Leap of Faith: A Trans-Atlantic Wartime Love Story

By Erik Pettersen

Infinity Publishing (2012)

Her father asked, “Do you have to go all the way to America and marry a Norwegian?”

In May 1941, Ingrid Sillén, a 25-year-old Swedish nurse, went to the Transatlantic Shipping Company in Gothenburg and asked an agent if there was a way to get to America.

“And why would you want to go to America now?”

“Well,” she said, “I am going to get married!”

“You are absolutely crazy!” he said.

“Yes, I know, but can you tell me if there is any possibility?”

“There is a cargo ship leaving next week with one passage left.” In that brief conversation, her prayers were answered, and her life was changed forever.

Having met her husband-to-be only twice, Ingrid made a leap of faith and traveled to America to marry Arne Pettersen, the love of her life. She left Sweden on May 21, 1941, on the M/S Remmaren during a dangerous, turbulent time in the North Atlantic. Germany had just invaded Norway and Denmark. During her two-week crossing, the Remmaren was stopped by a German warship, hailed by a British destroyer, circled by German and British bombers and sailed through mine-laden waters. The Bismarck and Hood were both sunk during her crossing. Ingrid finally arrived in New York on June 5 in heavy rain, knowing only her future husband and very little English.

Ingrid’s life began in the bucolic backwater town of Gesäter, Sweden. She was a preacher’s kid who grew up in the small red parsonage of the Lutheran church where her father was the pastor. As a child she could never have dreamed about becoming the wife of a rapidly rising young executive in New York City.

Leap of Faith was written by her son Erik, who drew on a recording she made for him as a Christmas gift, leather-bound diaries Erik found in the attic of his parents’ home, family stories from his relatives in Sweden and Norway and a carefully researched genealogy from his father.

If you love genealogy, a wartime saga and a beautiful and inspirational love story about faith, commitment, friendship, sacrifice and love, this is a must.

~ Rev. Suzanne Uittenbogaard

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