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Haakon Sørbye
Haakon Sørbye at Studentersamfundet in Trondheim, June 2008
Born 16 April 1920(1920-04-16) (age 102)
Place of birth Oslo
Allegiance Norway
Years of service 1940–1945
Unit Skylark B
Other work Engineer, War information work

Haakon Sørbye (16 March 1920) was a Norwegian engineer and resistance member during World War II. He is known as a member of the illegal radio group Skylark B. After the war he was a professor at the Norwegian Institute of Technology.

World War II

Sørbye attended secondary school at Stabekk, and enrolled at the Norwegian Institute of Technology on 1 September 1939—the day World War II started. In April the war reached Norway, with Nazi Germany invading and occupying the country. Sørbye participated briefly in the Norwegian Campaign as a telegrapher, but the Norwegian forces in Trøndelag had capitulated by 10 May.[1]

In September 1940 the Secret Intelligence Service established two stations for radio communication in occupied Norway; the so-called Skylark A was led by Sverre Midtskau in Oslo while Skylark B was led by Erik Welle-Strand in Trondheim. As students formed the backbone of the Skylark B group, Sørbye joined. Other members were Bjørn Rørholt and Einar Johansen, and the chemistry professor Leif Tronstad, helped out as well. Egil Reksten later took over as leader.[2] Skylark B established regular contact with the intelligence in London in 1941, and helped spread messages about German troop and naval movements as well as vital information about German activity at Vemork heavy water plant.[1]

In September 1941, however, Gestapo managed to track the Skylark B transmitting activity.[2] Sørbye was arrested by the Nazi authorities, and was first held in Vollan prison.[3] He was then incarcerated at Møllergata 19 from 27 September 1941 to 16 January 1943, then at Grini concentration camp until 29 July 1943. He was then shipped to Germany and Nacht und Nebel camps.[4] He spent much time in Natzweiler. Despite health problems,[3] he survived until the end of World War II, and was brought home with the White Buses.[1] Reksten survived as well, but seven of the eleven detainees associated with Skylark died.[5] Sørbye was decorated with the King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom and the Defence Medal 1940–1945.[1]

Post-war life

Sørbye resumed his studies, and finally graduated from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in 1948. He was hired by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, and stationed at their radar in Bergen. During the 1950s he stayed abroad to research; at the UK Post Office Research Station in 1951 and the SHAPE Air Defence Technical Centre (SADTC) from 1957 to 1960. In 1964 he was hired as a lecturer in telephone technology at the Norwegian Institute of Technology. After a period as professor of communication technology at the Technical College Twente from 1970 to 1972, he was a professor of telematics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology from 1972 to his retirement in 1987.[1] He is a fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences.[6]

After his retirement he has spent much time as a guide with the White Buses.[7] He has also practiced as a radio amateur. His wife Ruth was a skilled geologist.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Mollan, Aud (16 March 2000). "Viktig tidsvitne" (in Norwegian). Adresseavisen. p. 11. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rørholt, Bjørn (30 April 1998). "Med radio som våpen mot tysk krigsmakt" (in Norwegian). Aftenposten. p. 25. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mollan, Aud (12 March 2005). "Vitne fra da verden var fra vettet" (in Norwegian). Adresseavisen. p. 21. 
  4. Giertsen, Børre R., ed (1946) (in Norwegian). Norsk fangeleksikon. Grinifangene. Oslo: Cappelen. p. 216. 
  5. Ask, Øyvind (23 July 2001). "Litt alvor og litt skjemt" (in Norwegian). Bergens Tidende. p. 18. 
  6. "Medlemmer: SØRBYE, Haakon" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  7. Frafjord, Karine Næss (7 October 2002). "Guider ungdom i dødsleir" (in Norwegian). Adresseavisen. p. 10. 

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