Hartlepool nurse brushes up on gruelling winter survival skills

Cpl Emma Martin at the ski training centre in Rjukan, Norway.
Cpl Emma Martin at the ski training centre in Rjukan, Norway.

A Hartlepool woman has been learning winter survival skills in the mountains of Norway.

Emma Martin, who works as a mental health nurse for the Ministry of Defence, serves as an aeromedical nurse in the RAF Reserves in her spare time.

The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day.

The RAF100 flag is waved at the finish line of the cross-country skiing race held on the final day.

Corporal Martin 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.

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

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.

It’s been really hard work, but I have the ability to dig deep and get through the training

Cpl Emma Martin

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.

Cpl Martin, a former English Martyrs pupil, said: “It’s been really hard work, but I have the ability to dig deep and get through the training. I really like mixing with other reserves too.”

The Hartlepool woman, who serves with 4624 Squadron based at Brize Norton, said: “I am a military nurse through and through and my family’s military. I just believe it’s a great lifestyle. You’re given so many opportunities to better yourself.”

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

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

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.

Flt Lt Gilmore 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.