Operation Cheese I

This was a British operation by the Special Operations Executive to contact resistance groups, collect intelligence and reconnoitre sabotage targets in the south of German-occupied Norway (23 January/July 1941).

Delivered by submarine, SOE agent Odd Starheim made contact with local groups and, through Lieutenant Pål Frisvold, the central leadership of the resistance movement. Starheim also sent back a significant quantity of intelligence information before returning to the UK in July 1941.

Starheim led ‘Cheese I’ together with the double agent and radio operator Gunvald Tomstad. Starheim was landed by submarine on the Norwegian coast near Farsund in December 1940, making his way ashore by kayak and carrying his radio set 25 miles (40 km) inland despite suffering from influenza. The object of the undertaking was to establish what had happened to three men (two of them the pair with whom Starheim had originally escaped from Norway and who had already been returned to Norway on another mission). The men had in fact been captured and executed.

During the mission Starheim became the first SOE agent to establish radio contact between occupied Europe and the UK, on 25 February 1941. During his mission he radioed a report to the UK on the first sighting of the German battleship Bismarck as she left for her ‘Rheinübung’ sortie into the Atlantic.