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Joachim Holmboe Rønneberg, DSO (born August 30, 1919) is a retired Norwegianmarker officer and broadcaster. He is known for his resistance work during World War II and his post-war war information work.

Personal life

Joachim Holmboe Rønneberg was born in Borgund as the second son of Alf Rønneberg from Ålesundmarker and Anna Krag Sandberg. He was the brother of Erling Rønneberg. He was also a grandnephew of politician Anton Johan Rønneberg, whose mother was a part of the Holmboe family—hence Joachim's middle name.

He married Liv Foldal, who was born in 1925. He currently resides in Ålesund.

Career

Rønneberg reported for national service in 1938, being told to report for duty with the surveying department in 1940.

World War II

World War II broke out when Rønneberg was a young adult, and Norway was occupied by Germany from April 1940. He joined Norwegian Independent Company 1 (NOR.I.C.1) ( ) in 1941, having escaped Norway by boat to Scotlandmarker the same year. He received military training in the United Kingdommarker, and held the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Heavy water sabotage

The Vemork hydroelectric plant in 1935.
The heavy water was produced in the front building (the Hydrogen Production Plant).


Joachim Rønneberg, now a First Lieutenant, led the six-man Operation Gunnerside team, reinforcing the five-man team Grouse sent in earlier, during the heavy water sabotage action. After landing at a location from the other team Gunnerside spent five days waiting out an intense blizzard in an uninhabited hunting cabin before meeting up with Grouse. The combined Norwegian team went into action against the Norsk Hydromarker heavy water production plant in Vemorkmarker, Norway in 1943, parachuting into the Hardangerviddamarker plateau on 16 February. Rønneberg led the demolition team when the saboteurs, on the night of 27/28 February 1943, entered the Norsk Hydro plant and set explosive charges. The team then escaped from the factory as the explosives went off, without the German guards discovering the saboteurs or indeed noticing that there had occurred an attack on the plant, probably believing that the heavy snow had set off one of their own land mines. Although chased by 2,800 German troops five of the saboteurs, led by Rønneberg escaped safely to neutral Sweden by way of a 14-day march over a distance of after the successful completion of their mission. The six other members of the sabotage team hid out in various locations in Norway without being caught by the Germans. Eighteen heavy water cells and around of heavy water was destroyed during the attack, as well as a loss of production of of heavy water.

After the factory was reported to have been rebuilt in the summer of 1943 a new saboteur attack was planned, but eventually scrapped in favour of an air strike. On 16 November 1943 161 United States Army Air Forces B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers attacked the Vemork heavy water plant, and another 12 bombers the nitrogen plant at nearby Rjukanmarker. The attack had not been cleared with the Norwegian government in exile in London and led to a diplomatic crisis between the Norwegian and other Allied governments. Of particular concern for the Norwegian government was the targeting of the Rjukan nitrogen plant, as it supposedly only produced products for Norwegian agriculture. Twenty-one civilian lives were lost in the bombing raid. Following the bombing raid the Germans decided to move the production to Germany, leading to the British War Cabinet to order Norwegian saboteur Knut Haukelid to sink the Norwegian ferry SF Hydro carrying the containers of heavy water across Lake Tinnsjømarker. The ferry was sunk with hidden explosives on 19 February 1944, going down with of heavy water and killing 14 Norwegian civilians, ending the struggle for the Norwegian heavy water.

The sabotage action against the Vemork plant was portrayed in the Franco-Norwegian 1948 film Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water, where Rønneberg was portrayed by Norwegian actor Claus Wiese. In 1965 the decidedly less factually accurate American film The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas, was released by Columbia Pictures.

Other World War II work

Subsequently he commanded other raids against the Germans, including the Fieldfare operation in Sunnmøremarker, in preparation for attacks against German supply lines in the Romsdalmarker valley. In January 1945 Rønneberg had led a three-man unit of NOR.I.C.1 on a mission to destroy the Stueflotten railway bridge, blowing up the bridge with a charge of plastic explosives, putting it out of service for three weeks. The team then escaped without casualties.

In 1943, he was awarded Norways's highest decoration for military gallantry, the War Cross with sword. In addition to his Norwegian decorations, he was also decorated by the British with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). His service with NOR.I.C.1 ended with the liberation of Norway in 1945. His brother Erling Rønneberg was a well-known resistance member too, having received British commando training.

Post-war career

After the war he began a career in broadcasting. He was hired in NRKmarker Ålesund in 1948, was promoted to program secretary in 1954 and sub-editor in 1977. He retired in 1988.

In the 1970s, from 1971, Rønneberg was governor of Rotary Internationalmarker's 128th district.

He also participated in the rebuilding of Fieldfare Cabin in the valley Veltedalen in the summer of 1990, where he had hid out the last year of the war with two other officers from NOR.I.C.1. Fieldfare Cabin today gives an image of Norwegian resistance during the war.

In his later years Rønneberg has been involved in war information work, holding lectures for audiences around Norway. He has said that he is particularly fond of holding talks for school children. Rønneberg is highly critical of the current situation for the Norwegian military, stating that its capacity for mobilisation is only 9% of the 1990 level.

In 1995 Joachim Rønneberg received, together with fellow World War II resistance leader Gunnar Sønsteby and Norwegian businessman Erling S. Lorentzen, the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce Achievement Award for "individuals whose outstanding personal accomplishments exemplify the spirit of commitment, perseverance and endeavor that sustains the strong relations between Norway and the United States of America".

Rønneberg was a member of Lingeklubben ( ) until that Norwegian veterans' association was disestablished on 17 October 2007 and the organisation's flag was handed over to the chief of the Norwegian Special Forces.

References

Literature




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