This month’s party game at SLW is being run by me based on the naval battles at Narvik. I can’t recall when I first read about these but I do know my interest being peaked by the story of how a 15in shell from Warspite fired at point blank range went through a German destroyer without facing enough resistance to set off the fuse until it hit the fjord wall beyond.
What are known as the First and Second Battles of Narvik in April 1940 involved upto 15 RN and Kriegsmarine destroyers , and in Second the battleship Warspite, plus the odd Uboat, in attempt to stop the northern end of the German invasion of Norway. In ended with a large portion of the German destroyer force destroyed. The wikipedia entry http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Narvik on this isn’t bad if you want to read more. The Norwegians might point out that these were in fact the 2nd and 3rd battles, the 1st being when their massively outclassed gunboats bravely tried to stop the Germans. The battle is also famous for the first sinking of a Uboat by an aircraft in WW2. Admittedly the Uboat was docked in Narvik harbour but then it was sunk by the float plane version of the Swordfish biplane catapulted off Warspite.
I highly recommend a quick wander down the Narvik coast road using Google streetview, look across the fjord and wonder how something a third bigger than HMS Belfast and with a dozen destroyers racing around found room to turn round never mind fight.
Another attraction of this period, is that the entire German navy, and I mean anything that floats, bar a couple of Uboats and a raider in the Atlantic, were used off Norway, and the surprise is that there were not more battles. A great arena for what ifs for light forces and in a period where air attacks did not yet overpower naval forces.
More on models and forces to follow.
This post was written by Philip Andrews