De Norske FN-Styrkenes Posthistorie (Postal History of Norway’s UN Forces) by Egil H. Thomassen. 122 pages, 8 by 11 ½ inches, perfect bound, card covers, in Norwegian, Norwegian War and Field Post Society, Tårnåsen, Norway, 2010. $76 postpaid to USA addresses from War and Philabooks, Gydas vej 52, 1413 Tårnåsen, Norway.
For many years Norway has participated in the United Nations peace keeping missions. Early efforts during the Cold War involved military units or observation groups to monitor cease-fire and peace agreements. From 1989 on the UN forces monitored internal civil wars and took a more pro-active stance.
The description of each UN operation involving Norwegian support follows a simple format in this book. First the reason for establishing a peace keeping force in a specific area is explained, followed by information about the United Nations Security Council’s resolution to provide the force. The third item is the duration of the mission (beginning and ending dates) and then a brief description of Norway’s participation in terms of unit type and strength. The final section for each operation is an illustrated view of its postal history like field post markings and cachets.
The first entry is for the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB) that operated from 1947 to 1951. One of the more involved missions was the UN Emergency Force I (UNEF I) from 1956 to 1967. Some of the mail is franked with postage or meter stamps but much of it was postage free. Details are provided on how to distinguish the various UNEF cancellation varieties. Similar treatment is presented for UNIFIL (Interim Force in Lebanon) beginning in 1978. Other UN missions with Norwegian support took place in Angola, Afghanistan, Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Somalia, Croatia, Guatemala, and many more countries. The last entry in this section is the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT II).
Following the peace keeping operations are the peace enforcement missions starting with the United Nations Force in Korea (UNFK) 1950-1953. In the postal history section are covers from the Norwegian Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (NORMASH). The missions continue with the Gulf War, Operation Joint Endeavor (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Stabilization Force Operation Joint Guard/Joint Forge (SFOR), the Kosovo Force, the International Force in East Timor, and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
There is a list of UN peace keeping operations in which Norway did not participate, and a bibliography of literature sources. Another useful listing is that of postal service circulars and announcements that mention Norwegian forces in UN peace keeping operations, with publication number, date, and title.
The text is in Norwegian but a 2-page English summary appears near the end of the book. The typeface is a sans-serif one. Covers are illustrated in color. Several photographs and maps enhance the graphic appeal of this book. For collectors of Norwegian modern postal history, as well as United Nations postal history enthusiasts, Thomassen’s book will be a welcome library addition.