In 1942, a 22-year-old Hereford man was executed by firing squad following the failure of a top-secret wartime mission code-named Operation Freshman.

Sapper Thomas William Faulkner, the son of Charles and Florence Faulkner, was one of 30 specially trained Royal Engineers onboard two Horsa Gliders sent to destroy a facility that was a crucial part of Nazi Germany’s efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

Tragically, due to failures in the navigation and guidance systems and extreme weather, the aircraft were forced to turn back and both gliders became detached from their tow planes and crashed in the mountains of south East Norway.

A number of those on board were killed on impact, but Sapper Faulkner was one of 14 who survived, only to be summarily executed by firing squad after a brief interrogation at the nearby German Army Camp at Slettebo.

The Operation Freshman Project is trying to trace any surviving relatives or friends who many have stories or anecdotes about those who participated in the raid, but they have to date found nothing about Thomas Faulkner.

Over the years there have been a number of publications describing the events of Operation Freshman, and also the subsequent successful sabotage of the Vemork facility by British-trained Norwegian special forces soldiers, an action immortalised in the Hollywood film - The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.

A book by Ion Drew, Silent Heroes, published in 2011 focused more on the personal lives of the individual servicemen and their families, and contained information based on interviews and meetings with surviving relatives and ex-servicemen who had connections to the operation. Details of only some of the men were available, and efforts are now being made to address this gap as part of a project to update Silent Heroes.

Thomas William Faulkner also had a sister, Joan, and the Operation Freshman Project are hoping that Hereford Times readers might be able to help in the search for more information about his family, to enable them to tell Sapper Faulkner's story. If you have any information – letters, photographs, surviving family - please email