A radio announcer: "It was about dawn, that
the first reports came in saying that German troops have crossed
the frontier into Denmark. At the same time attacks were being
delivered from the sea at some of Norway's biggest ports. The
Oslo radio is still working."
As part of the policy of 'distant war' the Allies
wanted to engage the Nazis away from the usual fields of conflict
in western Europe, but still be able to hurt the Nazis' plans
for expansion. It was in Norway that it was decided to engage
the Nazis. It was hoped this would stop vital supplies of Iron
ore bound for the Nazi war machine, which was obtained from neutral
Sweden and then transported to the Norwegian port of Narvik. The
ore would then be shipped through neutral Norwegian waters to
The taking of Norway would not only stop the
Nazis but would allow Britain and France to support Finland against
the Soviet Union, who had invaded Finland on 30th November, 1939.
The Soviet army, ravaged by experienced officers in the Stalinist
purges, came across strong Finnish opposition and suffered defeat
in its first efforts to subdue the Finns. This exposed the Red
Army's weakness caused by those purges, and something that Hitler
noted. But further attacks on Finland finally resulted in victory
for the Soviets.
On 20th January 1940, the
First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast
from London. The broadcast informed the nation of the 'War Situation'
after the first five months of the conflict. He end the broadcast
with : "The day will come when the joybells will ring again
throughout Europe, and when victorious nations, masters not only
of their foes but of themselves, will plan and build in justice,
in tradition, and in freedom a house of many mansions where there
will be room for all." (The
On 6th April, 1940, Hitler invaded Norway meeting
little resistance, much to do with the devastation of Warsaw in
Poland, which resulted in opposing Hitler's war machine. Norway
did not want to experience what the Polish cities and people had
endured. Norway would face Nazi occupation for the rest of the
British and French forces met German opposition
at Narvik, and although the German Navy took a serious beating
it made little difference. The British and French forces were
lightly equipped compared to a well equipped German army, with
the all important artillery and air support, something the Allies
lacked. The Allies invasion of Norway was repelled, and many POW's
were captured, some were taken back to Berlin and displayed before
Hitler, and others were used by the Nazi propaganda machine.
The Norwegian Campaign was an attempt to stop
Norway falling into German hands, but it led to Hitler gaining
Norway. The disaster in Norway led to the downfall of the British
government, when in the House of Commons during the 'Norway debate'
(7th/8th of May 1940), determined the downfall of Chamberlain.
Lord Halifax was favourite to lead a new coalition
government, but he was not considered to be a wartime leader.
Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the other
choice but was considered an adventurer. It would be 'behind the
door' politics in the corridors of power that would determine
Chamberlain's recommendation to the King for Britain's next Prime
Chamberlain (The British PM): "I sought an
audience with the king, tendered to him my resignation, which
his Majesty has been pleased to accept."
That evening Chamberlain went to the palace and
resigned, his recommendation to King George VI, as his successor
as Britain's Prime Minister, was Winston Churchill. King George
VI sent for Churchill who excepted the post of Britain's new Prime
Minister. At dawn the Nazis invaded the low countries striking
at Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
A Radio announcer: "This is the BBC home service.
The German army invaded Belgium and Holland early this morning
by land and landing from parachutes. The armies of the low countries
are resisting. Their appeals for help have been to the Allied
governments and Allied troops are moving to their support."
Winston Churchill made his
first speech as Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 13th
May 1940. (The
complete speech). On the 19th May 1940, Churchill made
his first radio address to the British people. : "Having received
his Majesty's commission. I have formed an administration of men
and women from every party and from nearly every point of view.
We have differed and quarrelled in the past, but now one bond
unites us all, to wage war until victory is won. And never to
surrender ourselves to servitude and shame. What ever the cost
maybe." On the 13th May 1940, Winston Churchill made his first
speech as Prime Minister in the House of Commoms and stated :
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
Defeat by the Nazis in Norway can now be seen
as a blessing in disguise, as victory in Norway would have put
the Allies face to face against the Soviet Union. But a series
of events would lead to the Soviet Union becoming Allies with
the British and French against the Nazis, which would be one of
the turning points of the conflict. But it could have been so
In the meantime what the Allies had feared had
now become a reality, as the Nazis had unleashed 'Blitzkrieg'
on the old battle grounds of western Europe. The French and British
Expeditionary Force advanced to meet the on coming threat from
the Nazis, moving straight into the trap that Hitler had contrived.
Another disaster was about to happen.