AN RAF reservist from Dinas Powys has learned winter survival skills in the mountains of Norway and followed in the footsteps of famous wartime raiders who stopped the Nazi atomic bomb programme. 

Martin Wade, 47, serves with Number 614 Squadron based in Cardiff. A journalist in civilian life he also works in media operations for the RAF in his spare time. 

He 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. 

Martin, who is a Flying Officer, said: “It was a great experience. The instructors were fantastic and really knowledgeable. The temperature dropped to -25C at times so you really got a sense of how important these skills are.” 

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. They had to cross hundreds of miles of snow-covered mountain ranges in the dead of winter to reach their target. 

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. 

For Norwegians the Telemark Raid holds a similar place as the Battle of Britain does here and represents their own ‘finest hour’. 

Fg Off Wade also got to meet a surviving member of the wartime Norwegian resistance, Jan Høegh, 95, who remains an honorary member of the Norwegian Army Reserve. Jan knew some of the people who took part in the operation. 

Fg Off Wade said: “It was very powerful to learn more about the raid from people like Jan with such a personal connection to the raid. It was incredible to see the environment they operated in and it helped you appreciate just how difficult their job was.” 

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. It’s 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. 

She added: “As the RAF celebrates its 100th year, it’s fitting that we’ve been here where the RAF has long and friendly relations and it’s been great to be here strengthening those bonds.”