||Sognnaes (Sognnæs)||Helge Sigurdson||Ltn.||N106||1920-09-20 Bergen||Norway||Pilot||DFC|
St. Olav's Medal with Oak Branch
|RNoAF||Fighter Command||331Sqn Norwegian||1943-06-22||SPITFIRE||LF.IX||AB457||FN-D||6||North Weald||7:42||Ramrod 99||Failed To Return GERMAN A/C, BE-NE-LX ?. / JG1, Crash area
near Nieuwendijk, Zuid Holland||Killed||Bergen Solheim||Helge Sognnæs, lieutenant, Bergen. By Sigurd Sognnæs and Anna Marie Jæger b. Terkelsen. Middle school, vocational school. Participated in the battles at Voss 1940, and went to England on 6 June this year. Trained as a pilot in Little Norway, and was a fighter pilot from the summer of 1941. Fell during an air battle over the Netherlands on 22 June 1943. Sognnæs took part in the fighting at Voss in 1940 during the German invasion of Norway, and went to England on June 6 of the same year to enlist in the Norwegian military command there. He was sent to Little Norway in Canada where he received pilot training in the first fighter cohort at the flight school. After a stay at a British training squadron, he joined 331Sqn with military roll number N106, and eventually became a lieutenant.|
22 June 1943 would be Helge’s last flight. This day a massive Allied air attack was conducted against targets in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Simultaneously two diversionary attacks were directed against Antwerp and Rotterdam. 42 bombers attacked the Belgian port, while a small group of 12 B-25 bombers attacked targets in the port of Rotterdam. The aim of the supporting attacks was to spread the German fighters to a maximum. More than twenty allied fighter squadrons were in the air to protect the bombers this day. Early in the morning, nine aircraft from 331 Squadron transferred from North Weald to Martlesham east of Ipswich to be ready to meet the bombers in the air over The Channel. Under the leadership of major Rolf Arne Berg they took off again at 7:42. The mission was to protect the bombers attacking the port of Rotterdam. Helge Sognnaes flew in a section headed by Sven Heglund. Heglund would end the war as the squadron’s top ace with 16 downed aircraft. In the German fighter base Woensdrecht in the Netherlands the alarm goes off when the Allied attack on Rotterdam is detected on the radar. Twenty-two FW-190 fighters take off and head in the direction the port. One of the pilots is Oberveldwebel Reinhard Flecks. The Norwegian fighters reject several attacks on the bomber formation, and the attack on Rotterdam was completed as planned. However, on the return flight they meet the German aircraft from Woensdrecht again. The encounter evolves into a real dogfight. Sven Heglund can see the Spitfire with Helge Sognnaes in the cockpit beneath him. He has a FW-190 on his tail. Before Heglund can warn his classmate from pilot school, the aircraft is hit by shells from the German plane. The FW-190 is piloted by Feldwebel Reinhard Flecks of 6./JG 1, flying an Fw 190A from Woensdrecht airfield. Flecks has inflicted a direct hit that blows off the whole tail of the Norwegian Spitfire. The plane hits the ground and aircraft components are spread over a large area.
After the crash, Helge Sognnaes was buried at the Crooswijk cemetery in Rotterdam. In 1946 he was cremated in Rotterdam at the request of his family, after which his ashes were sent to his family in Bergen Norway.
Norwegian 331 Squadron pilots in November 1942. On top: Johannes Greiner, Martin Gran. Second row, l-r: Helge Sognnæs (died 1943), Leif Lundsten (d. 1944), Stein Sem (d. 1942), Knut Bache (d. 1944), Anton C. Hagerup (d. 1943), Rolf Arne Berg (d. 1945), the Squadron's Intelligence Officer Philip Yatman, Rolf Engelsen and Svein Heglund. Bottom: Reidar Haave Olsen (d. 1944), Kristian Nyerrød, Fredrik Fearnley (d. 1944) with Varg, Kaj Birksted from Denmark and Tarald Weisteen.