Eighty years ago, on the 28th of May the allies launched their offensive on Narvik in #Norway1940.

For the Norwegians, this was the long awaited first real victory against the occupants. Many of the men in the battalion sent to retake the town had families there.
For the allied high command it was a propaganda move. They had planned to evacuate Norway just after the recapture, because the campaign in France was looking dire by this point.

Taking back the town would show the world that the Hun could be beaten. The Norwegians didn't know.
At 23.00 on the 27th, the British warships and allied artillery opened fire on the area surrounding the landing site at Ornes.

The first group of Foreign Legionnaires landed at 1.00. A company of German sailors defended from high positions, and could fire down into the boats.
The Germans lacked artillery, but a captured railway gun hit a detachment of legionnaires boarding the landing craft at Øyord.

Once again the German sailors' resistance showed the inefficient use of naval guns on fortified positions.
When the legionnaires took the railway, a group of sailors withdrew inside the tunnel, where they continued to resist until the French could pull up a field gun to the entrance.

The mountain side is incredibly steep, and the legionnaires faced fierce resistance while advancing.
At 02.30 the Norwegian II/IR 15 landed and started the climb to the frontline. They thought that they were to push through the French lines, while the French thought they were to advance alongside their allies.

This caused confusion, and when the Norwegians had pushed through..
they saw movement ahead, but wouldn't fire, as they thought it was more legionnaires.

In reality it was Lt. Schweiger of the 1st Company of the 137th Gebirgsjäger-Regiment, repositioning his troops on his own initiative to defend the mountain. The fighting got harder.
To be continued
Another part of the allied plan was to have their air forces keep the Luftwaffe away from their ships, but a thick fog descended upon Bardufoss airfield, delaying the lift-off.

The skies were clear above Narvik, however, and around 04.30 the first German bombers appeared.
Until then the British ships had been providing fire support in the mountains, but now they had to concentrate on the diving Stukas.

This attack continued until 0600, when the fog lifted above Bardufoss.
In the hours of the air attack, the allies in the mountain list their heavy support and were strafed and bombed by enemy planes.

As if that wasn't enough, Lt. Schweiger and his jäger counterattacked in the close quarters of rocks, woods and cliffs.
The jäger pushed between the Norwegian and French forces, splitting them in the confusion. Although the Norwegians were equipped with hand grenades for the first time, they lacked SMGs, giving the outnumbered Germans an advantage in close quarters.
Captain Guittaut, leader of the first group of FFL, was killed in the attack, and the legionnaires were pushed back down through the Norwegian 7th Company, threatening to start a major allied rout.

There are two different stories of what happened next.
One is that Cpt. Hanekamhaug of the Norwegian 7th Company drew his pistol, stood up and threatened to shoot the next man who dared take another step backwards.

Another source says it was Maj. Hyldmo.

He later said that the pistol had no round in the chamber.
My French source says that Cpt. Guittaud shouted: "A Moi! la Légion!" and rallied the fleeing troops before he died, and that a lieutenan lead the legionnaires in a counterattack that killed 20 of his 35 men, but halting the Germans.

Both might be true.
The Poles south of the town were on the offensive as well, but I'll cover that in another thread.

After the failed German offensive and the arrival of the allied fighters, Major Haussel in Narvik ordered a retreat from Narvik at 06.50.
The first Norwegian troops entered Narvik around 17.00. By then most of the fighting was over in the mountain.

They were greeted by crying civilians coming from the bombed town. "Dere er norske!" "You are Norwegian!" the civilians cried with unrestrained joy.
The occupation was over, they thought. Not only had the allies delivered on their promises to defend Norwegian independence, but their own boys were here too.

A Pvt. from this battalion found his family home bombed. His little sister had been killed.
This is quite hard to write. It's heart-rending with this hope and joy amidst the death and suffering. Knowing that their hopes were to be dashed just days later is just really hard.
You can follow @Olvekr.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: