Chapter 6 - Scandinavian Surprise
Chapter 6 - Scandinavian Surprise
The Scandinavian Campaign (Part 3)
The Scandinavian Campaign (Part 3)
At 21:39 local time (20:39 GMT) on the evening of 9 March 1940, the landing ships of the Stratford landing group entered the Ofotfjord, led by HMS Renown. After most of the Allied destroyers had peeled off from the main group to capture the outer batteries of the fjord, only three were left (HMS Renown, HMS Hardy and the French destroyer Tartu) to contend with the two old costal, defence ships in the harbour, the Eidsvold and the Norge. Despite their age, they would be able to inflict substantial damage to the destroyers. However, this firepower wouldn’t be necessary as the captain of the Eidsvold, Odd Isaachsen Willoch, correctly recognising the Union Jack and French tricolour. The captain of the Renown assured Willoch that they were “coming as friends” . After radioing to the captain of the Norge, Per Askim, the allied force was allowed to proceed. After being allowed passage, the troops landed in the port of Narvik with little resistance, with Norwegian troops in the area commanded by Konrad Sundlo surrendering after Sundlo was killed by French troops after roughly an hour of fighting . During the fight, Sundlo had forgotten to order the destruction of the bridge at Norddalen. It's capture was a major boon to the Allies.
The Allies could now prepare for their advance into Sweden.
Norwegian troops with an M/01 7.5cm field gun during their brief battle with the Allies at Narvik.
In Trondheim, resistance was non-existent. A well targeted shot from the British light cruiser HMS Glasgow severed the power cables for the harbour’s searchlights, rendering them useless. The Allied ground forces landed in Trondheim unopposed. The airfield at Værnes was captured soon after unopposed.
In Oslo, King Haakon VII was notified of the invasion by an aide at around midnight on the 10th local time. His message to the King was “Majesty, we are at war” to which Haakon’s response was “With whom?” Upon discovering that it was the Allies including the British, he was stunned. His country had an extremely close relationship with the British. Why would they stab Norway in the back like this?
Nevertheless, questioning British motives wasn’t going to stop their attack. Immediately, an emergency cabinet meeting was held at half past midnight on the 10 March. The military situation for Norway was bleak. The Allied invasion had only gone on for just over three hours and yet they had captured all their main objectives. Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger were now under occupation. With the loss of their major harbours, the Norwegian army had lost arms depots for mobilisation centres. Armed resistance had been sporadic, uncoordinated or often non-existent. Further military resistance was useless. Many Norwegian commanders had welcomed Allied troops ashore and believed they were in Norway to protect from German or Soviet attack. That possibility also scared the Norwegian government. Resist and potentially allow German or Soviet forces to crash in through the back door or accept the sting of the invasion and accept Allied “protection” of Norwegian territory. As much as it hurt to accept, the latter option was decided upon.
At 00:47 Oslo time, Norwegian Foreign Minister Halvdan Koht met with the British ambassador, Sir Cecil Dormer, and requested a ceasefire. After 3 hours and 8 minutes, the Allied invasion of Norway was over.
Halvdan Koht, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Next, the Allies began to advance on Norway's neighbour, Sweden. Much like Norway, Sweden had no plans on how to stop an invasion and most of their northern troops were mobilised on the border with Finland to prevent the still-ongoing Finnish-Soviet War (now known as the Winter War) from spilling over into Sweden. On the other hand, that war looked to be winding down leaving roughly 100,000 armed men who could be redeployed if-needs-be. Around two hours after the Narvik landings at 23:00 local time, Swedish Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson was notified of the attack through the Norwegian embassy. An hour and a half later, Norway surrendered.
Per Albin Hansson, Prime Minister of Sweden
Hansson was determined to maintain Sweden's long held neutrality. After the swift capitulation of Norway, it became more likely that protection of that neutrality may well have to be done by force. The Iron Ore Line was the only form of transportation in the region as there were no roads linking Narvik and Kiruna. Major General Archibald Douglas, commander of Upper Norrland's troops (Övre Norrlands trupper), was alerted of possible attack from Norway and ordered to transfer 20,000 troops to the Norwegian border, up from the requested 10,000 on the 7th. Other than that, Stockholm could only wait and see what would happen. Everyone in the Swedish government and armed forces waited with baited breath, hoping for the best since they were underprepared for the worst.
Later on that morning, Sweden would get its answer. The worst had come. The station master at Riksgränsen near the Norwegian border had attempted to call his counterpart in Kiruna Central Station around 07:28 local time to inform him that British troops were disembarking at the station and that more troops would be continuing down the line towards Kiruna. But to his horror, the line was dead. The British-French-Polish forces continued down to the line. At this point, their luck was almost astounding.
At 08:11 on the morning of the 10th, the trains would begin arriving in Björkliden. here, the Allies luck ran out. Unlike Riksgränsen, the station master was able to call forward to Kiruna of the impending danger. After the announcement of "This is Björkliden. We are under attack from military forces. Repeat. We are under attack from military forces" and the audible sound of gunfire in the background, the station master at Kiruna called Major General Douglas, and Major General Douglas then phoned Hansson. When Hansson was informed of the invasion, he was apoplectic. Sweden's neutrality, after 125 years, had been broken. He immediately order Swedish State Railways (Statens Järnvägar) to shut off power to the line. The Allied advance was stopped dead in its tracks 2 miles outside Björkliden, with heavy fighting continuing to take place in the town itself. Hansson called an emergency cabinet meeting.
Sweden was under attack.
-  The Germans told Willoch the same thing OTL. When he didn't believe them the Germans opened fire on the Eidsvold, killing Willoch.
-  In OTL, Sundlo surrendered without a fight. However, since he was pro-German and collaborated with the Quisling government in OTL he'd probably resist an Allied invasion.