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THE LOSS OF THE
RUTLANDSHIRE


THE INVASION OF NORWAY

 

By early March 1940, Sweden and Norway were being subjected to political manoeuvring by both the Allies and Germany. Intent on maintaining their neutrality and not wishing to be drawn into the Finnish-Russia conflict, both countries refused to allow any foreign troops safe passage to Finland; a stance taken to avoid any adverse reaction from either Germany or Russia. Consequently, the allied objectives for a planned occupation of Norway were hampered by political considerations. Originally planned for the 20th March 1940, the planned invasion of Denmark and Norway was finally approved by Hitler on the 2nd April 1940 with Operation Weserϋbung now targeted for the early hours of 9th April 1940.

Between the 6th and 8th April 1940, five major German naval surface groups departed for the simultaneous invasion of Denmark and Norway. Their targets in Norway were Oslo, Kristiansand and Bergen in the south, Trondheim in the centre and Narvik in the north with detached units designed for Horten, Arendal and Egersund. Several secondary targets included Åndalsnes, Namsos and Tromsø but were abandoned due to transport restrictions. Despite British warships mining the seaways approaching Narvik (Operation Wilfred), several groups of German warships landed troops as far north as Narvik on the 9th April 1940 whilst in the south, Bergen, Kristiansand and Trondheim were attacked.

Amongst the first allied troops to land on Norwegian soil were a party of 350 Royal Marines and armed seaman, landing at Namsos during the night of the 13th/14th April 1940, followed by a detachment from the 24th Guards Brigade, on the evening of the 14th April 1940. On the 16th/17th April 1940 additional British troops (146th Infantry Brigade commanded by General Carton de Wiart) began to disembark at Namsos and immediately pushed forward towards Steinkjer and establish contact with Colonel Getz now commanding the Norwegians at Steinkjer. On the 19th April 1940 two Battalions of the French "1st Chasseurs Alpins" Division (mountain troops) arrived at Namsos.
 

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