Page 166 - MBS 2022/23
P. 166

  Op GUNNERSIDE was one of the most successful sabotage missions in history. The British trained
Norwegian commandos successfully completed the raid on Feb 28 1943, at the Vemork heavy water production facility. The raid halted the production of heavy water and arguably changed the course of WW2 as it may have helped Nazi Germany produce the first atomic bomb.
To commemorate the heroic raid and mark the 80th anniversary, an Army team of twelve personnel including seven RAPTCIs led by WO2 (QMSI) Mclellan RAPTC completed the arduous insertion route undertaken by the original ‘Heroes of Telemark.’ With bergens weighing in excess of 20kgs and temperatures as low as -19oC, the team completed the 137km journey over 6-days across the remote Hardangervidda plateau. The team deployed by train and were entirely self- sufficient throughout the expedition.
Most of the team had no previous Nordic skiing experience and had only recently completed the Nordic Foundation 1 (NF1) course as a pre-requisite to take part in the Exped. During the Exped, 8 of the 12 Exped members successfully gained the NF2 qualification.
Pre Exped – Days One & Two. The calm before the storm and a false sense of security.
The first two days consisted mainly of delivering the NF2 syllabus and getting used to being on skis again. Great weather, light bergens and short excursions did little to prepare us for what was to come .... morale was high!
Exped Day One – Finse to Kjeldebu (28km). Reality kicks in ... hard.
The day began with 8km of ascent and finished with a steep climb that hit home the arduous nature of what lay ahead for the rest of the week. Poor weather, heavy bergens and snow conditions that felt like we were walking through treacle took its toll on everyone. In addition to the adverse conditions, we also faced the challenge of boot defects resulting in the soles coming
The Hut at Marbu
WO2 (QMSI) J Mclellan RAPTC
 away from the boots being worn by our instructors. By the time we reached the first hut, the team were mentally and physically exhausted. Unfortunately, there was no respite as the hut was unmanned, so food needed cooking, kit needed drying, and boots needed fixing.
Exped Day Two – Kjeldebu to Rauhelleren (32km). A true test of mental and physical robustness.
The prospect of covering a distance greater than the previous day on fatigued legs was a true test of resolve and fortitude for the team, especially as it began with a daunting 1000ft climb over the first 3km. The journey delivered amazing views as the sun descended over an icy silhouetted landscape and we watched in awe as
other travellers flew past us on their skis whilst being towed by parachutes. At the 24km point we began a long ascent that sapped what little energy was left in us and by the time we reached the top of the climb most of the team were running on fumes. In the far distance we could see the last hut and the long descent in which to reach it, but it would be another torturous hour before we arrived. Truly exhausted and mentally drained the team retired for a well-deserved sleep.
Exped Days Three & Four – Rauhelleren to Marbu to Kalhovd (both 20km days). A much-needed respite ... and then there were eleven. Two shorter days allowed the team to recharge the batteries and soak up the
WO2 Mclellan and Maj Williams taking a break

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