Operation Musketoon

This was a British special forces raid to destroy the hydro-electric power plant in the Glomfjord on the west coast of German-occupied Norway (15/21 September 1942).

The power provided by this facility was essential to the operation of an aluminium smelting plant deemed vital to the German war effort. Led by a Canadian officer, Captain Graeme Black, the team comprised 12 men (10 commandos and two Norwegian corporals) under the control of the Special Operations Executive. The team travelled to the Glomfjord in the Free French submarine Junon escorted by three British submarines. After landing, the 12 men began their march toward the station while avoiding a land survey patrol led by a German officer, Leutnant Wilhelm Dehne.

The mission succeeded in blowing up pipelines, turbines and tunnels, effectively destroying the generating station and causing the permanent closure of the aluminium plant. One of the commandos was killed outright, and another seven were captured while trying to escape the area and taken to Colditz Castle. From there they were taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and executed on 30 October 1942, the first victims of Hitler’s ‘Commando Order’. The dead men were Black, Captain Joseph. B. J. Houghton, Lance Sergeant William Chudley, Rifleman Eric Curtis, Private Reginald Makeham, Corporal Miller Smith, Rifleman Cyril Abram, and Corporal Erling M. Djupdraet.

The survivors of the raid were extensively debriefed in the UK after returning from the raid, and a specialised commando team (‘North Force’) was established for action in difficult terrain.