Gunnerside 42

The night of February 27th 2023 marks the 80th anniversary of the Gunnerside sabotage mission at Rjukan, Norway.

Several years ago both Liam and I read the remarkable biography of the late, great Norwegian Joachim Rønneberg (1919- 2018). The book obviously orbits around the 1943 sabotage mission named Operation Gunnerside, in which Joachim Rønneberg commanded a small group of SOE agents through one of the most successful and hazardous undertakings during WW2, the main objective being the heavy water production facilities at Rjukan, Norway. The story was made famous through the Hollywood movie Heroes of Telemark starring Kirk Douglas, countless books and television series - a captivating story of courage, planning, ability and great leadership. That neither Hollywood nor the modern TV- series manage to convey the greatness of the achievement is maybe not surprising, as reality often is more extreme than the mind can accept or believe. In short: Joachim Rønneberg was a bona fide hero on many levels, right up to his death in 2018 at age 99, and a role model for a whole generation.

I am not going to recapitulate the mission here as it has been told so many times before, but rather recommend you search out Joachim Rønneberg´s biography by Gunnar Myklebust or read Damien Lewis book Hunting Hitler Nukes; The Secret Race to Stop the Nazi Bomb. Both should fuel your imagination for a while, maybe forever.

Anyway: while reading the biography we encountered a segment that describes the training at the SOE camp in Scotland, while preparing for Operation Gunnerside. It might seem unimportant to most, but this got our attention: during training in the Scottish Cairngorms Joachim met two students trekking in the moors with what looked like really great mountain boots. As Joachim considered the British equipment not up to the task, he asked for the maker of said boots and visited the shoemaker to make a pair for himself. As an avid mountaineer and skier he knew what a pair had to endure in the Norwegian winter mountains. The name of the shoemaker was Robert Lawrie.

A few words about Robert Lawrie: a fascinating character and brilliant shoemaker, he was also an active climber, a racing driver that participated as a privateer in four 24 Hours of Le Mans races, and the go-to producer of expedition equipment for nearly all British expeditions from the thirties  and up to the sixties. A pair of Lawries became an expression among British mountaineers, and there is even a glacier in Antarctica named after him. So when Joachim Rønneberg went searching for proper boots, he was sent to the best. In meeting with Lawrie, Rønneberg ordered a pair of boots to his own specifications and on his own last, obviously. This pair went on to accompany him on Operation Gunnerside and later Operation Fieldfare that ended with the liberation of Norway in 1945.

As you can imagine, both Liam and I had exactly the same reaction when reading this: We sure would like to see those boots!

Unsurprisingly, as the world is a small place and Norway just a tiny little freckle on the face of the planet, we went out on our own little mission to find out if the boots were still in existence. The best method seemed to get on the phone to Joachim Rønneberg himself. Which, I am ashamed to admit, I postponed for over a year in fear of wasting his time with something as trivial as a pair of old boots. Luckily I somehow lost any sense of dignity and called him anyway. Being in his nineties, his memory of the details a full lifetime ago was crystal clear, and he confirmed that the story was correct and that his boots might be at the local museum. The local museum? Really? We had already been in contact with the museum with no results. A few telephone calls and emails later the left boot of the original pair was found in the basement of Ålesund Museum.

And what a boot it was! Battle-scarred, repaired by unskilled hands on various mountain tops, beaten and bruised; it was still one of the most beautiful boots we had ever seen. The leather was in perfectly good condition, and the overall shape had wonderful proportions. It was not a question of not making a version of these boots, only how.

With generous help from Ålesund Museum we borrowed the boot and brought it to British based last-maker Michael James, who made an exact replica of the last. On this last we made the first Gunnerside model with the same construction methods as our Type 01. A beautiful boot with a strong character and lovely proportions, Gunnerside Mk1 sold well. And then the pandemic struck.

Closed stores and closed factories gave us time to revisit our original dream: to make a proper replica of Joachim Rønneberg´s boots. Armed with experience collected from the Store Bjørn & Lille Bjørn mountain boots and a lot of spare time on our hands, we slowly dug into the task of making a Norwegian welted replica with all the details and oddities of the original.

We have named the Mk2 model «Gunnerside 42», as the shoes were made in 1942. To match the original leather we used a full grain vegetable tanned waxy leather from Italian tanners Carlo Badalassi. The Norwegian welt has an added storm welt, and the shaft has the characteristic wadmal; a dense, undyed wool fabric. Oh, and we have taken the liberty to do some additions to the original: The inner lining is soft calf leather covering a moulded memory foam for fit, comfort and ankle protection. We also added a grippy rubber sole and speed hooks to make it more convenient  for everyday use, and on the footbed we have an interchangeable ergonomic inner sole.

This is our homage to a great man whose determination, principles and character inspires us every day. The name Gunnerside is chosen because of the history, and to remind us that freedom and democracy is not self evident. In Joachim Rønneberg´s own words:
"It ought to be obvious that peace and freedom have to be fought for".


Order Details

Please fill inn your shoe size in the message field and we'll notify you when your boots are in stock.

Size chart
When purchasing boots, particularly online, it’s a good idea to have all your measurements squared away—the last thing you want are ill-fitting boots that makes you miserable! While keeping in mind that the width of the boot last and the volume of the boot are important factors in correctly sizing your boots, figuring out your Mondopoint size is a good first step.
It’s easy! Stand on top of a piece paper with your heel against a wall and all of your weight pressed down upon the foot you are measuring. Then, draw a line at your big toe. Measure (in centimeters) the length of the paper to the line, and voilà! That’s your Mondopoint size. You’ll need to measure both feet, as they seldom are equal.
Our measurements are made from inside the boot so you have to add 10 - 20mm to your measurements to find the size. 

Choosing the right size for your long lasting friendship is essential to get the experience. Below presented the different sizes for the different product categories.




UK 4

UK 5

UK 6

UK 7

UK 8

UK 9

UK 10

UK 11

UK 12

UK 13


EU 37

EU 38

EU 39

EU 40,5

EU 42

EU 43

EU 44,5

EU 45,5

EU 46,5

EU 47,5

In mm












Lille Bjørn Women



UK 4

UK 4,5

UK 5

UK 5,5

UK 6

UK 6,5



EU 36 2/3

EU 37 1/3

EU 38

EU 38 2/3

EU 39 1/3

EU 40

In mm









Store & Lille Bjørn - Mountaineering


UK 7

UK 7,5

UK 8

UK 8,5

UK 9

UK 9,5

UK 10

UK 10,5

UK 11

UK 11,5


EU 40 2/3

EU 41 1/3

EU 42

EU 42 2/3

EU 43 1/3

EU 44

EU 44 2/3

EU 45 1/3

EU 46

EU 46 2/3

In mm












Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!