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#3536753 - 03/12/12 01:49 AM Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot  
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semmern Offline
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Today I had the great honour of meeting Per Waaler, one of the last remaining Norwegian fighter pilots of WWII. At 94, his mobility is a bit reduced, but he still possesses excellent eyesight and hearing, and walks quite briskly with a cane or a crutch to support him.

He was one of only six or seven pilots to make it into the air on the morning of April 9th, 1940, flying Gloster Gladiators, when the Luftwaffe came roaring in. He flew in a flight of five, led by Rolf Tradin. As they spotted the Heinkel 111s, Do-17s and Ju-88s, Tradin radioed "We attack! Every man for himself!", and they each went for separate targets. These men were flying inferior Gladiators, greatly outnumbered, and yet they didn't hesitate an instant. The first-ever aerial combat over Norway was rather lopsided, but the Gladiators gave as good as they got, with Waaler claiming one destroyed, probably a Bf110. When he landed to re-arm his Gladiator was shot up by a strafing 110. Waaler barely managed to jump clear. "We should have gotten more of them!" he said.

Later in the war he served as an instructor at Little Norway in Canada, training Norwegian pilots. After recovering from an accident in which a student stalled his plane on landing, he volunteered for Bomber Command, as by now (1943) the tide was turning, and he felt he could be of more use as a bomber pilot on the offensive. On May 24, 1943 he was flying his last ride as "second dickie" before qualifying as a Halifax captain, when the plane he was in was attacked by a Ju-88 over Dortmund, and shot down. Waaler and three others survived, but the remaining four crew members died.

He spent five days on the run, but was eventually captured, and spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III, helping with The Great Escape, but not actually escaping himself. Interestingly, two of the three that got away were Norwegians.

I asked him if he knew of the horrific loss rates suffered by Bomber Command crews when he volunteered.

He simply nodded his head. He still volunteered.

I am in awe. I have met, shaken hands with and talked to a true hero.


One of the Tiger Moths we keep at Kjeller is the actual plane in which he did much of his flight training in 1937-39! He flew in it again on April 9th 2010, on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Norway. Here he is on the left, with another hero: Lt. Gen (ret.) Wilhelm Mohr, 93, former Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, Spitfire pilot and former commander of 332 (Norwegian) Sqdn. at North Weald.



In all my years I've never seen the like. It has to be more than a hundred sea miles and he brings us up on his tail. That's seamanship, Mr. Pullings. My God, that's seamanship!
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#3536758 - 03/12/12 02:13 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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JimK Offline
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And yet, Their numbers are dying off fast. Have had over dozen WW2 vets who lived here so far in 18 years.
Have 94 year old survivor. He was a Jap POW captured in the Philippines during the war being transported back
to Japan when US war planes not knowing it was filled with US POW`s and sunk the ship. He with 2 other men were
the only survivors. Was not until 2 years ago some People from the military came visit him. He was declared
dead by the military after the sinking and never taken off that list. Even after coming home and resuming his
life. They gave some medal`s and back pay for his time declared dead.

He told me this story right after they visited with him and his wife.


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#3536760 - 03/12/12 02:14 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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REB63 Offline
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Two cool posts.
Thanks.

#3536765 - 03/12/12 02:26 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Duchess Offline
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Great post Semmern smile

#3536804 - 03/12/12 04:02 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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PanzerMeyer Online centaurian
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Wow, fantastic story and pic Semmern. Thanks for sharing.


“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
#3536808 - 03/12/12 04:06 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Excellent posts guys. cool


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#3536829 - 03/12/12 04:54 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Great story. I'm sure he appreciates a young man that is generations away from his age taking an interest..and being grateful for his service.

Good on both of you!



#3536843 - 03/12/12 05:19 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Ajay Offline
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Cool as Semmern thumbsup


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#3536886 - 03/12/12 09:04 AM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: BeachAV8R]  
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kaa Offline
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Originally Posted By: BeachAV8R
Great story. I'm sure he appreciates a young man that is generations away from his age taking an interest..and being grateful for his service.

Good on both of you!


I have no doubt these men received recurrent signs of gratitude and honor from the Norwegians !


"Anyone can shoot you down if you don't see him coming but it takes a wonderfully good Hun to bag a Camel if you're expecting him."
Tom Cundall.
#3536922 - 03/12/12 12:26 PM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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No105_Archie Offline
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thanks for posting


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#3537956 - 03/13/12 10:36 PM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: No105_Archie]  
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Biggles07 Offline
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Great story Semm, enjoyed it and thanks very much for posting! smile


"I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals".

Sir Winston Churchill
#3537993 - 03/13/12 11:12 PM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Bulletstop Offline
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I am in awe! I can only imagine the honor being in the presence of such men.


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#3538014 - 03/13/12 11:43 PM Re: Met a true hero today: A Norwegian WWII fighter pilot [Re: semmern]  
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Gambit21 Offline
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Thank you very much for sharing this.


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