BMMHS Zoom Talk: The War in Ukraine: Tuesday 2nd April 2023 7:30pm

Zoom War in Ukraine Chris Parry

Tuesday 4th April; 7:30pm

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What has happened and is happening in Ukraine

Chris Parry
Chris Parry will review the Ukrainian and Russian military campaigns in Ukraine, highlight some of the salient lessons and forecast what the conflict might mean for the future of geopolitics and warfare.

After reading Modern History at Jesus College Oxford, Chris Parry spent 36 enjoyable, rewarding years in the Royal Navy as an aviator and warfare officer. He commanded the destroyer HMS GLOUCESTER, the Amphibious Assault Ship HMS FEARLESS, the UK’s Amphibious Task Group and the Maritime Warfare Centre. He also held five senior Joint and UK Ministry of Defence appointments, with responsibility for the strategic development, policy, effectiveness and operational deployment of all three armed forces out to 2030. 

As well as sailing every sea, he experienced regular operational tours and combat operations in Northern Ireland, the Gulf and the Falklands, where he rescued 16 SAS troopers from a glacier during a hurricane in South Georgia and disabled the Argentinian submarine SANTA FE. He was awarded the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Helicopter Rescue Award in 1983 and his Falklands War diary was published as the best- selling ‘Down South’ in 2012.

Nowadays, he runs his own strategic forecasting and trouble-shooting company, advising governments, leading commercial companies and banks about geo-political and strategic issues, future trends and systemic risk. The founding Chair of the UK’s Marine Management Organization, he is an internationally recognized authority on maritime issues, as well as in countering terrorism, criminality and unconventional conflict.

With a doctorate in organisational psychology, Chris is a visiting Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge and presents on strategic issues, geopolitics and risk at several universities in the UK (Oxford, Reading, Swansea), the US (Ivy League institutions and the US Naval War College) and elsewhere. He also teaches strategic leadership, risk management and organisational psychology within a number of corporates and at the UK Defence Academy and the Global Leadership Academy. He appears as a regular broadcaster and commentator in international and UK media and is an active author, most recently with the prescient Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century’.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry, CBE
Rear Admiral Chris Parry, CBE
Chris gave us an excellent talk on his experiences in the Falklands War

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The War in Ukraine – Chris Parry – Zoom Talk Booked

We are delighted to announce that Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry has kindly offered to give a Zoom talk to BMMHS on Tuesday 4th April 2023 on The War in Ukraine.
What has happened and is happening in Ukraine.
Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry will review the Ukrainian and Russian military campaigns in Ukraine, highlight some of the salient lessons and forecast what the conflict might mean for the future of geopolitics and warfare.
Chris Parry is well-known as a successful strategic forecaster, broadcaster and best selling author.  He was mentioned in dispatches during the Falklands War for disabling an enemy submarine and rescuing 16 SAS from a glacier in South Georgia. 
Last year Chris gave us an excellent talk based on historical and personal insights in which he described the difficulties and challenges the task force faced in the successful liberation of the Falkland Islands. 
Rear Admiral Chris Parry, CBE
Rear Admiral Chris Parry, CBE

BMMHS Zoom Talk: Operation Freshman – The attack on Vemork Norsk Hydro Plant: Tuesday 7th March 2023 7:30pm

Operation Freshman

Tuesday 7th March; 7:30pm

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Operation Freshman - The attack on Vemork Norsk Hydro Plant

 Speaker: Dr Bruce Tocher

In July 1942, the British War Cabinet decided to try to destroy the heavy water production facilities at the Norsk Hydro facility near Vemork, Norway. The reason was the concern that the heavy water was being used as part of Nazi Germany’s program to develop a nuclear bomb.  After much discussion, it was decided to use specially trained Royal Engineers to carry out the task. They were to be flown to a landing site on the Hardanger Plateau, near the Vemork facility, using two Horsa gliders, each towed by a Halifax bomber. 
The Royal Engineers who took part were all volunteers.  Twenty men came from the 9th (Airborne) Field Company and ten from the 261 (Airborne) Field Park Company.
On the evening of November 19th, 1942, despite some misgivings regarding the weather over the objective, two Halifax bombers, each towing a Horsa Glider took off from RAF  Skitten, near Wick in NE Scotland. On board each glider were 15 Royal Engineers, and two pilots. Their top-secret mission was code-named Operation Freshman.  
Bruce will describe the events leading up to the decision to carry out the raid, personnel selection, the training involved, the raid itself, and the tragic outcome for the men who took part.
Operation Freshman
The Norsk-Hydro Plant
Operation Freshman
The Royal Engineers who took part were all volunteers.
Heavy Water. Photo courtesy Nigel Parker

The operation Freshman Project

The successful attack on the Heavy Water facility at Vemork in Norway in February 1943 is rightly regarded as one of the most daring special forces raids of WWII. Over the years many books have been written about this raid, Operation Gunnerside, and it has been portrayed in films (The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas), television series (The Heavy Water War) and numerous documentaries. However, what is less well known is that there was an earlier attempt to destroy this target. This raid, Operation Freshman, which was launched on the 19th November 1942, failed tragically with 41 of the 48 soldiers and airmen involved losing their lives.

Several books have been published in which Operation Freshman is described, e.g., by Richard Wiggan (1986) and Jostein Berglyd (2005). The latter publication, in particular,  provided important new information based on interviews with some of the German soldiers who witnessed the events at Slettebø. In 2011, Ion Drew et al. published Silent Heroes which, in addition to the details of the raid, also provided an insight into the personal lives of the individual servicemen and their families. At the time of publication, however, details of only some of the men were available. Efforts are now being made to address this gap and to publish a new book on Operation Freshman which includes information on all of the men who took part in the mission. 

With this in mind, The Operation Freshman Project is trying to trace any surviving relatives or people who have stories or anecdotes concerning the servicemen who participated in the raid, or who were involved in the planning, training and support roles, and who may have photographs, letters or other documentary information relating to the servicemen. The idea is to tell the story of these incredibly courageous young men through their lives, and lives of their families, rather than more conventional histories which focus primarily on the events themselves.  Since the start of 2020, the project has managed to establish contact with relatives of 37 of the 48 soldiers and aircrew who took part in Operation Freshman. This effort is ongoing. 

A series of events to mark the 80th Anniversary of the raid has also been organized and the first of these, a Memorial visit by families of the soldiers and aircrew to the Freshman-related sites in Norway, took place in September. In total, 67 family members, representing 23 families attended.

In November, 2022, two public lectures were given, marking the 80th Anniversary. The first was held at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham on the 17th of November), and the second, at the Army Flying Museum, near Andover, on the 22nd November.  This BMMHS Zoom online lecture is the third talk to mark  the anniversary.

Operation Freshman
Original burial site of the 8 men killed when Glider A crashed in Fyljesdalen, Lysebotn, Norway. Photograph by Dr. Bruce A. Tocher
Operation Freshman 1942
Execution site of 14 British soldiers from Operation Freshman at Slettebø Camp, near Egersund, Norway. Photograph by Dr. Bruce A. Tocher
Operation Freshman attack on Norsk Hydro
Remembrance Sunday 2020, Commonwealth Grave Section, Eiganes Cemetery, Stavanger, Norway. Photograph by Dr. Bruce A. Tocher
Dr. Bruce A. Tocher has a PhD in Geology and was a University Lecturer in the UK for 10 years before moving to Norway to join their largest oil & gas company, Statoil. He spent 20 years there working in their Research & Development Division, before taking early retirement in 2016. He then spent two years as an International Trade & Investment Senior Executive with Scottish Enterprise before deciding to focus full time on military history, in particular Operation Freshman. Bruce has spent three years researching this topic with the aim of publishing a new book on the raid, hopefully in 2023.
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BMMHS Zoom Talk: One man’s war in the Battle of the Atlantic: Tuesday 7th February 2023 7:30pm

825 NAS Atlantic Tudor Rees

Tuesday 7th February; 7:30pm

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“NIHIL OBSTAT – One man’s War in 825 NAS”

Tudor Rees

One man's war in the Battle of the Atlantic

May 2023 officially marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic – a theatre of global conflict that Churchill acknowledged as vital to our ultimate victory.  During the first two years of the battle – the Allies were singularly ill prepared and naive against a determined and powerful enemy and losses were high.   The Allies needed to innovate and succeed at many levels; Intelligence, Tactics, Co-ordination, Weaponry and Technology.  One of the key tactics introduced by the Royal Navy to deal with the U Boat threat was the small “Escort Carrier”, operating a complement of aircraft in the Anti Submarine (A/S) role protecting North Atlantic convoys.  
Tudors talk will focus on the experiences of his father, an Observer flying in Swordfish aircraft, whilst serving in 825 NAS.  The famous squadron re-formed late in 1942 after the ill-fated “Channel Dash” sortie.  The talk is not about the Fairey Swordfish; whose illustrious history and exploits have been covered extensively elsewhere in other books and films.  Rather, using his fathers flying logbook and assisted by additional research at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and elsewhere, the talk describes the personal experiences of one RNVR Observer in a front line FAA squadron during 1943 and 1944. 
The aircrews flew in any and all weathers over a grey featureless ocean, looking for surfaced U-Boats or periscope trails, freezing in open cockpits in obsolete aircraft.  Finding a blacked out carrier, a postage stamp in the ocean using dead reckoning, at night and landing on a pitching deck after long 4 hour sorties – required skill, teamwork, concentration and determination.  These were brave men and their attrition rate was high. 
As we reflect now – this is ultimately is a tribute to all the men and women who served to win the Battle of the Atlantic.
Taking off from HMS Vindex Swordfish in the battle of the Atlantic
Taking off from HMS Vindex. Photo courtesy of Tudor Rees.
Lt D O Rees RNR Swordfish in the battle of the Atlantic Tudor Rees
Lt D O Rees RNR. Photo courtesy of Tudor Rees.
HMS Furious Tudor Rees
HMS Furious in the North Atlantic
Tudor Rees is an amateur historian specialising in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War.  His family have a long connection with the Royal Navy. During WW1 his grandfather fought in the battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland.  Earlier ancestors served in the US War of Independence (on both sides!) and with Captain Cook discovering the New World.  During WW2 Tudors’ father volunteered for service in the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and his mother the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS).  Tudor is interested in understanding the human stories of conflict and has worked as a mentor for the charity SSAFA.
Tudor's chosen charity for this BMMHS Zoom Talk

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