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Operation Freshman (W.W.II)

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 19 Nov 1942 to about Jan 1943
Location: Rjukan, Norwaymap
Surnames/tags: Freshman World War II Norway
Profile manager: Kevin Sands private message [send private message]
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'Operation Freshman'

Organised by the British during World War II, 'Operation Freshman' was a hazardous initial attempt to sabotage the Vemork heavy water plant at Rjukan in Norway in late 1942. Sadly, it went horribly wrong, with almost all those who took part being killed, or, tortured and executed by the Germans.

The men were a small airborne force composed of sappers from the Royal Engineer units attached to 1st Airborne Division. Each glider carried fifteen sappers.

Two Airspeed Horsa gliders, each towed by a four-engined Handley Page Halifax bomber on long hawsers, departed from RAF Skitten near the Scottish coastal town of Wick - the first at 5:50pm. In addition to the flight crews, the four aircraft contained 48 young engineers from the British Commonwealth.

The hawser that pulled the first glider full of soldiers snapped over Norway and the glider crashed into a mountain just north of Stavanger, in Fylgjesdalen at the Lysefjord. The two glider pilots and six soldiers died on impact. Nine soldiers survived the crash but four who were injured were killed by the Germans and the remaining five executed. The Halifax bomber made it back to Wick on three engines.

The second bomber and the glider it was towing crashed at Helleland near Egersund, probably because of bad weather and icing. All seven in the bomber were killed instantaneously when it struck the ground.

The glider crashed at the mountain Benkjafjellet and the bomber at Hæstadfjellet.

A total of 41 men, 7 bomber crew and 34 soldiers in two gliders, from 48 participants in 'Operation Freshman' died.

At the end of the war Wehrmacht personnel were tried and condemned to death for their part in the executions.

Outcome of 'Operation Freshman'

The two Airspeed Horsa assault gliders each carried two pilots and fifteen airborne engineers. The 23 survivors of the two glider crashes were executed in accordance with the instructions of the Fuehrerbefehl. All seven crew members of the Halifax that was lost were killed in the crash.

The Men

  • NOTE: Click on surnames in BLUE and underlined. to view their personal profile.
  • NOTE: Fifth column 'B / G' meaning:-
First bomber/glider combination to take-off:
'1-B' name was Halifax Bomber W7720 'A' Apple;
'1-G' name was Horsa Glider DP349.
Second bomber/glider combination to take-off:
'2-B' name was Halifax Bomber W7801 'B' Baker;
'2-G' name was Horsa Glider HS114.
(Most columns can be sorted).
Surname First Name Rank Nationality B / G Outcome
WILKINSON Arthur Bernard Sqn. Ldr. 1-B survived
COOPER Thomas Bruce Grp. Capt. 1-B survived
KEMMIS Victor David Pilot Officer RAAF 1-B survived
JONES Allan Richard Sgt. RAAF 1-B survived
OTTO Eric Charles Duncan Sgt. Radio Op. RAAF 1-B survived
CONACHER Tom Sgt. 1-B survived
WATT ? Sgt. 1-B survived
STRATHDEE Malcolm Frederick C. Sergeant / Pilot 1-G killed in crash
DOIG Peter Sergeant / Pilot 1-G killed in crash
METHVEN David Alexander Lieutenant Scottish 1-G killed in crash
HEALEY Frederick L/Sgt. 1-G killed in crash
HUNTER John Glen Vernon Sapper 1-G killed in crash
JACQUES William Sapper 1-G killed in crash
NORMAN Robert Sapper 1-G killed in crash
SIMKINS George Driver 1-G killed in crash
CAIRNCROSS James Dobson Corporal British 1-G injured, executed
FARRELL Peter Paul Driver British 1-G injured, executed
MASTERS Trevor Louis L/Cpl. British 1-G injured, executed
SMITH Eric John Sapper British 1-G injured, executed
BLACKBURN James Frank Sapper British 1-G executed
BONNER Frank Sapper British 1-G executed
JACKSON Wallis Mahlon L/Cpl. British 1-G executed
WALSH John Wilfred Sapper British 1-G executed
WHITE Thomas William Sapper British 1-G executed
PARKINSON Arthur Roland Flt/Lieut. RCAF 2-B killed in crash
SEWELL De GENCY Gerard Walter Pilot Officer RAFVR 2-B killed in crash
HAWARD Arnold Thomas Hayward Flying Officer RAFVR 2-B killed in crash
THOMAS Arthur Edwin Flt/Lieut. RAFVR 2-B killed in crash
FALCONER James Sergeant RAF 2-B killed in crash
BUCKTON Albert Flt/Sgt. RAFVR 2-B killed in crash
EDWARDS George Mercier Flt/Sgt. RAFVR 2-B killed in crash
DAVIES Norman Arthur Pilot Officer RAAF 2-G killed in crash
FRASER Herbert John Sergeant / Pilot RAAF 2-G killed in crash
ALLEN Alex Charles Lieutenant British 2-G executed
KNOWLES George L/Sgt. 2-G executed
BAILEY Ernest William Sapper 2-G executed
BELFIELD John Thomas Vernon Driver 2-G executed
BEVAN Howell Sapper 2-G executed
BRAY Frederick William L/Cpl. British 2-G executed
CAMPBELL Alexander L/Cpl. 2-G executed
FAULKNER Thomas William Sapper 2-G executed
GRUNDY Charles Henry Sapper 2-G executed
LEGATE Herbert J. Sapper 2-G executed
PENDLEBURY Ernest Driver British 2-G killed in crash
SMALLMAN Leslie Sapper 2-G executed
STEPHEN James May Sapper 2-G executed
THOMAS John George Llewellyn Cpl. 2-G executed
WILLIAMS Gerard Stanley Sapper 2-G executed



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Perhaps the category "Norway" (which is a top level category) should be changed to Norwegian Military History instead?
posted by Maggie Andersson

Categories: World War II | Norway