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Last of the Heroes of Telemark dies aged 99

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Joachim Rønneberg, the last surviving member of the group of Norwegian resistance fighters during World War II whose daring sabotage action in Telemark to destroy equipment at the Heavy Water plant at Vermork helped prevent Nazi Germany from developing an atomic bomb, has died aged 99.

Their incredibly daring mission ranks as one of the most successful and important of WW2. Total respect to all those involved.

R.I.P Joachim Rønneberg
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BBC report
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Some years ago Ray Mears did an excellent 3 part series on the Real Heroes of Telemark. They're available to watch on YouTube
http://youtube.com/v/gExqx4PXXG8
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RIP indeed
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Incredible feat of skill and bravery.
RIP
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Like many that servered, we owe them so much.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
part 2 --
http://youtube.com/v/GhNSotdMmh0

part 3 --
http://youtube.com/v/qYF7GZ8AaE4
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Heard an interview from a few years ago replayed on R4 earlier. He described it as the best weekend skiing he'd ever had! Also that he didn't understand the full importance of what they had done until A bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
RIP
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I enjoyed watching this as they were indeed a special breed of men.

Up until about 5 years ago I was regularly out shooting over pointers with a man well into his eighties who had a one very damaged leg courtesy of the German army in Italy. He was damned if he was going to let a minor inconvenience like one non-functioning leg stop him walking through fields, woods & heather with a gun & a dog.
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Alastair Pink wrote:
Their incredibly daring mission ranks as one of the most successful and important of WW2. Total respect to all those involved.


Perhaps. Depending on whether it actually made any difference at all to Hitler's nuclear programme. Arguably heavy water was a very poor moderator and the Germans would have been better using graphite anyway, but they had plenty of other problems (like a lack of Jewish scientists whom they had kicked out in the 1930s...) and a shortage of Uranium. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nuclear_weapons_program

Total respect, however, undiminished. And thank you for the Mears programme - "The Heroes of Telemark" is quite a silly film. Edited: That Ray Mears programme is quite silly too.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Tue 23-10-18 19:04; edited 1 time in total
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Is there a link to the complete 3rd episode available?
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McKenzie:
http://youtube.com/v/r9_BuQUyFp8
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Yes, I've seen that; the last episode seems to be broken into small segments & some are missing.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
James the Last wrote:
Alastair Pink wrote:
Their incredibly daring mission ranks as one of the most successful and important of WW2. Total respect to all those involved.


Perhaps. Depending on whether it actually made any difference at all to Hitler's nuclear programme. Arguably heavy water was a very poor moderator and the Germans would have been better using graphite anyway,..


Actually heavy water is an excellent moderator, in purely reactor physics terms its combination of both moderating ability (high neutron scattering cross section) and low neutron absorption is better than that of graphite. The Canadian CANDU reactors use heavy water as the moderator as the low neutron absorption makes it the most efficient user of natural (unenriched) Uranium. Note that because of the much higher neutron absorption of light water it is impossible to make a nuclear reactor using light water and natural Uranium, so starting with natural Uranium you have a choice of either heavy water or graphite as the moderator. The Nazis had access to the World's largest supply of heavy water in Norway so it was a sensible choice for them.

However as the wikipedia link says the Nazis never gave their atomic bomb programme anywhere near the resources required to produce a weapon, the Allied effort was orders of magnitude greater in expenditure and personnel. In fact by the end of the War the German scientists hadn't even managed to produce a controlled nuclear chain reaction (a nuclear reactor), something which Fermi achieved in the US in December 1942. By mid 1945 the Allied Manhattan Project had produced enough enriched Uranium 235 through their massive gaseous diffusion plant for the Hiroshima Bomb, and enough Plutonium 239 produced in nuclear reactors for the Nagasaki bomb.

James the Last wrote:
Total respect, however, undiminished. And thank you for the Mears programme - "The Heroes of Telemark" is quite a silly film. Edited: That Ray Mears programme is quite silly too.
Well at least the Ray Mears programme does give the actual facts about the raid Wink
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
James the Last wrote:
... Edited: That Ray Mears programme is quite silly too.

I found it incredibly annoying.
The interviews with survivors were good, and bits of the 1948 film are interesting.
The minor celebrity's antics with sat phones, helicopter support, a film crew and zero risk of being shot at would make it unwatchable if it wasn't possible to skip those bits.

"Silly" is a good way to describe all of that.
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I read Ray's book about the raid a while back, worth a read.

Also read Thor Heyerdal's "Kon Tiki Man" recently and discovered that one of the guys who crossed the pacific with him (on a raft made of logs) also took part in the "Hero's of Telemark"raid. What a legend! I think he was the radio specialist on both.
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stevomcd wrote:
Also read Thor Heyerdal's "Kon Tiki Man" recently and discovered that one of the guys who crossed the pacific with him (on a raft made of logs) also took part in the "Hero's of Telemark"raid. What a legend! I think he was the radio specialist on both.


Yep, Knut Haugland
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Here's a link to a v good podcast on the mission

http://ww2podcast.libsyn.com/the-winter-fortress
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Alastair Pink wrote:
Well at least the Ray Mears programme does give the actual facts about the raid Wink


Yes, hence the thanks. Having watched 'Heroes' earlier this week with one eye whilst doing something else and having found it very silly indeed, the Mears programme was a distinct improvement, but then the presenter turned out to be a famous expert in foraging with a huge ego rather than an historian... rolling eyes

Quote:
The Nazis had access to the World's largest supply of heavy water in Norway so it was a sensible choice for them.


Except they didn't.... Cool Sorry, I meant it was a very poor *choice* of moderator - apologies for that - as every child in the land could have contributed a pencil towards graphite as a moderator, whereas heavy water was produced very slowly in a factory in a foreign country. But wikipedia tells me that somebody had done their sums wrong on the graphite so they thought they needed to use heavy water. All in all, thank goodness this was yet another nail in the coffin of the German nuclear programme.
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James the Last wrote:
... But wikipedia tells me that somebody had done their sums wrong on the graphite so they thought they needed to use heavy water. ...

Reading around that, I think the basic problem was that they were opposed to expertise. They shut down their scientists who they didn't kill.

Experts generally don't agree with those in power, but refusing to listen to them has consequences.
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James the Last wrote:
....as every child in the land could have contributed a pencil towards graphite as a moderator, whereas heavy water was produced very slowly in a factory in a foreign country. But wikipedia tells me that somebody had done their sums wrong on the graphite so they thought they needed to use heavy water. All in all, thank goodness this was yet another nail in the coffin of the German nuclear programme.


Actually the graphite in pencils would have been no good, more specifically the commonly available commercial sources of graphite in WW2 were also unsuitable due to the small amounts of neutron absorbing impurities (boron) present . The Allies had to develop methods to specially produce very high purity graphite in order for it to be suitable for use as a nuclear moderator. The Germans "doing their sums wrong" regarding graphite was down to the fact that they did their measurements on commercially sourced graphite, the measurements on their samples were actually correct but they didn't realise they were due to impurities. Madeye-Smiley
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