HC Deb 21 November 1968 vol 773 c315W
Dame Joan Vickers

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise undertaken by 41st Royal Marine Commandos in Norway.

Dr. David Owen

Exercise "Blue Hill" was held in Southern Norway—well below the snow line—between 6th and 11th November. It was one of a series of Norwegian Army national exercises in which the Royal Marines have participated in recent years, and on this occasion 41 Commandos R.M. took part.

Previous exercises in Northern Norway had involved the issue of special cold weather clothing. In this case, however, combat uniform was issued. On the most experienced advice this was considered appropriate for the time of the year and the location of the exercise.

In the event there was an exceptional and sudden deterioration in weather conditions, and items of cold weather equipment, including snow gaiters, were made specially available by the Norwegian Army. As conditions worsened still further the exercise was prematurely terminated. Fifteen men of the total of 500 in the Commando suffered from cold and exposure, but there were no cases of frostbite.