Title: The Norwegian Navy in the Second World War
THE NORWEGIAN NAVY IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR
This booklet does not deal with the war in Norway, which lasted for two months and caused the Navy heavy losses. The booklet gives, however, a brief account of the build-up and the operations of a new combatant Norwegian Navy in exile and in close cooperation with the British Navy.
After two months of fighting Norway capitulated to the German forces in June 1940. What was left of the Norwegian Navy evacuated to Great Britain. Up to now there has been very little information in English about the build-up of a new combatant Norwegian navy in the U.K. and its wartime operations within the broader requirements of Allied strategy, - and in very close cooperation with The Royal Navy. This booklet is intended to help repair this deficiency. It gives a very short review of the wartime activities of the Royal Norwegian Navy after the occupation of Norway and until the end of the Second World War.
Oslo 1 October 1997
Hans K Svensholt
Chief of Staff
The Royal Norwegian Navy
When the war in Norway, which lasted for two months, came to an end in June 1940 most of the small and ageing Norwegian navy was either sunk or put out of action. What was left was ordered to sail for England and from there take active part in the war against Nazi-Germany. At this early stage Norway gave a vital contribution to the Allied war effort through her possession of one of the world«s largest and most modern merchant fleets. This fleet was after the occupation of Norway at the disposal of the Allied powers. The income from it naturally strengthened the financial independence of the Norwegian government in exile. Political, financial and military agreements between the Norwegian and British goverments were the formal platform for the building-up and organization of a new combatant navy. All the units were flying the Norwegian naval ensign but were under British operational control. The Royal Norwegian Navy cooperated to the fullest extent with the Royal Navy and of course both British training and equipment were of decisive importance to the reconstruction of the navy.
Among the three Norwegian armed services in the U.K. during the war, the navy was by far the biggest one. Even so - Norway being a small nation with limited resources in exile - it was of course not possible to establish a navy with much influence on naval warfare in general. However, - as the reader of this booklet hopefully may agree upon - I think it is fair to state that Norwegian naval units made a marked contribution to the Allied cause during the Second World War. This encompassed participation in some well-known warfare actions such as:
- the battle of the Atlantic
- escorting convoys to and from Murmansk
- the invasion of North Africa
- the invasion of Normandy
- the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst
- raids, clandestine operations and attacks on German shipping on the Norwegian coast and in Norwegian waters
- minesweeping and escort duties in order to help keeping the coastal routes of the United Kingdom open and to safeguard the coastal convoys.
Larvik 1 October 1997
Rear Admiral (Rtd)
THE BUILD-UP AND THE OPERATIONS OF THE ROYAL NORWEGIAN NAVY IN THE PERIOD 1940-1945
On the seventeenth of May Norway celebrates its Constitution day. By this date in 1940 the southern half of Norway was occupied by the advancing German military forces. The northern half of the country was still in Norwegian hands. Allied forces, including a considerable force from the Royal Navy, took part in the defence of Northern Norway.
On that day, the seventeenth of May, the King of Norway delivered a speech to his nation from the only free broadcasting station left in Norway - the station in the town of Tromsø. The King, himself a naval officer, thanked all those who had done their utmost during the past weeks to detain and stop the intruding enemy. To the Norwegian navy he said:
"...I want to convey a special thanks to our navy for its war efforts. Its operations have been fully equal to its best traditions and are highly appreciated by our allies ..."
Thus the cooperation between the two navies started albeit on a small scale during the Norwegian campaign. However, hardly anyone could at this time have foreseen that the cooperation would be developed much further and would last throughout the five years of war.
The close links between the two countries were of course founded on the overall political and military agreements on the two governments: agreements on the common aims of the war, on the Norwegian contribution to the war effort and agreement on economic terms etc. However, the very close cooperation developing between the two navies was first and foremost based on mutual professional respect and confidence. This made it possible to achieve practical arrangements within the operational, administrative, educational and logistic sectors of the two navies in a short time. What was most important in this connection was the fact that the combatant units of the R Nor N soon proved their operational efficiency and trustworthiness in war. The following extract from a message to the C-in-C R Nor N sent by the Admiralty after the end of the war in Europe, illustrates the good standing of the Norwegian navy:
"... Now when the end of organized resistance in Europe has marked the triumph of the Allied forces, the Board of Admiralty wish to express their deeply felt admiration for the heroic services that the Royal Norwegian Navy have rendered the allied cause in the war at sea. The results achieved are paid for with hard work, grievance, set-backs and losses. On behalf of all ranks in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, the Board of Admiralty wish to express its sympathy towards officers and men of the Royal Norwegian Navy over the loss of their courageous comrades.."
The rebuilding of a combatant navy
The war in Norway, which lasted for two months, came to an end. The King and his government left Norway on board HMS Devonshire on 7 June 1940. The fight for freedom was to continue from Great Britain.
A nation of three million people could of course not afford to have a large navy. In addition came the fact that Norway, like many other nations in Europe, had neglected its defence forces for years.
13 naval ships, most of them very old, and about 500 officers, petty officers and men left for Britain with the King and his government. This was the beginning of a new Norwegian navy capable of making its contribution to the struggle for freedom.
Of the 13 ships only one, a small destroyer, was fairly modern (launched in 1936). The other destroyer among the 13 ships was hopelessly old, actually launched in 1908! The other 11 ships were patrol vessels and fishery protection vessels. In addition 5 sea planes from the Naval Air Arm escaped from Norway to Great Britain and with them about 20 pilots, navigators and technical personnel. One of the seaplanes was actually captured from the German Navy during the campaign in Norway. (The Air Branch of the Norwegian Navy - named "The Naval Air Arm" - consisted of shorebased sea planes).
The Norwegian naval headquarters was established in London in June 1940. Priority was given to the task of rebuilding and manning a new combatant navy capable of taking an effective part in the war at sea against Germany. The work towards this goal was started in close cooperation with British naval authorities, first and foremost the Admiralty who always gave positive and wholehearted support, particularly as time passed and the different Norwegian naval units proved their operational capacity in the war at sea.
Most of the said 13 ships were partly re-equipped and put into useful service in British waters during the summer and autumn of 1940. For example the small but relatively modern destroyer H Nor MS Sleipner was incorporated into the Rosyth Escort Forces, whose mission was to protect the coastal convoys. The operational area stretched from Greenock to the Thames around the north coast of Scotland. This was Sleipner's main task until 1944. During these years she escorted 156 convoys and was involved many times in actions against enemy attacks.
During the critical years of 1940-41 even the very old destroyer became useful in the strained defence of Britain. First she served as depot ship in Portsmouth for the two newly commissioned Norwegian torpedo boats. Then she was deployed to Lowestoft and served as guard destroyer and coastal convoy escort in the English Channel. When the threat of invasion was over, she returned to Port Edgar and served for the rest of the war mainly as depot ship for Norwegian naval personnel.
The two Norwegian MTBs ("5" and "6") were actually the first combatant ships commissioned for the R Nor N in Britain. The MTBs operated in the Channel from early summer 1940 as part of the British 11th MTB Flotilla. Enemy activity, which at this time was very intensive, kept the MTBs busy in operations of different kinds: fighting off E-boat attacks, torpedo attacks on enemy ships, protecting own convoys, rescue operations etc. Towards the end of 1940 the MTB "6" sprang leak in heavy weather and had to be abandoned. In July 1941 the other Norwegian MTB was destroyed by an explosion while in Dover harbour. These were the first losses the new Norwegian navy suffered. More was to come as time went by and the navy acquired more ships and took part in operations on a much wider scale than hitherto. These losses came in addition to the rather heavy losses our navy suffered during the war in Norway.
By this time, however, five new and bigger MTBs formed the Norwegian MTB Flotilla Portsmouth. These boats were not very seaworthy and were therefore taken out of offensive service by midsummer 1942. They were replaced by bigger and better boats (Fairmale "D" class). Eight boats formed the 30th MTB Flotilla which was deployed in November 1942 to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. From this base very daring, but successful, offensive operations started against German shipping along the western coast of Norway. More details of these operations will be given later under the "Northern Atlantic and North Sea Operations".
The remaining eleven naval ships which were evacuated from Norway were, as mentioned, re-equipped and put into useful service again during the years 1940-41. A Minesweeping Flotilla was established, trained and thereafter deployed to Dundee in Scotland. This flotilla was later reinforced by other Norwegian mine-sweepers and did a very good job throughout the war in clearing the coastal convoy routes of mines.
The need for this type of naval units is exemplified by the fact that during the year of 1940 German mines destroyed 201 merchant ships in coastal waters. More than half of these ships struck mines on the east coast of U.K. The Norwegian naval authorities wanted more modern and bigger combatant ships transferred to our navy. However, at this critical period of the war (1940-41) the Royal Navy itself suffered from material shortage and naturally had no modern ships to transfer.
On the other hand, British naval authorities requested the Norwegian Navy to help fill the gaps as there was a general shortage of minesweepers, patrol vessels and auxiliaries for different types of naval service. Norway could actually make a contribution from the large Norwegian whaling fleet which was in the Antarctic at the time of Germany's invasion of Norway. These numerous whalers were sturdy and seaworthy ships of 300-500 tons. They were well suited for conversion to minesweepers, patrol vessels, escort vessels and different types of naval auxiliaries. A large number of these ships was requisitioned by the Norwegian government. To begin with, 16 were converted to minesweepers and patrol vessels manned by the Norwegian navy. 49 were transferred to the Royal Navy; some of these were later reinstated in the Norwegian navy. A training camp for the crews to man these ships was established in Lunen-burg, Canada. Later on, whaling vessels were commissioned for R Nor N and served throughout the war in different waters: mine-sweeping in the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal, the inner Mediterranean and along the southern and eastern coast of Great Britain. Whalers converted to patrol and escort vessels could be seen at work from Gibraltar in the south to Iceland in the north and the Irish Sea in the west. These naval ships also carried out missions involving special expeditions to Spitzbergen, Jan Mayen and Greenland as well as a few clandestine operations to Norway.
One unit in particular, called The Norwegian Naval Independent Unit and nick-named the "Shetland Bus", is worth mentioning briefly. The unit consisted of fishing vessels that had escaped from Norway. These vessels were based in the Shetland Islands, and their clandestine operations to Norway were planned by Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Special Operations Executive (SOE) in co-operation with the Norwegian authorities in London. The operations formed an indispensable link to the Resistance Movement in Norway. Agents, couriers, weapons, instructors and sabotage materials were brought into Norway and agents, couriers and a considerable number of refugees were taken out. These hazardous operations had their price. German countermeasures as well as the furious winter storms claimed their victims. The loss of vessels and men grew to such an extent that the operations had to be stopped in 1943. However, replacements were sought. Three USN subchasers were transferred to the R Nor N. They were fast and sturdy ships which kept "traffic" up in a very reliable and efficient way for the remainder of the war. All in all the "Shetland Bus" Unit undertook about 200 clandestine operations to Norway. Another unit carried out clandestine operations from its base at Peterhead on the East coast of Scotland. This unit also consisted of fishing vessels manned by the Norwegian Navy. Their task was to land agents and their radio-equipment in different places on the Norwegian coast, - and to bring back those agents who for various reasons had to be relieved. A number of agents were spread along the coast, their mission being to report all German maritime activities in Norwegian waters. The observations were reported directly to London by radio. A rather dangerous job as this activity was very much exposed to German countermeasures.
The Naval Air Arm
In June 1941 the first Norwegian Naval Air Squadron became operational. The 330 (N) Squadron was based on Iceland and consisted of 18 Northrop seaplanes. This was actually the first operational squadron to be established outside Norway. It operated in support of the Coastal Command activities in Icelandic and adjacent waters and concentrated primarily on the Battle of the Atlantic. After about 1 1/2 years the Coastal Command decided to move 330 (N) Squadron to Oban in Scotland. The squadron was now equipped with new four-engined flying boats (Sunderlands) and the Atlantic continued to be the area of operations. The regular combatant navy had grown steadfastly. As mentioned previously, in June 1940 the Norwegian navy consisted of 13 ships and about 500 officers, petty officers and men. By the turn of the year 1942-43 the R Nor N consisted of more than 5000 officers, petty officers and men. The total number of units under the Norwegian naval ensign had increased to 58. The fleet then consisted of destroyers, corvettes, submarines, subchasers, patrol and escort vessels, minesweepers, motor launches and auxiliary vessels. The following is a short review at this stage of the war of some of the operational activities in which different categories of Norwegian naval ships played a role.
At the turn of the year 1942-43, two destroyers, four corvettes and three patrol/escort vessels were actually engaged in the Battle of the Atlantic. The ships, with the exception of one of the destroyers, were part of the Liverpool Escort Forces under the command of the C-in-C Western Approaches. One destroyer was part of the Western Local Escort Force, Halifax. Of the 50 ex-US "Town" class destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940, five were taken over by the Norwegian navy. For a certain period the Norwegian part of the Liverpool Escort Forces consisted of five destroyers, four corvettes and three patrol/escort vessels. However, by the turn of the year 1942-43 only two of these destroyers were left in our navy. One had been sunk in August 1941 by German torpedoes when escorting a convoy to Gibraltar; 89 of her crew were killed. Two had been returned to the Royal Navy and were decommissioned.
In the period from August 1941 to January 1942 the R Nor N commissioned five new corvettes of the "Flower" class. By the turn of the year 1942-43 they were veterans in the fierce Battle of the Atlantic. One was torpedoed in the Atlantic in November 1942 with the loss of 47 of her crew. One sank in the Atlantic in 1944 after a collision with a destroyer, and one Castle class corvette which was commissioned in early 1944 struck a mine off the coast of Finnmark in December 1944. However, the heavy losses were compensated for. The Norwegian corvettes either damaged or were credited with sinking several German U-boats. The spirit and operational efficiency of the Norwegian corvettes was frequently mentioned with great respect. As an example the following extract from a message sent by the C-in-C Western Approaches in November 1942 is cited:
"...The senior officer of the escort, the commanding officer of the Potentilla, is to be warmly congratulated on his successful handling of the escort ..."
The convoy in question was ONS 144 consisting of 33 ships. It was escorted by four Norwegian and one British corvette. The commanding officer of the escort was the captain of H Nor MS Potentilla. After four days the corvettes were reinforced by the Norwegian destroyer St Albans.
This westbound convoy was attacked again and again over a period of five days. It was later estimated that the attackers consisted of a pack of six U-boats.
During this convoy battle the Norwegian corvette Montbretia was sunk after two torpedo hits. From the report of the C-in-C Western Approaches to the Admiralty the following is cited:
"... The loss of this gallant ship which played such a distinguished part in recent convoy battles, will be greatly felt in both navies ..."
Naval Air Arm
As mentioned above the 330 (N) Squadron was by the turn of the year 1942-43 established in the new base in Oban and carried out intensive training with their new Sunderland flying boats. The first combat operations from Oban started in April 1943, thus bringing the squadron back into the Battle of the Atlantic operations which was now at its peak. For operational reasons the squadron - now consisting of 13 aircraft - moved to a new base in July 1943. From Sullom Voe in Shetland the squadron continued to take part in the Battle of the Atlantic until the end of the war. The operations also included escorting Murmansk convoys in the Arctic Ocean. The squadron received full credit from the Royal Air Force for its contribution to the war effort. A great number of enemy submarines were detected and reported. Several were attacked, of which two were sunk and four damaged. In total the squadron lost 16 aircraft with 63 personnel during the Second World War.
The English Channel
Two modern "Hunt" class destroyers, H Nor MS Glaisdale and H Nor MS Eskdale entered service in mid' 1942. Both were deployed to Portsmouth where they joined four British "Hunt" class destroyers to form the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. The tasks of this flotilla were offensive operations against enemy shipping and enemy activity along the coast of France, escorting own convoys, protecting own minesweeping and minelaying operations, and in general patrolling the Channel waters to prevent enemy E-boats attacking own shipping. The Norwegian destroyers operated as part of 1st Destroyer Flotilla for quite a long period. They participated in a number of battles against enemy forces and had their share of destroying and damaging German ships, as well as suffering damage and loss them-selves. The Eskdale was hit by two torpedoes and sunk as a result of several German E-boat attacks on a convoy on 14 April 1943. 25 of her complement of 180 perished. However, months before this, in connection with the Allied landings in North Africa in November 1942, two Norwegian destroyers were busy escorting convoys to and from landing areas.
It was an extra satisfaction to escort Norwegian merchant ships, as about 30 of them were part of the first convoys to supply the landing forces. In connection with the escort duties the commanding officer of H Nor MS Glaisdale was appointed senior officer of the escort forces for a convoy of 32 ships sailing from Clyde on 30 October.
The safe and timely arrival in North Africa 11 days later caused the British Admiralty to congratulate the Norwegian commander for his effective leadership of the escort forces. The lost destroyer Eskdale was not replaced by another "Hunt" class destroyer until December 1944. H Nor MS Arendal was, however, deployed to Harwich as a part of the 16th Destroyer Flotilla. H Nor MS Glaisdale's continued war efforts as part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Portsmouth will be described later. She participated successfully in the Normandie landings on D-day. Unfortunately she struck a mine some time later off the coast of Normandie and was badly damaged. The 2nd Minesweeping Division, consisting of five Norwegian minesweepers, had been deployed to Portsmouth and Falmouth in 1941. Its mission was to keep the convoy routes free of mines, and, when necessary, sweep channels in enemy minefields to help secure safe passage for own forces on offensive operations along the French coast. The units were also frequently used as additional escort vessels for the coastal convoys in the Channel area.
In February 1943 the number of the vessels in the 2nd Minesweeping Division was reduced to four. One of the vessels was torpedoed by a German E-boat, and 22 of the complement of 24 were killed. Another independent Norwegian naval unit, the 4th Motorlaunch Flotilla, was operating in the Channel at the turn of the year 1942-43. The flotilla was originally formed in 1940. Later, in April 1941, the number of boats was increased from four to eight. For a short period, from July to September 1941, the flotilla was transferred to Iceland (Reykjavik) to cover the need for air/sea rescue duties there. The rough weather in this area proved unsuitable for these craft and they returned to Channel duties. In May 1942 the number of boats in the flotilla was again reduced to four. All of them were now equipped for minelaying and renamed 52nd ML Flotilla. Together with the British 50th ML Flotilla they successfully carried out offensive minelaying along the coast of Northern France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The flotillas suffered the loss of ships and men. However, replacements were received, and on D-day 6 June 1944 the two flotillas were busy laying smoke-screens and artificial fog to protect the invasion fleet.
East Coast of Great Britain
As previously mentioned a small but relatively modern Norwegian destroyer H Nor MS Sleipner continued to carry out her convoy escort duties along the coast. Now, at the turn of 1942-43, the Norwegian mine-sweepers deployed to Dundee, Scotland, consisted of seven ships forming the 1st Mine-sweeping Division. This division carried out most of the mine-sweeping duties off the eastern coast of Scotland. They continued thus until the end of the war. The division lost a ship in March 1945 when a U-boat torpedoed one of the minesweepers off Dundee. Five of the crew were killed and five were wounded.
Northern Atlantic and the North Sea
As described earlier the Norwegian Naval Independent Unit based in the Shetland Islands carried out their clandestine operations on the coast of Norway. Their naval colleagues manning the ships of the 30th MTB Flotilla (later renamed 54th MTB Flotilla) had their base not far away at Lervick. The MTBs' offensive operations against German shipping along the western coast of Norway developed very satisfactorily. Their main enemies were the German escorts, and the stormy and rough weather encountered in the North Sea at that time of the year. However, the success of these operations depended on using the dark season of the year. This period offered the best chances of slipping unnoticed into the inner sailing leads along the coast.
Very often the MTBs would lie for days in camouflaged positions in the inner leads waiting for suitable target to attack. The number of operational boats in the flotilla varied from eight to eleven. Wear and tear as well as battle and storm damage meant that boats had to be withdrawn from time to time and replaced by new boats. A total of 21 Fairmale "D" class saw wartime service on the coast of Norway. From the start of these operations in November 1942 until the end of the war, a total of 161 operations on the coast of Norway were carried out, resulting in the sinking of 20 merchant ships and the destruction of seven enemy naval ships. The flotilla suffered painful losses. However, they were relatively small compared to the enemy's loss of ships and men. By the turn of the year 1942-43 the Norwegian Navy had two submarines in commission. One was very old (launched in 1922) and useful only for training purposes with the Asdic school of the 7th British Submarine Flotilla. The other one, a British built U-class was transferred to the R Nor N in December 1941. She was part of the 9th Submarine Flotilla and was fully operational in March 1942. Her operational area and that of the two succeeding submarines, was to be the North Sea and coastal waters of Norway. In addition to reporting and sinking German ships, the submarines also carried out a number of clandestine operations to and from Norway. The first submarine, Uredd, carried out seven missions successfully, but never returned from her eight mission (February 1943). Long after the war the wreck was found in the waters south of the town of Bodø. She had sailed into a German minefield and had sunk with her crew of 33 as well as six agents who were to be landed in Norway. At this time a second submarine had been commissioned for the Norwegian navy. She successfully carried out 14 operations before the end of the war. Our third submarine was operational in November 1944. She completed three missions before the war ended. In all, the three Norwegian submarines carried out 22 attacks on German ships, which resulted in the sinking of seven merchant ships, one naval escort and one German U-boat. In addition, a 6000-ton tanker was damaged. The results of attacks on two other U-boats and one merchant ship are unknown. The Norwegian naval unit on Iceland consisted of seven patrol vessels. They were stationed there throughout the five years of war. In addition to their patrol and guard duties they carried out local escort and transportation duties of different kinds. Special expeditions to arctic areas were also the responsibility of this unit.
Naval Air Arm
A new naval squadron - the 333 (N) Squadron - was formally established in May 1943. It operated from the East Coast of Scotland and consisted of two flights, - one equipped with Catalina flying boats and the other with Mosquito aircraft. In addition to special missions into Norwegian fjords, the Catalinas carried out anti-submarine operations in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. The Mosquitoes were primarily used - in cooperation with the Coastal Command squadrons - for target search and attacks on German shipping along the coast of Norway. 333 (N) Squadron was credited by the RAF with four submarines sunk, eight damaged and 18 German aircraft destroyed. About 30 of the squadron's airmen were lost. On 10 November 1944 the Naval and the Army Air Services ceased to exist as separate services. By Royal Decree the two units were joined together and the Royal Norwegian Air Force was formally established as a separate service within the Norwegian armed forces structure.
The sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst
A modern "S" class destroyer, H Nor MS Stord, was transferred to the Norwegian navy in August 1943. She was deployed to Scapa Flow and joined the Royal Naval Home Fleets 51st Destroyer Flotilla (later the 23rd Destroyer Flotilla). Stord (commanded by Lieutenant Commander Skule V. Storheill), played a gallant part in the pursuit and sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst on 26 December 1943. In winter darkness and stormy weather the Scharnhorst met her destiny 60 nautical miles off the North Cape. Stord was one of the four "S" class destroyers ordered to obtain an advantageous position for firing torpedoes. After more than two hours of maximum speed, she and the R.N. destroyer Scorpion fired their torpedoes from an easterly direction. When Stord fired her eight torpedoes she was about 1500 yards from Scharnhorst. Her artillery also engaged the Scharnhorst and hits were observed. After the sea battle Admiral Fraser sent the following message to the Admiralty:
"... Please convey to the C-in-C Norwegian Navy. Stord played a very daring role in the fight and I am very proud of her ..."
In an interview in The Evening News on 5 February 1944 the statement of the commanding officer of H.M.S Duke of York was:
"... the Norwegian destroyer Stord carried out the most daring attack of the whole action ..."
Both before and after the sinking of the Scharnhorst, the Stord, as part of the Home Fleet, participated in the escort of the many important convoys to Murmansk.
The invasion of Normandie
Early in the morning on 6 June 1944, amidst the great armada of ships, were eleven Norwegian naval ships. Two "S" class destroyers, one of them H Nor MS Svenner commissioned three months previously and one "Hunt" class destroyer (the veteran Glaisdale) sailed to obtain their bombardment positions according to the preplanned bombardment programme. However, shortly before arriving at her position Svenner was hit by a German torpedo. She broke in two and sank rapidly, taking 34 of her crew down with her. She was the first casualty of the great D-day armada. The other Norwegian ships, like the rest of the invasion fleet, carried out their duties successfully according to the operation orders. In the first wave of merchant ships carrying troops and supplies six were flying Norwegian flags. On the days following the landing, 43 more Norwegian ships helped to bring in more troops and supplies to the advancing Allied troops.
Another loss for the Norwegian navy was to come. On 26 June off the coast of Normandie Glaisdale struck a mine and was badly damaged. After having been towed back to base, she was later decommissioned and taken out of service for the remainder of the war. Up to this time the Glaisdale had served with the 1st Flotilla for two years. The captain of the flotilla very much wanted the complement to take over a new destroyer as soon as possible. In his report on the matter to the C-in-C Portsmouth the following is cited:
"... I take the opportunity of expressing my high appreciation of the work done by H Nor MS Glaisdale while serving with the First Destroyer Flotilla. She has always been a happy and efficient ship ..."
"... invariably carried out their arduous duties with cheerfulness and complete loyalty ... "
"... a fine and efficient crew who have worked together so well in the past..."
The end of the war
In March 1945 the R Nor N commissioned the last four ships of the war. They were brand-new, modern minesweepers which formed the 3rd Minesweeping Division operating from Cherbourg in France. On 7 May 1945 the division was sailing through the English Channel bound for Norway via Rosyth. In the evening one of the ships was torpedoed by the U-boat U1023. This was the last ship lost by the R Nor N during the war. 22 of a complement of 33 were killed. The very last torpedo to hit a Norwegian ship, how-ever, did so some hours later just outside the Firth of Forth, Scotland. A Norwegian merchant ship and a Canadian one were sunk by U-boat U2336. However, it could very well have been the Norwegian destroyer Stord instead, because minutes earlier she had passed that same area. The Stord was on her way from Scapa Flow to Rosyth, doing 30 knots in the fine weather. Because of Stord's high speed the U-boat was unable to manoeuvre into firing position. Instead, the outbound convoy from Methil was attacked by the U-boat. H Nor MS Stord searched the waters for U-boats that same evening and night with negative results. Next morning she was ordered to Rosyth just in time for the complement to participate in the Victory Europe celebrations in Edinburgh on 8 May 1945. One can grieve over the loss of life due to U-boat attacks in the evening of 7 May 1945. Even more so knowing that the German Grossadmiral Dønitz had sent a signal to his U-boats as early as 4 May ordering them to stop all hostilities and sail for harbour. In addition it was already officially broad-cast that unconditional surrender had been signed in General Eisenhower's HQ at 0241 7 May, even though the armistice was to be formally in force as from 0001 on 9 May. Obviously some of the commanding officers of German U-boats had either not received this order and information, or they had simply ignored them!
In spite of heavy losses, at the end of the war the Royal Norwegian Naval Fleet consisted of 52 combatant ships and 7500 officers, petty officers and men of whom about half where manning the combatant fleet. The others were manning staffs, training centres, depots and other types of support centres in Britain as well as in other parts of the world. During the war the navy lost 27 ships, excluding the losses in Norway in 1940.
In addition 13 of the vessels carrying out clandestine operations on the coast of Norway were lost. About 25 per cent of the men manning the Norwegian naval ships lost their lives during the war. Cooperation with the Royal Navy had developed extremely well.
As stressed before, this positive development was due to mutual professional respect and trust in each other's efficiency, spirit and will to fight the common enemy. The following message from the C-in-C Home Fleet to the Norwegian Admiral Danielsen dated 13 May 1945 expresses very well the feelings between the two navies that had fought side by side throughout the War:
To: H Nor MS Stord
From: C-in-C HF AFLOAT CONFIDENTIAL BASEGRAM
For Admiral Danielsen
On your return to Norway in H Nor MS Stord I should be grateful if you will convey to Lieutenant Commander Øi and to the officers and ships company my keen appreciation of the honour I feel in having had them under my command in the Home Fleet.
Their efficiency and their fine fighting spirit have been the admiration of us all and although we are glad that they now should be reaping the reward of their contribution to the liberation of Europe we shall miss them in the Home Fleet. We hope that some of us may soon have the pleasure to renew our friendship in Norwegian port. To you personally I send my warm regards and sincere thanks for your helpful cooperation with me at the Admiralty: Good luck and happiness to you all.
Head Quarter Defense Command Norway/Press and Information Branch