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Old 12-01-2008, 01:48 PM
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Default S.O.E Norwegian commando raid on heavy water plant at Telemark

The Norwegian heavy water sabotage was a series of actions taken by Norwegian saboteurs during World War II to prevent the German nuclear energy project from acquiring heavy water, which could be used to produce nuclear weapons. The raid was aimed at the 60-MW Vemork power station at the Rjukan waterfall in Telemark.

In 1934, at Vemork, Norsk Hydro built the first commercial plant specifically to produce heavy water. It had a capacity of 12 tons per year. During World War II, the Allies decided to destroy the heavy water plant in order to inhibit the Nazi development of nuclear weapons. In late 1942, a raid by British paratroopers failed when the gliders crashed and all the raiders were killed in the crash or shot by the Gestapo. In 1943, a team of British-trained Norwegian commandos succeeded in a second attempt at destroying the production facility.

Between 1942 and 1944 a sequence of sabotage actions by the Norwegian resistance movement, as well as Allied bombing, ensured the destruction of the plant and the loss of the heavy water produced. These operations — codenamed "Freshman", "Grouse" and "Gunnerside" — finally managed to knock the plant out of production in early 1943, basically ending the German research.

Operation Gunnerside was later dubbed by the British SOE as the most successful act of sabotage in all of World War II.

[URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmeFTkOkd0M&feature=related"]Parachute drop [/URL]over the same drop zone the Norwegians used
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Last edited by Texas; 12-01-2008 at 04:04 PM.. Reason: wrong spelling of plant
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Old 12-01-2008, 02:30 PM
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Default The operation

At exactly 0030 hours, they advanced towards their objective.

All nine crept silently to a store shed about a hundred yards from the giant wire-mesh gates. The covering party took up their positions clutching their tommy guns, while Haukelid ran forward and snapped the thick chain lock using Ronneberg's wire-cutting shears. It took just one cut and a few seconds to break into one of the most strategically important institutions in the entire theatre of the Second World War.

As the chain slackened the covering party poured forward, rushing inside the compound and taking up fresh positions. They were all carrying chloroform in their pockets to overwhelm any guards they found on patrol. The demolition party, meanwhile, forced open a second gate, about 30 feet below on the level leading to the basement, where the high-concentration heavy water cells were positioned.

The factory rumbled but otherwise all remained quiet. The only cause for concern was the bright moon, which had broken out from behind the clouds, and the lights from inside the factory, which had been poorly blacked out. The darkness they cherished had deserted them. When Ronneberg gave the sign the covering party took up their allotted positions close to the hut housing the German guards. Leaving one man on guard, the remaining four members of the demolitions party split into pairs, as planned, with each carrying complete sets of explosives lest one team should fail to reach the heavy water.

Locked

They headed straight to the cellar door, but finding it locked they tried a second entrance on the floor above; that too was secured. (The cellar door was meant to have been left unlocked by one of Skinnarland's contacts at the plant, but he had fallen ill and was unable to come to work that day.) As they looked down into the cellar below they could see a scientist going about his work, but there was no sign of Germans inside the factory.

There was only one option left if they were to avoid a firefight and that was through a narrow cable shaft Professor Tronstad had told them to use as a last resort. Thank heavens for the meticulousness of the professor! Sure enough, the hatch was open just as Tronstad had said it would be. When Ronneberg looked around only Fredrik Kayser was at his shoulder, the other pair (Idland and Stromsheim) having got separated from them during the search.

Conscious that every minute was now crucial, Ronneberg and Kayser climbed a short ladder and crawled as silently as possible down the shaft on their hands and knees over a mass of wires and pipes, pushing their sacks of explosives ahead of them as they went. Through an opening in the ceiling they could see the target beneath them. At the end of the tunnel the pair quickly slid down a ladder into an outer room before rushing the night watchman inside the high-concentration area.

Inside

They immediately locked the doors and Kayser held his gun to the night watchman, who was quivering uncontrollably. He had probably never seen a British army uniform and he certainly would not have expected to see one here. Ronneberg tore open his rucksack and began placing the sausage-shaped explosive charges on each of the cylinders, which, down to the very last detail, were exactly the same as the models they had used in the reconstruction back in Britain.

Ronneberg had laid about half of the 18 charges when he heard a shattering of glass, and he spun around to see Sergeant Birger Stromsheim climbing in through a window from the back of the plant. Kayser also swung around and prepared to load his gun before he realized they were in good company. It was an alarming moment, and only heightened the mounting tension they all felt as they rushed to complete their task. Stromsheim and Idland had been unable to find the cable duct and, unaware that Ronneberg and Kayser were already inside, had decided to take the only route left to them. It was a brave but risky move. The noise of the shattering glass might well have alerted the Germans to the raid. Ronneberg cut his hand as he rushed to remove the rest of the broken glass so that Stromsheim could get in.

Outside the broken window Idland kept watch as Stromsheim helped Ronneberg secure the final charges and then checked them over twice while his leader laid the fuses. Originally, they planned to set two-minute fuses, but fearing that someone inside the plant might undo their work, they laid two extra 30-second Bickford fuses as a precaution. This was a brave move because it meant that the alarm would be raised before they were out of the plant complex. Ronneberg's appetite for a fight with the Germans was remarkable, his commitment total: first he wanted to fight his way across the bridge, now he took another option for the good of the operation, which he had every reason to believe would lead to a blazing gunfight.

Tension

Just before they lit the fuses, the guard said, "Please, I need my glasses. They are impossible to get in Norway these days." It was a surreal moment and the request stopped the three raiders in their tracks, bewildered by this change to the script, this brief snapshot of civilian anxiety at the critical point of a crucial military operation. There followed a few curious moments as the saboteurs politely rummaged around his desk for his glasses. "Takk" (thank you) said the smiling guard as he put the spectacles on his nose. As he spoke, the four of them heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Was this one of the German guards making his rounds? To their relief, a Norwegian civilian walked into the room and almost fell backwards as he saw what appeared to be three British commandos and his colleague with his hands above his head.

Outside, the covering party were growing twitchy. Twenty-five minutes had passed since the demolition party had disappeared into the shadows of the great building. Storhaug was detailed to cover the two guards on the suspension bridge, and as he crouched in the darkness he could hear them chattering idly, utterly oblivious to the historic drama being played out just a few dozen yards away.

Explosion

As Ronneberg lit the fuses, Kayser counted to 10 before ordering the two civilians to run upstairs as fast as they could. The raiders then rushed out of the steel cellar door into the night. When they were no more than 20 yards away they heard the dull thud of the explosion. The sound was muffled by the noise of the power station and the thick concrete walls, and the covering party wondered whether the demolition party had laid the charges properly. But Ronneberg knew from the sound that the cylinders had been destroyed and that 3,000 pounds of heavy water—about four or five months' production—would be awash on the basement floor, flowing towards the drains.

Unknown to the saboteurs, the sound of a dull thud was not uncommon to those who worked or lived at the Vemork installation. Small, harmless explosions in the combustion machinery would occasionally be heard, while cracking ice or a heavy collapse of thawing snow somewhere along the steep slopes could also generate a similar noise. "The explosion itself was not very loud," recalled Poulsson. "It sounded like two or three cars crashing in Piccadilly Circus."

Escape

The four members of the demolition party immediately took cover, waiting for a reaction from the German barracks hut. They lay or stood stock-still as the door of the hut swung open and a soldier appeared, only half dressed, flashing a torch around the factory yard. He walked slowly in the direction of Haukelid, who was hiding behind some empty drum caskets.

When he was five yards away he stopped and swept the beam of the torch no more than a few inches above the Norwegian's head. Had it been a windless night, he might have been able to hear his heavy breathing, if not the rapid hammering of his heart. At that exact moment, three tommy guns and four pistols were pointing straight at the back of the unsuspecting German. A couple of inches lower with his torch and he would have been riddled with several dozen bursts of Allied firepower. But he turned on his heel and walked slowly back to the hut, and as the door shut the order for withdrawal was given.
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Old 12-01-2008, 02:47 PM
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Default The Norwegian commando's

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Old 12-03-2008, 04:35 AM
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Great info Tex and and a good read..its good that those types of mission are not forgotton...Those guys must have had their bollocks screwed on tight...Peoplw who take part in those types of missions sometimes go unsung and those types are very valuable during conflicts.

What was Ray Mears playing at?.....hes quiet a big lad for someone whos diet consists of bark

Nah....fair play to him
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Old 12-03-2008, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jrj1000 View Post
Great info Tex and and a good read..its good that those types of mission are not forgotton...Those guys must have had their bollocks screwed on tight...Peoplw who take part in those types of missions sometimes go unsung and those types are very valuable during conflicts.

What was Ray Mears playing at?.....hes quiet a big lad for someone whos diet consists of bark

Nah....fair play to him
Ray did a program on it a few years back, the survival side of the operation. I tried to find it on U tube but the drop is all I could find. They dropped the original unit up on the plateau so that the Germans wouldn't know they had landed. If the plane was spotted after the drop the Germans would probably think it was a recon flight. They also didn't think anybody was insane enough to parachute into that area. The Norwegians were determined to kick the Germans out so the impossible becomes possible! The operation was 90% Winter survival techniques.

The Royal Marine Mountain warfare unit to this day train in Norway due to the terrain and knowledge base obtained from operations such as this one
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Old 12-06-2008, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Texas View Post
Ray did a program on it a few years back, the survival side of the operation. I tried to find it on U tube but the drop is all I could find. They dropped the original unit up on the plateau so that the Germans wouldn't know they had landed. If the plane was spotted after the drop the Germans would probably think it was a recon flight. They also didn't think anybody was insane enough to parachute into that area. The Norwegians were determined to kick the Germans out so the impossible becomes possible! The operation was 90% Winter survival techniques.

The Royal Marine Mountain warfare unit to this day train in Norway due to the terrain and knowledge base obtained from operations such as this one

Yeah fighting and getting the job done becomes only half of the battle(if that)in those conditions...I knew the RMs trained in Norway(SAS mountain troop do aswell and everast if Im not mistake)I didnt know the training was born out of that mission by the SOE

There you go
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by jrj1000 View Post
Yeah fighting and getting the job done becomes only half of the battle(if that)in those conditions...I knew the RMs trained in Norway(SAS mountain troop do aswell and everast if Im not mistake)I didnt know the training was born out of that mission by the SOE

There you go
We've maintained close military links with Norway since WW2, They're our northern flank. Its important to not lose that military knowledge, it was hard earned!

Prior to France being invaded we had fought a series of battles with the Germans at[URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Narvik"] Narvik[/URL], Before we were forced into withdrawing.

During the 1950s the Royal Marine Cliff Assault Wing formed to train Marines in rock climbing and assault techniques. the remit of the Wing grew through the 50s and 60s until it becamse responsible for Winter Warfare and Reconnaissance, becoming the Recconaissance Leader Troop.

Becoming the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre in 1970 the personnel moved to Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth, training all units in 3 Commando Brigade in its new role in defence of NATOs northern flank.

In 1992 the Cadre was split, forming the nucleus of the Brigade Patrol Troop and becoming the Mountain Leader Training Cadre. The Brigade Patrol Troop is the medium-level reconnaissance unit of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. ...

The Cadre remains based in Stonehouse however cold weather training is carried out in Norway.
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:46 PM
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Any SF unit would be proud of those guys, they launched a daring raid under the most terrible conditions and set the standards of valor for all freemen to follow for generations to come...
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