‘You opened your hearts and homes to us and gave us hope.’ Inscription on the Glenmore memorial stone
I have spent the last week in the beautiful surroundings of Glenmore in the Scottish Highlands and it has been great to get out and about enjoying this lovely area. Last night I took the opportunity to visit the Glenmore Visitor Centre to check out a special memorial in the grounds.
During World War II the building that is now Glenmore Youth Hostel housed a special group of Norwegian commandos called the Linge Kompani. This team of elite troops lived and trained at Glenmore as they prepared for special operations in Norway. To the Norwegians, the hostel was known as Camp 26. The main building housed the officers and the men stayed in huts on the slopes in front of the hostel.
The Linge Kompani were part of a broader network of elite troop teams set up by the British War Cabinet and their purpose was to be available to conduct subversive military operations in various German occupied countries. Just like the Norwegian group, there were similar teams in a variety of other places such as Burma and Greece.
The Cairngorm terrain was ideal for training as it was very similar to the remote high areas of Norway and from this base the Kompani Linge (named after their commanding officer Martin Linge) were sent to complete various important missions.
One of the most famous missions undertaken was the attack on the heavy water plant at Vermork in Rjukan which I detailed in my blog post The Heroes of Telemark here. The raid set back Hitler’s atomic weapons programme although it didn’t come without significant loss of life when the earlier raiding parties planes crashed in poor weather.
It seems that the Norwegians integrated strongly into the local community although they did wreak some havoc with the landowners around the Rothiemurchus Estate. It is said that their favourite pastimes were blowing up local bridges and hunting deer and salmon and one gamekeeper is said to have commented that there would be nothing but sparrows and snails left in the forest if they hadn’t left when they did! In the end the Commandment successfully applied to the government for permission to shoot a certain number of deer each year which may have eased tensions a little.
The Norwegians trained in Glenmore for 5 years and the local community later fund raised to erect a memorial stone to the 57 members of the company who died in action (and a few who died in training or accidents) and this inscribed granite block is now in the visitor centre grounds. It is said to be the only stone in memory of foreign soldiers to be funded and erected by members of a local community and certainly makes a tranquil place to sit and reflect if you are heading through the valley.
Posted by Paul