I guess that the GRU unit 29155 would be the closest modern day equivalent to SMERSH.
Nice people, I'm sure.
I'd say GRU unit 29155 is the closest modern equivalent of the SMERSH in the novels, not in real life.
Yup, nice people i alla fall.
(Translation: "i alla fall" is Swedish and means "anyway")
if I'm not mistaken it was in YOLT 007 exits a submarine by entering a through a torpedo tube in a divers suit and letting the tube flood full of water. This techique was actually first developed by Norwegian navy special forces (MJK) and it was MJK operators Erik Birkeland and Bjørn Bjørnø who were the first in the world to do it. . Bjørnø was one of the first soldiers in MJK in 1954, was part of in the first army free fall parachute jump in 1965 and started the Tier 1 unit FSK in 1982. He was employed in the special forces until his death in a parachute jump in 2018, aged 83.
The divers use a hammer with a glowing handle to communicate with the submarine crew while they're in the torpedo tube.
A video about the Heckler & Kock P11, the underwater/silent pistol used by most western combat diver units:
Here's a photo of Angelina Jolie firing a P11 because she is more photogenic than Ian in the video and presumably the special forces guys who normally use the gun.
How dare you!? Ian is an icon, albeit left handed one, but an icon nevertheless!!!!
Here is some (to some extent surprising) news from the world of special operations about another legend:
Ian is both left-handed and a Francophile, so I had no choice but to post a photo of Angelina instead!
"For divine, not human, is that which is without a fault"
I found a very interesting instruction film from 1980 used to inform the Royal Marines Commandoes about the capabilities of the Special Boat Service if terrorists capture an oil rig. As it happens another film was made in 1980 about terrorists taking over a British oil rig - "North Sea hijack" starring Roger Moore! These two films had very different tones, "Oil safe" being an official instruction film. This must have been the early years of buiding up and anti-terror capability to protect the petrolium infrastructure. I know Norway started a military unit dedicated to off-shore anti-terror in 1982.
And now for something completely different ...
Every Christmas the magazine for the Norwegian armed forces hold a gingerbread competition where military personel make something relevant from the military in gingerbread. Last year's winner was a a copy of one of the country's two "spy ships" or electronic surveilance ships, the Eger, made by the ships' crew!
The full-size, non-edible Eger:
Now that is a beaut! WAIT A MOMENT!
If I make a gingerbread T-72 or T-90 the best as I can, it's going to look perfect! It's going to be an exact copy of a russian tank from the Ukraine front... Albeit unintentionally...... 😔
And after you've left your gingerbread tank in the table for a few days it will look like a real T-72 or T-90 after the Ukrainan army (and farmers) has canibalized it for parts! 😁
Torstein Raaby and Klaus Barbie
Torstein Raaby was born in northern Norway in 1915. In the 1930's he trained as an engineer in Switzerland and France, specializing in radio telegraphy. He spoke French and German fluently. When the German invasion started in April 1940 he worked on a radio broadcasting station near the border to the USSR. Vadsø station was bombed by the Germans, so he movedsouth and west to Tromsø to work on their broadcaster there. Tromsø is situated north of Iceland as far south as Yukon and as far west as Albania. In Tromsø Raaby got in contact with the resistance and set up an illegal radio station. The man who recruited him said Raaby among other things was a boxer, loved whiskey and he never found a girl he couldn't get on her back in 15 minutes or less- With a friend he also frequented a cafe that was often used by ships' pilots and picked up a lot of information about the movements of ships along the coast, especially the German Krigsmarine.
In 1943 Raaby had to escape to Sweden to avoid capture by the Gestapo. When he reported to Norwegian authorities in Stocholm he was shocked to learn his radio reports hadn't ended up in British hands as intended , but with the Soviets. Of course the Soviet Union was a lot closer to Tromsø than it is to the UK. Raaby was sent on to the UK where he was recruited and trained by the MI6. He learned skills like parachuting, silent killing , lock picking and other classic secret agent skills.
His first mission was to travel to occupied France to assassinate the head of the Gestapo in Lyon, Klaus Barbie. Barbie was an evil man, there is no need to mince words. He personally tortured prisoners in the most sadistic ways imginable and he often laughed while torturing his victims. Barbie personally tortured and killed Jean Moulin, Charles de Gaules personal representative in the French resistance. Even worse. Barbie sent 43 Jewish children from an orphanage straight to the gass chambers of Auchwitz. In total Klaus Barbie was personally responsible for more than 14 000 deaths. Unfortunately the assassination was called off an Raaby was sent on a mission that was deemed even more important.
After the war Barbie first hid in the house the brothers Grimm used to live before he escaped to Bolivia. There he had a colourful career as an honourary officer in the Bolivian army, an informant for French counter-intelligence (!), tried to organize a coup against president de Gaule and worked as a "security consultant" for a drug lord. In 1987 he was finally arrested and sent to France where he was sentenced to death and hanged.
To be continued ....
Torstein Raaby and the Tirpitz
What could be a more important mission than killing Klaus Barbie? The answer is the German battleship Tirpitz. To quote Churchill himself:
"Destroying or merely damaging this vessel at his time would be the greatest enterprise of naval warfare. No other goal can be compared to it. the naval strategic situation all over the world would change. (.....) The entire strategy of the war at this time is linked to this vessel."
The Tirpitz was hiding in northern Norway, in narrow fjords with steep mountains on both sides. the battleship was protected by other vessels, anti-torpedo nets, snoke machines, anti-aircraft cannons and troops on land. But at any time the ship could sail into the north Atalntic and attack the Mumansk convoys from the allies in the west to the Soviet Arctic harbour of Murmansk. To quote Churchill again, this was "the worst journey in the world". The naval escorts of the convoys didn't have a chance against the Tirpitz. Have you heard about the convoy PQ-17 where only eleven of 35 merchant ships made it to Murmansk while the rest were sunk in the ice cold waters? This happened because the escort from the British and US navies turned around because it was only rumoured that the Tirpitz had left Norway and was on its way to them. Submarines and Luftwaffe bombers did the killing, but the Tirpitz made it possible.
Torstein Raaby was sent to occupied Norway in September 1943 by submarine to spy on the German navy in the Arctic, and especially Tirpitz. Raaby contacted a childhood friend who lived in the area, Karl "kalle" Rasmussen. Kalle had married Sigrid the same year, but he agreed to help Raaby because he didn't want his baby son to grow up in a Norway and Europe under nazi rule. Rasmussen made sure Raaby got a job in the Road Service working alongside to him, working from a hut near the German air base in the town of Alta. They pretended to be heavy drinkers who spent time in the hut partying. Kalle even kept this front for his wife Sigrid. In fact the hut was a secret MI6 radio station code named "Ida". Further west in the fjord Raaby also started the radio station "Lyra". The radio was hidden under the floor boards in the Road Service office, but the office was inside the base area and German soldiers worked in the other end of the barracks! When the Germans tried to use Direction Finding technology to find Ida, they just found their own radio station in the Luftwaffe base. Ida sent the report that the battleship Scharnhortz had left harbour. This led to the battle of North Cape, the last ever battle between battleships. The Scharnhorts was sunk.
But the Tirpitz was the main prize. it was ancored in Kåfjord under heavy protection. The Scharnhorst had been hiding in a fjord nearby.
The top photo of the Tirpitz below must've been taken by a spy, possibly Raaby. Possibly with this camera belonging to the Ida group:
"Kalle" Rasmussen talking to a SS-officer to gather inteligence.
Raaby and Rasmussen also went very near the heavily guarded gigant war ship, and many times even got aboard! Especially Kalle Rasmussen showed cold bravery when he several times managed to get up onboard the ship to sell fish and moonshine to the crew of the Tirpitz.
The two men weren't the only spies in Kåfjord. Both other Norwegian MI6 agents trained in the UK and locals did their part. A reindeer herder named Iskkon-Matthe used to fish in the fjord from his small rowboat. He used a line with his large Sami knife as a sinker and measured the dept of the fjord and noted the data by cutting notches on a stick. the Grermans saw him as a exotic photo object at best and often a an "untermench" (sub-human). They never thought he was a spy gathering information for British commandoes on mini-submarines attacking the gigant ship. I won't go into detail on Operation Source since it's perhaps the best known part of this story. I'll just say the brave commandoes managed to damage the Tirpitz, but none of them made it back alive.
To be continued. ...
Torstein Raaby and Tirpitz, part 2.
Ida, the secret MI6 radio transmitter in the Arctic kept transmitting. It gave weather reports, warned the allies if the Tirpitz left Kåfjord and other important information. This information made the RAF raid on Tirpitz in April 1944. it should be notet that the distance from London to Alta is very roughly comparable to the distance to southern Italy. The raid managed to damage the Tirpitz seriously, but the ship didn't sink. The Tirpitz was towed to the largest own in northern Norway, Tromsø, and placed there as a "floating fortress", This was a mistake. Again the RAF would strike again, and this time using 12 000 pound (5 400 kg) "Tallboy" bombs. The ship sank. Some memebers survived in air pockets in the hull for days, but before anyone coul cut through the 30 com thick hull they were dead. The steel carcuss of Tirpitz was sold off as scrap metal after the war. Some of it was actully turned into plowshares. Some steel plates from the ship is still in use repairing streets. A fitting end for the ship once called "The lone queen of the north".
Torstein Raaby and the end of the war.
When the Tirpitz left the Kåfjord and Alta, Kalle Rasmusen thought it was time to pull out of the incredible risk of spying and devote time on his wife sigrid and his little son. By this time Sigrid had seen through is cover as a heavy drinker. She found a secret room behind a chest of drawers in their house where her husband hid a gun and secret documents, but Kalle still told her nothing to keep her safe. Raaby left the fjord and went to Kirkenes further east where Soviet forces had entered occupied Norway. The Germans had used the "scorced earth" tactics and burned and destroyed everthing in the far north east of the country. A Norwegian parachute unit trained in Scotland worked alongside the Soviet forces to assist with the local population. One winter night under the northern lights he ran into a paratrooper officer named Thor Heyerdal. More about them later.
Scorced earth in the far north.
Many civilians refused to be moved south and lived for months under rough conditions.
Back in the Alta region the second MI6 radio station named Lyra was discovered and the network of resistance fighters and spies were on the run from the Gestapo. Kalle Rasmusen almost managed to escape into neutral Sweden, but was caugth near the border. He was tortured horribly in the Tromsø Gestapo headquarters. After two days he knew he was about to break under the inhuman torture and jumped to his death from a window. Kalle Rasmusen killed himself to save his friends. Because he never talked to his wife about his secret work Sigrid was released from jail after a brutal interrogation. After the war she told people about Kalle's brave work and heroic sacrifice.
The story of Torstein Raaby continues, but I won't write more today. I can tell you his story includes the Kon-Tiki expedition, an expedition to the North Pole and a secret Canadian military base called Alert.
That is an amazing story, I'm glad you're sharing it with us. The moment Thor Heyerdahl's name came up I knew where you'd be heading later and I'm looking forward to that