The cabin in Norway that sheltered six crew members of a crash landing during the Second World War — the only known instance where the entire crew survived. (Photo submitted by Rick Firestone)

Son of Second World War veteran returns to Norway to see site of rescue, repatriation

Six-man crew crash lands in Nazi occupied territory, only known instance of entire crew surviving

Walking up the side of a steep mountain pass in Os, Norway last month, Rick Firestone kept his head down most of the way making sure each foot was planted solidly on the soft ground while heading to a cabin in the rugged terrain.

For the former air force pilot who’s afraid of heights, the two-hour trek holds a special place in his heart that keeps him moving along the path despite his fear.

His father, Harvey Firestone, made the same hike, but in the dead of night, 75 years ago with five other Royal Canadian Air Force crew members. The crew’s disabled Wellington aircraft crash landed in Nazi occupied territory during the Second World War and with the help of 40 Norwegians who risked death to help them, all crew members survived.

The Norwegian ‘helpers’ sheltered, fed and clothed them in the cabin.

This is the only instance known of throughout the war, when an entire crew evaded German capture and was safely returned to Britain.

READ MORE: Remembrance Day stories

“The escaping evasion doctrine, at the time, says if you’re in a group … you don’t stay together, you split up,” said Rick.

“It’s easier to find a larger group … but in this case they made the right decision.”

Rick and his family made the trip to Norway along with about 50 other Canadians directly tied to the crew, to celebrate their rescue and repatriation.

More than 350 people turned out to the celebration, held at the beginning of October, to see the cabin for themselves.

With so many people waiting to see the piece of history for themselves, there was only standing room in the cabin — not leaving much room or time to contemplate the significance of the structure.

“But in it’s own way, that’s sort of remarkable … it’s an example of how special so many people in the area regard the cabin,” Rick said.

READ ALSO: Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps receives first poppy, launching the 2019 Poppy Campaign

When then Warrant Officer Harvey Firestone, 97, along with Flying Officers Gordon Biddle and George Deeth, Flight Lt. Maurice Neil, Pilot Officer Ken Graham and Warrant Officer George Grandy made the hike it took them a lot longer. In the 75 years since, roads have been built to make accessing the cabin easier but the terrain hasn’t changed.

“Every step you’re walking, you had to be careful your foot didn’t disappear into the soft ground,” Rick said.

Harvey, who suffers from late stage Alzheimer’s, made several trips to Norway throughout his life — becoming good friends with some of the key Norwegian ‘helpers’ — and was able to see the cabin once again in 2004 with his son.

“He was just drinking it all in,” Rick said. “It was a really special experience for him and it made it even more special for the rest of us.”

Rick feels like Remembrance Day for most people is just a day they don’t have to go to work and wishes there was a better understanding of the history behind the day.

“Without [the people who served in the war] where would we be? The world would be a much different place,” he said.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Metchosin bird card project finds its wings

On display at Metchosin ArtPod from July 10 to 12

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read