482 The War Illustrated May 1 0 th, 1940 pMSOS' STE INK 9I T R 0IM D H E 1J «M01DE IftN D A lSN E^-^N opp fl| |ALESUND«| iFLOROi] '^NE S B tHY BERG ENG U IS V IK |ST/lVflH6ER| Critical Days on the Norwegian BattleFront Although no real appreciation of a fast-changing situation is possible, this chapter gives in. summary form the position o f the war in Norway at the end o f April, when, for a fortnight the Allies had been battling on Norwegian soil and the British withdrawal from Aandalsnes had not yet been announced. After three weeks of thrust and counter-thrust, of raids and excursions and alarums, the war in Norway crystallized into a struggle for Trondheim, the history-mellowed city which, alas for its peace.and security, finds its place in Scandinavia’s strategical gateway. Seized in the early hours of April 9 to fallback before they had any opportunity of destroying the bridges or blocking the railway tunnels in the one valley or the other. The Allied Command in Norway was quick to realize the approaching danger, and British troops were rushed to the Gudbrandsdal, where they linked up with the Norwegians at Lillehammer. swift, and after some initial resistance in the regions of Kongsvinger and Elverum, their advanced column arrived at Roros before receiving any definite check. Their advance in the direction of Stoeren was hampered owing to the tunnels on the railway line having been blocked by thf Norwegian forces, but the Germans, not to be outdone, endeavoured to take the Allies in the rear by dispatching small bodies of troops across the mountains— through the deep wiutei snows and by tracks which were little more than goat paths. Soon the Nazi were claiming the occupation of Stoerer and to have established a connection by land between Oslo and Trondheim. Meanwhile, to the north of Trondheim the front was stabilized in the neighbour hood of Stenkjer, where according to ar American journalist, Mr. Leland Stowe, cabling from a town on the Norwegian- Swedish frontier, a British force of twe battalions— according to him, under- trained and deficient in anti-aircraft guns, ’planes, and field artillery—were routed by the Germans. This sensational story was denied by the War Office which, however, admitted that British troops in this region had withdrawn, although they were not followed up by the enemy who were now reported to be As this pictorial map shows, Trondheim is a veritable gateway to central Norway, it is situated on the shores of a deep-water fjord, and from it run several important railways. Agdenes, at the mouth of the fjord, is the site of a powerful coastal battery. through that combination of treachery, The advancing Ger- blufl, and daring military initiative mans were checked which stooe. the Germans in such good for a time— but only stead, Trondheim was garrisoned by a for a time, and the small but powerfully armed force under Allied troops were Colonel Weiss. Hardly had the Nazis compelled to with- established themselves in the town when draw up the valley they were threatened by Allied landings in the direction of both to the north at Namsos and to the Dombaas. Some south at Aandalsnes. As soon as the miles to the south of Allied troops were brought ashore they this vitally important were moved towards Trondheim by rail railway junction an- and were able to approach within fifty other line of defence miles of the city before they encountered was organized, and any serious resistance on the part of the the Allies were re- Nazis. ported to have re- With Trondheim threatened, the Ger- ceived considerable man commander in Oslo, General von reinforcements in the Falkenhorst, dispatched strong forces shape of British and northwards along the two almost parallel French troops landed valleys, the Gudbrandsdal and the Oster- at ports on Nor d dal, w y hich act as natural highways from Fjord and Sunndals the comparatively low-lying country Fjord, south-west north of Oslo to the hills and dales of the and north-east of Trondelag, Trondheim’s fertile hinter- Aandalsnes re- land. Before the onward rush of the spectively. In the German mechanized columns the Nor- Osterdal the Ger- wegian troops, local levies hurriedly man advance mobilized and ill-equipped, were forced was remarkably On this sketch map of southcentral Norway are marked those towns which came into prominence in the course of the "Allies’ efforts to prevent the Germans in Oslo from linking up with their fellows at Trondheim .The white arrows indicate the Allied advances, while tire black arrows show the aooroxim ate movements of the German troops.