Operation Mardonius was a military operation directed against German ships in occupied Norway and carried out in 1943 by the British Special Operations Executive. The outcome of the operation was sinking of two ships in the harbour of Oslo, Ortelsburg of Hamburg and Tugela. While training with the Norwegian Independent Company 1 in England and Scotland, Max Manus and Joachim Rønneberg developed the initial draft for naval sabotage based on small magnetic limpet mines with time delay, delivered to the ship from kayaks, using a long iron stick to place the limpet on the ship's side, they did not get any immediate response to the plan. Manus developed a revised plan along with Gregers Gram, this time much more detailed; the plans were approved, they started the preparations, doing experiments and training. The two SOE agents Max Manus and Gregers Gram were sent to Norway and parachuted into Østmarka east of Oslo on 12 March 1943, they landed near the lake Øyeren, just south of Tonevann, along with several containers with weapons and provisions.
Their primary mission was sabotage operation directed against German ships in the Oslofjord. The sabotage took place on the evening of 27 April 1943. In addition to Manus and Gram, two local resistance people, Einar Riis and Halvor Haddeland took part in the operation, they were thus four men in two canoes, first paddled to the island Bleikøya, where they earlier had deposited equipment for the operation. They waited on Bleikøya until darkness, but weather conditions were not ideal because of starlight when the cloud cover disappeared. Gram and Haddeland headed with their canoe for the ship Ortelsburg of Hamburg, where they placed four limpet mines with time delay, they placed limpets on a second ship, Sarpfoss. Manus and Riis paddled towards Grønlia. Another target ship, Winrich von Kniprode, was abandoned because the area was lit due to ongoing night work. Next day, on 28 April, the mines on Ortelsburg exploded, the ship sank within minutes. A charge left on Bleikøya detonated, as did a mine attached to an oil lighter.
The charge on Tugela exploded, while charges on Sarpfoss did not detonate. A coordinated attempt to destroy ships at the shipyard Akers Mekaniske Verksted did not succeed. After the sabotage operation and Gram departed to Stockholm and continued to England. In June 1943 they were decorated with the War Cross with Sword, awarded by King Haakon at a ceremony in Nethy Bridge in Scotland. Manus and Gram returned to Norway in October 1943. Gram was killed during a fight with the Gestapo in November 1944, while Manus survived the war and died in 1996, 81 years old. Operation Mardonius was featured in the 2008 film Max Manus: Man of War, produced by John M. Jacobsen; the film's description of Mardonius deviates somewhat from the actual course of events, due to dramaturgic motives. Aksel Hennie played the role of Max Manus. Haddeland and Riis were not featured as characters in the film.
Mardonius was a leading Persian military commander during the Persian Wars with Greece in the early 5th century BC who died at the Battle of Plataea. Mardonius was the son of Gobryas, a Persian nobleman who had assisted the Achaemenid prince Darius when he claimed the throne; the alliance between the new king and his friend was cemented by diplomatic marriages: Darius married Gobryas' daughter, Gobryas married Darius' sister. Furthermore, Mardonius married Darius' daughter Artozostra, thus Darius the Great was Mardonius' uncle, father-in-law, half-brother-in-law. Darius appointed Mardonius as one of his generals and, after the Ionian Revolt, sent him in 492 BC to punish the Greek city-state of Athens for assisting the Ionians. On his way to Athens, he used his army in the Ionian cities to depose the Greek tyrants and set up democratic governments, an action which surprised the Greeks at that time. Historians consider that he may have taken this action so that the Ionians would not revolt a second time after the Persian army had passed through.
His fleet and army passed across the Hellespont. Mardonius first attacked a Greek island which possessed gold mines, it became a tributary of the Achaemenid empire. The navy and the army continued onto Macedonia, soon added to the Persian Empire as a subordinate client kingdom, becoming part of its administrative system. However, after these victories, Mardonius’ fleet was destroyed in a storm off the coast near Mount Athos. According to Herodotus, the Persians lost 20,000 men. Around this time, Mardonius was commanding the army in a battle in Thrace. While Mardonius was wounded in the battle, he was victorious; the loss of the fleet meant that he had to retreat back into Asia Minor. He was relieved of his command by Darius, who appointed Datis and Artaphernes junior to lead the invasion of Greece in 490 BC, though they were subsequently successful in capturing Naxos and destroying Eretria, they were defeated at the Battle of Marathon. Mardonius came back into favour under Darius' successor Xerxes I, Mardonius' cousin and brother-in-law.
Xerxes was at first not interested in renewing the war with Greece, but Mardonius, who had the most influence on Xerxes in all of Persia tried to convince him that he must avenge Darius' defeat. This view was opposed by another of Xerxes’ advisors, who urged more caution in the matter. Herodotus, who portrays Mardonius as a somewhat evil adviser, says that Mardonius wanted to become satrap of Greece and had a love for'mischief and adventure', he was present at the Battle of Thermopylae, after the Persian defeat at the Battle of Salamis, he attempted to convince Xerxes to stay and fight yet another campaign. This time Mardonius could not persuade Xerxes, but when Xerxes left he did become governor of those parts of Greece, conquered by the Persians, he subdued Macedon, ruled at that time by King Alexander I, but Alexander himself gave valuable information about Mardonius' plans to the Athenians, saying that, as a Greek, he could not bear to see Greece defeated. After the first part of the campaign directly under the orders Xerxes I, Mardonius remained in Greece with 300,000 elite troops, who fought in the last stages of the war, destroying Athens, but being vanquished at the Battle of Platea: Mardonius there chose out first all the Persians called Immortals, save only Hydarnes their general, who said that he would not quit the king's person.
He chose these nations entire. Thereby the whole number, with the horsemen, grew to three hundred thousand men. Mardonius captured and sacked Athens, deserted before the Battle of Salamis, he offered to return Athens and help rebuild the city if the Athenians would accept a truce, but the Athenians rejected the truce and prepared for another battle. Mardonius prepared to meet them at the Plataea, despite the opposition from another Persian commander, who, like Artabanus, did not think that the Persian army could automatically defeat the Greeks. Mardonius was killed in the ensuing battle by the Spartans, it is claimed by Herodotus and Plutarch a Plataean called. This led to his army breaking up. Herodotus relates of the Spartan leader Pausanias’ response when an Aeginetan suggests mounting on a pole the head of the slain Persian general Mardonius, as Xerxes had done to Leonidas after the battle of Thermopylae—a suggestion taken by Pausanias to threaten the root of civilization: "Such doings befit barbarians rather than Greeks, in barbarians we detest them...
Come not before me again with such a speech nor with such counsel, thank my forbearance that you are not now punished". His name is given to the genus Mardonius. In the movie The 300 Spartans, Mardonius is portrayed by actor Kostas Baladimas uncredited In the novel Creation by Gore Vidal, Mardonius is portrayed as a lifelong friend of Xerxes and Cyrus Spitama the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. In the video game 300: March to Glory, Mardonius is the top boss that you must fight 4 times: In the end of "The Third Day", 3 times in "Battle of Plataea": once on h