Staff Sergeant Malcolm Frederick Strathdee was born in Croydon, and lived in Southampton. At the outbreak of the war, he served with the Royal Armoured Corps before transferring to the 1st Wing, Glider Pilot Regiment. He took part in the ill-fated Op Freshman mission to sabotage the German development of an atomic bomb at the Vermock Heavy Water plant in Norway.
Alongside Serjeant Peter Doig, Staff Serjeant Strathdee flew Airspeed Horsa Glider Serial number DP-349, one of two Gliders involved in the operation towed by Halifax tugs from 38 Group RAF. The mission flew from RAF Skitten, as Coastal Command Airfield four miles North-west of Wick, Scotland carrying men from 9th Field Coy (Airborne) RE and 261 Field Park Coy (Airborne) RE under Lt Methven who had volunteered for the operation.
Taking off at 1745hrs on 19 November 1942, the mission soon became hampered by severe weather conditions. As the aircraft neared their intended targets the glider and tug encountered dense fog northwest of Rjukan which they were unable to emerge from. Fuel was getting low and as both tug plane and glider started to collect ice, they rapidly lost altitude. The glider released but crash-landed at Fylgjesdalen, north of Stavanger, killing the two pilots and six of the Airborne Engineers onboard. The remaining passengers, some of whom were severely injured were later captured and killed by the Gestapo.
Staff Sergeant Strathdee died on 19-20 November 1942. The two Glider pilots, and the six other casualties were initially buried in the hills near the crash-site, before being reinterred later at the Eiganes Churchyard in Stavanger, Norway.
Compiled with assistance from Phil Jennett, profile photo courtesy of Peter Yeates.Read More