British land troops at Namsos

Major-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiat

Major-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiat, V.C., commander of British Forces at Namsos

In central Norway the British decided to attempt to re-take the port of Trondheim with a naval assault combined with a landward attack. The legendary Carton de Wiat was chosen to lead the Anglo- French land forces. Carton de Wiat had lost an eye and a hand in separate incidents during World War I before winning the Victoria Cross. He was seriously wounded on at least eight different occasions during that war.

The 59 year old Carton de Wiat had personally reconnoitred the town of Namsos, where his flying boat had been attacked by German planes and his aide was wounded. It was a foretaste of the forthcoming campaign where German airpower would dominate. Accompanying his troops by boat into Namsos the convoy was persistently dive bombed. The great bulk of the troops were landed safely but they were missing vital equipment, including transport, anti-aircraft guns and artillery. Crucially they had no skis, which seriously hampered their mobility. Carton de Wiat got his troops out of Namsos, away from the air attacks, as quickly as possible; they had some 80 miles to cover before they could attempt an assault on Trondheim. Yet at the very same time the German air power was leading London to reconsider the viability of the seaborne assault on Trondheim.

British troops unloading at Namsos, April 1940

British troops unloading at Namsos, April 1940

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