Norwegian Campaign

Post 7699

Norwegian Campaign

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Norwegian Campaign
Part of the Second World War
Operation Weserübung.jpg
German forces advancing near Bagn in Valdres ·
Norwegian artillery in action near Narvik · King Haakon VII of Norway and his son Crown Prince Olav during a German air raid on Molde ·
German Gebirgsjäger troops near Narvik · German bombing of the Norwegian coastal fortress Oscarsborg
Date 9 April – 10 June 1940 (62 days)
Location Norway
Result German victory

Nazi Germany Germany  Norway
 United Kingdom
Second Polish Republic Polish Armed Forces in the West
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Nikolaus von Falkenhorst Norway Kristian Laake
(9–10 April)
Norway Otto Ruge
(from 10 April)
United Kingdom Lord Cork
c. 100,000
7 divisions
1 Fallschirmjäger battalion
c. 93,000
6 divisions
c. 55,000 combatants involved in the fighting
c. 38,000
Casualties and losses
Official German figures:
(1.317 killed on land,
2,375 lost at sea,
1,604 wounded)
Material losses:
1 heavy cruiser
2 light cruisers
10 destroyers
6 U-boats
2 torpedo boats
15 light naval units
21 transports/merchant ships
90-240 aircraft
c. 6,602
On land:
1,869 killed, wounded and missing
At sea:
c. 2,500 lost
1 aircraft carrier
2 cruisers
7 destroyers
1 submarine
112 aircraft
French and Polish:
533 killed, wounded and missing
2 destroyers
2 submarines
c. 1,700 total, of whom 860 were killed
107 naval ships sunk or captured
c. 70 merchant ships and transports sunk (combined Norwegian/Allied total)
Civilian (Norwegian) casualties:
c. 400 killed
The Norwegian Campaign (9 April to 10 June 1940), was fought in Norway between the Allies and Germany in World War IIafter the latter’s invasion of the country. In April, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway’s aid with an expeditionary force. Despite moderate success in the northern parts of Norway, Germany’s invasion of France in May eventually compelled the Allies to withdraw and the Norwegian government to seek exile in London. The campaign ended with the occupation of Norway by Germany, and the continued fighting of exiled Norwegian forces from abroad. The 62 days of fighting made Norway the nation that withstood a German invasion for the second longest period of time, after the Soviet Union.


Outbreak of the Second World War

Britain and France had signed military assistance treaties with Poland, and two days after Germany invaded Poland (on 1 September 1939), they declared war on Nazi Germany. Neither country mounted significant offensive operations, however, and for several months no major engagements occurred in what became known as the Phoney War or “Twilight War”. Winston Churchill in particular wished to move the war into a more active phase, in contrast to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

The Right Honourable
Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston S Churchill.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
26 October 1951 – 6 April 1955
In office
10 May 1940 – 26 July 1945
Leader of the Opposition
In office
26 July 1945 – 26 October 1951
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
9 November 1940 – 6 April 1955
Minister of Defence
In office
28 October 1951 – 1 March 1952
In office
10 May 1940 – 26 July 1945
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
3 September 1939 – 11 May 1940
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
In office
24 October 1911 – 25 May 1915
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
6 November 1924 – 4 June 1929
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
13 February 1921 – 19 October 1922
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Secretary of State for Air
In office
10 January 1919 – 13 February 1921
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Secretary of State for War
In office
10 January 1919 – 13 February 1921
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Minister of Munitions
In office
17 July 1917 – 10 January 1919
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
25 May 1915 – 25 November 1915
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Home Secretary
In office
19 February 1910 – 24 October 1911
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
President of the Board of Trade
In office
12 April 1908 – 14 February 1910
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Member of Parliament
for Woodford
In office
5 July 1945 – 15 October 1964
Member of Parliament
for Epping
In office
29 October 1924 – 5 July 1945
Member of Parliament
for Dundee
In office
24 April 1908 – 15 November 1922
Member of Parliament
for Manchester North West
In office
8 February 1906 – 24 April 1908
Member of Parliament
for Oldham
In office
24 October 1900 – 12 January 1906
Personal details
Born Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill
30 November 1874
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock,England, UK
Died 24 January 1965 (aged 90)
London, England, UK
Resting place St Martin’s Church, Bladon
Political party Conservative
(1900–04, 1924–64)
Liberal (1904–24)
Spouse(s) Clementine Hozier (m. 1908)
Alma mater
  • Politician
  • soldier
  • journalist
  • historian
  • painter
Religion Anglican[1]
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Territorial Army
Years of service 1895–1900
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars Second Boer War
First World War

During this time, both sides wished to open secondary fronts. For the Allies, in particular the French, this was based on a desire to avoid repeating the trench warfare of the First World War, which had occurred along the Franco-German border.

The Right Honourable
Neville Chamberlain
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain

Chamberlain in 1921
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
28 May 1937 – 10 May 1940
Monarch George VI
Preceded by Stanley Baldwin
Succeeded by Winston Churchill
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
27 May 1937 – 9 October 1940
Preceded by Stanley Baldwin
Succeeded by Winston Churchill
Lord President of the Council
In office
10 May 1940 – 3 October 1940
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by The Earl Stanhope
Succeeded by Sir John Anderson
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
5 November 1931 – 28 May 1937
Prime Minister
Preceded by Philip Snowden
Succeeded by Sir John Simon
In office
27 August 1923 – 22 January 1924
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by Stanley Baldwin
Succeeded by Philip Snowden
Minister of Health
In office
25 August 1931 – 5 November 1931
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by Arthur Greenwood
Succeeded by Edward Hilton Young
In office
6 November 1924 – 4 June 1929
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by John Wheatley
Succeeded by Arthur Greenwood
In office
7 March 1923 – 27 August 1923
Prime Minister
Preceded by Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen
Succeeded by William Joynson-Hicks
Personal details
Born Arthur Neville Chamberlain
18 March 1869
Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
Died 9 November 1940 (aged 71)
Heckfield, Hampshire, England
Resting place Westminster Abbey
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Anne de Vere Cole (m. 1911)
  • Dorothy Chamberlain (Lloyd)
  • Francis Chamberlain
Alma mater Mason College (now theUniversity of Birmingham)
Profession Businessman
Religion Unitarian[1]
Signature A neatly written "Neville Chamberlain"

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Norwegian government had mobilized parts of the Norwegian Army and all but two of the Royal Norwegian Navy‘s warships. The Norwegian Army Air Service and the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service were also called up to protect Norwegian neutrality from violations by the warring countries. The first such violations were the sinkings in Norwegian territorial waters of several British ships by German U-boats. In the following months aircraft from all the belligerents violated Norwegian neutrality.

Royal Norwegian Navy
Coat of arms of the Royal Norwegian Navy.svg

Coat of arms
Country  Norway
Allegiance Kingdom of Norway
Branch Navy
Size 3,900 personnel (as of 2013; Does not include Naval Home Guard)[1]
Part of Military of Norway
Engagements Swedish War of Liberation (1510–23)
Count’s Feud (1534–36)
Nordic Seven Years’ War (1563–70)
Kalmar War (1611–13)
Torstenson War (1643–45)
Second Nordic War (1657–60)
Scanian War (1675–79)
Great Nordic War (1700 & 1709–20)
Battle of Copenhagen (1801)
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
Gunboat War (1807–14)
First Schleswig War (1848–51)
World War II (1940–45)
Cold War (1945–90)
War on terror (2001– )
Commander in Chief King Harald V
Inspector General of the Navy Rear Admiral Lars Saunes[2]
Peter Tordenskjold
Cort Adeler
Niels Juel
Lauritz Galtung
Kristoffer Throndsen
Henrik Bjelke
Pennant and Naval Jack Royal Norwegian Navy pennant.svg

Naval Jack of Norway.svg

Naval Ensign Flag of Norway, state.svg
Norwegian Army Air Service (NoAAS)
Norwegian Army Air Service WW2.svg

NoAAS logotype
Active 1914 to 10 November 1944
Country Norway
Branch Norwegian Army
Engagements Second World War:
Norwegian Campaign
Battle of Britain
Dieppe Raid
Battle of Normandy
Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service (RNNAS)
M.F. 11 F.322.jpg

The RNoNAS’ main aircraft in 1940 – the Marinens Flyvebaatfabrikk M.F.11
Active 1912 to 10 November 1944
Allegiance Norway
Branch Royal Norwegian Navy
Engagements Second World War:
Norwegian Campaign
Battle of the Atlantic

Almost immediately after the outbreak of war, the British began pressuring the Norwegian government to provide the United Kingdom with the services of the Norwegian merchant navy, themselves being in dire need of shipping. Following protracted negotiations between 25 September and 20 November 1939, the Norwegians agreed to charter 150 tankers, as well as other ships with a tonnage of 450,000 gross tons. The Norwegian government’s concern for the country’s supply lines played an important role in persuading them to accept the agreement.


U-995 Type VIIC at the Laboe Naval Memorial

U-995 Type VIIC at the Laboe Naval Memorial
Nazi Germany
Ordered: 14 October 1941
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 195
Laid down: 25 November 1942
Launched: 22 July 1943
Commissioned: 16 September 1943
Fate: Surrendered
Name: Kaura
Acquired: October 1948
Commissioned: December 1952
Decommissioned: 1965
Status: Museum ship at Laboe Naval Memorial
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC/41 submarine
  • 759 tonnes (747 long tons) surfaced
  • 860 t (846 long tons) submerged
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
  • 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
  • 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth:
  • 230 m (750 ft)
  • Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record
Part of:
Identification codes: M 55 095
Operations: 9 patrols
  • 3 ships sunk for 1.560 GRT
  • 1 auxiliary warship sunk for 633 GRT
  • 1 warship sunk for 105 tons
  • 1 ship a total loss for 7.176 GRT


Value of Norway

Norway, although neutral, was considered strategically important for both sides of the war for two main reasons. First was the importance of the port of Narvik, from which large quantities of Swedish iron ore (on which Germany depended), were exported; this route was especially important during the winter months when much of the Baltic Sea was frozen over.

Swedish iron ore was an important economic factor in the European Theatre of World War II. Both the Allies and the Third Reich were keen on the control of the mining district in northernmost Sweden, surrounding the mining towns of Gällivare andKiruna. The importance of this issue increased after other sources were cut off from Germany by the British sea blockadeduring the Battle of the Atlantic. Both the planned Anglo-French support of Finland in the Winter War, and the following German occupation of Denmark and Norway (Operation Weserübung) were to a large extent motivated by the wish to deny their respective enemies iron critical for wartime production of steel.

Iron ore is extracted in Kiruna and Malmberget, and brought by rail to the harbours of Luleå and Narvik. (Borders as of 1920–1940.)

Prewar iron ore supplies to Germany
Source tons
Germany 10
Sweden 9
Other 3
Total 22

Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was particularly concerned about Swedish exports of iron ore to Germany, and pushed for the British government to take military action to end the trade. From the beginning of the war Churchill tried to persuade his cabinet colleagues to send a British fleet into the Baltic Sea to stop shipping reaching Germany from the two Swedish iron ore ports, Luleå and Oxelösund. The project was called Project Catherine and was planned by Admiral of the FleetWilliam Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork. However, events overtook this project and it was canceled. Later, when the Baltic ports froze over and the Germans began shipping the iron ore from the Norwegian port of Narvik, Churchill pushed for the Royal Navy to mine the west coast of Norway to prevent the Germans travelling inside neutral territorial waters to escape Allied Contraband Control measures.

Narvik became of greater significance to the British when it became apparent that Operation Catherine, a plan to gain control of the Baltic Sea, would not be realized. The Norwegian ports could have also served as holes in the blockade of Germany, allowing the latter access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Narvik kommune

Narvik from above.JPG

Coat of arms of Narvik kommune
Coat of arms
Official logo of Narvik kommune
Nordland within
Narvik within Nordland
Narvik within Nordland
Coordinates: 68°25′14″N 17°33′36″ECoordinates: 68°25′14″N 17°33′36″E
Country Norway
County Nordland
District Ofoten
Administrative centre Narvik
 • Mayor (2011) Tore Nysæter (H)
 • Total 2,022.94 km2(781.06 sq mi)
 • Land 1,905.72 km2(735.80 sq mi)
 • Water 117.22 km2(45.26 sq mi)
Area rank 29 in Norway
Population (2012)
 • Total 18,473
 • Rank 51 in Norway
 • Density 9.7/km2 (25/sq mi)
 • Change (10 years) −0.11 %
Demonym(s) Narvikværing[1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code NO-1805
Official language form Bokmål
Data from Statistics Norway

Iron ore

The principal reason for Germany’s invasion of Norway was its dependence on Swedish iron ore, which during the winter was shipped primarily from Narvik. By securing access to Norwegian ports, the Germans could more easily obtain the supply of iron ore they needed for their war effort.

Sea power

Control of Norway was considered to be crucially important to Germany’s ability to use its sea power effectively against the Allies, particularly Britain. While Norway was strictly neutral, and unoccupied by either of the fighting powers, there was no threat. But the weakness of the Norwegian coastal defences, and the inability of her field army to resist effectively a determined invasion by a stronger power were clear. Großadmiral Erich Raeder had pointed out several times in 1939 the potential danger to Germany of Britain seizing the initiative and launching its own invasion in Scandinavia – if the powerful Royal Navy had bases at Bergen, Narvik and Trondheim, the North Sea would be virtually closed to Germany, and theKriegsmarine would be at risk even in the Baltic.

Erich Raeder
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-128-63, Erich Raeder.jpg

Großadmiral Erich Raeder
Birth name Erich Johann Albert Raeder
Born 24 April 1876
Wandsbek, Hamburg, German Empire
Died 6 November 1960 (aged 84)
Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
Years of service 1894–1943
Rank Großadmiral
Commands held SMS Cöln
Battles/wars World War I

World War II

Awards Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross

Battlefield away from France

A successful invasion of Norway by either side had the potential to strike a blow against the other without getting bogged down in the large-scale trench warfare of the previous conflict. Norway had particular strategic importance to the Germans during theBattle of the Atlantic. Norwegian air bases allowed German reconnaissance aircraft to operate far over the North Atlantic, while German U-boats and surface ships operating out of Norwegian naval bases were able to break the British blockade line across the North Sea and attack convoys heading to Great Britain.

Winter War

When the Soviet Union started its attack against Finland on 30 November 1939, the Allies found themselves aligned with Norway and Sweden in support of Finland against the much larger aggressor.

After the outbreak of war between Finland and the Soviet Union, Norway mobilized larger land forces than what had initially been considered necessary. By early 1940 their 6th Division in Finnmark and Troms fielded 9,500 troops to defend against Soviet attack, positioned mostly in the eastern regions of Finnmark. Parts of the 6th Division’s forces remained in Finnmark even after the German invasion, guarding against a possible Soviet attack. During the Winter War the Norwegian authorities secretly broke the country’s own neutrality by sending the Finns a shipment of 12 Ehrhardt 7.5 cm Model 1901 artillery pieces and 12,000 shells, as well as allowing the British to use Norwegian territory to transfer aircraft and other weaponry to Finland.

Ehrhardt 7.5 cm Model 1901
Ehrhardt 7.5 cm Model 1901-a.jpg

Model 1901 on display in Trondheim, Norway.
Type field gun
Place of origin Germany
Service history
In service 1901–1947
Used by  Norway
 Nazi Germany
Wars Winter War
Second World War
Continuation War
Production history
Designer Rheinmetall
Manufacturer Rheinmetall
Number built 138
Variants Horse- or lorry-drawn
Weight 1,037 kilograms (2,286 lb)
Barrel length 2.167 metres (7 ft 1 in) L/31

Shell 6.5 kilograms (14 lb)
Caliber 75 mm (2.95 in)
Breech eccentric screw
Recoil hydro-spring
Carriage Pole trail
Elevation 7° to +15.5°
Rate of fire 8 rpm
Muzzle velocity 500 m/s (1,640 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 10,000 metres (11,000 yd)

This presented an opportunity to the Allies who, while genuinely sympathetic to Finland, also saw an opportunity to use the pretence of sending troop support to additionally occupy ore fields in Sweden and ports in Norway. The plan, promoted by the British General Edmund Ironside, included two divisions landing at Narvik, five battalions somewhere in Mid-Norway, and another two divisions at Trondheim. The French government pushed for action to be taken to confront the Germans away from France.

The Lord Ironside
Edmund Ironside.jpg

Field Marshal The Lord Ironside
Birth name William Edmund Ironside
Nickname(s) Tiny
Born 6 May 1880
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 22 September 1959 (aged 79)
Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, London
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1899–1940
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held
Battles/wars Second Boer War
First World War
North Russia Campaign
Second World War

This movement caused the Germans concern. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had placed Finland within the Soviet sphere of interest, and the Germans therefore claimed neutrality in the conflict. This policy caused a rise in anti-German sentiment throughout Scandinavia, since it was commonly believed that the Germans were allied with the Soviets. Fears began to crop up in German high command that Norway and Sweden would then allow Allied troop movement to aid Finland.

The proposed Allied deployments never occurred, after protests from both Norway and Sweden, when the issue of transfers of troops through their territory was suggested. With the Moscow Peace Treaty on 12 March 1940, the Finland-related Allied plans were dropped. The abandonment of the planned landings put immense French pressure on Neville Chamberlain’s British government, and eventually led to the Allies laying mines off the Norwegian coast on 8 April.

Vidkun Quisling and initial German investigation

It was originally thought by the German High Command that having Norway remain neutral was in its interest. As long as the Allies did not enter Norwegian waters, there would be safe passage for merchant vessels travelling along the Norwegian coast to ship the ore that Germany was importing.

Großadmiral Erich Raeder, however, argued for an invasion. He believed that the Norwegian ports would be of crucial importance for Germany in a war with the United Kingdom.



Vidkun Quisling in 1942. His name would become synonymous with “traitor”

On 14 December 1939, Raeder introduced Adolf Hitler to Vidkun Quisling, a pro-Nazi former defence minister of Norway. Quisling proposed a pan-German cooperation between Nazi-Germany and Norway. In a second meeting four days later on 18 December 1939, Quisling and Hitler discussed the threat of an Allied invasion of Norway.

After the first meeting with Quisling, Hitler ordered the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) to begin investigating possible invasion plans of Norway. Meeting Quisling was central in igniting Hitler’s interest in conquering the country. The first comprehensive German plan for the occupation of Norway, Studie Nord, ordered by Hitler on 14 December 1939, was completed by 10 January 1940. On 27 January, Hitler ordered that a new plan, named Weserübung, be developed. Work on Weserübung began on 5 February.

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht als Generalfeldmarschall.svg
Command flag of the Chief of the OKW with the rank ofGeneralfeldmarschall (1941–1945)
Active 4 February 1938 – 8 May 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Wehrmacht
Role German General Staff
Headquarters Wünsdorf, near Zossen
Engagements World War II in Europe
Chief of the OKW Wilhelm Keitel

Command flag of the Chief of the OKW 1938–1941

Altmark Incident

Main article: Altmark Incident

German dead are brought ashore for burial after the Altmark Incident

The Altmark Incident occurred in the early hours of 16 February 1940 when the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Cossack entered Norwegian territorial waters, intercepting and boarding the German auxiliary ship Altmark in the JøssingfjordAltmark had spent the preceding months operating as a fleet oiler for the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee while the latter was acting as a commerce raider in the South Atlantic.

HMS Cossack.jpg

HMS Cossack under way in 1938
United Kingdom
Name: Cossack
Namesake: Cossack
Ordered: 10 March 1936
Builder: Vickers-Armstrongs
Cost: £341,082
Laid down: 9 June 1936
Launched: 8 June 1937
Completed: 10 June 1938
Identification: Pennant number: L03, F03 & G03 successively
Fate: Sunk, 27 October 1941
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Tribal-class destroyer
Length: 377 ft (115 m) (o/a)
Beam: 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)
Draught: 11 ft 3 in (3.43 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,700 nmi (10,600 km; 6,600 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 190
Sensors and
processing systems:

When Altmark began the return journey to Germany she carried 299 prisoners taken from the Allied ships sunk by Admiral Graf SpeeAltmark entered Norwegian territorial waters near the Trondheimsfjord on 10 January 1940, flying the German national flag. A Norwegian naval escort was provided as Altmark proceeded southwards, hugging the Norwegian coastline. As Altmark was nearing Bergen harbour on 14 February, the Norwegian naval authorities demanded to inspect the German ship. Even though international law did not ban the transfer of prisoners of war through neutral waters, the German captain refused the inspection.

Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-63-06, Panzerschiff "Admiral Graf Spee".jpg

Admiral Graf Spee in 1936
Nazi Germany
Name: Admiral Graf Spee
Namesake: Maximilian von Spee
Builder: Reichsmarinewerft, Wilhelmshaven
Laid down: 1 October 1932
Launched: 30 June 1934
Commissioned: 6 January 1936
Fate: Scuttled, 17 December 1939
General characteristics
Class and type: Deutschland-class cruiser
  • 14,890 t (14,650 long tons; 16,410 short tons) (design)
  • 16,020 long tons (16,280 t) (full load)
Length: 186 m (610 ft 3 in)
Beam: 21.65 m (71 ft 0 in)
Draft: 7.34 m (24 ft 1 in)
  • Eight MAN diesel engines
  • Two propellers
  • 52,050 shp (38,810 kW)
Speed: 28.5 knots (52.8 km/h; 32.8 mph)
Range: 16,300 nautical miles (30,200 km; 18,800 mi) at 18.69 knots (34.61 km/h; 21.51 mph)
  • As built:
    • 33 officers
    • 586 enlisted
  • After 1935:
    • 30 officers
    • 921–1,040 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 1940:
    • FMG 39 G(gO)
  • 1941:
    • FMG 40 G(gO)
    • FuMO 26
  • Main turrets: 140 mm (5.5 in)
  • Belt: 80 mm (3.1 in)
  • Main deck: 17–45 mm (0.67–1.77 in)
Aircraft carried: Two Arado Ar 196 seaplanes
Aviation facilities: One catapult

Carsten Tank-Nielsen (16 September 1877 – 2 August 1957) was a Norwegian naval officer, submarine pioneer and rear admiral. He was born in Horten, and was the grandson of Carsten Tank Nielsen. He was chief of the Norwegian Navy’s first submarine Kobben from 1909 to 1913. He was decorated Knight, First Class of the Order of St. Olav in 1926. He was appointed rear admiral in 1938, and faced the German invasion of Norway as a commander in Bergen.

This led the naval commander in Bergen, Admiral Carsten Tank-Nielsen, to deny Altmark access to the restricted-access war harbour. Tank-Nielsen was however overruled by his superior, Commanding Admiral Henry Diesen, and Altmark was escorted through the harbour. According to Norwegian neutrality regulations, government ships operated by the warring countries were not allowed to enter a number of strategically important Norwegian ports. This violation of the regulations was allowed because Admiral Diesen feared that the British would intercept Altmark if she was forced to sail closer to the edge of Norwegian territorial waters.

The next day, 15 February, Altmark was spotted by three British aircraft. The discovery of the ship’s location led the Royal Navy to send six destroyers to the area. In order to escape the approaching warships, Altmark fled into the Jøssingfjord. At the time Altmark was escorted by three Norwegian warships, the torpedo boats Kjell and Skarv and the patrol boat Firern. As Cossack entered the fjord at 22:20 local time, the Norwegian vessels did not intervene when the British boarded Altmark. The boarding action led to the freeing of 299 Allied prisoners of war held on the German ship. The boarding party killed seven Germans in the process.

HNoMS Kjell.jpg

Kjell off the coast of Norway.
Name: Kjell
Namesake: the Eurasian oystercatcher
Builder: The Royal Norwegian Navy Shipyard in Horten
Yard number: 106
Launched: 12 March 1912
Commissioned: 1912
Captured: by the Germans on 11 April 1940
Nazi Germany
Name: KT1
Namesake: Dragoon
Acquired: 11 April 1940
Renamed: NK.02 Dragoner after rebuild to minesweeper
Fate: Sunk by RAF de Havilland Mosquitosnear off Ryvingen near Mandal, Norway 28 September 1944
Service record
Operations: Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany
General characteristics as built
Class and type: 2. class
Displacement: 84 tons
Length: 41.1 m (134.84 ft)
Beam: 4.7 m (15.42 ft)
Draft: 2.4 m (7.87 ft)
Propulsion: 1,800 hp triple expansion steam engine
Speed: 25 knots (46.30 km/h)
Complement: 21 men
  • 1 × 76 mm (3 in) gun
  • 1 × machine gun
  • 1 × fixed torpedo tube in the bow
  • 2 × trainable torpedo launchers
Notes: All the above listed information, unless otherwise noted, was acquired from[1]
General characteristics in German service
Class and type: 2. class
Displacement: 84 tons
Length: 41.1 m (134.84 ft)
Beam: 4.7 m (15.42 ft)
Draft: 2.4 m (7.87 ft)
Propulsion: 1,800 hp triple expansion steam engine
Speed: 25 knots (46.30 km/h)
Complement: 21 men
  • 1 × 76 mm (3 in) gun
  • 1 × 37 mm (1.45 in) gun
  • 1 × machine gun
  • 2 × torpedo tubes[2]
Notes: All the above listed information, unless otherwise noted, was acquired from[


Following the incident, the Germans sent strong protests to the Norwegian government. The Norwegians also sent protests to the British government. While Norwegian, Swedish and American experts in international law described the British action as a violation of Norwegian neutrality, the United Kingdom declared that the incident was at the most a technical violation that had been morally justified.

The Altmark Incident led to the Germans speeding up their planning for an invasion of Norway. On 21 February, General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst was placed in charge of planning the invasion and in command of the land-based forces. The official approval for the invasion and occupation of Denmark and Norway was signed by Hitler on 1 March.

Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2006-0529-501, Nikolaus v. Falkenhorst.jpg

Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
Birth name Nikolaus von Jastrzembski
Born 17 January 1885
Breslau, Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire nowWrocław, Lower Silesian Voivodeship,Poland
Died 18 June 1968 (aged 83)
Holzminden, Lower Saxony, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1903–1944
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held Army Norway (Wehrmacht)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations Erich Dethleffsen (son-in-law)

Vidkun Quisling, Reichsführer SSHeinrich Himmler, ReichskommissarJosef Terboven, GeneraloberstNikolaus von Falkenhorst and Waffen-SS, German Army (Wehrmacht) andLuftwaffe officers in Norway, 1941

Initial plans

Allied plans

With the end of the Winter War, the Allies determined that any occupation of Norway or Sweden would likely do more harm than good, possibly driving the neutral countries into an alliance with Germany. However, the new French prime minister, Paul Reynaud, took a more aggressive stance than his predecessor and wanted some form of action taken against Germany. Churchill was a strong agitator for action in Scandinavia, because he wanted to cut Germany off from Sweden and push the Scandinavian countries to side with the United Kingdom. This initially involved a 1939 plan to penetrate the Baltic with a naval force. This was soon changed to a plan involving the mining of Norwegian waters to stop iron ore shipments from Narvik and provoke Germany into attacking Norway, where it could be defeated by the Royal Navy.

Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud 1933.jpg

Paul Reynaud (1933)
118th Prime Minister of France
In office
21 March 1940 – 16 June 1940
President Albert Lebrun
Preceded by Édouard Daladier
Succeeded by Philippe Pétain
Deputy Prime Minister of France
In office
28 June 1953 – 12 June 1954
Preceded by Henri Queuille
Succeeded by Guy Mollet
In office
20 February 1932 – 10 May 1932
Preceded by Lucien Hubert
Succeeded by Albert Dalimier
Minister responsible for Relations with Partner States and the Far East
In office
2 July 1950 – 4 July 1950
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Jean Letourneau
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs
In office
26 July 1948 – 28 August 1948
Preceded by René Mayer
Succeeded by Christian Pineau
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
5 June 1940 – 16 June 1940
Preceded by Édouard Daladier
Succeeded by Philippe Pétain
In office
21 March 1940 – 18 May 1940
Preceded by Édouard Daladier
Succeeded by Édouard Daladier
Minister of National Defence and War
In office
18 May 1940 – 16 June 1940
Preceded by Édouard Daladier
Succeeded by Maxime Weygand
Minister of Finance
In office
1 November 1938 – 21 March 1940
Preceded by Paul Marchandeau
Succeeded by Lucien Lamoureux
In office
2 March 1930 – 4 December 1930
Preceded by Charles Dumont
Succeeded by Louis Germain-Martin
Minister of Justice
In office
12 April 1938 – 1 November 1938
Preceded by Marc Rucart
Succeeded by Paul Marchandeau
In office
20 February 1932 – 3 June 1932
Preceded by Léon Bérard
Succeeded by René Renoult
Minister of the Colonies
In office
27 February 1931 – 6 February 1932
Preceded by Théodore Steeg
Succeeded by Louis de Chappedelaine
Personal details
Born Jean Paul Reynaud
15 October 1878
Barcelonnette, France
Died 21 September 1966 (aged 87)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Political party Democratic Republican Alliance
National Centre of Independents and Peasants
Spouse(s) Jeanne Henri-Robert
Christiane Mabire
Children Colette
Alma mater HEC Paris
Religion Roman Catholicism

It was agreed to utilize Churchill’s naval mining plan, Operation Wilfred, designed to remove the sanctuary of the Leads and force transport ships into international waters where the Royal Navy could engage and destroy them. Accompanying this would be Plan R 4, an operation where, upon almost certain German counteraction to Operation Wilfred, the Allies would then proceed to occupy Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, and Stavanger. The planners hoped that the operation would not provoke the Norwegians to resist the Allies with armed force.

Operation Wilfred was a British naval operation during the Second World War that involved the mining of the channel between Norway and her offshore islands to prevent the transport of Swedish iron ore through neutral Norwegian waters to be used to sustain the German war effort. The Allies assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway and prepared a separate operation known as Plan R 4 to occupy Narvik and other important locations.

On 8 April 1940, the operation was partly carried out, but was overtaken by events as a result of the following day′s German invasion of Norway and Denmark (Operation Weserübung), which began the Norwegian Campaign.

The Allies disagreed over the additional Operation Royal Marine, where mines would also be placed in the Rhine River. While the British supported this operation, the French were against it, since they also depended on the Rhine and feared German reprisals on French soil. Because of this delay, Operation Wilfred, originally scheduled for 5 April, was delayed until 8 April when the British agreed to perform the Norwegian operations separately from those on the continent.

German plans

General Nikolaus von Falkenhorstplanned and led the German invasion and conquest of Norway

Main article: Operation Weserübung

Already in low-priority planning for considerable time, Operation Weserübung  found a new sense of urgency after the AltmarkIncident. The goals of the invasion were to secure the port of Narvik and the Leads for ore transport, and to control the country to prevent collaboration with the Allies. It was to be presented as an armed protection of Norway’s neutrality.

One subject debated by German strategists was the occupation of Denmark. Denmark was considered vital because its location facilitated greater air and naval control of the area. While some wanted to simply pressure Denmark to acquiesce, it was eventually determined that it would be safer for the operation if Denmark were captured by force.

Another matter that caused additional reworking of the plan was Fall Gelb, the proposed invasion of northern France and the Low Countries, which would require the bulk of German forces. Because some forces were needed for both invasions, Weserübung could not occur at the same time as Gelb, and because the nights were shortening as spring approached, which were vital cover for the naval forces, it therefore had to be sooner. Eventually, on 2 April, the Germans set 9 April as the day of the invasion (Wesertag), and 04:15 (Norwegian time) as the hour of the landings (Weserzeit).

In Norway, the plan called for the capture of six primary targets by amphibious landings: Oslo, Kristiansand, Egersund, Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik. Additionally, supporting Fallschirmjäger (paratroops) were to capture other key locations such as airfields at Fornebu outside of Oslo and Sola outside of Stavanger. The plan was designed to quickly overwhelm the Norwegian defenders and occupy these vital areas before any form of organized resistance could be mounted. The following forces were thus organized:

Additionally, the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would escort Gruppe 1 and Gruppe 2 as they travelled together, and there would also be several echelons of transports carrying additional troops, fuel and equipment.

Against Denmark, two motorized brigades would capture bridges and troops; paratroops would capture Aalborg airfield in the north; and heavy fighters of the Luftwaffe would destroy the Danish aircraft on the ground. While there were also several naval task groups organized for this invasion, none of them contained any large ships. Unescortedtroopships would transport in soldiers to capture the Danish High Command in Copenhagen.

The Germans hoped they could avoid armed confrontation with the native populations in both countries, and German troops were instructed to fire only if fired upon.


The German forces used in the campaign were some 100,000 troops in seven divisions and one Fallschirmjäger battalion, as well as panzer and artillery units. Most of theKriegsmarine‘s major units were also deployed to the campaign. The Luftwaffe’s 10th Air Corps deployed against Norway consisted of 1,000 aircraft, including 500 transport planes and 186 Heinkel He 111 bombers.

Norwegian and Allied

The Norwegian Armed Forces fielded around 55,000 combatants involved in the fighting, mainly in six infantry divisions. The Allied expeditionary force to Norway numbered around 38,000 men.

German invasion

The German invasion first started on 3 April 1940, when covert supply vessels began to head out in advance of the main force. The Allies initiated their plans on the following day, with sixteen Allied submarines ordered to theSkagerrak and Kattegat to serve as a screen and give advance warning for a German response to Operation Wilfred, which was launched the following day when Admiral William Whitworth in HMS Renown set out from Scapa Flow for theVestfjorden with twelve destroyers.

Carte Skagerrak-Kattegat2.png

Skagerrak and Kattegat
Location North SeaKattegat (Atlantic Ocean)
Coordinates 57°50′50″N 9°04′23″ECoordinates: 57°50′50″N 9°04′23″E
Type Strait
Basin countries Norway
Surface area 47,000 km2 (18,000 sq mi)
Average depth 200 metres (660 ft)
Max. depth 700 metres (2,300 ft)

The Kattegat (Danish: [ˈkʰad̥əɡ̊ad̥]) or Kattegatt (Swedish: [ˈkatɛːˈɡatː]) is a 30,000 km2 sea area bounded by the Jutlandic peninsula in the west, the Danish straits islands of Denmark to the south and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän inSweden in the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Danish Straits. The sea area is a continuation of theSkagerrak and may be seen as a bay of the Baltic Sea or the North Sea or, as in traditional Scandinavian usage, neither of these.

The Kattegat is a rather shallow sea and can be very difficult and dangerous to navigate, due to the many sandy and stony reefs and tricky currents that often shift. In modern times, artificial seabed channels have been dug, many reefs have been dredged by eithersand pumping or stone fishing, and a well-developed light signaling network has been installed, to safeguard the very heavy international traffic of this small sea.

There are several large cities and major ports in the Kattegat, including Gothenburg, Aarhus, Aalborg, Halmstad and Frederikshavn, mentioned by descending size and importance.

On 7 April, bad weather began to develop in the region, blanketing the area with thick fog and causing rough seas, making travel difficult. Renowns force was soon caught in a heavy snowstorm, and HMS Glowworm, one of the destroyer escorts, had to drop out of formation to search for a man swept overboard. The weather aided the Germans, providing a screen for their forces, and in the early morning they sent out Gruppe 1 and Gruppe 2, who had the largest distance to travel.

Sir William Whitworth
The Royal Navy during the Second World War A10233.jpg

Vice-Admiral Whitworth, the Second Sea Lord, coming ashore after inspecting HMS VANESSA at the port of Liverpool
Born 29 June 1884
Died 25 October 1973 (aged 89)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1899–1946
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Stuart
HMS Rodney
HMS Warspite
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order


HMS Renown circa 1918; note the aircraft atop ‘B’ turret
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Renown
Ordered: 30 December 1914
Builder: Fairfield, Govan, Britain
Cost: £3,117,204
Laid down: 25 January 1915
Launched: 4 March 1916
Commissioned: 20 September 1916
Struck: 1948
  • Antiquae Famae Custos
  • “Guardians of Ancient Renown”
Nickname(s): Refit[1]
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 19 March 1948
General characteristics (As built)
Class and type: Renown-class battlecruiser
  • 27,200 long tons (27,600 t) (normal)
  • 32,220 long tons (32,740 t) (deep load)
  • 750 ft 2 in (228.7 m) (p.p.)
  • 794 ft 1.5 in (242.0 m) (o.a.)
Beam: 90 ft 1.75 in (27.5 m)
Draught: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 4 × shafts, 2 × Steam turbine sets
Speed: 32.58 knots (60.34 km/h; 37.49 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
  • 953
  • 1223 (1919)
General characteristics (1939)
Displacement: 36,080 long tons (36,660 t) (deep load)
Length: 794 ft (242.0 m)
Beam: 90 ft (27.4 m)
Draught: 31 ft 9 in (9.7 m)
Installed power:
  • 120,000 shp (89,000 kW)
  • 8 × boilers
Speed: 30.75 knots (56.95 km/h; 35.39 mph)
Range: 6,580 mi (10,590 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 1,200
Aircraft carried: 4 × floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 1 × double-ended aircraft catapult

Although the weather did make reconnaissance difficult, the two German groups were discovered 170 km (105 mi) south of the Naze (the southernmost part of Norway) slightly after 08:00 by Royal Air Force patrols and reported as one cruiser and six destroyers. A trailing squad of bombers sent out to attack the German ships found them 125 km (78 mi) farther north than they had been before. No damage was done during the attack, but the German group’s strength was reassessed as being one battlecruiser two cruisers and ten destroyers. Because of a strict enforcement of radio silence, the bombers were not able to report this until 17:30.

On learning of the German movement, the Admiralty came to the conclusion that the Germans were attempting to break the blockade that the Allies had placed on Germany and use their fleet to disrupt Atlantic trade routes. Admiral Sir Charles Forbes, Commander-in-Chief of the British Home Fleet, was notified of this and set out to intercept them at 20:15.

Sir Charles Forbes

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes
Born 22 November 1880
Colombo, Ceylon
Died 28 August 1960 (aged 79)
Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital,London
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1894–1943
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Galatea
HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Iron Duke
1st Battle Squadron
Home Fleet
Plymouth Command
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order

With both sides unaware of the magnitude of the situation, they proceeded as planned. Renown arrived at the Vestfjord late that night and maintained position near the entrance while the minelaying destroyers proceeded to their task. Meanwhile, the Germans launched the remainder of their invasion force. The first direct contact between the two sides occurred the next morning without either side’s intention.

Glowworm, on her way to rejoin Renown, happened to come up behind Z11 Bernd von Arnim and then the Z18 Hans Lüdemann in the heavy fog around 08:00 on 8 April. Immediately a skirmish broke out and the German destroyers fled, signalling for help. The request was soon answered byAdmiral Hipper, which quickly crippled Glowworm. During the action, Glowworm rammed Admiral Hipper. Significant damage was done to Hipper’s starboard side, and Glowwormwas destroyed by a close range salvo immediately afterwards. During the fight Glowworm had broken radio silence and informed the Admiralty of her situation. She was not able to complete her transmission though, and all the Admiralty knew was that Glowworm had been confronted by a large German ship, shots were fired, and contact with the destroyer could not be re-established. In response, the Admiralty ordered Renown and her single destroyer escort (the other two had gone to friendly ports for fuel), to abandon her post at the Vestfjord and head to Glowworm‘s last known location. At 10:45, the remaining eight destroyers of the minelaying force were ordered to join them as well.

On the morning of 8 April, the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł confronted and sank the clandestine German troop transport ship Rio de Janeiro off the southern Norwegian port ofLillesand. Discovered amongst the wreckage were uniformed German soldiers and various military supplies.

Submarine ORP Orzeł entering the naval base at Hel peninsula, 1930s

ORP Orzeł entering the Hel peninsula naval base, 1930s
Name: ORP Orzeł
Namesake: Eagle
Builder: De Schelde, Netherlands
Laid down: 14 August 1936
Launched: 15 January 1938
Commissioned: 2 February 1939
Decommissioned: 11 June 1940
Fate: missing, presumably sunk
General characteristics
Class and type: Orzeł-class submarine
  • 1,110, surfaced
  • 1,473, submerged
Length: 84.00 m (275 ft 7 in)
Beam: 6.7 m (22 ft 0 in)
Draught: 4.17 m (13 ft 8 in)
  • 19.4 knots (35.9 km/h; 22.3 mph), surfaced
  • 9 kn (17 km/h; 10 mph), submerged
Complement: 60
  • 1 × Bofors wz.25 105 mm (4.1 in) gun
  • 1 × double Bofors wz.36 40 mm (1.6 in) AA gun
  • 1 × Hotchkiss 13.2 mm (0.52 in)HMG
  • 12 × 533 mm (21.0 in) / 550 mm (22 in) torpedo launchers (4 aft, 4 rudder, 4 waist)
  • 20 torpedoes

Though Orzeł reported the incident to the Admiralty, they were too concerned by the situation with Glowworm and the presumed German breakout to give it much thought and did not pass the information on. Many of the German soldiers from the wreck were rescued by Norwegian fishing boats and the destroyer Odin. On interrogation the survivors disclosed that they were assigned to protect Bergen from the Allies. This information was passed on to Oslo where the Norwegian Parliament ignored the sinking due to being distracted by the British mining operations off the Norwegian coast.

HNoMS Odin (1939).jpg

Odin in 1939.
Name: Odin
Namesake: Norse chief god Odin
Builder: The Royal Norwegian Navy’s shipyard at Karljohansvern, Horten
Yard number: 126[1]
Launched: 24 January 1939[1]
Commissioned: 1939
Captured: by Germany on 9 April 1940
Service record
Operations: Opposing the German invasion of Norway
Nazi Germany
Name: Panther
Acquired: 11 April 1940
Fate: Handed back to Norway after VE Day
Service record
Operations: Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany
Name: Odin
Commissioned: 1945
Decommissioned: 1959
Fate: Sold for scrapping in 1959
General characteristics as built
Class and type: Sleipner class
Displacement: 735 tons
Length: 74.30 m (243.77 ft)
Beam: 7.75 m (25.43 ft)
Draft: 4.15 m (13.62 ft)
Propulsion: Two De Laval geared turbines with two shafts and 12,500 hp
Speed: 32 knots (59.26 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482.00 km) at 15 knots (27.78 km/h)
Complement: 75 (10 officers and 65 sailors)
General characteristics after German rebuild
Class and type: Sleipner class
Displacement: 735 tons
Length: 74.30 m (243.77 ft)
Beam: 7.75 m (25.43 ft)
Draft: 4.15 m (13.62 ft)
Propulsion: Two De Laval geared turbines with two shafts and 12,500 hp
Speed: 32 knots (59.26 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482.00 km) at 15 knots (27.78 km/h)
Complement: 75 (10 officers and 65 sailors)[3]
  • 1 × 10,5 cm gun
  • 1 × 40 mm anti-aircraft gun
  • 4 × 2 cm anti aircraft guns,
  • 2 × 53.3 cm torpedo tubes,
  • 24 mines

At 14:00, the Admiralty received word that aerial reconnaissance had located a group of German ships a considerable distance west-northwest of Trondheim, bearing west. This reinforced the notion that the Germans were indeed intending a breakout, and the Home Fleet changed direction from northeast to northwest to again try to intercept. Additionally, Churchill cancelled Plan R 4 and ordered the four cruisers carrying the soldiers and their supplies to disembark their cargo and join the Home Fleet. In fact, the German ships,Gruppe 2, were only performing delaying circling manoeuvres in order to approach their destination of Trondheim at the designated time.

That night, after learning of numerous sightings of German ships south of Norway, Charles Forbes began to doubt the validity of the breakout idea, and he ordered the Home Fleet to head south to the Skagerrak. He also ordered Repulse, along with another cruiser and a few destroyers, to head north and join Renown.

At 23:00, as Forbes was just learning of the incident with Orzeł, Gruppe 5 was confronted by the Norwegian patrol vessel Pol III at the entrance to the Oslofjord. Pol III quickly sent an alarm to the coastal batteries on Rauøy (Rauøy island) and opened fire on the torpedo boat Albatros with her single gun shortly before colliding with it. Albatros and two of her companions responded with anti-aircraft fire, killing the Norwegian captain and setting Pol III on fire. Gruppe 5 continued into the Oslofjord and cleared the outer batteries without incident. Several of the smaller German ships then broke off in order to capture the bypassed fortifications along with Horten.

This activity did not go unnoticed, and soon reports had reached Oslo, leading to a midnight session of the Norwegian cabinet. At this meeting, the cabinet issued orders for the mobilization of four of the six field brigades of the Norwegian Army. The members of the cabinet failed to understand that the partial mobilization they had ordered would, according to the regulations in place, be carried out in secret and without public declaration. Troops would be issued their mobilization orders by post. The only member of the cabinet with in-depth knowledge of the mobilization system, defence minister Birger Ljungberg, failed to explain the procedure to his colleagues. He would later be heavily criticized for this oversight, which led to unnecessary delays in the Norwegian mobilization. Prior to the cabinet meeting, Ljungberg had dismissed repeated demands for a total and immediate mobilization, made by the chief of the general staff, Rasmus Hatledal. Hatledal had approached Ljungberg on 5, 6 and 8 April, asking the defence minister to request the cabinet to issue orders for mobilization. The issue had been discussed in the evening of 8 April, after the Commanding General, Kristian Laake, had joined the calls for a mobilization. At that time the mobilization had been limited to two field battalions in Østfold, further delaying the larger-scale call-up of troops. When Laake’s call for mobilization was finally accepted at some time between 03:30 to 04:00 on 9 April, the Commanding General assumed, like defence minister Ljungberg, that the cabinet knew that they were issuing a partial and silent mobilization. The poor communication between the Norwegian armed forces and the civilian authorities caused much confusion in the early days of the German invasion.

At about this time, further north, Renown was heading back to Vestfjord after reaching Glowworm‘s last known location and not finding anything. Heavy seas had caused Whitworth to sail more north than normal and had separated him from his destroyers when he encountered Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Renown engaged the two battleships off the Lofoten Archipelago, and during the short battle Renown scored several hits on the German vessels, forcing them to flee north. Renown attempted to pursue, but the German warships used their superior speed to escape.


German destroyers at Narvik after their capture of the strategic port

In the Ofotfjord leading to Narvik, the ten German destroyers of Gruppe 1 made their approach. With Renown and her escorts earlier diverted to investigate the Glowworm incident, no British ships stood in their way, and they entered the area unopposed. By the time they had reached the inner area near Narvik, most of the destroyers had peeled off from the main formation to capture the outer batteries of the Ofotfjord, leaving only three to contend with the two old Norwegian coastal defence ships standing guard in Narvik harbour, Eidsvold andNorge. Although antiquated, the two coastal defence ships were quite capable of taking on the much more lightly armed and armoured destroyers. After a quick parley with the captain of Eidsvold, Odd Isaachsen Willoch, the German ships opened fire pre-emptively on the coastal defence ship, sinking her after hitting her with three torpedoes. Norge entered into the fray shortly after and began to fire on the destroyers, but her marksmen were inexperienced and she did not hit the Germans ships before being sunk by a salvo of torpedoes from the German destroyers.

Following the sinking of Eidsvold and Norge, the commander of Narvik, Konrad Sundlo, surrendered the land forces in the town without a fight.


The German cruiserAdmiral Hipper landing troops in Trondheim

At Trondheim, Gruppe 2 also faced only minor resistance to their landings. In the Trondheimsfjord, Admiral Hipper engaged the defensive batteries while her destroyers sped past them at 25 knots (46 km/h). A well placed shot by Admiral Hipper severed the power cables for the searchlights and rendered the guns ineffective. Only one destroyer received a hit during the landing.


The German cruiser Blücher sinking in the Oslofjord

At Bergen, the defensive fortifications put up stiffer resistance to Gruppe 3‘s approach and the light cruiser Königsberg and the artillery training ship Bremse were damaged, the former seriously. The lack of working lights reduced the effectiveness of the guns though, and the landing ships were able to dock without much opposition. The fortifications were surrendered soon after, when Luftwaffe units arrived.

The fortifications at Kristiansand put up an even more resolute fight, twice repulsing the landing and damaging Karlsruhe, nearly causing her to run aground. Confusion soon sprung up though, when the Norwegians received the order not to fire on British and French ships and the Germans began to use Norwegian codes that they had captured at Horten. The Germans also used this opportunity to quickly reach the harbour and unload their troops, capturing the town by 11:00.

While most of Gruppe 4 was engaged at Kristiansand, the torpedo boat Greif captured Arendal without any opposition. The main objective at Arendal was the undersea telegraph cable to the United Kingdom.

Gruppe 5 encountered the most serious resistance at the inner defensive fortifications of the Oslofjord, in the vicinity of Drøbak. Blücher, leading the group, approached the forts assuming that they would be taken by surprise and not respond in time, as had been the case with those in the outer fjord. It was not until the cruiser was at point blank range that Oscarsborg Fortress opened fire, hitting with every shell.

Oscarsborg Fortress
Oslofjord, Norway
Oscarsborg fortress, from southwest.jpg

Oscarsborg Fortress’ Main Island seen from the south-west.
Type Coastal fortress
Site information
Controlled by Norway
Nazi Germany (1940–1945)
Site history
Built 1846–1855
In use 23 August 1855 – 28 June 2002
Battles/wars Battle of Drøbak Sound
Garrison information
Oberst Birger Eriksen

Within a matter of minutes, Blücher was crippled and burning heavily. The damaged cruiser was sunk by a salvo of antiquated, 40-year-old torpedoes launched from land-based torpedo tubes. She carried much of the administrative personnel intended both for the occupation of Norway and also for the headquarters of the army division assigned to seize Oslo. The cruiser Lützow, also damaged in the attack and believingBlücher had entered a minefield, withdrew with Gruppe 5, 19 km (12 mi) south to Sonsbukten where she unloaded her troops. This distance delayed the arrival of the main German invasion force for Oslo by over 24 hours, though the Norwegian capital would still be captured less than 12 hours after the loss of Blücher by troops flown into Fornebu Airfield.


German soldiers marching through Oslo on the first day of the invasion

The delay induced by the Norwegian forces gave time for the royal family, Parliament, and with them the national treasury, to flee the capital and continue the fighting against the invasion force.

Fornebu Airfield was originally supposed to be secured by paratroops an hour before the first troops were flown in, but the initial force became lost in the fog and did not arrive. Regardless, the airfield was not heavily defended and the German soldiers who did arrive captured it promptly. The Norwegian Army Air Service’s Jagevingen fighter flight based on Fornebu Airfield resisted with their Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters until ammunition ran out and then flew off to whatever secondary airfields were available. The ground personnel of the Fighter Wing soon ran out of ammunition for their anti-aircraft machine guns as well; in the general confusion and focus on readying the fighters for action, no one had the presence of mind or the time to issue small-arms ammunition for the personal weapons of the ground personnel. Resistance at Fornebu Airfield came to an end, with the Germans only loss being a single Ju 52. Norwegian attempts to mount a counter-attack were half-hearted and effectively came to nothing. On learning of this, Oslo itself was declared an open city and soon fully surrendered.

For Gruppe 6 at Egersund and the paratroops at Stavanger, there was no significant opposition and they quickly captured their objectives.

Conquest of Denmark


German armoured cars moving through a Danish town

The German plans for the invasion and occupation of Norway relied heavily on air power. In order to secure the Skagerrak strait between Norway and Denmark, the air bases in Denmark had to be seized. The domination of this strait would prevent the Royal Navy from interfering with the main supply lines of the invasion forces. In this respect, the occupation of Denmark was considered to be vital. The capture of Aalborg Airport was considered particularly important in this respect.

The German Wehrmacht crossed the Danish border around 05:15 on 9 April. In a coordinated operation, German troops disembarked at the docks of Langelinie in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and began occupying the city. German paratroops also captured Aalborg Airport. Simultaneously, an ultimatum was presented by the German ambassador to King Christian X. The Danish army was small, ill-prepared and used obsolete equipment, but resisted in several parts of the country; most importantly, the Royal Guards located atAmalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, and forces in the vicinity of Haderslev in South Jutland. By 06:00, the small Danish Air Force had been taken out and 28 German Heinkel He 111 bombers were threatening to drop their bombs over Copenhagen. King Christian, having consulted with Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning, Foreign Minister P. Munch and the commanders of the army and the navy, decided to capitulate, believing that further resistance would only result in a useless loss of Danish lives. By 08:43 Denmark had capitulated.

Peter Rochegune Munch

The Danish public was taken completely by surprise by the occupation, and was instructed by the government to cooperate with the German authorities. Germany’s occupation of Denmark lasted until 5 May 1945.

An important part of the Danish merchant marine escaped the occupation, as Arnold Peter Møller, President of the Mærsk shipping company, on 8 April instructed his ships on the high seas to move to Allied or neutral ports if at all possible.

In a pre-emptive move to prevent a German invasion, British forces occupied the Faroe Islands on 12 April 1940, then a Danish amt (county). The Danish county governor and the Faroese parliament Løgting governed the islands for the duration of the war.

Allied response

Soon after this, the German landings at Trondheim, Bergen, and Stavanger, as well as the skirmishes in the Oslofjord became known. Not willing to disperse too thinly due to the unknown location of the two German battleships, the Home Fleet chose to focus on nearby Bergen and dispatched an attack force. Royal Air Force reconnaissance soon reported stronger opposition than anticipated, and this, along with the possibility that the Germans might be controlling the shore defences, caused them to recall the force and instead use the aircraft carrier HMS Furious to launch torpedo bombers at the enemy ships. The attack never commenced though, as Luftwaffe bombers launched an assault of their own against the Home Fleet first. This attack sank the destroyer HMS Gurkha and then forced the Home Fleet to withdraw north when their anti-aircraft measures proved ineffective. This German air superiority in the area led the British to decide that all southern regions had to be left to submarines and the RAF, while surface vessels would concentrate on the north.

In addition to the German landings in south and central Norway, the Admiralty was also informed via press reports that a single German destroyer was in Narvik. In response to this, they ordered the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, mostly consisting of ships previously serving as escort destroyers for Operation Wilfred, to engage. This flotilla, under the command ofCaptain Bernard Warburton-Lee, had already detached from Renown during her pursuit of the Scharnhorst andGneisenau, being ordered to guard the entrance to the Vestfjord. At 16:00 on 9 April, the flotilla sent an officer ashore at Tranøy 80 km (50 mi) west of Narvik and learned from the locals that the German force was 4–6 destroyers and a submarine.

Bernard Armitage Warburton Warburton-Lee
Born 13 September 1895
Broad Oak, Wrexham, Wales
Died 10 April 1940 (aged 44)
Narvik, Norway
Buried at Ballangen New Cemetery, Norway
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1908–1940
Rank Captain
Commands held HMS Tuscan (1924–25)
HMS Walpole (1926–27)
HMS Vanessa (1928–30)
HMS Bryony (1933–34)
HMS Witch (1934–36)
Flag Captain, HMS Effingham(1938–39)
HMS Hardy (1939–40)
3rd Destroyer Flotilla (1939–40)
Battles/wars Second World War

Awards Victoria Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
War Cross (Norway)[

Warburton-Lee sent these findings back to the Admiralty, concluding with his intention to attack the next day at “dawn, high water”, which would give him the element of surprise and protection against any mines. This decision was approved by the Admiralty in a telegram that night.

Early the following morning, Warburton-Lee led his flagship, HMS Hardy, and four other destroyers into the Ofotfjord. At 04:30, he arrived at Narvik harbour and entered along with HMS Hunter and HMS Havock, leaving HMS Hotspur andHMS Hostile to guard the entrance and watch the shore batteries. The fog and snow were extremely heavy, allowing Warburton-Lee’s force to approach undetected. When they arrived at the harbour itself they found five German destroyers and opened fire, starting the First Battle of Narvik. Warburton-Lee’s ships made three passes on the enemy ships, being joined after the first by Hotspur and Hostile, and sank two of the destroyers, disabled one more, and sank six tankers and supply ships. The German commander, Commodore Friedrich Bonte, lost his life when his flagship Z21 Wilhelm Heidkamp was sunk. Warburton-Lee’s flotilla then left the harbour, almost untouched.

At 06:00, the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla was making their way back to the entrance of the Vestfjord when from the Herjangsfjord behind them three German destroyers emerged, commanded by Commander Erich Bey, and a few minutes later two more arrived in front of them, surrounding Warburton-Lee’s force. Hardy was the first ship to be hit and was quickly taken out of action, beached by one of her officers after she was crippled. Hunter was the next ship put out of commission, coming to a dead halt in the water after several hits. Hotspur was then hit and received damage to her steering system, causing her to crash into Hunter. Several more hits were registered on the pair until Hotspur was able to reverse out of the wreck. Hostile and Havock meanwhile had raced ahead, but turned about and came back to aid the retreat of Hotspur. The German ships having received a few hits and, more importantly, being critically short of fuel, were not able to pursue. As they exited the Ofotfjord, the three British destroyers managed to sink the German supply shipRauenfels.


Lutzow in Kiel after being torpedoed by the British submarine Spearfish on her way back from Norway

Shortly after the First Battle of Narvik, two more German ships were sunk by British forces. During the night of 9/10 April, the submarineHMS Truant intercepted and sank the light cruiser Karlsruhe shortly after she had left Kristiansand. On 10 April, the Fleet Air Arm made a long range attack from their base at Hatston in the Orkney Islands against German warships in Bergen harbour. The attack sank the disabled German light cruiser Königsberg; recorded as the first major warship sunk by aircraft in war.

On 10 April, Furious and the battleship HMS Warspite joined the Home Fleet and another air attack was made against Trondheim hoping to sink Admiral Hipper. Admiral Hipper, however, had already managed to escape through the watch set up outside of the port and was on her way back to Germany when the attack was launched; none of the remaining German destroyers or support ships were hit in the assault. Better luck was had in the south when HMS Spearfish severely damaged the heavy cruiser Lützow at midnight on 11 April, putting the German ship out of commission for a year.

With it becoming more evident the German fleet had slipped out of Norwegian waters, the Home Fleet continued north to Narvik in the hope of catching the remaining destroyers. En route the ships suffered further harassment from German bombers, forcing them to divert to the west away from the shoreline. By 12 April, they were in range of Narvik and an aerial attack on Narvik from Furious was attempted, but the results were disappointing. It was instead decided to send in the battleship Warspite and a powerful escort force, to be commanded by Whitworth.


The British-German naval battles at Narvik on 10 and 13 April

On the morning of 13 April, Whitworth’s force entered the Vestfjord using Warspites scouting aircraft to guide the way. Aside from locating two of the German destroyers, the scouting aircraft also sank an enemy submarine, the first such occurrence.Warspites destroyers travelled 5 km (3 mi) in advance of the battleship and were the first to engage their German counterparts which had come to meet them, thus starting the Second Battle of Narvik. Though neither side inflicted notable damage, the German ships were running low on ammunition and were gradually pushed back to the harbour. By that afternoon, most attempted to flee up the Rombaksfjord, the only exception being the Z19 Hermann Künne which beached herself as she made for the Herjangsfjord and was destroyed by HMS Eskimo. Four British destroyers continued to chase the German ships up through the Rombaksfjord, Eskimo was soon damaged by the waiting opposition. However, the German situation was hopeless, having run out of fuel and ammunition, and by the time the remaining British ships arrived, the German crews had abandoned and scuttled their ships. By 18:30 the British ships were making their way out of the now cleared fjord.

Norwegian situation

The German invasions for the most part achieved their goal of simultaneous assault and caught the Norwegian forces off guard, a situation not aided by the Norwegian government’s order for only a partial mobilization. Not all was lost for the Allies though, as the repulsion of the German Gruppe 5 in the Oslofjord gave a few additional hours of time which the Norwegians used to evacuate the Royal family and the Norwegian Government to Hamar. With the government now fugitive, Vidkun Quisling used the opportunity to take control of a radio broadcasting station and announce a coup, with himself as the new Prime Minister of Norway. Quisling’s coup and his list of new ministers was announced at 19:32. The Quisling coup government remained in place until 15 April, when the Administrative Council was appointed by the Supreme Court of Norway to deal with the civilian administration of the occupied areas of Norway, and Quisling resigned.

 The German forces attempted to kill or capture the 67-year-old King Haakon VII. He personally refused to accept the German surrender terms and stated he would abdicate the throne if the Norwegian government chose to surrender.

In the evening of 9 April, the Norwegian Government moved to Elverum, believing Hamar to be insecure. All German demands were rejected and the Elverum Authorization was passed by the members of the parliament, giving the cabinet wide-ranging powers to make decisions until the next time the Parliament could be assembled under ordinary circumstances. However, the bleakness of the situation prompted them to agree to continued negotiations with the Germans, set for the following day. As a precaution Colonel Otto Ruge, Inspector General of the Norwegian Infantry, set up a roadblock about 110 km (68 mi) north of Oslo, at Midtskogen.

Otto Ruge
Otto Ruge.jpg

Generalmajor Otto Ruge in the summer of 1945
Born 19 January 1882
Died 15 August 1961 (aged 79)
Allegiance  Norway
Service/branch Norwegian Army
Years of service 1902 – 1948
Rank General
Commands held Chief of Defence of Norway
Battles/wars World War II

Awards incomplete
Norway Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav Grand cross with collar

The Norwegian position was soon attacked by a small detachment of German troops, led by Eberhard Spiller, the air attaché for the German Embassy, who were racing north in an attempt to capture King Haakon VII. A skirmish broke out and the Germans turned back after Spiller was mortally wounded. On 10 April, the final negotiations between the Norwegians and Germans failed after the Norwegian delegates, led by Haakon VII, refused to accept the German demand for recognition of Quisling’s new government. The same day, panic broke out in German-occupied Oslo, following rumours of incoming British bombers. In what has since been known as “the panic day” the city’s population fled to the surrounding countryside, not returning until late the same evening or the next day. Similar rumours led to mass panic in Egersund and other occupied coastal cities. The origins of the rumours have never been uncovered.


Large Red Cross flag placed in front of Ullevål Hospital on 10 April 1940

On 11 April, the day after the German-Norwegian negotiations had broken down, 19 German bombers attacked Elverum. The two-hour bombing raid left the town centre in ruins and 41 people dead. The same day 11 Luftwaffe bombers also attacked the town of Nybergsund, in an attempt at killing the Norwegian King, Crown Prince and cabinet.

One of the final acts of the Norwegian authorities before dispersement was the promotion on 10 April of Otto Ruge to the rank of major general and appointment to Commanding General of the Norwegian Army, responsible for overseeing the resistance to the German invasion.[17] Ruge replaced the 65-year-old General Kristian Laake as Commanding General, the latter having been heavily criticized for what was considered to be passive behaviour during the initial hours of the invasion. Elements in the Norwegian cabinet considered General Laake to be adefeatist.Following the appointment of Ruge the Norwegian attitude became clear, with orders to stop the German advance being issued. With the Germans in control of the largest cities, ports and airfields, as well as most of the arms depots and communication networks, repulsing them outright would be impossible. Ruge instead decided that his only chance lay in playing for time, stalling the Germans until reinforcements from the United Kingdom and France could arrive.

On 11 April, after receiving reinforcements in Oslo, General Falkenhorst’s offensive began; its goal was to link up Germany’s scattered forces before the Norwegians could effectively mobilize or any major Allied intervention could take place. His first task was to secure the Oslofjord area, then to use the 196th and 163rd Infantry Divisions to establish contact with the forces at Trondheim.

Ground campaign

When the nature of the German invasion became apparent to the British military, it began to make preparations for a counter-attack. Dissension amongst the various branches was strong though, as the British Army, after conferring with Otto Ruge, wanted to assault Trondheim in Central Norway while Churchill insisted on reclaiming Narvik. It was decided to send troops to both locations as a compromise. Admiral Lord Cork was in overall command of the Allied operations.

Campaign in Eastern Norway


German infantry attacking through a burning Norwegian village

After the appointment of Ruge as Commanding General on 10 April, the Norwegian strategy was to fight delaying actions against the Germans advancing northwards from Oslo to link up with the invasion forces at Trondheim. The main aim of the Norwegian effort in Eastern Norway was to give the Allies enough time to recapture Trondheim, and start a counter-offensive against the German main force in the Oslo area. The region surrounding the Oslofjord was defended by the 1st Division, commanded by Major General Carl Johan Erichsen. The rest of the region was covered by the 2nd Division, commanded by Major General Jacob Hvinden Haug. Having been prevented from mobilizing in an orderly fashion by the German invasion, improvised Norwegian units were sent into action against the Germans. Several of the units facing the German advance were led by officers especially selected by Ruge to replace commanders who had failed to show sufficient initiative and aggression in the early days of the campaign. The German offensive aimed at linking up their forces in Oslo and Trondheim began on 14 April, with an advance north from Oslo towards the Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen valleys. Hønefoss was the first town to fall to the advancing German forces. North of Hønefoss the Germans began meeting Norwegian resistance, first delaying actions and later units fighting organized defensive actions. During intense fighting with heavy casualties on both sides, troops of the Norwegian Infantry Regiment 6 blunted the German advance at the village of Haugsbygd on 15 April. The Germans only broke through the Norwegian lines at Haugsbygd the next day after employing panzers for the first time in Norway. Lacking anti-tank weapons, the Norwegian troops could not hold back the German attack.

A German Neubaufahrzeug tank advancing through the streets ofLillehammer in April 1940

The basis for the Norwegian strategy started collapsing already on 13 and 14 April, when the 3,000 troops of the 1st Division in Østfold evacuated across the Swedish border without orders, and were interned by the neutral Swedes. The same day that the 1st Division began crossing into Sweden, the two battalions of Infantry Regiment no. 3 at Heistadmoen Army Camp in Kongsberg capitulated. The 3rd Division, commanded by Major General Einar Liljedahl and tasked with defending Southern Norway, surrendered to the Germans in Setesdal on 15 April, having seen no action up to that point. Some 2,000 soldiers marched into captivity in the Setesdal capitulation. With the abandonment on 20 April of the Franco-British plans for recapturing the central Norwegian city of Trondheim, Ruge’s strategy became practically infeasible.

.. Podhalan Rifles Brigade) soldiers converse around a French Hotchkiss H39 light tank (Char léger modèle 1935 H) during the Norwegian campaign.

With the calling off of the Allied plans for recapturing Trondheim, British forces which had been landed at Åndalsnes moved into Eastern Norway. By 20 April three British half-battalions had moved as far south as Fåberg, near the town of Lillehammer. The main British units deployed to Eastern Norway in April 1940 were the Territorials of the 148th Infantry Brigade and the regular 15th Infantry Brigade. In a series of battles with Norwegian and British forces over the next weeks the Germans pushed northwards from Oslo, their main effort through the Gudbrandsdal valley. Particularly heavy fighting took place in places like Tretten, Fåvang, Vinstra, Kvam, Sjoa and Otta. Other German units broke through theValdres and Østerdalen valleys, in the former case after heavy fighting and an initially successful Norwegian counterattack.


Dead British “Green Howards” after the battle at Otta, Norway on 28 April 1940

During their advance northwards from Oslo the Germans regularly broke down Norwegian resistance using air strikes. Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers proved particularly effective in demoralizing Norwegian troops opposing the advance. The Norwegian forces’ almost complete lack of anti-aircraft weapons allowed the German aircraft to operate with near impunity.Likewise, when German panzers were employed the Norwegians had no regular countermeasures. The British No. 263 Squadron RAF fighter squadron set up base on the frozen lakeLesjaskogsvatnet on 24 April to challenge German air supremacy, but many of the squadron’s aircraft were destroyed by German bombing on 25 April. The four Gladiators that survived to be evacuated to Setnesmoen army base near Åndalsnes were out of operation by the end of 26 April. Setnesmoen was bombed and knocked out by the Luftwaffe on 29 April.

. blocked access to Narvik enabled the Norwegian destroyer Norge to prepare her guns and shore batteries to fire. Out-numbered and outgunned, …

Norwegian collapse in Southern Norway

After their capture of Kristiansand on 9 April the battalion-strong German invasion force in Southern Norway permitted the evacuation of the civilian population from the city. At the same time the Germans moved to secure the areas surrounding Kristiansand. After several days of confusion and episodes of panic among the Norwegian troops, despite the complete absence of fighting, the 2,000 men of the defending 3rd Division in Setesdal surrendered unconditionally on 15 April.

Campaign in Western Norway


Scene from the German bombing ofVoss

The important western cities of Bergen and Stavanger were captured by the Germans on 9 April. Some 2,000 German soldiers occupied Bergen and captured the Norwegian arms depots there. The small Norwegian infantry forces in Bergen retreated eastwards, blowing up two railway bridges and sections of road after them. Despite the loss of the cities, the regional commander, General William Steffens, ordered a total mobilization. During mid-April the 6,000-strong Norwegian 4th Division, responsible for the defence of Western Norway, was mobilized around the town of Voss in Hordaland. The 4th Division was the only military district outside of Northern Norway to be mobilized completely and in an orderly fashion. The soldiers of the 4th Division managed to repulse the initial German push along the Bergen Linerailway line connecting Western and Eastern Norway.

After troops of the more northerly 5th Division had covered the British landings at Åndalsnes, Steffens planned an offensive aimed at recapturing Bergen. To achieve this aim the 4th Division had a total mobilized force of 6,361 soldiers and 554 horses. General Steffens’ plans were made redundant when General Ruge on 16 April ordered most of the division’s forces to be redeployed to Valdres andHallingdal, in order to reinforce the main front in Eastern Norway. The focus of the remaining forces in Western Norway became to prevent the Germans from advancing from the areas around Bergen. Norwegian naval forces, organized into three regional commands by Admiral Tank-Nielsen, prevented German intrusions into Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord. In total the Royal Norwegian Navy fielded some 17–18 warships and five to six aircraft in Western Norway following the German capture of Bergen. After the Luftwaffe bombed and severely damaged Voss and the surrounding countryside on 23–25 April, inflicting civilian casualties, the Germans captured the town on 26 April.

Following the fall of Voss, General Steffens evacuated the remains of his forces northward, evacuating the south side of the Sognefjord on 28 May (except for a small contingent at Lærdal). He set up his own headquarters at Førde and prepared for the further defence ofSogn og Fjordane. On 30 April a message from General Otto Ruge was communicated, telling of the evacuation of all allied troops and also of the King and Army command, from southern Norway. With no help forthcoming from either allied or Norwegian forces, on 1 May 1940, Steffens ordered his troops to disband. The advancing German forces were informed of the whereabouts of the Norwegian troops, and agreed to let them disband unmolested. On the night between 1 May and 2 May, Steffens left for Tromsø with three naval aircraft, effectively ending the campaign in the region. No allied land troops had been involved in the fighting in Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane.

Another two aircraft flew to the United Kingdom to undergo service. Although the Royal Norwegian Navy’s ships in Western Norway were ordered to evacuate to the United Kingdom or Northern Norway, only the auxiliary Bjerk sailed to the United Kingdom and Steinar to Northern Norway. The remaining ships were either prevented from leaving due to massive desertions, or had commanders who chose to disband their men rather than risk the voyages to Allied-controlled territory. The last Norwegian forces in Western Norway only disbanded in Florø on 18 May 1940.

Campaign in Central Norway

 Military land operations in southern and central Norway in April and May 1940

The original plans for the campaign in Central Norway called for a three pronged attack against Trondheim by Allied forces while the Norwegians contained the German forces to the south.It was called Operation Hammer, and wouldland Allied troops at Namsos to the north (Mauriceforce), Åndalsnes to the south (Sickleforce), and around Trondheim itself (Hammerforce). This plan was quickly changed though, as it was felt that a direct assault on Trondheim would be far too risky and therefore only the northern and southern forces would be used.

In order to block the expected allied landings the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ordered a Fallschirmjäger company to make a combat drop on the railway junction of Dombås in the north of the Gudbrandsdal valley. The force landed on 14 April and managed to block the rail and road network in Central Norway for five days before being forced to surrender to the Norwegian Army on 19 April.

British and German soldiers buried side by side during the Norwegian campaign, 1940.


A British vanguard force arrived at Åndalsnes on 12 April. The main landing of Sickleforce, consisting primarily of the British 148th Infantry Brigade and commanded by Major-General Bernard Paget, occurred on 17 April. The successful Norwegian mobilization in the area opened the opportunity for the British landings.

In the waning hours of 14 April, Mauriceforce, composed primarily of the British 146th Infantry Brigade and commanded by Major-General Adrian Carton de Wiart made their initial landings at the Norwegian port town ofNamsos. During the trip the force had been transferred to destroyers instead of bulky transport ships due to the narrow waters of the fjord leading to Namsos; in the confusion of the transfer a great deal of their supplies and even the brigade commander were misplaced.


British troops pick through the ruins of Namsos, April 1940

Another great problem for Mauriceforce was the lack of air support and effective anti-aircraft defences, something of which the Luftwaffe took full advantage. On 17 April the force moved forward from Namsos to positions around the village of Follafoss and the town of Steinkjer. French troops arrived at Namsos late on 19 April. On 20 April German aircraft bombed Namsos, destroying most of the houses in the town centre, and large portions of the supply storage for allied troops, leaving de Wiart without a base.Regardless, he moved 130 km (81 mi) inland to Steinkjer and linked up with the Norwegian 5th Division. Constant aerial harassment prevented any kind of offensive from taking place though, and on 21 April Mauriceforce was attacked by the German 181st Division from Trondheim. De Wiart was forced to fall back from these assaults, leaving Steinkjer for the Germans. On 21 and 22 April Steinkjer was bombed by the Luftwaffe, leaving four-fifths of the town in ruins and more than 2,000 people homeless. By 24 April Steinkjer and the surrounding areas had been occupied by the Germans.


The bombed-out town of Steinkjer

End of the campaign in Central and South Norway


British soldiers of the 4thLincolnshire Regiment at Skage after marching 90 km (56 mi) across the mountains to escape being cut off, April 1940. A Norwegian soldier is seen examining one of their rifles

By 28 April, with both groups checked by the Germans, the Allied leadership decided to withdraw all British and French forces from thesouthern and central regions of Norway. The Allied retreat was covered by Norwegian forces, which were then demobilized to avoid having the soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans. On 30 April the Germans advancing from Oslo and Trondheim linked up.

On 28 and 29 April the undefended port town of Kristiansund had been heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe, as was the nearby port of Molde, which functioned as the headquarters of the Norwegian government and King. The town of Ålesund had also suffered heavily from German bombing during the last days of April.

Sickleforce managed to return to Åndalsnes and escape by 2 May at 02:00, only a few hours before the German 196th Division captured the port. The western Norwegian port had been subjected to heavy German bombing between 23 and 26 April, and had been burning until 27 April. The village of Veblungsnes and the area around Åndalsnes train station suffered particularly heavy damage. By the time the Germans arrived, some 80% of Åndalsnes lay in ruins. Mauriceforce, their convoys delayed by thick fog, were evacuated from Namsos on 2 May, though two of their rescue ships, the French destroyer Bison and the British destroyer Afridi were sunk by Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers.

Organized Norwegian military resistance in the central and southern parts of Norway ceased on 5 May, with the capitulation of the forces fighting at Hegra in Sør-Trøndelag and at Vinjesvingen in Telemark.

.. Norway – Germans land in several Norwegian ports and take Oslo; The Norwegian Campaign lasts 2 months. The British begin their Norwegian Campaign.

The failure of the central campaign is considered one of the direct causes of the Norway Debate, which resulted in the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the appointment of Winston Churchill to the office.

Having evacuated from Molde during German air attacks on 29 April, King Haakon VII and his government arrived in Tromsø in Northern Norway by 1 May. For the remaining weeks of the Norwegian Campaign Tromsø was the de facto capital of Norway, as the headquarters of the King and cabinet.

Campaign in Northern Norway

Initial German and Allied landings and operations in southern, central and northern Norway in April 1940

In Northern Norway the Norwegian 6th division, commanded by General Carl Gustav Fleischer faced the German invasion forces at Narvik. Following the German invasion General Fleischer assumed the position as commander-in-chief of all Norwegian forces in Northern Norway. The Norwegian counter-offensive against the Germans at Narvik was hampered by Fleischer’s decision to retain significant forces in Eastern Finnmark to guard against a possible Soviet attack in the far north.

Along with the Allied landings at Åndalsnes and Namsos, aimed against Trondheim, further forces were deployed to the north of Norway. These forces were tasked with the objective of recapturing Narvik. Like the campaign in the south, the Narvik expedition also faced numerous obstacles.

One of the first problems faced by the Allies was the fact that the command was not unified, or even truly organized. Naval forces in the area were led by Admiral of the Fleet William Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork who had been ordered to rid the area of the Germans as soon as possible. In contrast, the commander of the ground forces, Major-General Pierse Mackesy, was ordered not to land his forces in any area strongly held by the Germans and to avoid damaging populated areas. The two met on 15 April to determine the best course of action. Lord Cork argued for an immediate assault on Narvik and Mackesy countered that such a move would lead to the decimation of his attacking troops. Cork eventually conceded to Mackesy’s viewpoint.

Mackesy’s force was originally codenamed Avonforce, later Rupertforce. The force consisted of the 24th Guards Brigade, as well as French and Polish units led by Brigadier Antoine Béthouart. The main force began landing at Harstad, a port town on the island of Hinnøya, on 14 April. The first German air attacks on Harstad began on 16 April, but anti-aircraft defences prevented serious damage. Only in late May did the Germans succeed in causing destruction in Harstad; a raid on 20 May destroying oil tanks and civilian houses and another raid on 23 May hitting Allied shipping in the harbour.

On 15 April, the Allies scored a significant victory when the Royal Navy destroyers Brazen and Fearless, which were escorting the troop-carrying Convoy NP1, managed to force the German U-boat U-49 to surface and scuttle in the Vågsfjorden. Found floating around the sinking U-boat were documents detailing the dispositions, codes and operational orders of all U-boats in the Norwegian operational area, providing the Allies with an efficient and valuable tool when planning troop and supply convoys to the campaign in Northern Norway.


Hurricane Mk I of No. 46 Squadron RAF during the Norwegian campaign, May 1940. This aircraft was abandoned in Norway

After the Allied failure in Central Norway, more preparation was given to the northern forces. Air cover was provided by two squadrons of carrier-transported fighters operating from Bardufoss Air Station, the re-equipped No. 263 Squadron RAF with Gloster Gladiators and No. 46 Squadron RAF with Hawker Hurricanes.


French and Norwegian ski troops, probably on the Narvik front

As part of the Allied counter-offensive in Northern Norway, French forces made an amphibious landing at Bjerkvik on 13 May. The naval gunfire from supporting Allied warships destroyed most of the village and killed 14 civilians before the Germans were dislodged from Bjerkvik.

While the Norwegian and Allied forces were advancing at Narvik, German forces were moving swiftly northwards through Nordland to relieve Dietl’s besieged troops. The captured Værnes Air Stationnear Trondheim was rapidly expanded and improved to provide the Luftwaffe with a base from which to support the Narvik sector. As the German forces moved northwards, they also gained control of the basic facilities at Hattfjelldal Airfield in Hattfjelldal to support their bomber operations.

In late April, ten Independent Companies had been formed in Britain, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Colin Gubbins. On 2 May, four of these companies were formed into “Scissorsforce”, under Gubbins, and dispatched to forestall the Germans at Bodø, Mo i Rana andMosjøen. Although they ambushed the leading German units south of Mosjøen they were outmatched by the German main body and were withdrawn to Bodø, which was to be defended by the 24th Guards Brigade.


German Gebirgsjäger advancing northwards near Snåsa

As the 24th Guards Brigade moved to Bodø, the destroyer HMS Somali, which was carrying Brigadier William Fraser, was bombed and was forced to return to Britain. Gubbins, with the acting rank of colonel, assumed command of the brigade. On 15 May the troop shipMS Chrobry carrying the 1st Irish Guards was bombed, with heavy casualties to the troops, and two days later the cruiser HMS Effinghamwent aground while carrying much of the equipment of the 2nd South Wales Borderers. Both battalions returned to Harstad to reform and to be re-equipped before setting out again for Bodø.

As the Germans advanced northward from a railhead at Mosjøen, the garrison of Mo i Rana (a mixed force based on the remaining unit of 24th Guards Brigade, 1st Scots Guards) withdrew on 18 May, too precipitately in Gubbins’s opinion. The commanding officer of the Scots Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Byrnand Trappes-Lomax, continued to retreat despite orders to hold successive positions which, with the delayed arrival of the rest of the brigade, left Gubbins no time to prepare a defensive position at Storjord. The brigade withdrew under heavy pressure across Skjerstadfjorden on 25 May, covered by a rearguard from the 1st Irish Guards and several of the Independent Companies under Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Stockwell.

In the evening of 27 May Bodø was bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe. The bombing raid destroyed the recently constructed improvised airstrip, the radio station and 420 of the town’s 760 buildings, killing 15 people and leaving a further 5,000 homeless in the process.

It had already been decided by the Allies to evacuate Norway, and Gubbins’s force was evacuated from Bodø from 30 May to 2 June. During these three days, low cloud prevented the Luftwaffe interfering. The British-operated improvised air strip which had been hit during the 27 May air raid fell into German hands. The air strip at Bodø provided the Germans with an air base much closer to the Narvik fighting, and was of great significance for their continued advance northwards.

On 28 May, two French and one Norwegian battalion attacked and recaptured Narvik from the Germans. To the south of the city Polish troops advanced eastwards along theBeisfjord. Other Norwegian troops were pushing the Germans back towards the Swedish border near Bjørnfjell. However, the German invasion of France and the Low Countrieshad immensely altered the overall situation of the war and the importance of Norway was considerably lessened. On 25 May, three days before the recapture of Narvik, the Allied commanders had received orders to evacuate from Norway. The attack on the city was in part carried out to mask from the Germans the Allies’ intention of leaving Norway. Among those who argued against evacuating Norway was Winston Churchill, who later expressed that the decision had been a mistake. Shortly after the 28 May Allied recapture of Narvik, the city was bombed and heavily damaged by the Luftwaffe.


The city of Bodø, two years after being bombed by the Luftwaffe

Allied withdrawal and Norwegian capitulation

Operation Alphabet, the general Allied retreat from Norway, had been approved on 24 May. The Norwegian authorities were only informed of the decision on 1 June. After a meeting on 7 June at which the decision to carry on the fight abroad was made, King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav and the Norwegian cabinet left Norway on the British cruiser Devonshire and went into exile in the United Kingdom.Without supplies from the Allies the Norwegian Army would soon have been unable to continue the fight. Both the King and the Crown Prince had considered the possibility of remaining in Norway, but had been persuaded by the British diplomat Cecil Dormer to instead follow the government into exile. The Crown Prince suggested that he should remain and assist the Administrative Council in easing the effects of the occupation, but due to the King’s old age it was decided that they both had to go into exile, in order to avoid complications should the King die while abroad. By 8 June, after destroying rail lines and port facilities, all Allied troops had been evacuated. The Germans had launched Operation Juno to relieve pressure on the Narvik garrison and, after discovering the evacuation, shifted the mission to hunt and sunk two British destroyers and the aircraft carrier Glorious. Before the British warships were sunk, however, the destroyer Acasta torpedoed and damaged Scharnhorst. Shortly after the encounter the British submarine HMS Clyde intercepted the German ships and torpedoed Gneisenau, causing severe damage.

The Norwegian forces on the mainland capitulated to the Germans on 10 June 1940. Units fighting on the front had been ordered to disengage in the early hours of 8 June. Fighting ceased at 24:00 on 9 June. The formal capitulation agreement for forces fighting in mainland Norway was signed at the Bristol Hotel in Trondheim at 17:00 on 10 June 1940. Lieutenant Colonel Ragnvald Roscher Nielsen signed for the Norwegian forces, Colonel Erich Buschenhagen for the German side. A capitulation agreement for the Norwegian forces fighting at Narvik was also signed the same day, at Bjørnfjell. The signatories of this agreement, the last local capitulation of Norwegian troops during the campaign, were General Eduard Dietl for the Germans, and Lieutenant Colonel Harald Wrede Holm for the Norwegians. The 62-day campaign made Norway the country to withstand a German invasion for the longest period of time, aside from the Soviet Union.



The Parliament of Norway Buildingin 1941, with the Swastika flag flying and a Nazi slogan across the front of the building

With the capitulation of Norway’s mainland army a German occupation of the country began. Although the regular Norwegian armed forces in mainland Norway laid down their arms in June 1940, there was a fairly prominent resistance movement, which proved increasingly efficient during the later years of occupation. The resistance to the German occupation began in the autumn of 1940, steadily gaining strength and becoming better organized. Despite the Gestapo infiltrating and destroying many of the early organizations, the resistance movement survived and grew. The last year of the war saw an increase in sabotage actions by the exile government-aligned Norwegian resistance organization Milorg, although the organization’s main goal was to retain intact guerilla forces to aid an Allied invasion of Norway. In addition to Milorg, many independent, mostly communist, resistance groups operated in occupied Norway, attacking German targets without coordinating with the exiled Norwegian authorities.

Battles of Narvik, Submachine Gun, Norwegian Campaign, Mortar (Weapon), Destroying

The civilian side of the German occupation of Norway was organized through the establishment of the Reichskommissariat Norwegen, led from 24 April by Josef Terboven. The Germans attempted to make the exiled Norwegian authorities irrelevant, especially targeting the King. Weeks after the end of the Norwegian Campaign the Germans pressured the presidency of the Norwegian parliament to issue a request that Haakon VII abdicate. On 3 July Haakon VII turned down the request, and on 8 July gave a speech on BBC Radio proclaiming his answer. “The King’s No”, as it became known, encouraged resistance to the occupation and the Norwegian collaborators. The Administrative Council, appointed by the Norwegian Supreme Court on 15 April to stand in for the Norwegian government in the occupied territories, functioned until 25 September. After that date the Norwegian partner of the occupying Germans was the fascist Quisling regime, in one form or another.

The Royal Norwegian Navy and Royal Norwegian Air Force were re-established in Britain – based on the remnants of forces saved from the Norwegian Campaign. The forces soon saw extensive combat in the convoy-battles of the North Atlantic and in the air-war over Europe. The ranks of the Navy and Air Force were swollen by a steady trickle of refugees making their way out of occupied Norway, and their equipment brought up to standard by British and American aircraft and ships. From a force of 15 ships in June 1940, the Royal Norwegian Navy had expanded to 58 warships by the end of the Second World War in Europe. The ships were manned by around 7,000 crew members. In all 118 warships had been under Norwegian command at one time or another during the war years.

Norwegian squadrons flew with the Royal Air Force Fighter and Coastal Commands. The Norwegian-manned 331 Squadron and 332 Squadron operated Hawker Hurricane andSupermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft. The naval 330 Squadron and 333 Squadron flew Northrop N-3PB patrol bombers, Consolidated PBY Catalina and Short Sunderland flying boats and de Havilland Mosquito fighter bombers. Individual Norwegians flew with British air units. In November 1944 the Royal Norwegian Naval Air Service and the Norwegian Army Air Service, having been under a unified command since March 1941, were amalgamated to form the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF). At the end of the war some 2,700 personnel served in the RNoAF.

A c. 4,000 strong Norwegian Army was also re-established in Scotland. However, with the exception of a small number of special forces, it saw little action for the rest of the war. A reinforced company from the Scotland-based Norwegian Army participated in the liberation of Finnmark (the northernmost county of Norway) during the winter of 1944–45. Finnmark and the northern parts of Troms county had been forcibly evacuated by the Germans in a scorched earth operation following an offensive by the Red Army against occupied Finnmark in October 1944. The offensive had captured the north-eastern town of Kirkenes from the occupying German forces. After the arrival of the 300 troops from Scotland, further troops were moved in from Sweden and mobilized locally. At the end of the war, the Norwegian forces in Finnmark totalled 3,000. In the course of this operation, there were some minor skirmishes with German rear guards and patrols.

In neutral Sweden there was also a Norwegian build-up of forces in the last two years of the war through the so-called “police troops” established with the support of Swedish authorities. The term “police” served as a cover up for what in reality was pure military training of a force mustering around 13,000 well trained and equipped troops by VE-day. In 1945 around 1,300 “police troops” took part in the Liberation of Finnmark.

Aside from the regular Norwegian forces, the main armed resistance movement in Norway, the exile government-controlled Milorg, fielded some 40,000 combatants at the end of the war. In November 1941 Milorg had been declared by the exiled Norwegian government to be the fourth branch of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Casualties and material losses



Germans wounded at Narvik being repatriated to Germany on board the hospital ship Wilhelm Gustloff

The official German casualties for the Norwegian Campaign totalled 5,296. Of these 1,317 were killed on land, while 2,375 were lost at sea. 1,604 were listed as wounded.

The German losses at sea were heavy, with the sinking of one of the Kriegsmarine‘s two heavy cruisers, two of its six light cruisers, 10 of its 20 destroyers and six U-boats. With several more ships severely damaged, the German surface fleet had only three cruisers and four destroyers operational in the aftermath of the Norwegian Campaign. Two torpedo boats and 15 light naval units were also lost during the campaign. Two German battleships and two cruisers were damaged during the campaign.

Official German sources give the number of German aircraft lost during the Norwegian Campaign as 90, with other estimates by historianFrançois Kersaudy ranging as high as 240.

In transport ships and merchant vessels, the Germans lost 21 ships at 111,700 tons, around 10% of what they had available at the time.

Norwegian and Allied


British wounded being treated at a hospital in Namsos by British and French medical officers and a Norwegian nurse

The Norwegian and Allied casualties of the Norwegian Campaign totalled around 6,602. The British lost 1,869 killed, wounded and missing on land and approximately 2,500 at sea, while the French and Polish lost 533 killed, wounded and missing. On the Norwegian side there were around 1,700 casualties, of whom 860 were killed. Some 400 Norwegian civilians were also killed, mostly in German bombing raids. Around 60 of the civilians killed were shot by German soldiers during the fighting in Eastern Norway, many in summary executions.

On the naval side of the Norwegian casualties, the Royal Norwegian Navy, fielding 121 mostly outdated ships at the outset of the German invasion, was virtually wiped out during the campaign. Only 15 warships, including a captured German fishing trawler, with some 600 men had managed to evacuate to the United Kingdom by the end of the fighting. The remaining Norwegian naval vessels were sunk in action, scuttled by their own crews, or captured by the Germans. Among the warships sunk in action during the campaign were two coastal defence ships and two destroyers. Seven torpedo boats were also sunk or scuttled, while the remaining ten were captured by the Germans. Only one of the nine Norwegian submarines managed to escape to the United Kingdom, the other eight being scuttled or captured.Some 50 captured Norwegian naval ships were over time pressed into service by the Kriegsmarine.

The British lost one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, seven destroyers and a submarine but with their much larger fleet could absorb the losses to a much greater degree than Germany.

The French Navy lost the destroyer Bison and a submarine during the campaign, and a cruiser severely damaged. The exiled Polish Navy lost the destroyer Grom and the submarine Orzeł.

While the British lost 112 aircraft during the campaign, the Norwegians lost all their aircraft except a small number that were successfully evacuated to the United Kingdom or flown to neutral Finland.

The combined total loss of merchants ships and transports for the Allies and Norwegians was around 70 ships.


The operation as planned was a decisive success for Germany. Both Denmark and Norway were occupied. Surprise was almost complete, particularly in Denmark.

At sea the invasion proved a significant setback. For the Kriegsmarine the campaign led to crippling losses, leaving the Kriegsmarine with a surface force of one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers and four destroyers operational. This left the navy weakened during the summer months when Hitler was pursuing plans for an invasion of Britain.

The greatest cost of the campaign on land came in the need to keep most of the invasion troops in Norway for occupation duties away from the fronts. On the whole the campaign was a costly enterprise with limited benefit for the victory.

Through the Norwegian government’s Nortraship system, the Allies also gained the services of the Norwegian merchant navy, the fourth largest in the world. The 1,028-ship strong Nortraship was established on 22 April at a government meeting at Stuguflåten in Romsdal. The Nortraship fleet consisted of some 85% of the pre-war Norwegian merchant fleet, the remaining 15% having been in Norway when the Germans invaded and been unable to escape. The Nortraship vessels were crewed by 27,000 sailors. In total 43 free Norwegian ships were sunk during the Norwegian Campaign, while another 29 were interned by the neutral Swedes. Nortraship gave the Norwegian government-in-exile economic independence and a basis for continued resistance from abroad.

The Allies achieved a partial success at Narvik. The Germans had destroyed much of the port facilities there before their loss of the city on 28 May. Shipping from the port was stopped for a period of six months, although the Allies had believed it would be out of operation for a year.

The German occupation of Norway was to prove a thorn in the side of the Allies during the next few years. Bombers based at Sola had a round trip of about 920 km to Rattray Head in north-east Scotland, instead of a round trip of about 1,400 km from the nearest airfield on German soil (the island of Sylt), while the east of Scotland and coastal shipping suffered from bombing raids, most from Norway, until 1943. After the fall of Norway, Scotland (especially the fleet bases at Scapa Flow and Rosyth) were seen as much more vulnerable to a diversionary assault by air- and sea-borne troops. German commerce raiders used Norway as a staging base to reach the North Atlantic with impunity. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, air bases in Norway were also used to interdict the Allied Arctic convoys there, inflicting painful losses to shipping.



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