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  • Churchill plans the occupation of Norway properly.

    Churchill justified the Norwegian campaign arguing that it was vital to interrupt iron ore shipping from Sweden to Germany and to send troops to help Finland fight the Soviets. Both arguments were quite weak, since Swedish ore only went to Norway for a few months and Germany would find plenty of iron ore if it invaded northern France. Moreover, invading Sweden and fighting the USSR would have created more enemies for Britain, which was already terrified of Germany.
    Churchill should have justified the campaign on the basis of excluding the Germans from vital North Atlantic wasters and air space, preventing Germany from bombing Britain, ensuring the security of Norway and denying access to the powerful Norwegian Merchant and fishing fleets. Most importantly, Norway was the ideal place to confront the German army and to force Germany to keep planes away from the invasion of France.

    Churchill had enormous resources at his disposal. Not only was the British navy extremely powerful and close to Norway, he also had access to the French navy, RAF (the best fighters in the world), British, French and Norwegian armies, some Polish pilots and troops, etc, the small Norwegian and Polish navies and a few other vessels from occupied countries.

    A properly planned and executed occupation would have made it completely impossible for Germany's very weak navy to do anything in Norway. Moreover, even if the Germans managed to get armor to Norway through Sweden, German armor would have been of extremely little use in the mountanous country and exposed to the artillery of the powerful allied navy along its long coast.

    Unfortunately, Churchill ignored completely the fact that air domination was crucial. Instead of giving priority to occyping immediately the few airports in Norway with the best planes, he allowed the Germans to capture them and sent only completely obsolete Gladiators initially to operate on Frozen lakes in the north. Only when these were wiped out by obsolete He-111s, did he send a few Hurricanes with more Gladiators.
    Moreover, Although he could have mobilized 3 divisions and landed them in several locations (especially Oslo) and coordinated with and reinforced the excellent Norwegian army and navy, Churchill sent few troops to few places.

    In contrast, the Germans who were reacting to the British invasion, gave priority to occupying the Fornebu airport in Oslo with paratroopers and rapidly mobilized over 800 planes to Denmark and Norway, including some with long range like the Bf-110, Ju-88, He-111, etc, to attack far from the coast and Stukas to attack ships close to the coast.

    Although the British and Norwegians sank or damaged most of the KM's ships, the LW chased the RN from Norway. The Germans used Norway to bomb Britain, for submarine bases to sink ships in the North Atlantic and to invade the USSR through northern Finland.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Draco View Post
    Churchill justified the Norwegian campaign arguing that it was vital to interrupt iron ore shipping from Sweden to Germany and to send troops to help Finland fight the Soviets. Both arguments were quite weak, since Swedish ore only went to Norway for a few months and Germany would find plenty of iron ore if it invaded northern France. Moreover, invading Sweden and fighting the USSR would have created more enemies for Britain, which was already terrified of Germany.
    Churchill should have justified the campaign on the basis of excluding the Germans from vital North Atlantic wasters and air space, preventing Germany from bombing Britain, ensuring the security of Norway and denying access to the powerful Norwegian Merchant and fishing fleets. Most importantly, Norway was the ideal place to confront the German army and to force Germany to keep planes away from the invasion of France.
    It is difficult to justify invading a neutral nation in any situation. Without British action in Norway, Germany would be satisfied with the status quo. A neutral Norway is to their benefit since their merchant vessels would be sailing in "protected" neutral waters.

    The British plan for invasion was ramshackle at best and was plagued by inter-service rivalry, poor logistical planning, poor communications and a constantly changing plan of action.

    I've always found it interesting that the Germans beat the British to the punch by mere hours and the many missed opportunities the British had of intercepting some of the invasion fleet. At every turn, Lady Luck was on the side of the Germans.
    If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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    • #3
      Norway was esential for the KM, It was necessary to control the Baltic and North Atlantic. German ports were easily blockaded by the British, whereas Norway allowed access to Soviet ports and even to the Pacific (Stalin allowed passage of German ships and a submarine base in the USSR), effectively bypassing the British blockade.
      That is why Germany responded to the British mining and occupation.

      Norway had cooperated extensively (coaxed by Britain) with the allies in WW I.

      The makings of a good plan:

      1) Ensure cooperation from the Norwegians, provide them with 15 Spitfires and 30 Hurricanes with 3 blade propellers, 10 Blenheims and 20 Gladiators, send two RAF Spitfire squadrons to Fornebu to train Norwegian pilots and defend the area. Install a Radar station in Fornebu.
      2) Send AA to help defend the airport in other crucial installations.
      3) Build 4 wooden landing strips along the coast where ever aerodromes are most needed (the Soviets did this in Murmansk) and place a squadron with French or Polish pilots flying Hurricanes in each one.
      4) Send 10 submarines, 2 carriers, 10 British, 10 French and 2 Polish destroyers, give the Norwegians the 3 oldest French and British destroyers, send 1 French and 1 British Battleship, 6 British heavy cruisers, keep them under air cover.
      5) Send 1 French, 1 Polish and 1 British Division to Reinforce the Norwegian army, all well armed, with large numbers of machine guns, mortars and light field artillery.
      6) Invite the Danish government, military and people in General to move to Norway with their powerful sommercial fleet, since Denmark has no hope against Germany.

      Once Norway is secured, press Sweden to sell all the AA guns and ammunition, ball bearings, iron ore, etc, that it produces to the allies. So the Germans have no access to these goods and the allies can arm well their ships, airports, etc,

      Forget about helping Finland, Britain has its hands full with Germany.

      If Germany attacks its ships will be sunk rapildy and the LW will suffer terrible losses against modern fighters guided by radar.
      Britain has few British pilots in Norway but has sent its best planes, so that non-British allied pilots get a chance to shoot many German planes with excellent planes.

      At the same time Britain sends half of the Spitfires and Hurricanes remaining in Britain to Belgium and France, but sends only 20% of its pilots, so that again, excellent pilots from Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, etc, can shoot down lots of German planes when Germany invades France.
      Britain keep training pilots and producing more planes and Germany, so that the planes sent to France and Norway are soon replaced in Brtain squadrons, but Germany loses a lot of planes in Norway, Belgium and France
      Last edited by Draco; 30 Aug 12, 22:09.

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      • #4
        What people tend to forget is the UK got a significant amount of Swedish Iron ore as well. I read a while back that Swedish ore was 40% of British imports of the ore. Possession of Narvik would ensure these shipments could continue if Germany cut the Baltic routes.

        The problem is the UK did not have enough troops to send to France AND Norway AND Iceland! All the Regulars were in France and some of the Territorials as well! The Territorials did not have artillery or other division support. If France was not getting Spitfires, the odds of Norway getting any are about the lifespan of a snowball in Hell. The British did send some Gladiator fighters and the Aircraft Carrier and Destroyer escort were caught by a German Battle Cruiser and its escort. Bye Bye carrier!

        The French sent a Polish Brigade and a Chasseurs d'Alpine Brigade. The English cobbled together two Brigades and sent them. The British and German fleets actually passed each other in the night. The British had been mining Norwegian waters to stop traffic to Germany!

        The big problem is the British did not anticipate the Germans invading Denmark or Norway! Unless you know its coming you can't make plans to stop it!

        Pruitt
        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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        • #5
          Some of those having an axe to grind against Churchill are able to point out his mistakes - and many he did, so he's fra from being above any criticism. But many of those critics, OTOH, build on their own sheer naked ignorance.

          Churchill wasn't the Prime Minister at the time of the Norwegian campaign. He was the First Lord of the Admiralty. The Norwegian idea was quite his own brainchild, yes, but he could only propose. He had no authority to plan how many infantry units to send, much less how many RAF squadrons, or where to deploy them exactly. All of this had to be worked out through inter-service planning, with Churchill clearly not being the ultimate responsible person for all decisions.

          The British not only had to smooth inter-service problems, they also had to plan jointly with the French, and at a lower level there were not just British and French troops but also Polish troops. It's quite understandable that this early in the war, this diversity would cause problems.

          As to the idea of counting Norwegian assets as being right there ready for use and blaming Churchill for not using them, that's simply ludicrous. The Norwegians wanted neutrality. Nothing short of deploying troops on their soil could move them from that. Churchill did try as much as he could to push them into the Allied camp; it's not as if he didn't think of it. Why, part of the reason why Norway became a battlefield was the news deliberately floated by Churchill concerning the enlargement of the Allied camp.

          I'll add that Wehrmacht enthusiasts often don't see the price tag that comes with German victories. Norway was the graveyard of the smaller warships of the Kriegsmarine.

          Interestingly for the supporters of air superiority, with all the Luftwaffe lording it over Norway, the battle for Narvik would clearly have been a German defeat, with the elite mountain troopers (and survivors from those sunk warships) being forced out of the war. The only reason why this did not happen was the events in France.
          Michele

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          • #6
            Unintended consequences can be interesting. two from Norway:

            1) Any minimal possibility of the KM being able to support a scratch
            operation Sealion vanished with the decimation of its already weak
            forces at Norway.

            2) The idleness of hundreds of thousands of German forces there for the
            duration of the war (in a way reminiscent of the British and French idle forces in Thessalonika in WWI in Greece) would have been avoided thereby freeing up some forces and concentrating German attention more on northern France in 1944.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tuor View Post
              Unintended consequences can be interesting. two from Norway:

              1) Any minimal possibility of the KM being able to support a scratch
              operation Sealion vanished with the decimation of its already weak
              forces at Norway.

              2) The idleness of hundreds of thousands of German forces there for the
              duration of the war (in a way reminiscent of the British and French idle forces in Thessalonika in WWI in Greece) would have been avoided thereby freeing up some forces and concentrating German attention more on northern France in 1944.
              Hundreds of thousands?
              Anyway, keeping Norway once forced to prevent the enemy from taking it was worth the effort until the end of 1944, I believe. Without such a long friendly coastline, both the U-Boote and the surface raiders would have been much more bottled up and the Battle of the Atlantic way less painful for the Allies.
              If you add the easier imports of Swedish iron and the greater security about imports of Finnish nickel (IIRC the only source within German reach), plus some coastal fishing...
              Michele

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michele View Post
                Hundreds of thousands?
                I believe that there were around 400,000 German troops in Norway by the end of the war.
                Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Anacreon View Post
                  I believe that there were around 400,000 German troops in Norway by the end of the war.
                  I had missed the fact that the volume was in that order of magnitude. Thanks for pointing it out to me.
                  Michele

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                  • #10
                    Only a few divisions were in combat in Norway. The rest were Low Caliber Coastal Defense types. One of the only Luftwaffe Field Divisions that survived was in Norway. The only time the German garrison was built up was when they were thinking of invading Sweden. They even built a Panzer Division! Once the invasion was dropped, the Panzer Division was transferred out and the extra transport was sent back to Germany.

                    German troops in the Arctic and Finland retreated into Norway. The Soviets followed them. At least one SS Mountain Division (6th?) ended up back in Germany. They participated in Operation Nordwind. This was not a high caliber unit!

                    Winston Churchill kept the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division out of combat until late 1944 hoping to use it to occupy Norway if the Germans collapsed. At this time the 20,000 men in this division were most of the Infantry replacements available in the British Army! The British were still sending men into the RAF and Royal Navy instead of the Army. The British had to disband Infantry Divisions while the 52nd sat around.

                    Pruitt
                    Last edited by Pruitt; 31 Aug 12, 09:32.
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Keeping the Spitfires and 3 bladed Hurricanes in Britain was the worst possible decision and it caused the rapid loss of France, Belgium, Holland and Norway.
                      Britian sent its best pilots to fight with Gladiators in Nroway and two bladed Hurricanes in France and lost most of them. Britian has to lose over 100 of its preciuos planes and pilots from Britain covering the evacuation in Dunkirk anyway. By the time of the BoB Dowding had lots of excellent planes and Britain was producing more of them than Germany, but there were very few experienced pilots. Britain was saved by Czechs, Poles, Canadians, Anzacs, Norwegians, legless Bader, etc,

                      The carrier that was sunk by battleships (really heavy cruisers) was evacuating Gladiators and Hurricanes for Norway (the Hurricanes were sent only after the Gladiators were wiped out).

                      Had the British lost more planes, ships and men in battle than evacuating, they would have defeated Germany soundly and there woudl not have been a BoB.

                      Pilots were the allies' most important asset and they lost over a thousand by using the worst planes available at the most critical time.

                      Had Britain shared its planes with the other countries with excellent pilots in time, German plane losses would have been hellacious and British pilots losses minimal.

                      Having a few modern planes in Norway and France was the best possible investment.

                      300 Farey Battles were lost in 2 weeks attacking bridges, etc, unsuccessfully for lack of fighters strafing AA guns and protecting them from German fighters.

                      During the invasion of France the Germans created the worst traffic jam in the history of Europe. The Battles, Hurricanes and Spitfires would have blown the German vehicles to bits and stopped the invasion temporarily. Allowing more time for the French to produce D.520s and for more American H-75 and for the first P-40's to arrive in France.

                      An excellent French, Belgian of Polish pilot flying an MS.406 or worse plane or an excellent British pilot flying a Gladiator or 2 bladed Hurricane is far more likely to die and far less likely to shoot down a Bf-109 than when flying a Spitfire of 3 bladed Hurricane.

                      When France capitulated most of the French pilots refused to fight for Britain. Had they had British planes France would have stayed in the fight longer, the Germans would have lost so many planes that the BoB would never have occured.

                      Hitler knew that he could not compete at all with the British, American, Canadian and French economies if the war lasted more than 3 months. He was lucky that he didn't face modern planes in Norway and France, or he would have lost most of his LF there and the war in 1940.

                      The allies had to many troops in France, which were useless there agains a modern enemy.

                      The simple fact of the allies executing an efficient occupation in Norway would have shocked him, instead of becoming bolder when he defeated the mighty RN.

                      He became bolder and more popular everytime he defeated the allies, often using inferior equipment more efficeintly.
                      The Stuka, HS-123, etc, were obsolete by the June 1940. The British wiped out the Stukas over Britain, but not over France only because their best planes were not there (even without British pilots).
                      Germany invaded France mostly with lousy PZ I and II and defeated the much superior and more numerous French tanks only because of dominion of the air.
                      Last edited by Draco; 31 Aug 12, 10:19.

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                      • #12
                        A similar thread concerning a sustained Brit presence in Norway after June 1940 was floated here within the last 12 months. It went a bit deeper into the strength as weaknesses of the Brits & Germany in this battle area. At the core of that discussion was the idea the German leaders could not afford to let any significant Brit presence remain. As soon as France was defeated in Our Time Line Germany began preparations for evicting the remaining Allies from Norway. Thats unlikely to change however many Hurricanes are parked on the airstrips or infantry brigades are drawing supplies across the docks of Norway. That is Germany if Germany wants the Swedish iron ore, protein from the North Sea, a secure Baltic Sea flank, and secure acess to Finnish nickle, ect... ect... there will be a large scale counter attack from the summer or autum. I'll leave it to others to debate how that would have played out.

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                        • #13
                          Germany does not need Swedish ore after capturing the French deposits and Finnish nickle can travel by train to the Baltic. However, without Norway the German navy is rendered moot. the LW loses access to Scotland and the Germans cannot attack the northern USSR and most importantly, the allies can bomb Germany and perhaps even gain access to the Baltic (if they dominate the air above Denmark).
                          The KM considered Norway absolutely vital for a prolonged war. Hitler would not have given it up without an extremely costly fight. He certainly didn't give up even after losing most of his navy. So it was a perfect oportunity to bleed the LW and KM and to keep German planes away from France and invaluable allies afloat. Most importantly, every victory would have boosted British morale enormously and eroded Hitler's popularity and German morale, whereas every British defeat and evacuation eroded British morale greatly. So much so that even in 1943 and 44 many British troops had a very low morale in Italy and Normandy, which only improved slightly after very costly victories.
                          Last edited by Draco; 31 Aug 12, 15:02.

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                          • #14
                            From my files:
                            To illustrate the kind of things that British pilots had to face I'd like to mention Sq. 263 RAF in 1940.
                            These chaps were hastily shipped to northern Norway with 18 obsolete Gladiator biplanes. They started operating from a frozen lake, but lost all their planes to He-111 bombers and were shipped back to Britain. After being reequipped with Gladiators they were shipped again and reinforced by another squadron with Hurricanes. However, having lost the battle of Norway, they were soon evacuated again after destroying 26 German planes.
                            Unfortunately for these chaps, the aircraft carrier that transported them and the two destroyers escorting it were sunk by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (the only instance of a fleet carrier, whose bombers can attack from hundreds of km away being sunk by ships firing from 25 km away). Some brave escort carriers (slow, modified Liberty ships, much more vulnerable than fleet carriers) were sunk by ship cannon shells in the Philippines when their planes were attacking 27 ships in order to save the troop transports landing thousands of troops in 1944.
                            The British navy with so many battleships, heavy cruisers, etc, lost a carrier and two destroyers to the crippled and never formidable German navy. Indeed their finest hour.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              What people tend to forget is the UK got a significant amount of Swedish Iron ore as well. I read a while back that Swedish ore was 40% of British imports of the ore. Possession of Narvik would ensure these shipments could continue if Germany cut the Baltic routes.
                              Correct. Britain was receiving more ore through Norway than Germany was.

                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              The big problem is the British did not anticipate the Germans invading Denmark or Norway! Unless you know its coming you can't make plans to stop it!
                              Both Norway and Britain were warned of the impending invasion through neutral diplomatic sources, and even source from within the Abwehr (Canaris's attempts to weaken Hitler's standing). Britain never took the warnings seriously since it figured that if they could hardly execute the invasion, Germans would never be able to do it. Nationalism...


                              Originally posted by Draco View Post
                              However, without Norway the German navy is rendered moot.
                              The Kiel Canal allows the KM access to the North Sea. Donitz had suggested Norway for U-boat bases, but this is rather shortsighted since plans for the invasion of France were already underway. Norway would have to join the Allies (which would never happen) in order for them to bottle up the Baltic. Norway also enjoyed merchant trade with Germany and sealing the Baltic would clearly put an end to this.

                              An excellent source for this campaign is: Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik O. Lunde
                              If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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