World War Two Daily: April 17, 1940: Trondheim the Target

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

April 17, 1940: Trondheim the Target

Wednesday 17 April 1940

17 April 1940 LA Times news clipping Denmark
Los Angeles Times, 17 April 1940.
Norway: The Wehrmacht is making deliberate moves to occupy Norway on 17 April 1940, but their hold remains precarious. The British War Cabinet is slowly formulating a strategy that centers on Trondheim. They authorize a direct landing after the naval bombardment of shore batteries in Operation Hammer. Operation Sickle is the land attack following the bombardment. The direct land attacks at Trondheim will be accompanied by attacks from the north (Namsos) and south (Andalsnes). General Hotblack is put in command, but in the evening suffers a stroke.

Norway Army Operations: At Oslo, the Germans have broken out and captured the fort of Kongsvinger. This creates a route to Sweden in the east. The Norwegian defenders are under-armed and many are killed. The Germans now have advanced across the country East/West at both Oslo and at Trondheim.

The 3rd Mountain Division troops under General Dietl at Narvik are in increasing jeopardy, with the British landing troops both to the north and south. They receive an order: "hold out as long as possible."

At Dombås Oblt. Schmidt begins the day on the move. He and his men have captured three heavy machine guns from the Norwegian companies that attacked him on the 16th. The 60-odd men move in a column, armed to the teeth. At the front are soldiers with hand grenades, followed by captured trucks carrying the wounded and POWs. Schmidt himself is badly wounded but remains in command.

The Dombås column runs into a Norwegian roadblock at Landheim bridge. The 25 Norwegians, though, are no match for the desperate Fallschirmjäger troops and quickly withdraw to Dovre Church. The Germans block the road at Einbugga road bridge, between Toftemo and Dovre to the south.

The Fallschirmjäger force winds up at the North and South Lindse Farm just south of Dombås. They are in control of the barn, which is made of stone and quite formidable. The farmstead is on a hillside and overlooks both the main road (700 m (770 yds) away) and the vital rail line (250 m (270 yds) away). Oblt. Schmidt, badly wounded, remains in command and is carried to the barn on a door by Norwegian POWs. The Germans have taken 15 military personnel and 40 civilians as prisoners, which they keep at South Lindse.

The men, while obviously desperate and under attack, do not unduly harass the Ulateig family that owns the farm. Egils Ulateig, the grandfather of the farm, disregards a command not to enter the barn, the heart of the defense, stepping over a barricade to feed the cows, sheep, and goats. The Germans smile and let him go, saying "Du bist ein gute mensch."

At Hegra fortress, the German bombardment begins at 07:00, both from howitzers sited at Avelsgaard and from Luftwaffe raids. At 09:00, an infantry assault goes in from the northeast. There are machine gun nests a mere 150 m (160 yards) from the fortress walls on the north. The Norwegians are in trenches behind barbed wire, and there the attack falters and falls back. Luftwaffe bombers resume their assault for the remainder of the day, knocking out power and the phone lines.

At Stavanger-Sola, the Luftwaffe has airlifted in units of the 355th Infantry Regiment. They begin spreading out to the south and east.

Norway Naval Operations: Late in the day, British 148th Infantry Brigade troops land at Andalsnes. This is part of Operation Sickle, which is the land invasion of Trondheim after the naval bombardment. Trondheim is 130 miles away, a long trek in the Norwegian winter. They have no skis (assuming the men, largely from London, even know how to ski, which is doubtful) and few vehicles.

British cruiser HMS Suffolk and its accompanying naval force join in the attacks on Stavanger-Sola airfield, blasting away at it for 80 minutes. It also bombards the nearby seaplane base, causing heavy damage. The Germans also shoot down the Suffolk's Walrus seaplane. The bombardment destroys four German aircraft but otherwise accomplishes little.

Norway Air Operations: The RAF sends bombers to attack Trondheim-Vaernes airfield. It also sends a dozen bombers to attack Stavanger-Sola during the day. Overnight, the RAF sends 20 aircraft to attack Stavanger, Trondheim, Bergen, and Oslo.

Junkers Ju 88 bombers seek out the HMS Suffolks after it bombards the Stavanger airfield. They bomb it for 7 hours and make two hits. The Ju 88s inflict heavy damage and the Suffolk barely makes it back to Scapa Flow the next morning.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-13 (Max-Martin Schulte) torpedoes and sinks 4,935-ton British freighter Swainby 25 miles north of Muckle Flugga, Shetlands at 17:33. All 38 onboard survive.

The Admiralty announces that it has laid a protective minefield across the Firth of Clyde. It sends 33 aircraft to lay mines off the Danish coast during the night.

The Luftwaffe lays mines along the British coast.

Convoy OA 131 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 131 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SL 28F departs from Freetown.

The British commission minesweeping trawler HMS Birch (Lt. Commander Frederick G. Tidswell).

US/Japanese Relations: Following statements by Japanese  Foreign Minister Arita Hachiro on April 15, 1940, about the effects of a European war in the Pacific region, US Secretary of State Cordell Hull states:
“Any change in the status of the Netherlands Indies would directly affect the interests of many countries. The Netherlands Indies are very important in the international relationships of the whole Pacific Ocean. . . . They produce considerable portions of the world's supplies of important essential commodities such as rubber, tin, quinine, copra, et cetera. Many countries, including the United States, depend substantially upon them for some of these commodities. Intervention in the domestic affairs of the Netherlands Indies or any alteration of their status quo by other than peaceful processes would be prejudicial to the cause of stability, peace, and security not only in the region of the Netherlands Indies but in the entire Pacific area.”
Soviet/Romanian Relations: The USSR alleges 15 instances of Romanian violation of its sovereignty.

Italy: Italy declares the port of Bari in the Adriatic closed to non-authorized personnel.

17 April 1940 Ju 17 dropping bombs
A Dornier Do-17 dropping bombs at Namsos, April 1940.

April 1940

April 1, 1940: Weserubung is a Go
April 2, 1940: British Subs On Alert
April 3, 1940: Churchill Consolidates Power
April 4, 1940: Missed the Bus
April 5, 1940: Mig-1 First Flight
April 6, 1940: Troops Sailing to Norway
April 7, 1940: Fleets At Sea
April 8, 1940: HMS Glowworm and Admiral Hipper
April 9, 1940: Invasion of Norway
April 10, 1940: First Battle of Narvik
April 11, 1940: Britain Takes the Faroes
April 12, 1940: Germans Consolidate in Norway
April 13, 1940: 2d Battle of Narvik
April 14, 1940: Battle of Dombås
April 15, 1940: British in Norway
April 16, 1940: Germans Cut Norway in Half
April 17, 1940: Trondheim the Target
April 18, 1940: Norway Declares War
April 19, 1940: Dombås Battle Ends
April 20, 1940: Germans Advancing in Norway
April 21, 1940: First US Military Casualty
April 22, 1940: First British Military Contact with Germans
April 23, 1940: British Retreating in Norway
April 24, 1940: British Bombard Narvik
April 25, 1940: Norwegian Air Battles
April 26, 1940: Norwegian Gold
April 27, 1940: Allies to Evacuate Norway
April 28, 1940: Prepared Piano
April 29, 1940: British at Bodo
April 30, 1940: Clacton-on-Sea Heinkel


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