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Norway 1940 the Allies hold the line at Trondhiem

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  • Norway 1940 the Allies hold the line at Trondhiem

    Hi

    I attended a series of lectures organised by Professor Eric Grove, the renowned naval historian/author at the Imperial War Museum North early last yr. One of these lectures in-conjunction with a German author, discussed the issue of the Norwegian campaign.

    When the floor was opened up to general questions, I asked Prof.Grove that with hindsight, was it better that the British/French force were defeated in Norway, rather than having to supply the garrison through the duration of the war?

    The question kicked off a rather lengthy and heated debate, as to what it would mean to both sides through the war yrs. The discussion turned up many pro's & con's for both sides, that switched as the war progressed.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Regards
    Last edited by Andy H; 02 Jun 12, 15:01.
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

  • #2
    It would make the convoys to Russia easier for the Allies, but would also mean the British have less to send if they want to keep up commitments in Africa. It will also negatively affect the escort situation in the Atlantic as the convoys to Norway need some of those escort ships.

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    • #3
      This is similar to the 'Narvik held' and 'German invasion stuffed' propositions.

      I guess the first question is if the Germans decide to delay attacking Belgium, Netherlands and France to make a serious effort to eject the Allies from Norway. Or is that put on hold until the result of the western Europe battle is evident. My guess is Plan Yellow proceeds on schedule & the Norway problem is put on hold.

      After that the question is how well the Brits can compete in putting sufficient airpower into Norway. Both sides have a choice in how much they commit to a air battle over the UK and over Norway. My guess is the Brits wont commit enough to Norway to risk losing the BoB, but the Germans could lose both if they split their air strength wrong. Best case for the Brits is the entire German strength is committed to attacking the UK. By the time that is repulsed decent flying weather over Norway will be at a end.

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      • #4
        If a Trondheim line is held would it be analagous to the lines in Italy during 1943-45? WWII battle lines didn't seem to stay static much anywhere. And what of Sweden? 1) Would one side or the other seek to outflank the other by going east/north or east/south? 2) Would it be too tempting for Winston to bomb Swedish ore operations and/or shipping from Sweden to Germany?

        I'd think increasing British/American air dominance after 1942 would lead to an edge in the area, perhaps enough to clear southern Norway, could it be that there might be a real 1942 campaign in Norway, and if successful at least credible northern threats to Denmark northern Germany to spread German forces even thinner. And would such northern threats effect Allied efforts in North Africa? perhaps not, since any German reinforcements might be diverted to Scandinavia in lieu of North Africa.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tuor View Post
          If a Trondheim line is held would it be analagous to the lines in Italy during 1943-45? WWII battle lines didn't seem to stay static much anywhere. And what of Sweden? 1) Would one side or the other seek to outflank the other by going east/north or east/south? 2) Would it be too tempting for Winston to bomb Swedish ore operations and/or shipping from Sweden to Germany?

          I'd think increasing British/American air dominance after 1942 would lead to an edge in the area, perhaps enough to clear southern Norway, could it be that there might be a real 1942 campaign in Norway, and if successful at least credible northern threats to Denmark northern Germany to spread German forces even thinner. And would such northern threats effect Allied efforts in North Africa? perhaps not, since any German reinforcements might be diverted to Scandinavia in lieu of North Africa.
          The allies didn't really reach air parity until 43. In 42 the Me109G and FW-190 were better than the most common Spitfires witht he IX just entering service, plus Germans pilots were sill at least as capable as RAF pilots. 43 is when things really go south for the Luftwaffe and by the spring of 44 the LW is a shell of its former self.

          As for German efforts in North Africa, the Garrison of around 100,000 men has to be exceeded by the combat needs of Norway before the Germans have to look elsewhere for men and equipment. This is not true for the UK which has to either strip Asia, Levant or North Africa. Hrmmm... would a fairly heavy engagement in Norway prevent the adventure in Greece?

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          • #6
            I'd think that it would be to Britain's detriment. The Germans can reinforce and have the land forces to make things difficult.
            The British have to try and resupply and reinforce their forces regularly by sea. This means more u-boat opportunities to sink merchants close to home, more Luftwaffe involvement in doing the same and, the British committing more naval assets to defend convoys going to Norway.
            Worse, the likely eventuality is the British and French lose anyway. If France still falls their troops may very well just quit the war in Norway. There were alot of hard feelings between France and Britain following France's defeat. There is no guarrentee they would remain allies.

            On the whole, Britain gains little or nothing holding in Norway and the Germans gain alot by finishing the job.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by T.A. Gardner
              I'd think that it would be to Britain's detriment. The Germans can reinforce and have the land forces to make things difficult.
              The British have to try and resupply and reinforce their forces regularly by sea.
              There's a wild card to consider. Assuming the British hold on into mid-1941
              the Soviets could well send 50,000 or more troops to assist (small potatoes by Eastern Front standards but significant in Scandinavia). And it would secure a much safer Murmansk supply route.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Tuor View Post
                2) Would it be too tempting for Winston to bomb Swedish ore operations and/or shipping from Sweden to Germany?
                Churchill had already decided that sabotage would be the method used to destroy either the mines, the Swedish ports on the Baltic, or both.

                Two questions: Britain was receiving more ore through Narvik than Germany was, what happens to that supply and what happens to the Norwegian Merchant fleet, which is even more important to the British?
                If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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                • #9
                  As mentioned previously, i believe that Operation Fall Gelb will procede the way it did at the pace it did, and once North Western Europe was under German control they then could finish once and for all allied troops in Norway. How is another question?.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tuor View Post
                    Originally posted by T.A. Gardner


                    There's a wild card to consider. Assuming the British hold on into mid-1941
                    the Soviets could well send 50,000 or more troops to assist (small potatoes by Eastern Front standards but significant in Scandinavia). And it would secure a much safer Murmansk supply route.
                    I doubt they would. The Soviets in the first two years of the war were really hurting for manpower. I'd say Stalin, as he did originally, would tell the British they aren't pulling their weight in this in terms of losses and fighting....

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                    • #11
                      Sure the British have to keep Northern Norway supplied and that makes for an easy target. OTOH the Norwegian bases and coastline were very important for the German attacks on much more important convoys, those from the USA to Britain and those from both to Murmansk. If Northern Norway, actually Central-Northern Norway with the front at Trondheim, features British ASW assets, and air recon, German submarine and surface assets have a hard job just to reach the open Atlantic.
                      Yes, U-Boote may sink many merchantmen right there. OTOH they'll be sinking much less tonnage farther out.
                      And surface raiders? The point with them was to get them loose behind Scapa Flow. Whenever one of them slipped past the GIUK gap or out of French Atlantic ports it was emergency time for the Allies. OTOH using them right in front of Scapa means inviting the Home Fleet to a (small) number of decisive head-on battles. Those may cost something to the Royal Navy, but they simply have more chips to invest in that game.

                      But I think that's academic; it's not going to last enough to make a long-term difference. The Germans, once the Battle of France is over, will mop up Northern Norway too. They will have spare infantry to do that. They don't need to divert significant air assets from the Battle of Britain to provide it with air cover; Luftflotte 5 did very little in the BoB anyway. The British, on their part, will need to deploy to Norway some assets that historically they used mainly as rest-and-refit stations in Scotland. At best, it will be an even fight, which means the Germans advance North. The British evacuate.
                      Michele

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