Anne Margrethe Strømsheim

1913-2008

When Anne Margrethe Strømsheim died in the autumn of 2008 her surname was Strømsheim. But when she as a young woman acquired the nickname "Lotten fra Hegra" [the WAC from Hegra], her name was Anne Margrethe Bang.
She grew up in a family of many children. Her father, Joackim S. Bang, was a doctor and an active man: the chairman of Trondhjems Skiklub [skiing club], member of the executive city council and even a representative in the Storting [MoP] for a period (for Frisinnede Venstre [the Conservative Liberal Party]).
Anne Margrethe was a lively and daring girl who was very close to her father. Through him she gained some insight into nursing and first aid. After completing primary school she took a mercantile education, finding employment with Forretningsbanken [commercial bank].
When the Germans occupied Norway in April 1940, Anne Margrethe immediately signed up for resistance work. She participated in evacuating children from Trondheim, and then joined a convoy to Selbu. From there she went to Stjørdalen [now Stjørdal], where she joined the volunteers occupying Hegra Fortress. Major Holtermann commanded approximately 250 men, and there was obvious scepticism at allowing a woman into the fortress. She soon proved that she was able to pull her weight as a medical worker. "Lotten fra Hegra" became her lifelong honorary title. She has also been given the title of the only female Norwegian soldier in World War 2!
The conditions for the troops were particularly harsh. Even though they were under continuous attack, the forces kept the enemy at bay until 5 May, thus being the unit to resist the longest in active combat in southern Norway. Six Norwegian soldiers were killed in the Hegra fortress battles. As was the case with many of the other survivors, Anne Margrethe Bang suffered physical injuries that would mark her for the rest of her life, such as the amputation of several toes.
She also continued her resistance activities after the fall of Hegra, as a courier and contact point. Moreover, she obtained more medical schooling in Trondheim hospital. When peace came, she was given the honour of presenting Crown Prince Olav with flowers on behalf of all Trondheim when he visited the town.
After the war she married and moved further south, to Østlandet. For the rest of her life she worked for the cause of war veterans and people disabled by the war. She made strong contributions to obtaining legal resolution of the position of these groups, a decision that improved their financial conditions. In 1965 she was awarded the King's gold medal for meritorious services for her substantial efforts in war and peace. She continued to be in good health and was active for most of her long and energetic life.
Recommended reading: John Berg: Lotten fra Hegra [the WAC from Hegra]. Cappelen 1991.

Author: Einar Rædergård