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Ex-reporter brings war thriller to new audience

A former regional journalist and award-winning broadcaster has scored a literary first in a ‘dark’ book about an unknown chapter in World War Two history.

Ex-Derby Telegraph reporter Vince Hunt is bringing the Nazi destruction of northern Norway to a completely new audience – to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s order for a scorched earth retreat from the country.

His tome, Fire and Ice, follows the destruction of the far north of Norway by German troops as they came face to face with the military onslaught of Russia’s Red Army in October 1944.

Some 50,000 Norwegians were forcibly evacuated from the region, returning at the end of WWII to find their homes and possessions reduced to rubble.

Vince, who in 24 years at the BBC won seven Sony awards during a documentary-making career working at Five Live, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 2 and 4, described the war in the north of Norway is a “forgotten history.”

“I wrote the book because there’s nothing about that period in English, but I was surprised at how dark the story is. The brutality suffered by the Soviet PoWs is terrible,” he said.

“It’s hard to imagine terrible things like this happening in such a beautiful landscape, more commonly associated with Midnight Sun and fjords.

“But because the Cold War followed so quickly from the 1945 liberation, the Soviet Union became the new enemy, and this history has been overlooked. “

Research for the book – which is published by The History Press on 28 October – included trips to the Public Records Office in London to look up British military records as well as following the original trail of the German forces high into the Lyngen Alps near Tromso.

Vince began his career at the Altrincham and Sale Guardian and worked on the Derby Telegraph between 1988 and 1990 before joining the BBC.

Since then he’s worked across Europe, America and Africa and won seven industry awards for his programmes, including the BBC Radio 2 Radio Ballads and Stuart Maconie’s musical history of Britain, ‘The People’s Songs.’