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Exercise Winter Express
1 Transport Helicopter Platoon, RCASC Operations
NATO Allied Mobile Force (Land), Bardufoss Norway, March 1966

Background to the NATO Allied Mobile Force (Land) 1966 Exercise Winter Express is posted in the website “EXS/OPS section titled “Newfoundland to Norway” submitted by then Major Heitshu, K Battery Commander, 4RCHA. The article provides an insight into the operations of the 1st Black Watch Battalion Group, supported by K Battery, and 1 Transport Helicopter Platoon RCASC (1THP).

In preparation for Exercise Winter Express, 1THP supported the battalion group in Newfoundland and then deployed three Voyageur CH 113A helicopters ( 113407, 113411 and 113412) to Bardufoss Norway on board HMCS Provider and two CH 112 Hiller recce helicopters (112265 and 112285) by C130 aircraft.

1 THP operated out of the Bardufoss airport with support from the Royal Norwegian Air Force 339 Squadron Helicopter Squadron. The Platoon was accommodated and operated under canvas on the airport.

The main function of 1 THP was to provide logistic support from HMCS Provider which anchored in Reisa Fiord, the closest salt water to Bardufoss, and to provide tactical support to the Battle Group during the operational phase of Exercise WINTER EXPRESS, held in North Norway from 3 to 26 March 1966. The trip from the ship to the airport provided some effort since it involved hovering amongst the masts of Provider to pick up the loads and then transporting the sling load over a mountain to a very steep approach into the airport. Although only a 20 mile trip it was full of challenges. But the main excitement came in the landing operation to pick up the troops and equipment in the very dry snow in the area. The Heitshu report gives a good account of what the artillery thought of a pick-up in blowing snow and the discomfort. I am sure there was considerable emotion involved with the soldiers. But for the pilots it was a pulse raising event. The landing involved setting up a gentle rate of decent, and then for the last few feet going in blind in blowing and obscuring snow, and letting the helicopter settle into the deep snow on its own. So everyone received a good share of the emotion. All in a day’s work in winter in North Norway.

Note: The photos posted below are from Butch Waldrum’s personal collection. Other photos of Winter Express Exercise are requested and would add to the recording of this exercise.

Article authored by BGen (Ret’d) AJ Waldrum and BGen (Ret’d) JK Oakley.

King Olav V of Norway with pilots Harry Reid (closest) and Fred Wagner.

CH113A on the Provider in Reisa Fiord; Left to right Dave Guy, Commanding Officer Harry Reid, Fred Wagner,
Butch Waldrum, Joe Oakley, and crewman Bernie Rice.

Two young co-pilots just graduated from the CH 113A Operational Training Unit, on board Provider,
Left to right Joe Oakley and Butch Waldrum, co-authors of the article.

Pilots on Exercise Winter Express: Front row Fred Wagner, Pete Armstrong, Fred Zeggil, Ron Hall. Back row Butch Waldrum,
Cam Mathias, Doug Hardy, Buck McBride. Missing from the photo are Harry Reid and Joe Oakley.

Recce of area for Colonel Sellars (behind map) and the pilot is Butch Waldrum.

Newspaper clipping provided by Maj (Ret’d) MC (Mac) MacIsaac RCASC. Article shows two Canadian Army Pilots
Capts Colin Gillis and Mac MacIssac conferring with Capt Fred Jurgensen of K Bty RCHA.

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