April 1940

Apr

30

1940

British troops evacuated from Namsos and Andalsnes

HMS Bittern ablaze in Namsos Fjord after having suffered a direct hit in the stern by a bomb.

578 troops were pushed into us. They were in a completely demoralised state and had been machine gunned and bombed the whole day by 3 Heinkels who had come all the way from Hamburg! They hadn’t seen many German troops, but lots of parachutists, with light tanks, bicycles and field artillery in pieces!

Apr

29

1940

German troops advance towards Trondheim

German troops with a 'grenade launcher' on the front line near Trondheim 29th April 1940

The British had now decided to evacuate central Norway. A narrow single track road and single line railway ran from their front line near Dombaas to the the port at Aandalsnes and there was only limited transport available for the exhausted troops.

Apr

28

1940

The war still seems far away

Berlin office workers enjoying the spring sunshine during their lunch break. Across Europe most people were relatively unaffected by the war. That was about to change.

The virtual disappearance of many indispensables since the start of the war has had a comical aftermath at my office: for some time now our bosses had been complaining about the inexplicable consumption of unaccountable quantities of w.c. paper. At first they concluded that the staff must be suffering from some new form of mass diarrhoea …

Apr

27

1940

Captain R.T. Partridge encounters the enemy up close

The Blackburn Skua: the Fleet Air Arm fighter that operated from HMS Ark Royal

Whilst following the HEINKEL down after the attack. Captain Partridge realised that his engine was failing and that he would he forced to land immediately. Selecting a frozen lake which appeared to have a road running beside it, he landed his machine successfully with the undercarriage up. A bent airscrew was the only damage and the machine came to rest alongside the road in about four feet of snow.

Apr

26

1940

British suffer further setbacks in central Norway

An experimental German Panzer with three turrets, used in Norway

British forces in central Norway found themselves under increasing pressure. Complete German air superiority meant that they could bomb and strafe at will, supporting not just their front line forces but interrupting the British lines of communication and supply bases.

Apr

25

1940

S class submarines return to base

Seal-crewmember

Of the 12 ‘S’ class submarines in service in 1939, only 3 were to survive the war, HMS Sealion, HMS Seawolf, and HMS Sturgeon. As the losses accumulated the S class became the subject of a defiantly morbid verse in submariners circles, based on a popular nursery rhyme:

Apr

24

1940

263 Squadron land at Lake Lesjaskog

Glster Gladiator landed on surface of snow covered frozen lake

A runway measuring about 800 by 75 yards had been prepared with local labour, which had also swept the snow from a track between the main road and the lake edge. Unfortunately, only one inadequate route had been swept from the edge to the runway; this was half a mile long and a foot deep in snow, and the stores had to be conveyed over it on three horse-drawn sledges, intermittently available. The village of Lesjaskog was two miles away, so that even the provision of forage for the horses involved difficulties.

Apr

23

1940

Erhard Milch leads Luftwaffe assault on Norway

Erhard Milch addresses Luftwaffe pilots in Norway

When the Nazi’s came to power he played a key role in the rapid expansion of the Luftwaffe and was a close associate of Goering. He came under investigation by the Gestapo because his father, Anton Milch, was a Jew. However his mother swore an affidavit that her husband was not the father of any of her children, and Erhard was able to obtain a German Blood Certificate, required by Nazi race laws to continue in State related employment. He was assisted by Goering who famously declared “I decide who is a Jew”.

Apr

22

1940

Lodz Ghetto is closed off

Notice forbidding Germans and Poles to enter Lodz Ghetto

The 164,000 Jews living in the Ghetto found themselves living in a virtually autonomous area, albeit totally dependent on the Germans for food and other supplies.

Apr

21

1940

British troops face Germans at Lillehammer

German troops in a fierce struggle against Norwegian troops in a village, 40 km west of Lillehammer.

Just when reserve ammunition had come up, making extra weight to carry, were told to withdraw up the road (the snow was waist-deep in the fields). As I went up road a few shells fell on both sides, smutching the white snow for 200 yds. around where they fell and brought the telephone wires down round our ears.