Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Secret Agent' in World War II Young Deckhand Reported Ship Movements

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Secret Agent' in World War II Young Deckhand Reported Ship Movements

Article excerpt

All Henry Henningsen knew about the stranger was his last name, Knutsen, and that he was curious about the German submarines and torpedo boats being repaired at Henningsen's workplace.

A 16-year-old deckhand on a drydock in Trondheim, Norway, in mid-1943, Henningsen hadn't counted on being turned into a spy.

But one day, the man asked more than just questions.

"He asked me if he could trust me and if I would phone him when I knew the ships were going out," said the 72-year-old Southside resident, a Trondheim native who's lived in Jacksonville since 1948. "He told me I couldn't talk to my parents about it or my sisters or brothers or friends. I knew what he wanted me to do was really dangerous."

Henningsen, figuring he was helping out the war effort in some way, complied. Only after the war did he understand that the information was passed on to Allied intelligence sources, who monitored German military ship traffic and whether it would cross the path of Allied shipping.

And now, Henningsen finally has been rewarded for his efforts.

He and five other members of Norway's World War II resistance forces were honored in their homeland April 15, receiving the country's Participation Medal for their efforts during the war.

Norwegian military officials gave Henningsen a medal and certificate signed by King Harald V. About 250 World War II veterans attended the ceremony in Trondheim, a north central port city near the Atlantic coast.

"I felt good about it," Henningsen said.

Michael Henningsen, one of Henningsen's two sons, said his father showed him the medal at a recent family dinner.

"He looked real proud of it when he showed it to me," said the younger Henningsen, 45, of Arlington. "It's about time. It's been many years."

The drydock where Henry Henningsen worked was brought from Germany to Trondheim harbor to repair German Uboats and other ships damaged while patrolling off the country's rocky Atlantic coast, he said.

Henningsen said he despised the Germans, who had occupied his country since April 1940.

"We all hated them because they took everything we had," Henningsen said. …

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