Brave Ben sets out on Telemark trek

Ready for the off: Ben Parkinson with his Pilgrim Bandits colleagues ahead of their trip to Norway.
Ready for the off: Ben Parkinson with his Pilgrim Bandits colleagues ahead of their trip to Norway.

HEROIC Ben Parkinson has set out on his latest challenge - recreating a daring World War Two expedition in sub-zero temperatures.

Ben and other badly injured servicemen are trekking through Norway as part of a 70th anniversary adventure to honour The Heroes of Telemark, the world-famous sabotage operation that took part in the Nazi-occupied country between 1942 and 1944.

Double amputee Ben, the most badly injured soldier to survive his injuries in Afghanistan, flew out to Scandinavia last week for the 11 day trek with other members of the Pilgrim Bandits charity for injured servicemen.

Shortly before setting off on the expedition, in typically black humour, Lance Bombardier Ben posted on his Facebook page: “Well, it’s time boss. Everything packed and then I get to do something most people will never get the chance to do. See you all in 11 days with all my fingers - but probably no toes.”

The original operation saw six treacherous missions carried out over a two-year period designed to prevent Nazi Germany developing Deuterium Oxide, known as ‘heavy water’, for Hitler’s nuclear energy programme.

The WW2 missions tested human endurance to the maximum - with conditions dropping to minus 30 with 50mph winds in the frozen wastelands.

The charity, which aims to raise funds to further its work encouraging a ‘no sympathy’ approach towards injured men and women from the Army, Navy, RAF, police, fire and ambulance services, has Ben as one of its patrons.

He lost both his legs and suffered a catalogue of injuries including brain damage after his armoured vehicle was blown up in Helmand Province in 2006.

Since then he has learned to walk and talk again and is defying medics’ predictions.

The adventure is being filmed for an ITV documentary, set to be aired later this year.

Charity spokesman Deborah Risbridger said: “This is the kind of operation our boys would have relished had they been in the forces during the war.

“To retrace the steps and experience, in part, what those brave allies had to do will be an honour, and it will also give our injured boys a real focus.

“The terrain is demanding and the conditions will be extremely tough.”

Also taking part in the £50,000 trek are blind Rifleman Paul Jacobs and Sapper Karl Boon, who lost his right leg.