Plukkutjønnfjellet Pyramid of Remembrance
©Linn Marita Larsson

Plukkutjønnfjellet Pyramid of Remembrance

Towards the end of WW2, Operation RYPE was put into action with their base at Gjefsjøen mountain farm by Gjevsjøen in the Snåsa mountains. This was the only operation lead by American troops on Norwegian territory during WW2. Norwegian and American commando soldiers sabotaged the railway, and thus prevented German troops from mobilizing towards the final battles in Europe.

One of the planes that were going to drop off soldiers crashed at the top of the Plukkutjønn mountain, and all 12 soldiers passed away. In 1949 a memorial was put in place to honor the 12 American soldiers who died in the crash at the site not too far away from the top of the mountain.

The accident
On the night between the 6th and 7th of April in 1945 a last attempt was made to send reinforcements to Gjevsjøen mountain farm. The plane contained extra personnel and gear to the Norwegian and American soldiers living at Gjefsjøen. These were soldiers who performed sabotages towards German transportation around the Trøndelag region, one instance being the sabotage of the Jørstad bridge. The weather was poor on the night to the 7th of April in 1945, and those anticipating the arrival of the plane heard an explosion early in the morning, something that could indicate an accident.

The crash site was only found 3 weeks later by the young sami reindeer herder Bengt Jåmå on the 26th of April. He passed a ridge below the peak and saw something that appeared to be glimmering rocks further up. When Jåmå examined the site further, the “glimmering rocks” he had seen turned out to be twisted aluminum shimmering by the reflection of the sunlight.

The day after a patrol was sent up from Gjefsjø to examine Bengt Jåmå’s findings. From their first glance, they presumed that the plane had taken course straight towards the west when it crashed and bounced down the slope. After looking at the state of the bodies, they presumed that the soldiers had passed immediately after the accident with parts of the plane scattered about in hundreds of pieces.

The memorial
Herbert Helgesen took the initiative to create the memorial on the mountain. The memorial shows the names of the deceased and was unveiled in 1949. Memorial ceremonies have frequently been held in the later years at the site.

Operation RYPE
RYPE was the code name of an American parachute troop division, the Norwegian Operations Group (NORSO). On March 24th the group went with eight B-24 planes from Harrington airport in England and jumped out with parachutes over the Snåsa mountains. The operation made Gjefsjøen mountain farm by Gjevsjøen their base. RYPE was the only American ground operation on Norwegian soil during WW2 where American paratroopers with the code name Rype – Operated in the Snåsa mountains in the late winter months of 1945. The purpose of the operation was to sabotage the railway towards the north of Norway to prevent troop transportation and mobilization for the Germans towards the end of the war.

The CIA started at Gjefsjøen
The division belonged to the organization ‘The Office of Strategic Services (OSS),’ the predecessor to U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was led by the later CIA-chief William Colby. The soldiers were recruited from 99th Battalion Separate US Army, a battalion that was founded in 1942 to perform guerilla operations behind enemy lines. The troops in the Snåsa mountains were mainly Norwegian-Americans and Norwegians who happened to end up in the USA during the war. Operation RYPE was the US Army’s first and only combined ski- and parachute operation.

OSS Gjefsjøen
In 2018 a handful of veterans from the Armed Forces' Special Command founded the “OSS Gjefsjoen” foundation together with earlier chief of the homeland security branch in Trøndelag, Ebbe Deraas.

In the summer of 2021, a reconstruction of the building Gammelstua (the old living room) was opened up to the public. It was the headquarters for the Operation RYPE and was finished in September. It is now a center of information about the operation and the farm itself. Feel free to take a trip there if you would like to learn more about Operation RYPE.

Directions
To visit the memorial at Plukkutjønnfjellet mountain you have to go by foot along the Gjefsjøstien trail from Ismenningen. The hike is approximately a 20 kilometer walk from start to return. Click this link for a map.

Memorial at Værnes
In 2016 a memorial was also raised at Værnes Garrison in Stjørdal to bring light to the history, honor those who gave their life to establish a connection between the task force RYPE, Operation RYPE and the headquarters for HV-12 and I-force RYPE at Værnes and the operation area in the Snåsa mountains. This memorial is made by one of the motors of the plane that crashed. The plane motor was assembled together with a rock that was also brought down from the Plukkutjønn mountain.

 

Sources:
https://gjefsjo.no/flyulykken-pa-plukkutjonnfjellet/
https://www.snasa.no/besok-oss/museer-og-historiskesteder/plukktjonnfjellet-minnepyramide/
https://www.steinkjerleksikonet.no/operasjon_rype