World War Two Daily: April 18, 1940: Norway Declares War

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

April 18, 1940: Norway Declares War

Thursday 18 April 1940

18 April 1940 U-37
U-37 docked at Wilhelmshaven on 18 April 1940.
Denmark: The war in Denmark is long over by 18 April 1940, and the Germans won without real opposition - but they are still unhappy. The government remains in power, and since their entire legal ruse is just to "protect" the country, there is no justification to depose the government. The Germans would like the pretext to replace the entire government with their own military regime, but this might alienate neutrals, so they continue things as is while biting their tongues.

Norway: The Norwegian government, which acts according to its own rhythms, declares war on Germany. Since the invasion occurred on 9 April, over a week ago, this reflects a somewhat casual attitude to the entire decision. Some Norwegian troops in the field also at times exhibit a rather carefree "whatever happens, happens" attitude which is making the Wehrmacht's job easier. Sometimes the Norwegian civilian volunteers appear to have more spirit than some of the professional soldiers. An air of fatalism cripples the defense.

There are break, milk and meat shortages in Oslo.

The British are still working out a strategy. The focus remains Trondheim, and the bombardment and direct assault on Trondheim - Operation Hammer is put under the command of Brigadier Berney-Ficklin. However, in another of the calamities that afflict the campaign, his plane crashes en route to Scapa Flow. Ultimately, Operation Hammer is canceled as too risky. The pincer attack from Andalsnes in the south and Namsos in the north - Operation Sickle - now becomes the heart of the strategy.

Hitler remains on tenterhooks about the entire operation. At one point, he frantically demands that the German troops at Narvik under General Dietl be evacuated in their entirety by air. There are too few planes, and the idea is a non-starter, but it shows the stress the relatively successful campaign is imposing on the Fuhrer.

Norway Air Operations: The Germans are apprised of the British landings at Namsos and launch a Luftwaffe raid on their positions.

18 April 1940 Mercury Namsos air raid
Allied troops pick through the ruins of Namsos after a German air raid, April 1940.
Norway Army Operations: The German 196th Infantry Division advances north toward Lillehammer and Hamar along the mountain defile that leads north. They are still far from having any strategic impact in terms of British operations to the north. The troops moving north from Oslo are delayed at the village of Bagn in the district of Valdres, approximately midway between Oslo and Bergen. The Germans are advancing by foot, bicycle and captured bus. The Norwegians ambush them from the hills after planting barricades along the mountain roads. As recalled by Norwegian volunteer Eiliv Hauge (22) from Oslo:
"We poured down bullets- the Germans tried to hide under their buses.... The Germans raised a white flag, but the men around me didn't stop firing, so neither did I. We continued until they lay still."
The British troops at Andalsnes, now under the command of General Paget, are joined by a landing at Moldes, with the British establishing another base there. This is the southern pincer directed at Trondheim. The British 148th Brigade (Brigadier Morgan) had been transferred between ships back in England and in the shuffle lost much of their equipment. General Morgan has written orders to advance 150 miles northeast to Trondheim but also has received oral instructions from Chief of the Imperial Staff General Ironside to support the Norwegian troops currently to the Southeast defending the Gudbrandsdal and Østerdal valleys leading up from Oslo. He does not have enough troops to do both adequately.

The Germans appear to recognize their danger at Trondheim and reinforce the garrison there. The German 181st Infantry Division arrives in numerous transport planes, a conventional transport ship and two submarines operating as transport ships.

At Dombås, the Fallschirmjäger force under Oblt. Schmidt is surrounded to the north by a battalion of I/IR 11 and to the south by I/IR 5. There are several other Norwegian units helping out, and fenrik (Second Lieutenant) L. K. Løkken of the Raufoss Anti-aircraft Command has brought a 40 mm anti-aircraft gun. The 40 mm gun is positioned at Dovre Train station and used as artillery. The Norwegians attack from the south at dawn, raking the stone barn with heavy fire. The Germans are trapped in the barn with ammunition running low.

The situation looks dire, but unexpectedly a Junker Ju 52 flies over and drops ammunition, warm clothing, provisions, medical supplies and the radio frequency for communicating with headquarters. These are their first supplies of the operation. Later, a Norwegian officer approaches demanding surrender, which Schmidt rejects. The Norwegians then resume fire with the 40 mm gun. The barn becomes untenable, and at the end of the day, the Germans retreat to the farmhouse where the POWs are being held.

At Hegra Fortress, the Germans make another infantry assault, which fails. They continue raking the fortress with a very heavy machine gun and mortar fire. The weather turns sour, and a German attack is foiled by a blizzard. In the snow, the Germans sometimes fire at each other in confusion. In the evening, two Norwegian doctors ask for and receive permission to evacuate the wounded from the fortress. All operations are temporarily suspended. One of the doctors is held as a hostage to make sure the operation goes as promised. They evacuated nine Norwegian wounded and a German POW, Gefreiter Bayerle, who the Norwegians released as a sign of good faith. The Norwegian wounded do not become POWs per agreement.

The Norwegians holed up in Hegra Fortress are mounting a successful defense of their position, but it is strategically of minor importance. The guns are in fixed emplacements that point away from the only target of any strategic value, the airport being used by the Luftwaffe. The Norwegians under Major Holtermann attempt to re-direct the guns toward the airport, but this proves impossible. The only other value the fortress has is as a point of juncture for other Allied forces, but the Allied forces are nowhere nearby.

Norway Naval Operations: U-26 acts as a transport and arrives at Trondheim carrying needed ammunition, weapons and other equipment.

Battle of the Atlantic: British cruiser HMS Suffolk, attacked by Ju 88 bombers after bombarding Stavanger, barely makes it back to Scapa Flow without sinking.

HMS Sterlet (Lt. Commander Gerard H. S. Haward) is declared overdue and presumed lost in the Skagerrak south of Larvik, Norway. Theories as to her fate range from hitting a mine to being sunk by Kriegsmarine anti-submarine trawlers UJ-125, UJ-126, and UJ-128. All hands are lost.

British submarine HMS Seawolf sinks German ship Hamm.

U-99 (Korvettenkapitän Otto Kretschmer) is commissioned. It is a Type VII B U-boat.

Convoy OB 132, Convoy HG 27F departs from Gibraltar, Convoy OG 26 forms off Gibraltar, and Convoy HX 36 departs from Halifax.

British Military: General Dill takes over as Chief of the Imperial Staff.

Switzerland: The Swiss government makes preparations for a possible surprise attack and mobilizes more men.

18 April 1940 Mercury Mileage car
A group of ten men stands next to a 1940 Mercury gasoline mileage test car, April 18, 1940. The group is in front of the O'Shea-Rogers Motor Company, 1345 M Street. Nebraska State Historical Society.

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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