The race for the atom bomb was up and running long before the US commitment to the Allied cause. The Reich War Ministry received a proposal for an atomic in April 1939 and the day of their Polish invasion pushed their plan into action. The 3 requirements were a reactor, uranium and heavy water (Deuterium Oxide).The reactor would be built in Germany , Uranium was available from the Czech Joachimsthal mines(which would eventually supply fissile material for the USSR!).But heavy water was a Norwegian item. The invasion of Norway in April1940 was the missing link in the nuclear chain. The Allies were under no illusions of the implication of a German lead ,Churchill had long been aware of the dangers, Even if there was no viable warhead there could be use of radiological material in dirty bombs.
- Damien Lewis
The location of the Norwegian hydro plants was a deterrent to the state of Bomber Command at that time. The attack would be by commando raid . No second chance woul;d be possible. The terrain and weather were enemies in themselves , but the raiders also faced certain execution if captured under the infamous Fuhrer order.
The attack was preceded by the Norwegian Linge Company , Sappers the RAF and SOE all worked in total secrecy to destroy the heavy water production. There would have to be as much evidence left behind on site to direct German wrath at the British and not the local population. The tale involves long periods of cold and near starvation, bravery and resourcefulness by a small group of men..
Damien Lewis has researched well and met with surviving family members and visited Lympstone. Unlike many authors, he believes there may be more material available and invites anyone holding it to contact him to be incorporated in later editions. The book has a good index , bibliography and high quality relevant photographs, it runs to 402 pages and is eminently readable.
ARRSE members of a certain age will remember the film The Heroes of Telemark , but the years pass and Damien Lewis has brought the heroic tale alive for a new generation.
The exploits would sound far fetched as fiction but the bravery of those who took part was inspiring. By way of interest Joachim Ronnenberg, the last survivor,came to London in 2013 for a ceremony at the SOE memorial and to receive a Union Flag that had flown over the Palace of Westminster.
The book is priced at £20.00 ,Kindle ££9.99 with some cheaper offers on Amazon and should be a good hit on the Christmas present lists despite the revved up title