Charity recruits team of injured ex-servicemen for Norway expedition

Daily Echo: INJURED: Soldier Ben Parkinson INJURED: Soldier Ben Parkinson

IT was described as the most successful act of sabotage carried out during the Second World War.

A group of commandos managed to enter a heavily-guarded factory in Nazi-occupied Norway and disrupt the manufacture of heavy water, which the Germans were using in the race to develop the atomic bomb.

The daring raid was immortalised in the 1965 film The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. Now a Hampshire charity that helps injured ex-servicemen is marking the 70th anniversary of the mission by flying a group of amputees to Norway, where they will retrace the journey taken by the saboteurs.

The group, recruited by New Milton-based Pilgrim Bandits, includes Lance Bombadier Ben Parkinson, the most seriously injured soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan.

Six years ago he was travelling in an armoured vehicle that was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.

He lost both legs and suffered more than 40 other injuries, including brain damage that affected his speech and memory.

Pilgrim Bandits spokesman Deborah Risbridger said: “Ben has confounded medical opinion by not only surviving but walking, regaining his speech and continuing to improve week by week.

“Ben is a patron of Pilgrim Bandits and known to many for the amazing strength and determination he showed last year, when he carried the Olympic torch through his home town of Doncaster.”

The £50,000 Heroes of Telemark Expedition is being funded by members of the public who have volunteered to join the ex-servicemen.

Deborah said: “To retrace the steps and experience, in part, what those brave people had to do will be an honour and a huge privilege.”

British soldiers and members of the Norwegian resistance carried out the raid in 1943 after skiing across the notorious Hardanger Plateau, where temperatures can drop to -30C.

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