Explorer, lecturer, consultant, writer, producer… and happy!
The Memorial Monument of Operation Musketoon in Glomfjord.
Operation Musketoon is an forgotten special operation, which happened in Glomfjord – Norway, September 1942. However, it was an very demanding, but successful British Special Operation. Not forgotten for those who was involved; relatives and local people who helped the survivors on Helgeland and Saltdalen, Norway. Project Task: It was time to put light on this. Tom Edvindsen (Norwegian Broadcasting) grew up in Glomfjord and with the history told since a little child. Ronny Bratli and I, after walking in Jan Baalsruds footsteps in Troms, became interested in this new history for us. We all understood it was time to act, 75 years after, and bring this story up to date and what it deserved. A documentary serie is planed to be launched on Norwegian Broadcasting in February 2018.
Going through the history of Company Ling in 2nd WW, with history expert Thomas, with Ronny and me as pupils, in Scotland, August 2017.
We have been to the National Archive in London, National Archive in Norway. Met relatives to the soldiers who took part in the operation, and listen to strong real stories from people who experienced the sabotage mission in Glomfjord in real time. Started off in England and Scotland where we were visiting the Komapni Linge training camp.
Our goal has been to put light on this challenging and complex operation, the success and the tragedy, which is quite unknown to most people. The twelve menn deserve to be highlighted, where just four men managed to escape the operation. Just two men survived the war. 10 of them came from 2nd Commandos, an two Norwegians from Company Ling / Special Operation Executive (SOE).
Capt. Joseph Houghton
Cyril Abram 2cdo
Eric Curtis 2cdo
In the National Archive in London we found among lots of other reports from the operation, Sverre Granlunds report, after arriving England from Sweden and the escape from Glomfjord. We chose to follow Sverre Granlunds report and his route to Sweden. Below his report report from October 1942 will tell the story. Trigg and Fairclogh gave two reports and O´Brian also gave one the British Command, but not written yet.
The french submarine, JUNO, who brought the commando groupe to Norway.
1. On Thursday, 10 Sep 42, we set out by submarine for the Norwegian coast. It had previously been decided that we should come in to a point near ØRNES. I thought this was rather difficult since there were rather many of us and between ØRNES and GLOMFJORD we should have to go past quite a number of dwellings. I talked to HØGVOLD about it and suggested that we should and together to CAPTAIN BLACK and recommend BJERRINGFJORD instead. This we did and it was agreed that BJERRANGFJORD would be the place. During my conversation with CAPTAIN HOUGTON I mentioned that if I could have a free hand in guiding the party from BJERRANGFJORD we should get right to the Power Station without being observed. CAPTAIN HOUGTON agreed to this.
On the recreation the Norwegian Navy was there with the submarine KNM UTSIRA to simulate JUNON. The Float-Off was done in the dark at the same position as JUNON left the 12 Commandos.
2. By the 14th we had got into BJERANGFJORD, furthern in than we believed the submarine captain would go. We lay on the bottom for a long time and at 2200 hours we surfaced. The cowboat with the rest of our gear was carefully brought on deck, the boat was inflated, launched and the equipment loaded, and we were ready to row away. All agreed that we had been excellently looked after while we were on board the submarine. We had about six kilometres to row with six men at the oars and CAPTAIN BLACK steering.
KNM Utsira in Bjaerangsfjord
Float-off in Bjaerangsfjord
Ronny and me make us ready for Float-Off
KNM Utsira diving
At 0030 hours we had reached the head of the fjord, the cowboat and life belts were hidden and we were ready to move off. Our way lay up the valley. After putting about five kilometres behind us we took a rest. We passed a farm during this stage and I was rather afraid that the farm dogs would notice us. I found out later that all farmers had had to get rid of their dogs as naturally enough dogs too must eat.
Bjaerangsdalen mountainouse vally
Climbing up with same weight as the real one, about 33 kg. Photo: Tom Edvindsen
Sweat and wondering, how the Commandos was thinking? Photo:Tom Edvindsen
On the the way up the steep part. Ronny try to get blood to the head.
3. While the rest of the party took it easy CAPTAIN HOUGHTON and I went forward to reconnoitre our further route. We got back in about four hours in excellent humour since we had seen that the stretch of the “Black Glacier” which we had to cross was good, with only a very few crevasses which we could cross with the help of our ropes. We all had about 11/2 metres of rope round our waists; very well rigged (toggle and eye) which was very useful. After we had had a good meal we carried on along the reconnoitred route to the foot of the mountain, where we bivouacked for the night.
Ronny walking towards Fykan and Glomfjord.
Last bivouac before the Station, with Tom Edvindsen and Ronny
4. The next morning, 16th, we started up the steep mountain-side and on over the ice. There was a minor hitch here. One of the men, after the heavy climb, was very thirsty and went over the ice to a little lochan; I noticed this and di not feel too happy about it so I turned aside to have a look at the lochan. My eye lit upon a mark on the ice, and I realised that he had slipped on the smooth ice and fallen into the water. As I got down there the lad popped up from the depths, obviously very frightened at the brash ice. He manages, however, to get out by himself. We had rest at this point and I went on until I could se the FYKANVANN. We continued along the route and had another rest. CAPTAIN BLACK and HØGVOLD then went on until they could see the pipeline. We came so far ourselves, to our bivouacking point for the night.
We presume the group came this way and down.
Observing the Power Station and try to find a route.
5. On the following day I made a recce of the ground up to where I could see the Power Station. The whole party continued up to this point and then rested again. We had now got down so far that our movements had to be made during hours of darkness. For that reason and because of the difficult ground our progress was rather slow. On of the difficulties was that the mountain goes down sheer into the lake and on the mountain top there are thousands of large and small stones, and on meeting loose stones on is very apt to make them roll over the edge right down to the water, and an awful nose ensues. This had to be prevented since we had to get down unobserved. We went on, therefore, very carefully and took no unnecessary chances.
Final march down towards Glomfjord and the Station.
Observation of the Fykan Power Station in the “Cave”.
6. At last on the south we had reached a point where we could start on our task. At 2000 hours we all came out from our stone hide-outs and foregathered with CAPTAIN BLACK. Here we were given an excellent description of the job to be done and everything of possible significance was deleted. One of the main lines of discussion was about the withdrawal from the Power Station.
We where amazed how the real team had found the route down.
Going down to Fykan with 33 kg like they did.
Two ways were suggested. One was to go up the steps some way along the pipeline and then over the mountain southwards. This was a very exhausting route since there was an eight hundred metres climb in a very short distance, but my reason for backing this route was that we should leave no tracks and that there were no rivers to cross. The other way was along the road from the lower end of the FYKANVANN, along the shore, twice over the river, and then on further to NEVERVANN.
Viewing down to Fykan Lake, the pipeline and can see the escape route.
This was an easier way since there were steps up the steepest gradient. The road along FYKANVANN was very soft so we could not avoid leaving tracks behind us. This second route was finally agreed upon. We all knew exactly how we were to carry out our various tasks. For this one must thank our very able Captain (BLACK), who organised everything splendidly, and the very good information, drawings and photographs, which we had brought with us from England. The last and most precise instruction was to conduct our selves properly and to avoid reprisals in every possible way.
View from high up on the pipeline.
7. At 2245 hours we had got down to the bottom without being seen. Three men went to the pipeline, HØGVOLD, a sergeant and a soldier, whose business was to take the pipeline. We made a recce round the Power Station, put out guards and found a way into the station. We knew from our intelligence in U.K. that the buildings were being extended, a factor which turned to our advantage. The wall at the west end of the building had been taken down and in its stead was a large temporary screen which was firmly nailed up but which could be pulled out at the bottom.
Overview of the Turbin Hall
Kristen Selfors give us a brief of the Station, which the Musketoon team did not get.
This is where we were to go in. We pulled the screen carefully out and found ourselves in the first room. The new convertor was installed here. Everything was brightly lit up, but there was no one to be seen. To get further in we had to open a door s I went carefully to the door and flung it open. From here I caught a glimpse of the guard up on the next floor. They had not spotted us up to that time. CAPTAIN HOUGHTON and I had the job of taking them so we nipped across the floor and no one saw us. We ran up the steps, flung open the door and found ourselves face to face with the guard (three in number). They were very frightened and could not imagine where we came from.
8. Our first question was “Are there any Germans in the Power Station” They reply was “No”. We suggested that it would be best for them to submit to what we intended to do with them, which was to tie them up. This they did not agree to, so we had to threaten them. I made them go downstairs ahead of me and CAPTAIN HOUGHTON got to work on his demolition task. About five metres from the bottom of the steps there was a corridor. I had the guard still in front of me when suddenly I lit upon a German, and N.C.C I fancy.
Walking through the Turbin Hall, with less adrenalin than the Musketoon team
Up the stairways to the control room
He displayed a good deal of surprise but go no time to make any remarks since I started firing at once. I changed my magazine and as I was doing so CAPTAIN BLACK came running up in support. I asked the guard what the devil they meant by denying that there were Germans at the Station. There was no reply. I then asked them if they realised the danger they ran by trying to fool us in this way, and once more “Are there any Germans here?” The answer came “Yes, there was one more but he has probably gone into the tunnel and on to GLOMFJORD.” We were equal to this. The guard were led about two hundred metres into the tunnel where I intended to tie them up.
9. When we were starting to tie them up one of them said that there were civilians living at the Station. I realised that this placed a certain responsibility on me and I told them the guard what cowards they had been to deny in the first place that there were Germans at the station and only no to inform us that there was a family living at the station. I let them have their way and left them unbound because I was not sure how long it would take to get the family out.
Mounting the charge to the generator. Houghton and the two others mounted them on top of the generator.
I reckoned on having very little time to do it in. I ran along the tunnel, up the steps, flung open a door and found a man. He was reasonable chap and thanks to him we got the others out in quick style. One man and one woman. We told them what they had to do and that they had better get a move on, which they did.
Climbing up the pipeline and try to find the right historical spot.
Mounting the charges
10. I then went down to CAPTAIN HOUGHTON who was finished by this time, and the charges with ten minute delays were laid. We left the power station. When we go about twelve minutes walk up the steps from the station there was a dreadful explosion, followed very shortly by a second one.
Pipeline still intact!
The demolition was insane much bigger than this. 36 kg went off, but we do not think Statkraft would like to try it again. And that did the real job, setting out the Power Station, the rest of the War.
We saw flames started up and spread and understood from that that the attack had been successful. CAPTAIN BLACK went on to the three men who had pipeline job; some of us went down to the road where we were to await the pipeline party. CAPTAIN BLACK waited until he saw the pipeline go up. This took place with a colossal explosion which made the echoes ring from all the mountain round about.
Johannes (96) only person who saw the explosion in 1942.
11. We were all very pleased with our work and went on along the road arose a bridge and up alongside the cable railway. We could not find any crossing place here over the stream. I went down to a hut where I knew people were living. As I opened the door I came upon a girl and asked her about the bridge, but I could not get any sensible answer out of her. She suggested that I should go in and speak to the lads but here again I met the same fate and the man lying there was not going to tell me where the bridge was, however I asked him. I did not urge them any more but I went to CAPTAIN HOUGTON and suggested that we should go on up stream to STORGLOMVATN. It was going to be very steep and CAPTAIN HOUGHTON said he would try to find the bridge. CAPTAIN HOUGHTON told HØGVOLD to come along with him down to the hut, but HØGVOLD had not much mind to do this after I told him of my chilly reception; however he went down while the rest of us waited.
In Fykandalen (Wally) wondering if they really were here.
Continuing up along Fykan River
12. Suddenly we hard two shots and some of our men went down towards the hut. Shortly afterwards CAPTAIN BLACK came to me and said: “They are after us. Take the lads and go.” We went on up the slope. The men with Sten guns and rifles were not with me. We wen on at the good pace, since I intended to cross the stream and pick up CAPTAIN BLACK and the other who would, I thought, find the bridge and go up to NEVERVANN.
One of the waterfalls in Fykan Vally.
13. It began now to grew light and we were within about two kilometres of STORGLOMVATN. I therefore told the men to follow me and swim over the river, since I did not want to cross at the dam because there wee many people working there. I waded as far as I could, then swam. It was a hard job to get across with the strong current, but I managed it I wanted the others to come with me but they did not; whether this was because they saw trouble I had or whether it was for other reasons I cannot say. They went on upstream towards the dam and I continued over the mountain in the hopes of meting CAPTAIN BLACK. When I reached the road which comes from NEVERVANN, there were no tracks to be seen. Since there was only a light covering of snow any tracks would have been easily visible. I thought that CAPTAIN BLACK had perhaps gone further north and I went down towards the dam so tint the others might see my tracks.
14. From here I went on the GROTDALEN. I told a young girl what she was to do if any Englishman came there. During this bit of my journey two German fighters kept flying, for a period of several hours, over the stretch from here to the frontier.
Taking a break in Gråttådalen
Gråttådalen – Cloudberry was a surviver
Later I went back to STORGLOMVANT and found tracks of several of the men. I then turned about and went straight to SKOLENESTET, where I knw there were some excellent people living. An Englishman had come to the next farm and had stopped there for a short time. They wanted to give him a lot of food but he ansered that two days supplies would be quite enough.
We made fire in the end, which surely did not happened in 1942
On our way back to Store Glomvann, where we came from.
15. On the following day I was in SALTDAL, where I paid a call on HJALMAR ERNTSEN with whom I had lived before and who was completely dependable. I got hold of KNUT FUREBOTTNE and he promised to help any who came. I heard later that two had reached safety and that another was on the way to the frontier. I heard from FUREBOTTEN that seven had been captured, and that one was at BODØ, and that later he had died. The Doctor had asked permission to have a flag on the coffin, but this was not allowed.
At Petersmoen where Granlund had his last contact. Hally was six years when he came in 1942.
16. After collection a good deal of information in SALTDAL I went on to BALVATNET. I waited for a time up there and then moved on down to IKKISDALEN and so to MERKENES. The next day I went onto VUOGGATJOLMI, where some expellent people lived, especially MIMMI HRDBERG. From here I went on to ARJEPLOG. The Sheriff in ARJEPLOG is a very nice chap, but somewhat nervous. The Sheriff was very anxious to know how I had arrived from England and so over. Now I know very well that a soldier has no need to give so much information, but for a variety of reasons I gave him a story which he believed in its entirety. The intention at ARJEPLOG was that I should remain under arrest, but thanks to the warder I avoided this. He said, on they day I left, that if I should be coming that way again I should just come straight to him but of course try to come unobserved. I left here and about the 24th, and went on to LANGMORA. I stayed here about a week and then went on the STOCKHOLM where I was met by the C.I.D. and wisked off to KUNGSHOLMEN jail where I remained for five days. I then went to BROMMA and so to England.
Wollen clothing from top to bottom.
Towards Sweden across Storfjell
17. I have nothing but good to say about the men who composed the party, especially CAPTAIN BLACK who had organised everything extraordinarily well. HØGVOLD was also a very fine lad. He talked a lot about the future jobs and evidently intended to serve his country very many years. After he was wounded he had spoken nothing but English all the time until he knew he was going to die. He then told them that he was a Norwegian, and that he was 22 years old and felt he was too young to die, but he consoled himself by saying that if a nation was to live some must be willing to die. Everybody in SALTDALEN was pleased at the blowing up of GLOMFJORD. They admired the way in which it was carried out and said that they were real men who had done it. What they liked best was that all the soldiers were uniform.
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