Det som går ned må komme opp-An Alternate Royal Norwegian Navy TL

So the Western Allies have decided to go all out to help little Finland vis-a-vis both the USSR and Germany? And this has led to the Soviets abandoning their hard-fought Winter War gains pretty much entirely?

It is very noble for the British, the French, the Norwegians and the Soviets to be this nice to Finland, but I am quite sceptical about the feasibility and realism of it all.
There is a view that although (especially in the first stage) their fighting performance is terrible, the Soviet Union is, after all, the winner of the war and has achieved its strategic goals.

But the Soviet Union's strategic goal was not to acquire that territory but to provide security (at least from the northwest) to Leningrad. This was not only not realized after the Soviet-Finnish War, but it can be said to have worsened.

Before the Soviet-Finnish war, Leningrad was close to the Soviet-Finnish border and within the range of the artillery. That's right, but who will threaten Leningrad from the northwest?

Moreover, before 1939 Finland did not intend to enter the World War. Of course, perhaps Finland will actively or passively change his position in the 1940s, but did the results of the Soviet-Finnish war eliminate the threats caused by this change?

The Soviet Union gained territory and pushed the border towards Finland a lot. However, no restrictions were imposed on Finnish armaments and Finland’s foreign relations. Therefore, Finland and Germany formed an alliance, and the German army moved into northern Finland.

During the Soviet-German War, the Finnish army easily advanced to the original border and re-incorporated Leningrad into the artillery range. Stalin's depth did not play any role in preventing the Finnish army. Historically, Leningrad did not suffer much from artillery shells from the northwest, not because of the new border that Stalin obtained through the war, but because of self-restraint in Finland.

In fact, the Soviet-Finnish War is an extremely stupid war-not only on the battlefield, but more importantly outside the war.

If there is no Soviet-Finnish war in the northwest direction of the Soviet Union, there may be three cases:

1. A Finland that has always maintained neutrality. In this case, Leningrad will not be blocked for three years. The Soviet Union can put dozens of divisions on one and a half front from the Soviet-Finnish border during the Soviet-German war.

2. A Finland like Norway and Denmark, whose neutrality was destroyed by Germany, even if it does not consider whether the hundreds of thousands of Finnish troops in the war against the Nazis will let the German army fall into the mire, even if Finland is quickly conquered by the Nazis like Denmark and Norway, amidst the chaos, the depth that the Soviet Union could gain in this direction was much greater than the active war against Finland.

3. A Finnish initiative to surrender to the Nazis, of course Leningrad will be threatened because of this, but this is still just what happened after the Soviet Union obtained that new border in history.

The Soviet-Finnish war ruled out the first two situations that were extremely beneficial to the Soviet Union, ensuring that Leningrad had only one of the worst situations in the strategy-and that Leningrad's tactical security through the war... was the same as before the war.
 
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In a war against Germany, if Finland stood on the German side, when such a 400,000-plus Finnish army northwest of Leningrad and a German enemy group that could enter the country by sea, it makes no difference whether the Karelia borderline is 30 kilometers or 60 kilometers away from Leningrad.
 
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Comparatively, transporting anything in major numbers through Petsamo and overland through Sweden and Norway is much more difficult and expensive.
It is plain that Petsamo is not worth much as port to supply all Finland, due to the lack of decent roads out of there to Finland's major population centers in the south.

It is also plain that seaborne trade is always the most economical way to go, and that as OTL, when the Germans took Denmark and thus could have an effective veto on whom the Finns could trade with by sea, that put a burden on Finnish imports and exports.

It is laughable, with a bitter laugh, to put forth Petsamo as a suitable port, or to look to the short and distant, isolated direct border with Norway in that region as some sort of magic door to enable Finns to get all the trade they need. And I don't know about the author but I am indebted to you for sharing these sad facts regarding the appallingly bad logistics from the Arctic Sea region to Finland proper down at is southern end.

Here's what I wonder though--granted all trade routes that involve an overland haul are more expensive--just how bad is the route you are rarely mentioning or considering here--Norwegian port of Trondheim, over the mountains (I believe there has always been since medieval times considerable trade between the Trondelag and the region of Sweden just over the mountains and if decent developed communications cross the border mountains anywhere they do so here--including heavy rail lines) and thus from this inland district of western Sweden to the major port of Stockholm itself.

You certainly give some concrete idea with clear numbers how inadequate attempting to use Petsamo is. But surely the Trondheim-East Sweden rail option is nowhere near that awful, if we grant it can't be quite as economical as peacetime shipping through the Danish straits. You show clearly that trying to run the necessary trade through Lapland, capacity is below a quarter that of seaborne normal and that at ruinously costs involving monopolizing the nation's truck fleet.
ha
But surely it is a lot less costly than that to just haul things over from Trondheim through Sweden?

I am reflecting that actually the author is sort of making your case for you--because post number fifty ("L") is all about a dashing convoy run from Bergen to Oslofjord--and why bother to do this if the railroads out of Trondheim are anything like what I am cracking them up to be? If rail is "close enough for government work" to sea transport as I am suggesting, why the hell risk anything whatsoever to haul anything past the German occupation zone? Just bypass it, using rail connecting Trondheim and Bergen to the capital. Yet the author has the convoy happening as though these rail alternates did not exist at all.

Still, having put numbers and other stark conditions on the Petsamo route, surely the Trondheim route must be far less costly than that. To start with we don't need any trucks whatsoever, the rail line does exist, No need to monopolize the trucks then.
Supplying Finland all the goods it needs will be much more demanding through the north, especially if the Swedish put any restrictions on using their territory, roads and railways (in the name of neutrality and in view of likely German and Soviet protests
Right--but why should the Swedes put any restrictions on it? If goods ship from Trondheim to Stockholm and thence on to Finland, Swedish carriers get their revenues after all.

Obviously, because Hitler will be getting mad if he is denied control over Finland and Sweden!

But while his leverage over both Finnish and Swedish trade through the strait is complete, neither Baltic nation is therefore cut off and communicating only at his pleasure. We need an evaluation, not just of the admittedly poor and costly route of limited capacity through Petsamo and even Narvik--clearly superior to Petsamo even for Finland, and that before the obvious measure of adding more track to that route to greatly improve its capacity, which obviously would take some time, but of course plainly not so great for keeping an entire nation adequately fed let alone supplied with arms--but also to the yet greater capacity communications via Trondheim. Short of issuing an ultimatum threatening conquest if they do not comply to Sweden, there is not a damn thing (other than trying to harry Allied shipping with U-boats, which is a much reduced threat in this TL by summer 1940, despite the Axis ruling the French and Low Country coasts as OTL) he can do to stop cargoes going that way, both directions. Finland has the option of selling whatever "strategic materials" the British were negotiating to secure from them before the OTL fall of Denmark and Norway, and getting supplies, via Sweden.

OTL the Swedes bent under the blast of Hitler's apparent supremacy but never quite broke. They let the Germans route troops through Sweden to Norway after Norway had fallen. Here the Swedes are in a better position by far; Hitler risks tipping them over to outright joining the Allies, which he can punish the Swedes for doing by bombing their southern regions, but cannot I think decimate Stockholm even before the Allies reinforce Swedish air defenses; the Germans can try to sink the Swedish fleet but of course have no surface vessels worth mentioning to assist the Luftwaffe trying to do that all alone, and again Swedish air power is not inconsiderable and will cost Goering. Using U-boats and aircraft to hurt the Swedes in rage can only divert them and rack up more losses. Then Sweden can mobilize and that country's military potential is well over double Norway's.

The most rational thing for Hitler to do is forbear with Sweden a lot, as with his harebrained scheme to hang on in south Norway to come back later at that beachhead, he would best hope to teach the Swedes their lesson after his anticipated victory in Russia. Hitler could reasonably object to open cooperation between Norwegian and British and other Allied forces, but not to this neutral nation trading freely over its land connections to Norway--in fact in terms of legalities, trying to clamp down on either Swedish or Finnish merchant trade through the Danish channels is bordering on acts of war and violation of neutrality that, with the Swedes and Finns both having alternatives to Axis supply, might be construed as forcing them into the Alliance.

There is no reason here for the Swedes to comply as much with German wishes as OTL, and not even for the Finns to.

I've failed to track this TL's developments properly myself--I was quite puzzled how we suddenly jumped from summer 1940 to summer 1941 but of course we have had many posts fast forwarding past summer and autumn and winter and now apparently spring to bring us to the early days of Barbarossa. I take issue with the German occupation of south Norway's coast not being terminated already by such a late date but that is another topic. As for developments in Finland...these should have started diverging drastically from OTL by early summer of 1940.

Nothing would butterfly away the Moscow treaty of 12 March 1940 of course, or make Finland in any less an abject position in terms of her own shorn resources--but everything points to a different Allied policy going back at least a year from the last canon post!

Of course I can't, as in a previous post, think in terms of postwar hindsight. In the entire period from the Fall of France to the launching of Barbarossa, there is no reason to think that Soviet policy would be diverted, unless the Allies were to make vigorous efforts to change it. In this complacent period, Stalin and the Soviets generally were under the impression they would be able to finish the job of conquering Finland fairly soon, and it was this Soviet aggression the Finns needed some defense against.

OTL for instance the Finns sought to promote a Scandinavian Union, but even before Hitler preempted that by conquering Denmark and Norway and thus putting a severe arm lock on Sweden, the Soviets rumbled against any alliance of Finland with Sweden alone. Hitler is not the problem here, Stalin is. Barbarossa is too late for the Western Allies to come in after the last minute to offer brokered deals, and prior to that watershed, the Finns clearly cannot formally join the Allies even if some kind of magic gate gave them access to all the materials and allied forces they might wish for--doing so would be provocative and probably trigger a Soviet renewed invasion.

But I do think there is potential for negotiating Finnish neutrality. The Soviets won't favor it, but perhaps if they can see the Finns must ally to the Axis but that accepting some kind of arrangement to guarantee Finland gets fed and can acquire a reasonable self-defense might persuade them not to do that--provided the Soviets back off and reduce their OTL hungry growling noises.

The most plausible route I can imagine is that the USA, that is specifically the Roosevelt Administration, gets involved using a lot of backchannel tricks. Unlike Sir Stafford Cripps, who for some crazy reason the British National Unity government sent in to Helsinki as ambassador, and allegedly took a quite churlish pro-Soviet stance (this all before Barbarossa, so the USSR might have been construed to be actually Axis and anyway had zero commitment to the Allied cause) FDR was constrained by US domestic politics to speak up for Finland in the Interim Peace period OTL.

In turn the obvious ATL variable is the Norwegian mission to the USA. If the Norwegians think of a scheme to neutralize Finland effectively--their motive in this being that Finland's practical options were to either surrender to the Soviets, or join the Axis, unless a third neutral path were opened up--then I think that even Allied leaders with very acerbic anti-Soviet attitudes who think of the USSR as a de facto Axis power itself and never anticipate being allied with them--might see merit in providing the Finns this way out. Their motive is not so much to protect the Finns from Soviet conquest but mainly to keep them out of the Axis.

Depending on just how good the logistics are through Trondheim (to which the less suitable routes to the north add capabilities, not detract from it, albeit perhaps not much) both Baltic neutral nations might well be able to import both what arms they might need (well, not naval ones, but anything else) via Trondheim, and export anything they like. OTL it would be awkward for both to have to depend on Swedish naval construction capacity alone, but with the extra decimation of the KM here, that is far less of a problem now.

If in fact the Trondheim-Stockholm overland route is not really adequate, it must at any rate be far more capacious than the far northern routes via the northern wastelands. If not fully adequate, the Allied interest in Finland remaining neutral for the moment has another card to play--Non governmental organization (the Red Cross) assistance via neutral nations. The USA and Sweden are currently neutral.

Now why should a power like the USA be the least bit concerned? Well note that aside from the interest of US arms firms in selling stuff to all and sundry, which arguably is now diverted to the active Allies anyway, there was certainly some pro-Finnish sentiment in the US.

And if food shortages are at issue, note that a New Deal response to the Depression was farm subsidies--American farmers were being paid not to grow crops. The USA can raise its food production very easily, and American farmers will have an interest in selling real crops if they can.

Meanwhile during the "Interim Peace" period for Finland, there is no great value to the Allies having Finland actually join the Allies actively, and until Barbarossa the Soviets see all strength built up in Finland as a threat. But if the Soviets could be persuaded to back off and stop threatening conquest outright, and the Finns persuaded not to pursue Axis alliance, then many here have remarked on the benefits of that.

American charity can thus step in to further FDR's ambition to aid the Allies. With back channel coordination by the Administration, ostensibly private donations to the charitable cause of keeping Finland fed and generally viable, to the American Red Cross, can provide the funds to purchase the authorized farm production increase, and this food, medicine etc shipped on to Norway, for transshipment to Sweden, where the Swedish Red Cross chapter receives the food or perhaps instead merely custody of the funds. Now the Swedish Red Cross relays goods on to Finland by normal trade channels; Finns get adequate food and so forth donated free or at a subsidized low cost.

If the USA enters the war, still not a problem; Sweden and Finland can remain neutral, it is not even like any US ships had been docking in either nation's ports. Shipments continue to Norway, get passed on to Sweden and thus on to Finland.
 

Driftless

Donor
And if food shortages are at issue, note that a New Deal response to the Depression was farm subsidies--American farmers were being paid not to grow crops. The USA can raise its food production very easily, and American farmers will have an interest in selling real crops if they can.
There are some limitations to that idea - the biggest hangup may be logistical. For example: grains can be be shipped as is, or as meal (what were the 1940 Finish grain staples?): meat must go in frozen state, or smoked or dried; milk can go as canned condensed liquid milk or evaporated non-fat dry milk; and produce almost has to go as canned, with the exception of dried peas or beans. Other perishable commodities are going to be difficult, due to time in transit and rough handling in transit as well.

But your essential point is correct - something could be done.

*edit* That idea of increasing farm production to help the Finns AND give Stalin an indirect poke in the eye would be an easier sell for conservative US Midwestern politicians and locals. A fair number of Finnish heritage folks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the U.P., and the Dakotas
 
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That idea of increasing farm production to help the Finns AND give Stalin an indirect poke in the eye would be an easier sell for conservative US Midwestern politicians and locals
FDR would not particularly want to poke Stalin in the eye--but he would like to be able to say the Finns are all right.

Meanwhile if the USA is truly neutral, we could not meddle too overtly. The solution I figured was a form of plausible deniability by way of orchestrating actions of the NGO, the Red Cross. In theory, a whole bunch of charitable donors in America just came over all sympathetic for the Norwegians and Finns all of a sudden, each on their own hook, and a bunch of checks just fell through the Red Cross mail slot one morning with notations "for Finland relief" on them. Actually, the whole ramshackle diverse New Deal machine has been canvassing to get this to happen--various approaches taken with various constituencies. Eleanor Roosevelt has been meeting with some people; machine and other party wheeler-dealers like Sam Rayburn with others. Meanwhile there has been much private speech but nothing in writing emerging from meetings with Swedish diplomats. Hands have been shaken--off the record. On the record the US government is not doing a darn thing and the increase in farm production targets is because of a totally unexpected run on various shippable, storable goods when people from the American Red Cross show up at various wholesale warehouses with big orders. How could the bureaucrats managing the farm policies possibly have known that was going to happen? They just happened to be on the ball that's all. Congress passes obscure tax credits, and lo, the beneficiaries of some of these new loopholes just happen to have suddenly become big Red Cross donors. Quid pro quo? That would be corrupt! Of course that didn't happen. Of course none of these sudden big donors had been playing fast and loose with their income tax returns and certainly it is just a scandalous rumor that any had been promised leniency and forgiveness by the Bureau of Interal Revenue (IRS in this era) if the Red Cross got the money instead. (Too much of that kind of thing would be outright criminal on the President's part, and impeachable. Of course FDR is very popular, but it is an election year in 1940).

And I don't suppose the scale has to be ginormous either. Finland is a small country and it is not like they have no food at all, just a shortfall. On an American scale, probably it is a lot of sudden windfall money for the Red Cross itself, that charity operating on a shoe string normally, but in terms of the volume of trade any American charity-bought staples and medicine and so forth going out to Norwegian ports, it is a small blip in the general volume of US exports. When it gets to Trondheim, it registers as a big series of large shipments by that port's standard; as items the Swedish Red Cross have to report as assets they handled it dwarfs their regular scale of operations.

What can either Hitler or Stalin say against it? That filthy Jews are daring to feed some very white looking children? That the bloodsucking capitalists have condescended to nourish a legion of kulaks? That latter might be exactly what the Soviets say--but there are no munitions being shipped. Meanwhile OTL while indeed rumbling that a pact with Sweden would be taken as violation of the Moscow Treaty and presumably trigger a renewed invasion, the Soviets must have realized (via spies if no other way, in Germany if not in Finland since the Reds of Finland have largely outed themselves in the Winter War and presumably fled to the Soviet lines mostly) that German army forces were moving into position in Finland with the full support of the Finnish regime. I have to wonder why they didn't clear their throats about that--maybe because the Berlin-Moscow pact stood in the way of saying the Germans were anything but the best friends of the USSR?

At any rate OTL the Soviets did not attempt to stop the Finns from importing munitions on their own. It is not clear to me that the charity expedient is even needed if Sweden can trade effectively through Trondheim. If it is, it is a separate deal from Finnish military arrangements--but in the Interim Peace period, military expenditures were half the budget of the Finnish government. It may be that providing subsidized food shipments is indeed crucial to persuading that government not to invite the Germans in and enlist themselves actively in Barbarossa.

Now once the Germans do strike at the USSR, hopefully on a narrower front that does not include Finland, the Soviets ought to become a lot more reasonable from that day forward. They will be aware they really need some Lend Lease aid (I hold generally that the USSR could survive and prevail and wipe out the Reich without any foreign aid donations, but it would take longer and hurt the Russians even more of course) and that their optics with British and American publics and leaders matter a lot. At that point would be the time to very very politely suggest to Stalin that even a neutral Finland is a better asset for Soviet survival if restored to a sustainable size, that Finland giving the Soviets a reasonable degree of access to Finnish resources as trade goods is quite good enough, that the Allies can work out some kind of deal giving the Finns assurance of security while preventing Finland from being able to become a springboard for some nefarious anti-Soviet attack in the future.

It would not be wise to try to draw Finland in as an active Ally--yet! As long as Hitler is on the offensive and the southern Baltic shore is in Axis hands, it is unwise to dangle Finland as bait when the Allies have little ability while the Red Army is reeling back to assist the Finnish defense. When the Red Army is swinging back and approaching the easternmost arm of the Baltic, that would be a good time for Finland to jump all in then. And if the Finns opt to stay neutral then, that should be respected as quite a good enough contribution to Soviet security and thus allied victory.

If Hitler decides to force the issue by giving the Finnish government a choice between voluntarily signing into the Axis or being invaded--if the little inlet of water leading to Leningrad is enough to stop a landing across it from the newly conquered Baltic states territories, then at any rate once the Germans fight past it they can loop around to strike at Leningrad that way, invading Finland by the way--then it is of course impossible to send troops and armor and planes across neutral Sweden to Finnish aid, and of course going that way the Allies would need ships to cross the northern arm of the Baltic anyway, which would have to be Swedish. Mind, Hitler trying to strong-arm the Finns like that might be enough to bring in Sweden too, but the Swedes would have to face the Luftwaffe and U-boats at any rate, and diverting Allied forces to parry that and possible German landing attempts would deplete the forces available to help the Finns with. (It would also drain Hitler's reserves for him to try any of this of course, so if he hits at all Scandinavia in one tantrum, so be it, the Allies are going to win. My point being, it isn't particularly desirable for either Finland or Sweden to be drawn into the war in summer 1941--but if it happens, the Allies benefit more).

However assuming Hitler tries to bully instead of charm the Finns, even if he does it before Stalin has his eyes opened at last, Petsamo and the Norwegian border are at least useful for sending troops, albeit not with a lot of kit, into north Finland to make their way on rough roads and foot down to the front--thus the Finns, knowing such reinforcements are in the pipeline, can commit their own forces. But Hitler cannot invade Finland against the government's will except by sea landing, and indeed cannot be in a position to do that until after attacking the Soviets. In fact there is a better route than Petsamo--Norwegian and other Allied troops can be carried in troopships without much opposition (just the occasional U-boat perhaps) to the White Sea ports of Murmansk and Archangel and use Soviet transport routes down to the Baltic front. Now Stalin might not be too enthusiastic about Western forces meeting Red Army conscripts face to face, but the Western allies are in a position to set conditions, provided they don't try to push for leaving the Soviets vulnerable.

If Hitler more wisely leaves the Finns alone, and if the Finns wisely stay neutral, and the Allies do not try to leverage them into the war prematurely, then of course the Allies cannot use Petsamo as a port of call, but they hardly need to--the distance from suitable Norwegian ports to Soviet ones is not that great and of course there is in this ATL no German opposition to ships moving in the Arctic. A token western ally expeditionary force, soon to be joined by Americans assuming the USA enters by December, can help guarantee the Germans do not circle around the far reach of the Baltic; Finnish neutrality is now far better guaranteed with the Finns knowing there are some Western ally troops mixed in with the Red army along their frontier and that both Soviet and western forces north of the gulf are reserves stood down; the hot front is down in the territory the Russians had before the war plus what they just annexed. Such an allied salient helps guarantee that communications between the vital White Sea ports and territory the Soviets still hold are kept open, as well as driving the war east and south away from Finland and Scandinavia in general. It would therefore be worthwhile to the Norwegians to send a lot of their forces, as many as Stalin will accept in fact, on this expedition to bleed and frustrate Hitler.

Here I assume of course that the German foothold on Norway has been finally dealt with. I don't accept it is reasonable for the Allies to have left this task on hold until summer 1941! I think they clearly could and should have gained air superiority over the German holdings and opened a path for antisubmarine forces to operate for some miles south of the coast, cutting the occupiers off from supply by air or sea. Yes, I recall the author saying "the Norwegians had only two airbases hundreds of miles away." But even stipulating that only Bergen, the field north of Oslo, and the new works south of Oslo are suitable cutting edge big concrete runway fields with heavy infrastructure for maintenance--I believe it is false that such aircraft as Hurricanes and Spitfires can only operate from such fields! I can accept that forward fields for these lightweight air superiority fighters could provide only limited service; not being suitable for maintenance requiring special equipment and spare parts; not perhaps being suitable for rearming the planes. But at any rate, a Spit or Hurricane could land on and take off from very simple grass fields. It would be possible, over a period of months, to develop very sparse forward fields for these planes to land at having been rearmed at the main bases, and simply refuel, and then take off in relays to harry the German single airfield and whatever can fly out of it at pointblank range, returning directly to their home fields normally for rearming and maintenance and using the forward fields for emergency landings including cases where they have run their tanks low in combat and merely need a refuel to get back to base. Thus, with such planes as these neutralizing Luftwaffe air superiority fighters, it should be possible for the heavier attack planes, which have plenty of range such that 200 or even 300 nautical miles radius to the combat zone is easily done by them, to have their way with the German air field, their supplies, and create the cordon for the antisubmarine ships to come in and seal off the harassed German base from all aid. Then meanwhile, the Germans should have been hemmed in by the limits of their own logistics and the rough terrain, and beyond the range they could maraud in, Norwegians native to the region could keep a close sentry watch making sure they don't break out unobserved. There have to be overland routes used for communications inland in peace time--the Norwegians know this terrain, the Germans only know what their maps tell them. Presumably the Germans have deployed their strongest forces at the most suitable entry routes to their holdings. But these will be the same approaches the Norwegians can muster their strongest concentrations at too. So the Germans are bottled up. After some time under Allied air cover, cut off from U-boat borne supplies, the Germans must either surrender or face battle with limited supplies that they must ultimately lose.

So until Hitler strikes at the Soviets, the Norwegian Army and air force has literally nothing better to do than pursue this strategy of trap and isolate. For it to work they need naval support, and it is true that both RN and the Norwegian Navy do have other duties that are vital, such as shutting the passage north between Scotland and Norway to U-boats. But the RN can surely spare the rather limited number of ASW vessels needed to isolate the German bases--I'd think even a battleship or two, and a couple carriers, should be available for such a tremendously worthwhile task as mopping up the German occupation. They don't need to spy on Hitler's rants to know that he must intend to hold these bases for a future return in force, and denying him that easier option is pretty important, and success at it, the sooner the better, frees up the Norwegian forces for other uses. Such as say aiding the Soviet defense against Barbarossa and thus securing Finland as well say. And who knows, with the precedent set of Finland getting a fair shake in return for postwar neutralization, perhaps Western Allies can persuade Stalin to extend the same deal to the Baltic Republics, east Poland (I am thinking here of the Soviets disgorging that conquest from Belarus, but spinning it off as a new buffer state republic not under Soviet control but part of the neutralized corridor). This policy probably breaks down with Romania and Hungary since both jumped into the war with pretty vicious regimes of their own voluntarily in the Axis, and these southern nations are probably going to be cleared of Axis force by the Red Army acting alone.
 

Driftless

Donor
^^^^ In addition to all the concepts you've put into consideration above, there's the wildcard(s) of Hitler wanting to keep Sweden on the sidelines, rather than as an adversary. Without deep thought, I could see these considerations being batted around in planning rooms on both sides of the Baltic:
  • After being stung by the Norwegians, the German war machine doesn't need another long front to the North across the length of the Baltic, in addition to the resource devouring Soviet front.
  • Of course, it's highly unlikely that the Swedes get pulled into the War - neither side wants that to occur. Maybe Hitler thinks of a second go at the Scandinavians, after he's crushed the Soviets, but that's waaay over the horizon.
  • Still, some German leaders may believe that even the battered and shrunken Kriegsmarine might be able to support a short hop across the Øresund by the Heer - in theory..... But the Swedish Army is no pushover, so there's a notable cost to that theory. The Heer isn't likely to steamroll their way upcountry in quick fashion, so another resource devouring campaign would be foreseen, and has to be weighed against the diversion cost with so much of German fighting strength being aimed at Russia for 1941. Also, what's to be gained by this costly adventure? The iron mines are in the far north, and away from the Baltic.
  • With Norwegian ports still open, your thought of resupplying Finland through Bergen or Trondheim, et al, even with it's noted weaknesses, could also extend to helping the Swedes in some fashion - if needed - in theory.... Hitler and Goering in particular would worry about British (and other) air force units based in Sweden. Highly unlikely in mid-1940, but allowances might have to be made for that outcome.
  • Of course, bringing Sweden in as a belligerent, opens whole cans of worms for over-extending both sides' resources, so it beggars the imagination that it would happen in 1941. The thought of a backdoor into Germany would make Churchill salivate, but Alan Brooke might need to break a cricket bat over Winston's head to avoid that action. With the war playing out on these revised lines of this timeline, late 1942 or 1943 may look different to the Swedes? - they're less surrounded than they were historically. Would that change their outlook enough to consider something other than artful neutrality they practiced in our time? (I'm saying artful, not as a pejorative, but as a recognition of the careful dance of diplomacy the historic Swedes had to do out of necessity. Supply the Germans with iron ore at a profit, but still provide useful havens for Danish Jews, Norwegian Resistance fighters, and other activities)
 
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After Barbarossa, the Soviets are not what you might call in a strong diplomatic position. They need Western aid, they don't need another front to fight the Axis, they need the Entente to open up a Second front and, being untrustworthy themselves, are paranoid about Britain and France striking a separate peace deal.
 

Patg_hnj

Donor
There is a railway all the way from Trondheim to Stockholm, but at the time steam would have been required for part of the route within Sweden as well as Norway (the Swedes completed electrification in 1945 to the frontier).
The Narvik - Luleå - Harparanda / Tornio is possible though transfer sheds would be needed at the Swedish / Finnish frontier (the alternative is to get hold of sufficient bogie stock and just change the bogies as clearances for Swedish / Norwegian stock will not be an issue in Finland).
The route using Trondheim to Stockholm needs then either a standard gauge train ferry and suitable facilities in Finland (in the OTL there have been several services over the years with the break of gauge on leaving the port area in Finland), or transshipment into a steamer.
The other Swedish - Norwegian rail links were from Oslo one headed towards Gothenburg and the other Stockhom, so clearing the German pocket in southern Norway would help improve the supply route from Norway towards Finland (and the Soviet Union), I am not sure if the Oslo - Trondheim line was electrified in the 1940's or if there would be sufficient capacity to move much in the way of goods above Norway's own needs
 
@Patg_hnj , when your comments imply a huge difference in capacity between steam trains and electric, how much of that relates to the tech of electric trains being inherently better due to the drive system itself, and how much instead is because investing in electrifying all along a rail line implies that this was a line in high demand with heavy use that justified the high cost of such an upgrade for efficiency purposes?

I'd think that the fundamental determining factor in capacity of a rail line is the quality and gauge of the track--a line in very light use might have cheaper to maintain infrastructure, adequate for a few small trains daily or even less often, whereas if the line were used heavily it would have to be reinforced. The question of gauge changes comes into this too--if a little used route had evolved with two or more gauges, this is not a terrible problem with light use, the delays and costs involved in shifting cargo and people from one car to another at a junction is unfortunate but the traffic does not justify re-railing one or the other stretch to unify the gauge and speed things up and cut costs.

Now all of a sudden a rail system that was auxiliary is pressed into service as a major trunk to attempt to substitute for the sea route through the Oresund that was rational in peacetime but is problematic or blocked completely by the Axis now. A ramshackle backroad system with inadequate strength of rails, meant for light traffic, certainly requires upgrades of various kinds to serve to replace the sea route. Where single tracks were adequate before now we want double tracks; we want gauges with good foundations to carry heavier loads and much more frequent and larger trains ideally going faster.

Electricifaction seems unlikely to me to be the crucial thing in itself. No doubt an electrified line is more efficient, but we don't have to wait for the extensive installation of electric systems all down the line; diesel and even steam locomotives, if powerful enough, can pull the trains--provided the track is good enough! Given a particularly poorly integrated system, temporary and incremental expedients can gradually raise capacity--there must be some slack before the weight, speed and frequency of increased traffic pushes the existing track to dangerous limits--expedients include simply throwing more effort at maintaining the track. The points along the line that need the most maintenance point to where to invest in the first upgrades. Gauge changes can be handled by expanding the junction facilities and throwing in a lot of manpower to accelerate the changes, as well as expedients like double-gauge cars or cars that can slide off one base to another. It would be better to have a single gauge, obviously, but we don't have to wait for a re-railing of a stretch to be complete to keep running traffic with some impediment while that is being done. Whether, when we are doing things like adding second tracks, installing a whole new double track next to a wrong-gauge existing one, altering the route a bit to bypass choke points, etc, we ought by the way to also be installing electric infrastructure so the improved line can be electric end to end is a question of cost-effectiveness--especially when we look forward to the eventual end of the war with hoped for Allied victory--will the cost of sustaining the electric line with all modern bells and whistles be justified by the level of traffic we anticipate once the war is over and the Danish straits are open and the heavy wartime logistics relapse into normal peacetime levels the local market will sustain? It might be more costly to use a bunch of steam locomotives on a month by month basis, versus having a nice shiny electric car system, during those months and wartime years, but overall cheaper to build the inefficient steam engine systems and then mothball most of them post-war, having foregone the cost of electrifying lines that won't pay on that basis postwar.

Mind--if a no-expenses-spared surge of massive infrastructure buildup happens during the war on wartime military budgets, sustaining the system postwar is not the same cost as if some private for profit firm (or in Scandinavia, I suppose, state owned rail which is normal in Europe even without a social democratic regime,) had contemplated installing the expensive upgrades just because and had to pay for it by higher rates paying off the loans to build it. Here Uncle Sam is likely to have footed the bill of construction and just left it as a free gift postwar, much as OTL postwar global airlines had the windfall of hundreds of greatly improved airfields (and thousands of war surplus DC-3 type planes as well, which actually depressed postwar small transport plane markets) firmly tipping the balance away from flying boat type operations to commitment to high performance land planes.

Of course Uncle Sam is only going to build improved infrastructure in actual Allied nations, not neutrals for the most part--military expedience might well justify a massive grant or loan to say neutral Sweden, and if a loan, on very generous terms; the Swedes might even get away with inviting in some Allied uniformed construction brigades, and manage to deny this is in fact violation of their neutrality, maybe. Though I daresay if the job can be done domestically, that's what they'd prefer--just taking grant or loan money won't be as clearly a neutrality violation.

So timescale matters, and it is not a binary question of a unified electrified route all the way versus everything exactly as it was in Spring 1940 either. The capacity of the system depends fundamentally on the rail lines, and probably can be raised far above peacetime normal use levels before the cost of accelerated maintenance and risk of major failures rises so high as to demand major upgrades. If the Allies and cooperative neutrals find themselves pinched, once the US enters the war money is no object. I am thinking by analogy with the major upgrade of the capacity of the Iranian rail system undertaken OTL, first by British then American firms, which by the way might be completely unnecessary with the relatively free passage of the Arctic route--perhaps if bad icing and weather condition in winter restrict the White Sea utility too much, the upgrades in Iran go forward anyway, for seasonal use. So if there is really high demand pressing the limits of the Norway-Sweden rail systems, over time the capacity will improve, with incremental fixing of choke points and gradual approach to a unified high capacity system at least on some key trunk routes. I have focused on Trondheim-Stockholm because we have been talking about how to feed and arm Finland. While the Germans remain in occupation of the southern coast (which I have said seems to persist ridiculously long, that should be resolved long before Hitler is prepared to launch Barbarossa) Trondheim is a good distance back from the most forward Reich air base, and well behind the anti-U-boat pickets I envision between Scotland and Bergen, and a higher capacity port than any other in Norway except Oslo itself which unfortunately is a bit risky due to its approaches being more exposed to German air and submarine attacks. And it is the straightest route to Stockholm.

But as noted, Sweden is not just Stockholm. Even granting Allied policy doesn't actually care to get Sweden in as an Ally and out of neutrality, a strong Sweden is good policy even so. There is not zero risk of Sweden going Axis, but we know OTL they never did and even with Hitler's OTL encirclement. We know there are some pro-Axis factions in Sweden and others who are a bit queasy about the Axis but have strong business ties to the German trade--but while a coup is not inconceivable (democratic election of a pro-Nazi regime is inconceivable) it would have been far-fetched even OTL, and even OTL despite Axis encirclement I think such a coup Quisling regime, even if initially successful and greatly reinforced by German troops and Gestapo, would be a quagmire of resistance. Lots of Swedes are too far left to be at all safe; they have nothing to lose by resistance. Here, a pro-Axis coup in Sweden is a total pipe dream; only invasion and conquest could possibly capture Sweden even with Quisling help, which would be by an unpopular minority. The Norwegians would be over the border to fight alongside the anti-Axis majority within hours. Hitler might be smoking the right stuff to try it anyway, the more fool he.

So overall the Allies will not see any downside to Sweden getting stronger, and so improved communications between Oslo and south Sweden are worthwhile too. The better off south Sweden is, the better resistance to any foolish German invasion attempts, and the less traction fascist subversion has--practically nil already I suppose.

Sweden must be strongly pro-Allied already before Barbarossa, and if Finland can be persuaded they are safe enough sitting it out neutral, then just about every faction in Sweden save the most reactionary will be well pleased. Not enough to jump into the war gratuitously but Hitler had better tread very carefully not to drive them into Allied arms. Certainly overall it would be nice for the Allies to have both Sweden and Finland all in, but the costs and risks to these two Baltic nations makes it a bit much to ask, nor do the Allies actually need either to do pretty well.

Mind, I do keep daydreaming about how wonderful it might be if both of them do become full Allies. The awkward bit is that Sweden is alone against the remnant of German sea power on the Baltic until the Danish strait can be forced. But here German sea power is next to zero, except for U-boats. Whereas if it is a pipe dream to suppose Norway makes carriers and battleships, clearly Sweden has much greater capabilities, in shipbuilding and in aviation. Some small Swedish carriers with squadrons of such planes as Hellcats or Corsairs aboard, giving cover to armored sub-hunters, could perhaps wipe out the remnant Kriegsmarine and neutralize the subs, leaving the whole Reich Baltic coast exposed and possibly allowing landings in places where the locals much dislike the German regime. Dare I dream again of the Baltic states and parts of Poland being liberated before the Red Army can fight its way there? If such things are in the cards that puts more weight on opening the Danish straits of course, which is a matter of first overwhelming Luftwaffe air cover and then seizing some of the northernmost Danish islands, while either landing on the tip of Jutland or anyway bombing hell out of it to keep the air bases there from effective sorties. This is pretty close to totally liberating Denmark of course.

But realistically, Sweden will probably sit it out at least until the endgame when Soviet forces are already on the Baltic in the south. And the main utility of having Finland in as an Ally would be to aid this notion of Swedish supremacy on the Baltic and open a sea route to Leningrad. The Allies can win handily enough without these extra benefits. It is enough that the potential distraction of Sweden coming in keeps Hitler guessing until the end.
 

Patg_hnj

Donor
@Patg_hnj , when your comments imply a huge difference in capacity between steam trains and electric, how much of that relates to the tech of electric trains being inherently better due to the drive system itself, and how much instead is because investing in electrifying all along a rail line implies that this was a line in high demand with heavy use that justified the high cost of such an upgrade for efficiency purposes?

The Swedes began wiring the Iron Ore line from Luleå to Narvik very early as steam proved less than efficient in the Arctic conditions and was complete on the Swedish side in 1922 (I believe the Narvik - Kiruna section was earlier), and the line was built to a high standard in order to deal with the volume of ore exported.
A policy decision was made as a result of coal shortages in the Great War to start electrifing the network in central and southern Sweden in 1926. There is plenty of hydro power in Sweden and Norway and very little if any coal.

As a result of this Swedish steam loco development stopped in about 1920 with only small numbers of locos built after then and mainly for the private railway companies,

To give you an idea of the motive power available in quantity in 1940

Steam:
Class B 4-6-0 Passenger / mixed traffic 99 locos 90Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9.6Mp
Class E 0-8-0 mixed traffic 43 locos 65Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9Mp
Class E1 2-8-0 mixed traffic 90 locos 70Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9Mp
There were a number of other classes of loco of varying vintage and tractive effort but not as common as the B and E types

Electric
Class D 1-C-1 Passenger / goods dependent on gearing top speed of upto 100 Kmh and tractive effort of between 610 and 920Kwh by 1943 300+ units
Class Of iron ore locos, 21 units with a tractive effort of about 3000 Kwh, but a low top speed of 60Kmh
Again there were a number of other classes in use

I agree that Stockholm is not the only port available to use and any of the harbours north of Stockholm with good rail access would be useful, however many could only be accessed by branchlines from the single track northern main line which would have caused issues as this line was not fully electrified in 1940.

There has as far as I know never been much 1435mm / 1520mm mixed gauge except in the Harparanda / Tornio area in the far north and various Finnish ports in conjunction with train ferries.
 

Patg_hnj

Donor
@Patg_hnj , when your comments imply a huge difference in capacity between steam trains and electric, how much of that relates to the tech of electric trains being inherently better due to the drive system itself, and how much instead is because investing in electrifying all along a rail line implies that this was a line in high demand with heavy use that justified the high cost of such an upgrade for efficiency purposes?
Sorry I buried my reply in the quote in error

The Swedes began wiring the Iron Ore line from Luleå to Narvik very early as steam proved less than efficient in the Arctic conditions and was complete on the Swedish side in 1922 (I believe the Narvik - Kiruna section was earlier), and the line was built to a high standard in order to deal with the volume of ore exported.
A policy decision was made as a result of coal shortages in the Great War to start electrifing the network in central and southern Sweden in 1926. There is plenty of hydro power in Sweden and Norway and very little if any coal.

As a result of this Swedish steam loco development stopped in about 1920 with only small numbers of locos built after then and mainly for the private railway companies,

To give you an idea of the motive power available in quantity in 1940

Steam:
Class B 4-6-0 Passenger / mixed traffic 99 locos 90Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9.6Mp
Class E 0-8-0 mixed traffic 43 locos 65Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9Mp
Class E1 2-8-0 mixed traffic 90 locos 70Kmh top speed and tractive effort of 9Mp
There were a number of other classes of loco of varying vintage and tractive effort but not as common as the B and E types

Electric
Class D 1-C-1 Passenger / goods dependent on gearing top speed of upto 100 Kmh and tractive effort of between 610 and 920Kwh by 1943 300+ units
Class Of iron ore locos, 21 units with a tractive effort of about 3000 Kwh, but a low top speed of 60Kmh
Again there were a number of other classes in use

I agree that Stockholm is not the only port available to use and any of the harbours north of Stockholm with good rail access would be useful, however many could only be accessed by branchlines from the single track northern main line which would have caused issues as this line was not fully electrified in 1940.

There has as far as I know never been much 1435mm / 1520mm mixed gauge except in the Harparanda / Tornio area in the far north and various Finnish ports in conjunction with train ferries.
 
It seems evident for reasons you have expanded on that Sweden (still less Norway) can supply the "steam" or diesel-electric locomotives themselves, nor is the fuel for either cheap or freely available. Both engines and fuel must be imported.

Well, though, that is no great disaster in the circumstances! Both British and US industry make both kinds of locomotive; Britain has lots of coal to export, and diesel fuel is readily available from American sources. Shipping across the Atlantic is far less of a problem in the ATL what with the U-boats being mostly stopped on the northern route, though now after Fall Gelb the Reich has free use of southerly French ports--but as I have suggested this just means shipping subject to U-boat attacks should route northward forcing the southern based boats and commerce raiding aircraft to go far around. This might not be out of range for U-boats but it gives the RN and US Neutrality Patrols a zone well south of the actual shipping to hunt the subs in, and certainly cuts down on their loiter time in the combat zone and puts extra logistic strain on the whole project. The British should be pulling well ahead of OtL in the Battle of the Atlantic every month--fewer losses mean more tonnage, a greater percentage of cargoes getting through, and in particular the run from British ports to Norwegian should be pretty safe--especially if the British ports are on the Irish Sea and northwest of Scotland and they come around to Trondheim north of Scotland.

Insofar as the Allies would like to see easier trade with Sweden and Finland, it behooves them to assist their Norwegian ally and the Swedes they want to keep sweet with whatever it takes. If in fact improving electric stretches and lengthening them is the way to go, apparently the Swedes don't even need to import the locomotives, it is just a matter of financing their construction along with expanding the electric lines. Unless I am overlooking some kind of power limit we are pushing!

In an earlier draft of this response, I was extolling the virtues of exporting diesel-electric locomotives--and these would be great but it turns out there are hitches. In the USA, diesel-electric locomotives were just being introduced for passenger and freight trains in the late 1930s; it seems that practically speaking we would be looking at just one model, the General Motors Electro-Motive Corporation FT (the "company" later being reorganized as the Electro-Motive Division of GE hence EMD) . For lots of reasons this looked dandy indeed, though I never got around to looking at compatibility if any between its onboard DC power system and the Swedish State Railway line voltage--but never mind...read it and weep...

During World War II, locomotive production was regulated by the War Production Board. First priority for the diesel prime movers' manufacturing capability, as well as the materials used in the fabrication and assembly of the engines, electric generators and traction motors was for military use. Steam locomotives could be built with fewer precious materials, and with less conflict with military needs. It was also opportune for eastern railroads to stick with coal-fired steam power while petroleum distribution to the east coast was disruptedin early days of the US war effort. The traditional locomotive builders were prohibited from developing or building diesel road locomotives until early 1945, with the exception of a few dual-service ALCO DL-109s for the New Haven Railway. EMD, however, was purely a diesel builder, and therefore was allowed to build diesel freight locomotives, as consistent with fulfilling Navy needs for their 567 engines. The WPB assigned the FTs to the railroads it deemed most able to benefit from the new locomotives. Santa Fe received by far the largest allocation, given its heavy war traffic and the difficulty and expense of providing water for steam locomotives on its long desert stretches. Were it not for the wartime restrictions, many more FTs would have been built. Most railroads wanted diesels, but often had to settle for steam locomotives.

The wartime restrictions on other manufacturers' diesel programs helped ensure EMD's dominance of the postwar diesel market, as EMD exited the wartime restrictions with a fully mature diesel engine suited for high capacity road use. Other locomotive manufacturers, under extreme competitive pressure from EMD's high-powered and reliable 567 engine in the early postwar era, embarked upon crash development programs that yielded unsatisfactory results. EMD's advantage resulted in their selling the vast majority of units in the dieselization era and a death spiral for all who tried to compete with them in the early postwar market.
So actually GE was privileged to produce well over a thousand of these units (usually with two versions, an A model with a cab and B coupled to the rear of an A, these in turn sometimes coupled rear end to rear end or with a B unit sandwiched between 2 A units to make a double, quadruple or triple power unit) for US freight lines, the lion's share going to the Santa Fe line (since it hauled lots of war cargo and ran through a desert with limited water supplies). If the USA really wants to entice the Swedes, offering them a deal on a bunch of these locomotives, suitably adapted to the Swedish gauge, might be very attractive to them.

But most likely, the Allies conclude that steam engines are good enough for raising trans-Scandinavian capacity pending eventual upgrades to rely on the Swedish-made electric locos.

The probable unavailability of diesel-electric locos is underscored by these related considerations:

1) the British were not an alternative supplier, having not developed any for main line use before or during the war;
2) Continental European models would not in any case be available, but in addition, French and German and other European manufacturers developed passenger DE railcars, each one with its own relatively small system, not multi-car locomotives;
3) besides reserving the actual diesel engines (with GE getting a special waiver for the freight locos since GE EMC was geared solely to build DE locos) for naval applications, diesel fuel itself was also prioritized for military use; I believe the same broadly applied to oil fueled steam engines while OTL Swedish State RR did not convert the coal firing of its steam locos to oil until after the war either;
4) as the article quoted notes, it was judged that building and maintaining steam locos would impact strategic materials substantially less.
5) if in fact fuel oil for steam engines too was preferred to be used for warships and vital merchant transport ships, presumably British coal was a less strategic material. There is Britain, there are its coal mines right across the sea from Norway and Sweden, here are old collier ships and behold the Swedish steam locos used coal.

The upshot of all this is that unless the Americans want to really bribe the Swedes handsomely, they will probably be offered supplemental steam locomotives, choosing British or American made models that conform as close as possible to the specs of the existing Swedish steamers. And that construction of brand new locomotives for this expanded Swedish "market" is probably not difficult for either the American or even British wartime economies to manage.

So taking diesel-electric off the table as a postwar innovation, we have a fairly straightforward strategy;

1) offer to sell, at a cut price and perhaps even a promise to buy back at a modest discount any Sweden does not want after the war, as many new steam locomotives as are needed to max out the capacity of existing Norwegian and Swedish non-electric lines--with priority on coal purchases and shipment from Britain included in this deal;
2) offer the Swedes a good deal on financing expanding their electric system and subsidizing their building more electric freight locos to maximize use of the existing and future electrified stretches, and beefing up the rail infrastructure to bring capacity up to what is wanted;
3) of course expansion of capacity of Norwegian lines is a war priority paid for out of the war budget--both for current wartime desires to woo Sweden and Finland to being pro-Ally and for efficiency through compatibility, the Norwegians would do well to upgrade on Swedish electric line standards, electrify their own major trunk lines, and purchase Swedish (electric) locos and rolling stock. Norway should be given options to purchase GE diesel-electric locos postwar on a privileged basis for any lines that have not been electrified, and Sweden can optionally be offered the same deal if it seems merited by Swedish cooperation. Certainly if Sweden comes into the war, though it is important Norway not be overshadowed--Norway was an Ally first after all.
---
I was very puzzled by "tractive effort" for the steam engines being given in straightforward (sort of) force units, while for the electric ones, the bizarre use of "kWh" makes no sense to me at all. If it were just kW I would assume that is the power the motors delivered, but that of course tells us nothing about the maximum force the motors can exert at low speeds. So I looked up the two most capable looking models of each type at Wikipedia and found that while the steam engine is given the same TE (repeated in Newtons) the entry for the electric model (Dg I believe, as the freight version at a 75 km/hr top speed) gives 1660 kW as the power of the motors (effective on the track) and 210 kN as the TE. Which I presume means a limit set by the friction of the wheels, going to full power when the loco and train are standing still just spins the wheels ineffectively making showers of sparks but no traction.

Anyway, clearly the electric trains are superior in every way--save that they can only operate on electrified lines!

Any Allied supplied additional locos would be steam and coal-burning, and not terribly attractive save for the Swedes considering they are getting revenue for shipping the extra cargo. And presumably models with close to the B 4-6-0 specifications.

Perhaps the Allies supplying them will indeed buy them back, and use the glut on the market of steam locomotives (postwar everyone wanted diesel-electrics) to enable relatively cheap development of rail in Third World countries, that is European colonies and Latin America. More likely they just get scrapped and more diesel-electrics are churned out by GE and possibly competitors in other countries than the USA.
 

Patg_hnj

Donor
Actually both the Swedes and the Norwegians could easily supply more steam and electric power though funding would help.
As a side note the Swedes purchased two ex-WD 2-8-0 locos to replace some of the elderly private railway locos with a plan to buy 100 and put them into a war reserve in due course, however the cost of conversion to fit the Swedish railways was higher than expected and crews hated them due to the screw reverse so no more were bought.
So assuming that suitable locos with a wheelbase of 14.6 meters or less and power or lever reverse could be supplied with a low enough axle weight (British route availability of 6 or less), then the Scandinavians could concentrate on more electrics.

Sweden also had long experience of diesel electric power dating back to 1912 so would at least have some idea or how to look after any locos supplied.

I feel that one of the most useful things that would help would be support in completing an electrified route from Trondheim to the Swedish electrified network and if necessary picking a route to double track - most Swedish and Norwegian main lines were single track so doubling or more loops would help.
 
Chapter LII New
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Chapter LII: Coming Home

August 4, 1941
His Majesty’s Ships Furious and Glorious were back from the Mediterranean, where they had certainly made a name for themselves. They were now going into brief refits, which would see new anti-aircraft weapons bolted on, mainly Oerlikon guns, while the usual maintenance would be done. This would all last a month, and after that, the Admiralty had other plans for the two battle-hardened vessels and their crews, who would be happy to get some leave.

In Liverpool, a convoy consisting of a number of Norwegian flagged freighters arrived, having taken appreciable losses, but not as many as a convoy in the previous War. The Norwegian vessels had come from the Gulf of Mexico, and had a number of barge-like craft aboard, noted several onlookers who thought none of it as the vessels began taking on fuel, but not unloading their cargo. They would leave the next morning, heading north with a notable escort.

In Bergen, as the railroads did their best to supply Oslo, combined with the weekly convoys, usually successfully, Jan Mayen and Svalbard, along with the first Norwegian corvette, Draba, a British 4-stacker, and an old V-class destroyer were leading the latest convoy past the minefields, tended by requisitioned trawlers, with the anti-submarine boom, patrolled by a pair of sub-chasers and a couple of trawlers, just ahead. The destination was off northern Scotland, where the escort of this convoy would take over the Norway-bound convoy, and the escort of the Norway-bound convoy would switch to this convoy. Luckily for the Norway-Scotland convoys, they could rely on air cover for the entire journey, unlike the convoys going across the Atlantic.

In Portsmouth, the battle wagon Ramilies was being recrewed after sitting in reserve for the past few months to free up men for newer ships. However, the old ship finally had something to do once her new crew got her working again, which wouldn’t be too hard.
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Chapter LIII New
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Chapter LIII: Freedom Day

Present Day
When one ventures to Norway in the weeks close to October 3rd, they will witness one of the nation’s most celebrated holidays. While certainly not as raucously celebrated as the American Independence Day, Freedom Day, which marks the surrender of the last German holdouts in Kristiansand, and therefore all of Norway, is closer to many Norwegian hearts than many other celebrations in the world. Your average Norwegian most likely has an ancestor who was either known by them or their parents who remembers where they were when the announcement of the nation’s final complete Freedom from the invaders. Though the first Freedom Day was in 1941, when the original event happened, the Day did not become a national holiday for another three years, and was moved from September 28, the date of the surrender of Kristiansand, in 1954.

Celebrations aren’t far off from Constitution Day in some areas, with parades and entertainment, but in the areas hit hardest during the war, namely Kristiansand, Oslo, and Stavanger, hold far larger celebrations. Military parades are common, and RNN ships are typically on display, sometimes accompanying an old veteran of the War that is now a museum ship, as well as other nations’ vessels, though the British and Americans generally send the overwhelming majority of the vessels. The Royal Norwegian Airforce executes a number of flyovers of various celebrations as well. Flowers are placed on the graves of veterans, and memorial services are held throughout the country to remember those who helped force the Germans to leave the country. Reenactments of famous battles and events leading to the repulse of the invaders take place, such as the famous firing of the guns at Oscarsborg Fortress every Freedom Day.

Freedom Day also features celebrations and speeches by the Royal Family that receive record viewing numbers on television and in person regularly. The Prime Minister joins the festivities, usually mentioning Johan Nilsen multiple times throughout the day both publicly and privately. His famous quote upon receiving the news, “Now let’s go get the bastards,” is uttered often. Heads of state from the US, UK, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have all visited the country during the festivities, with the last three sending their heads of state almost every year.

A large proportion of books and movies about the War have premiered on Freedom Day, and the most notable movie, released in 2009, simply named Trondheim, covers the city’s fall to German forces due to incompetent commanders, while featuring the heroic coastal gunners that fired despite not receiving orders, and the torpedo boats MTB-32 and MTB-36, which crippled Hipper. However, the main plot is about the forces that evacuated from the city and held out until the British fleet arrived, when a determined offensive forced the occupiers to surrender.

What many don’t know about the events leading to Freedom Day is that the amphibious landing in Kristiansand on 24 September taught the Allies many lessons that would be used well in the later parts of the War. D-Day, the landings in Italy, and the famous Island Hopping Campaign in the Pacific would have all taken more casualties if it weren’t for the lessons from the amphibious assault on Kristiansand, namely to make sure and thoroughly work over the defenses. While the battleship Ramillies earned fame in her duel with the coastal guns, her bombardment of the defensive positions wasn’t as good as later bombardments were. Another error was the failure to completely neutralize the German airfield by carrier airstrikes, mainly because the British still lacked carrier aircraft. However, when the later attacks rolled around, airfields and defenses were thoroughly pounded by Allied aerial and naval bombardment.

Freedom Day is one of Norway’s most celebrated holidays, and it looks like it will continue that way for many years, carrying on the memory of the day that Norway totally retook the people and land she lost.
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Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Just a little surprised not to see Germany among the list of attendees visiting one of the festivities, given how the FRG was keen to mend fences e.g. Mitterand & Kohl at Verdun.
 
I suppose the Americans are invited because of the aircraft they sent. What happens to Halvdan Koht ITTL, I wonder? Wasn't he kicked out because he was uncooperative with the Allies and didn't communicate very well?
 
I suppose the Americans are invited because of the aircraft they sent.
Between L-L and very cordial relations between the countries, the Americans are welcome.
What happens to Halvdan Koht ITTL, I wonder? Wasn't he kicked out because he was uncooperative with the Allies and didn't communicate very well?
I’m thinking either retirement or maybe an unimportant ambassadorship, or maybe teaching. He is certainly out with the current government running things
 
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