Operation Freshman

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of Operation FRESHMAN, the Regiment's first operational task.

Operation FRESHMAN set out to destroy German heavy water product
ion at Vermok in Norway. Two Horsa gliders were used, each carrying fifteen Airborne Engineers. S/Sgt Strathdee and Sgt Doig were selected for one glider and two RAAF pilots, PO Davies and Sgt Fraser, for the other. The length of the flight ruled out all tugs except the mighty Halifax. Although short in numbers, three were found and made available. A rigorous phase of training took place, including night flying and landing.

In the second week of November, the aircraft, crews and passengers moved to Skitten, in northern Scotland, from where they would leave on the 19th. As that day progressed, the weather became increasingly more unsuitable. Nevertheless, the crews decided to go. The weather on the flight was extremely poor and a snow storm greeted the combinations as they made landfall over Norway.

Flying over the Landing Zone for an hour without realising, the decision was made to turn for home. Both gliders and one tug crashed on the return leg, with several fatalities and injuries. Norwegian civilians did what they could for the survivors but could not prevent their capture by the Germans. It is at this point that the story takes a gruesome turn. The severely wounded were strangled to death and the rest shot by firing squad on 18th January. After the war, many of those responsible for these deaths were given various sentences by War Crimes Tribunal.
Operation Freshman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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