Friday, December 28, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Sadly, much of our WWII history is from clunky Technicolor movies decades old, or worse - even the very good movies are very American centric. If you make an effort though, there are a lot of good examples out there of those who took the initiative, who had the patience, and who had a focus on mission that should give all pause and ponder on how focused they are in their profession.

Norwegian warrior Birger Stronsheim just passed after living an example of how it is done right.
... four Norwegians became stranded in the area after British soldiers for whom they were doing advance work were captured, tortured and eventually killed. That first group hunkered down for the winter in an abandoned cabin, built a makeshift radio from a car battery and stolen fishing rods and began planning their own rescue and another assault on Norsk Hydro. They ate lichen that they scraped from rocks, killed an occasional reindeer for meat and vigilantly avoided detection by the occupying Germans.

The second effort would not fail. After parachuting to a plateau, the second group, some of whom grew up in the area, skied in subzero temperatures for several days before uniting with the four stranded soldiers. The combined group then made its way to the opposite side of a steep gorge from the Norsk Hydro facility. With the only bridge across guarded by Nazis, they descended to the bottom and climbed to the top on the other side.

Mr. Stromsheim was 31 at the time of the assault, the oldest member of the mission. He was particularly respected for his expertise in explosives and for his calm.

“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the leader of the mission, recalled in an interview in The Telegraph of London in 2010. “We didn’t think about our retreat.”

A Norwegian caretaker, a civilian, was the only person in the room where the heavy water was produced and he quickly agreed to cooperate with the soldiers. Mr. Ronneberg said that setting the dynamite proved to be “easy,” but the men still worried that they would be detected at any moment. They lighted a 30-second fuse and ran.

“They didn’t reckon that they would get out alive,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son, also named Birger, recalled in an interview for this obituary. “They weren’t sure of that. They were scared in some ways, but there was no panic.”

Stormy conditions helped muffle the explosion inside the building, and the men made it safely back across the gorge before the Nazis realized what had happened. Nazis searched the area for days afterward, but no shots were fired and no one was hurt in the second mission. Many years later, experts determined that the Nazis were far from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Stromsheim, who grew up skiing, hiking and bicycling, was among several soldiers who made it to safety by skiing more than 200 miles to Sweden.
Speaking of bad Techicolor history; yep, you've see it. The Heroes of Telemark

I like how Birger put it,
“He saw that,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son said. “He didn’t like it. It was too glamorous.”
Here is a better telling.

Hat tip BR.

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