Tributes have been published in Norwegian media all week, since news broke that one of Norway’s last surviving war heroes had died at the age of 99. Wilhelm Mohr will be honoured with a state funeral on Friday.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg called Mohr “one of Norway’s greatest war heroes,” and claimed that few did as much as he did for his country. “We are grateful for what he did for Norway,” Solberg stated. “He fought for our values, for freedom and democracy.”
Mohr, born on June 27, 1917, was a fighter jet pilot during World War II and later played a central role in building up Norway’s air force. It was his wartime performance that won him the most accolades.
He was stationed at the Værnes air station outside Trondheim when Nazi Germany attacked Norway on April 9, 1940. After taking part in remarkable battles against the invading forces, he made his way to Canada along with several other fighter jet pilots, where he served as both a pilot and instructor and helped build up the air base known as “Little Norway.” It was there that many Norwegian pilots became fighter pilots during the war, with Mohr as their instructor.
He then served in both Norwegian and British air squadrons from 1941 to 1945, mostly over the English Channel, Belgium and France. He also served for a year at Norway’s main military command in exile in London. General Major Per-Egil Rygg wrote in Tuesday’s Aftenposten that Mohr led “some of our most important contributions” to the fight against Hitler’s forces from his base in Great Britain.
Mohr was awarded Norway’s highest military honors and his career continued after the war, when he became chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. “Most air force personnel had the pleasure of meeting Wilhelm, and among us he had the status of being a living legend,” Rygg wrote.
Mohr’s death, according to Rygg, marks “the end of an era.” The Air Force’s “greatest war hero, our highest decorated soldier and our greatest mentor has landed for good,” wrote Rygg. He will be laid to rest at the state’s expense at 1pm Friday at Uranienborg Church in Oslo. His family suggested donations to the Bæreia Veterans’ Center near Kongsvinger, in lieu of flowers to their homes.
“I’m glad that Mohr’s family accepted that his funeral expenses will be covered by the state,” state Prime Minister Solberg. “His contribution to Norway will stand for generations to come.”