Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Number24 wrote:

I'm really looking forward to the movie "The Twelft Man". It stars Johnathan Rhys Meyer as the regional Gestapo commander and a Norwegian rapper (really  ajb007/lol ) as the SOE agent he's chasing. It's a true story. You can read it in David Howarth's "We die alone" and an Oscar nominated movie was made in 1957.

Here is the story in brief: Jan Ballsrud was one of 12 SOE agents sent to northern Norway well above the arctic circle to train, organise and equip resistance fighters there. They were snitched on and eleven of them were killed as the boat was about to put them on land.

Still photo from the 1957 movie "Nine lives". The fishing vessel used by the agents in the foreground,
the attacking German naval vessel behind it.


The Germans belived Baalsrud must had drowned after trying to escape swiming in the freezing fjord, but the Gestapo commander insisted on finding the twelft man dead or alive.


What followed was an epic chase going through a landscape both stanning and extremely challinging, making the natural condition an even greater danger than the large Nazi forces chasing him. The local population, including Sami reindeer herders, helped Baalsrud in his escape to Sweden knowing full well the danger they put themselves and their families in.



The real Jan Baalsrud:


Here is the new trailer of "The Twelft Man". The Reindeer herd scenes are shot at the shooting ranges I used during my military service. Even if your Norwegian and German might be a little bit rusty you can follow the story.


Looks really good.

Unfortunately my schoolboy German let me down so I found a trailer on YouTube with English subtitles



Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

The sabotage of the heavy water production on Vemork is known by many. But the factory was able to produce a smaller amount of heavy water after the exlosion. The Germans decided to move the heavy water produced after the sabotage to Germany in February 1944 - but why?
The  first leg of the journey would be by train, at first by ferry across Lake Tinn.
Two SOE agents and  two members of the local resistance with the  assistance of a few factory employes were given the task of stopping the shipment. A bomb was placed in the hull of D/F (Steam ferry) "Hydro" and the ferry sank mid lake on the 20th February.
18 people drowned, 14 of them were civilian Norwegians.

National Geographic has "drained" Lake Tinn using CGI. Here is a short video that might be of interest:

https://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/tungtva … g/70066889

D/F Hydro and the sister ferry D/F "Ammonia". Ammonioa  still exists and is the only steam railway ferry still functioning in the world. The ferry is sometimes still used asa a target in sabotage training of special forces units.



Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Not really SOE history, but it is about special operations in WWII

A photo of a Alamo Scouts patrol. They were an army reconnaissance unit in the Pasific theatre. Over 700 soldiers were trained at the Alamo Scouts Training Centre, but only 138 served in the unit.  They never lost a man on their 110 missions behind enemy lines in New Guinea and the Philippines. The unit was really the long range reconnaissance unit of the 6th Army, but they also served as General Krueger's bodyguards. They were ordered to kill the general if he was about to be captured by the Japanese.
It's also worth mentioning that they weren't parachute trained.


Scouts were allowed to select their own combat weapons, and most chose the Garand carbine. The Thompson submachine gun and the Garand M1 rifle were also popular. All Scouts also carried a Colt 0.45 automatic pistol and combat knives. Scouts were also trained in the use of all types of grenades and in unconventional uses of weapons. Experiments with silencers were unsatisfactory due to degradation of accuracy, and the Scouts relied on knives at short range and rifle marksmanship at longer range.




Screening included a test in which the prospective Scout was interviewed by an officer who had a number of objects on his desk, such as a watch, a packet of cigarettes, a button, or other small, ordinary objects. The interviewing officer made no reference to these objects during the interview, but after the prospective Scout was out of sight of the desk, he was stopped and asked to describe the objects on the desk, from memory, as thoroughly as possible. Those who could not recall enough detail were rejected for training. A second test consisted of putting a group of prospective Scouts in a tent with decks of cards and other games and telling them to relax and enjoy themselves before beginning training the next day. The men were surreptitiously observed to weed out bullies and others who were not good team players. A third test consisted of an invitation to the men to take some free swimming time in what turned out to be a 28' (8.5m) deep swimming area. Those men who were unable to remain in the water for the full alloted time were rejected for inadequate swimming ability. The men who passed the screening tests came from a wide variety of backgrounds, from fastidious former lawyers to convicted criminals. An unusually large number were native Americans, including nine of the 38 men in the first class


The crossbows were made by OSS (Office of Strategic Services). The "rifle" crossbow was judged too noisy to reload, but the "pistol" crossbow was actually used on one mission in August 1944, where it put a bolt clear through an unlucky Japanese sentry.



Last edited by Number24 (16th Oct 2018 16:36)


Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Joachim Rønneberg, the leader of the 1943 Vemork sabotage mission died tonight. Rønneberg was 99 years old and the last surving member of the mission to make sure Hitler's Germany never got the heavy water to build an atom bomb.

Joachim Rønneberg was born into a family that was once the richest family in the coastal town of Ålesund. He fled to Britain in 1941 in a small motorized fishing boat. He joined Company Linge, the largest of the two Norwegian Special Operation Executive Executive units. Because of his fairly good English he was used as an interpreter in the demolitions training course. Soon he started instructing and became so proficient at demolition he feared he would never be sent to occupied Norway on a mission. I became an unofficial representative of the Norwegian agents because of his Language skills and Natural leadership. For the same reasons (and because he was an exelent skiier) he was chosen to pick and lead the Vemork mission two years later. He planned the mission together with a couple of others and also picked the weapons and equipment. Some kit he bought from civilian sources and some was specially made from his instructions.


I won't tell the whole story here, but the Vemork mission is considered one of the most sucessful and important sabotage mission in the entire war. Here is the wikipedia link if you wish to know more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian … r_sabotage

Joachim Rønneberg was sent back to occupied Norway once more, that was in 1944. He and two other SOE agents were parachuted into the Romsdal region to prepare railway sabotage to stop German troop movements to continental Europe after the D-day landings. This was Operation Fieldfare. He helped the pilots toward the right area because of his local knowledge and flew only a couple of miles from here. In spite of his best efforts they were not dropped on the mountain platou they were intended to land, but in a narrow valley. He landed on a steep mountain side and had to quick release his parachute to avoid getting pulled off. The three agents set up a camouflaged cabin in the Tafjord mountains. While they waited for the order to start blowing up railroad bridges they never got re-suppiles because of some blunder. They stole food from nearby cabins, but still lost weight. When they were finally ordered into action one mission failed because the weather was so cold the fuses snapped in two when they tried to use them. Another bridge was blown up successfully.

In the summer of 1990 he reconstructed the Fieldfare cabin. I saw him there on a mountain path, but I was too in awe to approach him, talk to him and thank him. I have regretted this ever since.

Can you spot the Fieldfare Cabin?


Joachim Rønneberg rebuilding the cabin:


After he war he worked in local radio and TV as a journailst. He also visited schools and other venues to talk about his experiences. His last public appearance was this fall at the opening of the Måløy Raid Museum.

At Vemork a few years ago together with a conscript special forces soldier.


Thank you, Joachim Rønneberg.



Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Absolute Respect.  And on an absolutely auspicious day.  21 Oct. 

He will be remembered.



Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

I found this give-part TV documentary very interesting. Some modern people with mixed bacground try to tackle the SOE selection and training. Especially the selection was calsified after the war, so none of the biographies I've read says much about this.

Episode one:
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Se … ORM=VRDGAR


Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

I watched that when it was first aired.  Interesting, but watered down to suit ‘modern’ audiences sensibilities  ajb007/rolleyes



Re: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

I guess so, but it's still the most detailed information I've seen about SOE basic training.

I read something touching in the newspaper. Joachim Rønneberg was a keen skiier and also loved hiking in the mountains. When he celebrated his 95th birthday someone saw him looking out of the window at the mountains he loved so much. "I guess I'll have to stay here from now on …" he said with sorrow in his voice.