Three operations, possibly four, are planned for this night. All are to Norway, and the targets are distant enough to require the aircraft to set off from the UK’s far north. W/Cdr Farley, CO of 138 Squadron, flies one of the two Whitleys, and Sgt E.E. Jones the other. We have only Farley’s report on his attempt, plus data from Air Transport Forms (ATFs). Sgt Jones either does not write one or it has been lost. Other information comes from SOE and MI5 files and post-war history of the Norwegian resistance.
According to an Air Transport Form (ATF) from December 1941, ANVIL consists of two agents. The target is given as Lillehammer, and the departure date is an optimistic 4 December. A later ATF, with a ‘delivery date’ of 23/12, identifies ANVIL’s target as ‘E.NE. Lillehammer’, deep in the hinterland of Norway’s southern bulge, near the Swedish border. LARK, on the other hand, is on the coast, south-west of Trondheim and some 180 miles west of ANVIL. They are both some 350 miles further north than CHEESE/FASTING of a few nights before.
The operation is to be flown by W/Cdr Walter Farley from RAF Wick, almost at the north-eastern tip of Scotland. Sgt E.E. Jones is to fly another operation (ANCHOR) to the same area of Norway as ANVIL, possibly to the same drop site, so it is baffling as to why they are not combined, especially as the targets for ANVIL and LARK are so far apart.
The two pilots and their crews attempt to fly to Wick in preparation for the attempt. At 11.12 W/Cdr Farley asks the Ops Room to signal Wick for permission to operate two Whitleys from there tonight. Twenty five minutes later Wick signals back that they can accommodate two Whitleys and their crews. Farley will fly NF-K (Z9158) and Sgt Jones will take NF-A (Z9125), both taking off at 13.30; they plan to reach Wick at 16.30, the route being Peterborough – York – Sterling (sic) – Westerdale – Wick.
They take off about an hour later than planned. Farley (who has swapped into Whitley NF-C) gets as far as Linton-on-Ouse, and plans to operate from there. He takes off at
It is hard to believe, given Britain’s capabilities at the start of 1942, but LARK was intended to prepare the ground for an invasion of Norway about half-way along the west coast, with the aim of bisecting the country and isolating German forces north of Trondheim.
Operation ANCHOR (probably also CROW)
There is no report by Sgt Jones on his operation, to which Farley refers only obliquely in his report. We can, however, trace Jones’s progress through the Stradishall ops log. At 08.35 Stradishall is told that Sgt Jones is to fly a cross-country to Middleton St George at 09.45, but this is cancelled ten minutes later. (This may have been for some technical modifications, postponed.)
Jones takes off three minutes after Farley and somehow gets through to Wick, though briefly he is mis-understood to have landed at Leuchars. He plans to operate from Wick: at 21.10 Wick’s Station-Commander asks Stradishall for clarification about his responsibility for Sgt Jones’s Whitley; F/Lt Hockey signals back that he has full discretion regarding the weather. The operation is cancelled.
At 15.17 the next day there is a favourable Met. forecast for that night (the 6th). Unfortunately, as Jones taxies out he damages a wing and has to abandon. On the 7th, at about midday, Jones is signalled to standby for operations that night and for the 8-9th, and therefore ordered to return to Stradishall at the first opportunity. (It would appear that ANCHOR has been cancelled.) At 15.36 a cypher signal arrives from Wick indicating that Sgt Jones was returning. Actually he takes off at 13.30. Wick later signals that Jones has been ordered to land at Thornaby, but an aircraft that does there, initially reported to be Jones’s, turns out to be a Hudson. By six p.m. there is no news of Jones, and the log shows that everyone fears the worst; at 18.55 the Air Ministry is informed that he is overdue. At 19.30 Group wants to know Jones’s call-sign. At 20.20 a signal comes in that Whitley ‘A’ has force-landed at Prestwick with all its instruments U/S (unserviceable). His passengers have been accommodated and they are all returning tomorrow.
ANCHOR is Torbjorn Gulbrandsen, and CROW is his wireless-operator, Ernst Kirkby Jacobsen. They are eventually inserted by sea on the 24th February 1942. In May 1942 ANCHOR is captured, and after interrogation by the Gestapo he escapes and makes a successful return to the UK. Later, CROW also manages to return to the UK, and it soon becomes clear that ANCHOR has been allowed to escape by the Germans. The Gestapo gained ANCHOR’s co-operation, at considerable cost to the Norwegian resistance, after the Gestapo threatened Gulbrandsen with action against his family. He spends the rest of the war at STS26.
Pilots’ Ops reports: TNA AIR 20/8334, Encl. 129A (Another copy of the first page at Encl. 137A.)
Stradishall Log: TNA AIR 14/2529
TNA HS 2/159 & 160 Operation LARK
TNA HS 2/149 Operation ANCHOR
TNA HS 2/152 Operation CROW
TNA KV2/ 829 MI5 file on ANCHOR