Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/09/09

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Riefenstahl Dies (OT)
From: "John Evensta" <>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 12:26:09 -0600
References: <>

br wrote:

> I recall reading that British commandos knocked out the heavy water plant
> Norway, which put a real dent into the Nazi nuclear bomb project.

It is true that a British raid was attempted in late 1942, but it was
aborted.  This is from "Norway 1940-45: The Resistance Movement" by Riste
and Nokleby:

"...together they prepared to receive two glider plane loads of British
Royal Engineers who were to carry out the actual sabotage operation.  They
never met.  Because of bad weather one glider became detached from its tug
plane and crash-landed.  Those who survived the crash had no reason to
praise their luck: they were killed by the Germans.  The other plane with
its glider in tow crashed against a mountain, and no one survived."

Although security at the plant was tightened, a few months later there was a
successful attempt, described in somewhat melodramatic terms:

"In the evening of 27 February 1943, nine uniformed Norwegians climbed down
an ice-covered precipice near Rjukan, crossed a small river, and crawled up
the equally steep other side of the valley, to a heavily guarded industrial
plant on the mountain side.  The armed German guards taken care of, some of
the men entered the factory and placed their explosive charges in carefully
selected spots.  After midnight, a muffled explosion echoed through the
narrow valley ... 500 kilogrammes of heavy water had been destroyed, along
with several vital parts of the production plant."

All escaped, some skiing 250 miles to Sweden.  Eventually production at the
plant was resumed, and it became the target of bombing raids.  A decision
was made to transfer the new supply of deuterium and all production
machinery to Germany, but the ferry attempting to carry the heavy water
across a lake was sunk by another act of sabotage.

John Evensta

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