LOFOTEN WAR MUSEUM
SVOLVÆR - LOFOTEN

The NAVY
 
NORWEGIAN CAPTAIN AND SAILOR CARRYING A TELEGRAPHIC LAMPE
  
















After the Norwegian capitulation in the summer of 1940,
the Norwegian naval force who continued the resistance from
bases in England, were far from impressive.
9. APRIL
THE LOFOTEN RAID
GESTAPO
OCCUPATION
THE NAVY
MIL.ORG.
RUSSIAN PRISONERS OF WAR
GRINI
BURNING OF FINNMARK
THE MURMANSK FRONT
LIBERTY
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The
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THE NAVY
Most of the Norwegian ships and aircraft were lost during the 2 months of fighting in Norway. Only two destroyers, "Draug" and "Sleipner", an old submarine, three observation
vessels, two torpedo-boats, seven guard-ships and four German built Heinkel 115 seaplanes managed to get away.

The battle of Britain was at its height, and it was difficult to get newer and more modern ships. New personnel had also to be trained. The first school that was started was the Norwegian navy radio-school in London

During 1942, several courses and training sessions started recruiting both civilians and officers for artillery duty. By 1945 this force counted 550 persons. Around 42-43, the Norwegian naval fleet had grown to 58 vessels, most of these used as ships escorting the convoys. Norway also received three new submarines.

The personnel that served in the Norwegian navy were stationed over a wide spread area. From the Barents sea up North, to the Panama canal in the West, and to Cape Town down South Africa. They even operated as far as the Red Sea, The Persian Gulf and Bombay. From a modest 600 persons in 1940, the navy grew to 7400 in 1945. Hundreds of these were women. Of the 118 warships carrying Norwegian colours, 20 were lost in battle.

The naval crew and officers were often exposed to horrendous conditions during patrol of the English channel, serving under constant attacks from German Torpedo boats ( E-boats), and under gruelling conditions escorting convoys in the north Ice-Sea. Several persons who escaped to England during the Lofoten Raid, later joined Norwegian or English navy.

The merchant fleet.
Norway's biggest contribution during the war against nazi-Germany was at sea where Norway's vast merchant fleet was at the allied forces disposal. Over the whole world, the Norwegian flag waved in the wind behind grey painted and well maintained ships. 30 000
Norwegian skilled sailors participated in every war zone all over the world.


From convoys to D-day in Europe, Norwegian ships and crew participated. Even in the dramatic evacuation of Dunkerque in 1940, Norwegian ships and crew were in the front line. 30 Norwegian ships were central during the invasion of North Africa. However it was during the battle of the Atlantic the Norwegian merchant fleet made an outstanding effort.

The Norwegian Tankers were of extreme importance to the British. Without these ships, it would have been harder for the allied forces to keep up the intense buid up which eventually led to the foundation of what was to become the invasion of Normandy.

The sailors were exposed to extremely difficult and hazardous conditions in particular during the Battle of the Atlantic. Raging at its worst, the sailors were under constant attack by German submarines and allied escorts were often under spread too thin.

3734 Norwegian sailors lost their lives, and over 500 ships were sunk.

The costal domestic-fleet 1940-45.
During the war, Norway was absolutely dependent on its domestic fleet. This fleet consisted only of 15 % of Norway's tonnage, but it suffered severe losses during the war. The sailors were torn between the occupation forces and the civilian population.

Civilian ships like the coastal liner and smaller local boats from time to time were forced to carry German soldiers. This led to the false impression that domestic ships were used as a tool of the
Wehrmacht. The fact that these ships were essential to the local population, was a secondary consideration for the Germans.

CAPTAIN, NORTRASHIP

NORWEGIAN NAVAL UNIFORM
 
NORWEGIAN SAILOR



 
 

This explains why the importance of the domestic fleet has somewhat been "toned down" after the war. The sinking of several of these ships by allied forces caused many causalities and has after the war been a carefully avoided issue. But in later days, some admittance of
responsibility and even apologies have been given. Like the sinking of the "Irma", by Norwegian torpedo-boats, claiming many lives. Sadly even though you're fighting for the right side, sometimes things may go wrong.

The sailors found themselves in a nightmarish situation. If they stopped sailing, they would be arrested by the Wehrmacht. If they continued sailing, they stood a great risk of being attacked by allied forces…..

About half of the tonnage was sunk. Worst off, were the big ships, mostly sunk by aircraft. The crews of the home-fleet were under enormous pressure, constantly attacked, bombed, shot upon German orders and directives. Recruiting problems and general problems put a lot of strain on the sailors as well. When the ships were in port, there wasn't much to do. The cities were blackened out and under curfew. The Wehrmacht controlled everything, and a lot of places were off limits to the public.

During fall 1941, even the coastal liners stopped sailing north of Tromsø. Transportation beyond Tromsø was provided by big fishing cutters and were called the "substitute liners". But even these ships came under attack claiming losses of sailors and civilians.
About 1 200 sailors and civilians lost their lives along the Norwegian coast.

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