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Olof Thörnell


Olof Thörnell




General Olof Gerhard Thörnell (19 October 1877 – 25 July 1977) was a Swedish Army officer. He was Sweden's first Supreme Commander from 8 December 1939 until 1944. Before 1939 that had been the role of the King.

Early life

Thörnell was born on 19 October 1877 in Trönö, Söderhamn Municipality, Sweden, the son of Per Thörnell, a vicar, and his wife Gerhardina "Dine" Margareta (née Lindgren). He was the brother of professor Gösta Thörnell. Thörnell grew up in a priest's home with close contact with the academic world. He was born in the same room as Nathan Söderblom and also came to be strongly influenced by this friend in the choice of life path. After passing studentexamen on 17 May 1895 at Norra Latin in Stockholm he was commissioned as an officer in the Uppland Regiment (I 8) in 1897. The choice of regiment gave him time to lay the groundwork for solid language knowledge at the Uppsala University during vacant periods, including in Russian. In future commissions to foreign units in Austria, France and the Netherlands, he had additional opportunities to improve his language skills alongside the professional studies.

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Career

Thörnell was promoted to lieutenant on 7 December 1900 in Uppland Regiment (I 8). On 7 July 1906 Thörnell graduated from the Royal Swedish Army Staff College and was commissioned as an officer cadet at the General Staff. He was promoted to captain of the General Staff on 10 June 1910. From 1911 to 1915 Thörnell was a teacher at the Royal Swedish Army Staff College. In 1915 he left the General Staff and served as captain in the Älvsborg Regiment (I 15). After a few years in the field, he returned to the General Staff, where he quickly rose through the ranks. On 27 November 1917, he was promoted to major and on 19 August lieutenant colonel.

He was promoted to major of the General Staff in 1917 and became head of the Central Department of the General Staff in 1918. In 1921 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the General Staff. Thörnell was after that serving in the Upplands Infantry Regiment (I 8) in 1924 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel and acting commanding officer of Gotland Infantry Regiment (I 27) in 1926. On 24 August 1926 Thörnell was promoted to colonel and became commanding officer of Vaxholm Grenadier Regiment (I 26). On 1 January 1928 he was appointed military commander of Gotland and commanding officer of Gotland Infantry Regiment (I 27) and in 1931 he was appointed Inspector of the Swedish Army Service Troops. On 28 December 1933 he was promoted to major general and was appointed Inspector of the Swedish Infantry. On 1 July 1936, Thörnell, was promoted to Lieutenant General and at the same time appointed Chief of the Defence Staff. He now began the organization work. On 1 July 1937, the new staff gathered and the Chief of the Defense Staff took command of the new staff. Thörnell had a harsh and sarcastic appearance, and were generally called LM (The lust murderer) among the younger officers in the Defence Staff. He was considered an aged, stiff and unimaginable bureaucrat. The circle around Helge Jung had no respect for Thörnell, they saw him as a "chair warmer", a temporary solution until someone from their own ranks had enough years of service to take over his post. But from the government's point of view, Thörnell had an advantage. He was a loyal bureaucrat.

On 8 December 1939 he was appointed Supreme Commander and on 1 January he was promoted to general. Thörnell's time as the Supreme Commander was marked by several major concessions to Germany and Thörnell himself was generally considered pro-German. Thörnell was criticized by Torgny Segerstedt among other, because he, on 7 October 1940, received the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle by the hands of the Prince of Wied with a letter signed by Adolf Hitler. Thörnell was a skilled organizer who put high demands on his staff. He was also a politically cautious general, overcautious some thought, who took active part in the intricate game about the Swedish neutrality during the first dangerous war years. He tried to safeguard the country for as many possible chain of events as possible. Thörnell left office as Supreme Commander on 1 April 1944 and was succeeded by Helge Jung. Thörnell was chief of His Majesty's Military Staff until the king died on 29 October 1950.

Duties

  • Member of the 1918 Military Payroll Experts (1918 års militära avlöningssakkunniga) 1920-1921
  • Member of the 1921 Pension Committee (1921 års pensionskommittée)
  • Member of the Swedish Armed Forces Salaries and Wages Board (Försvarsväsendets lönenämnd) 1921-1924
  • Vice Chancellor of the Orders of His Majesty the King (Kungl. Maj:ts Orden) in 1947

Personal life

On 1 October 1904 he married Anna Henrika Halling (1883–1972) in Skållerud, the daughter of factory manager Alex Halling and Henrika Gustafva (née Collén). They had four children: Gerhard (1905–1940), Barbro (1908–1992), Ulla (1914–2011) and Per (1918–1990).

Death

Thörnell died on 25 July 1977 in Uppsala and was buried in Uppsala old cemetery.

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Dates of rank

Awards and decorations

Swedish

  • Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty (6 June 1942)
  • King Gustaf V's Jubilee Commemorative Medal (1948)
  • King Gustaf V's Commemorative Medal (1951)
  • King Gustaf VI Adolf's Commemorative Medal (1967)
  • Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword (5 June 1937)
  • Commander First Class of the Order of the Sword (28 November 1929)
  • Knight of the Order of the Sword (1918)
  • Knight of the Order of Vasa (1945)
  • National Aerial-Protection Association's Medal of Merit in silver (1943)
  • Swedish Voluntary Motor Transport Corps Merit Badge (1940)
  • Medal of Merit for the Voluntary Motorboat Corps (Förtjänstmedalj för Frivilliga motorbåtskåren) 1929
  • Landstorm Officer's Society Medal of Merit (Landstormsofficerssällskaps förtjänstmedalj) (1930)
  • National Federation of Swedish Women’s Auxiliary Defence Services' Medal of Merit (Svenska lottakårens förtjänstmedalj) (1930)
  • Swedish Landstorm Association Medal of Merit (Sveriges Landstormsförenings förtjänstmedalj) (1930)
  • Gotland Shooting Association Medal of Merit (Gotlands skytteförbunds förtjänstmedalj) (1932)
  • Swedish Red Star Medal of Merit (Svenska Röda Stjärnans förtjänstmedalj) (1938)

Foreign

  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland (26 October 1938)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle (1940)
  • Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau with swords
  • Winter War Commemorative Medal for Foreigners

Honours

  • Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences (1923)
  • Honorary Member of the Royal Swedish Society of Naval Sciences (1939)

References

Notes

Print

  • Andolf, Göran; Hugemark, Bo, eds. (1992). I orkanens öga: 1941 - osäker neutralitet [In eye of the hurricane: 1941 - uncertain neutrality] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Probus. ISBN 91-87184-14-1. SELIBR 7762902.
  • Berghman, Arvid (1949). Nordiska riddareordnar och dekorationer [Nordic knight orders and decorations]. Skrifter / utgivna av Riksheraldikerämbetet, 99-2298099-1 ; 2 (in Swedish). Malmö: J. Kroon, Malmö ljustrycksanst. SELIBR 1388795.
  • Berggren, Henrik (2018). Landet utanför: Sverige och kriget 1939-1940. Landet utanför ; 1 (in Swedish). [Stockholm]: Norstedts. ISBN 9789113039527. SELIBR 22527468.
  • Berglöw, Gösta (1999). "Olof Thörnell – Sveriges överbefälhavare under krigsåren – föddes i Trönö" [Olof Thörnell - Sweden's supreme commander during the war years - was born in Trönö]. Alir-anor: Medlemsblad för Forskarföreningen Alir (in Swedish). Söderhamn: Forskarföreningen Alir (2). SELIBR 2019069.
  • Dahlberg, Hans (1983). I Sverige under 2:a världskriget [In Sweden during World War II] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Bonnier fakta. ISBN 91-34-50308-0. SELIBR 8350227.
  • H:son Ericson, Stig (1977). "Olof G. Thörnell" (PDF). Tidskrift I Sjöväsendet (in Swedish). Carlskrona (6). SELIBR 8258455.
  • Frick, Lennart W.; Rosander, Lars (2004). Bakom hemligstämpeln: hemlig verksamhet i Sverige i vår tid (in Swedish). Lund: Historiska media. ISBN 91-85057-11-8. SELIBR 9501112.
  • Harnesk, Paul, ed. (1964). Vem är vem?. 2, Svealand utom Stor-Stockholm [Who is Who?. 2, Svealand excluding Greater Stockholm] (in Swedish) (2nd ed.). Stockholm: Bokförlaget Vem är vem. SELIBR 53510.
  • Furtenbach, Börje, ed. (1964). Aktuellt och Historiskt: Meddelanden från lmilitärhistoriska avdelningen vid kungl. militärhögskolan 1964 (PDF). Militärhistorisk tidskrift, 0283-8400 0283-8400 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Militärhistoriska avdelningen, Försvarsmakten. SELIBR s2pfv09xq2nfkc10.
  • Kjellander, Bo, ed. (2005). Gotlands nationalbeväring och regemente. Bd 2, Personer och traditioner (in Swedish). Stockholm: Probus. p. 22. ISBN 91-87184-80-X. SELIBR 10002196.
  • Lagerström, Sten, ed. (1968). Vem är det: svensk biografisk handbok. 1969 [Who is it: Swedish biographical handbook. 1969] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedt. SELIBR 3681519.

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Olof Thörnell by Wikipedia (Historical)



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