UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Situation before the 9th of April

Responsible for the defense of northern Norway was the 6.Division and 6.district command, with head quarter in commander generalmajor Carl Gustav Fleischer.

In the area 8/4

At Mosjöen: At Drevja: In Narvik: At Elvegardsmoen: At Målselv:
At Setermoen: At Harstad: At Bardufoss: At Tromsö At Altagard: At Kirkenes: At Nyborgmoen: In Finnmark:

The German assault

During the night between the 8th and 9th of April, ten large German destroyers ran into Ofotfjord. By a lucky coincidence they didn't have to face the British destrroyers guarding the mine field the British had placed on the sea lane from Narvik, as they had been ordered to join the main British force due to the reported presence of German naval units in the area.

Narvik was guarded by two old armoured ships; Norway and Eidsvold. Due to all the disturbing reports coming in on the 8th of April the are made ready for battle. Eidsvold sails out to a position a few miles outside Narvik, while Norway stays in the port.

When the destroyers approached Eidsvold the captain handled in accordance with the instructions for neutrality watch.

Well, lots of stuff to be added here ... but in the end both Eidsvold and Norway was sunk without loss to the Germans, and they landed in Narvik and at Elvegardsmoen and takes both without any serious opposition. Especially important was the depots at Elvegardsmoen that proved invaluable to the Germans in the weeks that followed.

Allied intervention

At eraly morning 10/4 five British destroyers raids Narvik chasing a single German ship as they thought. They completely surprises the German destroyers and sinks two destroyers and a number of transports, but are surprised themselves by the number of enemies around, and lose two destroyers on their way out.

Three days later, at 13/4, they are back, with the battleship Warsprite. All remaining German destroyers are destroyed, and the German troops in Narvik are bombarded, and reportedly severly shaken.

British destroyers

14/4 the first British troops are landed. It is half a battalion of the Scots Guards that lands in Sjövegan. The same day a conferece is held between the Norwegian commander Fleischer and vice admiral Cunningham..Next day the British main force (Avonforce) lands in Harstad, and a new conference is held with the British ground commander general major Mackesy and the Norwegian chief of Staff.. 

28/4 British war cabinet decides to replace GeneralMajor Mackesy with General C.J.E. Auchinleck. 

11/5 General Auchinleck arrives to Harstad to take command over the allied ground forces in the Narvik area from the 14th.

Norwegian mobilization

The following Norwegian units were mobilized in the district after the German invasion:
Alta battalion
I,  II and Lv/IR16
I and Lv/IR14 
School company from the school of 6.Div two howitzer batteries of Bergartilleribat.III (bg.btt.7, bg.btt.8) 
the garrision company at Varanger
various support units

The units of IR14 fought in the area Namsos-Bodö, and is thus not part of this story.
The garrision company were kept at the Soviet border in Finnmark 

Order of Battle from 29/4

6.Div
commander: generalmajor Fleischer
Lv.bat./IR16 (except one company and one mg platoon)
Transport units
Intendentur
Field hospitals

6.Brig
commander: oberst K R Löken
I/IR16
II/IR16
I/IR12
Bg.btt.8
San.kp.6

7.Brig
commander: oberst W Faye
Alta bataljon
II/IR15
Bg.btt.7
Mot.btt.9
Pi.tropp
Lv.san.kp.6
Lv.kp.2 + mitr.tr of Lv.bat./IR16

In Finnmark:
Varanger bat.
Varanger garr.comp.
Mot.btt.10

Slow advance

Amphibious operations

The advance through the roadless highlands on the north front was very cumbersom. To quicken the advance an amphibious assault against the German supply base and communication hub at Bjerkvik. On 13/5 it was executed by two battalions of the French Foreign Legion demi brig.13, with a few light tanks, and supported by destroyers. At the same time the French mountaineer battalions 6.BCA and 14.BCA, and the Norwegian 7.Brig should advance from north toward Bjerkvik. The Norwegian 6.Brig attacks further east, in the highlands. 

The beach defence in the town Bjerkvik proved to strong, so the landing crafts was redirected to south east of the town. The marine units defending the beaches abandoned their positions under the heavy fire from the supporting naval units, and the legionaires could establish a beachhead without heavy losses. A bicycle platoon headed the advance south, and secured the Öyord peninsula, facing Narvik on the other side of Rombaksfjord.

The fighting was harder at Bjerkvik and the ex Norvegian base at Elvegardsmoen. It was still an important supply base for the German troops, and if the French troops could take it, and a hill beyond, the German troops west and northwest of Bjerkvik could be cut off. The small hill was stubbornly defended, and wasn't taken until late. By then the German troops west and north of Bjerkvik had withdrawn.

The loss of Bjerkvik threatened the German positions in the mountains and they forced a general withdrawal to a new defence line.

High in the mountains

While the operation against Bjerkvik was planned and executed, the Norwegian 6th Brigade was putting pressure on the Germans in the roadless highlands east of Bjerkvik. The 

Assault on Narvik

On the night between 27th and 28th of May, French and Norwegian units made an amphibious assault over Rombaksfjord toward Narvik.Two battalions from the Foreign Legion, the Norwegian II/IR15, and two French tanks participated in the operation. 

The assault had first been scheduled for the 23.rd of May but had been postponed several times since. One reason was that the Norwegian radio had reported that a willage had been evacuated due to the preparations for an assault on Narvik, that was expected within a couple of days. The main reason was however that the preparations of airfields was lagging. To do the assault without at least some fighters protecting against the German bombers was considered to risky. One airfield under construction had to be abandoned as the ground turned soft and wet with the thaw. Finally an expansion of the Gardermoen airfield was ready, so that the airfield could accomodate a squadron of Hurricanes.

Due to the delay, the battleship that should support the operation was no longer available, and the German advance in the south improved their possibilities to give air support to their forces in Narvik. The number of available landing crafts had also dropped.

Two MLC (Motor Landing Craft) and three ALC (Assault Landing Craft) were available for the operation. And in addition a few "puffers" were used. The MLC had an capacity of 100 men and the ALC could take 30 men or one light tank, so no more than 290 men could be taken in each round trip.

The assault force was organized into three waves, and each wave into two echelons (one echelon would fit into the landing crafts). The target was Orneset. A small peninsula just north east of Narvik.

1st wave: 
1.bat. of 13.Demi Brigade of  L.E. (i.e. the 1st battalion of half brigade.13 from the Foreign Legion)
1st echelon, 1st group: 2 platoons and a number of machine guns, under Gilbert
1st echelon, 2nd group: 2 platoons and a number of machine guns, under de Guittaut
2nd echelon: 4 platoons, a number of machine guns and an infantry gun, under Bouchet

2nd wave: 
II/I.R.15

3rd wave: 
the second battalion of the Foreign Legion.

Two French and one Norwegian artillery batteries would support the operations from the Öyord peninsula, and one cruiser and a number of destroyers were available as naval support.

Before midnight the first wave emabked on the north side öf the Öyord peninsule, out of sight of the German defenders. The trip took ??? minutes to the selected landing place, Orneset - a small peninsula northeast of the town. It was defended by a platoon made up of Marine artillery personnel. They were quickly brushed aside, and a beach head was established. The target of the first assault group was Orneshaugen, a small hill near the railroad, while the second group should advance on tunnel no:1 and a German bunker there. The machine gun in the bunker could however not be silenced until the infantry gun of the second echelon had been man handled up to the railroad.

Allied landing crafts

The follow up waves should embark at Öyord, but the embarking place was open to German artillery fire, and had to be moved to a bay further east. In addition to making the time for the round trip longer, it also meant that the "puffers" that har been used in addition to the MLC and ALC, couldn't be used due to the shallow water.

At 4 in the morning, fog enveloped the airfield at Bardufoss, holding the fighter patrols on the ground. And shortly after German bombers appeared over the scene. Their primary target was the naval units in the fjord. The cruiser was hit by a couple of bombs, killing 30, but making no serious damage on the ship. The most important effect of the bombing was that the effect of the naval support was reduced by the constant escape manouvers by the ships.

The Norwegian battalion advanced through the perimeter held by the first wave, over the railroad and up on the mountain side. The available path of advance was narrow, only 60 m, forcing the battalion to advance in almost a column. When reaching their first target they were caught by a counter attack by kp.1/137, that was the German reserve in the area. The attack was successful. The Norwegians withdrew in disorder and the Germans could put the landing site under machine gun fire. The situation was however quickly restored. The officers could rally the men and the advance was renewed.

 

While French and Norwegian units assaulted the Narvik peninsula from north, the Polish brigade attacked from south west. Their primary target was Ankenes, where they would be able to put the road east from Narvik, on the north side of Beisfjord??, under fire. They were first thrown back by a German counter attack, but could then slowly advance toward Ankenes, while the Germans withdrew and evacuated by boat.

Threatened from both sides, the German troops in Narvik withdrew east along Beisfjord and deployed along a prepared defence line from Sildvik over to the bottom of Beisfjord.

The retreat was in good order and they had time to destroy the ore harbour. Something they probably did regret a few weeks later.

Ore harbour destroyed

Allied evacuation

Already a couple of days before the recapture of Narvik, the Allied High Command had decided to withdraw from Norway as soon as possible. The reason was of course the catastrophic situation on the West front, where France was collapsing. The decision was highly secret, and the Norwegian high command and government wasn't informed until a week later, and the Norwegian units not until the day of the evacuation, which was the 6th and 7th of June. Immediately after the evacuation the Norwegian high command began negotiating a cease fire and surrender. 

OOB

German defences

kp.1/137 108 men under Oberst Schweiger - airdropped reinforcement 23-25 May
kp.2/137 118 men under Oberst Riegler - airdropped reinforcement 23-25 May

kp.6/139
kp.7/139
kp.8/139

Weather conditions

Dense snow fall from 8/4 to the morning of 9/4. Roads are blocked by snow. The snow storm reaches Finnmark by the morning 9/4.
Dense snow fall and strong wind on 24/4.
Thaw and ice break in the mountains from the 10/5 makes supply situation in the mountains deteriorate.

Time line

3/4 Four supply ships (Alster, Bärenfels, Rauenfels and Kattegat) leave Wilhelmshafen for Narvik.
5/4 morningEight british destroyers leave Scapa Flow to lay mines in Vestfjord, on the shipping lanes from Narvik, and then guard them for 48 hours.
5/4 afternoonThe battle cruiser Renown and four destroyers, under admiral Whitworth sail from Scapa Flow, to patrol the mouth of Vestfjord.
7/4 morningTen destroyers under F. Bonte leave Cuxhafen for Narvik early in the morning, loaded with Geb.Reg.139 from Geb.Div.3.
8/4 morningThe destroyer Glowworm, that was part of adm. Whitworths force, had lagged behind and spotted two of Bonte's destroyers that also had lagged behind. Renown and Hipper answers to their destroyers call for help, but Hipper arrives first, and after a brief fight Glowworm is sunk, but she manages to damage Hipper.
8/4 05:00The Norwegian patrol vessel Syrian spots the British destroyers laying mines in Westfjord, and puts a formal protest.
8/4 The two Norwegian armoured ships in Narvik are put on alert, but remains in place to protect the ten German ore transport ships in the port.
8/4 morningA British Sunderland spots Assault group 2 (target Trondheim), northnorthwest of Trondheim, heading west. They were in fact cruising back and forth, waiting for the right time to enter Trondheimsfjord, but adm. Whitworth draws the conclusion that they are heading straight north.
8/4 09:45 Admiral Whitworth orders the destroyers guarding the minefields south of Narvik to leave the minefields and join his command (Renown and 1 destroyer), as he wants to hunt the German ships spotted by the Sunderland, and needs more destroyers.
8/4 15:00Renown has met up with the destroyers, and they runs west. The destroyers quickly falls behind due to the hard weather.
8/4 20:00 At about 20:00 the destroyers of assault group 1 enters Vestfjord.
8/4 20:00 Intelligence report from the Norwegian legation in London to 6.Div HQ that German ships are heading north, with Narvik as probable target.
8/4 20:50 The commander of 6.Div, General Fleischer, orders I/IR13 at Elvegardsmoen to Narvik, and II/IR15 from Setermoen further north to replace I/IR13 at Elvegardsmoen, and finally mot.batt.9 (motorized battery) from Målselv to Öyord (the peninsula between Elvegardmoen and Narvik).
8/4 evening The German vessel Jan Wellem reaches Narvik from a base at Murmansk. It is loaded with oil and equipment.
9/4  Narvik, Bjerkvik and the Norwegian base at Elvegardsmoen is taken by German troops
9/4 05:07Renown sights Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and opens fire at 14800 m. After a short action where Gneisenau was damaged, the german ships leaves Renown behind.
9/4 03:00The german force enters Ofotfjord and is spotted by Norwegian patrol boats.
9/4 04:37The Norwegian armoured ship Eidsvold, patroling in Ofotfjord, is sunk by the destroyer Heidkamp.
9/4 early morningThe German destroyers land their troops in Narvik, Bjerkvik and at presumed coastal batteries further out in the fjord.
9/4 05:00The other armoured ship in Narvik, Norge, is sunk in the port after a short fire fight against the German destroyers, who in the meantime had begun landing the troops.
9/4 morningGeneral Fleischer declares himself overcommander over northen norway, thereby taking command also over the naval district, and orders mobilization of the forces of 6.Div.
9/4
10/4 04:30Five destroyers under Warburton-Lee attacks the German destroyers at Narvik, sinking two but loosing two in return. Both Bonte and Warburton-Lee is killed during the action.
10/4 eveningA german patrol from Elvegardsmoen meets a Norwegian patrol from II/IR15 at Elvenes near Gratangsbotn, but there is no fighting. The Norwegian force takes position in Gratangen tourist lodge.
11/4 The Norwegian force in Gratangen is replaced by 6.Div school company.
12/4 Two German attacks against Gratangen are turned back, but when threatened by flank moves they withdraws 5 km to the hill Oalgge.
13/4 Warspite and nine destroyers attack Narvik, sinking or neutralizing all the eight remaining German destroyers. Landing of troops in Narvik was considered, but not done.
13/4 A German mountain battery is flown in by air.
14/4Macksey arrives at Harstad, and Cork at Skjellfjord in Lofoten. Cork wants an immediate assault on Narvik, but Mackesy won't agree on that plan.
16/404:00A German force (kp.1/139) surprises the Norwegian force that escaped from Narvik and held a position at Björnfjell, along the railway to Sweden. The Norwegian survivors flees over the border to Sweden.
24/4British ships bombard Narvik, with the option to land a battalion of the Irish Guard, had the German troops shown signs of surrendering.
24/4early morningNorwegian offensive against the German north front, with assault against Lapphaugen and a flank move over the mountains to Gratangen. Weather is very bad. The assault fails and the flank move is caught by surprise by a german counter strike, and severly mauled.
26/4Norwegian artillery forces the Germans to withdraw from their poosition at Lapphaugen. They withdraws to new positions furhter west.
27/4Norwegians take hill 509, dominating the area around Gratangen.
28/4British war cabinet decides to replace GeneralMajor Mackesy with General C.J.E. Auchinleck.
28/4The Germans withdraws from Gratangen to Hestevann-Reisevann.
29/4General Bethouart visit General Fleischer at his HQ and they agree on cooperating in an offensive south from 1/5.
29/46.Brig get contact with the Germans at lake Gressvann, in the highlands east of Gratangen
30/410:00
1/5
2/5II/IR15 take hill 785, four km south hill 509.
8/57.Brig take hill 856 (Roasme).
11/5General Auchinleck arrives to Harstad to take command over the allied ground forces in the Narvik area from the 14th.
13/5 Bjerkvik and Elvegardsmoen is recaptured
13/5Amphibious assault by two battalions of the foreign legion, against Bjerkvik. It is successful, and the Germans withdraw to a defence line further east.
14/5morningII/IR16 of 6.Brig take hill 717 at Storebalak.
14/5 6. B.C.A. withdrawn for rest and preparations
14/5 Polish 2.bat replaces British South Wales Borderers south west of Narvik.
15/5I/IR16 of 6.Brig assault Kuberget, but the assault fails.
15/5eveningII/IR16 of 6.Brig take the peak of Storebalak.
16/5I/IR16 of 6.Brig makes another failed attack against Kuberget.
17/5I/IR16 of 6.Brig takes hill 794, one km west Kuberget, and threatens the german supply lines to Kuberget.
17/5 German assault from Ankenes on 12. B.C.A. south west of Narvik
17/5eveningPolish 1.bat replaces 12. B.C.A., which withdraws to Lenviken north of Rombaksfjord.
19/5early morning14. B.C.A. is landed at Liljedal on north side of Rombaksfjord
21/500:25A company of II/IR16 takes hill 648
21/506:40II/IR16 reach the south end of the highland around Kobberfjell.
21/5The extension of Bardufoss airfield is ready
22/5early morningThe Germans withdraw from Kuberget.
23/5 Alta bat reaches Sirkelvann.
25/5 The order to evacuate all Allied troops from Norway is received at Harstad
28/5 Narvik is recaptured
28/5early morningFrench/Norwegian amphibious assault over Rombaksfjord toward Narvik.
28/5 Narvik is liberated by Norwegian and French troops, after the Germans has withdrawn to the east.
1/6 Hill 620 near the Swedish border is taken by Norwegian troops.
2/6 Norwegian King and government is informed about the coming allied withdrawal from Norway.
2/6 Operation Böffel begins. An over land marsch though roadless mountains from Bodö toward Narvik to relieve Dietls mountain troops.
3/6late eveningEvacuation of allied troops from Harstad begins
4/608:00Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Hipper and four destroyers leave Kiel for an attack against the Allied base at Harstad. Operation "Juno".
7/6 Norwegian King and Government leaves Norway on the British cruiser Devonshire
7/6eveningLast Allied units leave Norwegian soil
7/6 Hill 698 near the Swedish border is taken by Norwegian troops
8/6 Demobilization of Norwegian units begins
8/6 Advanced elements of the Böffel force reach Hellemobotn
8/6afternoonScharnhorst and Gneisenau sinks the British carrier Glorious and two escorting destroyers
9/615:00German note demanding cease-fire at 16:00 is received by the legation in Stockholm.
9/624:00Official cease-fire and Norwegian surrender
   

Weapons

Mortars

The 81 mm mortars were invaluable to the Norwegians in the battles in the highlands. The Germans lost most of their heavy mortars on the stormy voyage. They had small 50mm mortars, but their combat value was limited.

Artillery