75th Anniversary of Operation Gunnerside, the Norwegian raid on the Heavy Water plant of the Nazis.

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75th Anniversary of Operation Gunnerside, the Norwegian raid on the Heavy Water plant of the Nazis.

There is a lengthy and excellent piece in Scientific American today titled:  Operation Gunnerside: The Norwegian Attack on Heavy Water That Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb.  If you are reading this there is a good chance you know most of the story, but this article adds some interesting tidbits to it, and I found a video that is also excellent.

A taste from the article:

The Vemork plant clung to a steep hillside. Upon arriving at the ravine that served as a kind of protective moat, the soldiers could see that attempting to cross the heavily guarded bridge would be futile. So under the cover of darkness they descended to the bottom of the ravine, crossed the frozen stream, and climbed up the steep cliffs to the plant, thus completely bypassing the bridge. The Germans had thought the ravine impassible, so hadn’t guarded against such an approach.

The Norwegians were then able to sneak past sentries and find their way to the heavy water production room, relying on maps of the plant provided by Norwegian resistance workers. Upon entering the heavy water room, they quickly set their timed explosives and left. They escaped the scene during the chaotic aftermath of the explosion. No lives were lost, and not a single shot was fired by either side.

Outside the plant, the men backtracked through the ravine and then split into small groups that independently skied eastward toward the safety of neutral Sweden. Eventually, each made his way back to their Norwegian unit stationed in Britain.

Somewhat interestingly I got interested in the story recently because of what might have seemed an entirely unrelated subject I had become interested in, the Kon Tiki expedition.  Most will recall that the Kon Tiki expedition of 1947 was a raft trip from South America to the Polynesian Islands, undertaken by Thor Heyerdahl and his team, and filmed along the way.  What I didn’t know until later was that most of Heyerdahl’s team had been Norwegian resistance fighters.  In fact, the radio operator on Kon Tiki, Knut Haugland, who was part of the raid, and would later be awarded Norway's highest decoration for military gallantry, the War Cross with sword.

Anyway, the TV show “Amazing Untold Stories of World War II” had an episode about the Heavy Water Raid which I commend to you here:

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.