Northampton RAF reservist back from gruelling winter training in Norway

Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Jayne Deering braving the cold in Rjukan, Norway.
Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Jayne Deering braving the cold in Rjukan, Norway.

A Northampton woman has learned winter survival skills in the mountains of Norway and followed in the footsteps of famous wartime raiders who stopped the Nazi atomic bomb programme.

Jayne Deering, 39, works in IT support for the NHS in civilian life and serves as an aircraft loader in the RAF Reserves in her spare time.

A group of reservists climb towards their training area in Rjukan, Norway

A group of reservists climb towards their training area in Rjukan, Norway

Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Deering, who has served in Afghanistan twice, joined 50 other RAF Reservists on Exercise Wintermarch to learn Nordic skiing, how to survive an avalanche and how to deal with extreme cold from members of the Norwegian military.

She said: "I wanted to try this type of skiing and do something that is a bit more of a challenge.

"It’s great to learn about extreme cold weather conditions and how to survive in this environment."

The airmen and women of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force were based at Rjukan, 100 miles north of the capital Oslo.

The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day of Exercise Wintermarch as one of the skiers crosses the line.

The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day of Exercise Wintermarch as one of the skiers crosses the line.

The town is also the site of the wartime Telemark Raid, which saw saboteurs dropped by the RAF destroy a factory making vital parts for the Nazi effort to build an atomic bomb.

The students learned more about the operation with a talk from a close friend of one of the saboteurs and a visit to the museum built on the site of the raid.

The skills used by the saboteurs in cross-country skiing and winter survival are the same as those taught by the Norwegian instructors. Participants finished the gruelling week with a cross-country skiing race.

Jayne, who serves with 4624 Squadron based at Brize Norton said: "I heard the advert for the RAF Reserves and it was all about travel - and that’s what I was looking for.

"That combined with the people and the friends I have made over the past ten years have made it a brilliant experience.”

After leaving behind thick snow in Norway, they were lucky to get home after the UK too had heavy snowfall on the weekend they returned and many flights were cancelled.

The officer leading the expedition, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Gilmore said: “The RAF Reserves have been coming to Rjukan to train for many years and we’ve had a fantastic week here. The guys have got so much out of it. It’s hard work, but they all help each other and you can see that they’ve given their all but they’ve had a great time.”

The exercise comes at an important time for the RAF in its centenary year. She added: “As the RAF celebrates its 100th year, it’s fitting that we’ve been here where the RAF has long and friendly relations and it’s been great to be here strengthening those bonds between the RAF and Norway.”

These bonds stretch back to the Second World War when, as well as supporting the Telemark raid, Norwegian airmen served in RAF squadrons as they fought alongside Britain to defeat Germany and free their homeland. Both the UK and Norway are founder members of NATO.