Av Frode Lindgjerdet
In September 1944, Finland and the Soviet Union made peace. The German troops in Finland were forced out and withdrew through Norway. This made Nordlandsbanen strategically important. The Allies feared that this was the start of a major withdrawal from Norway and that the 300,000 German soldiers in Norway would be deployed in the final battle in Germany. Four groups of Allied special forces were released to stop the transports, COTON, WAXWING, WOODLARK and RYPE. The last group stood out when it was sent by the American intelligence organization OSS. They were deployed on March 24, 1945 and were led by William Colby, later chief of the CIA. The crews were Norwegian-Americans. It was a demanding job to deploy, reinforce and supply these groups from the air. The planes had to operate on the edge of their range and navigate under challenging winter conditions. Reinforced by Norwegian resistance fighters and personnel from WOODLARK, they blew up the Tangen bridge south of Snåsa, 15 April. On 23 April, they blew up 2.5 km of railway in Lurudalen, north of Snåsa. Whether the actions were important for the end of the war, historians disagree, but the operations still stand as a human and military feat in the service of freedom.