Friday, July 22, 2022

The Search

Oberleutnant Krausse was uncomfortable in the back of the small aircraft. The mountaineer was most definitely not afraid of heights, but the Fieseler Storch¹ was light and bounced a lot in the updrafts and varying winds of the mountains to the east of Litenhavn.

Though his Luftwaffe pilot, Hauptmann Kurt Dressler was completely unphased as he handled the bird like the expert pilot he was, Krausse was still a bit queasy, especially after a strong gust nearly blew them into the trees alongside the ridge next to the valley they were searching.

"Whoa, that was a strong one!" Dressler laughed as he deftly avoided what Krausse felt was certain death. "It's tricky flying in the mountains, you're lucky you got me as a pilot, I learned to fly in the Alps!"

Krausse simply nodded, knowing that the pilot wouldn't see it, he almost didn't care, then he spotted something on the ground.

"There! Tracks leading across that clearing, from one stand of trees to the thicker forest on your left!"

Since discovering the building not far off the road where they had found the abandoned Kübelwagen, Krausse had reported the find to Oslo. When one of his patrols discovered the body of the missing SD man, they sent an aircraft to aid in the search for the partisans.

They had been lucky that there had been no snow since the body was found, as the patrol had also discovered tracks leading away from the building higher up into the mountains.

Though the tracks had vanished due to high winds and drifting snow, they had a general direction for where the partisans might have gone.

Krausse had studied the maps, there were any number of places a small band of partisans could hide, but there weren't that many where they could camp all winter.

All of the known hunting lodges were examined, a number of them from the air due to the sheer inaccessibility of reaching them at this time of year, all had turned up empty.

A local man, a man who was a member of the Nasjonal Samling² and had a son in the Waffen SS³, had tipped them off to a remote location, less than twenty kilometers from Litenhavn, which could support a small band over the winter.

"Ja, lots of good fishing, lots of game, this small lake provides ample water. The nearby forest has wood aplenty, this place could support twenty to thirty men, easily. They wouldn't be comfortable, but they would think themselves safe enough." The man was Lars Fretheim, he had been the postmaster before the war and was generally disliked by most of the locals. He truly didn't care.

"I can take you there if you wish, it's a tough hike ..."

"No, that's all right." Krausse had answered, though the man's pro-German credentials seemed strong enough, he wasn't trusting any Norwegian to lead his men into the mountains, and a possible trap. Krausse's musings were interrupted by a shout from the pilot.

"Ah Krausse! I think we've found your partisans! You didn't tell me they had antlers!"

Krausse shook his head in disgust, the only tracks coming out of the forest were those left by a small herd of reindeer.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Herbert Wilkes placed his hand on Gilles Rousselot's forearm, "Leave him be, they're looking for us, I don't think they will spot us in these woods. They will see the reindeer and attribute the tracks coming into the wood to them."

Rousselot lowered his rifle, it was a fine German rifle he had taken from a man he had killed outside Namsos in the spring. Rousselot sighed with frustration, he was a very good shot.

"I could bring him down Chef, one shot and the pilot dies."

"Not today mon ami, let them think they have searched and found nothing but reindeer. Then they will look elsewhere." Wilkes wanted to let the man take his shot, but if the aircraft was downed, more would return. It would tell the Germans that there was something indeed in this forested valley to worry about.

Dressler banked the aircraft and started heading west.

"Why are we turning back?" Krausse asked.

Dressler pointed to a pass between the mountains to the east, a moving wall of snow enveloped the pass and quickly blotted it from view. "I'd rather not fly in that."

Krausse saw how fast the squall was moving, "I don't blame you, those are nasty enough getting caught in on the ground." Something caught his eye as they headed back to Litenhavn.

"Say, does that look like a frozen lake to you, near the edge of the forest?"

Dressler took a look, slid the aircraft in that direction, then said, "If I had to guess, I'd say yes, it's far too flat to be a mere clearing this high up."

The aircraft suddenly lifted of its own accord, then plunged sickeningly in a downdraft. "We need to get on the ground, and soon."

Krausse heard the engine get louder as Dressler throttled up. He was frustrated, but as he looked at his map, he figured out where they were. He marked the map with the words "ein See?⁴" Now he had to figure out how to get his men up here. His gut told him the partisans were nearby.

He wasn't wrong.

¹ Stork (German)
² National Unity party (Norwegian), collaborators with the Nazis.
³ Regiment Nordland was one of the SS units containing Norwegians, there were others, even Norwegians in the Wehtmacht. (Source)
⁴ A lake? (German)


  1. Cat and mouse, aerial version. Enjoying the Nordic ops Sarge.

  2. Krause is good, truly a "mountain hunter" with emphasis on the last now manifesting. Still, the decision by Wilkes was a good one; better to evade or fight the Gebirgsjagers on the ground than down the Storch. The next one would come with escorts.
    Boat Guy

    1. For some reason I had to pull you out of the Spam filter, Gargle's algorithms aren't as good as they used to be.

  3. Krausse is certainly a "mountain hunter" with the latter manifesting now. Wilkes decision to leave the Storch alone was a sound one; better to evade or even fight the Gebirgsjager on the ground than against air support. The next Storch would come escorted.
    Boat Guy

  4. If they've seen you, it's too late and you don't need to confirm their radio report. If they haven't seen you, you're OK until you break cover.

  5. Having air power does help.

  6. I know this refers to four years into the future, but I have read that Thunderbolts encountering Storches in France, would save ammo by making a high speed diving pass on the Storch, and letting the turbulence render the Storch uncontrollable.

  7. I have a source of a civilian pilot shuttling contractor people with a 6-passenger prop plane when the ND missile sites were being built. His plane was based at GFAFB. Once the controller told him to land "right behind that B52". He gave the controller a short discourse about the wake turbulence produced by behemoth aircraft and the effect on light planes...

    1. There was an earlier account of a spotter plane (piper cub) hitting extreme air turbulence on D-Day at Normandy. Apparently, it flew through the wake of a full broadside from HMS Rodney. Nine 16" shells were in that airspace a very short time before...

    2. I have read of that, it would certainly get any pilot's attention!


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