Skip to comments.Hero of the Telemark Raid dies aged 101
Posted on 12/10/2012 5:00:50 PM PST by the scotsman
'One of the last two survivors of the legendary Second World War 'Heroes of the Telemark' raid, which helped thwart Hitler's plans to build a Nazi nuclear bomb, has died aged 101.
Just 31 at the time, Norwegian Birger Stromsheim was the oldest member of the team who successfully destroyed the hard water production facility at the Norsk Hydoelectric plant in Telemark, southern Norway.
The raid, which is regarded as one of the most successful acts of sabotage in World War II, was also remarkable for the fact all the team managed to escape by cross country skiing 250 miles into Sweden.'
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Hard water? I think the writer meant “heavy water”.
I saw an account of that raid many years ago on TV. Those guys really were about as heroic as they come.
A true adventure story of the greatest degree.
If they’d only been muslims, it would have been a snap to get to Sweden.
RIP Mr. Stromsheim, you are a true hero.
I was working for a Swiss machine supplier in Switzerland and I met a potential new client from England in Oslo in 1988 and we drove 3 hours to Rjukan so that he could see our systems in operation in a production environment with an established client of ours. Before we left back to Oslo the Norwegian client took us to the hydro-electric power plant for a tour. He was very proud of the Norwegian effort to stop Hitler’s atomic development program.
1973 BBC documentary:
RIP Mr. Stromsheim
Interesting side-bar: the nazi’s needed heavy water as a moderator in their potential reactors to produce bomb-quality fissionable material (plutonium, I think).
But they could have used graphite instead (the way we did) - unfortunately for them, they miscalculated the neutron-absorbing properties of the carbon in graphite, so they were left relying on electricity-intensive heavy water production, which left them vulnerable to heroic Norwegians.
Now if the morons hadn’t driven out all their Jewish scientists, they probably wouldn’t have screwed that up - but if they hadn’t run off those Jews, they wouldn’t have been nazis, would they.
Thanks for the post. also in the Daily Mail is an article about the German Pilot that let a badly damaged B-17 fly on home. He said it was a mattor of honor not to shoot down such a badly damaged [enemy] plane which obviously had wounded on board. incident happened on Dec 20, 1943 after a US air raid on Bremen, Germany
Thanks for the ping. Very few commandos live anywhere near that long. May he rest in peace.
Also, may that German pilot rest in peace. Very few pilots on either side thought it a matter of honor to not shoot down a badly damaged enemy plane.
Thanks for the post.
I remember during the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994 General Norman Schwarzkopf presented one of those “Olympic moments” about the Telemark raid. Probably the single best ever Olympic story piece done (next to the PLO murdering Israelis in Munich.
Learned a lot about the Telemark raid then....Schwarzkopf was a great narrator. When I went to Norway earlier this year, visiting the various museums, there is still quite a lot of mention about Telemark
Surprised even then that a liberal CBS would have a US Army (Ret) General on an Olympic broadcast....and do a piece about war sabotage.
That was a wonderful story about the Nazi pilot who didn’t shoot down the damaged plane. Thanks to FR we get to read about them.
Hogan’s Heroes - Go Light on the Heavy Water - 1965
Thanks for posting this! I had always thought that the destruction of Germany’s heavy water production was defeated by air, specifically by bombing the dams that supplied the water to the hydo power plant producing the heavy water. I remember seeing a movie years ago about this effort. The first attempts to destroy the dams failed and the British came up with an unique bomb (spherical). They flew in low over the water and released the bombs and the bombs would skip over the water right into the dams. Maybe my memory is wrong?
All Bombing with the skip on the water bombs were in or near Germany.
Yes, your memory is fading ...
The bombing raid with the bouncing bombs was to destroy industrial dams on the Rhine.
Thanks for your link to this video. Nice piece of history about some heroic men.
Thanks to both of you for setting me right on my memory.
No problem. Happens to me frequently. I call it Half-Heimers - - - .
They didn’t destroy the damns to destroy heavy water, they did it to flood the industrial valley below the damns. It worked and crippled much of Hitlers war time production. They have made at least one movie about the round bomb, I believe it is fairly old but tells the story quite well.
Haigerloch is a little town east of the Black Forest. Most of it is at the bottom of a deep valley, but a high limestone promontory dominates the town, bearing a church, a former noblemans home, and farmlands on the plain beyond. At the base of the cliff, down near the river at the bottom of the valley, lies an old cellar which began as a cave, used for centuries for the storage of wine. The entrance to the cellar is very secluded, impossible to see from the air.
Late in the war, German scientists decided to relocate their atomic research from Berlin to someplace far west. They knew by then that Germany was on its way to defeat, and they wanted to be as far as possible from the Soviets, soon to be on the rampage over eastern Germany. If they were going to be captured, they wanted to be captured by the Allies. So in this remote cellar, they constructed one final test reactor; a collection of little Uranium cubes suspended from a metal disk on chains, lowered into a pit filled with heavy water at the end of the cave. Their efforts were roughly on the scale of what the U. S. was doing in 1941; trying to create a nuclear reactor, and still far from a bomb. The U. S. effort would end up being thousands of times larger by the time we had the bomb in 1945.
Now the Atomkeller museum, I visited and bought some of its materials.
Or just plane English = old farts disease
One of the things the attackers did was leave several British rifles and I think a couple of Tommy Guns. so the Germans would think it was a military unit and not take vengeance on the Norwegian people.
Actually the Movie about the RAF and the skipping bombs was on TMC last week the title is Dam Busters!
I guess was the movie I remembered.
Yeah I saw it many, many years ago. Just found a piece of it on YouTube.
I saw a documentary on the History Channel a few months ago about the sabotage of the heavy water plant.
Those guys had to ski out of there for a few hundred miles.
It had interviews with some of the team members as well as photos and details of just how close Hitler was to creating a Nuke.
The film to which you refer is The Dambusters.
The 1954 film with Richard Todd. It is probably the most famous and best loved British war movie of all time. Every British person has either seen it or knows of it. Its much loved, the theme is iconic and the film is never off the telly here.
And is about to be remade by a British studio, with Peter Jackson (a Kiwi who has said the remake will stay British and not parachute in Americans stars to pander to an US audience) as director.
The raid was the famous 1943 raid by 617 Sq of the RAF on the three German dams, using the bouncing bomb invented by Barnes Wallis.
Click on the link in Post #8 above it is probably the same documentary you saw on the History Channel.
Dambusters full length movie on Youtube:
The Movie Heroes of Telemark was based on this real event.
Somehow in the past year I found this movie on like a history channel.
The movie is excellent. My wife, who loves Bond movies and similiar movies had a hard time watching the reality of the movie and all most got sick at the end when the ferry with the heavy water was sunk. I guess there was too much reality.
The Norwegian resistance sabotage the Vemork Norsk Hydro plant in the town of Rjukan in the county of Telemark, Norway, which the Nazis are using to produce heavy water, a stuff they could use to make a nuclear bomb.
Besides this impressively filmed sequence, Operation Gunnerside, Operations Grouse and Freshman and the final attack are depicted in location filming, in which snowy Norwegian locations serve as a backdrop for the plot.
Kirk Douglas plays Rolf Pedersen, a Norwegian physics professor, who, though originally content to wait out the war, is soon pulled into the struggle by local resistance leader Knut Straud (based on Knut Haukelid, portrayed by Richard Harris).
They are both smuggled to England to have microfilmed plans of the Hydro examined, and then return to Norway to plan a commando raid on the Hydro. When a force of Royal Engineers, who were to carry it out, are all killed, Pedersen and Straud lead a small force of saboteurs into the plant. The raid is successful, but the Germans quickly repair the equipment.
They then plan to ship tankers of heavy water to Germany. Pedersen and Straud sabotage a ferry carrying the tankers, and it sinks in the deepest part of a fjord.
 Other versions
Ray Mears made a documentary entitled The Real Heroes of Telemark. Despite mainly sticking to the factual evidence, some scenes in the documentary, like the film, were partly dramatised, focusing more on the survival skills involved in the operation.
The same story was also covered in the 1948 Franco-Norwegian film Kampen om tungtvannet (La bataille de l’eau lourde - “The battle for heavy water”). Quite faithful to the real events, it even had many of the original Norwegian commandos starring as themselves.
You’re thinking of the “Dambusters”. It’s a different operation, but very interesting in it’s own right!