöld's dates of rank:[2]

Rank Date
Volunteer 11 June 1910
Underlöjtnant 31 December 1912
Lieutenant 28 November 1916
Captain 9 December 1927
Major 27 April 1934
Lieutenant Colonel 1 July 1936
Major General 6 June 1941
Lieutenant General 1 July 1942
General 30 April 1954

Awards and decorations[edit]

Nordenskiöld's awards:[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Harnesk, Paul, ed. (1964). Vem är vem?. 2, Svealand utom Stor-Stockholm [Who is Who?. 2, Svealand excluding Greater Stockholm] (in Swedish) (2nd ed.). Stockholm: Bokförlaget Vem är vem. p. 595.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Böhme, Klaus-Richard (1990–1991). "Bengt G Nordenskiöld". Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (in Swedish). 27. National Archives of Sweden. p. 292. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  3. ^ a b c Nordenskiöld, Louise (11 September 2006). "Bengt Nordenskiöld (1891 - 1983)" (PDF). www.nordenskiö (in Swedish). ÄTTERNA NORDENSKIÖLDS SLÄKTFÖRENING. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  4. ^ Agrell, Wilhelm (2002). Svenska förintelsevapen: utvecklingen av kemiska och nukleära stridsmedel 1928-1970. Lund: Historiska media. p. 281. ISBN 91-89442-49-0. LIBRIS 8415678., quoting Erlander, Tage, Dagböcker 1950-1951 (2001), p. 218f.
  5. ^ Lokind, Christer (20 May 2014). "DC-3:ans flygning var provocerande" [DC 3rd flight was provocative]. Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  6. ^ "Principality of Liechtenstein". ALMANACH DE SAXE GOTHA. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Nordensköld nr 394". (in Swedish). Adelsvapen. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  8. ^ "BENGT GUSTAVSSON NORDENSKIÖLD" (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  9. ^ Sveriges statskalender för året 1955 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Fritzes offentliga publikationer. 1955. p. 8.
  10. ^ "AMERIKANSK UTMÄRKELSE TILL NORDENSKIÖLD" [AMERICAN AWARD TO NORDENSKIÖLD] (in Swedish). Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. 9 July 1946. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
Military offices
Preceded by
Chief of the Air Staff
Succeeded by
Axel Ljungdahl
Preceded by
Head of the Royal Swedish Air Force Staff College
Succeeded by
John Stenbeck
Preceded by
Commander of the Air Group
Succeeded by
Paulus af Uhr
Preceded by
Torsten Friis
Chief of the Air Force
Succeeded by
Axel Ljungdahl