Presentation on theme: "The Norwegian Campaign Hitler strikes north!. Hitler’s gamble A few months into WW2, Hitler took a strategic gamble. Hitler knew that Swedish iron ore."— Presentation transcript:
Hitler’s gamble A few months into WW2, Hitler took a strategic gamble. Hitler knew that Swedish iron ore was vital to the German war effort and this was transported through Norwegian territorial waters German control of Norway would also make the Allied blockade of Germany easier to break.
Hitler’s gamble There were also signs that the Allies would not be bound by Norway’s neutrality (As shown by the Altmark incident) Hitler decided that he would use the full force of his navy to land forces from Oslo to Narvik which could then protect the coastal waters by which the iron ore was transported.
The Risks! Germany’s navy was very inferior to the Royal Navy The greatest asset the Germans had was that of air power. The Germans had 400 bombers specifically trained in marmite operations and it was hoped that these would keep the British at bay
The Germans land troops The British decided in April to mine the coastal waters so that the German shipping would be disrupted. The Admiralty decided to concentrate its efforts at stopping the Germans at sea, so disembarked troops earmarked for landing in Norway. German troops landed on Norwegian soil the next day
The Germans land troops The German operation was generally successful, but did not go entirely according to plan. At Oslo the brand new heavy cruiser Blucher was sunk by Norwegian coast defences in Oslo Fjord. This delayed the occupation of the capital, and allowed the members of the Norwegian government and royal family to escape.
Attack and counter attack Blucher's sister ship, Hipper, was also damaged when she was rammed by the British destroyer Glowworm, but she was still able to help take the city of Trondheim. The light cruiser Karlsruhe led the assault on Kristiansand, but was sunk later that same day by the British submarine Truant. Her sister ship, Konigsberg, was damaged by Norwegian shore batteries at Bergen, and was finished off by British Skua naval dive bombers flying from the Orkneys the next day.
Attack and Counter attack The Germans were able to take the northern city of Narvik The British Admiralty refused to mount a powerful counter attack and sent a destroyer flotilla This was later joined by a bigger British force which annihilated the German force, mainly due to the fact that there was no German air cover this far north
Attack and counter attack The main Allied counter-attack came at Trondheim, with a two-pronged attack from Namsos in the north and Andalsnes in the south. Stuka dive bombers from Fliegerkorps X dominated the region, supporting the better equipped German ground forces in defeating the Allies. The deployment of fighters from the carriers Glorious and Ark Royal, as well as RAF Gladiator fighters from a frozen lake, could do little to help.
Narvik The troops had to be evacuated. It was still hoped that northern Norway might be held, to deny the Germans their iron ore. Narvik was occupied by a mixed force of mountain troops, reinforced by the crews of the destroyers that had landed them, and a parachute battalion dropped in from the air. An Allied force of British, French, Norwegian and Polish troops was built up, and land-based air cover was provided by a squadron of Gladiators and one of Hurricanes, flown from carriers.
Narvik Narvik was finally taken on 28 th May but divisions between the allied armies had delayed the operation and the situation in the Low Countries changed things significantly. The decision to evacuate had already been made! The evacuation was marred by the loss of the British aircraft carrier Glorious
Evacuation The British evacuation fleet suffered losses but importantly so did the Germans. By the end of the campaign the German navy had only three cruisers and four destroyers operational. This was not enough to mount a serious challenge to the Royal Navy in the Channel and thus helped prevent an invasion of Britain
Evaluation Although Germany succeeded in pushing back the British blockade line, it never found Norway to be the asset it had hoped for. And although the territory later provided a base from which to attack Allied Arctic convoys to the USSR, Norway's defence tied down more forces than the country's strategic usefulness merited.
Britain’s strategic failure Norway was, however, also a major strategic failure for the British. This was a campaign that should have played to British strengths. Instead it brought out one of the major weaknesses of the contemporary Royal Navy - its incapacity to contest command of the air off a distant shore, due to its lack of radar control and high performance fighters.
Britain’s strategic failure Even before the campaign was over, it was perceived to have gone so badly that there was a vote of no confidence in the British Parliament. The government suffered a reduced majority, and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned. The main architect of the Norway campaign, the British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, who had been responsible for many of the mistakes of the campaign….