Honiton man learns winter survival skills in Norwegian mountains

PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 04 April 2018

SAC Benjamin Barton at the ski training centre in Rjukan, Norway.

SAC Benjamin Barton at the ski training centre in Rjukan, Norway.

Archant

A Honiton man has learned winter survival skills in the mountains of Norway - following in the footsteps of famous wartime raiders who stopped the Nazi atomic bomb programme.

The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day of Exercise Wintermarch as one of the skiers crosses the line. Photo: SAC Lloyd Horgan.The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day of Exercise Wintermarch as one of the skiers crosses the line. Photo: SAC Lloyd Horgan.

Former Honiton Community College pupil and RAF technician Benjamin Barton, 24, joined 50 other RAF Reservists on Exercise Wintermarch to learn Nordic skiing, how to survive an avalanche and how to deal with extreme cold from members of the Norwegian military.

He said: “I have achieved more than I ever thought I could in Norway. I’ve learned how to ski and experience extreme cold weather conditions.”

The airmen and women of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force were based at Rjukan, 100 miles north of the capital Oslo.

The town is also the site of the wartime Telemark Raid which saw saboteurs dropped by the RAF destroy a factory making vital parts for the Nazi effort to build an atomic bomb.

A group of reservists climb towards their training area in Rjukan, Norway. Photo: SAC Lloyd Horgan.A group of reservists climb towards their training area in Rjukan, Norway. Photo: SAC Lloyd Horgan.

The students learned more about the operation with a talk from a close friend of one of the saboteurs and a visit to the museum built on the site of the raid.

The skills used by the saboteurs in cross-country skiing and winter survival are the same as those taught by the Norwegian instructors. Participants finished the gruelling week with a cross-country skiing race.

Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Barton, who serves with Number 614 Squadron based in Cardiff added: “I joined the RAF Reserves because I wanted to develop myself as a person, learn new things, push myself to do things I didn’t know I could do.

“Meeting new people is also really important to me and I’ve met lots of different people here.”

The officer leading the expedition, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Gilmore said: “The RAF Reserves have been coming to Rjukan to train for many years and we’ve had a fantastic week here. The guys have got so much out of it.

“Its hard work, but they all help each other and you can see that they’ve given their all but they’ve had a great time.”

The exercise comes at an important time for the RAF in its centenary year.


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