The struggle for neutrality

Although the Second World War had started with Hitler’s Invasion of Poland and the subsequent declaration of war by Britain and France, the following months saw little in the way of serious military action by the west to such an extent it was referred to as the Phoney War. However, both sides sought to open a ‘second front’ motivated by a desire to avoid the devastating trench warfare of the First World War.

In neutral Norway, the government had begun mobilising parts of the army, air force and navy, in anticipation of the conflict spreading and threatening their neutrality. Of particular concern, was incidents occurring in Norwegian waters – several British merchant ships had already been sunk by German U-Boats and now aircraft from both sides were breaching Norwegian air space.

Furthermore, and due to diplomatic pressure from Britain, Norway agreed to provide access to the UK to 450,00 tonnes of Norwegian merchant shipping, including 150 oil tankers. For the Norwegian government, the need to keep supply lines open outweighed the fear of appearing to compromise their own neutrality by being seen to favour the Allies.

!940's map showing Norway and neighbouring Sweden and Denmark.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SnapshotsVintageMaps


A strategic asset

Norway itself, was seen as being of strategic importance, primarily due to important Swedish Iron Ore being transported through Norway via the port of Narvik, especially when the Baltic Sea was frozen over. The German Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Erich Raeder recognised the importance of Norway and the danger if Britain invaded and gained control of important naval bases in the Baltic Sea.

For the Germans, gaining control of Norwegian waters, would create gaps in the naval blockade and allow their ships access to the Atlantic Ocean, particularly important as their U-boats were to play a significant role in the Battle of the Atlantic. And controlling Norwegian airspace would give Germany the ability to extend the range of its aircraft far across the Atlantic and reach the Northern parts of Great Britain and Scotland.

 

Großadmiral  Erich Raeder

https://ww2gravestone.com/

1940' 's map of Trondeim, of major strategic importance during the Norwegian Campaign.

All sizes | Trondheim Kommune / Trondheim Municipality (1940) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The Soviet threat

Map showing the Finnmark area of Norway in the north of the country.

https://www.researchgate.net

The outbreak of the Winter War brought the fighting ever closer to Norway’s borders, with its neighbour Finland being attacked by the Soviet Union. In response, and fearing an attack on Norway, the Norwegian government increased mobilisation, placing nearly 10,000 troops from the 6th division, in the Finnmark area of Norway. Much of this force remained here, even after the German invasion, such was the fear of a Soviet attack.

Notably, the Norwegians once again, broke their own neutrality by secretly supplying the Finns with 12 Ehrhardt 7.5 cm Model 1901 artillery pieces and 12,000 shells. They also allowed the British to transfer aircraft and other weaponry to Finland via Norwegian territory. Slowly but surely, Norway was being drawn into the wider conflict.

These resulted in two main outcomes. The Allies began planning to use this access to send over four divisions of troops to secure the vital Iron Ore fields and Norwegian ports. The French were supportive of this plan is it would hopefully switch the German focus away from their own country.

For their part, the Germans were concerned at the unfolding developments. Anti-German hostility was growing in Scandinavia, thanks to the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (the temporary alliance of convenience between the two otherwise ideologically opposed countries – Germany and the Soviet Union.) In the eyes of many from Scandinavia, this put Germany in league with the hostile Soviets, despite the Germans adopting an officially neutral stance in the ongoing Finnish-Soviet conflict.

The Germans thus feared that this hostility would manifest itself in increased support for the Allies, leading to them sending troops to Norway.

As it happened, the German fears remained unfounded. The Swedes and Norwegians rejected the Allied plans to move troops through their territory, and the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty on 12 March 1940 brought the Winter War to a close. With the abandoning of the Allied plans, pressure mounted on the Chamberlin government which lead to the British considering their next move. The war continued to creep closer to Norway.


The influence of Quisling

Hitler had initially wanted Norway to remain neutral, hoping this would allow for vital shipping to pass through Norwegian waters unmolested.

However, Großadmiral Erich Raeder and a prominent, Pro-Nazi Norwegian minister Vidkun Quisling, pushed for a German invasion with Quisling envisaging a pan-Germanic cooperation between Nazi Germany and Norway.

Hitler reconsidered his stance, started to examine Norway coming directly under the Nazi sphere influence and ordered the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) – the German upper command of the armed forces, to start to assess the feasibility of a German invasion of Norway.

 

Norwegian politician and Nazi supporter, Vidkun Quisling.

About Arkivverket (National Archives of Norway) | Flickr


Allied plans

With the end of the Winter War, the British Government initially decided that any military intervention in Norway and Sweden at this stage, could cause more harm than good, particularly as it might negatively influence the views of any neutral countries.

The French advocated a more aggressive stance though and the new French prime minister, Paul Reynaud, pushed for military actions against the Germans.  Future British prime minister, Winston Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty, also backed taking a strong line against the Germans, hoping to bring the Scandinavian countries into the Allied cause.

British First Lord of the Admiralty (later prime minister) Winston Churchill.

https://totallyhistory.com

French prime minister Paul Reynaud.

https://everipedia.org

Operation Wilfred was created, designed to mine Norwegian waters to interfere with the iron ore shipments, forcing transport ships into international waters where they could be destroyed, and provoke Germany into attacking Norway – where they could then be defeated by the Royal Navy.

To work in conjunction with Wilfred, was the unimaginatively named Plan R 4, where the Allies would occupy Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, and Stavanger – without provoking the Norwegians into resisting by force.

A third operation, Operation Royal Marine, where mines would also be placed in the Rhine River, was vetoed though as the French also relied on access to the river and they feared German reprisal air raids on their factories. To avoid any issues, Operation Wilfrid was rescheduled for 8 April and to be conducted separately from any operation on the continent.

However, once fighting broke out on land, the Norwegians were able to field six infantry division, totalling around 19,000 soldiers. Overall, their armed forces numbered around 60,000 trained soldiers spread across various regiments but due to the speed of the German advances, not all were able to see combat. The Allies had also sent across an expeditionary force of 38,000 men, consisting of British, French and Polish troops. However, the quality of the Allied soldiers training and equipment was mixed.


German Planning

On 16 February 1940, the dramatic events of the Altmark Incident unfolded. A Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Cossack, entered Norwegian territorial waters, intercepted and boarded the German auxiliary ship, Altmark, overpowered the crew and freed 299 Allied Prisoners, who had been rescued from ships sunk by the German Admiral Graf Spee Pocket Battleship.

This act of daring aggression by the Allies, led to the Germans accelerating the planning of the Invasion of Norway – codenamed: Operation Weserübung.

The Germans planned to occupy Norway to secure access to the vital Iron Ore fields and prevent any interference from the Allies. The Germans planned to frame this as an act of ‘protecting’ Norway from Allied aggression.

Unfortunately for Denmark, it lay between Germany and Norway and was decreed vital enough to also be invaded and occupied to ensure the prime objective – Norway – could be secured.

 

General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, planned and led the German invasion and conquest of Norway. 

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2006-0529-501 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Additionally, with the Germans already planning Fall Gelb – the invasion of France and the Low Countries – they had to ensure they had sufficient forces at their disposal to achieve both objectives, so launching them simultaneously was out of the question.

So the decision was made to deal with Denmark and Norway first. April 9th was set as the date for the launch of Operation Weserübung.

German Fallschirmjäger in Norway, 1940.

ww2gallery | Flickr

The invasion was to be carried out by XXI Army Corps under General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst. He had the following units at his disposal

  • 69th Infantry Division
  • 163rd Infantry Division
  • 181st Infantry Division
  • 196th Infantry Division
  • 214th Infantry Division
  • 3rd Mountain Division

His mission was to capture six main objectives by amphibious landings:

  • Oslo
  • Kristiansand
  • Egersund
  • Bergen
  • Trondheim
  • Narvik

Also capture airfields using Fallschirmjäger (paratroops):

  • Fornebu outside of Oslo
  • Sola outside of Stavanger

The German heavy cruiser Blücher.

tJJpuAD.jpg (1200×882) (imgur.com)

The German forces would be organised as follows:

  • Gruppe 1: Ten destroyers transporting 2,000 Gebirgsjäger troops commanded by General Eduard Dietl to Narvik
  • Gruppe 2: The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and four destroyers and 1,700 troops to Trondheim
  • Gruppe 3: The light cruisers Köln and Königsberg, with several smaller support vessels to Bergen
  • Gruppe 4: Light cruiser Karlsruhe, three torpedo boats, seven motor torpedo boats and Schnellboot mothership Tsingtau with 1,100 troops to Kristiansand and Arendal.
  • Gruppe 5: The heavy cruisers Blücher and Lützow, the light cruiser Emden three torpedo boats and eight minesweepers with 2,000 troops to Oslo.
  • Gruppe 6: Four minesweepers with 150 troops to Egersund

The battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would escort Gruppe 1 and 2.

 

For the invasion of Denmark, the Germans organised their forces as follows:

  • Two motorized brigades would capture key bridges.
  • Fallschirmjäger would capture Aalborg airfield in the north
  • The Luftwaffe would concentrate on destroying the Danish aircraft on the ground.
  • Troopships would transport in soldiers to capture the Danish High Command in Copenhagen.

 

In total, the Germans deployed seven divisions and a Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) battalion, a total of around 100,000 troops. They also used various panzer and artillery units as well as the Luftwaffe 10th Air Corps of approximately 1000 aircraft, including 500 transport planes and 186 Heinkel He 111 medium bombers. Most of their major Kriegsmarine (naval units) were also deployed.


Fleet manoeuvres

The first acts of the German invasion - Operation Weserübung -  was the sending in of supply vessels ahead of the main force. The following day, the Allied dispatched sixteen submarines to give advance warning for any German actions.

The next day, the battlecruiser HMS Renown and twelve destroyers were dispatched from Scapa Flow. The two sides were edging towards open conflict and doing it in Norwegian territory.

On 7 Weather, heavy weather blanketed the area in fog and caused rough seas. This allowed the Germans to sneak out Gruppe 1 and Gruppe 2 under cover of the rough weather.

Despite this, the German flotilla – incorrectly assessed as one cruiser and six destroyers (in reality, it included one battlecruiser, two cruisers and ten destroyers) - was discovered 170km off the south coast of Norway at Naze and attacked by RAF bombers, although they escaped damage.

At this point, the Allies – led by Admiral Sir Charles Forbes, Commander-in-Chief of the British Home Fleet - thought the Germans were trying to break the blockade and disrupt Atlantic trade routes, rather than invade Norway, and so reacted accordingly.

 

German and British naval movements from 7–9 April.

HyperWar

At this point, although each side are aware of the other movements, they are unaware of the seriousness of the situation, so carried on as planned. The British ships proceeded to Vestfjord in Norway and started minelaying operations; the Germans continued with their invasion plans. The two sides had yet to make direct contact – although this was soon to change.


The Hipper strikes

Out at sea, the destroyer HMS Glowworm, delayed on its way to Norway and separated from the rest of the British ships after a man fell overboard, stumbled upon the German Z11 Bernd von Arnim and then Z18 Hans Lüdemann destroyers.

After a brief firefight, the Germans withdrew and alerted the German Cruiser, Admiral Hipper, which intercepted and sunk the outgunned Glowworm (although not before being rammed and damaged by her first).

The British Admiralty soon learnt from a part radio transmission from the doomed Glowworm, that a large German ship was involved. In response, they ordered the even larger Battlecruiser Renown and the destroyers to head for the Glowworms last known location.

Admiral Hipper

Admiral Hipper - Imgur


Lost opportunities

On the same day, 8 April, the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł – now serving with the Royal Navy after escaping Estonia in the Orzeł Incident, intercepted and sank the Rio De Janerio – a clandestine German troop ship trying to sneak into Norway.

When the Polish crew discovered military equipment and supplies and uniformed soldiers amongst the wreckage, they smelt a rat and informed the British Admiralty. However, with the Royal Navy distracted by the missing Glowworm, this information was never acted upon.

Similarly, Norwegian fishing boats had also rescued German survivors from the Rio De Janerio, and after interrogating them, discovered they were on their way to Bergen in Norway. Yet again, this vital information was passed on – this time to the Norwegian government – but not acted upon. They too were distracted by the ongoing British mining operations in Norwegian waters, so this important piece of information also fell by the wayside.

That afternoon, the British Admiralty got wind of a large German flotilla heading west and dispatched the Home Fleet to intercept. Plan R4 was cancelled by Churchill and the four cruisers involved to essentially drop everything and join the Home Fleet. There was now an increasing sense of urgency.


A slow mobilisation

As events started to unfold, the Norwegian government had begun to realise what was happening and the cabinet met overnight in the capital, Oslo, to discuss the situation. They authorised a mobilisation of a further four of the Norwegian Army field brigades (out of six in total).

On reflection, this may seem a fairly muted response (why not mobilise all of them?), given the hostile intentions of the Germans. Certainly, the Norwegian chief of the general staff, Rasmus Hatledal had pushed for full mobilisation, but demands were dismissed by the defence minister Birger Ljungberg. Given the growing strength of Nazi Germany and the lurking threat of Soviet Russia, the Norwegians were always aware of the consequences of unnecessarily provoking either of these countries.

The first Norwegian soldiers arrive at Ingstadkleiven fortress after mobilisation 1940, The fortress is often referred to as Hegra fortress,

https://www.pinterest.fr/pin/391883605060087927/

Another factor which highlights how ill-prepared for war the Norwegians were, was the method of partial mobilisation. Given the speed and decisiveness of the German military actions, relying on the postal system to inform your troops that they are needed to fight seems a slow and inefficient way to do it. But this was indeed the case in 1940s Norway (and probably elsewhere too).

Additionally, it was decreed that it would be carried out in secret, which removed the possibility of any public announcements to help speed up the process. Worse still, the only cabinet member who knew the mobilisation details - defence minister Ljungberg – failed to inform any of his colleagues. Naturally, all of these factors led to substantial confusion and delays in the mobilisation. 


Oslofjord

In what would be known as the Action in the Oslofjord, Gruppe 5 were intercepted by a Norwegian patrol vessel Pol III close to Oslofjord, which alerted nearby coastal batteries on Rauøy island, before then engaging the German ships.

It managed to damage the Albatros torpedo boat before being set ablaze by German fire, killing the captain. Gruppe 5 carried on to its destination, clearing the Norwegian batteries without any issues.

British and German landings during the Norwegian Campaign.

https://www.asisbiz.com/


Denmark falls

On 9 April, Denmark is successfully invaded and captured by German 170th Infantry Division and German 198th Infantry Division under command of General Kaupitsch. With Denmark now secured, the route to Norway is now open. Given its proximity to both Germany and Norway, it was always likely that it would be invaded and occupied at some point.

German Leichter Panzerspähwagen armoured car in Jutland., Denmark. The entire Jutland peninsula was taken over by German troops with surprising speed. Here armoured troops pass through the city of Viborg on their advance northward.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-753-0010-19A / Bieling / CC-BY-SA 3.0


9th April – the German onslaught

In many places, the Germans face little resistance – such as Egersund – where a German bicycle squadron, landed by minesweepers manage to successfully capture the town.

In a major blow, at the Battle of Drøbak Sound, the German cruiser Blücher was badly damaged by shore batteries at Oscarsborg Fortress, ironically by two German made Krupp guns. In less than two hours, having been essentially trapped and unable to manoeuvre in a narrow fjord, it succumbed to multiple artillery and torpedo hits and sank with the loss of 600 – 1000 men. This forced the Germans to land their forces further south than intended. It also bought enough time for the Norwegian Royal Family; the Cabinet and various members of parliament to be evacuated along with the Norwegian national treasury.

British troops from the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in Norway.

https://www.dailyscandinavian.com/

That evening at the Battle of Fornebu, located near the Norwegian capital Oslo, a vastly outnumbered Norwegian Army Air Service took on the might of the Luftwaffe with a handful of aircraft, shooting down several before a lack of fuel put a halt to their spirited resistance. German airborne troops conducted landings here along with others at Kjevik Airport at Kristiansand and Sola Air Station, Rogaland. One of the pilots involved in these landings was the future high-ranking Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich.

The fighting at Sola Air Station constituted the first-time in history that paratroopers attempting a landing had faced opposition. A force of 132 Fallschirmjägers had conducted the landing at Sola, only to face opposition from a single machine gun bunker, which succeeded in causing 3 casualties amongst the German paratroopers, before being knocked out by a hand grenade which also injured the Norwegian gunner and put an end to his brave resistance.

Another German ship – the cargo ship MS roda – carrying supplies for the invasion, was sunk– this time by a Norwegian Destroyer the Æger – which in turn was itself sunk outside Stavanger by ten German Junkers Ju 88 bombers.

The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper landing troops in Norway in 1940.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-757-0037N-26A / Lange, Eitel / CC-BY-SA 3.0

At Kristiansand, fierce fighting took place as German invaders clashed with Norwegian defenders holed up in Odderøya Fortress. After several hours fighting, damage to civilian areas and several Norwegian soldiers killed – all while facing a vastly more powerful German force – the Norwegians were forced to surrender.

Meanwhile, at Horten Harbour, the Germans launched an amphibious attack on the naval base at Karljohansvern. After being beaten back by determined Norwegian resistance, the Germans eventually managed to outflank the defenders and force them to capitulate.

Further north, the British battlecruiser Renown – whilst searching for signs of the destroyer Glowworm stumbled upon two of Germanys most powerful ships – the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. A brief battle occurred off the Lofoten Archipelago which became known as the Action off Lofoten and resulted in the German battleships being hit several times and forced to withdraw and make their escape. The Renown attempted to pursue the retreating German vessels but the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau used their superior speed to escape.

British battlecruiser HMS Renown which clashed with the German  battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, ultimately driving them off.

https://i.imgur.com/iwAWJe1.jpg

At Arendal, the Greif, a German torpedo boat, landed a force of bicycle troops to seize the town and create a bridgehead. The German capture of the town was successful – the sole Norwegian torpedo boat present chose to withdraw, citing the fear of civilian casualties and little prospect of repelling the Germans.

With Norway continuing to resist – much to the German surprise – Vidkun Quisling and his German counterparts decided that a coup was necessary to seize power away from the departing Royal family and legitimate Norwegian government.  With German support, Quisling was able to broadcast his coup d'etat from the studios or Norwegian Radio (NRK) in Oslo, which was now under German occupation. At 19:30, he announced the formation of a new government with himself as prime minister.

On the night of 9/10 April, a German raiding party attempted to intercept and capture the Norwegian King Hakon VII and his government who had fled the invasion. The ensuing battle around Midtskogen farm, close to Elverum, resulted in the Germans being forced to withdraw and the King and his ministers continuing their escape. 

 

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

Department of History, United States Military Academy.

 


Narvik

The Battles of Narvik occurred on the refer to the first and second naval battles which occurred on the 10th and 13th of April - not long after the German invasion and resulted in successive British victories. 

The Germans initially conquered Narvik after landing 2000 mountain troops. But the British responded by sending in the battleship HMS Warspite and a supporting flotilla of destroyers. Over the course of the next few days, the ten defending German destroyers were dispatched one by one, each one ending up on the ocean floor, along with several cargo ships and other craft.

The associated land battle – which lasted considerably longer and involved troops from several countries, saw the first victory against German forces in the Second World War. Ultimately though, the end result was a German victory, and the Allied troops were forced to withdraw.

The landings at Bjerkvik during the battle of Narvik after fierce bombardment by British ships. French troops massed in boats under machine gun fire from the rocks and shore.

https://www.iwm.org.uk


Further actions

The Luftwaffe also took part in the German onslaught: The Norwegian towns of Nybergsund, Elverum, Åndalsnes, Molde, Kristiansund N, Steinkjer, Namsos, Bodø, and Narvik were all hit by the Luftwaffe. Some were legitimate targets but others – given their lack of military targets – could be described as victims of terror bombing.

On 14th April, a company of German Fallschirmjäger (Paratroopers) were dropped near the vital railway junction of Dombås as part of the German plans to capture the southern parts of Norway. After five days for fighting the German paratroopers were forced to surrender.

The Namsos Campaign in April and early May, saw heavy fighting between British, Norwegian, and French forces on one side and the invading German forces on the other. It was one of the first occasions during the Second World War when British and French land forces engaged German land forces. After a period of intense fighting, the German forces emerged victorious.

 

Effects of the German bombing of Voss

Harald Ødegaard

The Åndalsnes Landings were a British operation from 19 April to early May to land a British Expeditionary Force to support the Norwegians defence of Trondheim. However, the plan ultimately failed resulting in a heavy defeat for the British forces.

In what was one of the hardest fought battles of the Norwegian theatre, for two days (25 – 26 April), British and Norwegian troops attempted to hold off advancing German troops at the village of Kvam in Oppland – a clash known as the Battle for Kvam – as the German forces attempted to advance rapidly through central Norway.

For over 3 weeks – from 15 April – 5 May 1940, a small force of Norwegian volunteers, stationed in Hegra Fortress, held off a larger and more powerful German force, only capitulating after all other forces in Southern Norway had surrendered as well.

A German soldier takes cover during fighting in Norway.

Launched to coincide with a Norwegian counterattack at Narvik, on 23 – 25 April, the Norwegian 6th Division attempted to push the German forces out of Gratangen and back towards Narvik. However, the attempt ended in disaster for the Norwegians resulting in a convincing victory for the German forces.

On 24th April, Norwegian and German forces clashed at Høljarast Bridge, as the Norwegians attempted to hold up the German advance. Although the Norwegians were forced to withdraw, they succeeded in destroying the bridge, temporarily holding up the German advance.

Between 3 -5 May, one of the last Norwegian strongholds at Vinjesvingen, in the Tellmark region, finally surrendered - after inflicting significant losses on the German attackers – when it became clear that the Germans had captured the rest of Southern Norway and no relief was forthcoming.

Group of officers of the Polish Independent Podhalan Rifles Brigade discussing plans on the road near Borkenes during the Norwegian Campaign.

From left to right: Lieutenant Ludwik Kwiatkowski (Adjutant); Major Janusz Iliński, the Liaison Officer to the British GHQ and Deputy Chief of Staff; General Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko, the CO of the Brigade; and Captain Zenon Starkiewicz, the CO of the Fourth Bureau of the Staff.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/

The Actions in Nordland occurred from 8 May – 1 June 1940 and refer to British attempts to disrupt German attempts to reinforce their troops at Narvik and to reinforce retreating Norwegian troops. The attempts ultimately failed though, and German reinforcements were able to link up with the isolated German units in Narvik.

Operation Alphabet from 4 – 8 June 1940, was the successful evacuation of British, French and Polish troops from Narvik harbour, which marked the effective end of the direct Allied involvement in the Norwegian Campaign and the success of the German Operation Weserübung. Although the Allies had actually pushed the Germans out of Narvik, the German attack on France and the Low Countries had now become the priority for British military commanders and the 38,000 Allied troops in Norway were needed elsewhere.

Operation Juno was a brief German naval operation on 8 June 1940 which resulted in the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sinking the British aircraft carrier, HMS Glorious and its two escorting destroyers, with the loss of over 1500 men.

Norwegian Relief wartime poster highlighting the plight of the Norwegians.

University of Minnesota


Aftermath

As the Norwegian King and his legitimate government was never captured by the Germans (King Haakon, Crown Prince Olav, and the Cabinet Nygaardsvold left from Tromsø 7 June aboard the British cruiser HMS Devonshire), so there was no legal basis for Norway having surrendered.

This meant the replacement Quisling government remained illegitimate. The Norwegian government-in-exile, which was based in the UK, remained the legitimate government and an official Allied nation.

Although the Germans had been pushed out of Narvik on 28 May, they recaptured it on the 9th of June after much of the civilian population had fled due to Luftwaffe bombing.

 

King Hakon VII of Norway

www.gettyimages.com.au

Although the Germans had successfully conquered both Denmark and Norway, their land forces once again demonstrating their effectiveness, it had extolled a heavy toll on the Kriegsmarine, with the German Navy – having suffered heavy losses during this campaign – reduced to one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers and four destroyers operational. This would be a factor when Hitler later considered a seaborne invasion of Great Britain, particularly given the strength of the Royal Navy who would inevitably be at the forefront of opposing any invasion attempts.

Conversely, the Luftwaffe benefitted greatly from the campaign, gaining valuable experience and gaining access to airfields in the North from which they could target Scotland and other parts of the UK which would have otherwise been too far for the German aircraft to reach.

Table detailing Norwegian ships under Allied and German control after the conclusion of the Norwegian Campaign.

http://www.warsailors.com  "Nortraships flåte", Vol I, J. R. Hegland.

Although the Allies had ultimately lost the campaign, they had gained 85% of Norway’s considerable merchant fleet – the fourth largest in the world - which had escaped to the UK. (the other 15% being unable to escape Norway in time). The Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission (Nortraship) was set up in London to administer around 1000 Norwegian vessels, which became the largest shipping company in the world and made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort.

However, politically, the Allied defeat had political ramifications and the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, took the brunt of the blame. This led to the ‘Norway Debate’ in the British House of Commons.

Leo Amery addressing prime minister Neville Chamberlain.

Lasting two days, Chamberlain was lambasted by a succession of politicians regarding the conduct of the Norwegian Campaign and led to his resignation on the 10th of May, with Winston Churchill taking his place as prime minister.



Sources:

Wikipedia

https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/He-111/KG26/pages/Artwork-showing-a-map-of-KG100-Targets-during-Norwegian-Campaign-1940-01.html

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https://www.flickr.com/people/59811348@N05

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2006-0529-501 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

HyperWar The campaign in Norway by T.K. Derry

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Mohaimin-ul-Kabir

https://military-history.fandom.com/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Norwegian_Campaign#:~:text=%20Timeline%20of%20the%20Norwegian%20Campaign%20%201,troops.%20Anglo-French%20forces%20land%20at%20Mosj%C3%B8en...%20More%20

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-753-0010-19A / Bieling / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-757-0037N-26A / Lange, Eitel / CC-BY-SA 3.0

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Tor Kjolberg

Harald Ødegaard

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www.gettyimages.com.au

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https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205094646

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"Nortraships flåte", Vol I, J. R. Hegland.

Conservative leadership: A real-life House of Cards? - BBC News