The Nordland Railway had been studied to find the best targets in the region Steinkjer to Grong, and arrangements were made to provide a reception party of Norwegian personnel to be dispatched from Stockholm to receive the advance party from NORSO I when it would parachute into Norway. It was planned that the advance party would jump into the area during the light moon period at the end of January, with the main body to follow during the next moon period; parachuting to a drop zone which would be selected by the advance party. The advance party of one officer and two enlisted men were briefed and readied for the drop but because of bad weather that mission was postponed until the next moon period. On 2 March they finally took off only to find heavy weather obscuring the intended drop area requiring their return to the air base in Scotland.
Because of these delays and the movement of German troops in the interim, the initial target that had been selected was changed. It was then decided that the primary target would be the demolition of the Grana Bridge plus targets of opportunity that could be found for additional rail demolitions along that line. The advance party and the main body were then scheduled for deployment during the next moon period—one day apart.
On 24 March the mission was mounted with eight planes dispatched. But because of a combination of navigational and mechanical problems with two planes and difficult weather conditions at the drop site, only four planes made successful drops. Efforts to complete the drops were again made unsuccessfully on 30 March and 6 April. In all, sixteen sorties were made with the final result that only sixteen of the thirty-four men which had been assigned to the RYPE mission were in the field. Nine of the men were killed in crashes of two planes and six men were returned for later deployment.
With the thought that earliest reinforcements to the field unit would not be until the next light-moon period, Major Colby decided they were not strong enough to attack the Grana Bridge as planned, but rail cuttings and demolition of other bridges in the area from Jorstead south to Valoy would offer more appropriate targets.
Initial efforts of that sixteen man team involved setting up an operational base and establishing relationships with local Norwegian contacts. A Norwegian military officer, one of the members of the reception party, expressed a desire to remain with the group and to use his ability and credentials to handle future shipments through the Swedish system across the border (a channel later used when Headquarters abandoned further airborne efforts). A Norwegian officer who had joined the group in Scotland and parachuted with them into Norway soon found local friends who were ready to join the ranks of the unit. These men provided invaluable assistance throughout the operation. The owner of the farm, which became the unit’s first operational base, evacuated his family to Sweden to make that use of his farm possible—and he too joined the unit.
On Monday 9 April 1945 the unit, including 5 of the Norwegians (one with keen local knowledge as guide), departed base to rail targets selected some 25 kilometers distant. The mountain ski-hike, impeded by wet sticky snow and a strong wind, slowed arrival to the first target area until Friday. While most tunnels and bridges were found to be covered by guard units, reconnaissance found TANGEN bridge was guarded only by frequent patrols - making it suitable for attack. About 0630 hours Sunday morning the bridge was blown and withdrawal of all men was made without resistance, though it was later learned that three separate patrols were in search of them.
The unit now 25 in number, with additions from the UK via Sweden, departed base on 23 April to an area of rail near Lurudal. Divided into eight separate demolition teams they executed a coordinated firing which resulted in destruction of two and a half kilometers of rail to cause major additional delay for rail use by the enemy.
At this time snow conditions were becoming unfavorable for mounting additional operations and it seemed prudent that the unit maintain a low profile and keep in hiding, since it was learned that German patrols were in search. And it was on 2 May that a 5 man German patrol came into the farm and held S/Sgt Myrland under machine pistols. When apparent nervous tension caused one of the Germans to fire a shot from his firearm during discussions of possible surrender to the Americans, fire erupted causing the death of all Germans with the only other injury to one of the Norwegians. He was treated by a member of the unit and arrangements were made for him to be taken by sled to Sweden for further care.
When word was received of the German capitulation the unit was given orders to stand by for further instructions. On 11 May they were directed to Steinkjer, the first of a number of stops where they participated in welcoming ceremonies and celebrations on their way to Trondheim. Temporarily under command of a senior officer who had been sent from London Headquarters, the unit was ordered on 18 May to Namsos where they would participate in the handling of some 10,000 Germans going through disarmament procedures. On 29 May the unit was moved by coastal steamer to Vaernes where they joined the men of NORSO-II who had earlier been landed by air to perform a policing and protective role to assist in the German surender at the airport.
On 9 June the whole unit provided a Guard of Honor for Crown Prince Olaf upon his arrival at Vaernes; and participated in the parade in his honor in Trondheim on 10 June.
On 14 June orders directed the combined NORSO unit to England. Soon thereafter it was standby for transportation to Washington.
The following is a quote from the final report of Operation RYPE by Major William E. Colby:
“CONCLUSIONS. This operation was characterized
by most severe climatic and physical obstacles which were overcome by
the spirit and determination of the men comprising the unit. The results
of this operation consisted of slowing down the German evacuation from
Norway, as its military result, and through the chance that these were
the only Allied uniformed troops operating in Norway prior to the capitulation,
a political result of considerable reaction vis-à-vis the United
States upon the people of Norway. This last result was brought about
to some extent by the extensive publicity in Norwegian papers given
to the unit before its departure from Norway.”
This summary of the Norwegian Operational
Group was taken from the records of the National Archives provided through
the courtesy of Lt. Col. Ian D.W. Sutherland. Among the records used
were the final report of Operation RYPE written by Major William E.
Colby, plus numerous other of his reports; and papers written by Lt.
Col. Hans H. Skabo. "You're Stepping On My Cloak And Dagger"
by Roger Hall, leader of NORSO II, was also reread for possible added
background. The writer was able also to reflect on memory of personal
observations and contact when the OG group was in training at Area F.