Norwegian Operation of 1940

Norwegian Operation of 1940

 

combat actions of the armed forces of fascist Germany directed at capturing Norway and Denmark, carried out from April 9 to June 8 in World War II (1939–45).

With a view to seizing a strategic base of operations against Great Britain and subsequently also against the USSR, the fascist German command devised a plan to attack Denmark and Norway with naval and air landing forces. The code name for the plan was Weserübung, or Weser Exercise. Denmark had five small divisions and a small navy, and Norway had six divisions totaling only 15,500 men (50,000–55,000 after a partial mobilization), four ironclads for coastal defense, 30 torpedo boats, nine submarines, and 190 aircraft. The German command assigned two divisions and one brigade to invade Denmark and six divisions to invade Norway. (Later, one more division was moved up.) Totaling 140,000 men, Germany’s ground forces were to be supported by the Fifth Air Fleet (about 1,300 aircraft) and the main forces of the navy, including two battleships, seven cruisers, 14 destroyers, eight torpedo boats, 35 submarines, and numerous transport ships. Colonel General N. von Falkenhorst was in overall command of the operation.

The operation began suddenly at dawn on April 9. The same day that the German troops crossed the Danish border, naval and air landing forces disembarked in Denmark and quickly seized all the strong points. The Danish Army did not resist and soon surrendered by order of the government. In Norway on April 9, naval and air landing forces captured Oslo, Arendal, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik. Norwegian shore batteries located near Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, and Trondheim inflicted heavy losses on the German Navy. On April 10 the main forces of the fascist German ground troops began advancing on Norway by sea and by air. Between April 9 and 20 the fascist German troops occupied a large part of southern Norway with the help of their agents, composed of Quisling’s followers, traitors of the Norwegian people.

The threat to the British sea-lanes posed by the possible capture of Norway forced the Franco-British command to send Franco-British-Polish troops, totaling four divisions, to Norway’s aid; the troops landed near Narvik and Namsos on April 14 and in Andalsnes on April 17. However, an attempted offensive by Franco-British-Norwegian troops in central Norway ended with defeat near Lillehammer and Hamar between April 20 and 25, after which the Franco-British troops advanced toward Narvik. On May 3 the Norwegian troops operating in central Norway surrendered. King Haakon VII and the Norwegian government left for Great Britain.

In northern Norway the fighting around Narvik continued with varying success until June 8. Despite superiority in men and matériel and strong naval support, the British command of the landing forces acted indecisively and was unable to rout the enemy. From June 3 to 8 the Franco-British-Polish troops evacuated in view of the grave situation in France. On June 8 the remaining Norwegian troops under General O. Ruge, commander of the ground forces, surrendered, and Norway was completely occupied.

The Germans lost more than 5,000 men, three cruisers, ten destroyers, one torpedo boat, eight submarines, and 11 transport ships; five warships were damaged. The Norwegians lost about 2,000 in killed and wounded, and the Allies about 2,000 men, one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, nine destroyers, six submarines, and four transport ships; 17 warships were damaged. The capture of Norway and Denmark gave fascist Germany a strategically important base of operations in Northern Europe, provided improved bases for German submarines and aircraft, and ensured a supply of strategic raw materials from the Scandinavian countries.

REFERENCES

Vtoraia mirovaia voina 1939–1945. Moscow, 1958.
Ruge, F. Voina na more 1939–1945. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from German.)

I. M. GLAGOLEV

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