Second Battle of Narvik, 13 April 1940 - German destroyer burning herself out

Second Battle of Narvik, 13 April 1940 - German destroyer burning herself out


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Second Battle of Narvik, 13 April 1940 - German destroyer burning herself out

One of a series of nine pictures of the battle at Narvik on 13 April 1940, taken from the Swordfish attached to the British flagship, HMS Warspite

The original caption reads: Beached against the snow-covered rocks of Herjangs Fiord, the same destroyer burns herself out. Swordfish struts are outlined in the foreground.

Taken from Fleet Air Arm, HMSO, published 1943, p.51


Type 1934 destroyers

The Type 1934 destroyers, also known as the Z1 class or Leberecht Maass class after the lead ship, were a group of four destroyers built for the German Navy (initially called the Reichsmarine and then renamed as the Kriegsmarine in 1935) during the mid-1930s, shortly before the beginning of World War II. The ships were engaged in training for most of the period between their commissioning and the outbreak of war, although they did participate in the occupation of Memel in Lithuania, in early 1939. Z3 Max Schultz collided with and sank a German torpedo boat shortly before the war began on 1 September 1939. All four ships were named after German officers who had been killed in World War I. [1]

  • 2,223 long tons (2,259 t) (Standard load)
  • 3,156 long tons (3,207 t) (Full load)
  • 114 m (374 ft 0 in) (p.p.)
  • 116.25 m (381 ft 5 in) (at waterline)
  • 119 m (390 ft 5 in) (overall)
  • 70,000 PS (51,000 kW 69,000 shp)
  • 6 × water-tube boilers
  • 2 × Motor pinnaces
  • 1 × Torpedo cutter
  • 5 × 12.7 cm (5.0 in) guns
  • 4 × 3.7 cm (1.5 in)AA guns
  • 6 × 2 cm (0.79 in) AA guns
  • 2 × quadruple 53.3 cm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes
  • 4 × depth charge launchers, 6 × racks
  • 60 × mines

Z1 Leberecht Maass fruitlessly attacked Polish ships during the invasion of Poland while her sister ships Z2 Georg Thiele and Z4 Richard Beitzen briefly blockaded the Polish coast. Later that month, the three sisters helped to lay minefields in the German Bight before they began patrolling the Skagerrak to inspect neutral shipping for contraband goods. Z3 Max Schultz joined them in early October. Z4 Richard Beitzen laid multiple minefields off the British coast in late 1939 and early 1940 she was joined by Max Schultz during one mission off Harwich in 1940.

In February 1940, while en route to attack British fishing boats as part of Operation Wikinger, Z1 Leberecht Maass, Z3 Max Schultz and Z4 Richard Beitzen were accidentally attacked by a Luftwaffe bomber. Z1 Leberecht Maass was struck by one bomb and sank with the loss of most of her crew. While attempting to assist her sister, Z3 Max Schultz struck a mine and sank with the loss of all hands.

Z2 Georg Thiele helped transfer troops to seize Narvik during the invasion of Norway in April and participated in both Battles of Narvik. She was forced to beach herself after she was severely damaged by British destroyers during the second battle. Z4 Richard Beitzen was the only one of the four sisters to survive the war despite several engagements with British destroyers in the English Channel in 1941 and her participation in the Battle of the Barents Sea in late 1942. She spent most of the rest of the war escorting convoys to and from Norway before the end of the war in 1945. Richard Beitzen was turned over to the Royal Navy and scrapped four years later.


Contents

On 1 March 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Norway, codenamed Operation Weserübung. Α] This operation would involve most of the Kriegsmarine. Participating units were divided into five groups, which were to occupy six of the main Norwegian ports. Β]

Group I departed Bremerhaven on 6 April. It consisted of 10 German destroyers of the 1934A and 1936 classes (Georg Thiele, Wolfgang Zenker, Bernd von Arnim, Erich Giese, Erich Koellner, Diether von Roeder, Hans Lüdemann, Hermann Künne, Wilhelm Heidkamp (flagship) and Anton Schmitt, commanded by Kommodore Friedrich Bonte. Each of the warships carried around 200 soldiers (a total of 1,900 mountain troops (Gebirgsjäger) from the 139th Mountain Regiment (Gebirgsjägerregiment) of the 3rd Mountain Division commanded by General Eduard Dietl). Γ] The troop-carrying destroyers were escorted most of the way by the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Β]

In the early morning of 9 April, the destroyers of Group I passed the Vestfjorden and arrived at the Ofotfjorden leading to Narvik, in fog and heavy snow. In Ofotfjord, they captured three Norwegian patrol boats (Senja, Michael Sars and Kelt). Before capture Kelt managed to send a message to the coastal defence ship HNoMS Norge, alerting the local Norwegian naval commander of the incoming vessels. Δ] The German ships Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner and Hermann Künne landed their soldiers in Herjangsfjord (a northern branch of Ofotfjorden) in order to capture a Norwegian regimental supply base at Elvegårdsmoen. Ε] Hans Ludemann and Hermann Künne also landed their troops in order to engage the nearby Norwegian forts (which turned out to be non-existent). Diether von Roeder remained in Ofotfjord in order to ensure German control of the sea. Erich Giese was delayed by engine trouble and did not join the main force for some time.

The main defence of Narvik were the old coastal defence ships Eidsvold and Norge. Having been alerted by Kelt, both Norwegian ships prepared for combat: the guns were loaded and life preservers issued to the crew. Around 04:15, the Germans spotted Eidsvold, and Eidsvold immediately signalled the leading German destroyer with an aldis lamp. When the Germans failed to respond to the signal, a warning shot was fired across their bow. Ζ]

The Germans had orders to occupy Norway peacefully if at all possible, so the German flagship Wilhelm Heidkamp stopped and signalled that it would send an officer to negotiate. A small launch ferried Korvettenkapitän Gerlach over to Eidsvold. Gerlach was taken to the bridge to speak to Captain Odd Isaachsen Willoch. Η]

Gerlach tried to convince Willoch that the Germans had arrived as friends, but that the Norwegians had to hand over their warships to the German armed forces. Captain Willoch asked for time to consult his commander, Captain Per Askim, the commander of Norge. This request was refused by the Germans, but while Willoch had been talking to the German officer the radio officer on board Eidsvold had communicated the events to Askim. Askim's response to the German demands and order to Willoch came immediately Willoch and Eidsvold was to open fire. ⎖] Willoch responded to Askim "I am attacking." Ζ] While this was going on, the German destroyer Wilhelm Heidkamp had positioned herself 700 m (770 yd) off the port side of Eidsvold and trained her torpedo launchers on the Norwegian ship. Ζ]

Gerlach tried once again to convince Willoch to surrender, but Willoch refused. As Gerlach left Eidsvold, he fired a red flare, indicating that the Norwegians intended to fight. At this point, Captain Willoch shouted: "På plass ved kanonene. Nå skal vi slåss, gutter!" ("Man the guns. We're going to fight, boys!"). ⎗] Eidsvold turned towards the closest destroyer and accelerated, closing the distance to Wilhelm Heidkamp to 300 m (330 yd) while the battery commander ordered the port battery (three 15 cm (5.9 in) guns) to open fire. ⎘]

The Germans, afraid that Eidsvold might ram the destroyer, fired four torpedoes from Wilhelm Heidkamp at the old ship. Two of the torpedoes hit before the port guns could fire. The Norwegian ammunition magazine was ignited and Eidsvold was blown in two. The forward part of the ship sank in seconds, the stern followed in minutes, propellers still turning. At around 04:37, she was gone. 175 Norwegian sailors died in the freezing water, including Captain Willoch, with just eight surviving. ⎙]

Deeper inside the fjord, the explosions were heard aboard Norge, but nothing could be seen until two German destroyers suddenly appeared out of the darkness and Captain Per Askim of Norge gave orders to open fire at 04:45. Four rounds were fired from the 21 cm (8.3 in) guns (one from the fore gun and three from the aft) as well as seven or eight rounds from the starboard 15 cm (5.9 in) guns, against the German destroyer Bernd von Arnim, at a range of about 800 m (870 yd). Due to the difficult weather conditions, the guns' optical sights were ineffective: the first salvo fell short of the target and the next ones overshot it.

The German destroyers waited until they were alongside the pier before returning fire. Bernd von Armin opened fire with her 12.7 cm (5 in) guns as well as with machine guns, but the weather gave the Germans problems as well. The destroyer also fired three salvoes of two torpedoes each. The first two salvoes missed, but the last struck Norge midships and she sank in less than one minute. Ninety of the crew were rescued, but 101 perished in the battle which had lasted less than 20 minutes. The destruction of Norge signalled the end of Norwegian resistance in the port.

The morning of the German attack four Norwegian steamers were anchored in Narvik the 4,285 long tons (4,354 t) Cate B, the 1,712 long tons (1,739 t) Eldrid, the 1,758 long tons (1,786 t) Haalegg and the 4,306 long tons (4,375 t) Saphir. In addition to the Norwegian vessels, four foreign, neutral ships were present a 951 long tons (966 t) Dutch steamer, the Bernisse, and the three Swedish steamships Boden of 4,264 long tons (4,332 t), Oxelosund of 5,613 long tons (5,703 t) and Strassa of 5,603 long tons (5,693 t). As well as neutral ships, the warring parties had vessels at Narvik, riding anchor in the same port. The British had five steamers in the harbour the 6,582 long tons (6,688 t) Blythmoor, the 5,141 long tons (5,223 t) Mersington Court, the 4,304 long tons (4,373 t) North Cornwall, the 5,378 long tons (5,464 t) Riverton, and the 4,887 long tons (4,965 t) Romanby. As the German armada seized Narvik, there were 11 German merchant steamers at the port town the 6,388 long tons (6,491 t) Aachen, the 5,398 long tons (5,485 t) Altona, the 4,902 long tons (4,981 t) Bockenheim, the 5,386 long tons (5,472 t) Hein Hoyer, the 4,879 long tons (4,957 t) Martha Henrich Fisser, the 8,096 long tons (8,226 t) Neuenfels, the 5,806 long tons (5,899 t) Odin, the 7,849 long tons (7,975 t) Lippe, the 4,339 long tons (4,409 t) Frielinghaus, and 5,881 long tons (5,975 t) Planet, and the 11,776 long tons (11,965 t) replenishment oiler/maintenance ship Jan Wellem. Ε] Jan Wellem, a converted former whale factory ship, awaited the arrival of the German warships, which she was tasked to refuel. ⎚] ⎛] ⎜] Working in the harbour were the Swedish tugs Diana (213 long tons (216 t)) and Styrbjörn (167 long tons (170 t)). As the German destroyers entered the harbour, the captain of the Bockenheim, who assumed that the intruding warships were British, beached and scuttled his vessel. Ε] In total, 25 ore ships had been riding at anchor in Narvik at the outset of the fighting, 10 of which were German. ⎝]

The German destroyers were now short of fuel and had only one fuel tanker in support (the 11,776 long tons (11,965 t) ex-whale factory ship Jan Wellem that had been despatched to Narvik, accordingly to some sources from the secret German naval base Basis Nord at Zapadnaya Litsa in the Soviet Union, where she had been based since 4 February 1940. ⎛] ⎞] ⎟] Another source indicates that she departed Murmansk in the evening of the 6 April ⎠] and that Basis Nord was never even established. ⎡] She had arrived off Narvik from the north on 8 April, and had been stopped by the Norwegian patrol boat Kvitøy. Jan Wellem was allowed entry to Narvik by the regional Norwegian naval command, where she was inspected. Her captain claimed that she was carrying 8,500 short tons (7,700 t) of fuel oil and 8,098 crates of food provisions and that she was on her way to Germany. ⎢] A second tanker, the 6,031 long tons (6,128 t) Kattegat which had sailed to Norway from Wilhelmshaven, ⎠] had been sunk in the Glomfjord in the evening of 9 April. Kattegat had been stopped by the Norwegian fishery protection ship HNoMS Nordkapp, the Norwegian ship first trying to take the tanker as a prize, but due to the large German crew could not control it all the way to Bodø, in the end sinking Kattegat by firing four 47 mm (1.85 in) rounds into the tanker's water line. ⎣] ⎤] Kattegat had been delayed from reaching Narvik in time by the British 8 April mining operations off Norway. ⎥] A third tanker—Skagerrak—had also been despatched to Norway, in support of the German landings at Trondheim, but she was intercepted by the British cruiser HMS Suffolk, on 14 April, ⎦] ⎧] after she had been redirected by German naval command to a waiting position at sea. When the British warship tried to board Skagerrak her crew scuttled her at 68°15′N 02°00′E  /  68.25°N 2°E  / 68.25 2 . Both Kattegat and Skagerrak, which were sister ships, were inspected at Kopervik by the Norwegian torpedo boat Stegg, on 5 and 7 April respectively. The captain of Kattegat told the Norwegians that he was headed to Narvik for further orders, and the captain of Skagerrak claimed Murmansk as their destination, and inspections revealed that both tankers had a full load of fuel oil. Skagerrak also carried 165 short tons (150 t) of food provisions, which was claimed as supplies for German merchant ships. The food crates were labelled "Wehrmacht". ⎨] ⎩] According to the German plan the destroyers were supposed to have been refuelled by two tankers, Kattegat and Jan Wellem, each receiving some 600 short tons (540 t) of fuel oil. ⎨] The flotilla was then to be on its way back to Germany by the evening of 9 April. The plan failed because only Jan Wellem made it to Narvik. Refuelling with just one tanker was difficult, only two destroyers could be refuelled simultaneously, taking seven or eight hours. At arrival in Narvik, the destroyers were almost out of fuel. ⎪] Making the refuelling more challenging was the fact that Jan Wellem had only improvised refuelling arrangements and inferior pumping equipment. ⎚] ⎜] While two destroyers were being refuelled at a time, a third was on guard in fjord, the remaining seven being spread around in the nearby area. ⎫] By 04:00 on 10 April, Jan Wellem had managed to fully refuel three of the German destroyers, and was in the process of refuelling two more. ⎜]

In the meantime, British forces had tried to engage the Kriegsmarine, but for the most part, unsuccessfully. On 8 April, the British G-class destroyer HMS Glowworm engaged the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and two destroyers, and was lost, ramming and damaging Hipper in the battle. On 9 April, the British battlecruiser HMS Renown exchanged artillery salvos with the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which were screening the destroyers, causing light damage to Gneisenau. The destroyers' main mission had been completed, however, as they had succeeded in landing the invasion force.


KMS Diether von Roeder (Z17)

Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 07/14/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The 1936 Type Diether von Roeder destroyer was a trim looking ship with a clipper bow and long forecastle fitting a low-profile bridge and two funnels. The propulsion system was a high-powered steam machine which was designed to achieve maximum power in the smallest space possible. However, despite a lot of effort by the designers and engineers from the builders DeSchiMAG, the engine never accomplished the suitable degree of performance and none of the Zerstorer type destroyers ever achieved their intended top speeds. The German navy planned 26 such ships in the Type 1936 mold but only completed 6 vessels due to material shortages in the German war machine. The completed models were enlarged versions of the 1934 destroyers and were better ships in both terms of design and engine reliability while featuring good sea-keeping tendencies. Their design also shipped less water due to the increased size of the bow.

For strategic purposes, the British Royal Navy felt it was necessary to defeat the Germans in Narvik, Norway. In April of 1940, at the Second Battle of Narvik, the Kriegsmarine suffered one of the major naval defeats of World War 2. The Diether von Roeder had suffered engine problems during the battle and found herself near the harbor. She began to fire upon the British ships that were docked with her 5 x 5in main guns, achieving some success but she herself was fired upon by shore batteries and was sunk along with an additional two German destroyers in the battle. Five of the eight destroyers lost were scuttled by their crews when they ran out of fuel and ammunition.


Royal Navy versus Kriegsmarine – Norway 1940

It is clear from the orders issued by the Admiralty in the immediate aftermath of the Glowworm’s report, that neither Pound nor Churchill suspected at the time that the Germans were intent on invading Norway, let alone Denmark. By insisting that the four minelaying destroyers and their accompanying destroyer escorts withdraw from Vestfjorden – the tricky entrance to Narvik – to the relative safety provided by Whitworth’s covering force further southward, the Admiralty managed to do both the unfathomable and the unjustifiable. Instead of being mined to try to prevent the German invasion force from landing at Narvik, the perilous navigable waters of the Vestfjorden were not made any more inhospitable than they normally were – an omission that was to bring much relief to the ten German fleet destroyers with their elite consignment of 2,000 mountain troops that were intent on taking the port at its head later that same day. In describing these orders, Eric Grove dolefully remarks: `This was another disastrous piece of back-seat driving by the Admiralty where Churchill’s emotional and mercurial enthusiasm combined with First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound’s centralising professional style to cause much unnecessary trials for the fleet at sea.’

Within three hours of the Glowworm’s fiery demise on the mid-morning of 8 April, the Polish submarine Orzel had sunk the troopship Rio de Janeiro off Kristiansand and in so doing provided positive proof that a major northern invasion by the enemy was definitely underway. A stunned Admiralty alerted Forbes and his commanders of what, they assumed, was afoot. Although the Home Fleet at Forbes’ disposal was quantitatively impressive and its ships and men fought bravely and did their best with what few opportunities came their way, the fact remained that the bulk of the fleet was not deployed in such a way as to prevent the German invasion fleet from putting its troops ashore at any of the various landing areas that had been designated for them along the length of the Norwegian coastline. Whatever opposition that was mounted initially came from the Norwegian defenders, particularly in the Dröbak Narrows in the Oslofjorden, where the coastal artillery rained down shells and sent torpedoes into the newly built, heavy cruiser Blücher, sinking her with a loss of 320 sailors and soldiers, and damaging the pocket battleship Lützow (the former Deutschland). Even this setback didn’t stop the Germans from landing an infantry division in the area around Oslo, or receiving assistance from a squad of paratroopers who had been flown in specially to seize the city’s airport. Elsewhere sporadic and heroic defence proved to be no match for the power of the German destroyers who swiftly dispensed retribution for any defiant gestures on the part of the Norwegians.

By the evening of 9 April, therefore, the Germans had much to celebrate for Weserübung had largely gone according to plan and especially in the swift occupation of Denmark. On the Allied side, defeat loomed. A combination of intelligence failures and the issuing of a series of contradictory and strategically unsound Admiralty orders could be blamed for doing much of the damage to their cause in the early stages of the Norwegian campaign. Thereafter Forbes’ task was to minimise the scale of this damage by sealing off the escape routes of those German ships that had been involved in this operation and by eliminating as many of them as possible. A determined counter-attack was vital and air power would soon prove to be the key ingredient in implementing such a strategy, but Forbes’ regrettable decision to leave port without the fleet carrier Furious left him initially bereft of such a striking force.

Further north Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee in command of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla had reached the conclusion in the late afternoon of 9 April that something needed to be done about the situation in Narvik where the port already appeared to be in German hands. While the Admiralty left the decision about whether or not to attack the German force up to him, the issue was hardly in doubt. A bold, dynamic figure who believed in action and who wished to take some retribution of his own for what had happened in Norway, Warburton-Lee planned a bold surgical strike at the enemy force in Ofotfjorden as dawn broke on 10 April in a bid to catch the unsuspecting Germans by surprise and create as much damage as he could before withdrawing. According to his Norwegian sources of information, which in the end proved to be utterly unreliable, the enemy had six destroyers and a U-boat in the harbour. Undeterred by these reports, or by his own suspicion that the Germans may have mined the entrance channel into the port, the fact was that he was not about to engage a marginally superior force at all but one that was substantially superior to his own since it contained a total of ten destroyers and three U-boats. Unaware of the extent of the problem his five destroyers would be confronting in the morning, Warburton-Lee placed his faith in the element of duplicity and surprise.

That surprise didn’t last long. Once a volley of torpedoes and shells had struck home against both enemy merchant vessels and five German 1936-type destroyers riding at anchor in these confined waters, Narvik was quickly transformed into a scene of utter chaos and confusion. Apart from the merchant ships that succumbed in this action, Anton Schmitt blew up, Wilhelm Heidkamp lost her stern, Hans Lüdemann wrecked her steering gear, Hermann Künne was damaged by the explosive demise of her compatriot, and Diether von Roeder was basically immobilised. While the Germans did what they could to get at the British destroyers, their torpedoes malfunctioned and the smoke screen laid down by Havock hindered their efforts to hit back at the impertinent enemy as they were retreating from the scene of devastation within the harbour. At this point with visibility extremely poor, Warburton-Lee called off his destroyers and, regrouping outside the harbour, discussed what to do with his staff.

As the British were discussing what further action to take, the Flotilla Adjutant on Hans Ludemann issued an alarm call to the other five German destroyers in the vicinity: Georg Thiele which was located with Bernd von Arnim off Ballangen to the west of Narvik and Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Giese and Erich Koellner which were off to the northeast in Herjangsfjorden. They responded immediately and set off to repel the danger. Before they could reach the harbour, however, the British had resumed their re-entry run to the same arena in line-ahead formation at 20 knots. It was 0544 hours. Visibility was still murky but Hostile, at the end of the line, went closer inshore to see whether she could penetrate the gloom. She was soon to receive a 127mm shell on her forecastle to suggest that the defenders might have the best of the conditions. As the British ships drew away from the melée, they discovered a trio of German reinforcements coming down Herjangsfjorden some 7,000 yards (6.4km) away. Warburton-Lee, believing he was confronting at least one cruiser, decided to withdraw his warships at high speed, laying down a dense smokescreen as they did so. He reported the sighting to the Admiralty at 0551 hours. As the British force sped off westwards at 30 knots, they were suddenly confronted by two more destroyers coming from the opposite direction in squally weather and poor visibility.

It didn’t take long for Warburton-Lee to discover that the two ships belonged to the enemy. Before he could manoeuvre his ship to port to enable all his guns to bear on Georg Thiele and Bernd von Arnim, the enemy ships had a priceless opportunity to take advantage of the situation at a distance of 4,000 yards (3.7km). They did so. Thiele’s accuracy was such that after straddling Hardy, she began hitting her at will. At 0555 hours Warburton-Lee issued a final signal to the rest of his captains that they should keep on engaging the enemy, but shortly afterwards he and many others on his ship perished as two shells burst on the bridge and in the wheelhouse, destroyed the forward guns, but otherwise left the destroyer’s engines and hydraulic systems untouched. Another hit – this time wrecking the boiler – finished off the engines and left the surviving officers and crew with little alternative than to beach the Hardy.

Over the course of the next ten minutes of hectic short range shelling, Hunter, Hotspur and Thiele were all hit, the former probably by a torpedo which stopped her dead in the water and turned her into a blazing wreck. Though not in the same condition as her unfortunate sister ship, Hotspur was far from sound. Two shells had caused such severe damage to her own hydraulic and telegraph system that she was incapable of avoiding ploughing into the stalled Hunter at a sickening 30 knots. Involuntarily locked together as they were, both British destroyers looked to be destined for the bottom of the fjord as their enemies would be expected to close in for the kill. In a crisis such as this with little real prospect of escape, Commander Layman and the crew of the Hotspur came to the fore. Using a combination of courage, skill and initiative, they performed their various tasks with great aplomb. Once the order to put Hotspur’s engines to full astern got through to Engineer Officer Osborne and his men, the destroyer was able to drive herself free from the doomed Hunter. It now needed a feat of engineering class to secure her safety. Using processes that Osborne had developed earlier to allow salt water to be used in the ship’s boilers without ill effect, Hotspur made sufficient progress to keep her 5,000 yards (4.6km) from the three enemy destroyers (Zenker, Giese and Koellner) coming belatedly from the direction of Narvik. Once she had been spotted by Hostile and Havock some 2nm (3.7km) behind them, Hotspur was swiftly re-united with the two surviving members of the flotilla and they escorted her down Vestfjorden to safety at Skjeldfjorden in the Lofoten Islands later that afternoon.

Fregattenkapitän Erich Bey, in overall command of the German flotilla on Zenker, decided not to give chase or slug it out with the retreating Allied destroyers or any reinforcements that the British might have sent to their aid. Instead he returned to pick up Hunter’s survivors and take them back to Narvik where he rejoined his battered flotilla. His situation, already chronic, would soon be made worse by the spectacular demise of his armament ship Rauenfels at the hands of Havock and Hostile when they met her shortly before 0700 hours coming up the Vestfjorden in the opposite direction.

After hitherto enjoying far better news from the Norwegian campaign than the Admiralty had been used to receiving, the head of Marinegruppenkommando West (Naval Group West) based at Wilhelmshaven, Admiral Alfred Saalwächter, was distinctly unimpressed by the reports he began receiving about the First Battle of Narvik. He was also mystified by Bey’s somewhat fatalistic reluctance to take active steps to extricate his ships from the mess in which they now found themselves. An abortive escape run made by Zenker and Giese during the evening of 10 April, forestalled by the presence of British destroyer patrols in the Vestfjorden, did nothing to inspire Bey or to improve the mood in Wilhelmshaven. This mood soured still further with the news that a second supply ship, Alster, bound for Narvik had been captured by the British and taken to Skjeldfjorden, and it would have darkened even more had Naval Group West known the fate of the third supply ship, the tanker Kattegat, which had already been sunk by the resilient Norwegians. Already desperate, Bey’s plight worsened still further on the evening of 11 April when two of his few remaining fit destroyers managed to run aground as they were seeking to navigate their way to their night anchorages, causing extensive damage to Koellner and a bent port propeller to Zenker. His luck was out and it would not improve.

After extensive units of the Home Fleet had spent a fruitless couple of days vainly searching for the German heavy ships off the west coast of Norway, the Admiralty decided that it could vent its frustration on the enemy naval contingent holed up at Narvik. Whitworth’s force was duly strengthened with the addition of the battleship Warspite and a plan of action was agreed upon for the following day. This secret soon leaked out through B-Dienst’s reading of the Royal Navy’s signals traffic and led Group West to warn Bey at 0838 hours on Saturday 13 April of what lay in store for him and his men later that same afternoon. Rejecting the possibility of scuttling his ships, Bey decided to defend them to the last and to try and inflict as much punishment on the enemy warships as possible.

It would be a vain hope as those imponderable companions in arms – luck, fate and equipment failures – conspired to ensure that the Germans weren’t able to take the chances they were given to inflict a series of crushing blows on Whitworth’s expanded force. By late Saturday afternoon, therefore, what was left of the entire German destroyer flotilla had all succumbed to either enemy firepower or their own scuttling charges. While the Germans had been routed as a result of these two encounters on 10 and 13 April, the British had emerged pretty battle-scarred themselves losing Hardy and Hunter, while suffering extensive damage to one of their light cruisers, three Tribals, and another H class destroyer in the process.

It could have been a lot worse since Warspite, in particular, had borne something of a charmed life throughout and could have been torpedoed on several occasions. While the British could at least repair their damaged warships and get them back into action, there was nothing that the Germans could do to revive the fortunes of the destroyers that had been wiped out at Narvik. Losing ten out of a grand total of twenty-two fleet destroyers – several of which were non-operational – was a terrific blow to the Kriegsmarine and would, as Eric Grove suggests, help to compromise their operations in the Channel and undermine Hitler’s invasion plan for the United Kingdom (Fall Seelöwe). Judged by the standards set at Narvik, the rest of the mopping up operation was nothing like as successful. Many of the German heavy ships involved in Weserübung, by using the poor weather to their advantage and with W/T intelligence to guide them, managed to evade both the surface units and most of the submarines of the Home Fleet as well as the Fleet Air Arm on their way home.


The Norwegian Navy in WW2

Available forces: The Navy

The Royal Norwegian Navy was put on high alert, despite declaring neutrality like the rest of Scandinavian in September 1939. The Navy by that time comprised:
Four old coastguard battleships: Two 1900 Norge class, two 1897 Tordenskjold class
Three Draug-class destroyers,
-Three squadrons of 26 torpedo boats plus three modern of the Sleipner class.
-Three coastal submarines (1916), six more of the B class (1923)
-Two sloops
-Three 1916 minelayers ad the Olaf Tryggvason (1931).
The latter was the only major unit adopted during the interwar.

In construction when the war broke out:
-Two Aalesund class destroyers
-Three Odin class TBs
See the second part of the post (col 2) for the precise nomenclature and ship’s history.

Norwegian Coastal Fortifications

Also managed by the Navy, the Norwegian coastal forts dated back for some to the XVIth century. Modern fortresses included the Hegra Fortress, Kvarven Fort, Odderøya Fortress, Oscarsborg Fortress, and Møvik Fortress. Oskarborg faced Oslo in a large island that was like a wedge inside the fjord. It took part in the Battle of Drøbak Sound which saw the destruction of the KMS Blücher. The fortress was under orders of Kristian Eriksen (photo), armed by three German 28 cm. 1900 vintage guns in open air.

The Hegra Fortess own artillery consisted of two 7.5-cm (3.0 in) and four 10.5-cm (4.1 in) artillery pieces in half-turrets. They were buried in pits dynamited from the rock, lined with concrete. The oldest guns were four Krupp M/1887 field guns, 84 mm (3.3 in) without recoil systems. The fortress has been deactivated until 1939 and was besieged in April-May 1940.

Odderøya Fortress was responsible for defending the access to Kristansand and Arendal. On 9 April, she fired at the light cruiser Karlsruhe, three torpedo boats and seven smaller vessels plus a mothership carrying total some 1,000 infantry. The battle of Kristiansand saw the fort at first dissuading the German ships to enter while the brand new Norwegian TB HNoMS Gyller short down at least two Stukas. Air attacks on the fort rsulting in the explosion of the ammo depot. The fort however received confused orders of incoming allied ships, mistook a german signal as a french flag and did not fired. Infantry was landed and the fort was taken and surrendered later.

The 1902 Kvarven fort was manned by 33 officers and 279 corporals in 1940, housing several Howitzer L/14 cannons and the second land based torpedo battery after oskarborg. The Fort fired at the approaching cruisers Königsberg and Köln and escorts bound to Bergen. However the fort only had a few hits on two torpedo boats and the cruiser Köln due to heavy fog.

Later that day, 9 April, the KMS Bremse was hit twice, and the MTB mothership Carl Peters. Later, KMS Königsberg tried to get through and was hit trice, beneath the waterline, on deck and the conning tower, but she survived. The fort, like almost always during the campaign, surrended after being rear-assaulted by German infantry freshly landed.

After the occupation started, these defences were considerably improved, taking part in the Atlantic Wall as (Festung Norwegen) “Fortress Norway”. Outside the many new guns which were installed, anti-aircraft batteries, tank and infantry forces were also based there, a large percentage of the 400,000 German troops deployed in Norway during the war. The Germans built for example the Grønsvik coastal battery, Batterie Vara and Trondenes Fort (in 1942-43). The latter had 406 mm guns.


BNorth Atlantic Wall: The Batterie Vara (MAB 6./502 Vara) in cosntruction by Todt. There would be four 38 cm SK C/34 naval cannons.

Therefore Norway focused on a coastal defense policy, just like the other neutral Scandinavian countries. Mines, submarines, and coastal defences (including these old coastal ‘battleships’) were the only luxury available to delay the enemy rather than really dissuade. Until April 1940, the Norwegian Navy conducted neutrality patrols, just like in WW1. These tasks were performed by ships worthy of museum exhibitions sometimes, like the 1874-1888 small minelayers of the fleet.

Some ships were in poor conditions: The 1897 coast defence ships of the Haarfarge class had thei main guns deposed and carried to coastal artillery sites. They were anchored as static guardships during the war. Both survived it. Most of the Torpedo boats were 30 to 40 years old and were relegated to limited patrols, as long as they can be maintained properly.

The Norwegian campaign (April-May 1940)

When the campaign started in 9 April, there were perhaps 10 modern ships in service in the Navy, most spread out between major Fjords protecting valuable cities. The Germans thought that Operation weserübung would be a promenade.
The operation was very much a preemptive strike as the allies had many reasons to hit first as well:

Nevertheless, war operations were a disaster for the Norwegian Navy. Although the coastal batteries inflicted severe losses on the Germans, including the Blücher and Königsberg, damaging seriously the Emden and Hipper, most of the heavy casualties were credited to the Royal Navy and fleet air arm. The Norwegian fleet was decimated, the surviving ships being scuttled. Some will be reused by the Kriegsmarine, like the modern TBs of the Odin and Sleipner classes.

The two remaining torpedo of the Odin class indeed (the first was operational at the time of the outbreak of the campaign) were completed and rearmed as KMS Leopard, Tiger and Gyller by the Kriegsmarine. The two Aalesund class destroyers were well scuttled and were never completed. The two Otra class minesweepers, in service at the same time, were captured and reintegrated as Camerun and Togo in the Kriegsmarine.

On April 8, 1940, the German torpedo boat Albatross attacked and sank the guard ship Pol III. The Battle of Narvik, saw the old coastal defence ships (“panserskip”) HNoMS Eidsvold and HNoMS Norge attempted to make a stand against the approaching German fleet. They were approached by destroyers, torpedoed and sunk. The German invasion fleet bound for Oslo however was significantly delayed duirng the night of 8-9 April: The Oscarsborg Fortress opened fire with her three 28 cm guns (11-in). Soon also on the other side, the 150 mm (6-in) guns of the Kopås bunker (eastern side of the Drøbak strait) joined in and opened fire as well.

The Blücher was badly hit, but the coup de grace went from antediluvian torpedoes fired from Oscarsborg’s land based torpedo battery. There were 1,000 casualties despite the relative proximity to the coast and so far this was the biggest blow to the Kriegsmarine.

The German invasion fleet therefore retreated south, called for the Luftwaffe. The latter bombed Oskarborg. This was neither easy to take on other defended Fjord. Another cruiser was sunk and other badly damaged in the process. The Norwegian Navy barely could make a dent however on the Kriegsmarine, lacking heavy weaponry.

Olaf Tryggvason however laid up a minefield that claimed the German TB KMS Albatross. Captured, the Norwegian minelayer served in the German navy, sunk in Kiel in 1945 as KMS Brummer. While the destruction of the Norwegian fleet was consummated, a few ships were able to take refuge in Great Britain.

The French and British troops helped to recapture the fjords taken by the Germans and two months of relentless fighting to redeem the ports followed. This ended in May when Hitler launched his blitzkrieg in the West. The allies declared “the iron supply is cut off” but in reality, the resistance of the Norwegians ended and the country was occupied, under the presidency of a German military government.


Landings: KMS Hipper at Trondheim


The Norwegian coastal defences greatest success: The Blücher sinking in Olsofjord.

Mobilized Auxiliary ships

CONVERTED MERCHANT VESSELS

-Cargo Farm (1900, 424 tons)
-Auxiliary patrol Trawlers Alpha, Alversund, Andenes, Beta, Commonwealth, Fosen, Furu, William Barents, Lyngdal, Haus, Manger, Lindås, Oygar, Oster, Smart, Veslefrikk, Veslegutt, Heilhorn, Stenkjær, Nauma, Kelt, Svalbard II, Kvitøy, Sperm, Rundøy, Ramoen, Sætre.
-Auxiliary patrol whalers: Bodø, Farsund, Firern, Gos, Gos 9, H. J. Bull, Haug II, Haug III, Honningsvaag, Horten, Hval II, Hval III, Hval IV, Hval VI, Hval VII, Kos I, Kos XX, Oter I, Pol III, Risør, Skudd I, Skudd II, Treff.
-Auxiliary mineweepers Trawlers:
Alcmaria, Børtind, Nordhav II, Syrian.
-Auxiliary minesweeper Whalers: Bjerk, Brevik, Egeland, Globe V, Hval V, John Williamson, Kos IV, Kos XIV, Kos XV, Kos XVI, Kos XVII, Kos XVIII, Noble Nora, Pol II, Pol IV, Pol VI, Polar 6, Thorodd, Transvaalia.

The Free Norwegian Navy (1941-45)

The delay to take Oslo allowed King Haakon VII, the Royal family and the government, to escape. They would make it later in the UK as exiles on June 7, 1940. The fleet comprised thirteen vessels, five aircraft and 500 men from the Navy. They will continue the fight from there. Many Norwegians living abroad and citizens fleeing on trawlers and all sorts of ships also joined civilian sailors escaping from Norway, to what became the RNoN. Funds were used to buy new ships, aircraft and equipment, allowing the “Free Norwegian Navy” to serve with distinction until 1945.


Norwegian motor launches off Dover

After the legitimate government and King Haakon VII went into exile in Britain, as well as 92,000 Norwegians, most of them refugees in Sweden, some 400,000 German soldiers were gradually stationed in a country of 4 million inhabitants. Soon, the situation became unbearable because of requisitions, with 40% of the GDP being used by the Reich. The merchant fleet, nearly 1,000 ships, had fled to the allies and made their contribution to the Atlantic convoys. As in 1917, many crews drowned after torpedoing U-Bootes.

Meanwhile, from 1942 onwards, the allies decided to help USSR by sending lend-lease hardware via the only way left: Through the northern route to Mourmansk. A hazardous, treacherous and seasonally opened way the Germans soon trid to block by all means. Soon Kriegsmarine’s ships returned to the Norwegian fjords, created facilities, bases for the Luftwaffe and new fortifications. The most prominent ship which was based here was KMS Tirpitz, for long a primry target for the RAF and later Royal Navy midget submarines. However Norwegian resistance spotted them and transmitted German preparations to the MI6 back in London.

But meanwhile the Norwegian resistance was doing its own. In Finnmark, the country was no more than a large garrison where the German troops, depressed by days and nights of the Arctic Circle, were replaced by troops of very diverse origins, in addition to prisoners of war, which facilitated bolder secret operations. The one against the heavy water supplies that ended any attempt by the Reich to have an create the first atomic bomb was a tremendous success.


Norwegian Northrop N-3PB in flight No.330 (Norwegian) Squadron based in Iceland.

The forces that had escaped to the United Kingdom were slowly built up over the next few years. On D-Day (6 June 1944), the Royal Norwegian Navy joined the invasion of Normandy with ships and 1,000 sailors. During the war, the RNoN operated 118 ships total and 58 ships in 1945, with 7,500 men under uniform.

Gradually, local resistance added to British commandos regained the ground lost in 1945 and until the capitulation. The many refugee crews in England found an assignment on many ships in the Royal Navy as well, allowing the Norwegian government to continue the struggle. In addition the allies provided many ships, sure to find volunteers:

-4 S class destroyers (1943-44)
-5 1920 “flush-deckers” ex-US DDs (1940-42)
-3 Hunt class escort destroyers (1942).
-3 submersibles of the U “short hull” and “long hull” types (1942)
-7 ASW corvettes of the Flower and Castle classes (1941-44)
-4 SC and PC class sub-chasers (1942-43)
-20 Motor torpedo launches (1940-43)
-9 Multi-purpose patrol launch of the type Fairmile B – and ML types (1941-43)


Guard at the Little Norway training camp in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Read more/Src:

Robert Gardiner, Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1865-1905, 1906-21, 1922-47.
http://fr.naval-encyclopedia.com/2e-guerre-mondiale/marine-norvegienne-2egm.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_campaign
http://www.navypedia.org/ships/norway/no_index.htm
http://www.akershus.com/en/Follo/product/?TLp=180567&Oscarsborg-Fortress=
Tandstad, Ingvill (4 April 2014). “Oscarsborg fredes”
Historic archives in the old official website of the RNN
Royal Norwegian Navy Museum
The Royal Norwegian Navy during ww2
The Norwegian Navy in 1940-45 – redsal.org


Hundleton War Memorial

The village of Hundleton lies south of the county town of Pembroke. The red granite War Memorial which commemorates the men of the area who died in both World Wars has ten men named on it who died in the Great War, plus another three who died during World War Two. Many thanks to Les Nixon for the photographs of the War Memorial.

The Great War, 1914-1918

Albert Clifford, Private, 6546, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. Albert was born at Westbury, Bristol on 30 June 1894, the son of John Henry and Ellen Clifford. Albert was educated at Westbury Boys School, and became a milkman after leaving there. Albert had enlisted at Hereford into the 7th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He was stationed in Pembrokeshire with the battalion early in the war, and married Lily Reynolds, of Gilderoy, Hundleton on 4 March 1916. The battalion was posted to France in October 1915, joining 76 Brigade, 3rd Division. In 1916 the Division fought at the Actions of the Bluff, and at the St Eloi Craters, south of Ypres. It was then moved south to the Somme, where they it took part in the great Battle of the Somme, and fought there at the Battle of Albert. Albert was killed on the Somme on 14 July 1916. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. Albert is not commemorated on the Hundleton War Memorial. His brother-in-law, John Reynolds, also fell.

Benjamin Davies, Private, 235731, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Benjamin was the son of William and Esther Davies, of Hundleton. He enlisted at Pembroke, into the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, part of 231 Brigade, 74th Division, and had fought with the Division at the Battles of Gaza, and during the capture of Jerusalem. In June 1918, the 24th RWF were further transferred into 94 Brigade, 31st Division. Upon transfer to the 31st Division, the 24th RWF were sent to Flanders, and on 28 June 1918 were taking part in the Battle of the Lys, notably the actions of La Becque. They held the Germans south of the Ypres Salient, but lost heavy casualties in doing so. Benjamin was to Die of Wounds suffered that same day 28 June 1918, aged 28, and is buried in Cinq Rues British Cemetery, Hazebrouck.

George Davies, Petty Officer Stoker, 291706, Royal Navy. George was born in Stackpole on 16 May 1871, the son of James and Ann Davies. The family later moved to of Mount Pleasant, Maiden Wells, Pembroke. He served in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the Great War, in HMS Ardent. The Ardent was an Acasta Class Destroyer, and formed part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, led by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. The Grand Fleet played a central role in the Great Battle of Jutland, which began on 31 May 1916, and it was on the second day of the Battle, 1 June 1916, that the Ardent was sunk. An extract from the Official History stated- ‘This destroyer now found herself alone, and having escaped with little injury, made away southwards in the hope of finding the rest of her division, which in fact had ceased to exist. What she fell in with was something quite different…. Lieutenant-Commander A. Marsden in the Ardent saw smoke ahead of him, and thinking it came from his consorts, he made towards it. Then the form of a large German ship loomed up, and without hesitation he attacked. Another torpedo was fired at very close range, but before he could see the result he was blinded by the searchlights of four battleships in line ahead. Out of the glare came the inevitable hurricane of shell. In a minute or so the Ardent was a mere mass of scrap-iron, and switching off their lights, the enemy disappeared and left her to sink helpless and in total darkness. She was lost with all hands (12.19) except Lieutenant-Commander Marsden and one man.’ George Davies was lost in the sinking, and is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon, on Panel 16. He was 37 years old.

Thomas Eynon, Private, 19992, Welsh Regiment. Thomas was the son of Thomas and Mary Eynon, of Castlemartin. He lived with his Aunt, Mrs Hannah Beddoe, at India Row, Monkton prior to the war. Thomas enlisted at Pembroke into the 15th (Carmarthenshire) Battalion, the Welsh Regiment, which was known as the Carmarthen pals. The Battalion formed part of 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and landed in France during December, 1915. They were initiated into trench warfare in Flanders, around Fleurbaix, before moving South prior to the July 1916 Somme Offensive. It was in the period leading up to the Somme Battles that Thomas was to die. He was killed in Action on 13 March 1916 while the Battalion was holding the line near the La Bassée Canal. He was 33 years old, and is buried in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, in Grave III. M. 6.

William George Greenslade, Gunner, 131053, Royal Garrison Artillery. William was born at Hundleton, the son of Frank and Elizabeth Greenslade, of Whitegate. He enlisted at Pembroke into the 144th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. The Battery moved to France in August 1916, and probably moved to Ypres. Little is known of William’s service, but he was only 19 years old when he died of Wounds, on 21 October 1917. He is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, in Grave VI. E. 14.

William Harries, Stoker 1st Class, K/35797, Royal Navy. William was already in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of War. Whilst on leave in 1917, he married Margaret Ann Roblin, of Maiden Wells, Pembroke. William served aboard HMS Devonshire, a Cruiser which had been built at Chatham in 1904. Before transferring to the Atlantic Fleet in March 1907 HMS Devonshire served with the Channel Fleet in the 1st Cruiser Squadron. She then moved to the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet stationed at Devonport in August 1909 and continued there until 1912 when she moved to the 5th Cruiser Squadron. From 1913 until 1916 she served with the 3rd Cruiser Squadron. HMS Devonshire was then sent to Scapa Flow. She was given a refit at Cromarty in September 1914 and then served in Norwegian waters until April 1916. The Devonshire was then stationed at the Nore in 1916 later joining the 7th Cruiser Squadron, before serving in the North America and West Indies Station. It was at the West Indies that William was taken ill, and he died on 22 April 1919, aged 28. He is buried in Kingston (Up Park Camp) Military Cemetery, Jamaica.

Owen Kennea, Sapper, 51656, Royal Engineers. Owen was the son of George and Margaret Kennea, of 5, Thomas Street, Pembroke. He enlisted on 5 September 1914 at Newport, Monmouth into the Royal Engineers. On 22 October 1914 Owen was posted to the 90th Field Company, Royal Engineers, which from January 1915 onwards was attached to the 9th (Scottish) Division, which was to become widely regarded as one of the best in the British Army. Owen landed in France on 13 May 1915, and moved with the company to Steenwerck. Owen looks to have been attached to the staff of a bomb (or hand grenade) making factory in Steenwerck. At around 5.50 p.m. on 27 May 1915, an explosion occurred in the factory, killing or badly wounding a large number of officers and men who were stationed in the immediate locality. Owen was 44 years old when he was killed that day, and is buried in Steenwerck Communal Cemetery, France.

John Mason, Stoker 1st Class, 229299, Royal Navy. John was born on 6 April 1887, the son of Mr and Mrs J. Mason, of West Orielton. John was a married man, with two children, who resided with his wife Beatrice Mason (nee Johns) at Waterloo, Pembroke Dock. He had enlisted into the Royal Navy on 6 April 1905, and from 7 September 1915 had served aboard HMS Marmion, a Moon Class Destroyer, which was launched on 28 May 1915. Whilst on patrol off the Shetlands on 21 October 1917, Marmion was involved in a collision with HMS Tirade, another Royal Naval destroyer, and sank. John was one of several seamen to lose his life in the sinking. His body must have washed ashore at Norway, and John is one of several sailors from Marmion to be buried in Fredrikstad Military Cemetery, Norway.

David Reynolds, Corporal, 118, Welsh Regiment. David was born at Pembroke in 1890, the son of John and Sarah Reynolds, of Guilderoy, Hundleton. He was an original member of the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial infantry unit. The Battalion formed part of 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, who sailed from Devonport during July 1915 bound for Alexandria. They landed at Gallipoli on 9 August 1915, and were immediately thrown into the midst of bloody fighting on the Peninsula, and David was killed in Action, just five days later, on 13 August 1915. He is remembered on the Helles Memorial, on Panel 140. His brother-in-law, Albert Clifford, also fell.

John Roberts, Private, 54526, Welsh Regiment. John was born at Monkton, the son of William and Eleanor Roberts, later of Taylor’s Lake. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the 4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. At some time after the Somme offensive, John was posted to France, joining the 19th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Pioneer Battalion to the 38th (Welsh) Division. John would have joined the battalion after it had moved to Ypres in 1916. On 31 July 1917 the Division made its famous assault on the Pilckem Ridge, during the Passchendaele Offensive, before being posted to the Armentieres sector to rest. In April 1918 the Division was posted to positions on the Somme, north of Albert. From 21 August 1918 the Division took part in the great advance across the old Somme battlefields, towards the Canal du Nord and the Hindenburg Line. It was taking part in heavy fighting during the Battle of the Sambre, when John Died on 10 November 1918, aged 21. He is buried in Awoingt British Cemetery, in Grave III. D. 18.

James Steele, Private, 51883, South Wales Borderers. James was born at Lambeth in 1891, but resided in Hundleton prior to the war, where he worked as a ploughman. He enlisted at Pembroke, initially into the Welsh Regiment, but was transferred into the 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers. The battalion formed part of 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. After surviving the Somme and Passchendaele, James was killed in Action on 2 September, 1918. The Battalion were pushing toward the Hindenburg Line around the Epehy area. James is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Panel 6. James is not commemorated on the Hundleton War Memorial.

Francis George Wynne, DSO, Major, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Francis was the son of Major Mark Saurin Wynne (of the 81st Regiment) and Susanna Frances Wynne, of Mellaston, Pembroke. He served with the 2nd Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which was part of 94 Brigade, 31st Division. The Division didn’t get to France until 27 May 1918, but Francis had been in France since 26 September 1915, where he was awarded his Distinguished Service Order for Conspicuous Gallantry. The Citation in the 26 September 1916 edition of the London Gazette reads- ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action. When the enemy, in overwhelming numbers, attacked our trenches, he remained at his post, though wounded and unable to stand, until the enemy were beaten off. He not only commanded his own company, but took charge of another, the officers of which had become casualties.’ Francis was killed in Action on 10 April 1918, aged 32. He is remembered on Panel 7 of the Ploegsteert Memorial.

World War Two, 1939-1945

Gilbert George Charles Brickle, Leading Stoker, D/KX 80411, Royal Navy. Gilbert was the son of John and Jane Brickle. He was the Husband of Iris Brickle of Stoke, Devonport. Gilbert served in the Royal Navy, as a Leading Stoker aboard HMS Hunter. HMS Hunter (H35) was one of nine H-class destroyers of the Royal Navy, and was laid down by Swan Hunter on 26 March 1935. She took part in the Norway campaign in 1940. During the First Battle of Narvik on 10 April 1940, Hunter and five other H-class boats of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla attacked the German destroyers that had transported German land forces to occupy Narvik in northern Norway the previous day. The flotilla was engaged by German destroyers in the Ofotfjord at the entrance to the harbour and sank the destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp and Anton Schmidt, heavily damaged Diether von Roeder and inflicted damage on two others. Seven German transport ships were also sunk. As the British flotilla turned to leave, it was engaged by three German destroyers emerging from the Herjangsfjord and then by two more coming from Ballangen Bay. In the ensuing battle, the British flotilla leader HMS Hardy was badly mauled and had to be beached in flames, while Hunter sank after receiving heavy fire and colliding with HMS Hotspur. Gilbert went down with HMS Hunter on 10 April 1940. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon. His brother Lewis also fell.

Lewis Henry Hubert Brickle, Able Seaman, D/J 104664, Royal Navy. Lewis was the brother of Gilbert, and the son of John and Jane Brickle of Pembroke. He was married to Olwen Brickle, and the couple lived at Oriel, Pembroke. Lewis served in the Royal Navy, as Able Seaman aboard HMS Britomart. Britomart was laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 1 January 1938, and was launched on 23 August that year. She saw active service in the North Sea, and with the Arctic Convoys during her time at war, before being assigned to aid in the Normandy Landings of June 1944. Britomart was undertaking operations off the coast of Le Havre when she was mistakenly attacked by RAF Typhoons, and sank, along with HMS Hussar on 27 August 1944. On Britomart alone, 21 officers and men were killed, with another 70 wounded. Lewis was one of the dead. He was 40 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.

Cecil Halford Bull, Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force. Cecil was born in India in 1916, the son of Louis Albert Bull and Florence Beatrice Bull. He joined the RAF in January 1936, and was posted to 3 Flight Training School at Grantham on 2 March 1936. By the outbreak of war Cecil was a Pilot with 25 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim. Cecil married Dorothy May John, of Hundleton early in 1940. He was home on leave when he was killed in a shooting accident on 8 August 1940, aged 24. Cecil is buried at Monkton (St. David) Churchyard. Cecil is not commemorated locally. The photo of Cecil’s grave is courtesy of Mike Berrell.

Gwyn Rowlands, Guardsman, 2736258, Welsh Guards. Gwyn was the son of Walter and Ethel Rowlands, and was the husband of Marion Rowlands of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey. He served with the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards. On 8 January 1943 the 3rd Battalion was ordered to mobilise for service overseas, and on 5 February sailed for North Africa, landing at Algiers seven days later, joining 1st Guards Brigade. The Brigade fought in Tunisia during the coming months, and it was while fighting near the Cap Bon Peninsula that Gwyn was killed on 8 May 1943. He is buried at Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia.


Less German Naval Losses In Norway

1) At Narvik (1) the German guard destroyer guarding the entrance left station without being relieved. Lets say it stayed at station and so the British are unable to launch a surprise attack. The British either attack anyway without surprise or don't attack at all that night, but lets say 6 (out of 10) German destroyers are able to sneak out the next night and make it back to Germany.

2) Light cruiser Karshrue OTL leaving Kristiansand, the commander was criticized for not saving the ship, lets say the Germans make every effort to get the ship back to Kristiansand and is later repaired.

3) Heavy cruiser Blucher attempts to run Drobak sound at a bit higher speed than OTL, heavy damage is caused but one less heavy shell and one less torpedo hits and the ship doesn't sink.

So the Germans save 1 Heavy and 1 Light cruiser and 6 destroyers. The 6 destroyers would be repaired and ready by August 1st, the cruisers by October 1st.

Would the extra German naval forces have any effect on the war going forward.

GTStinger

Maybe a sortie (or threat of one) against the Murmansk convoys would shut that route down and deny some LL to the Soviets at a critical time. The Siberia and Middle East routes would still be open for business of course.

Strangely, this could temporarily provide more shipping and escorts for the Atlantic convoy routes.

NOMISYRRUC

The ones that are most significant are the ones you left out. That is the Twins being torpedoed during Operation Juno and its aftermath. Plus Lutzow (ex Deutschland) being torpedoed on her way back from Oslo.

Both of those and the loss of Karlsruhe can be attributed to an inadequate destroyer screen.

In the short term a non-torpedoed Lützow could be ready to accompany Scheer on her sortie which began in October 1941. So that would meant they can sink the Jervis Bay sooner and sink more of convoy HX84. Then they split up and sink 20 ships independently. However, there is the risk that she would be caught and sunk while operating independently.

If Karlsruhe had avoided being sunk on her return journey from Norway she might have been assigned to Operation Juno and as her diesels gave her more range than Hipper and the 4 Z-boats she might be with The Twins when Glorious, Acaster and Ardent were sighted. She might be able to overwhelm Acaster with her nine 6" guns before the destroyer could launch the torpedo that hit Scharnhorst which meant there would be no diversion to cover her return to Germany that Gneisenau was torpedoed by a submarine on.

Then Operation Berlin can be brought forward a few months. I think the most likely is that they would be sent out with Hipper in November 1940. Hipper would return to Germany as OTL but The Twins would be refitted at Brest and be operational in time to take part in Operation Rheinübung in May 1941. I appreciate that will require some luck to avoid the bomb and torpedo hits that they received IOTL.

Meanwhile Karlsruhe as the only K class to have her weak hull rebuilt might have been sent raiding in the North Atlantic. I think she would have been sent out with The Twins and Hipper. The intention being that The Twins would divert the escorts while the cruisers sank the merchantmen. With her reliable steam plant and long-range diesels she might do better than Hipper did and might not need to be sent back to Germany like Hipper was so she might still be at Brest with The Twins in May 1941.

If Blücher was only heavily damaged she might be repaired in time to sail with Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. I doubt that she would be repaired in time to take part in the November sortie.

Thaddeus

Catspoke

I never knew or had forgotten Karlshrue was different that way (I knew Emden had decent sea keeping compared to the others, perhaps Karlshrue's OTL short career. ) So thank you for that I learned something.

Good point about the destroyer escorts for S+G (a few should of the 6 extra destroyers could be operational in June). The Germans always seems to have a hard time keeping destroyers operational and presumably some might have damage from whatever happened at Narvik. Of course whatever happens different at Narvik can effect the fighting there.

Perhaps Bismarck could have been sent out a week or two earlier if a Karlsruhe or Blucher was available (I was thinking there was some mine damage or something the delayed Prinz Eugen).

I wonder if things like crew availability and dockyard availability limit the German ability to deploy these extra ships as raiders in 40-41 (since OTL the crews were rescued and used elsewhere). So that another cruiser is just deactivated and the Blucher never really gets repaired like Hipper after 42 OTL.

Perhaps the Germans are less concerned with losing cruisers and destroyers so can perform better at the Battle of Barents in 1942, or having Karlshrue with Scharnhorst at North Cape in Dec 1943 changes that Battle.

Catspoke

NOMISYRRUC

For Operation Juno the problem wasn't a shortage of escorts per se it was a shortage of escorts with enough range. The Twins sailed with Hipper and 4 Z-boats but the cruiser and destroyers had been detached to Norway to refuel.

Therefore it wouldn't have made any difference if all 10 Z-boats had survived the Narvik battles. The point about Karlsruhe is that with her diesel engines and more robust hull (than Köln the other surviving K class cruiser) is that she might be able to keep up with the twins.

Though IIRC the commander of Invasion Group I at Narvik was negligent for not maintaining a continuous watch, but was unlucky that his tanker was sunk. IIRC his destroyers didn't have enough fuel to get back to Germany with what was left in their own fuel tanks and were still at Narvik in the first place because they were waiting for another tanker.

Therefore your POD for this could be that the German high pressure boilers had been made reliable by April 1940 and produced the desired increase in range and/or the tanker wasn't sunk. Then there would have been no Narvik battles in the first place because all 10 Z-boats had left before the 5 H class arrived at Narvik.

IIRC 2 of the 22 Z-boats had been sunk to April 1940, 10 were sunk at Narvik leaving 10 available in June 1940 and 4 of them took part in Operation Juno. Had the Z-boats been capable of steaming from Germany to Narvik and back (or at least to somewhere like Bergen) then The Twins would have been given an escort of 8 Z-boats and all 8 of them might have been with Scharnhorst and Gneiseanu when Glorious was sighted.

In More Battleships and No Aircraft Carriers for Germany the Germans built 33 improved Type 1924 torpedo boats instead of the 10 F-boats, 21 Type 35 torpedo boats and 9 Type torpedo boats. As the 12 small destroyers built in place of the 10 F-boats had reliable machinery it would be possible to double the destroyer screens for the groups taking Bergen, Kristiansand and Oslo. That ought to be enough to prevent the torpedoing of Lützow and Scheer on the return journey.

If the Germans were really lucky one of the Type 1924s might take the torpedo that did for Blücher at Oslo.

IIRC a shortage of destroyers contributed to the torpedoing of Leipzig and Nürnberg. If that is correct they would have been allocated to the Kirstiansand Group and all 3 K class to the Bergen Group. The extra firepower available to the latter might have subdued the Norwegian shore batteries before the Königsberg was too badly damaged to return to Germany with the rest of the Group.

Magnum

Without the men from those destroyers reinforcing him, Eduard Deitl either surrenders to the Allies or, if he's lucky, retreats into Sweden and is interned there.

With at least one outright victory in Norway, does the Norway debate still happen at the same time, or at all?

If Chamberlain is still PM at the time of the German breakout at Sedan, does he approach things differently than Churchill from a military perspective, and if yes, how ? (this could easily end up with the BEF being encircled around Lille. )

How does a changed British leadership affect the final days of the Third French Republic?

In June 1940, French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud's government faced imminent defeat in the Battle of France. In March they and the British had agreed that neither country would seek a separate peace with Nazi Germany. The French cabinet on 15 June voted to ask Germany for the terms of an armistice. Reynaud, who wished to continue the war from North Africa, was forced to submit the proposal to Churchill's War Cabinet. He claimed that he would have to resign if the British were to reject the proposal.[1]

The British opposed a French surrender, and in particular the possible loss of the French Navy to the Germans, and so sought to keep Reynaud in office. On 14 June British diplomat Robert Vansittart and Morton wrote with Monnet and his deputy René Pleven a draft "Franco-British Union" proposal. They hoped that such a union would help Reynaud persuade his cabinet to continue the war from North Africa, but Churchill was skeptical when on 15 June the British War Cabinet discussed the proposal and a similar one from Secretary of State for India Leo Amery. On the morning of 16 June, the War Cabinet agreed to the French armistice request on the condition that the French fleet sail to British harbors. This disappointed Reynaud, who had hoped to use a British rejection to persuade his cabinet to continue to fight.[1]

Reynaud supporter Charles de Gaulle had arrived in London earlier that day, however, and Monnet told him about the proposed union.[1] De Gaulle convinced Churchill that "some dramatic move was essential to give Reynaud the support which he needed to keep his Government in the war".[2] The Frenchman then called Reynaud and told him that the British prime minister proposed a union between their countries, an idea which Reynaud immediately supported. De Gaulle, Monnet, Vansittart, and Pleven quickly agreed to a document proclaiming a joint citizenship, foreign trade, currency, war cabinet, and military command. Churchill withdrew the armistice approval, and at 3 p.m. the War Cabinet met again to consider the union document. Despite the radical nature of the proposal, Churchill and the ministers recognized the need for a dramatic act to encourage the French and reinforce Reynaud's support within his cabinet before it met again at 5pm.[1]

The final "Declaration of union" approved by the British War Cabinet stated that[1]

France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union. The constitution of the Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a citizen of France.

Churchill and De Gaulle called Reynaud to tell him about the document, and they arranged for a joint meeting of the two governments in Concarneau the next day. The declaration immediately succeeded in its goal of encouraging Reynaud, who saw the union as the only alternative to surrender and who could now cite the British rejection of the armistice.[1]

Other French leaders were less enthusiastic, however. At the 5 p.m. cabinet meeting, many called it a British "last minute plan" to steal its colonies, and said that "be[ing] a Nazi province" was preferable to becoming a British dominion. Philippe Pétain, a leader of the pro-armistice group, called union "fusion with a corpse". While President Albert Lebrun and some others were supportive, the cabinet's opposition stunned Reynaud. He resigned that evening without taking a formal vote on the union or an armistice, and later called the failure of the union the "greatest disappointment of my political career".[1]

Reynaud had erred, however, by conflating opposition to the union—which a majority of the cabinet almost certainly opposed—with support for an armistice, which it almost certainly did not. If the proposal had been made a few days earlier, instead of the 16th when the French only had hours to decide between armistice and North Africa, Reynaud's cabinet might have considered it more carefully.[1]

Pétain formed a new government that evening, which immediately decided to ask Germany for armistice terms.

=> obviously, the OTL outcome was the worst possible one, with neither France fighting on from Africa, whether or not as part of the Anglo-French Union, nor with the French fleet sailing to British harbors (which could certainly have been achieved if Churchill stuck to his initial skepticism of the whole scheme).

If Chamberlain is PM instead, or Churchill comes in under different circumstances, and thus has different reactions to events, things could have turned out considerably differently.

There is also the question of whether the Allies try and hold northern Norway, now that Narvik is secured?


German destroyer Z19 Hermann Künne

Z19 Hermann Künne was one of six Type� destroyers built for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in the late 1930s. Completed at the beginning of 1939, the ship spent most of her time training although she did participate in the occupation of Memel a few months later. At the beginning of World War II in September, she was initially deployed to lay minefields off the German coast, but was soon transferred to the Skagerrak where she inspected neutral shipping for contraband goods. In late 1939, Z18 Hans Lüdemann helped to laid four offensive minefields off the English coast that claimed two British destroyers and thirty-eight merchant ships.

During the German invasion of Norway in April 1940, she was tasked to attack Narvik and participated in both the First and Second Naval Battles of Narvik. Z19 Hermann Künne was disabled during the first battle, but was repaired in time to fight in the second battle until she had exhausted her ammunition. Afterwards the ship had to be scuttled to prevent her capture.


Engagements in 1940 [ edit | edit source ]

Winter War 1940 [ edit | edit source ]

Battle of Kollaa [ edit | edit source ]

The Battle of Kollaa was fought from December 7, 1939 - March 13, 1940 in the Ladoga's Karelia, Finland as a part of the Winter War.Despite having far fewer troops than the Soviets, the Finnish forces (12th division) repelled the Red Army because the Soviets were only prepared to proceed along roads. The Kollaa area had very few roads, all of them guarded by Finnish troops, and the Soviets were not able to proceed cross-country without

skis.Kollaa is often considered to have been one of the most difficult places to defend during the Winter War. It has been estimated that the Red Army fired almost 40,000 artillery rounds at the defence line during a single day, whereas the Finnish Artillery could fire only 1,000 rounds per day at the very best.

Although they stopped the Red Army, the 12th Division suffered heavy losses, with the Battle of Kollaa continuing until the end of the Winter War. The Red Army managed to penetrate the Finnish defence line in Kollaa several times, thus pushing the Finns out of their positions but the Finns systematically counter-attacked to restore the integrity of their defence line. The Finnish defence came close to a collapse at the very end of the war - in fact, the Soviets

Finnish military leaders of the battle of Kollaa.

managed to form a 0.5 - 1.5 kilometres deep fracture point into the Finnish defense line on March 12. As a result, the commander of the 12th division of the Finnish Army considered abandoning the main defence line at Kollaa, but as the news from the sector were that the situation was "not yet that alarming", the commander ordered a counter-attack and the defence line to be retaken the following day. However, as the information of the concluded peace treaty reached the front, those orders were cancelled and the men were told to hold their current positions until the end of hostilities.A memorable quote from the Battle of Kollaa is Major General Hägglund's question, "Will Kollaa hold? (Kestääkö Kollaa)", to which Lieutenant Aarne Juutilainen replied, "Kollaa will hold (Kollaa kestää), unless the orders are to run."The legendary sniper Simo Häyhä served in the Kollaa front.

Battle of Honkaniemi [ edit | edit source ]

The Battle of Honkaniemi was fought between Finnish and Soviet forces on 26 February 1940. This battle was fought by tanks, the only time they were used in the Winter War.

The commander of the Finnish II Corps, General Harald Öhquist, had attached the Jaeger Battalion 3 and the 4th company of the Armoured Battalion to the 23rd Division.

The 23rd was responsible for the area around Lake Näykkijärvi, just to the southeast of Viipuri, the second largest town in Finland. Also, the 3rd Battalion of the 67th Infantry Regiment that was on loan to the 5th division arrived as well, giving the reinforcement that the commander of the 23rd Division, Colonel Voldemar Oinonen, needed to launch an attack against the Soviets. At 10:15 pm, the commander of the Jaeger Battalion 3, Captain I.

Kunnas and Lieutenant O. Heinonen of the 4th Armoured Company received orders to attack.

The original plan had involved six Infantry Battalions, four artillery battalions and the 4th Armoured Company. However, due to the haste to get the plan up and running, the planners missed important aspects of the battle, therefore reducing the overall number of units to four Infantry Battalions, two artillery battalions and the all important 4th Tank Company.

On the nights of February 25 and 26, members of the Jaeger Battalion were carried by truck to Heponotko, which was about three km away from a depot in Honkaniemi (now Lebedevka).

They then skied to the start point at 4:00 am. The tank company arrived around 30 minutes later after a 50 km

march. That journey, however, cost them more than they would have liked. Since the conditions of the weather and roads were equally bad, the tank company lost five of their 13 Vickers 6-Ton tanks, mostly due to engine failure.Seeing this as a major blow to their offensive capabilities, Captain Kunnas split his remaining tanks between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Jaeger Companies. Six tanks were to support the Jaegers while two were to help the 1st secure the left flank. It was decided that the attack would commence at 5:00 am, but communication with the artillery battalions failed so it was decided that they would try again at 6:15 am.When communications with the artillery battalions were restored, the time had come to attack. However another setback had occurred. During the preliminary artillery barrage, some of the shells landed at the start point, resulting in 30 Finns being killed or wounded. The attack had to be postponed by another hour.

After the initial bombardment by two artillery battalions (the 1st Battalions of the 5th and 21st Artillery Regiments), the attack commenced. Nevertheless, the Finns had had another set-back, another two tanks had been lost to technical failure, thereby reducing the total Finnish Tanks to only six for the entire battle. Even after all these set-backs, there were more to come. The 1st Jaeger Battalion had advanced some 200 meters before having to halt under heavy fire from the Red Army. The 1st Jaeger Company which was covering the left flank, advanced towards the railroad only to be unable to cross it. The 2nd and 3rd Jaeger Companies, which were the main attack force, had advanced to 200 meters southwest of the railroad, but had to be stopped.

After the initial bombardment by two artillery battalions (the 1st Battalions of the 5th and 21st Artillery Regiments), the attack commenced. Nevertheless, the Finns had had another set-back, another two tanks had been lost to technical failure, thereby reducing the total Finnish Tanks to only six for the entire battle. Even after all these set-backs, there were more to come. The 1st Jaeger Battalion had advanced some 200 meters before having to halt under heavy fire from the Red Army.

The 1st Jaeger Company which was covering the left flank, advanced towards the railroad only to be unable to cross it. The 2nd and 3rd Jaeger Companies, which were the main attack force, had advanced to 200 meters southwest of the railroad, but had to be stopped.

Captain Kunnas received orders at 10:00 pm that he was to abort the attack and retreat. The Finns' first tank battle met with an unsuccessful end. The entire tank battle had been fought with inexperienced crews and almost no radio communication. In order to save money, the tanks had been bought from the UK without guns, optics and radios, and some even without the driver's seat. Due to the lack of vital equipment, communication between tanks was impossible and the tanks had to act upon their own judgement.

Battle of Drøbak Sound [ edit | edit source ]

The Battle of Drøbak Sound took place in the northernmost part of the Oslofjord on 9 April 1940, on the first day of the German invasion of Norway.

It was the start of the war in Western Europe—and an end to the "Phoney War".Oscarsborg Fortress near Drøbak engaged a German fleet sailing up the Oslofjord with the objective of seizing the Norwegian capital and capturing Haakon VII, the Norwegian king, and his government.

Blücher sinking in the Oslofjord.

At the time of the battle, the ageing fortress' Main Battery of guns was over 40 years old and the installation had been relegated to training coastal artillery servicemen, leading the Germans to disregard the fortress' defensive value. Furthermore, the most powerful weapon of the fortress was a torpedo battery, which no one but the Norwegian military knew about.

In the end, the fortress' armament worked flawlessly. By sinking the lead ship of the German armada headed for Oslo, Oscarsborg Fortress saved the Norwegian king and government from being taken captive in the first hours of the invasion.

As the political situation was chaotic, the ageing 64-year-old commander, Oberst (Colonel) Birger Eriksen had not received any clear orders and had received no notice as to whether the approaching warships were German or Allied. He was well aware that Norway was officially neutral, but that the government was inclined to side with the British in case of direct Norwegian involvement in the war. As he was about to give orders to fire, Eriksen said: "Either I will be decorated, or I will be court-martialed. Fire!"

Apart from the officers and NCOs, almost all soldiers manning the fortress were fresh recruits, having only been conscripted seven days before, on 2 April. Because of the influx of 450 fresh recruits, the fortress' naval mines were not deployed on 9 April. Part of the recruits' training was to lay the mine barrier, a process planned for a few days later.

Battles of Narvik [ edit | edit source ]

The Battles of Narvik were fought from 9 April to 8 June 1940 as a naval battle in the Ofotfjord and as a land battle in the mountains surrounding the north Norwegian city of Narvik as part of the Norwegian Campaign of the Second World War.

The two naval battles in the Ofotfjord on 10 April and 13 April were fought between the British Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine, while the two-month land campaign was fought between Norwegian, French, British, and Polish troops against German and Austrian mountain troops, shipwrecked Kriegsmarine sailors and German Fallschirmjäger from 1st battalion of the 1st Regiment, 7th Fliegerdivision.Narvik provided an ice-free harbour in the North Atlantic for iron ore transported by the railway from Kiruna in Sweden. Both sides in the war had an interest in securing this iron supply for themselves and denying it to the enemy, setting the stage for one of the first large-scale battles during the Second World War, since the invasion of Poland.

Prior to the German invasion, British forces had considered Narvik as a possible landing point for an expedition to help Finland in the Winter War. Such an expedition might also take control over the Swedish mines and open up the Baltic for the Allies.

French politicians were also eager to start a second front as far away from France as possible.

German Invasion [ edit | edit source ]

On 1 March 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Norway, codenamed Operation Weserübung.

This operation would involve most of the Kriegsmarine. Participating units were divided into five groups, which were to occupy six of the main Norwegian ports.

Group I departed Bremerhaven on 6 April. It consisted of 10 German destroyers of the 1934A and 1936 classes (Georg Thiele, Wolfgang Zenker, Bernd von Arnim, Erich Giese, Erich Koellner, Diether von Roeder, Hans Lüdemann, Hermann Künne, Wilhelm Heidkamp (flagship) and Anton Schmitt, commanded by Kommodore Friedrich Bonte. Each of the warships carried around 200 soldiers (a total of 1,900 Austrian mountain troopers (Gebirgsjäger) from the 139. Gebirgsjägerregiment of the 3rd Mountain Division commanded by General Eduard Dietl).

The troop-carrying destroyers were escorted most of the way by the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

In the early morning of 9 April, the destroyers of Group I passed the Vestfjorden and arrived at the Ofotfjorden leading to Narvik, in fog and heavy snow. In Ofotfjord, they captured three Norwegian patrol boats (Senja, Michael Sars and Kelt). Before capture Kelt managed to send a message to the coastal defence ship HNoMS Norge, alerting the local Norwegian naval commander of the incoming vessels.

The German ships Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner and Hermann Künne landed their soldiers in Herjangsfjord (a northern branch of Ofotfjorden) in order to capture a Norwegian regimental supply base at Elvegårdsmoen.

Hans Ludemann and Hermann Künne also landed their troops in order to engage the nearby Norwegian forts (which turned out to be non-existent). Diether von Roeder remained in Ofotfjord in order to ensure German control of the sea. Erich Giese was delayed by engine trouble and did not join the main force for some time.The main defence of Narvik were the old coastal defence ships Eidsvold and Norge. Having been alerted by Kelt, both Norwegian ships prepared for combat: the guns were loaded and life preservers issued to the crew. Around 04:15, the Germans spotted Eidsvold, and Eidsvold immediately signalled the leading German destroyer with an aldis lamp. When the Germans failed to respond to the signal, a warning shot was fired across their bow.

An Eidsvold-class coastal defence ship under way.

The Germans had orders to occupy Norway peacefully if at all possible, so the German flagship Wilhelm Heidkamp stopped and signalled that it would send an officer to negotiate. A small launch ferried Korvettenkapitän Gerlach over to Eidsvold. Gerlach was taken to the bridge to speak to Captain Odd Isaachsen Willoch.

Gerlach tried to convince Willoch that the Germans had arrived as friends, but that the Norwegians had to hand over their warships to the German armed forces. Captain Willoch asked for time to consult his commander, Captain Per Askim, the commander of Norge. This request was refused by the Germans, but while Willoch had been talking to the German officer the radio officer on board Eidsvold had communicated the events to Askim. Askim's response to the German demands and order to Willoch came immediately Willoch and Eidsvold was to open fire.

Willoch responded to Askim "I am attacking."

While this was going on, the German destroyer Wilhelm Heidkamp had positioned herself 700 m (770 yd) off the port side of Eidsvold and trained her torpedo launchers on the Norwegian ship.

Gerlach tried once again to convince Willoch to surrender, but Willoch refused. As Gerlach left Eidsvold, he fired a red flare, indicating that the Norwegians intended to fight. At this point, Captain Willoch shouted: "På plass ved kanonene. Nå skal vi slåss, gutter!" ("Man the guns. We're going to fight, boys!").

Eidsvold turned towards the closest destroyer and accelerated, closing the distance to Wilhelm Heidkamp to 300 m (330 yd) while the battery commander ordered the port battery (three 15 cm (5.9 in) guns) to open fire.[

The Germans, afraid that Eidsvold might ram the destroyer, fired four torpedoes from Wilhelm Heidkamp at the old ship. Two of the torpedoes hit before the port guns could fire. The Norwegian ammunition magazine was ignited and Eidsvold was blown in two. The forward part of the ship sank in seconds, the stern followed in minutes, propellers still turning. At around 04:37, she was gone 175 Norwegian sailors died in the freezing water, including Captain Willoch, eight surviving.

Deeper inside the fjord, the explosions were heard aboard Norge, but nothing could be seen until two German destroyers suddenly appeared out of the darkness and Captain Per Askim of Norge gave orders to open fire at 04:45. Four rounds were fired from the 21 cm (8.3 in) guns (one from the fore gun and three from the aft) as well as seven or eight rounds from the starboard 15 cm (5.9 in) guns, against the German destroyer Bernd von Arnim, at a range of about 800 m (870 yd). Due to the difficult weather conditions, the guns' optical sights were ineffective: the first salvo fell short of the target and the next ones overshot it.

The German destroyers waited until they were alongside the pier before returning fire. Bernd von Armin opened fire with her 12.7 cm (5 in) guns as well as with machine guns, but the weather gave the Germans problems as well. The destroyer also fired three salvoes of two torpedoes each. The first two salvoes missed, but the last struck Norge midships and she sank in less than one minute. Ninety of the crew were rescued, but 101 perished in the battle which had lasted less than 20 minutes. The destruction of Norge signalled the end of Norwegian resistance in the port.The morning of the German attack four Norwegian steamers were anchored in Narvik the 4,285 long tons (4,354 t) Cate B, the 1,712 long tons (1,739 t) Eldrid, the 1,758 long tons (1,786 t) Haalegg and the 4,306 long tons (4,375 t) Saphir.

In addition to the Norwegian vessels, four foreign, neutral ships were present a 951 long tons (966 t) Dutch steamer, the Bernisse, and the three Swedish steamships Boden of 4,264 long tons (4,332 t), Oxelosund of 5,613 long tons (5,703 t) and Strassa of 5,603 long tons (5,693 t). As well as neutral ships, the warring parties had vessels at Narvik, riding anchor in the same port.

The British had five steamers in the harbour the 6,582 long tons (6,688 t) Blythmoor, the 5,141 long tons (5,223 t) Mersington Court, the 4,304 long tons (4,373 t) North Cornwall, the 5,378 long tons (5,464 t) Riverton, and the 4,887 long tons (4,965 t) Romanby. As the German armada seized Narvik, there were 11 German merchant steamers at the port town the 6,388 long tons (6,491 t) Aachen, the 5,398 long tons (5,485 t) Altona, the 4,902 long tons (4,981 t) Bockenheim, the 5,386 long tons (5,472 t) Hein Hoyer, the 4,879 long tons (4,957 t) Martha Henrich Fisser, the 8,096 long tons (8,226 t) Neuenfels, the 5,806 long tons (5,899 t) Odin , the 7,849 long tons (7,975 t) Lippe, the 4,339 long tons (4,409 t) Frielinghaus, and 5,881 long tons (5,975 t) Planet, and the 11,776 long tons (11,965 t) replenishment oiler/maintenance ship Jan Wellem.

Jan Wellem, a converted former whale factory ship, awaited the arrival of the German warships, which she was tasked to refuel.

Working in the harbour were the Swedish tugs Diana (213 long tons (216 t)) and Styrbjörn (167 long tons (170 t)). As the German destroyers entered the harbour, the captain of the Bockenheim, who assumed that the intruding warships were British, beached and scuttled his vessel.

In total, 25 ore ships had been riding at anchor in Narvik at the outset of the fighting, 10 of which were German. The German destroyers were now short of fuel and had only one fuel tanker in support (the 11,776 long tons (11,965 t) ex-whale factory ship Jan Wellem that had been despatched to Narvik, accordingly to some sources from the secret German naval base Basis Nord at Zapadnaya Litsa in the Soviet Union, where she had been based since 4 February 1940.

Another source indicates that she departed Murmansk in the evening of the 6 April and that Basis Nord was never even established.

She had arrived off Narvik from the north on 8 April, and had been stopped by the Norwegian patrol boat Kvitøy. Jan Wellem was allowed entry to Narvik by the regional Norwegian naval command, where she was inspected. Her captain claimed that she was carrying 8,500 short tons (7,700 t) of fuel oil and 8,098 crates of food provisions and that she was on her way to Germany.

A second tanker, the 6,031 long tons (6,128 t) Kattegat which had sailed to Norway from Wilhelmshaven, had been sunk in the Glomfjord in the evening of 9 April. Kattegat had been stopped by the Norwegian fishery protection ship HNoMS Nordkapp, the Norwegian ship first trying to take the tanker as a prize, but due to the large German crew could not control it all the way to Bodø, in the end sinking Kattegat by firing four 47 mm (1.85 in) rounds into the tanker's water line.

Kattegat had been delayed from reaching Narvik in time by the British 8 April mining operations off Norway.

A third tanker—Skagerrak—had also been despatched to Norway, in support of the German landings at Trondheim, but she was intercepted by the British cruiser HMS Suffolk, on 14 April, after she had been redirected by German naval command to a waiting position at sea. When the British warship tried to board Skagerrak her crew scuttled her at 68°15′N 02°00′E. Both Kattegat and Skagerrak, which were sister ships, were inspected at Kopervik by the Norwegian torpedo boat Stegg, on 5 and 7 April respectively. The captain of Kattegat told the Norwegians that he was headed to Narvik for further orders, and the captain of Skagerrak claimed Murmansk as their destination, and inspections revealed that both tankers had a full load of fuel oil. Skagerrak also carried 165 short tons (150 t) of food provisions, which was claimed as supplies for German merchant ships. The food crates were labelled "Wehrmacht".

According to the German plan the destroyers were supposed to have been refuelled by two tankers, Kattegat and Jan Wellem, each receiving some 600 short tons (540 t) of fuel oil.

The flotilla was then to be on its way back to Germany by the evening of 9 April. The plan failed because only Jan Wellem made it to Narvik. Refuelling with just one tanker was difficult, only two destroyers could be refuelled simultaneously, taking seven or eight hours. At arrival in Narvik, the destroyers were almost out of fuel.

Making the refuelling more challenging was the fact that Jan Wellem had only improvised refuelling arrangements and inferior pumping equipment. While two destroyers were being refuelled at a time, a third was on guard in fjord, the remaining seven being spread around in the nearby area.

By 04:00 on 10 April, Jan Wellem had managed to fully refuel three of the German destroyers, and was in the process of refuelling two more.

In the meantime, British forces had tried to engage the Kriegsmarine, but for the most part, unsuccessfully. On 8 April, the British G-class destroyer HMS Glowworm engaged the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and two destroyers, and was lost, ramming and damaging Hipper in the battle. On 9 April, the British battlecruiser HMS Renown exchanged artillery salvos with the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which were screening the destroyers, causing light damage to Gneisenau. The destroyers' main mission had been completed, however, as they had succeeded in landing the invasion force.


Watch the video: Norway 1940: The Siege of Narvik