France and Britain Invade Norway and Sweden 1939



  • Churchill proposed an invasion of Northern Norway and Sweden in 1939 to remove half of Germany iron ore. As a new leader he did not have credibility to get this invasion quickly planned before the Germans reacted.

    How does the war progress if the Allied Expeditionary Force invades Norway and Sweden?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    How does the war progress if the Allied Expeditionary Force invades Norway and Sweden?

    Badly, at least from a public relations point of view.  Britain and France, who had the P.R. advantage of being in the position to denouce Hitler’s invasion of Poland, would not have been well-served by New York Times headlines screaming “BRITS, FRENCH INVADE 2 NEUTRALS”.



  • @CWO:

    @ABWorsham:

    How does the war progress if the Allied Expeditionary Force invades Norway and Sweden?

    Badly, at least from a public relations point of view.  Britain and France, who had the P.R. advantage of being in the position to denouce Hitler’s invasion of Poland, would not have been well-served by New York Times headlines screaming “BRITS, FRENCH INVADE 2 NEUTRALS”.

    It would no doubt fuel the isolationist in the U.S.

    How many resources could Germany afford sending North? The German Invasion of Norway, went better than expected and cost a great of their Navy.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    How many resources could Germany afford sending North? The German Invasion of Norway, went better than expected and cost a great of their Navy.

    In terms of the German Army and the Luftwaffe, the invasion of Norway was pretty cheap.  I don’t think they suffered a lot of casualties, even when you throw in the Allied forces who landed there and who had to be fought.  The biggest losses were to the German Navy; as I recall, the Kriegsmarine lost the heavy cruiser Blucher and had a couple of its other major surface units heavily damaged.  But, arguably, losses to its surface-combat fleet were the kinds of losses that Germany could afford the most.  The Kriegsmarine’s surface warship complement wasn’t large enough to threaten Britain’s survival on the same scale as its U-boat arm, which was much more of a strategic menace to Britian’s convoy lifelines.  Those surface warships were, undoubtedly, a serious enough problem that Britain always had to keep some of its own heavyweight units available to tackle them if the Kriegsmarine ever took its battleships and battlecruisers and heavy cruisers out of port, but the Kriegsmarine didn’t do so very often during the war.  So their main utility was as a fleet-in-being…which is a marginal utility at best because they didn’t prevent Britain from using the high seas (something Britain could not have afforded), they simply tied down a percentage of the Royal Navy (something which Britain could afford).



  • @CWO:

    @ABWorsham:

    How many resources could Germany afford sending North? The German Invasion of Norway, went better than expected and cost a great of their Navy.

    In terms of the German Army and the Luftwaffe, the invasion of Norway was pretty cheap.  I don’t think they suffered a lot of casualties, even when you throw in the Allied forces who landed there and who had to be fought.  The biggest losses were to the German Navy; as I recall, the Kriegsmarine lost the heavy cruiser Blucher and had a couple of its other major surface units heavily damaged.  But, arguably, losses to its surface-combat fleet were the kinds of losses that Germany could afford the most.  The Kriegsmarine’s surface warship complement wasn’t large enough to threaten Britain’s survival on the same scale as its U-boat arm, which was much more of a strategic menace to Britian’s convoy lifelines.  Those surface warships were, undoubtedly, a serious enough problem that Britain always had to keep some of its own heavyweight units available to tackle them if the Kriegsmarine ever took its battleships and battlecruisers and heavy cruisers out of port, but the Kriegsmarine didn’t do so very often during the war.  So their main utility was as a fleet-in-being…which is a marginal utility at best because they didn’t prevent Britain from using the high seas (something Britain could not have afforded), they simply tied down a percentage of the Royal Navy (something which Britain could afford).

    German Navy losses were a heavy cruiser, two light cruisers, ten destroyers, six U-boats, one gunnery training ship and ten smaller vessels. The five remaining cruisers were damaged.

    Churchill plan called for the capture of Narvik-Lulea area. To establish a large base there. This would have reduced Hitler’s raw ore supply by half.

    Could a well established Allied base survived an German attack?



  • This is why the Germans invaded Norway.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altmark_Incident

    England could not be trusted to respect the neutrality of Norway.  The English invasion of Norway would have gained England access to Sweden which supplied Germany with most of its iron ore.  That was a war ender for Germany.

    Norway in and of itself was not important (later in the war it was a good place for U-boats, yes, but not in 40). If England had not PLANNED an invasion of Norway so that they could later attack Sweden the Germans never would have invaded.  (Germany left 300k troops there until the end of the war that could have been used elsewhere).

    It really isn’t a matter of opinion.  Norway’s days were numbered no matter if the English or the Germans invaded.  Look at the time line.  How did the English and French have such a quick reaction to the German invasion to send “aid”.  Because that “aid” was going to be the allied invasion force had the Germans not beat them to the punch.



  • Since I actually come from Norway and spend some of my military service in the Narvik area, I think this is an intriguing question. There is no doubt that if Norway and Sweden would join UK after Russia attacked Finland in 1939, then Germany would be free off steel and iron pretty fast, and it may even be a war ender. You cant build Tigers out of wood.

    But I don’t think UK would succeed in invading Norway and Sweden, not in the time frame from the start of the Winter war in 1939 and to the German invasion in april 1940.

    First, Uk would have to declare war against Norway, which at that time had the nr 4 largest merchant fleet in the world, and which UK depended on, unless they wanted to starve. So already here we meet a no-goer and the reason UK never did it in the real world. But for the sake of discussion, lets say Churchill didn’t mind and attacked anyway. To take Narvik would be easy, since it was not defended at that time. Germany only needed 1900 men to take Narvik in the real timeline. UK with French and Polish troops would probably muster between 18 000 and 50 000 men, and a navy 7 times bigger than the joint German, Russian, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish navies. In the real timeline, the Allies did land 25 000 men in the Narvik area, but that was not enough to kick out the 1900 German soldiers. The terrain between Narvik and Kiruna is very difficult with high rocky mountains and winter all the time, and there was only one small railroad connecting the two towns, no roads. At its peak, Germany was only able to supply 5000 men at that area, and I cant imagine how UK should be able to supply a huge army of more than 20 000 men climbing over the mountain range and into Sweden. And when crossing into Sweden, they would probably face more than 320 000 Swedish troops, which is what Sweden actually did mobilize to protect the iron mines in the real timeline. To that you can add 120 000 German troops and Luftflotte 5, now allied to Sweden. Since Germany and Russia were allied at this time, it would not be unthinkable that the worlds largest submarine force, based at Murmansk, would sink a lot of the UK convoys that would try to supply the allied army up in the Narvik mountains. So bottom line, I don’t think UK would be strong enough to pull this off.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I thought it an impossible operation too, but did not have your figures. Thank you for them.



  • I didn’t say it was a good idea for England to attack Norway, but I think it was clear that that was their intention.  England did have a large fleet that could have helped with logistics, but that is pretty much where their advantage ended.  At the very least Hitler believed that was England’s intention because (naval bases aside) there is no real reason to attack Norway other than to protect the iron ore coming from Sweden.  The Germans stranded 300k troops in Norway until the end of the war.  300k troops protecting the Stalingrad flanks could have made the difference (or anywhere, suffice to say they would have been better off anywhere other than sitting in Norway for 5 years).

    You have to remember that the country who was planning this gave us Gallipoli in WW1.  They were bombing Germany with leaflets as the Germans used actual bombs on Poland.  2 years into the war their best land ‘victory’ was the evacuation of northern France.  They didn’t even win the Battle of Britain, Hitler just lost interest.  And to add to that their partner in this plan came up with the idea of the Maginot line.

    All that being said I disagree that Norway’s terrain made it impossible to invade.  The Germans did it and logisticaly they were in a worse position than England.  What I would have done though had I been in charge is let England attack first so that you can get Norway on your side.  The English may ‘get the drop’ on Norway, but I think it would have been more of a massacre than what happened had the Germans been given safe ports to land troops in instead of having to take them… not to mention having the Norwegians on Germany’s side instead of against them.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Zooey72:

    What I would have done though had I been in charge is let England attack first so that you can get Norway on your side.  The English may ‘get the drop’ on Norway, but I think it would have been more of a massacre than what happened had the Germans been given safe ports to land troops in instead of having to take them… not to mention having the Norwegians on Germany’s side instead of against them.

    A British invasion of Norway wouldn’t necessarily have made Norway jump into the Axis camp.  For example, when Britain occupied Iceland to preclude the possibility of Germany seizing it, Iceland didn’t react by becoming an ally of Germany.  The occupation was resented by some Icelanders, but it was seen by others as an insurance policy against the much more distasteful prospect of a Nazi occupation.



  • @CWO:

    A British invasion of Norway wouldn’t necessarily have made Norway jump into the Axis camp.  For example, when Britain occupied Iceland to preclude the possibility of Germany seizing it, Iceland didn’t react by becoming an ally of Germany.Â

    I believe a Brit invasion of Norway would start a civil war. Half the Norwegian labor force were sailors, and depended on trade with USA and Britain, and the Norwegian king and Queen were in close family with the British royalty, so this part of Norway would for sure support Britain no matter what. On the other hand, we have major Qwizling, leader of the Nazi party, and he got support from half the Norwegian Army. They did not resist the German invasion, some places they even helped the Germans. And as soon the war ended, they joined SS and went to the Eastern Front to kill commies.

    Sweden is another issue. the Swedish King was a true Nazi and even supported the German attack on Norway, making bad relation between us for many years after WWII. Sweden were also depended on trading iron ore, steel and weapons against food and oil, so if the convoy line to Germany was cut, Sweden would starve.

    Depending on when Britain would invade Narvik, the mountains are impassable during winter, I figure they would be kicked out pretty fast.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Again, thank you Narvik. Had no idea the Swedish King felt like that.



  • @ABWorsham:

    Churchill proposed an invasion of Northern Norway and Sweden in 1939 to remove half of Germany iron ore. As a new leader he did not have credibility to get this invasion quickly planned before the Germans reacted.

    How does the war progress if the Allied Expeditionary Force invades Norway and Sweden?

    I was reading this over again. I don’t think it would be possible with an Allied invasion during 1939. Since the mountains are pretty much impassable during winter, which is from October to April, the invasion would have to be done from the start of the war in September and finished before October. This was not likely to happen. The first window of opportunity opened in November when Russia attacked Finland. But in the case of Finland, snow and ice was a necessity for a successful campaign, since that part of Finland is impassable swamps and marshes during summer. In Norway it is the other way around, since mountains are impassable during winter. And that give Britain a first possible D-day on April 8th 1940, the day before Germany did actually attack Norway.

    The reason Britain did not attack on April 8th is IMHO that they got reports of a German breakout into the sea, so they ditched the infantry already onboard, and sailed to intercept the German fleet. But as w know, the Germans had then walked down the gangway in all major Norwegian ports. And they could do so because the ports were not defended. But here comes the twist. Next day Britain sailed in 25 000 troops bound for the Narvik area, but they was not able to kick out the 1900 Germans, because at that time Britain lacked landing ships and landing crafts. And you can not amphibious assault a defended coast without landing crafts, as proven in the Normandy landings 1944.

    So basically the 25 000 Allied troops sat in the port of Harstad waiting for landing crafts to be build and this took 7 weeks, before they ware able to invade Narvik late in June , by then defended by 40 Germans. In the meantime 10 000 Norwegians equipped with winter gear and trained in mountain warfare, were pushing the bulk of the Germans towards the Swedish border.

    I figure, if the Brits had landed in Narvik April 8th 1940 and walked down the gangway as friends, the Germans would for sure be cut of from the iron ore. But if the Norwegian socialist government had declared war, then I cant see how the Brits could have been able to break out from Narvik and cross the mountain range over to Sweden. None of the total 35 000 Brits, French and Polish soldiers in Norway 1940 had winter equipment nor training in mountain warfare. The last blizzard was in may, and they would be stuck in Narvik until then, surrounded by a Norwegian mountain division. And on the other side of the border, 320 000 Swedish soldiers, also trained in winter and mountain warfare, would wait for them, protecting the iron mines. So Churchills plan could only work if Norway and Sweden did cooperate volunterely


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