Battles of Narvik
Overview
 
The Battles of Narvik were fought from 9 April-8 June 1940 as a naval battle in the Ofotfjord
Ofotfjord
Ofotfjord or Narvik Fjord, an inlet of the Norwegian sea north of the Arctic circle, is Norway's 12th longest fjord, long, and the 18th deepest, with a maximum depth of . Along the shores of this fjord is the major town of Narvik...

 and as a land battle in the mountains surrounding the north Norwegian city of Narvik
Narvik
is the third largest city and municipality in Nordland county, Norway by population. Narvik is located on the shores of the Narvik Fjord . The municipality is part of the Ofoten traditional region of North Norway, inside the arctic circle...

 as part of the Norwegian Campaign
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

 of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

The two naval battles in the Ofotfjord on 10 April and 13 April were fought between the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

, while the two-month land campaign was fought between Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, French, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and Polish
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 troops against German and Austrian mountain troops, shipwrecked Kriegsmarine sailors and German Fallschirmjäger
Fallschirmjäger (World War II)
The Fallschirmjäger of Nazi Germany were the first German paratroopers to be committed in large-scale airborne operations. They came to be known as the "green devils" by the Allied forces they fought against during World War II...

from 1st battalion of the 1st Regiment, 7th Fliegerdivision
1st Parachute Division (Germany)
The German 1st Parachute Division was a German elite military parachute-landing Division that fought during World War II. A division of paratroopers was termed a Fallschirmjäger Division...

.

Narvik provided an ice-free harbour in the North Atlantic for iron ore
Swedish iron ore during World War II
Swedish iron ore was an important economic factor in the European Theatre of World War II. Both the Allies and the Third Reich were keen on the control of the mining district in northernmost Sweden, surrounding the mining towns of Gällivare and Kiruna...

 transported by the railway from Kiruna
Kiruna
Kiruna is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in Lapland province, with 18,154 inhabitants in 2005. It is the seat of Kiruna Municipality Kiruna (Northern Sami: Giron, Finnish: Kiiruna) is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in Lapland province, with 18,154 inhabitants in 2005. It is...

 in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

.
Encyclopedia
The Battles of Narvik were fought from 9 April-8 June 1940 as a naval battle in the Ofotfjord
Ofotfjord
Ofotfjord or Narvik Fjord, an inlet of the Norwegian sea north of the Arctic circle, is Norway's 12th longest fjord, long, and the 18th deepest, with a maximum depth of . Along the shores of this fjord is the major town of Narvik...

 and as a land battle in the mountains surrounding the north Norwegian city of Narvik
Narvik
is the third largest city and municipality in Nordland county, Norway by population. Narvik is located on the shores of the Narvik Fjord . The municipality is part of the Ofoten traditional region of North Norway, inside the arctic circle...

 as part of the Norwegian Campaign
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

 of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

The two naval battles in the Ofotfjord on 10 April and 13 April were fought between the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

, while the two-month land campaign was fought between Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, French, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and Polish
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 troops against German and Austrian mountain troops, shipwrecked Kriegsmarine sailors and German Fallschirmjäger
Fallschirmjäger (World War II)
The Fallschirmjäger of Nazi Germany were the first German paratroopers to be committed in large-scale airborne operations. They came to be known as the "green devils" by the Allied forces they fought against during World War II...

from 1st battalion of the 1st Regiment, 7th Fliegerdivision
1st Parachute Division (Germany)
The German 1st Parachute Division was a German elite military parachute-landing Division that fought during World War II. A division of paratroopers was termed a Fallschirmjäger Division...

.

Narvik provided an ice-free harbour in the North Atlantic for iron ore
Swedish iron ore during World War II
Swedish iron ore was an important economic factor in the European Theatre of World War II. Both the Allies and the Third Reich were keen on the control of the mining district in northernmost Sweden, surrounding the mining towns of Gällivare and Kiruna...

 transported by the railway from Kiruna
Kiruna
Kiruna is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in Lapland province, with 18,154 inhabitants in 2005. It is the seat of Kiruna Municipality Kiruna (Northern Sami: Giron, Finnish: Kiiruna) is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in Lapland province, with 18,154 inhabitants in 2005. It is...

 in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. Both sides in the war had an interest in securing this iron supply for themselves and denying it to the enemy, setting the stage for one of the first large-scale battles during the Second World War, since the invasion of Poland.

Prior to the German invasion, British forces had considered Narvik as a possible landing point for an expedition to help Finland in the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

. Such an expedition might also take control over the Swedish mines and open up the Baltic for the Allies. French politicians were also eager to start a second front as far away from France as possible.

German invasion

On 1 March 1940, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 ordered the invasion of Norway, codenamed Weserübung. This operation would involve most of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

. Participating units were divided into five groups, which were to occupy six of the main Norwegian ports.

Group I departed Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven is a city at the seaport of the free city-state of Bremen, a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It forms an enclave in the state of Lower Saxony and is located at the mouth of the River Weser on its eastern bank, opposite the town of Nordenham...

 on 6 April. It consisted of 10 German destroyer
German World War II destroyers
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the German Navy, the Kriegsmarine, had 21 destroyers . These had all been built in the 1930s, making them modern vessels...

s of the 1934A and 1936 classes (Georg Thiele
German destroyer Z2 Georg Thiele
The German destroyer Z2 Georg Thiele was a Type 1934 destroyer in the German Kriegsmarine, named after Korvettenkapitan Georg Thiele who commanded the Seventh Half Flotilla of torpedo boats in the Battle off Texel in October 1914....

, Wolfgang Zenker
German destroyer Z9 Wolfgang Zenker
Z9 Wolfgang Zenker was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s. Several days after the start of World War II, she unsuccessfully attacked, together with another destroyer, Polish ships anchored at the naval base on the Hel Peninsula. In early 1940 the ship made two successful minelaying...

, Bernd von Arnim
German destroyer Z11 Bernd von Arnim
Z11 Bernd von Arnim was a built for the German Navy in the late 1930s. At the beginning of World War II, the ship was initially deployed to blockade the Polish coast, but she was quickly transferred to the German Bight to lay minefields in German waters...

, Erich Giese
German destroyer Z12 Erich Giese
Z12 Erich Giese was a built for the German Navy in the late 1930s. At the beginning of World War II, the ship was used in the German Bight to lay minefields in German waters. In late 1939 the ship made one successful minelaying sortie off the English coast that claimed two merchant ships...

, Erich Koellner
German destroyer Z13 Erich Koellner
Z13 Erich Koellner was a built for the German Navy in the late 1930s. At the beginning of World War II, the ship was still working up. In early 1940 she made two successful minelaying sorties off the English coast that claimed six merchant ships...

, Diether von Roeder
German destroyer Z17 Diether von Roeder
Z17 Diether von Roeder was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

, Hans Lüdemann
German destroyer Z18 Hans Lüdemann
Z17 Hans Lüdemann was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

, Hermann Künne
German destroyer Z19 Hermann Künne
Z19 Hermann Künne was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

, Wilhelm Heidkamp
German destroyer Z21 Wilhelm Heidkamp
Z21 Wilhelm Heidkamp was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

 (flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

) and Anton Schmitt
German destroyer Z22 Anton Schmitt
Z22 Anton Schmitt was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

, commanded by Kommodore Friedrich Bonte
Friedrich Bonte
Friedrich Bonte was the German naval officer commanding the destroyer flotilla that transported invasion troops to Narvik during the German invasion of Norway in April 1940.-Naval career:...

. Each of the warships carried around 200 soldiers (a total of 1,900 Austrian mountain troopers (Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger, in English Mountain Riflemen, is the German designation for mountain infantry. The word Jäger is the traditional German term for rifleman...

) from the 139. Gebirgsjägerregiment of the 3rd Mountain Division
German 3rd Mountain Division
The 3rd Mountain Division was a formation of the German Wehrmacht during World War II. It was created from the Austrian Army's 5th and 7th Divisions following the Anschluss in 1938.-History:...

 commanded by General Eduard Dietl
Eduard Dietl
Eduard Dietl was a German general of World War II. He was born in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

). The troop-carrying destroyers were escorted most of the way by the battleships and .

In the early morning of 9 April, the destroyers of Group I passed Vestfjord
Vestfjord
Vestfjord is a Norwegian fjord, which would be described as a firth or an open bight of sea between the Lofoten archipelago and mainland Norway, northwest of Bodø...

 and arrived at Ofotfjord leading to Narvik, in fog and heavy snow. In Ofotfjord, they captured three Norwegian patrol boats (Senja, Michael Sars and Kelt). Before capture Kelt managed to send a message to the coastal defence ship HNoMS Norge
HNoMS Norge
HNoMS Norge was a coastal defence ship of the Eidsvold class in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Built by Armstrong Whitworth at Newcastle on Tyne in 1899, she was obsolete when torpedoed and sunk by German destroyers in Narvik harbour on 9 April 1940.-Description:Built as part of the general rearmament...

, alerting the local Norwegian naval commander of the incoming vessels. The German ships Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner and Hermann Künne landed their soldiers in Herjangsfjord
Herjangsfjord
Herjangsfjord, or Herjangen, is a fjord branch of the Ofotfjord in the municipality of Narvik in Nordland county, Norway. The fjord has a length of about 10 kilometres. Among the villages along the fjord are Bjerkvik and Herjangen....

 (a northern branch of Ofotfjorden) in order to capture a Norwegian regimental supply base at Elvegårdsmoen. Hans Ludemann and Hermann Künne also landed their troops in order to engage the nearby Norwegian forts (which turned out to be non-existent). Diether von Roeder remained in Ofotfjord in order to ensure German control of the sea. Erich Giese was delayed by engine trouble and did not join the main force for some time.

The main defence of Narvik were the old coastal defence ship
Coastal defence ship
Coastal defence ships were warships built for the purpose of coastal defence, mostly during the period from 1860 to 1920. They were small, often cruiser-sized warships that sacrificed speed and range for armour and armament...

s Eidsvold
HNoMS Eidsvold
HNoMS Eidsvold, or Panserskipet Eidsvold in Norwegian, was a coastal defence ship and the lead ship of her class, serving in the Royal Norwegian Navy...

 and Norge. Having been alerted by Kelt, both Norwegian ships prepared for combat: the guns were loaded and life preservers issued to the crew. Around 04:15, the Germans spotted Eidsvold, and Eidsvold immediately signalled the leading German destroyer with an aldis lamp. When the Germans failed to respond to the signal, a warning shot was fired across their bow.

The Germans had orders to occupy Norway peacefully if at all possible, so the German flagship Wilhelm Heidkamp stopped and signalled that it would send an officer to negotiate. A small launch ferried Korvettenkapitän Gerlach over to Eidsvold. Gerlach was taken to the bridge to speak to Captain Odd Isaachsen Willoch
Odd Isaachsen Willoch
Odd Isaachsen Willoch was a Norwegian naval officer who commanded one of the two coastal defence ships defending Narvik during the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940.-Personal life:...

.

Gerlach tried to convince Willoch that the Germans had arrived as friends, but that the Norwegians had to hand over their warships to the German armed forces. Captain Willoch asked for time to consult his commander, Captain Per Askim, the commander of Norge. This request was refused by the Germans, but while Willoch had been talking to the German officer the radio officer on board Eidsvold had communicated the events to Askim. Askim's response to the German demands and order to Willoch came immediately; Willoch and Eidsvold was to open fire. Willoch responded to Askim; "I am attacking." While this was going on, the German destroyer Wilhelm Heidkamp had positioned herself 700 m (765.5 yd) off the port side of Eidsvold and trained her torpedo launchers on the Norwegian ship.

Gerlach tried once again to convince Willoch to surrender, but Willoch refused. As Gerlach left Eidsvold, he fired a red flare, indicating that the Norwegians intended to fight. At this point, Captain Willoch shouted: ("Man the guns. We're going to fight, boys!"). Eidsvold turned towards the closest destroyer and accelerated, closing the distance to Wilhelm Heidkamp to 300 m (328.1 yd) while the battery commander ordered the port battery (three 15 cm (5.9 in) guns) to open fire.

The Germans, afraid that Eidsvold might ram the destroyer, fired four torpedoes from Wilhelm Heidkamp at the old ship. Two of the torpedoes hit before the port guns could fire. The Norwegian ammunition magazine was ignited and Eidsvold was blown in two. The forward part of the ship sank in seconds, the stern followed in minutes, propellers still turning. At around 04:37, she was gone 175 Norwegian sailors died in the freezing water, including Captain Willoch, eight surviving.

Deeper inside the fjord, the explosions were heard aboard Norge, but nothing could be seen until two German destroyers suddenly appeared out of the darkness and Captain Per Askim of Norge gave orders to open fire at 04:45. Four rounds were fired from the 21 cm (8.3 in) guns (one from the fore gun and three from the aft) as well as seven or eight rounds from the starboard 15 cm (5.9 in) guns, against the German destroyer Bernd von Arnim, at a range of about 800 m (874.9 yd). Due to the difficult weather conditions, the guns' optical sights were ineffective: the first salvo fell short of the target and the next ones overshot it.

The German destroyers waited until they were alongside the pier before returning fire. Bernd von Armin opened fire with her 12.7 cm (5 in) guns as well as with machine guns, but the weather gave the Germans problems as well. The destroyer also fired three salvoes of two torpedoes each. The first two salvoes missed, but the last struck Norge midships and she sank in less than one minute. Ninety of the crew were rescued, but 101 perished in the battle which had lasted less than 20 minutes. The destruction of Norge signalled the end of Norwegian resistance in the port.

The morning of the German attack four Norwegian steamers were anchored in Narvik; the 4285 LT (4,353.8 t) Cate B, the 1712 LT (1,739.5 t) Eldrid, the 1758 LT (1,786.2 t) Haalegg and the 4306 LT (4,375.1 t) Saphir. In addition to the Norwegian vessels, four foreign, neutral ships were present; a 951 LT (966.3 t) Dutch steamer, the Bernisse, and the three Swedish steamships Boden of 4264 LT (4,332.4 t), Oxelosund of 5613 LT (5,703.1 t) and Strassa of 5603 LT (5,692.9 t). As well as neutral ships, the warring parties had vessels at Narvik, riding anchor in the same port. The British had five steamers in the harbour; the 6582 LT (6,687.6 t) Blythmoor, the 5141 LT (5,223.5 t) Mersington Court, the 4304 LT (4,373.1 t) North Cornwall, the 5378 LT (5,464.3 t) Riverton, and the 4887 LT (4,965.4 t) Romanby. As the German armada seized Narvik, there were 11 German merchant steamers at the port town; the 6388 LT (6,490.5 t) Aachen, the 5398 LT (5,484.6 t) Altona, the 4902 LT (4,980.7 t) Bockenheim, the 5386 LT (5,472.4 t) Hein Hoyer, the 4879 LT (4,957.3 t) Martha Henrich Fisser, the 8096 LT (8,225.9 t) Neuenfels, the 5806 LT (5,899.2 t) Odin , the 7849 LT (7,975 t) Lippe, the 4339 LT (4,408.6 t) Frielinghaus, and 5881 LT (5,975.4 t) Planet, and the 11776 LT (11,965 t) replenishment oiler
Replenishment Oiler
A replenishment oiler or fleet tanker is a naval auxiliary ship with fuel tanks and dry cargo holds, which can replenish other ships while underway in the high seas. Such ships are used by several countries around the world....

/maintenance ship Jan Wellem. Jan Wellem, a converted former whale factory ship, awaited the arrival of the German warships, which she was tasked to refuel. Working in the harbour were the Swedish tugs Diana (213 LT (216.4 t)) and Styrbjörn (167 LT (169.7 t)). As the German destroyers entered the harbour, the captain of the Bockenheim, who assumed that the intruding warships were British, beached and scuttled his vessel. In total, 25 ore ships had been riding at anchor in Narvik at the outset of the fighting, 10 of which were German.

The German destroyers were now short of fuel and had only one fuel tanker in support (the 11776 LT (11,965 t) ex-whale factory ship Jan Wellem that had been despatched to Narvik, accordingly to some sources from the secret German naval base Basis Nord
Basis Nord
Basis Nord was a proposed secret German naval base in Zapadnaya Litsa Bay, west of Murmansk provided by the Soviet Union. The base was part of a partnership that developed between Germany and the Soviet Union following German-Soviet Non-Aggression treaty of 1939, along with a broad economic...

 at Zapadnaya Litsa
Zapadnaya Litsa
Zapadnaya Litsa is the largest and most important Russian naval base built for the Northern Fleet. The base is located far in the north of Russia, on the Litsa Fjord at the westernmost point of the Kola Peninsula...

 in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, where she had been based since 4 February 1940. Another source indicates that she departed Murmansk
Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 in the evening of the 6 April and that Basis Nord was never even established. She had arrived off Narvik from the north on 8 April, and had been stopped by the Norwegian patrol boat Kvitøy. Jan Wellem was allowed entry to Narvik by the regional Norwegian naval command, where she was inspected. Her captain claimed that she was carrying 8500 ST (7,711.1 t) of fuel oil and 8,098 crates of food provisions and that she was on her way to Germany. A second tanker, the 6031 LT (6,127.8 t) Kattegat which had sailed to Norway from Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

, had been sunk in the Glomfjord
Glomfjord
Glomfjord is an industrial community at the head of a small fjord of the same name in Meløy municipality, northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle. The population is 1,204.-Heavy industry:...

 in the evening of 9 April. Kattegat had been stopped by the Norwegian fishery protection ship HNoMS Nordkapp
HNoMS Nordkapp OPV (1937)
The lead ship of the Nordkapp class of fishery protection vessels, Nordkapp was launched 18 August 1937 at Horten naval shipyard, with yard number 123. She had one sister ship, HNoMS Senja. Nordkapp was named after the North Cape in Finnmark. As was typical of her class Nordkapp was very unstable...

, the Norwegian ship first trying to take the tanker as a prize
Prize (law)
Prize is a term used in admiralty law to refer to equipment, vehicles, vessels, and cargo captured during armed conflict. The most common use of prize in this sense is the capture of an enemy ship and its cargo as a prize of war. In the past, it was common that the capturing force would be allotted...

, but due to the large German crew could not control it all the way to Bodø
Bodø
is a city and a municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is part of the Salten region.The city of Bodø was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 . Bodin was merged with Bodø on 1 January 1968. Skjerstad was merged with Bodø on 1 January 2005...

, in the end sinking Kattegat by firing four 47 mm (1.85 in) rounds into the tanker's water line. Kattegat had been delayed from reaching Narvik in time by the British 8 April mining operations
Operation Wilfred
Operation Wilfred was a British naval operation during World War II that involved the mining of the channel between Norway and her offshore islands in order to prevent the transport of swedish iron ore through neutral Norwegian waters to be used to sustain the German war effort...

 off Norway. A third tanker—Skagerrak—had also been despatched to Norway, in support of the German landings at Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

, but she was intercepted by the British cruiser , on 14 April, after she had been redirected by German naval command to a waiting position at sea. When the British warship tried to board Skagerrak her crew scuttled her at 68°15′N 02°00′E. Both Kattegat and Skagerrak, which were sister ships, were inspected at Kopervik by the Norwegian torpedo boat Stegg, on 5 and 7 April respectively. The captain of Kattegat told the Norwegians that he was headed to Narvik for further orders, and the captain of Skagerrak claimed Murmansk as their destination, and inspections revealed that both tankers had a full load of fuel oil. Skagerrak also carried 165 ST (149.7 t) of food provisions, which was claimed as supplies for German merchant ships. The food crates were labelled "Wehrmacht". According to the German plan the destroyers were supposed to have been refuelled by two tankers, Kattegat and Jan Wellem, each receiving some 600 ST (544.3 t) of fuel oil. The flotilla was then to be on its way back to Germany by the evening of 9 April. The plan failed because only Jan Wellem made it to Narvik. Refuelling with just one tanker was difficult, only two destroyers could be refuelled simultaneously, taking seven or eight hours. At arrival in Narvik, the destroyers were almost out of fuel. Making the refuelling more challenging was the fact that Jan Wellem had only improvised refuelling arrangements and inferior pumping equipment. While two destroyers were being refuelled at a time, a third was on guard in fjord, the remaining seven being spread around in the nearby area. By 04:00 on 10 April, Jan Wellem had managed to fully refuel three of the German destroyers, and was in the process of refuelling two more.

In the meantime, British forces had tried to engage the Kriegsmarine, but for the most part, unsuccessfully. On 8 April, the British G-class destroyer
G and H class destroyer
The G- and H-class destroyers were a class of twenty-four destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1935–1939. They served in World War II and sixteen were lost, with a seventeenth being written off as a constructive total loss...

  engaged the heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

  and two destroyers, and was lost, ramming and damaging Hipper in the battle. On 9 April, the British battlecruiser
Battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

  exchanged artillery salvos with the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which were screening the destroyers, causing light damage to Gneisenau. The destroyers' main mission had been completed, however, as they had succeeded in landing the invasion force.

First Naval Battle of Narvik

The day after the German invasion, the Royal Navy took an opportunity to defeat the Kriegsmarine. The 2nd Destroyer Flotilla—under Commodore Bernard Warburton-Lee
Bernard Warburton-Lee
Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton Warburton-Lee VC was a Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Spanish Civil War:In 1936 due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil...

 and comprising five H-class destroyer
G and H class destroyer
The G- and H-class destroyers were a class of twenty-four destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1935–1939. They served in World War II and sixteen were lost, with a seventeenth being written off as a constructive total loss...

s ( (flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

), , , and —moved up the fjord in the early morning. The German destroyers Hermann Künne and Hans Lüdemann were anchored alongside the tanker Jan Wellem and refuelling when the British destroyer attack began at 04:30. The German picket ship (Diether von Roeder) had left its post to refuel and, as the British flotilla approached Narvik, they surprised and engaged a German force at the entrance to the harbour and sank two destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp (killing Commodore Bonte) and Anton Schmidt, heavily damaged Diether von Roeder and inflicted lesser damage on two others. They also exchanged fire with German invasion troops ashore, but did not have a landing force aboard and therefore turned to leave. Before the destroyers left the scene, Hostile fired her torpedoes at the merchant ships in the harbour. In total, 11 merchant ships (six German, one British, two Swedish and two Norwegian) were sunk during the British sortie into the harbour.

The British flotilla was then engaged by three more German destroyers (Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner and Erich Giese) emerging from the Herjangsfjord, led by Commander Erich Bey
Erich Bey
Erich Bey was a German naval officer who most notably served as a commander of the Kriegsmarine's destroyer forces and commanded the battleship Scharnhorst in the Battle of North Cape on 26 December 1943, during which the German ship was sunk. He was killed during that action. Bey was also a...

, and then two more (Georg Thiele and Bernd von Arnim) coming from Ballangen Bay, under Commander Fritz Berger
Fritz Berger
Kapitän zur See Fritz Hans Wilhelm Berger was a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipient during World War II.-Awards:* Iron Cross...

. In the ensuing battle, two British destroyers were lost: the flotilla leader HMS Hardy, which was beached in flames, and HMS Hunter, which was torpedoed and sank. A third—HMS Hotspur—was also damaged badly by a torpedo. Hotspur and the other remaining British destroyers left the battlefield, damaging Georg Thiele as they did so. The German destroyers—now short of fuel and ammunition—did not pursue and the British ships were able to sink the 8460 LT (8,595.8 t) ammunition supply ship Rauenfels which they encountered on their way out the fjord. Soon, the German naval forces were blocked in by British reinforcements, including the cruiser . During the night of 11–12 April, while manoeuvring in Narvik harbour, Erich Koellner and Wolfgang Zenker ran aground. Wolfgang Zenker damaged her propellers and was restricted to a speed of 20 kn (24.4 mph; 39.2 km/h). Erich Koellner was much more badly damaged, so the Germans planned—when she was repaired enough to move—to moor her at Tårstad in the same capacity as Diether von Roeder, as an immobile defence battery.

As the British destroyers left the Vestfjord
Vestfjord
Vestfjord is a Norwegian fjord, which would be described as a firth or an open bight of sea between the Lofoten archipelago and mainland Norway, northwest of Bodø...

 outside Narvik, two German submarines— and —fired torpedoes at them, but German torpedoes at the time had severe problems with their magnetic detonator systems —possibly due to the high northern latitude: all of them failed and either did not detonate at all or detonated well before their targets.

Both the German naval commander—Kommodore Friedrich Bonte
Friedrich Bonte
Friedrich Bonte was the German naval officer commanding the destroyer flotilla that transported invasion troops to Narvik during the German invasion of Norway in April 1940.-Naval career:...

 (on Wilhelm Heidkamp)—and the British commander—Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee
Bernard Warburton-Lee
Captain Bernard Armitage Warburton Warburton-Lee VC was a Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Spanish Civil War:In 1936 due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil...

 (on Hardy)—had been killed in the battle. Warburton-Lee was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, Bonte the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

.

Second Naval Battle of Narvik

The Royal Navy considered it imperative, for morale and strategic purposes, to defeat the Germans in Narvik, so Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 William Whitworth
William Whitworth
Admiral Sir William Jock Whitworth KCB DSO was a senior Royal Navy officer who went on to be Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel.-Naval career:...

 was sent with the battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

  and nine destroyers; four Tribal-class
Tribal class destroyer (1936)
The Tribal class, or Afridi class, were a class of destroyers built for the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Australian Navy that saw service in World War II...

  and five others (HMS Kimberley, , , Forester and Foxhound), accompanied by aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 from the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 . These forces arrived in the Ofotfjord on 13 April to find that the eight remaining German destroyers—now under the command of Fregattenkapitän Erich Bey
Erich Bey
Erich Bey was a German naval officer who most notably served as a commander of the Kriegsmarine's destroyer forces and commanded the battleship Scharnhorst in the Battle of North Cape on 26 December 1943, during which the German ship was sunk. He was killed during that action. Bey was also a...

—were virtually stranded due to lack of fuel and were short of ammunition.

Before the battle, Warspite launched its catapult plane (a float
Floatplane
A floatplane is a type of seaplane, with slender pontoons mounted under the fuselage; only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact with water, with the fuselage remaining above water...

-equipped Fairey Swordfish
Fairey Swordfish
The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War...

, L 9767), which bombed and sank , anchored in the Herjangsfjord near Bjerkvik
Bjerkvik
Bjerkvik is a village in the municipality of Narvik, Norway. Its population is 1,220. Bjerkvik is located at the head of Herjangsfjorden, an arm of Ofotfjord in the northeastern corner of Nordland county. There is less than 20 km to the border with Troms...

. Most of the crew survived and were rescued by German mountain troops. This was the first U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 to be sunk by an aircraft during the Second World War, and the only instance where an aircraft launched from a battleship sank a U-Boat.

In the ensuing battle, three of the German destroyers were sunk by Warspite and her escorts, and the other five were scuttled by their own crews when they ran out of fuel and ammunition. First to go was Erich Koellner which tried to ambush the Allied forces, but was spotted by Warspites Swordfish and subsequently torpedoed and shelled by the destroyers and battleship. The destroyer's commander, Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs
Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs
Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs was a Kapitän zur See with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.1924 Oct.: Vermessungsschiff "Panther"....

, and the surviving members of his crew, were captured by Norwegian forces. Then Wolfgang Zenker, Bernd von Arnim, Hans Ludemann and Hermann Künne engaged the British forces, but only managed to lightly damage HMS Bedouin. British aircraft from Furious tried to engage the German destroyers but were unsuccessful; two were lost. Wolfgang Zenker tried to torpedo Warspite.
Finally, when the German destroyers were low on ammunition, they retreated, except for Hermann Künne, which had not received the order. Hermann Künne was fired upon by the pursuing HMS Eskimo, but she took no hits. Out of ammunition but undamaged, Hermann Künne was scuttled by her crew in Trollvika in the Herjangsfjord. After scuttling the ship, the crew placed demolition depth charges on the ship, attempting to sink her in Trollvika's shallow waters. Eskimo, still in hot pursuit, launched a torpedo which hit Hermann Künne, setting her on fire. Whether the German's own depth charges or the torpedo from Eskimo was the source of the explosion is unclear. Eskimo was in turn ambushed by Georg Thiele and Hans Ludemann, losing her bow but surviving. Diether von Roeder and Erich Giese, both suffering engine problems, fired upon the British forces while still docked, damaging Punjabi and Cossack, but they were both sunk before they could cause further damage. That was the last German counter-attack and the remaining German destroyers were scuttled soon after. The only German ship which survived within the port area was the submarine U-51.

Shore batteries and installations were also very badly damaged by Warspites guns. On the Allied side, the damage to HMS Eskimo kept her in Norway until 31 May 1940. German submarines again suffered torpedo failures, when and fired at the departing Warspite on 14 April.

The Germans lost over 1,000 men, the submarine U-64, and eight destroyers (Hermann Künne, Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner, Georg Thiele, Bernd von Arnim, Erich Giese, Hans Lüdemann and Diether von Roeder.)
Many of the shipwrecked Germans were fired upon by British artillery and machine guns, and about 2,600 survivors were organised into an improvised marine infantry unit, the Gebirgsmarine, and fought alongside the 139. Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger, in English Mountain Riflemen, is the German designation for mountain infantry. The word Jäger is the traditional German term for rifleman...

regiment
in the subsequent land battle. Although unsuited for combat in the mountainous terrain around Narvik the shipwrecked sailors manned the two 10.5 cm (4.1 in) FlaK gun
10.5 cm FlaK 38
The 10.5 cm SK C/33 was a German anti-aircraft gun used during World War II by the Kriegsmarine on a number of their larger capital ships. It was later adapted for Luftwaffe as a competitor to the famed 8.8 cm FlaK 18 as the 10.5 cm FlaK 38...

s and the 11 light anti-aircraft gun
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

s salvaged from the ships sunk during the naval battles and conducted defensive operations. The sailors were armed from the stocks captured at the Norwegian army base Elvegårdsmoen, more than 8,000 Krag-Jørgensen
Krag-Jørgensen
The Krag-Jørgensen is a repeating bolt action rifle designed by the Norwegians Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jørgensen in the late 19th century. It was adopted as a standard arm by Denmark, the United States of America and Norway...

 rifles and 315 machine guns intended for the mobilisation of Norwegian army units in the Narvik area.

Later naval operations

After the naval battles of Narvik, the port and its surroundings remained in German hands, as no Allied forces were available to be landed there. Naval operations were limited at this stage to shore bombardment
Naval gunfire support
Naval gunfire support is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range. NGFS is one of a number of disciplines encompassed by the term Naval Fires...

, as Narvik was not a primary Allied objective.

Among others, the Polish
Polish Navy
The Marynarka Wojenna Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej - MW RP Polish Navy, is the branch of Republic of Poland Armed Forces responsible for naval operations...

 destroyers Grom, Burza
ORP Burza
ORP Burza was a of the Polish Navy which saw action in World War II.-History:ORP Burza was ordered on 2 April 1926 from the French shipyard Chantiers Naval Francais together with her sister ship Wicher...

 and Błyskawica took part in these operations, during which Grom was sunk by German aircraft on 4 May 1940.

Land battle

During the Norwegian Campaign
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

, Narvik and its surrounding area saw significant fighting, initially from 9 April between German and Norwegian forces, subsequently between Allied and German forces, conducted by the Norwegian 6th Division of the Norwegian Army
Norwegian Army
Norway achieved full independence in 1905, and in the first century of its short life has contributed to two major conflicts, the Cold War and the War on Terror. The Norwegian Army currently operates in the north of Norway and in Afghanistan as well as in Eastern Europe. The Army is the oldest of...

 as well as by an Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 expeditionary corps until 9 June 1940. Unlike the campaign in southern Norway, the Allied troops in Narvik would eventually outnumber the Norwegian troops. Five nations participated in the fighting. From 5–10 May, the fighting in the Narvik area was the only active theatre of land war in the Second World War.

At the outset, the position of the German commander—Dietl—was not good: his 2,000 troops were outnumbered. After the German destroyers had been sunk, however, about 2,600 German sailors joined in the land battle. Another 290 German specialists travelled via Sweden posing as health care workers. During the last three to four weeks, the Germans were also reinforced by about 1,000 men air dropped over Bjørnfjell, thus bringing the total number of Germans to around 5,000. Their position and outlook changed from good to dire several times. On occasions, the entire operation was controlled directly from the German High Command
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

; Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's mood was reportedly swinging heavily and he repeatedly contemplated withdrawal. Intelligence agents captured later in the war also stated that Dietl himself had been considering crossing the Swedish frontier with his troops to be interned, until the German agent Marina Lee
Marina Lee
Marina Lee, also known as Marina Lie was a ballerina and Nazi spy during World War II.-Background:Lee was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia then fled in 1917 when her parents were killed by the Bolsheviks. Lee settled in Scandinavia...

 infiltrated Auchinleck's headquarters at Tromsø
Tromsø
Tromsø is a city and municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Tromsø.Tromsø city is the ninth largest urban area in Norway by population, and the seventh largest city in Norway by population...

 and obtained the British battle plan; however, the accuracy of this allegation has been questioned. The Norwegian force—under General Carl Gustav Fleischer
Carl Gustav Fleischer
Carl Gustav Fleischer KCB was a Norwegian general and the first land commander to win a major victory against the Germans in the Second World War...

—eventually reached 8,000-10,000 men after a few weeks. The total number of Allied troops in the campaign—in and around Narvik—reached 24,500 men.

The early phase of the invasion was marked by the German advantage of surprise. Norwegian troops in northern Norway had been called out on a three-month neutrality watch during the winter of 1939/1940, and so they had trained together. From 9–25 April, the Norwegian forces suffered three catastrophes. First, the forces protecting Narvik were unable to resist the Germans due to the commanding officer—the later NS Hird commander Colonel Konrad Sundlo
Konrad Sundlo
Konrad Sundlo was a Norwegian officer and politician in Nasjonal Samling before and during Second World War...

—refusing to fight the invaders; second, around 200 soldiers from the Narvik garrison who had escaped capture and were blocking the railway to Sweden were caught by surprise while resting at Bjørnefjell, most of the men being captured; third, the so-called "Trønder battalion" sent to hold Gratangsbotn was attacked by surprise while in camp, suffering casualties that ruined its spirit and effectively knocked it out of the remainder of the campaign.
Due to mounting Norwegian pressure and difficulties with bringing up supplies to the forward lying troops, the Germans abandoned Gratangsbotn and withdrew from Lapphaugen and the Gratangsdalen Valley, following the Battle of Gratangen
Battle of Gratangen
The Battle of Gratangen occurred during the first Norwegian counter-attack in the Narvik Campaign. The Norwegian 6th Division gathered forces to push the Germans out of the Gratangen area and back towards Narvik...

. In the beginning of May, the Norwegians started an advance southwards towards Narvik. Once it became clear that the Allies would mount the main invasion of Narvik itself in mid-May, the Norwegian direction altered towards Bjørnefjell.

The British arrived first and set up headquarters in Harstad
Harstad
is the second largest city and municipality by population, in Troms county, Norway – the city is also the third largest in North Norway. Thus Harstad is the natural centre for its district. Situated approximately north of the Arctic Circle, the city celebrated its 100th anniversary in...

 on 14 April. In the following days, three battalions were deployed mainly at Sjøvegan
Sjøvegan
Sjøvegan is a village and the administrative centre of the municipality of Salangen in Troms county, Norway. The population of the village is 729. The home venue of the Salangen IF team is located in Sjøvegan....

, Skånland
Skånland
Skånland is a municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Evenskjer.- General information :...

 (where a naval base was established) and at Bogen
Bogen, Evenes
Bogen is the administrative centre of Evenes municipality, Norway. Its population is 392.Historically, Bogen is most notable for small-scale iron ore mining in the early 20th century as well as being a temporary base for the German battleship Tirpitz and cruiser Admiral Hipper.-References:...

. Later, they were deployed south of Ofotfjord, at Ballangen
Ballangen
Ballangen is a municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is part of the Ofoten region. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Ballangen. Ballangen was separated from Evenes on 1 July 1925...

 and Håkvik
Håkvik
Håkvik is a village in the municipality of Narvik, Norway. Its population is 514....

.
The initial British detachment was reinforced on 28 April by a French expeditionary force, led by General Antoine Béthouart
Antoine Béthouart
Marie Émile Antoine Béthouart was a French Army general who served during World War I and World War II....

. Three battalions of Alpine troops and two battalions of 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade
13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade
The 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade is a mechanized infantry demi-brigade in the French Foreign Legion. It is the only permanent demi-brigade in the French Army, and is a unit of particular notoriety and reputation within the Legion...

 were deployed both north and south of the Ofotfjord, but later, the north would be the main French area of operation. Four Polish battalions arrived on 9 May. They were first deployed north of the Ofotfjord, but later redeployed to the area south of the fjord. In early June they were formed into the Polish Independent Highland Brigade
Polish Independent Highland Brigade
The Polish Independent Highland Brigade was a Polish military unit created in France in 1939, after the fall of Poland, as part of the Polish Army in France. It had approximately 5,000 soldiers trained in mountain warfare and was commanded by General Zygmunt Szyszko-Bohusz...

 under Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko
Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko
Zygmunt Piotr Bohusz-Szyszko was a Polish general. During World War I he served in the Imperial Russian army....

.

In addition, the Allies had difficulty in deciding how best to retake Narvik and the iron ore railway. There was no unified command for the troops facing the Germans at Narvik: the Norwegians and the Allies retained separate commanders and cooperation between them was not always smooth. Even within the British forces, the Army and Navy commanders—Major-General Pierse J. Mackesy and Admiral of the Fleet
Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy)
Admiral of the fleet is the highest rank of the British Royal Navy and other navies, which equates to the NATO rank code OF-10. The rank still exists in the Royal Navy but routine appointments ceased in 1996....

 Lord Cork—had difficulty cooperating: Cork advocated a swift and direct attack from the sea while Mackesy advocated a cautious approach from both sides of the Ofotfjord. Consequent to this, on 21 April, Lord Cork, was given supreme command of all Allied forces.
In the second week of May, the Norwegian advances against the Germans east of Gratangseidet were the most significant movements on the Narvik front. In addition, on the Norwegian's right flank French alpine troops advanced up the Laberg valley supported by a company of Norwegian ski troops. In the south, the Allies did not have much success, and in the north of the Ofotfjord they were not making any movements. The Norwegians continued their successful mountain campaign, and in mid-May the Allies took the initiative and achieved significant victories. Both Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 had been growing impatient with the slow progress in Narvik, and the French commander—Béthouart—had pressed for more action.
The cautious approach on land was abandoned and an amphibious attack was launched at around midnight on 12 May. This attack was directed at Bjerkvik and was preceded by a naval bombardment from British warships in Herjangsfjord. Then landing craft
Landing Craft Assault
The Landing Craft Assault was a British landing craft used extensively in World War II. Its primary purpose was to ferry troops from transport ships to attack enemy-held shores. The craft derived from a prototype designed by John I. Thornycroft Ltd. During the war it was manufactured throughout...

 put ashore the French Foreign Legioneers supported by five light French tanks. The French took Bjerkvik, Elvegårdsmoen army camp and advanced north east to where the Germans were withdrawing and south along the east side of Herjangsfjord. The plan also required Polish troops to advance toward Bjerkvik from land on the west side of the fjord, but heavy terrain delayed them and they did not arrive before Bjerkvik was taken. It had also been part of the plan for French and Norwegian troops to advance from the north in order to box the Germans in, but cooperation problems between the Norwegian and French commanders left a gap through which the Germans escaped. Despite this, the Allies had a clear path north of Narvik and planned to attack over Rombaksfjord.

It had been anticipated in London that as the build up of troops in Narvik slowly continued, a corps headquarters would be needed to exercise effective control. On 11 May, Lieutenant-General Claude Auchinleck
Claude Auchinleck
Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE , nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers...

 arrived in Narvik, and on 13 May assumed leadership of the Allied land and air forces (under Lord Cork's overall command) which at this time became designated the North-Western Expeditionary Force. It was clear to the Allies that once Narvik was captured, its long term retention would depend on permanently holding the town of Bodø to the south in Nordland
Nordland
is a county in Norway in the North Norway region, bordering Troms in the north, Nord-Trøndelag in the south, Norrbottens län in Sweden to the east, Västerbottens län to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The county was formerly known as Nordlandene amt. The county administration is...

 which was on the route of the German advance from Trondheim. Consequently, Auchinleck redeployed all British troops to concentrate on this southern enterprise, and appointed French Brigadier-general Béthouart—an expert in both mountain and winter warfare—to command the French and Polish troops, which would be responsible for operations in the Narvik area in conjunction with Norwegian forces.

Again, the attack was stalled while the Allies waited for air support to be fully established from Bardufoss
Bardufoss Air Station
Bardufoss Air Station is located in the municipality of Målselv in Troms county in Northern Norway. It is the location for the 139th Air Wing and two helicopter squadrons; the 337 Squadron operating Lynx MK 86 for the Norwegian Coast Guard and the 339 Squadron equipped with Bell 412SPs...

. At 23:40 on 28 May, a naval bombardment commenced from the north. Two French and one Norwegian battalion would be transported across the Rombaksfjord and advance on Narvik from the north. In the south, the Polish battalions would advance toward Ankenes
Ankenes
Ankenes is a former municipality which now forms part of the municipality of Narvik in Nordland county, Norway. Ankenes is a largely residential area of Narvik, located on the southern side of Beisfjorden, a south arm of Ofotfjorden.-History:...

 and inner Beisfjord
Beisfjord
Beisfjord is a village approx. from the town of Narvik, Norway. It has about 800 inhabitants. The village is situated by Beisfjorden an arm of Ofotfjorden, and is served by Beisfjord Bridge....

. The maximum capacity of the landing barges was 290 men and these troops could not be reinforced for 45 minutes. These first troops were able to get a foothold on Ornes by the time the rest of the French and the Norwegians were landed. The French moved west toward the city and east along the railway. The Norwegians moved toward Taraldsvik mountain, circled around and moved down toward the city. The German commander decided to evacuate already before 07:00 and retired along Beisfjord. This was the first major Allied victory on land.

Operation Alphabet

It seemed now that it was only a matter of time before the Germans would have to surrender. They were pushed from the north by the Norwegians, from the west by the French and from the southwest by the Poles. It looked like Bjørnefjell would be the Germans' last stand, but events elsewhere in Europe came to their rescue. London had already secretly decided to evacuate on 24 May and that became apparent in the following days. On the night of 24/25 May, Lord Cork received orders to retreat, but under cover so the Germans would be prevented from interfering. The Allied commanders agreed that an attack on Narvik would disguise the retreat and allow the destruction of the iron ore harbour.

The Norwegian government and commanders were first told in early June and the news was met with disbelief and bitterness. The Norwegians still hoped to defeat the Germans alone and, as late as 5 June, one of the two Norwegian brigades was ordered to attack. The Norwegian government also explored the possibility of creating a neutral, but free Northern Norway. This plan was futile, and on 7 June the King and government were evacuated to Britain. All Allied troops were evacuated from Narvik between 4 and 8 June.

Three Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 passenger ships, MS Sobieski
MS Sobieski
M/S Sobieski was a Polish passenger ship built for the Polish Ocena Lines to replace the aging and ; a sister ship to the MS Chrobry. She was named in honour of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski....

, Batory
MS Batory
The M/S Batory was a large ocean liner of the Polish merchant fleet, named after Stefan Batory, the famous sixteenth-Century king of Poland....

 and Chrobry
MS Chrobry
MS Chrobry was a Polish passenger ship built for the Poland - South America Line to replace the aging and the . She was named in honour of the first Polish king Bolesław I Chrobry....

, took part in the evacuation operation. Chrobry was sunk on 14–15 May by German bombers. On 8 June, General Dietl retook Narvik, and on 10 June the last Norwegian forces in Norway surrendered.

Operation Juno

On 7 June, the British aircraft carrier had taken on board 10 Gloster Gladiator
Gloster Gladiator
The Gloster Gladiator was a British-built biplane fighter. It was used by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s. It was the RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it...

s and eight Hawker Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force...

s from No. 46 Squadron RAF
No. 46 Squadron RAF
No. 46 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force, formed in 1916, was disbanded and re-formed three times before its last disbandment in 1975. It served in both World War I and World War II.- World War I :...

 and No. 263 Squadron RAF
No. 263 Squadron RAF
No 263 Squadron was an Royal Air Force fighter squadron formed in Italy towards the end of World War I. After being disbanded in 1919 it reformed in 1939 flying mainly strike and heavy fighter aircraft until becoming No 1 Squadron in 1958.-First World War:...

 Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. These were flown off from land bases to keep them from being destroyed in the evacuation. Glorious left a larger convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 to proceed independently. The next day, while sailing through the Norwegian Sea
Norwegian Sea
The Norwegian Sea is a marginal sea in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Norway. It is located between the North Sea and the Greenland Sea and adjoins the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Barents Sea to the northeast. In the southwest, it is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a...

 to return to Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

, the carrier and her escorts—the destroyers and —were intercepted by the German battleships and . The carrier and her escorts were sunk with the loss of more than 1,500 men.

Scharnhorst was badly damaged by a torpedo from Acasta and both German vessels were hit by a number of medium shells. The damage to the German ships was sufficient to cause the Germans to retire to Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

, which allowed the safe passage of the evacuation convoy through the area later that day.

Aftermath

The Allied offensive started slowly. Unlike the Germans, they did not have a clear operational objective in Norway and therefore did not steer their operation with as much decisiveness. The British had drafted plans to land in Narvik before the German invasion and troops and supplies had even been loaded onto ships when they executed their mining operation on 8 April. These had been hastily unloaded when German ships were spotted northbound. The British thought that the German ships were trying to break into the Atlantic to avoid being trapped in German ports. Following this rationale, they wanted all their own ships available to intercept the German fleet. The consequent confusion would dog the troops for weeks: troops and materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 were shipped to Norway separately without clear landing sites and orders were changed while en route. It was as if the Allies were confused by the many small and large fjords and bays and could not decide where it would be best to start. In addition, British, French and Polish units would rapidly relieve each other.

The cold and snow was a common enemy for all troops at Narvik, but most of the Allies were poorly prepared for it. The Norwegians were the only ones fully equipped with skis and able to use them. The British attempted to use skis, but their troops were largely untrained and supply was scarce. German sailors faced the same problems. Even within the German
Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger, in English Mountain Riflemen, is the German designation for mountain infantry. The word Jäger is the traditional German term for rifleman...

 and French mountain specialists, only a few units were equipped with skis. The Polish mountain brigade had no mountain training in fact.

Most troops were untested in battle. The German mountain specialists
Gebirgsjäger
Gebirgsjäger, in English Mountain Riflemen, is the German designation for mountain infantry. The word Jäger is the traditional German term for rifleman...

 had participated in the invasion of Poland and some of the troops that had been air dropped over Bjørnefjell had fought in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Some of the French Foreign Legioneers came directly from fighting in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and most of the Polish officers and many of the soldiers had participated in the defence of Poland, some even in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, and were highly motivated.

The Allies had sea and air superiority until the very last stage of the operation, but did not take full advantage of that.

The Germans lost the naval battle, but achieved the main goal of their operation: the successful invasion
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

 and occupation
Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany
The occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany started with the German invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, and ended on May 8, 1945, after the capitulation of German forces in Europe. Throughout this period, Norway was continuously occupied by the Wehrmacht...

of Norway.

Around Narvik, German naval losses were high: they lost 10 destroyers (50% of their entire destroyer force), one submarine and several support ships. In exchange, they sank two Allied destroyers and damaged several others. The reason for this defeat lay in the German plans which made it impossible for the destroyers to retire quickly, even if they had had adequate supplies. This was compounded by the design of German destroyers: despite their relatively large size and armament they had inadequate fuel and ammunition storage.

On the other hand, British forces—while achieving an indisputable local naval victory—were unprepared to follow it up with any land operation. This allowed the Germans to consolidate their foothold in Norway and made the subsequent Allied counter invasion more difficult.

Post-war

The Narvik Peace Foundation was established in 1990 with the events of 1940 as a background.

Parts of the bow of the German destroyer Georg Thiele remain visible above the water in Rombaksbotn to this day. The wrecks at Narvik remain popular diving spots, however, some are off-limits because they still contain undetonated ammunition Three of the German destroyers were lifted in 1964 and moved to Framnesodden, near Eidsvoid, to clear the shipping lane. The destroyers Anton Schmitt, Diether von Roeder and Wilhelm Heidkamp rest in 12 m (39.4 ft) of water there and were opened for diving. A number of other wrecks are accessible, too, but most have been preserved as historic sites and it is forbidden to dive to them.
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