Operation Musketoon – Commando raid on Glomfjord

A reconnaissance photograph of the Hydro electric power station at Glomfjord. Machinery inside the power station was blown up by men from No.2 Commando as well as the inlet pipeline which can just be discerned running down the hill and entering the rear of the building.

The men who had landed from the Free French submarine Junon on the 15th September now struck. They successfully entered the lightly guarded Glomfjord power station and blew up enough essential machinery to put it out of action for the remainder of the war. German Aluminium production from the associated plant was halted:

We left our home port on 11th September 1942 and disembarked four days later. After the operation, which took place successfully on the night of 20th September, we climbed up to the huts behind Glomfjord power station. Captain Black then told the rest of us to climb the hill as best we could and get away. We divided into two parties, Smith, O’Brien, Christiansen (Granlund), Fairclough and Trigg going up to the right and the others to the left. However Captain Black called Smith back to administer morphia to a man who had been wounded.

The four of us carried on for four hours up the mountain till 0600 hours 21st September when we reached the south side of a valley leading to Storglomvatnet Lake, We had abandoned our haversacks and everything but two Colts and our emergency rations. We had two compasses apart from the small compasses in the aid boxes. Christiansen had a large-scale map.

The river was deep and rapid and we were on the wrong side of it as the Storglomvatnet Lake blocked our way east. Christiansen managed to cross with difficulty but shouted to us not to follow him. He was in much stronger form than we were, he was as agile as a goat and was going strong when last we saw him. He still had the map. We now had a compass between three of us, Chrisriansen having taken one with him.

We were very tired and hungry and ate all our emergency rations in twenty minutes. We went on down the south side of a valley and during the afternoon had to lie low because four Messerschmitts and a Heinkel came to look for us. In the evening we were able to cross the river where it reaches the lake and skirted round the north of the lake.

Part of the account of Operation Musketoon which appeared in the London Gazette, 7th January 1943. This party of men war were quite lucky despite their arduous journey across Norway to Sweden, accomplished with the help of friendly Norwegians. This entailed crossing swollen rivers, scaling mountains and sleeping in the snow amongst other privations, not least hunger. Sergeant O’Brien and was awarded the DCM and Corporal Fairclough and Private Trigg both the MM:

Sergeant O’Brien was one of the detachment of 2 Commando on Operation Musketoon. This highly successful operation resulted in the destruction of the important electric power plant at Glomfjord in Norway on the night of 20th September 1942. Sergeant O’Brien throughout showed great skill and resolution He helped reconnoitre the difficult mountain crossing from the landing place to the objective and personally laid the charge which destroyed the pipeline. He then made his escape, spending, in all, twelve days in enemy-occupied country. When suffering from sickness, privation and exhaustion he showed remarkable endurance and determination.

Unfortunately the outcome for the remaining men led by Captain Black, a veteran of the Vaasgo Raid, was less happy. They were found by the Germans, surrounded and forced to surrender. They were all in uniform and should have been treated as Prisoners of War. However Hitler had been incensed by this raid and others. His infamous Commando Order was issued on the 18th October 1942. As a direct consequence the seven surviving members of the raiding party were executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration camp on 23rd October 1942.

Courtesy memorial pages from CommandoVeterans.Org.

Of the two Norwegian Resistance men accompanying the raid Corporal E Djupdraet died of wounds sustained before they were capturedand Corporal E Granlund successfully made his way back to Britain.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

larry schmidt September 21, 2013 at 5:17 am

All were heroes that gave so much to stop evil
Every following generation will owe them there lives’ and freedom
Thank you
God bless you all

Richard Overall September 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Great story.
Amazing effort by these men to get away after the operation. And so tragic to hear what happened to Captain Black’s group.
I look at those photos, especially young Private Curtis, and feel incredibly sad for these young men.

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