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The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Part 2

2017-12-20 | 🔗

The exploits of the Special Operations Executive are the stuff of legend. This episode continues to look at a few of the group's missions, and what became of the SOE after WWII.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
i thought you were leasing occurred today is an absolutely cigar and one that lets you lisa car right from your phone so when we look at our own world and it was so easy you figured why not catch football yap gotta go it's worth down and i'm debating between us the honour hats looking to the future car leasing on the road where you can choose from hundreds of cars right in your area we did you crystal clear praising even drive your car off right your house it's easy it's clear its roto will continue you missed in history from support stuck hello unwelcome and about gas unhappily fry and i'm crazy we will then this is a continuation of are episode on the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare dislike part one this episode party is also sponsor by focus feature
there is a new movie that is out called darkest hour which features a very critical point in world war two as seen through the lens of watching winston churchill deal with all of that and the pressures and really what he had to go through a very old man stars in it he has gotten lauded for his amazing performance it looks absolutely beautiful i really think is your and our show you might enjoy it it's not a winston churchill bio pick it is literally just about how he does it pressures of suddenly having to confront war as a new prime minister but hey if you have not listened to our one of this to barter you're probably gonna little bit lost if you just jump in right here so go back and listen to that first one and as a quick recap for those of you who did listen to part one we covered in that when the founding of the special operations executive which is nicknamed the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare and we discuss two of its missions and today we are
delve into the stories of two other missions and then talk about what became of this supersecret war effort after world war two ended so not long after operation anther point which was something we talked about last episode plans were under way to try to disable rumbles forces in north africa so cutting the supply lines to the nazi forces in africa was the most efficient way to impact them and it wasn't long before they gaga pod most railway viaduct which was located in central greece was identified as crucial point i'm a route that connected athens with the port city of barcelona key to other bridges had also been considered for destruction and all of this the plan was for a twelve man s so he team which is made up of british museum and greek operators or is actually one great operator to parachute in make contact with the greek resistance move
there was already in greece sabotaged the bridge and then evacuate the twelve men were parted out into three groups each with its own laws interpreter combat engineer and radio operator they had a bit of a false start on the initial drop attempts which was on the night of september twenty eightth under the twenty ninth nineteen forty two there were supposed to be signal fires to guide them but no fires had been lit and the three aircraft each of them carrying a team all returned to cairo with the clear still on board the drop was rescheduled for the next night and this time it was a success although the third group never saw single fire and ended up jumping close to an area that was occupied by italian troops yet after the first night they relate ok even without the fires we're just gonna aim for where we think it is and we're going anyway so even though they didn't have the fire they were like well it's drop
it was only after the esa these men were on the ground in greece at the morgue upon a moose viaduct was selected as the best possible target it had fewer italian troops guarding it and better cover surrounding it than the other two bridges that had been looked at in the sabotage of the bridge was finally scheduled almost two months after the drop into greece on november twenty fifth the combined forces were separate and city groups with specific tasks the railway and telephone lines had to be cut and each end of the bridge had to be covered a hundred men from the greek guerrilla forces were ready to neutralize the access forces that were stationed at either end of the bridge and then the demolitions teams had to travel into the gorge with me to attach the explosives to the bridges girders underneath after the team split up it initially seemed as there's something was wrong they expected gun fired
should have started at either end of the bridge didn't begin on schedule but it did finally start at each end after a short delay but things went very differently on the two ends the south end of the viaduct was quickly one by the guerrillas and the italian soldiers that we're station there ran for their lives but the italian recent on the north end was not so easily despatched and after more than an hour of gunfire the mission commander colonel eddie myers the royal engineers was given word that the italians actually have the upper hand even though this had been a sneak attack myers wisely had kept a small fighting force in reserve and he sent those men to reinforce the guerrillas and after a short but intense second wave of gunfire the north end of the bridge was taken
so he forces it was only after the garrisons on either under the bridge had been dealt with the explosive steam could move into position without any worry that they'd be fired upon they pace placed their explosives struck the fuse caps lift them and then ran to get the safety the blast was intense and destroyed the viaduct and then a second round of charges was that suggests willie destroy it beyond all possible recovery there were injuries to some of the attacking forces from the shrapnel but no one was killed and once again unfortunately the germans retaliated against the locals sixteen villagers were taken into custody and they were brought to the ruins of this bridge and shot after the mission plans changed for colonel myers and his team instead of being a
actuated they were tasked with staying in greece and organizing the guerrilla forces into a unified army as was no small fee there was a lot of inviting and rivalry among the various greek resistance groups but myers was able to bring a five a man army together and that army continued to perform acts of sabotage all around greece the last as though we operation that we're gonna covering this episode is credited with putting a stop to the nazi develop
of an atomic bomb germany had occupied norway in nineteen forty and capture the north hydro heavy water factory called the mark just outside grew can in norway and the location of this plant was and continues to be roughly one hundred miles to the west of oslo the nazis and ordered an increase in the production of dietary him oxide which has more commonly known as heavy water which was an indicator that they were working on an atomic bomb the germans had actually had an atomic bomb and nuclear research programme since nineteen thirty nine business kurt deed nor let the project called uranium club and it included verna heisenberg among scientists the nazis had made that increase request almost immediately after taking the plant and allies at that point i had no idea how far along a nazi project in atomic bombs might be but in
forty two the nazis increase production of heavy water from the morgue plant again this time from a production rate of three hundred pounds here which had been the level after the first increase to ten thousand pounds a year so clearly this was perceived as a massive threat and thus became a target of the esa these efforts churchill's friend and science adviser that british physicist frederick lindemann informed churchill that the germans were stockpiling heavy water that they had accumulated one and a half tonnes they could potentially create a weapon more powerful than anything that had been seen before once they had five tonnes to work with so a multi stage mission was planned to take down the plant the first stage called operation grouse was planned to drop norwegian guerrillas in to norway and this was successfully executed in october of nineteen forty two so those people they had fled and then were dropped back in
second stage which is code named operation freshmen and intended to land british commandos in norway to rendezvous with that initial group when terribly awry the aircraft carrying the british men into norway crashed and fifteen people were killed the survivors were all captured some killed immediately sometimes before being executed the failure of operation freshmen cast doubt on the entire mission but the possibility of nazis creating an atomic bomb was so great a danger that something had to be done so to complete this missed
as though we needed norwegian saboteurs yet there were actually to different aircraft in it was a one crashed and those are the people that were killed immediately in the other had a crash landing in those were the men were taken into captivity we're gonna talk about the sources of some of the special operation executives best information about the north hydro plant in just a moment but first we're gonna pause for a sponsor break this episode of stuff you missed in history class brought to you by norton three sixty with life luck with your shopping online with your smartphone its super feels like ear personal information is just right there in your hand but that's not always the case because as soon as you hit submit your personal information could start going other
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ass a professor of chemistry at the university of framheim life cronstadt had been the master and behind the work of the remark plant in the nineteen thirty's trans tat had fought against the germans when they invaded norway and when his home country was defeated he went back to his job he also began feeding the allies information anonymously about the van wert plant in germany's interest in it turns bad had attempted to follow the existing stockpile of heavy water at the plant once the germans had occupied it by adding todd liver oil he fell under some suspicion and he fled norway leaving his family behind
going first to sweden and then to england i was only after he arrived in england that he went back and revealed himself as the anonymous source who had been sending entail to the allies from within the hydra facility transit i ve convinced allied forces that coming from work something that was considered after the failure of operation freshmen zurich bad idea and that it would lead to a lot of civilian casualties and that all that effort would likely not even touch the key components they were targeting because as were kept in a highly reinforced underground part of the facility so transparent offered up all of the inter that he possibly could to the esa we to assist in planning and alternate approach he described the entire lay out of the facility to the esa we and then another employee for north hydro i'd our skinner land and also made an escape from norway aboard a commandeered steamer with
whether men he had gone to london to tell the authorities about the latest increase in heavy water production additionally the man who had replaced transport at the plant yo mar bruin also wanted to sabotage the germans and started taking micro photographs of the plant and sending them to london in toothpaste yeah all of these norwegian physicists were like we were working on something really cool and you ruined it and we're gonna do everything we can to fight you which i love the norwegian tee was trained by the esa we first in their general training facilities when a man for mission specific training eta hertfordshire mansion called britain bury manner and there they practise their mission plan in a replica
of the heavy water room at the morgue plan which had been built in and out building on the property using the photographs from britain and the descriptions from trans dad for reference one of the interesting aspects of the mission was a step taken to try to protect the locals from violent retribution that the nazis that at this point become known for to offset the odds that norwegians who were living near the north hydro plant would take the blame if the esa we operatives are captured they all had on british uniforms under their snow suits this is a good example house churchill secret force was trying to mitigate the collateral damage that was being caused by their missions you have i was actually really important to the people that were working in the ministry like babe you right eyes that there's collateral damage in war but they were really hard to try to minimize the team rehearse their plan
over and over even in the dark so that they would be able to execute the mission quietly and efficiently when the time came so precise was the information applied by tron start even down to where the bathroom keys were kept that the men who had never been in the building felt ass though they knew it as well as if they had worked there for years and years while the saboteurs chosen for the mission didn't know exactly what the significance of this plant was they understood that it was incredibly important and that the whole thing was risky they were given cyanide death pills to take in the event of capture it was made really clear to them that there was a high likelihood that they were not going survive translated told one of the men for the sake of those who have gone before you and are now dead i urge you to make this operation a success you have no idea how important this mission is that what you are
to do will live in norway history for hundreds of years to come on february sixteen nineteen forty three the group was finally dropped into the norwegian wilderness they were dropped with so many supply to survive be freezing cold but even though they landed almost perfectly it took the men for hours to gather up everything in part because one of a dozen containers filled with supplies had been blown off course by a gust of wind but i really got everything together a blizzard set in and the men who were attempting to rendezvous with the group that had been dropped in october during operation grouse her fortune
enough to literally stumble upon a hut that was normally used by hunters and so that accidental discovery of shelter in his blizzard almost certainly save their lives and the mission they sheltered in the hut until february twenty second and that day they were located by the grass team who had been surviving the harsh winter conditions by eating the occasional reindeer but more consistently eating moss after the capture of the survivors of the operation freshmen team the grouse group had needed to stay then the wilderness to avoid capture themselves so after months of living in these gruelling conditions they were not in great shape but they were ready to complete the mission that mission code named operation gunnar side was carried out five days later on february twenty seventh nineteen forty three the only direct access to the plants was a suspension bridge and there was of course constant surveillance of that bridge because it sat on the present
of a cliff the only other options to reach remark or to come at it from above which include which involved traversing a very steep slope littered with mines or to scale the cliff wall and approach it from below and the team that had parachuted in and surveyed the situation opted to climb be five hundred foot that's a hundred fifty two meter cliff in the freezing of winter and in the dead of night and that meant that they first headache i'm down into a gorge and then make their way across the river their visa ice bridge which they could only hope was going to hold their weight after they crossed the river the men still had to climb the cliff wall so that they can follow a single track railway onto the plant property the group was carrying a lot of gear which made this track and the climate
even more of a challenge each man had a pistol a knife and grenades and they also collectively carried to sniper rifles and five tommy guns on top of that they have the explosive that were intended for the plant climbing up the face of our frozen cliff wall that high sounds utterly terrifying
me and then to add like full kit to it i have so much respect for these people briefly once they had finished scaling that clear if the men paused in the shadow of our building so they could rests and to prepare for the next steps they ate some chocolate and they all sat very calm and ready in several of the group would later describe feeling very confident in that moment and thankful for the training that had ready them for the job ahead once they got to the fence outside the facility a pair of bolt cutters were used to cut an opening that the team could pass through the british military supplied a hacksaw for these kinds of instances but the team led walking rona bird had purchased the cutters himself for the trip he was afraid that a hack site
take too long and attract attention the sentries on guard at the gates were completely oblivious so the bolt cutters seem to have been the perfect choice and before we jump into the final phase of this incredibly daring mission we're going to catch her breath with a short little sponsor break luke episode of stuff you missed in history class is brought to you by w w formerly wait watchers they have launched a new might be to be programme as their most groundbreaking and customize programme ever i joined debbie w because i was really looking for something that was going to help encourage means you make healthier eating choices they have really done that when you join them w w program you will take a personal assessment it ask a question about your eating habits and your behaviour is not scientifically matches you up with which plan is going to be the best for you i'm blue plan and it has made such a big difference or me in terms of encouraging means eat healthy foods join w w formerly wait watchers unlocked
customize weight loss plan that can make losing weight easier for you had gone over to w debbie dot com that's w w dot com to joint debbie debbie today with a limited time offer there were two squads that split apart once they were inside for man nl the explosives and the rest to provide cover the cover party had into the play into an upper platform where they can watch the guards the explosives group then the export of accidentally it seems like subdivided into team in the two teams so the pair there was led by iran a bird made their weight a door that was supposed to have been a lot but it was not it turned out one of their accomplices that was supposed to prepare that door and make sure it was unlocked had guns second did not get into work that day
is actually when all of that time familiarizing themselves with the floor plans of the facility really paid off because rothberg knew that there was an alternate route and access tunnel it was like a cable pass that was large enough for a man to crawl through which led straight to the target area they got through their crawl still carrying their explain lives and made their way to a high concentration room and subdued the guard there who had no idea they were there and so they had a gun to his head as the explosive charges are being play on metal cylinder water production cells the second to man group which also had to improvise their entry into the room got their wrote a book had expected the second pair to follow his leave through this tunnel but they had missed it and had come to alternate a from above and through a window the group checked all their charges once they were placed and they felt so confident and they were so worried that their otherwise perfect mission
to be ruined if the time delays on the explosives took too long that they actually reset them from the planned two minutes to thirty seconds and in an odd moment of levity that's described in their accounts the guard that they had captured actually asked if he could please retrieve his glasses before the charges were blocked is apparently they were at times he loved and they were going to be hard to replace and run a very steam above and then they told him that he needed to take cover the team with the fuses they made their way out of the building clearing it by about twenty yards which is about eighteen metres before they heard the explosion there was a quieter anymore muffled sound than they had expected and the men were disappointed that they didn't get the satisfaction of a massive bang but the charges had worked exactly as they were designed to the man who had made up the cover party rejoined the explosives group on the railway tracks and they made their way back across the ice bridge
they had a few near misses as the manhood began it actually took a little while for the guards at the plant to realise what had happened because they had been so steadily about the whole thing once they realise that there had been sabotage everyone scrambled and there were a couple of instances where germans past literally right by the esa we team as they made their way back into the woods but they manage to avoid being seen and then they recovered the scheme that they had hidden in the woods and continued their escape getting as far away from the plan as possible as quickly as they could
they actually covered more than ten miles on skis before sunrise which is when they first paused to eat and kind of take a breath not a single done had been fired during the mission there were no casualties from there the cover party spread out into the wilderness the explosives group travelled to sweden unscathed that was a journey of more than two hundred miles just three hundred twenty kilometers a tiny band of men had achieved the level of damage that a group of bombers couldn't have done they successfully sabotaged the heavy water
action that was being supplied to the nazis than there was no loss of life and the process all of the man who participated in the mission were given awards either the military cross the distinguished service order or the military met all the men who plans emission and trained those operatives were also awarded as for the german reaction to the attack it was a little different than that that followed the other events that we ve talked about reports indicated that the coming or of the occupying german forces general von falcon horse actually had a level of admiration for what the allies had accomplished from the local marguerite and citizens had been taken into custody but he ordered their release and instead have the guards that had been on duty arrested what ultimately happens there's a man is not known you have probably not good but basically he was so fed up that these be
managed to sneak right past guardhouse do all of this without anyone realizing there is even an intruder on the property and get out cleanly before it exploded made him very angry at those guards while the destruction of the north hydro heavy water action operation was a huge blow to the germans it didn't stop things forever these did manage to get the facility online again just several months later at the end of nineteen forty three allied forces took the step that they had abandoned earlier the u s bombed the plants as had been predicted by live transport
the bombing have little effect on the facility and almost two dozen civilians were killed the bombing did catalyze a decision on the part of german leadership to move their heavy water production out of norway though as a fairy carrying the existing supply of hetty heavy water product and equipment that would be used to set up new facilities and germany made its way along like ten on february twentieth of nineteen forty four a norwegian saboteur group once again moved into action this ferry the esa hydro sank when explosion when on the bow in germany lost its last f assets for atomic bomb production and the actual level of import of the success of operation gunnar side has been debated in the decade since the war it actually appears based on some documentation that germany's fervour for atomic weaponry had actually cooled by the time the strike at from work was carried out but as
i had no way of knowing the status of nazi projects involving heavy water and they had remember ordered a much higher production rate it is still considered crucial in having stamped out the possibility of a german developed atomic it was however still one of the most successful of all the missions mounted by the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare due to its successful execution of mission goals and zero mortality ease and i will tell you that is also a story that gets told as trans dad said throughout norway there there is actually a right up about it on the existing north hydro websites like they talk about it and how after the war they were able to rebuild them and once again start regular production but it's it's definitely something that is a part of their history they are not shy about acknowledging operation got her side was the subject of a nineteen sixty five per douglas film was called the heroes of telematic although
as is so often the case that build have lot of historical inaccuracies there is also a many theories about heavy water in its place in norway's history that was produced by the norwegian broadcasting company more recently yeah we missed the window i think that was i'm netflix until just a couple months ago and now it seems to be a lot more difficult to get a hold of but i i watched a clip of it and it looked quite good the for operations that we just talk about if you include the ones from the first episode make up only the tiniest fraction of the since that were taken during world war buy by the esa we and there is a very real possibility that some even many of its more cover actions are still unknown today by the time the battle of indy was under way in the summer of nineteen forty four of the esa we had ties to resistance fighters throughout europe and had become and allied tool that can strike quickly without warning as the tide of war turn
it worked well as though the allies would win there were a lot of discussions at the highest levels of government military about what should happen to the esa we and while argument raged on about whether the esa we should be rolled under the umbrella of the ministry of defence or start reporting to the foreign secretary or a number of other possibilities the election of nineteen forty five approach with winston churchill up for reelection as prime minister germany had surrender to the allies on may seventh a week after out of hitler committed suicide and two months before great britain's general election on july fifth although he was incredibly popular wartime prime menace the election went in a lamb fly to whose labour party opponent climate atley while churchill had risen to the task of leading the country through war voters that anatomy and the labour party to leave the country the rebuilding and so
churchill no longer in office the esa we lost its champion there had been some hopes that winston churchill would have put protections in place for the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare before leaving office but instead in the months that followed the election locations were slowly cod one after another finally on january fifteenth nineteen forty six the special operations executive was permanently disbanded when atley find the dissolution order a handful of staff from the esa we moved to emma ethics and others were transferred to other branches of a military or government most of them though were let go and returned to the jobs that they had done before the war yes some of those moves were actually made before offices or even shut down kind of an anticipation they really didn't it seemed some writing on the wall and while the kind of work i feel like i should point out that was done the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare was certainly impressive
it's really easy to romanticize it's also telling the even with its great success there were plenty of people within great britain's government who felt that the nature of the war ferried engaged in was just europe like that it's a little bit of an outdated notion but they really thought like this kind of weird sneaky trickery is not what we're about anything the day it's all still warfare even if it has fought with cool cutting edge technology and great style so it's one of those things like warfare in and of itself is not necessarily something that you now should be hoped for perhaps one of the most point insight the effect of the war and the work above the esa we had on the people involved was written by trans dad the norwegian chemist he wrote in his diary quote war makes the mind very hard becoming a sensitive person again will not be easy yeah he was keenly aware that you know sort of cheering for the death of your opponent take something away from humanity there is currently a
about the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare in development but there are many details about it i think i was option two years ago and i don't know what it's statuses on one of the recent books on the subject which is written by damien louis titled ministry of ungentlemanly warfare how churchill secret warrior set europe ablaze and gave birth to modern black ops that came out into the team and i read that in another book called churchill's ministry of ungentlemanly warfare the mavericks who plotted hitler's defeat which was written by giles milton in preparing for this episode as well as a number of other books in part all of which will be listed units in any of them i think would probably make pretty great films because as we mentioned at the beginning of the first episodes in a quote that we read the exploits of this group were high adventure and high danger and the kind of things that make movies very exciting to watch and now my list of future episode topics sure does include a lot of specific people from the assembly because there were many in they were amazing
to do and i was just on the women of the esa we because they don't always get mentioned all that much but there were a lot of women from munich doing administrative work all the way to field work they were doing something credibly brave and amazing things that that would be worth examining in the future so it's on the list for those of you who are thinking i should write and say they should do in episode about eleven of the us so we yes we should do you have some list airmail today i do we kind of have like a mail bag hodgepodge because their been a lot we i was gonna why am i i for a while been reading lots of our postcards and thinking people but we discover that we're doing other things for bit so i'm in a red a few the first one is from our listener jes sure it's thank you so much for your ossipon cast it keeps me so
while i worked to and from class i know how much how he loves halloween so that you both appreciate this postcard from occur came at horror movie exhibit at the peabody essex museum in salem massachusetts thanks again it is a cool classic currents i find movie poster postcard from occur came a collection of its alive its awesome i think that's an exhibition that was not open yet the last time i was there but they were working on it it sounds amazing and it is so up my alley are listener stephanie also wrote about our regret episode sure dear hollywood tracy thank you for the episode i'm edward gory this illustration is why i love him so much to quote holly i'm a long time listener from you time really enjoy your show thank you so it's the lovely image of people at a say armed with a ghostly apparition style hand reaching out from the ether to deliver what looks like mail
edward gory our last mail item is from our listener kate and she is very cute because she wrote her entire note and then she wrote a second draft of it and tucked in and said read the second draft in the car instead of the card so i'm doing that social rights dear ali and tracy i just wanted to take a moment and express how much i enjoyed your recent podcast on three reformation women this year i attained my master of pity and religious history has been a box of mine for a long time the treatment of women in this field as in other areas of history is often either appalling or non existent with a few notable exceptions as you well know and do justice to thank you for bringing to light some of the women of the reformation a period of history where the men do loom large but as you have shown the women
their ground and contributed in maybe ways also keep up the great work i await each new episode eagerly yours kate ok that was lovely thank you so much like i i have a massive pile of mail that we get from people and i love it so much i always say this but i'll be repetitive i wish i could read it all on the air it's you know it's hard but it's lovely it's one of those things that because i'm here at the office when i'm just have an eye ground i can pick of piecemeal and usually so lovely it makes me smile and fixes my grousing us if you would like to write to us you can do that we're at history i guess that house don't work start com you can also find across all of the bands of social media as missed in history that includes twitter facebook instagram pinterest tumblr i might have less something off but
history pretty much everywhere you can also get a mist in history that car which is our website every episode of the shell ever of all time including those that were way before tracy and i were involved and you could find show notes for that shows that tracy and i have worked on so we
is it a mist in history for more on them and thousands of other topics visit has to work stockholm we are living in complicated times i'm seventy rule msnbc anchor and nbc news corresponding in my new pod cast modern rules i'm gonna be spending time unpacking some of the harry's of today's tat i decided i was moved to survive and survival widespread equal board they won't knew its american listen and subscribe to my new pod cast modern rules on apple five test the iron radio or wherever you get her back
Transcript generated on 2020-01-26.