#AceHistoryNews – April 09 – The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter’s invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway’s aid with an expeditionary force.
Despite moderate success in the northern parts of Norway, Germany’s invasion of France in May 1940 eventually compelled the Allies to withdraw and the Norwegian government to seek exile in London.
The campaign subsequently ended with the occupation of Norway by Germany, and the continued fighting of exiled Norwegian forces from abroad. The conflict occurred between 9 April and 10 June 1940, the 62 days of fighting making Norway the nation that withstood a German invasion for the longest period of time, aside from the Soviet Union.
Outbreak of the Second World War:
Both Britain and France had signed military assistance treaties with Poland and two days after Germany invaded Poland (on 1 September 1939), they declared war on Nazi Germany. Neither country mounted significant offensive operations, however, and for several months no major engagements occurred in what became known as the Phoney War or “Twilight War”. Winston Churchill in particular wished to move the war into a more active phase, in contrast to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Almost immediately after the outbreak of war the British began pressuring the Norwegian government to provide the United Kingdom with the services of the Norwegian merchant navy, themselves being in dire need of shipping. Following protracted negotiations between 25 September and 20 November 1939, the Norwegians agreed to charter 150 tankers, as well as other ships with a tonnage of 450,000 gross tons. The Norwegian government’s concern for the country’s supply lines played an important role in persuading them to accept the agreement.
Value of Norway
Norway, though neutral, was considered strategically important for both sides of the war for two main reasons. First was the importance of the port of Narvik, from which large quantities of Swedish iron ore (on which Germany depended) were exported; this route was especially important during the winter months when much of the Baltic Sea was frozen over. Narvik became of greater significance to the British when it became apparent that Operation Catherine, a plan to gain control of the Baltic Sea, would not be realized. The Norwegian ports could have also served as holes in the blockade of Germany, allowing the latter access to the Atlantic Ocean.
The principal reason for Germany’s invasion of Norway was its dependence on Swedish iron ore, which during the winter was shipped primarily from the Norwegian port of Narvik. By securing access to Norwegian ports, the Germans could more easily obtain the supply of iron ore they needed for their war effort