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A clandestine photograph of the "Broompark", under the command of Captain Olaf Paulsen, sailing out of Le Verdon Roads, from

Bordeaux, on June 19, 1940 with France's heavy water stocks

Launched on September 12, 1939 and completed the following month as Yard No 921 at Lithgow's Port Glasgow yard, for Denholm's of Greenock, the 5,136-ton "Broompark", a sixfoot long, glass-cased, model of her still to be seen in Denholm's Glasgow office, was to play an important part in helping The Allies win WWII, her captain, Olaf Paulsen, properly one of the war's early heroes and awarded both an OBE and a Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at Sea. With The Fall of Paris in May 1940 and France facing defeat, Dautry, the French Armaments Minister who, with British support, had negotiated with Norway's Norsk Hydro Rjukan, a Norwegian company largely owned by The Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas and secured 185 kg of "produit Z" heavy water, ordered Frederic Joliot-Curie to ensure that France's heavy water stocks did not fall into enemy hands, Joliot-Curie in turn entrusting the task of moving everything out of Paris to his physicist colleagues Hans van Halban and Lew Kowarski. Halban put his wife and one-year-old daughter in the front of his car, one gram of Joliot-Curie's mother-in-law's radium in the back and, to minimize any possible danger from radiation, the 26 cans of heavy water in between and, drove the car's precious cargo and all the reasearch papers to the spa town of Mont-Dore, in central France, where Halban was allowed to lodge the cans in the safety of the town's women's prison, the cans moved to the safety of condemned cell of the prison in nearby Riom the following morning. Hoping to continue the work, Halban set up a new laboratory in a small villa but, within days, was ordered to evacuate everything to Bordeaux When ordered to evacuate a few days later, a number of prisoners serving life sentences in Riom's prison moving what was indeed The World's total stock of heavy water from the 1

prison's condemned cell to a waiting vehicle and Haliban and his family then setting off for Bordeaux to join up again with Lew Kowarski and meet Charles Howard, The 20th Earl of Suffolk, Liaison Officer in France for The British Department for Scientific and Industrial Research, who was charged with rescuing rare machine tools, some $10M worth of industrial diamonds, fifty French scientists and France's heavy water stocks, Howard's immediate problem being to find a ship and a ship's captain willing to sail for England, the harbour bombed, The Gironde Estuary, notoriously subject to strong tidal currents, requiring great care in even the best conditions and the port entrance itself now too mined. As luck had it, Halban and Howard came across Captain Olaf Paulsen, master of Denholm's near-new cargo ship "Broompark", Paulsen arriving in Bordeaux apparently unaware that Paris had been occupied just days earlier, on June 14, 1940 and he immediately agreeing to their request for help. While the cans of heavy water were being placed in wooden crates, these then lashed to pallets on deck, so that they might float free if the ship hit a mine or was bombed, Howard, The Earl of Suffolk, gathered guns and other weapons, together and began teaching the fleeing scientists how to use them. Joliot-Curie, who would later go underground and became a leader of 'The Resistance', chose to remain in France and would thus begin a difficult period in charge of The Coll`ege de France's cyclotron, it to be the only one available in Occupied Europe to Germany's scientists for, although there was one in occupied Copenhagen, the Danish physicist Neils Bohr there simply forbade its use by Axis personnel; an act which only he could conceivably have gotten away with thanks to his then on-going relationship with Werner Heisenberg, he later to be head of the German atomic bomb project and Bohr, because of his partially-Jewish heritage and about to be to be arrested by the German police, dramatically escaping from Denmark to Sweden and then to London in October 1943. Bohr was evacuated from Stockholm in 1943 in an unarmed de Havilland Mosquito fighterbomber operated by BOAC, the passengers on BOAC's Mosquitos were carried in an improvised cabin in the bomb bay. The flight almost ended in tragedy as Bohr did not don his oxygen equipment as instructed and, passing out at high altitude, he would have died had not the pilot, surmising from Bohr's lack of response to intercom communication that he had lost consciousness, descended to a lower altitude for the remainder of the flight, Bohr's later comment being that he had slept like a baby for the entire flight.


And so, on Wednesday, June 19, 1940, the "Broompark", with 101 unusually accommodated passengers plus crew, all eyes on board scanning the water for mines, began moving down the chaos of The Gironde Estuary, a ship ahead of her hitting a mine and sinking and JoliotCurie, soon questioned by the Germans as to the whereabouts of France's heavy water stocks, directing their attention of the unfortunate victim of the mine. Clearing the Gironde's estuary and to avoid its seizure, the "Broompark" secretly off-loaded her cargo of heavy water into a cave on the French coast, it later retrieved by a British submarine crew, taken to London and deposited yet again in prison, this time at Wormwood Scrubs, where it was held until the Coll`ege de France's team of French scientists were ready to continue their experiments at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and the heavy water eventually sent to The University of Chicago for safe keeping, the "Broompark" herself arriving safely in Falmouth with the scientists, the industrial diamonds, the industrial machinery and the research papers on June 21, 1940. Her cargo discharged, the "Broompark" sailed for Vancouver and loaded 5,130 tons of lumber and metals for Glasgow, she coming up the east coast of America and joining Convoy HX72 for The Atlantic crossing, all going well until September 21, 1940, three months exactly to the day of her arrival in England from Bordeaux. Unknown to the convoy commodore, they had been sighted by "U-47", commanded by Gunther Prien of HMS "Royal Oak" sinking fame at Scapa Flow, "U-47" on weather reporting duties after expending all her torpedoes in the earlier part of her patrol and Prien only able to keep reporting the convoy's ever changing positions until other U-Boats arrived. At 23:38 hours on September 21, 1940, at 55° 08' N / 18° 30' W (U-Boat Grid Square AL 6554), Heinrich Bleichrodt's "U-48" (she proving to be the most successful of all WWII U-Boats, 3

in terms of tonnage and the number of ships sunk) loosed her torpedoes at the "Broompark", she then severely damaged, one of her crew members lost in the attack and 31 of her 40 crew members abandoning ship. With her eight remaining crew doggedly shifting the ship's ballast and constantly trimming and pumping the ship's tanks to keep the timber-laden ship on an even keel, Captain Paulsen restarted the engines, retrieved the crew members from the escort ship which had picked them up and then continued on to England at greatly reduced speed. Nearing the coast, inside The Firth of Clyde and near Ailsa Craig, the "Broompark" was bombed and strafed by a FW 200 Condor, which was driven off by anti-aircraft fire from the "Broompark" and an escort vessel, one crewman, fireman-trimmer Hassin Amed, killed in the attack. For his action in helping to retrieve the heavy water in June 1940, Captain Paulsen was awarded 'The Order of the British Empire' and, for his actions in saving the torpedoed "Broompark" on the night of September 21, 1940, with a minimum loss of life, he was awarded "Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at Sea". The "Broompark" would meet her end less than two years later when running in ballast from The Tyne to New York under the command of Captain John Leask Sinclair, the "Broompark" joining the west-bound convoy ON 113 at Loch Ewe. "U-552" had left St. Nazaire on July 8, 1942, ordered to join the 'Wolf' group, formed from the 12th U-Flottille, 600 miles west of The North Channel between Scotland and Ireland, the group to make a circular sweep across The Newfoundland Bank and then go south, one of the boats in the group sighting an empty west-bound convoy, which was left alone, on the 13th and then sighting another empty west-bound convoy, ON 113, on the 23rd, it later proving to have been the convoy that the group had sighted earlier, on the 13th. At 0352 hours on July 25, 1942, in bad visibility and in the face of the strong escort, "U-552" succeeded in damaging the tanker "British Merit" and minutes later, at 0409 hours, at 49.02° N / 40.26° W, attacked and damaged the "Broompark". Though taken in tow by a tug, the USS "Cherokee" (AT 66), the "Broompark" sank three days later, at 0600 hours on the morning of July 28, about 50 miles south-west of St. Johns, at 47° 41' N / 51° 50' W, her master, Captain Sinclair and three crewmen were lost, her 38 other crew and 7 gunners safely picked up by HMCS "Brandon" (K 149), in command of Lt. J. C. Littler RCNR and landed at St. Johns. A few days after the sinking of the "Broompark", on August 3, HMS "Sackville", a corvette, found "U-48" on the surface shadowing another convoy, ON 115, the U-Boat's last torpedo spent and she hoping to do some damage with her guns. HMS "Sackville" scored a direct hit with her guns on the U-Boat's conning tower as she began to dive, the hit damaging the schnorkel pipe which fed air to the U-Boat's diesel engines and the corvette then repeatedly attacking the submerged U-Boat with depth charges, these attacks bringing oil and debris to the surface and the U-Boat assumed and reported to have been sunk, news of her sinking quickly reaching Germany, much to the despair of the crew's relatives and then, to their joy, "U-48" returned to St. Nazaire, damaged but otherwise safe, on August 13, 1942.


Captain Paulsen setting his sea-going career behind him and, for the remainder of the war, joining the shore staff who controlled the anchorages and shipping movements off Greenock, at The Tail of The Bank on The Clyde.

Heavy water is a byproduct of ammonia fertilizer production, it is simply water that contains a higher proportion than normal of the isotope deuterium, it is not radioactive and has physical properties similar to water save for being about 11% more dense and, small concentrations of heavy water are non-toxic, the adult human body naturally containing deuterium equivalent to the amount in about 5 grams of heavy water. Relatively pure heavy water was produced in 1933, soon after the discovery of deuterium, the stable heavy isotope of hydrogen and, with the discovery of nuclear fission in late 1938 and the need for a 'neutron moderator', which captured few neutrons, heavy water soon achieved importance in relation to early nuclear programs during World War II. Due in part to German reliance on scarce heavy water for reactor research in this war, Germany did not succeed in producing a functioning reactor during World War II. In 1934, Norsk Hydro built the first commercial heavy water plant at Vemork, Tinn, with a capacity of 12 tonnes per year but, from 1940 and throughout World War II, the plant was under German control and the allies decided to destroy the plant and its heavy water to inhibit German development of nuclear weapons. In late 1942, a planned raid by British airborne troops failed, both gliders crashing, the raiders either killed in the crash or subsequently executed by the Germans but, in the night of February 27, 1943, Operation Gunnerside succeeded, Norwegian commandos and local resistance managing to demolish small but key parts of the electrolytic cells, dumping the accumulated heavy water down the factory drains. Had the German nuclear program followed 5

similar lines of research as the U.S. Manhattan Project, such heavy water would have been crucial to obtaining plutonium from a nuclear reactor. The Norsk Hydro operation is one of the great commando sabotage operations of the war. On November 16, 1943, the Allied Air Forces dropped more than 400 bombs on the site, the raid prompting the Nazi government to move all available heavy water to Germany for safekeeping.

The "Hydro" at Mæl in 1925 Then on February 20, 1944, a Norwegian partisan sank the small steam-powered vehicle and train ferry "Hydro", operating between Rollag and Mæl, carrying the heavy water across Lake Tinn, fourteen Norwegian civilians' lives lost and most of the heavy water was presumably lost too in the 430 metre deep water, a few of the barrels, that were only half full and able float may have been salvaged and transported to Germany, the events were dramatized in the 1965 movie "The Heroes of Telemark". Within recent time, an investigation of production records at Norsk Hydro and the analysis of an intact barrel that was salvaged in 2004 revealed that although the barrels in this shipment contained water of pH 14, indicative of the alkaline electrolytic refinement process, they did not contain high concentrations of D2O. Despite the apparent size of shipment, the total quantity of pure heavy water was quite small, most barrels only containing between ½% to 1% of pure heavy water. The Germans would have needed a total of about 5 tons of heavy water to get a nuclear reactor running and the ferry's cargo manifest clearly indicating that only half a ton of heavy water was being transported to Germany, the sabotaged ferry, the "Hydro", carrying far too little heavy water for even one reactor let alone the 10 or more tons the Germans needed to make enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon.


Joachim Ronnenberg

The Real Story Behind The 1965 Film “The Heroes of Telemark”
Largely now forgotten, perhaps even unknown to many today, is the fact that, in January 1943, the real 'heroes' of the operation trained on the remote shores of Loch Fyne, near Portavadie and almost in daily sight of the MacBrayne's 'steamer' on her daily run to Ardrishaig and, after hearing the words "East Loch Fyne" mentioned in a Channel 4 television documentary about "Churchill's Secret Army", Kilfinnan resident John MacColl contacted the programme's producer, Martin Smith, who put him in touch with one of the Norwegian commandoes, Joachim Ronnenberg, who had been the leader of a group of commandos, called 'Gunnerside' and survived to tell the tale in an exchange of letters with John MacColl, the story told first in "The Dunoon Observer" of April 5, 2002. After the Germans had captured the Norwegian heavy water plant at Vemork, near Rjukan in the region of Telemark, the largest electro-chemical plant of its kind in The World, in May 1940, it soon became clear to British Intelligence the importance the plant held to the German war effort. The Norsk Hydro plant produced a by-product, known as deuterium oxide, or heavy water, an essential component in the production of Uranium 235, needed to make what was to be Hitler's ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb. Churchill's cabinet was fully aware of the German’s intention and, through an SOE coup, they encouraged the plants engineers, Dr Jomar Brun and Einnar Skinnerland, to act as SOE agents. Brun and Skinnerland smuggled intelligence out of the plant to Intelligence Headquarters in London, where the famous cryptographer, Leo Marks, passed the decoded information to Churchill’s cabinet. Contact had been made with Skinnerland to find out exactly what improvements the Germans were making to the plants output and design plans. Skinnerland, one of the original designers of the Norsk Hydro, now plotted along with the Chief engineer Brun in its destruction. They smuggled micro-photographs of the plant layout in toothpaste tubes to London. When the intelligence was passed, the special Operations Executive were given orders to destroy the plant. On October 18, 1942, an advance party of four Norwegian SOE commandos were dropped in Norway on the Hardanger Plateau on a reconnaissance mission of the plant. Code-named 'Grouse', they were led by Lieutenant Jens Anton Poulssen, their job to fuse with 'Operation Freshman' and guide them to the plant to procure its destruction. But, sadly, 'Operation Freshman went dramatically wrong, and the two RAF Horsa gliders — never before used in such an operation — crashed in the severe weather, killing many of the 34 Royal Engineers on board, and air crew. Any survivors were rounded up by the Germans, interrogated; tortured and shot. They were all in British Army uniform and today a memorial stands just outside Oslo in their memory. In an intelligence meeting Brun advised that the destruction of the Vemork plant had much more chance of succeeding if the attack was made on a smaller scale, hitting the structures weak points with a highly trained group of soldiers. The war cabinet met and approved a small-scale attack. 7

One of the most highly trained and respected Norwegian lieutenants, Joachim Ronnenberg, was chosen for what could be classed as a suicide mission. With only a 50-50 chance of returning, each man carried an ‘L-tablet’ (cyanide) in case of capture. Ronnenberg picked five highly trained men for the job and good skiers, to make up 'Gunnerside', which consisted of Lieutenant Knut Haukelid, Sergeant Fredrik Kayser, Birger Stromsheim, Kasper Idland and Hans Storhaug. 'Gunnerside', at that point, was stationed just outside Cambridge, and at the same base was a Scottish Officer, Major Dunlop MacKenzie. On hearing 'Gunnerside' needed a safe spot to train and await their vital mission, MacKenzie offered them his house on a local estate in Kilfinan, Argyll, and a secluded cottage about an hours walk away at Stillaig Bay, by Portavadie. 'Gunnerside's' leader Joachim Ronnenberg, reminisces about his time in Kilfinan, saying : "It was January 1943 and we were awaiting departure back to Norway. My group 'Gunnerside' had taken the responsibility for the destruction of the heavy water factory at Vemork, after the sad failure of the 'Freshman' operation causing the deaths of 40 British chaps, commandos and airmen". He continued, "The December moon period was unsuccessful due to bad weather, so I asked for 'Gunnerside' to be taken to a safe spot in Scotland where we could use the time training, and await the February dropping period. "One of the British officers at our base, a Major MacKenzie, suggested he could take us to his home outside of Glasgow, where he and his family lived away from traffic and people". He remembered "that they took great care of us, and were extremely nice people". Reliving the journey to Kilfinan, Ronneberg said, "As I look at the map I remember we went by train down the side of the Clyde to Greenock, where we caught the steamer. "I think we called at Rothesay and then on to Tighnabruaich, where we landed at the wooden pier there and were collected by car. "We drove to the MacKenzie house at Crispie in Kilfinan, where we all spent the first night. The next day we split up, and some stayed at a small cottage at Stillaig Bay an hour or so walk away. We took turns staying at the cottage, training and contemplating the mission. We knew there was quite a task ahead of us with not much chance of survival, but were more concerned about when the new moon and the dropping period would be". ‘Gunnerside’ used the remoteness of the Portavadie, Kilfinan area, with its rugged coastline and hills to train in. Although fed at the big house, 'Gunnerside' also did a little cooking of their own Joachim Ronnenburg continued, "I do remember we shot a seal which we recovered when the tide went out. It tasted very OK when done with onion, although we had to slice it very thin". The time came for 'Gunnerside' to leave Kilfinan and travel back down to Cambridge, and on February 16, 1943, a Halifax Bomber flew out Ronnenberg and his group. The plane had been specially adapted for dropping missions. Due to the fact that security had doubled at the Vemork plant, they were dropped 40 miles away from 'Grouse' on a frozen lake. 8

'Gunnerside' marched and skied across the Hardanger mountains in white ski suits over their British army uniforms, carrying heavy packs of explosives. After a week enduring atrocious conditions, they met up with the half starved intelligence group 'Grouse' now code named 'Swallow'. The 'Swallow' fused with 'Gunnerside' and continued to climb through the mountains until they reached Vemork. On February 27, 1943, 'Gunnerside' found themselves on the final leg of their mission. Now in full British Army uniform they made their way down into the valley in preparation for the dangerous ascent of the 500ft rock face to the heavily guarded, almost impregnable plant, jutting menacingly out of the side of the mountain. The attack started just after midnight on February 28. Lieutenant Haukelid and the men with him cut the perimeter fence and took up silent positions watching the German guards. Ronnenberg and a sergeant had separated from 'Gunnerside' and they found the cable vent and crawled through. The shaft took them right in to the high concentration room where the heavy water was stored, to the total surprise of a guard who was kept at gun point till the charges were laid. With only two minutes until detonation, Ronnenburg and the three others with him had barely exited from the building when the charges went off. The plant went on full alert as 'Gunnerside' made their escape, leaving behind a Tommy Gun to show it was British forces that had sabotaged the plant, in the hope there would be no German reprisals against the local people. The saboteurs escaped the Nazi wrath down a railway line and back into the mountains they knew so well, knowing they couldn’t be easily followed in the treacherous conditions. Later that day, through blinding snow and rain 'Gunnerside' reached base camp where they broke into two groups. Ronnenberg remembered his orders, "Five of the 'Gunnerside' group were to report back, via Sweden to the UK. Our orders were to ski the 500 km to Sweden in full British army uniform to prevent German reprisals if caught, the journey from Vermork to Sweden took us 18 days hard skiing". 'Gunnerside' escaped in the knowledge their mission had been a complete success, as the explosives had literally blown the bottom out of the high concentration room, and Hitler’s atomic dream was running down the drains. But even though the 'Gunnerside' mission was one of the most successful sabotage missions of World War Two, by April 1943 the production of heavy water started again. Attacks continued on the Norsk Hydro, and America despatched 150 B-17s bombers to destroy the plant, but the mission failed, although Vemork was put out of action for the rest of the war, the high concentration plant had survived. Berlin, frustrated with the constant sabotage, decided to move the stock-pile of heavy water out by rail ferry. London instructed SOE to do everything possible to destroy its valuable cargo. Only one SOE commando remained at Vemork, Lieutenant Knut Haukelid, who had spent time in Argyll with 'Gunnerside' was now to become one of the biggest war heroes of World War II. 9

Later a film was made about Haukelid, Ronnenberg and ‘Gunnerside’s’ exploits, and in 1965 an epic called "The Heroes of Telemark" starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, was released. In February 1944, Haukelid and two others stowed away on board the Hydro ferry and they set to work laying a ring of eight Kilos of plastic explosives, set to blow a hole out of the boats keel. At 10.45am on Sunday, February 20, 1944, just as she was crossing the deepest part of Lake Tinnsjo, the ferry, the "Hydro", exploded, destroying the last of the German’s heavy water supply.

The Norwegian Monument to "The Heroes of Telemark" If it had not been for the heroic courage of Ronneburg and Haukelid and the men of 'Gunnerside', the Germans would have had their first atomic pile working by late autumn 1943, well ahead in the race to produce the atom bomb. The sabotage mission on the Vemork plant was now to hinder Germany for the rest of the war. Churchill was so impressed by 'Gunnersides' heroic mission he commended the men for their bravery, and the group's leader Joachim Ronnenberg received the DSO, while Haukelid, Indland and Kayser were awarded The Military Cross, and Stromshiem and Storhaug The Military Medal.