Norway Military Records

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Norway has been involved in several wars, and its first military force is as old as the country itself. In the late middle ages the military was dissolved. The Danish king (Christian IV) decided in 1628 that a Norwegian army was to be re-established. This was the beginning of a permanent Norwegian Army.

The Norwegian Army was reorganized in 1641 by Hannibal Sehested, governor-general of Norway, and a general war commissioner was chosen 1644. In the 1650s there were two general war commissioners in Norway, one for north of the mountains (nordafjelske) and one for south of the mountains (sønnafjelske). The army was later organized with a general war commissioner and several regional war commissioners. The number of war commissioners varied between seven and ten from 1880 to 1900.

Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family records, biographies, census, probate records, civil registration, and church records. Other sources such as church and census records are more easily available and contain better genealogical information than the military records.

Military records include the following:

Records of military service in Norway were kept by the Department of Defense. These records are now at the National Archives. The Family History Library has all the available military records for 1643 to 1909 on digitized microfilm. See the FamilySearch Catalog entry for Militærprotokoller, 1643-1909.


Click on "Database selector" at the top of the page, Click on "Source Category" and choose The Military, then Click on "Sub-category" and choose Military rolls.  Click on Period and choose the years you want to search.  A word of caution, the information online has been extracted from the original records and may contain mistakes.  If ever in doubt, search the microfilms.

Because the military records from Norway are sketchy and not indexed, they are difficult to work with. The early records only give the names of individual soldiers. Information about officers is easier to find. In the 1700s and 1800s, the records give more detailed personal information about each soldier that can sometimes be found in other records. You may find such information as a soldier's name; age; father's name and occupation; civil occupation; place of residence; marital status; wife's name; number of children; height; bodily peculiarities; illnesses or characteristics that made him unfit to serve; previous service; joining date; length of service; and status as a farm owner renter or cotter.

Determining the Unit[edit | edit source]

To use Norwegian military records, you will have to determine the specific unit that your ancestor served in. If you do not know the name of the unit, you may be able to find out which units were in the area where he lived. To do this, you must know the parish as well as the city or farm where the individual was living when he was of age to serve in the military. To determine what unit your ancestor belonged to, use these two helpful charts both digitized at www.digitalarkivet.no

  1. Ovenstad, Olai - Den norske hær 1628-1900 This collection of oversized charts is broken up into 53 time periods from 1628 to 1900. Each chart displays a map of the organization of the army for that time period consisting of the infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments. Each company in the regiment is mapped at the bottom of the regiment with the corresponding officers of that company listed above. Companies were usually formed by geography, so the company name is often the same as the parish or region of its members. For example, if an ancestor is from a farm within the Eidsvold parish in Akershus county, one might look under one of the Akershusiske regiments for a company associated with Eidsvold or the Eidsvoldske company. Each parish does not have its own company, also look for companies that share a name with a neighboring parish to the one in which an ancestor resided. Once a specific unit has been determined as a possibility for an ancestor, search for the regiment's microfilm above in the "Militærprotokoller" and the company's record within the microfilm. Physical copies of these oversized charts may be found in the Family History Library. See the FamilySearch catalog entry for "Oversiktsplan : over den norske hars organisasjon 18/1 1628 - 30/9 1940."
  1. Kiærland, Lars - Oversiktsplan over den norske hærs organisasjon fra 1628 til 1940 This collection consists of three oversized charts covering 12 time periods between 1628 and 1940. Each chart displays the division of the regiments over time into corps and companies. Identify the regiment (usually associated with a county or group of counties) and then the company (usually associated with a parish, group of parishes, or a geographical region like a valley). Physical copies of these oversized charts may be found in the Family History Library. See the FamilySearch catalog entry for "Den norske Hær : 1628-1900."

Or check the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NORWAY - MILITARY RECORDS

A useful biography about Norwegian military officers from 1628 to 1814 is:

Olai Ovenstad. Militœbiografier, den norske hœrs officerer fra 18 januar 1628 til 17 mai 1814 (The Norwegian Army Officers from January 18, 1628 to May 17, 1814). Oslo, Norway: Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening, 1948-19492. Two Volumes (FHL 948.1 D3o)

A list of the regiments and companies for each county is listed. The main military records for Norway are to be found on the level of the country, but there are also a few listed under the level of county and city, which can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NORWAY [COUNTY], - MILITARY RECORDS
NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - MILITARY RECORDS

The Regional Archives in Kongsberg has placed online four tables showing the organization of the Norwegian army, 1628-1817.

Military Terms[edit | edit source]

Skipreie.  A Skipreie or Skiprede was an area assigned to ourfit a ship for military use.  Its size was determind according to the number of farms in the area and did not usually include the entire parish.  A skipreie may have included a number of farms of a given parish while another skipreie included the remaining farms in the same parish.  A skipreie was not confined to a parish border and may have included farms in several parishes.  As the population grew, the area a given skipreie included became smaller.  Today a skipreie is called Skipsrederi and is a factory in a city or town where ships are being built. 


Fjerding.  A Fjerding is an old administrative jurisdiction that subdivided a county, district (Herred), and sometimes also a skipreie (skiprede).  Standardized spellings  of place name (names) can first be found in the early1900s in Norway.  Therefore, these terms may be spelled several different ways.  

The Fjerding was not the only jurisdiction used in the middle ages, but it seems to have been an important one for the church and states.  It is the remnant of an ancient system that was still being used in Rogaland County in conjunction with larger court district even in the 1700s and 1800s.

The term Fjerding is mainly used in early records in Norway.

A Fjerding could also mean 1/4th of a county in western Norway, or in Iceland it could men 1/4th of the whole country.

In the middle ages a Fjerding could mean 1/4th of a large distirct or area.

Military History[edit | edit source]

Norway was involved in the following military actions:

The Nordic Seven-Year War, 1563-1570. (War against Sweden waged by Frederic II of Denmark to win control of the Baltic Sea failed).

The Kalmar War, 1611-1613. (Denmark-Norway against Sweden).

The Hannibal Feud, 1643-1645. (Norway lost Jämtland and Härjedalen to Sweden).

The Krabbe War and Bjelke Feud, 1657-1660. (Norway lost Trondheim len and Romsdal to Sweden, but took back Jämtland and Härjedalen).

The Gyldenløve Feud, 1675-1679. (Norway's army went against Sweden. Also called the war of Skåne).

The Eleven-Year War, 1709-1720. (At peace of 1720 Denmark lost many German possessions. Small colonies were established in West Indies and Greenland).

Action against Sweden in Bohuslän, 1788. (Denmark-Norway tried to take the fortress Bohus in Bohuslän).

The Napoleonic War, 1807-1814. (Ended by treaty of Kiel in 1814 which forced Denmark to cede Norway to Sweden).

Occupation during the World War II, 1940-1945.

For more historical information about the Norwegian military, see:

  • Bjørn Christophersen, Vårt Forsvars Historie (The History of Our Defense), Oslo, Norway: Gyldendahl Norsk Forlag, 1978. (FHL book Ref. 948.1 M2c)
  • Kilder til 2. verdenskrig (Sources for WWII)
  • For information about Norwegians who settle in Wisconsin and served in the 15th Volunteer Infantry, see the following web site:

The 15th Wisconsin Regiment

More military histories are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NORWAY - MILITARY HISTORY.

Military Ranks[edit | edit source]

MILITARY RANKS IN NORWAY FROM ABOUT 1930- TO THE PRESENT[edit | edit source]

BEFAL  --   NON COMMISIONED

NORWEGIAN       US EQUIVALENT

HÆREN                THE ARMY

Visekorporal          (Vice Corporal)

Korporal                Corporal

Sersjant                Sergeant

Stabssersjant        Staff Sergeant


MARINEN               THE MARINE

Kvartermester I        Quarter Master I

Kvartermester II       Quarter Master II

Flaggkvartermester  Flag Quarter Master


FLYVÅPENET         AIR FORCE

Visekorporal            (Vise Corporal)

Korporal                  Corporal

Sersjant                  Sergeant

Vingsersjant            Wing Sergeant (Staff Sergeant)




OFFICER RANK

HÆREN                   THE ARMY

Fenrik                      2nd. Lieutenant

Løytnant                  1st. Lieutenant

Kaptein                    Captain

Major                       Major

Oberstløytnant          Lieutenant Colonel

Oberst                     Colonel

Generalmajor            Major General

Generalløytnant        Lieutenant General

General                    General


MARINEN                         NAVY

Fenrik                               Ensign

Løytnant                           Lieutenant Jr. Grade

Kapteinløytnant                 Lieutenant

Orlogskaptein                   Lieutenant Commander

Kommandørkaptein           Commander

Kommandør                     Captain

Kontreadmiral                   Rear Admiral

Viseadmiral                      Vice Admiral

Admiral                            Admiral


FLYVÅPENET                 AIR FORCE

Fenrik                             2nd. Leutenant

Løytnant                         1st. Lieutenant

Kaptein                          Captain

Major                             Major

Oberstløytnant                Lieutenant Colonel

Oberst                            Colonel

Generalmajor                  Major General

Generalløytnant               Lieutenant General

General                          General

MILITARY RANKS IN NORWAY EARLY (1600's)TO CA. 1930[edit | edit source]

NORWEGIAN                                US EQUIVALENT

Menig soldat                                  Private

Korporal                                        Corporal


BEFAL                                            NC

Sersjant                                          Sergeant

Furer                                               Quartermaster Sergeant

Kommandersjersant                          First Sergeant, Sergeant Major [?]

Fanejunker                                       Ensign (Army) or (3, 4, 5 Lieutenant)

   2a. Kavalieret - Standart Junker.        2a. Cavalry - Standard Bearer

   2b. Artilleriet het de stykjunker          2b. Artillery - Ensign or 3, 4, 5 Lieutenant


OFFISERER                                              OFFICERS

Secondløytnant                                          2nd. Lieutenant

Premierløytnant                                         1st. Lieutenant

Kaptein                                                     Captain

   I. Kavaleriet brukte da tittelen                      I. The Cavalry used the tittle Captain (of Horse)

    Rittermester i stedet for kaptein

Major                                                         Major    

Oberstløytnant                                            Lieutenant Colonel

Oberst                                                       Colonel

Generalmajor                                              Major General

Generalløytnant                                          Lieutenant General    

General (Den gangen var det kun Kongen      General (only the King at this time period).

 som hadde graden General) 


Menig soldat                                               Private

Korporal                                                     Corporal

Sersjant (befalsgrad)                                   Sergeant (NC)

Fenrik (Første offisergrad)                            2nd. Lieutenant

Løytnant                                                    1st. Lieutenant

Kaptein                                                      Captain

Major                                                         Major

Oberstløytnant                                            Major

Brigade (Oberst 1, changers 1968)               Brigadier General (Colonel)

Oberst (Oberst 2, changerd 1968)                Colonel

Generalmajor                                             Major General

Generalløytnant                                          Lieutenant General

General (bare 2. Kongen & forsvarsjefen)      General (only 2. The King and the head person of defence)


Other military terms:

Soldat                                                     Soldier

Dragon                                                    Cavalry soldier

National soldat                                         National soldier - infantry

Gevorben                                                 Enlisted soldier

Jæger                                                     Light cavalry -chasseur or hunter

Musqueter                                               Infantry soldier

Skiløper                                                  Infanteriman on skis

Marinesoldat                                           Navy soldier

Matros                                                   Sailor