The Invasion of Norway 70 Years On
On the 9th April 1940 Norway was invaded by the German Army. The King of Norway, the government and the nations gold reserves fled north from Oslo to escape the blitzkreig. The small, under equipped Norwegian armed forces began a brave resistance to try and slow the occupation. They were sooned joined by a counter invasion force sent from Scotland. Amongst them was the 1st battalion Green Howards, who including my Great Uncle are featured on the front cover of The Unknown Warriors. It was the first military ground battle between Germany and Britain since the guns fell silent in 1918. The Germans were unstoppable and the Allies were overwhelmed by dive bombing Stukas and heavy artillery. Despite an overall failure to stop the invaders there was many individual acts of bravery. For example, the Green Howards met the Germans in the Gudbrandsdalen valley at the Battle of Otta. They only had light ammunition and faced an onslaught of scores of Stuka dive bombing planes, tanks etc. They waited until the Germans were only 400 metres away before opening up on them from their slit trenches. They managed to hold 7 divisions off for 24 hours. Lieutenant Commander Gerard Broadmead Roope, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross after he ordered his ship, HMS Glowworm, to ram the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper that was part of a naval force on its way to land forces at Trondheim. It was the first VC awarded during World War Two.
A rearguard was formed and the Allies began to evacuate. King Haakon escaped to Britain on HMS Glasgow along with many Norwegian forces who fought as Free Norwegians throughout the war. For the next five years Norway was under occupation, led by a puppet leader Vidkun Quisling (Quisling became a term in English to describe a traitourous leader taking orders from an outside country) and a brave resistance movement struggled on alone in their fight for freedom until liberation came in 1945. Nearly 1,000 British & Commonwealth servicemen lost their lives in the Norwegian campaign.
For a more detailed history visit the Wikipedia page on the subject HERE
Last year I made contact with a filmmaker, Stian Trovik of Trondheim, who it turns out from about the same time as I was hearing from WW2 veterans in late 2006 he had begun a TV documentary project to interview as many survivng Norwegian and British veterans who fought in 1940 as possible. He came over to the UK and filmed some British veterans. Without his efforts it is likely that their memories would have not been recorded as they now have been. Above is a teaser for his documentary which will hopefully be on TV soon. I will keep readers to this website posted if there is any news about it being shown on UK TV.