Jens-Anton Poulsson

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Jens-Anton Poulsson
30860 Klingenberg kino Kampen om tungtvannet.jpg
Jens-Anton Poulsson shaking hands with King Haakon VII at the release of the 1948 film Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water
Born (1918-10-27)27 October 1918
Tinn, Norway
Died 2 February 2010(2010-02-02) (aged 91)
Allegiance Norway
Service/branch Norwegian Army
Years of service 1940–1982
Rank Colonel
Unit Norwegian Independent Company 1
Commands held Danish–Norwegian battalion of UNEF
His Majesty The King's Guard
3rd Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars Norwegian Campaign
Awards Norway War Cross with sword
Norway Defence Medal with rosette
Norway Haakon VIIs 70th Anniversary Medal
United Kingdom Distinguished Service Order
Relations Else Poulsson (sister)

Jens-Anton Poulsson DSO, (27 October 1918 in Tinn[1] – 2 February 2010[2][3]) was a Norwegian military officer. During World War II he was a Norwegian resistance member, especially noted for his role in the heavy water sabotage 1942–1943. He continued his military career after the war, and was appointed colonel in 1968.

World War II[edit]

Heavy water sabotage[edit]

Poulsson served as a second lieutenant in the Norwegian Independent Company 1 (Norwegian: Kompani Linge) during World War II. As a leader of the Grouse team he parachuted onto the Hardangervidda plateau on 18 October 1942, along with Arne Kjelstrup, Knut Haugland and Claus Helberg.[4][5][6] The team landed at Fjarefit in Songadalen, and prepared to receive British troops of Operation Freshman at Møsvassdammen.[6] The Freshman operation was a failure, as the two gliders crashed.[5] Another operation, called Gunnerside, was successful. The Gunnerside team joined the Grouse (later renamed Swallow), and the combined team succeeded in the destruction of heavy water equipment and stock at Vemork in February 1943. After the sabotage Poulsson escaped to Oslo, and later via Sweden to the United Kingdom.[6]

Poulsson was awarded Norway's War Cross with sword, after his return to United Kingdom in 1943. It was presented to him by King Haakon at a ceremony at the training school STS 26 in Scotland, near Nethy Bridge. Also Rønneberg, leader of the Gunnerside team, received the War Cross with sword at this ceremony, while the other participants in the heavy water sabotage received the St. Olav's Medal With Oak Branch.[7]

Operation Sunshine[edit]

Poulsson returned to Norway in 1944, participating in Operation Sunshine led by major Leif Tronstad. Nine SOE agents, among them several from the heavy water sabotage team, were paradropped over Ugleflott in Øvre Telemark 5 October 1944. Their mission was to establish fighting groups at Rjukan, Notodden and Nore. Poulsson, along with Claus Helberg as wireless operator, was responsible for the Rjukan section. In the mountains surrounding Rjukan a military force consisting of 300 soldiers was built up, and the troops were supplied with provisions and weapons from allied aircraft.[8]

The part of Telemark which was covered by Sunshine was called Milorg district 16 (D-16). When Tronstad was killed in a shooting episode 11 March 1945, Poulsson took over as leader of the Sunshine operation (Milorg D-16).[1][8]


For his war contributions Poulsson was decorated with the Defence Medal with rosette and Haakon VIIs 70th Anniversary Medal, in addition to the War Cross.[9] He was also decorated with the British Distinguished Service Order (DSO)[10] as well as the St. Olav's Medal With Oak Branch.

Post war[edit]

In 1960 Poulsson was leading the Danish–Norwegian battalion (Danor) in the UN force UNEF in Gaza. From 1961 he held various leading positions in the Norwegian Army, and has been a colonel since 1968. He headed His Majesty The King's Guard from 1961–1965, he was second in command for Brigade Nord from 1967–1968 and he headed the 3rd Infantry Regiment from 1980–1982.[1]

Poulsson died early February 2010 aged 91.

In his funeral, King Harald V participated, in addition to historian Knut Werner Hagen, who is about to write a book about Poulsson in the near future.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Poulsson, Jens-Anton". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Kunnskapsforlaget. 2007. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Vemork-aksjonist Jens-Anton Poulsson er død". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  3. ^ van der Vat, Dan (12 March 2010). "Obituary: Jens-Anton Poulsson". The Guardian. London (50,856): 37. 
  4. ^ "Tungtvannsaksjonen på Vemork" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Kraglund, Ivar (1995). "tungtvannssabotasjen". In Dahl; Hjeltnes; Nøkleby; Ringdal; Sørensen. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940–45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 425–426. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. 
  6. ^ a b c Erling Jensen; Per Ratvik; Ragnar Ulstein, eds. (1948). Kompani Linge (in Norwegian). I. Oslo: Gyldendal. pp. 156–192. 
  7. ^ Manus, Max (1995). Mitt liv (in Norwegian). Oslo: Damm. pp. 176–177. ISBN 82-04-09571-6. 
  8. ^ a b Erling Jensen; Per Ratvik; Ragnar Ulstein, eds. (1948). Kompani Linge (in Norwegian). 2. Oslo: Gyldendal. pp. 201–212. 
  9. ^ "Kongen feiret helten" (PDF). Telemarksavisa (in Norwegian). 28 October 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Poulsson, Jens Anton" (fee usually required to view pdf of full original recommendation). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Tungtvannssabotør Jens-Anton Poulsson er død" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.