British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

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British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  Billtux on Mon 8 Feb 2010 - 6:28

I am trying to locate any records of those in the British Army who served on a raid into Norway in, I think 1940. Specifically, Capt. Kermit Roosevelt, American President Roosevelt's second son. He volunteered to serve with the British in 1939 and in 1940 participated in the Norway raid. I would greatly appreciate anyone who could direct me to where I can find any records/infomation on this operation, particularly Roosevelt's involvement.

Thank you,
Bill Tux

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British volunteers, Narvik 1940

Post  Stany on Mon 8 Feb 2010 - 17:33

YES! I ahve a good friend who was the o.i.c Royal Artillery who was left behid to spike the British guns, then surrendered to a German airborne unit. The Germans treated them very well and as professional men-at-arms. However, one very dark night, my friend, Dick Thornton, and his fellow POWs realised the German guards at the school house where they were being held had gone. The British artillerymen crept out of town to the Bedford truck they had hidden. It was fully fuelled. Dick and his comrades drove north to find a friendly village (Note, in 1940 most Norwegians were anti-British/pro-German). They found a friendly fishing boat skipper who was about to leave for Canada, so they joind the skipper. A few miles out they were stopped by a German patrol boat, but the Germans failled to find the escaping Brits aboard. The next day out from Tromso a submarine surfaced. A U-boat, and they were done for? No, it was a British sub. This is a real escape story, and has never been published.
Dick rejoined his RA unit, and fought all the way from Alamein to Hamburg. He has a law degree, so he was in the prosecution of the Belsen camp guards,- many of whom were hanged. Later, he ended up as a Director of Barclays Bank.

I would be delighted to put you in touch with Dick, who now lives in Perth, Australia.

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British volunteers at Norvik

Post  Billtux on Mon 8 Feb 2010 - 17:50

Yes Stany, I would be very appreciative if you could connect me with your friend. I'm in the process of writing a book and details of this operation is very important to the narrative.

Thanks again,
Bill Tux

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British Volunteers, narvik 1940

Post  Stany on Mon 8 Feb 2010 - 18:58

For Bill Tux. Please email me direct on yeaman@iprimus.com.au, or phone +61-8 9341 7825

Stany

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Re: British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  AltforNorge on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 1:03

Stany wrote:YES! (Note, in 1940 most Norwegians were anti-British/pro-German).

Here I must strongly protest. I mean that history shows that the Norwegian people in did was Pro-British.

You can start by reading Patrick Dalzel-Job "Artic snow to dust of Normandy"

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Britsh volunteers, Narvik 1940

Post  Stany on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 2:44

There were many brave Norwegians who came over to the allied side as the war progressed, but in January 1940 Germany successfully presented the British campaign at Narvik as an act of agression against neutral Norway. Evidently, Norwegians would phone up the German military and report the presence and position of British troops. But that was January, 1940, and I have no doubt that any Norwegian who did so regretted it for the rest of his/her life. The brutality of the German occupation soon changed their views, but in early 1940 the Britsih were seen as the agressors, and no doubt Germany got as much propaganda as it could out of this.
The purpose of the British expedition to Narvik was conceived by Churchill (then, head of the Navy) to prevent Swedish iron ore from getting to Germany. This gave Germany a strategic reason for invading Norway.

Thank goodness for the Narvik campaign, because Germany lost most of its destroyers in the naval actions around Narvik to a vastly superior Royal Navy, and that is the reason why there were no German destroyers to disrupt the evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940. The RN did, however, lose one of its aircraft carriers (HMS Glorious), with all its precious Hurricanes on board, to gunfire from Scharnhorst during the withdrawal.

I shall ask my friend who was at Narvik, but I don't think they were 'volunteers'. By then, every fit male over 18 years was in the armed forces, and so the Norwegian campaign involved regular army units. There might have been some 'volunteers' who were really Americans posing as Canadians.

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Broitish Volunteers, Narvik 1940

Post  Stany on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 3:43

I have now discussed things with my ex-Royal Artillery friend who was actually there (April/May, 1940). He speaks very highly of the Norwegian Army units who were with thsm, as well as the French Foreign Legion units. He says that if it had not been for the defeat at Dunkirk, the British/Norwegian/French forces would certainly have remained there and won the Arctic Norway campaign. However, the allied attempted landings at Tromso were evidently a disaster, with a batallion of the Irish Guards and one of the Green Howards being wiped out.

The British army units were not actually "volunteers". My friend had been in the Territorial Army prior to declaration of war. The Territorials was/is a strictly volunteer army of week-end soldiers. They were then drafted into the regular army when the war started, losing their volunteer status at the same time. As 'territorials' they were already fully trained soldiers who were ready for action in 1940, and this probably explains why they were sent to Norway. The newly conscripted army composed of men with no previous military experience would not have been fully trained until much later, and that is the army which went to North Africa.

My friend speaks very highly of the Norwegian army units alondside of which he fought in 1940,- but some of the civilians were not so friendly.

My friend confirms that he is very willing to assist with writing a history of the Narvik campaign.

Stany

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British fighting at Norvik

Post  Billtux on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 6:31

Hello Stany, and thanks for your assistance. I sent you an email earlier today, I trust you received it? I'm glad to hear that your friend is willing to share his war knowledge with me. Please send him my email address: welrealestate@optonline.net and/or send me his and I will contact him.

Bill

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Re: British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  AltforNorge on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 22:37

Stany wrote:, but in January 1940 Germany successfully presented the British campaign at Narvik as an act of agression against neutral Norway. Evidently, Norwegians would phone up the German military and report the presence and position of British troops. But that was January, 1940, and I have no doubt that any Norwegian who did so regretted it for the rest of his/her life. The brutality of the German occupation soon changed their views, but in early 1940 the Britsih were seen as the agressors, and no doubt Germany got as much propaganda as it could out of this.
.

To your information, the German attack on Norway (and Narvik) happened the night to April 9. 1940

The Norwegian (and the Government's) view was that we should do everything to not being involved in a war, and if we could not avvoid it, we had to enter the war on the British side.

I challenge you to give up sources for your statement about the Norwegian view on the British! study


Last edited by AltforNorge on Tue 9 Feb 2010 - 22:38; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : A blatant misspelling)

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Re: British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  Infanterist on Wed 10 Feb 2010 - 1:25

Regarding the relation to the brits and french, many norwegian soldiers felt betrayed by their allies because they together had beaten the germans at Narvik, and that their allied pulled out leaving the norwegians to their own faith. This was probably a correct millitary decition, but some of the norwegian soldiers that had fought so hard, and did not have the broader picture felt quite bitter towards their allies. But pro german in 1940??

Some civilians including my mother were not happy with the brits killing so many civilians in the Narvik region with their ship artillery. The germans later killed her 13 year old cousin, the civilians at Narvik was quite traumatized and i think many civilians in Narvik were tired of all soldiers who came in and destroyed the town.
I was born i Narvik and remembering one incident as a kid when we found a handgrenade from the fighting in 1940, this was as late as 1980.

I am really looking forward to what you manage to write about the Narvik campaign Stany, and please say thank you to your friend fighting for "my" town in 1940, we should never forget these men.

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British volunteers, Narvik 1940

Post  Stany on Wed 10 Feb 2010 - 3:58

My source of info on the pro-German attitude of some civilians at Narvik came from my friend who was an officer in the Royal Artillery there. He said that people would phone up the German military to report the positions of British guns. He was there, I was not. On the other hand he holds the Norwegian military in the highest possible regard. He says the allies (ie including Norway) had actually won the Narvik campaign, but at the moment of victory they had to be withdrawn because of the German breakthrough on the Western Front.
You could say that WWII was really won at Narvik in April 1940 because Germany lost nearly all its destroyers, and its cruisers were either badly damaged or sunk, and the Scharnhorst put out of action. If this had not happened, Dunkirk would not have happened, and we would have lost the war. Churchill, not I, made this point.

Thank you again, Norwegian Army, for saving my life in Scotland in July 1944.

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British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  Bob Pearson on Sat 13 Feb 2010 - 18:30

Billtux,

Take a look at the National archives site (UK) - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

go to 'Catalogue' - click on 'Search the Catalogue'. Type in Kermit Roosevelt and you will see that there are some very interesting records on this man. Four records are within your date context, whilst the other four may not be of immediate interest, being outside your time frame.

If you cannot travel to the UK then you can request that the records be copied and posted to you. The NA will even quote the cost beforehand.

Cheers

Bob

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British volunteers at Norvik 1940

Post  Billtux on Sun 14 Feb 2010 - 6:50

Hey Bob,
Thank you very much for the lead on Kermit Roosevelt in the archives. Tracking down some of this info. is quite difficult to say the least.
Best Regards,
Bill

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Re: British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

Post  Bjørn on Fri 26 Feb 2010 - 16:26

Hello!
I am myself from North Norway, and was not born in 1940. But older relatives sometime mentioned that the British had forced the war upon Norway, and than left when they should help out. I always felt that this was more bitterness than evidence of a pro-German attitude.

Even Norwegian forces were sometimes begged to leave the area by civilians in 1940, in fear of their homes being destroyed.

B.

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Re: British volunteers at Norvik in 1940

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