Less We Forget Poppy


The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
A Canadian Hero

Less We Forget Poppy


Chapter 6: Missing Research & Enquiry Service – M.R.E.S.

Section 6.10: SUMMARY OF M.R.E.S. OPERATION POLSEARCH – NORTHERN NORWAY EXPEDITION 1946 – PART 2

PART 2 of DIARY of S/L Rideal Concerning OPERATION POLESEARCH (Involving Hubert Brooks)

1st August 1946

Interrogate local civilians.
Visit cemetery again.
Big laundry day.
Write reports.

2nd August 1946

Truck u.s. Bad brakes and steering. Arranged to have repaired by Finmark Vejväsen.
Appear to have been so many attacks on "Tirpitz", that dates are confused.
Talked to local secret service agent. Had wireless in church. Dates slightly clarified.
Talked to local grave digger. Mad.
Collect truck.

3rd August 1946

Arranged with local engineer for Bulldozer on Monday, for crash at Bossecop.
Decide to exhume on Monday "Unknowns". Try and arrange German labour party. No luck. Exhumations cancelled.
14.00hrs to Kviby. Aircraft crash out to sea. No trace of pilot.
Return and have a puncture. Wheel changed.
20.00hrs to Melsvik. Another mountain. Identified as Barracuda.
(Editor's Note: The Kjell Sørensen Web Site Page has a present day look at this crash site. )
Get back 00.15hrs.

IMAGE: Barracuda aircraft
4th August 1946

Sleep late.
Then to Kaafjord. Post Office report dinghy in lake.
Raining heavily. Get location. Rain stops. Start climbing. Meet Lapps and buy reindeer skin. Wonderful view. Get to lake. No trace of dinghy. However, bits of wooden aircraft found. Numerous mosquitoes.
Get back 16.00hrs and drive to Alta.
Very hungry, N.D.V.

BROOKS arrives back, very wet, and very tired. Had to wade a river.
Pretty abortive day, but Fenrik Skaale appears in Stork with our mail.
Big sensation.

PHOTO: Lapp Encounter 1 PHOTO: Lapp Encounter 2
PHOTO: Lapp Encounter – Dried Reindeer Skins
ALL 3 PHOTOS Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO: Lapp Encounter 3

PHOTO:Hubert Brooks at Sign Post
5th August 1946

Lensman tells us to move! Chief of Police Tromsoe wants our room. Decide to go.
Lunch at Salvation Army on the way. Usual fish, followed by fish soup.
Stop at Lensman at Talvik. Get names of Barracuda crew.
BROOKS leading in his truck.
18.00hrs BROOKS stops me. Crash reported up in mountain. With youth as guide, drive part of way and then start walking. After 2 ½ hours walk can only find a long range tank. No aircraft at all.
Retrace our steps wearily.
Meet three Lapps. Must be a Lapp camp near. Can hear Lapp dogs howling. Big end goes on BROOKS’ truck.
Unroll sleeping bag in open and sleep 01.30hrs.

6th August 1946

Start towing 10.00hrs, very heavy going. Have to climb a hill on first for five miles. My truck gets another petrol stoppage. Top of mountain passed 2,000 feet. Big electrical storm. Clean our petrol pump. Car goes and continue towing.
16.00hrs stop and brew up. Tea and biscuits.
Easier going, road flatter.
Get to ferry Lyngen 18.00hrs. Next ferry following day.
Very weary. Have towed over 100 miles.
Arrange accommodation for night.
Ring Colonel Hunstad at Settermoen re getting three Tonner to tow BROOKS in morning.

7th August 1946

Sleep late. Miss breakfast, but cook it on ferry.
Arrive other side Fjord 12.30hrs, continue towing.
Lovely day. Can see down mountain valley to Sweden.
13.30hrs meet three Tonner.
Leave BROOKS and press on to Tromsoe.
Stop and brew up. Pick blueberries. Think of possible white sheets in hotel.
Arrive Tromsoe ferry 17.00hrs. Hotel full up. Go to Norwegian Airforce at Sketterŏ. Get room, fix up camp bed, do washing.
Hear from Captain Mathiesen that Catalina leaving for Spitsbergen in the morning.
See Captain, Lieutenant Frisch, and get fixed up.

PHOTO COPY of original map used by Rideal/Brooks showing their nominal route (in red) for the ALTA (upper right) to LYNGEN to TROMSO (upper left) M.R.E.S. Northern Norway Search Sweep. As well the location of bodies/wreckage found are identified on the map.
PHOTO Courtesy: RAF Museum London Ref: 6.8 , Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL
PHOTO: Map of Alto to Tromso Sweep
8th August 1946

Get up at 01.30hrs.
Airborne 04.00hrs. Very cold. Flying 8,000 feet.
08.00hrs can see mountain at distance. Lots of ice and seals.
Land Longyear City 09.15. (see maps below)
Big breakfast. Pretty bleak place.
Information on Merchant Seaman, buried Cape Linné.
Afternoon sleep. Big supper in the evening. Karva and real Scotch whisky!

PHOTO: Map of Longyear City (marker A)
PHOTO COPY of original map used by Rideal/Brooks showing location of Bodies/Wreckage found during their M.R.E.S. Northern Norway Search Sweep
Outside of Longyear City (Svalbard).
PHOTO Courtesy: RAF Museum London Ref: 6.8 , Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL
PHOTO: Map of Svalbard
9th August 1946

Meet two Englishmen, building crane and go into coal mine.
Afternoon walk ten miles to J.U.88 which had landed up the valley.
Evening have a real steam bath.

10th August 1946

Down coal mine again.
Evening a big farewell party for Director Reksten, returning tomorrow.

11th August 1946

Get up at 09.00hrs.
Party still going strong.
Breakfast at local hospital.
Collect vast mail for delivery to Tromsoe.
Pay my compliments to the Governor.
Airborne 14.00hrs. Pilot, Captain Garstad. Aircraft very full. Norway sighted 18.00 hrs. Land Tromsoe 18.30hrs.
After a meal drive various passengers into town.

12th August 1946

See British Consul and 83 G.R.U.
Arrange boat for Wednesday with navy.
Visit cemetery.
Afternoon see Police Chief and cross Fjord to interrogate local Quislings in prison.
Sent signal to Admiralty re name obtained.

Hubert Brooks POSTCARD text to his mother from Harstad Norway

Hubert Brooks POSTCARD text to his sister from Harstad Norway

Hubert Brooks POSTCARD picture to his mother from Harstad Norway
13th August 1946

Confirmed boat fixed for tonight 23.59hrs.
Saw Police again and also Counsel re Walrus crash 1940.
Afternoon saw editor of local paper, obtained information.
23.00 hrs boarded K.P.K 6535, sailed Torsken midnight.

Image of Walrus aircraft
14th August 1946

Arrived Torsken 09.00hrs.
The Lensman away but Deputy helpful.
Two Gladiators and one Swordfish. Only one casualty.
(Editor's Note: The Kjell Sørensen Web Site Page has a present day look at this crash site. )

Image of Gladiator aircraft

Then to Grillefjord. Little information.
Then North to Hillesö, re crash in 1942. Present Lensman knows nothing but locate late (previous) Lensman. Obtain location of crash at Buvik. Appears to be a Swordfish. One of crew made P.o.W. Cross Fjord to Rödebergshafn.
(Editor's Note: The Kjell Sørensen Web Site Page has a present day look at this crash site. Kjell claims the aircraft was a Fulmar not a Swordfish. )
Arrive 22.30 hrs. Eventually locate someone who remembers the name of the casualty. We know buried at Harvik. Case clear.
Set course Tromsoe.

15th August 1946

Arrived Tromsoe at 04.00 hrs.
Collect truck from town and drive to Skatterö. Fill truck with petrol and rations and return to town.
Check with G.R.U. and have lunch.
Truck giving trouble. Repaired by Major Wells’ mechanic.
14.00hrs set course Mallangen. Eventually car packs up. Telephone Settermoen 17.00hrs. They will try and send someone to us.
Brew up. Visit Lensman at Tessnes. No crashes reported. Still no relief vehicle.
Locate very fine barn for night. Sleep 21.00hrs.

16th August 1946

Sleep till 10:30 hrs. Breakfast.
Still no car. Find truck who gives us a tow. Car starts miraculously!! Keep driving and ultimately get to local German ammunition camp. Drive in and get Germans to repair.
Lunch with Norwegian C.O.
Then to Solya, German N.O. camp. Arrive Bardufoss 17.30hrs to collect mail and see Colonel Reistad.
Continue to Narvik.
Arrive ferry 21.20. Telephone BROOKS to fix room in hotel and arrive Narvik 23.15hrs.
Big discussion and conference. Also bath and laundry. Erect camp bed.

17th August 1946

BROOKS and I see Lieutenant Herbert, G.R.U. We arrange exhumations of all Unknowns Narvik Cemetery. Will use boat to go to Löddingen tomorrow.
Sail 23.59 hrs. Write reports and send signals.

18th August 1946

Löddingen at 08.00hrs. Lensman away but obtain location of two crashes. Arrange for G.R.U. to exhume in local cemetery while I go to crash No.1. Borrow car and drive part of way. Then walk for one hour. Very little left. Gladiator aircraft.
Return to cemetery. Exhumations continue. Both airmen identified by discs.
Very fine lunch.
Arrived back Narvik 19.00hrs.

19th August 1946

Leave for Harstad. Ferry 09.00hrs.
Meet BROOKS on ferry, going to Bardufoss for flying recce.
Arrive Harstad 13.45 hrs.
Pay accounts and adjutant in afternoon.

20th August 1946

D.K.N. in morning. Bills paid.
Arrange boat to Dvergberg for 15.00 hrs.
Investigate Reindeer case with local Lensman. Appears to be only long range tanks again.
14.00hrs set course for Dvergberg and arrive 21.00hrs. Local Lensman organize his car. Drive to the other side of island. Island quite flat. Most extraordinary. Aircraft probably Avenger, but removed by Germans. Crew taken prisoner. No names available.
Sail Harstad 23.59hrs.

PHOTO: Avenger crash site at Dvergberg
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO: Avenger crash site at Dvergberg

Image Postcard (from Narvik) with text from Hubert Brooks to sister Doris and brother-in-law Len Gendron
21st August 1946

Arrive Harstad 04.00hrs. Walk back to billet and heave a stone. Ultimately let in by Lloyd.
Sleep till 12.00hrs.
Telegram to Tronheim R.T.O.
Decide to sail for Bodö on Thursday.
Write reports.
Talk to BROOKS at Narvik. He’s delayed, requires mountaineers (for Brooks’ Höghfjell operation).

The following set of photos illustrates an EXAMPLE of a aircrew/aircraft recovery on the side of a mountain at Höghfjell, Norway. The airman was identified as P/O Michael Alexander Craig-Adams who crashed into the mountains in May 1940 when the Allies evacuated Norway.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commision web site has more information on P/O Craig-Adams and is reproduced below:

P/O Michael Alexander Craig-Adams

Rank:    Pilot Officer
Trade:    Pilot
Service No:    41672
Date of Death:    22/05/1940
Regiment/Service:    Royal Air Force 263 Sqdn.
Grave Reference:     XI. K. 6.
Cemetery:    NARVIK NEW CEMETERY
Additional Information:     Son of Robert and Phyllis M. Craig-Adams, of Epsom, Surrey.

PHOTO 1: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Hike up to Mountain Top
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 1: Höghfjell Aircraft Rescue Operation Late August 1946
PHOTO 2: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Dots indicate path down Mountain to Crashed Aircraft
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 2: Höghfjell Aircraft Rescue Operation Late August 1946
PHOTO 3: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Hubert Brooks' Planned Route Down Mountain to Crashed Aircraft
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 3: MRES - Höghfjell Aircraft Rescue Operation Late August 1946

PHOTO 4: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
The M.R.E.S. Team Rests after Ascending Mountain Prior to Rescue of Crashed Aircraft
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 4: M.R.E.S. Team Rests after Ascending the Höghfjell Mountain

PHOTO 5: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Climber Starts Descent to Crashed Aircraft of F/O Craig Adams
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
 (photo is also showcased at:
RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL)
PHOTO 5: MRES - Climber Starts Descent to Crashed Aircraft of F/O Craig Adams
PHOTO 6: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Climbers Belay Down the Mountain to Crashed Aircraft Site
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 6: MRES - Climbers Belay Down the Mountain to Crashed Aircraft Site
PHOTO 7: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Climbers Continue to Belay Down Mountain to Crashed Aircraft of F/O Craig Adams (Hubert Brooks can be Seen at Mountain Top Feeding Rope Down to Climber)
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
 (photo is also in RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL)
PHOTO 7: MRES - Climbers Continue to Belay Down Mountain to Crashed Aircraft of F/O Craig Adams
PHOTO 8: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Climber Reaches First Crashed Aircraft Wreckage
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 8: MRES - Climber Reaches First Crashed Aircraft Wreckage
PHOTO 9: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Aircraft Debris Scattered Over Various Parts of Mountain
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 9: MRES - Aircraft Debris Scattered Over Various Parts of Mountain
PHOTO 10: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Aircraft Debris Scattered Over Various Parts of Mountain
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 10: MRES - Aircraft Debris Scattered Over Various Parts of Mountain
PHOTO 11: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
M.R.E.S Team Hoist Aircraft Wreckage Up Mountain –Hubert Brooks Can be Seen at Right ( Front of the Line) In Photo
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 11: M.R.E.S Team Hoist Aircraft Wreckage Up Mountain
PHOTO 12: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
One of the Climbers Has Just Returned to Top while Rest of M.R.E.S Team Looks On (Hubert Brooks is Second From Right in Photo)
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 12: MRES - One of the Climbers Has Just Returned to Top while Rest of M.R.E.S Team Looks On
PHOTO 13: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Hubert Brooks Inscription on Back of Photo 12
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 13: Hubert Brooks Inscription on Back of Photo 12
PHOTO 14: Höghfjell Mountain Aircraft Rescue:
Hubert Brooks At Completion of Recovery Operation
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
PHOTO 14: Hubert Brooks At Completion of Recovery Operation

Editor's Note: The Kjell Sørensen Web Site Page has a present day look at this crash site.

22nd August 1946

Speak to Lensman at Samsö. Aircraft crashed 1940. All crew safe.
Arrange payment for interpreters and get haircut.

23rd August 1946

Pack and generally clear up.
Hand in 15 cwt truck and get receipt.
Boat arrives 20.00hrs. Very old. Sail 22.00hrs.
Sleep on deck. Music by babies!

24th August 1946

Thousands of people.
Food bad. Arrive Svolvaer, Lofoten.
Chief of Police: only one airman buried here. Case cleared.
Arrive Bodö at 21.00hrs. No accommodation.
Ring airfield and get fixed up.
No food available.

25th August 1946

Send signal to Oslo re arrival.
Question of payment.
See Chief of Police. Crashes south of Bodö, reports will be forwarded.
Afternoon see local clergy, visit cemetery.
Ship will be late. E.T.A. now 04.00hrs.
Sleep in chair Grand Hotel.

25th August 1946

Ragnhild Jarl arrives 04.30 hrs. Big fight to get aboard. State claim in writing room.
Welcomed by White Russian with Nansen passport and bottle of Karva.

(Aside: Nansen passport was an internationally recognized identity card first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees)

Unroll sleeping bag and sleep. Slept most of day.
1200 passengers on board.
Speak with French tourist.

26th August 1946

Quiet night on floor.
Queue for meals.
Arrive Trondheim 11.00 hrs.
Put kit on truck for station. Walk. See R.T.O. and arrange sleeper for Oslo.
Ring L.K.T. and adjutant collects.
Get bills paid and arrange for interpreter to fly back to Tromsoe.
Meal and bath at Phoenix Hotel. Big steak.
Train leaves 19.30hrs.
Sleep. White sheets!!

PHOTO: Phoenix Hotel
FINAL COMMENTS ON OPERATION POLESEARCH & CLOSING DOWN NORWAY

The following entry appears in No 3 M.R.E.S. formal LOG RECORD (file Air 29/1598) Ref: 6.7) for 27–Aug–1946:

27–8–46: S/L Rideal returned to Oslo and thus the expedition to Northern Norway completed its work.
The manner in which the 2 officers overcame the difficulties of the terrain and covered the great distances to be travelled without reasonable transport is worthy of high praise.
They had not only to carry out searches which involved great physical endurance, but also had to organize their transport, food and sleeping accommodation without any of the facilities normally available to Royal Air Force Officers when travelling.
To cover the area of Norway extending from Trondheim to the extreme north of Finmark in the space of two months or rather less than two months is an achievement of which they and our Unit can be proud.
PHOTO 13: Hubert Brooks Inscription on Back of Photo 12

And item 9 of Report AIR 2/7939 M.R.E.S. – Report of Investigations in Norway Ref: 6.5 states:

PHOTO 13: Hubert Brooks Inscription on Back of Photo 12

Several years later THE PEOPLE newspaper ran a brief story on Operation Polesearch .

"A Hard, Sad Quest" The People Sunday Dec 22,1949
..... Operate 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle.....…many long and hazardous voyages were made in small boats, mountains were climbed, and remote corners of the country combed by search officers.......
PHOTO: The People Newspaper Sunday Dec 22,1949 regarding Operation Polesearch

On 28–Aug–1946 Chick had a private meeting with G/C Hawkins, Commanding Officer M.R.E.S. (N.W. Europe), who offered effusive praise of our work.

I had stayed behind in Narvik wrapping up some expedition work. I returned to Oslo 7th September after having completed my work by following a trail into Trondhjem. Two days later, on Monday the 9th, I went to the Air Ministry (P.4.cas) in London to collect all information held on Norway casualty enquiries and do some closure on some outstanding cases.
I stayed in London till approximately September 19th.
All information concerning Norway was in the future to be sent to 18 Section Esbjerg Denmark.

Shortly after Chick and I returned from Operation Polesearch, Norway was declared complete.
I was destined for the American Zone of Occupied Germany.

The close of the section saw a cabinet of 537 files involving 2,074 personnel.

On 13–Sept–1946 the Unit HQ formally moved from Esbjerg to Uetersen Germany where re–forming would occur in preparation for movement to the American zone of Germany.
(18 Section remained in Esbjerg to clear up remaining issues in Scandinavia.)
We (14 Section) arrived by road in Uetersen on 26–Sept–1946.

Speaking now in hindsight I must say I was very satisfied with my assignment in Scandinavia – building up in tempo and difficulty to my time in the very northern reaches of Norway close to the Arctic Circle. I feel our team did the best job possible and we brought closure to many open files.
Norway is rich and varied. Radiant days and midnight sun alternate with months of night and twilight, contrasts that can scarcely be found elsewhere on earth. Deep obscure forests surround bright sheets of water; majestic rivers hurry over mighty ledges to the sea; here ice–capped mountain peaks tower skyward; there innumerable herds of reindeer pasture in the grassy river valleys. Desolate at times but certainly majestic. The Norwegian earth conceals all kinds of treasure, thus the inexhaustible iron mines at Gellivare are well known as among the richest in the world.
The indigenous hardy Lapp population – and their amazing good–hearted acceptance of subsistence living conditions – is certainly a sight to be seen and admired.




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