Fleet submarines on patrol off southwest Norway suffered their first casualty in
tragic circumstances. "OXLEY"
was torpedoed in error by
"Triton" and went down off Obrestad on the
War - Negotiations on border changes and control of
islands in the Gulf of Finland broke down and Russia
invaded on the 30th. The war dragged on to March 1940
with fatal consequences for Norway.
Shipping War - The first HN/ON convoys sailed between
the Firth of Forth and Norway in November covered by the Home Fleet. The
convoys were discontinued in April 1940.
Europe - German plans for a Western offensive
(Operation 'Gelb') were postponed. Planning went ahead
for the invasion of Norway
under codename 'Weserubung'.
The Altmark Incident - "Altmark" was Graf
Spee's supply ship with Merchant Navy prisoners
aboard. She took refuge in Jossingfiord, within Norwegian territorial waters. On the evening
of the 16th, destroyer Cossack (Capt Vian)
went alongside with a boarding party and after a short
struggle released the prisoners.
Russo-Finnish War -
Britain and France plan to send aid to Finland. This
would allow them to occupy Narvik in northern Norway and cut back Swedish iron ore
supplies to Germany.
Battle of the Atlantic - There was a lull in the Battle of
the Atlantic as U-boats were withdrawn for the Norwegian campaign, and before surface
raiders started operations and long-range aircraft and
U-boats emerged from bases in France and Norway.
War - Conclusion - A peace treaty on the 13th brought
the war to a close, with Finland ceding the disputed
territory to the Soviet Union.
Later in the month, and in spite of abandoning plans to
help Finland, Britain and France decided to disrupt
Swedish iron ore traffic to Germany by mining Norwegian waters (Operation 'Wilfred'). Plans
were also made to land troops in Norway, from south to north, at
Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik to forestall any
German retaliation (Operation 'R4). The entire operation
was timed for 8th April.
U-50 on patrol off the Shetlands in
support of the Norwegian
invasion, was sunk by destroyer Hero on the
Faeroe Islands - On
the 13th April, following the German invasion of Norway,
an advance guard of Royal Marines was landed on the
Faeroe Islands, northwest of the Shetland Islands with
the eventual agreement of the Danish Governor.
3rd - The first
German troop transports sailed for Norway.
7th - German
covering and troop carrying warships headed for Norway
8th - Operation 'Wilfred' - Royal
Navy destroyers laid simulated and real minefields at
three points off the Norwegian coast between Stadtlandet
and Bodo. Battlecruiser Renown and other
destroyers provided cover. One of the screen,
Roope) was detached to search for a man overboard just as
8in-gunned cruiser Admiral Hipper headed into
Trondheim. They met to the northwest of the port and the
destroyer was soon sunk, but not before she rammed and
damaged Hipper. + Lt-Cdr Gerard Roope RN was posthumously
awarded the Victoria Cross.
7th-8th - In
response to reported German movements, units of the Home
Fleet including Rodney, Valiant,
Repulse, four cruisers and 14 destroyers
sailed from Scapa Flow and Rosyth. Accompanying them was
a French cruiser and two destroyers. Two more British
cruisers and nine destroyers left other duties and headed
for Norwegian waters. Next day, on the 8th, they were
joined by the four troop-carrying cruisers of Operation
'R4', but after the soldiers had been disembarked
back in Britain. More than 20 submarines, including three
French and one Polish took up positions.
Germany invaded Denmark and Norway (Operation
Copenhagen was soon occupied and DENMARK surrendered. In
Norway, troops landed at Oslo, Kristiansand and Bergen in
the south, Trondheim in the centre and Narvik in the
north. The southern forces and those from Trondheim
pushed inland and joined up by the end of the month. They
then moved north to relieve Narvik, which was isolated by
the Allies soon after the first German landings.
German Navy forces
included a pocket battleship, six cruisers and 14
destroyers for the landings at the five Norwegian ports,
with battlecruisers Scharnhorst and
Gneisenau covering the two most northerly
landings. Thirty U-boats patrolled off Norway and British
bases, but throughout the campaign they suffered from
major torpedo defects.
Early in the morning of
the 9th, battlecruiser Renown was in action
with the two German battlecruisers to the west of
was damaged and Renown slightly. The Germans withdrew. As
Renown was in action, German occupation
forces heading for Oslo came under heavy fire from
Norwegian coastal defences. Shore-sited guns and
torpedoes in Oslo Fiord sank heavy cruiser
Home Fleet cruiser force was detached to attack the
German warships in Bergen, but ordered to withdraw. They
come under continuous air attack and destroyer GURKHA
was bombed and sunk southwest of Bergen.
That evening, German cruiser KARLSRUHE
left Kristiansand and was torpedoed by
submarine Truant. She was scuttled next day.
First Battle of Narvik - The 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (Capt.
Warburton-Lee) with Hardy,
Hotspur and Hunter, entered
Ofotfiord to attack the German ships assigned to the
occupation of Narvik. These included 10 large destroyers.
Several transports were sunk together with destroyers ANTON
(AS) and WILHELM HEIDKAMP
(WM) in Narvik Bay. Other German destroyers were
damaged, but as the British 2nd Flotilla retired, HARDY was beached, HUNTER sunk and Hotspur badly damaged by the remaining
German ships . + Capt Bernard Warburton-Lee RN was
posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
10th, the British Home Fleet was reinforced by battleship
Warspite and carrier Furious. On
the same day submarine THISTLE on patrol off Utsira failed in an
attack on U-4. Shortly after she was sunk by
the same U-boat. Fleet Air Arm Skua dive-bombers of
800 and 803 Squadrons flying from the Orkney Islands sank
German cruiser "KOENIGSBERG" at her moorings in Bergen. She was damaged
earlier by shore batteries in the landings. This was the
first major warship sunk by air attack.
11th - Returning
from the Oslo landings, German pocket battleship Lutzow was torpedoed and badly damaged by
submarine Spearfish in the Skagerrak. Cruiser
on her way into Narvik was damaged running aground in
13th - Second Battle of Narvik - Battleship Warspite and
nine destroyers were sent into the Narvik fiords to
finish off the remaining German ships. Submarine U-64
was surprised and sunk
by Warspite's Swordfish catapult aircraft as
it scouted ahead. The eight surviving German destroyers
VON ARNIM (BA), DIETHER VON
ROEDER (DR), ERICH GIESE (EG),
ERICH KOELNNER (EK), GEORG
THIELE (GT), HANS LUDEMANN (HL),
HERMANN KUNNE (HK) and WOLFGANG ZENKER
all destroyed or
scuttled. The British Eskimo and Cossack
were damaged. By the 13th, the first
British troop convoys had left the Scottish Clyde for
Narvik, but some ships were diverted to Namsos. German
forces were well-established in the south and centre of
Norway and had control of the air.
14th - Submarine TARPON on patrol off southern Norway was
sunk by German minesweeper M-6. German
gunnery training ship BRUMMER was
torpedoed and sunk by submarine
14th-16th - The
first Allied landings took place between the 14th and
16th. In the north, British troops occupied Harstad in
preparation for an attack on Narvik. They were reinforced
by French and Polish units through into May. Royal
Marines led British and French troops into Namsos ready
for an attack south towards Trondheim. The British went
ashore in the Andalsnes area to try to hold central
Norway with the Norwegian Army. Neither of these
operations proved possible and on the 27th April the
decision was taken to pull out of central Norway.
15th - As the
Harstad-bound troopships approached their destination,
escorting destroyers Brazen and
Fearless located and sank U-49. Southwest of Stavanger, U-1
went to the bottom after striking a mine.
17th - Heavy
cruiser Suffolk bombarded installations at Stavanger, but on
her return was badly damaged by Ju-88 bombers and barely
made Scapa Flow with her stern awash.
18th - Four days
after sinking the Brummer, STERLET
presumed sunk in the
Skagerrak by German anti-submarine trawlers
24th - After four
days continuous AA duty off Andalsnes, cruiser Curacoa
was badly damaged by bombs. Carrier
Glorious flew off obsolescent Gladiator
biplanes for shore operations.
27th - Allied plans
to attack towards Trondheim and hold central Norway
proved impossible. The decision was taken to pull out of
central Norway and the evacuation of Andalsnes and Namsos
got under way.
30th - Sloop BITTERN
was sunk by Ju-87 dive-bombers off
Norwegian Campaign - continued
- In three days and nights the last 10,000 British and
French troops were evacuated from Namsos and around
Andalsnes following the failure to attack towards
Trondheim and hold central Norway. Other troops were
later landed further north, including at Bodo in an
attempt to block the German advance from Trondheim
towards Narvik. The Allies continued to build up forces
for the attack on Narvik. + Lt-Cdr Richard Stannard RNR,
commanding officer of HM trawler Arab of the 15th
Anti-Submarine Striking Force, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry under air attack
during operations off Namsos.
Retiring northwest from Namsos, destroyers AFRIDI and the French BISON
were sunk by Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers.
As preparations continued in northern Norway for the
attack on Narvik, Polish destroyer GROM was bombed and sunk.
Submarine SEAL successfully laid mines in the southern
Kattegat on the 4th before being damaged by a German
mine. Trying to make for neutral Sweden on the surface,
she was attacked and captured off The Skaw by German air
and sea patrols.
ran aground on an uncharted rock in Vestfiord carrying
troops to Bodo to help block the German advance on
Narvik. She was later torpedoed and abandoned.
By now carriers Furious and
Glorious had flown ashore the first modern
The Allies decided to pull out of Norway altogether, but
not before Narvik was captured and the port installations
During the attack on Narvik, AA cruiser CURLEW
was bombed and sunk in nearby Lavang
Two days after the loss of sister ship
Curlew, Cairo was badly damaged off the town of Narvik
just as French and Polish troops completed its capture.
The Norwegian Campaign shortly drew to a close.
Britain - Following
a 10th May House of Commons debate on the Norwegian
campaign, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and
Winston Churchill assumed leadership. Albert V. Alexander
succeeded him as First Lord of the Admiralty. The planned
attack on Narvik would still go ahead, but that same day
the German Blitzkrieg on Holland, Belgium and France was
of the Atlantic -
The Allied loss of Norway
brought German warships and U-boats many hundreds of
miles closer to the Atlantic convoy routes and in time
within close range of the Russian convoys that followed
the June 1941 German invasion. Britain's blockade line
from the Orkneys to southern Norway was simply
outflanked. Within a matter of days the first U-boats
were sailing from the Norwegian port of Bergen.
- Norwegian Campaign - It's Conclusion ...... Following the capture of Narvik,
Allied forces totalling 25,000 men were evacuated in four
days from northern Norway, by which time King Haakon VII
and his Government were on their way to Britain aboard
heavy cruiser Devonshire.
At the end of the evacuation, fleet carrier GLORIOUS and escorting destroyers ACASTA and ARDENT
sailed for Britain independently of the
other withdrawing forces. West of Lofoten Islands they
met the 11in gun battlecruisers Scharnhorst
and Gneisenau sailing to attack suspected
Allied shipping off Harstad. The British ships were soon
overwhelmed and sunk, but not before Acasta
hit Scharnhorst with a torpedo. Few of the Royal
Navy crews survived.
Allied submarines working
with the Royal Navy continued to play a part in
operations off Norway and had their share of losses. On
the last day of the campaign the Polish ORZEL on passage to her patrol area and
made famous after escaping from invaded Poland, was
presumed mined. Another Allied boat was lost twelve days
..... and Immediate Aftermath - The surviving Norwegian troops
surrendered to the German Army and the Norwegian Campaign
was over. NORWAY and
its people were not liberated until after the German
surrender in May 1945. During that time, many Norwegians
escape to fight with the Allies, resistance movements
grew in effectiveness, and large German forces were held
down there at Hitlers command in case the Allies
invaded. Naval losses on both sides were heavy, and in
the case of the Germans included damage to battlecruiser
"Scharnhorst" (followed shortly by
"Gneisenau") and pocket battleship
Five days after the sinking of Glorious,
aircraft from Ark Royal attacked the damaged
Scharnhorst in Trondheim but to little
20th - Dutch
submarine O-13 also on passage to her Norwegian patrol area
was torpedoed in error by Polish Wilk. More
recent research suggests she was more likely sunk 13 June
1940 in a German minefield in 56-55N, -03-40E.
20th - As the
damaged battlecruiser Scharnhorst headed for
Germany, Gneisenau feinted towards Iceland. West of Trondheim
she was torpedoed and damaged by British submarine
Clyde. Both battlecruisers were out of action
during the critical phases of the Battle for Britain
until the end of the year.
German Warships -
By now, of the 23 surface ships of destroyer size and
above that took part in the invasion of Norway, 17 had
been sunk or damaged.
Fleet submarines carried out patrols off the coast of
southwest Norway, but with heavy losses in July. Late on
the 5th, "SHARK"
was badly damaged by German aircraft and
next morning on the 6th scuttled off Skudenses.
damaged "Gneisenau" made for Germany from
Norway, submarine "Swordfish" carried out an
attack on the 26th and sank escorting torpedo boat "LUCHS".
was paid off on the 1st. After leaving
the English east coast Humber Estuary on 22nd July for a
minelaying mission off Norway, she failed to return.
Battle of the Atlantic - Focke-Wulf Kondor bombers continued
to range the waters off Ireland. The Luftwaffe's
long-range aircraft were now flying from bases in Norway as well as France.
Lofoten Islands Raid - A successful Combined
Operations commando raid was carried out on the Lofoten
Islands, off northwest Norway with installations
destroyed and shipping sunk. Escort was provided by
destroyers and cover by units of the Home Fleet. In the
raid, spare rotors for German Enigma coding machines were
found - another piece in the British Ultra code-breaking
German Aircraft Attacks - In April 1941, aircraft sank 116
ships of 323,000 tons, the highest rate for any month of
the whole war. This were partly due to the long-range
aircraft operating off Ireland from bases in France and Norway.
Hunt for the "Bismarck" - On the 18th new German 15in
battleship "Bismarck" and heavy cruiser
"Prinz Eugen" sailed from Gdynia in the Baltic
for the Atlantic. On the evening of the 21st they were
sighted in a fiord south of Bergen, Norway. Next day they were reported at
sea. Within a matter of days British battlecruiser
"Hood" as well as "Bismarck" had been
battleship "Lutzow" attempted to break out into the Atlantic.
Attacked on the 13th off the Norwegian coast by an RAF Beaufort, she was hit by
one torpedo and only just made it back to Germany.
Russian Convoys (map above) - The invasion of Russia soon led to
the introduction of the Russian or Arctic convoys with
their dreadful conditions and after some months had
elapsed, high losses in men and ships. However, the Royal
Navy's presence in the Arctic was first made known in
August when submarines started operating, with some
success, against German shipping supporting the Axis
attack from Norway
towards Murmansk. The port was never captured. Conditions
with the Russian convoys were at the very least
difficult. Both summer and winter routes were close to
good German bases in Norway from which U-boats, aircraft
and surface ships could operate.
Lofoten & Vaagso Raids - Separate commando raids took
place in northern
the Lofoten Islands and further south on Vaagso Island.
The aim was to destroy installations and sank and capture
shipping. The first force was led by cruiser
Arethusa with limited results. The second
with cruiser Kenya was more successful.
Surface Warships - Pocket battleship "Admiral
Scheer" and heavy cruiser
Eugen" sailed to
join "Tirpitz" in Norway. Off Trondheim on the 23rd, submarine
"Trident" torpedoed and heavily damaged "Prinz
- By now German battleship "Tirpitz",
the ship that dictated Royal Navy policies in northern
waters for so long, had been joined in Norway by pocket battleship "Admiral
Surface Warships - In addition to aircraft and
U-boats, the Germans now had "Tirpitz",
"Admiral Scheer", "Lutzow",
"Hipper" and nearly a dozen big destroyers at
Narvik and Trondheim, Norway. With by now continuous daylight throughout
the journey, the Admiralty pressed for the Russian
convoys to be discontinued until the days shorten. For
political reasons they went ahead.
Destruction of Russian Convoy PQ17 - The British Admiralty believed the
Germans were concentrating their heavy ships in northern Norway. In fact pocket battleship
"Lutzow" had run aground off Narvik, but this
still left battleship "Tirpitz", pocket
battleship "Admiral Scheer" and heavy cruiser
"Admiral Hipper" - all formidable adversaries,
which reached Altenfiord on the 3rd. Sailing on the 5th,
they did not took part in any of the convoy sinkings.
Russian Convoy PQ18 and Return QP14 - Submarines patrolled off the
Norwegian Lofoten Islands and northern Norway.
Attack on "Tirpitz" - The German battleship posed such
a threat to Russian convoys and held down so much of Home
Fleet's strength that almost any measures to immobilise
her were justified. One gallant attempt was made in
October 1942 when a small Norwegian fishing vessel "Arthur",
penetrated to within a few miles of the battleship in
Trondheimfiord with Chariot human torpedoes slung underneath. Just short of the
target they broke away and the operation failed.
Battle of the Barents Sea & Russian
Convoys JW51A and JW51B - By now "Tirpitz", pocket
battleship "Lutzow", heavy cruiser
"Admiral Hipper", light cruisers
"Koln" and "Nurnberg" and a number of
5in and 5.9in gun destroyers were in Norwegian waters. The Admiralty assumed they
were for attacks on Russian convoys. In fact, they were
in Norway because of Hitler's invasion fears.
submarine "UREDD" of the Royal Norwegian Navy was sunk off Norway on the
"Tuna" on Norwegian Arctic patrol sank "U-644" northwest of Narvik, Norway on the 7th.
Northern Transit Area -
In the waters through which Norwegian-based U-boats had to sail for their patrol
areas, two submarines were sunk. Submarine
"Truculent" on anti-U-boat patrol between
Norway and Iceland sank "U-308" north of the Faeroe Islands on the
4th. A RAF Fortress accounted for "U-417" in the same northern transit area
on the 11th.
months effort the bombing campaign against U-boat bases
claimed its first success on the 24th when "U-622"
was badly damaged in a
USAAF raid on Trondheim, Norway and paid off.
Attack on "Tirpitz" - Now it was the turn of midget submarines to attack battleship
"Tirpitz". These were the
each with two 2-ton saddle charges.
Six left for northern Norway towed by 'S' or 'T' class submarines. Two
were lost on passage, but on the 20th off Altenfiord,
"X-5", "X-6" and "X-7" set
out to attack "Tirpitz" and "X-10"
for the "Scharnhorst". "X-5" was
"X-10" was unable to attack, but "X-6" (Lt Cameron) and "X-7" (Lt Place) penetrated the defences
to reach "Tirpitz" laying in Kaafiord at the
far end of Altenfiord. Both dropped their charges under
or near the battleship before they sank and some of their
crews escaped. "Tirpitz" managed to shift her position slightly, but
not enough to avoid damage when the charges went up. She
was out of action for six months. Lt Donald Cameron RNR
and Lt Basil Place RN were awarded the Victoria Cross.
Attacks on Shipping - Covered by battleships
"Anson" and "Duke of York" and other
units of the Home Fleet, US carrier "Ranger"
launched air attacks against shipping off Bodo, northern Norway on the 4th. Four ships were sunk
and others damaged.
Norway - Norwegian resistance fighters sank a cargo
of heavy water bound for Germany for nuclear research.
submarine "SYRTIS" was lost on Norwegian patrol. After sinking a small ship
off Bodo a few days before, she was sunk in the
minefields flanking the port on the 28th.
Attack on "Tirpitz"- The damage inflicted by midget
submarines on "Tirpitz" in September 1943 was
nearly repaired and the Admiralty decided to launch a Fleet Air Arm attack. On the 30th March, Adm
Fraser left Scapa Flow with battleships "Duke of
York" and "Anson", fleet carriers
"Victorious" and the old "Furious",
escort carriers "Emperor", "Fencer",
"Pursuer" and "Searcher", cruisers
and destroyers, split into two forces, and headed north,
partly to cover Russian Convoy JW58. By the 2nd
the two forces had joined up 120 miles off Altenfiord and
early next morning on the 3rd, two waves each of
20 Barracuda bombers with fighter cover surprised "Tirpitz" at anchor. A total of 14 hits were
made, but the damage was not serious. However, the
battleship was out of action for another three months.
Home Fleet was back in Scapa on the 6th. A similar
operation was attempted later in the month, but bad
weather prevented any attacks. Instead, a German convoy
was found in the area and three ships sunk. The weather
again saved "Tirpitz" from two sorties in May
1944, but the fleet and escort carrier aircraft did
manage to sink several more merchant ships at these and
other times during the month.
Norwegian submarine "Ula" working
with the Home Fleet flotillas and on patrol off
Stavanger, SW Norway sank "U-974" on the 19th.
Russian Convoys - Return Russian convoy RA59 was
attacked by U-boats to the northwest of Norway. One ship
was lost, but in return the Swordfish of 842 Squadron
from "Fencer" sank three with depth charges - "U-277" on the 1st and "U-674" and "U-959" next day.
Battle of the Atlantic - RAF Coastal Command and one of its
Norwegian squadrons were particularly
successful between the 16th and 27th against the U-boats
passing through the Northern Transit Area off south and
west Norway. In the space of 12 days, "U-240", "U-241", "U-476", "U-675", "U-990" and "U-292" were sunk.
Battle of the Atlantic - U-boats continued to suffer badly
at the hands of the aircraft of the Northern Transit Area
patrol. Throughout the month, seven were sunk and one
severely damaged by RAF, RCAF and Norwegian aircraft.
As most of
the U-boats evacuate the French Biscay bases and headed
for Norway, frigate "Louis" on
patrol off St Nazaire sank "U-445" on the 24th.
Attack on "Tirpitz" - Now it was RAF Bomber Command's turn to hit at battleship
Altenfiord in the far north of Norway. Flying in difficult conditions
from Russian bases near Archangel on the 15th, the
Lancasters managed to get one hit in spite of the usual
smokescreens. Partly because of the damage, the
battleship was moved south to Tromso.
from Norway, "U-1006" was located by the patrolling 6th EG
south of the Faeroes and sunk by Canadian frigate
"Annan" on the 16th.
Fleet operations against German shipping off Norway, aircraft of 1771 Squadron from
fleet carrier "Implacable" drove "U-1060" ashore near Namsos on the 27th.
She was finished off two days later by aircraft of Nos
311 (Czech) and 502 Squadrons RAF. Earlier in the month
four more U-boats were lost in RAF raids on Bergen and
another three by accident in Norwegian waters.
Front - In the Arctic, the Russians started a
series of attacks and amphibious hops which by the end of
the month had driven the Germans back from the Murmansk
area just over the border into Norway. The Russians, now joined by
Norwegian troops, came to a halt.
Destruction of "Tirpitz" - The damaged "TIRPITZ"
was finally destroyed
on the 12th as she lay at anchor off Tromso, Norway. Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617
(Dambuster) Squadrons, RAF Bomber Command using 12,000lb bombs put paid to
the ship that had tied down the Home Fleet for so long.
After several hits and near misses by bombs weighing over
5 tons each, she turned turtle trapping nearly 1,000 men
out to the North Atlantic, "U-322"
was sunk west of the Shetlands on the
25th by a Norwegian Sunderland
flying boat of No 330 Squadron and patrolling frigate
In Norwegian waters one U-boat was lost in a
RAF raid and another by collision off the Lofoten
"Venturer" on patrol off Bergen, Norway torpedoed and sank "U-864" on the 9th. Two more U-boats were
lost off Norway, one by accident and the other mined.
submarines gained another success when "Tapir"
sank outward-bound "U-486" off Bergen, Norway on the 12th.
End of the U-boats - Right to the end of the war there
was no let-up in the struggle against the U-boats,
especially faced with the threat from the new and
dangerous Types XXI and XXIII. Between the 2nd and 6th,
23 U-boats of all types were destroyed by the Typhoons,
Beaufighters, Mosquitoes and Liberators of the RAF and
Allied Tactical Air Forces. As the German fighter
defences crumbled, Allied aircraft roamed the Kattegat
and nearby waters catching many of the U-boats in the
Baltic or sailing for Norway.
A Royal Navy task force consisting of escort carriers
"Queen", "Searcher" and
"Trumpeter" with cruisers and destroyers and
under the command of Vice-Adm R. R. McGrigor returning
from Murmansk, launched strikes against shipping off Norway, and "U-711" was sunk near Narvik.
West of Bergen, a RAF Catalina of No 210 Squadron on
Northern Transit Area patrol destroyed "U-320", the very last U-boat casualty.