Arctic War - Norway's Role on The Northern Front

Many of the lonely “weathermen ”arc Norwegians. They are operating at Spits­bergen, Iceland, Greenland and at an island known until recently as “Island X ”—Jan Mayen. It lies lonely and forbidding, in the centre of the triangle formed by Spits­bergen, Greenland and For Iceland. nearly four years Jan Mayen, which is no bigger than Malta, has been occupied by Norwegian troops and meteorological officers whose reports have infilled what otherwise would have been a serious gap in the “met men’s ”chart in It Britain. was to these men—to all the men who ’do meteorological work in the Arctic—that the following tribute was paid by one of the chief meteorological directors at the Air Ministry :“We owe a great deal to the Norwegians for the tremendous work they did in helping to buildup the chain of Arctic meteorological stations. Their’s has been a most important contribution" and we have not lost sight of the fact that Norwegians also were the pioneers of this work in Arctic spheres before the war. We who remain in Britain to interpret their reports have a heartfelt admiration for all the men who operate lonely and exposed observation stations faraway from civilisation. Their life is hard and arduous, but everyone of them is deeply interested in his work and many are busily following other “scientific channels. But it can certainly be said that on this handful of amen great deal depends and has depended in the Jan past.” Mayen and Iceland comprise two of the main keys in forecasting Britain’s weather, as they are both almost continually within the low pressure circle thus enabling observa­tions to betaken that have particular bearing on the winds and fogs and clouds which sweep southwards. And of the two places Jan Mayen is probably the most important, because, being farther north, observations of weather going south can be reported in advance of the stations at Tin Iceland. -:story of the Norwegian participation in the Arctic war begins soon after the fall of Norway, when some of the large numbers of men who escaped across the North Sea to continue the fight were driven to Others Iceland. came to Iceland by various means— some on a small boat which had been returning to Norway from a polar expedition in Greenland and had putin at Iceland ;one on a Finnish ship, on which he had .escaped and which had been intercepted by the British ;and another who had comet from Among Spitsbergen. them was one Norwegian Army lieutenant and a Dane who had volunteered and had served in Norway as a These captain. men, without money and all in .civilian clothes except the two officers, stayed at the Salvation Army Hostel in Reykjavik. They all wanted to fight, but they wanted to fight as Norwegians and not as part of the British Army which was at that time occupying With Iceland. the exception of the Dane, who sailed to Britain at the first opportunity, all the Norwegians decided to stay in Iceland where they thought they could render the best service. For one thing, they knew that the British wanted to form a ski battalion and needed instructors in the use of skis. But they would not join the British Army. They said :“We will form a Norwegian Army of our This own.” “Army ”consisted of twelve unarmed men, eleven of them in civilian clothing and with little military training. They had no resources, but after they had agreed to train British troops in the use of skis, the British paid for their keep. For pocket money this “Army ”of twelve took odd jobs in Reykjavik, and the overalls with which they were provided were their It uniforms. was on August 5th, 1940, that this “Norwegian Company, Iceland ”as it became known was really formed. It had an officer
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