Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 222 April 9, 1940

At 5 AM, Germany invades Denmark & Norway. Denmark is taken by surprise & surrenders immediately after unopposed landings in Copenhagen & threats of bombing.

Germans warships land troops at 4 main points in Norway. At Narvik, German destroyers sink Norwegian coastal cruisers Eidsvold & Norge (276 lives lost, 98 survivors). Trondheim is captured easily as the Germans sail past the coastal batteries (pretending to be British warships). At Bergen, Kvarven Fort’s batteries damage cruiser Königsberg & minelayer Bremse. At Oslo, Oscarsborg Fortress’ batteries & shore torpedoes sink German cruiser Blücher in the Oslofjord (830 dead, 1370 swim ashore) and cruiser Lützow is also shelled but escapes. The delayed landing of troops allows Norway’s Royal Family, Government and gold reserves to escape Oslo at 8.30 AM. Oslo is captured later in the day by German troops airlifted into Fornebu Airport. Stavanger and Sola Airfield are also taken by German paratroops.

The shipment of Norway’s gold reserve from Oslo on the morning of 9 April 1940 consisted of 818 cases weighing 40 kilos each, 685 cases weighing 25 kilos each and 39 kegs weighing 80 kilos each. The total shipment weighed 53 tonnes whereas the gold bars weighed about 48.8 tonnes.

Naval action around Norway.
At dawn, British cruiser HMS Renown spots German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau heading West, having deposited Marine Gruppe 1 at Narvik. Renown fires first and scores 3 hits on Gneisenau. HMS Renown is hit twice before the German ships use their superior speed to escape. All ships survive the encounter. The westward course of the German battleships further convinces the Admiralty that the Kriegsmarine is attempting to breakout into the Atlantic Ocean.

Afternoon, Luftwaffe searches for Royal Navy ships, finding the Home Fleet and 1st Cruiser Squadron that are still searching for the Kriegsmarine’s “Atlantic breakout”. At 2 PM, Ju 88s and He 111s bomb battleship HMS Rodney and destroyer HMS Gurkha off Bergen. HMS Rodney is damaged by a 500 kg bomb that penetrates her deck but does not explode. HMS Gurkha is hit (15 dead) and eventually sinks at 4 PM after cruiser HMS Aurora picks up 190 survivors. 4 Ju 88s are shot down.

At 5 PM, British submarine HMS Thistle misses U-4 with a spread of four torpedoes trying to sneak into Stavanger.

Vice-Admiral Horton’s hunch pays off and his submarines are in position to attack German warships. At 7.57 PM, HMS Truant is patrolling in the Skagerrak and torpedoes German cruiser Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe does not sink and is finished off at 9.50 PM by the German torpedo boat Greif. Meanwhile, French submarine Sybille (under Horton’s command) departs Harwich to patrol the south North Sea, West of Denmark.

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