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Tronstad, Leif Hans Larsen

Date of birth:
March 27th, 1903 (Bærum/Akershus, Norway)
Date of death:
March 11th, 1945 (Syrebekkstølen, Rauland, Norway)
Norwegian (1905-present, Kingdom)


Leif Tronstad was a Norwegian scientist, intelligence officer and military organizer. He graduated from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in 1927 and was a prolific researcher and writer of academic publications. A professor of chemistry at the Norwegian Institute of Technology from 1936, he was also among the pioneers of heavy water research, and was instrumental when a heavy water plant was built at Vemork.
During World War II Norway was invaded by Germany and Tronstad conducted domestic resistance for one year before fleeing the country for England. Here, he gathered valuable intelligence from Norwegian sources, both on the development of the V-2 rocket and the growing German interest in heavy water. In 1943 Tronstad planned Operation Gunnerside, in which the German access to heavy water processing at Vemork was severely impeded. His information about the V-2 rocket contributed to the massive Allied bombing of Peenemünde.
For a long time Tronstad had wanted to return to Norway to organize resistance work, however he was prevented by the Norwegian military authorities in Britain. In 1944, however, he did travel to Norway, to organize Operation Sunshine, for the defence of Norwegian infrastructure. After five months in the country, he was murdered by Norwegian traitors.

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Kaptein (Captain)
Norwegian Independent Company 1, SN Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE), British Government
Awarded on:
April 26th, 1943
Awarded for:
Operation Gunnerside

WO 373/108/1060
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:

With "Sword".
Second World War (1939-1945)
"Major TRONSTAD was formerly Professor of Industrial Chemistry at the Technical College in TRONDHEIM. From the time of the German occupation of NORWAY he was engaged in clandestine activity of various kinds including the removal from a supply train of over 300,000 rounds of Krag Jorgensen ammunition which was successfully concealed until the cessation of hostilities. As a consequence he was forced to leave the country, and arrived in GREAT BRITAIN at the beginning og 1942. He was immediately attached to the Norwegian High Command, and in addition acted as adviser on industrial scientific subjects.

He was appointed to F.O. IV, the Department of the High Command which was concerned with the strengthening and supplying of Resistance. For the most important part he played in the planning of the highly successful attack on the stocks of "Heavy Water" in Norway in 1943 he was awarded the O.B.E.

At the beginning of October 1944, Major Tronstad was dropped into NORWAY in charge of a party whose duty it was to plan and carry out the protection of the important Hydro-Electric plants in the RJUKAN area. He was killed on 11the March 1945, while interrogating a Quisling Sheriff whose removal was deemed to be necessary. During the previous five months he had moved about the countryside n uniform and had built up a protective organisation which came above ground in May, and was instrumental, to a great extent, in safeguarding the whole of the plants involved.

From the time of his arrival in LONDON until his death Major TRONSTAD worked in full accord and complete co-operation with his British colleagues in Special Force HQ. He was also responsible at Norwegian High Command for the discipline and control of Norwegian interests of the Norwegian Independant Company, to which were posted all the Officers and Other Ranks who were trained for, and carried out, work in NORWAY in connection with Resistance and the execution of coup-de-main attacks. It was mainly owing to Major TRONSTAD that agreement was reached for the complete integration of the F.O. IV, SFHQ and O.S.S. Staffs engaged in these plans and operations.

Major TRONSTAD set at all times an inspiring example of energy, enthusiasm, and team spirit.

It is recommended he be awarded a Certificate of Commendation (Posthumous).
King's/Queen's Commendation for brave conduct


  • - The Emporia Gazette › 1947 › April › 1 April 1947 › Page 11
    - Krigskorset
    - Copy of the original recommendation for the King's Commendation - STIWOT Archive