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Fjord focus
LONG before dawn on Tuesday April 9 1940, Halvdan Koht
sat in the library of the gleaming Victoria Terrasse complex of
government buildings.
It had been a sleepless night for the e
Norwegian Foreign Minister. Phone calls,calls,
telegrams, air raid sirens, conferences,, all had all had
kept the 66-year-old politician awake.
Now under candlelight thanks to
a blackout, Koht listened to the
“uncommonly cold” voice of the Carl l
Bräuer demanding his nation bend to
the will of Berlin.
The Norwegian wasn’t always
the best judge of character (he
nominated Stalin for the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1945; thankfully, the
committee chose otherwise).
But this morning Halvdan Koht
captured the mood of his people perfectlyectlylH. He
quoted Hitler’s own words to the Germanman ministerminister. “A“A people who people who
submissively give in to a violator does not deserve to live.”
“Then nothing can save you,” Bräuer rasped. “This means war.”
“The war has already started,” Koht icily responded.
It had. For as the two men talked, the cruiser Blücher was sinking
barely a dozen miles to the south after being torpedoed by Norwegian
coastal batteries in Oslofjord. It was the heaviest, but not the last, loss
the German Navy suffered seizing the country.
In the English-speaking world, the invasion of Norway has rather
been eclipsed by the fall of France (and evacuation of Dunkirk
especially) and events in the skies that same summer.
This year two serious studies of the Norwegian campaign are
appearing. The first to land on our desks is Geirr Haarr’s The German
Invasion of Norway April 1940 (Seaforth, £30 ISBN 978-1-84832-
Haarr has done an outstanding job of coralling most of the Picture: LA(Phot) Steve Johncock, FRPU West
published and unpublished sources (principally Norwegian, English
and German; historians are particularly fortunate that the German
naval archives, unlike their Army and Luftwaffe counterparts, are
pretty much intact).
The result is the definitive account of the invasion of the neutral
Scandinavian nation – to a point.
It is worth explaining what Haarr’s book is not. It is not a complete
account of the paratroop/airborne landings (although the operations
A second chance to live
around Fornebu airfield in Oslo are covered). It is not an account
of the fighting on land, such as the battles around Åndalsnes or the ONLY the dead have seen
protracted clashes with German mountain troops around Narvik.
the end of war.
WE HAWE WEW HHAAVVE ten copies of VE E tete Man Down to give away to readers thanks to those
Nor even is it an account of all the fighting at sea: there’s no Allied
nice folks at Tnicniice e folo ransworld.
The words of Plato remain as
withdrawal, nor Operation Juno, the sortie by the German battle-
OOr, if you don’t think luck’s on your side, you can buy the book at
apposite for warriors today as they
cruisers which did for HMS Glorious.
a discounted price of £14.99 (including postage and packaging).a daadd
did two and a half millennia ago.
No, this is a very focused study, looking purely at the naval invasion
To enter our competition, tell us the name of the film where
The pages of Navy News over
– Operation Weserübung (Weser Exercise) – which effectively ended
ArA nold Schwarzenegger leads “an elite squad through a jungle
the past couple of years have been
with the destruction of German destroyer forces at Narvik.
spunking the world’spsp s supply of ammo while being chased by an
peppered with the obituaries of
And to that end, Haarr’s book is unlikely to be surpassed. It is the
invisible alien” which inspirinvinvvi ed Mark to join up.
Royal Marines killed in the line of
most comprehensive account of that first week of battle at sea. It is
SeSSend your answer, plus your contact details, by email to
duty in Afghanistan.
copiously and excellently illustrated; the publishers have on occasions or in the post to Man Down Competition,
Rarely, however, have we
messed up images, especially digital ones, but not here.
Navy News, Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth, PO1 3HH.Navvy Ny y e
featured the other casualties of war:
The author provides excellent accounts of all the significant clashes
Entries must be rEntE trier es s eceived by mid-day on Monday October 12 2009 and
the wounded, those maimed by
at sea – Hipper vs Glowworm, the two battles for Narvik, the sinking
the usual thethheh usuusuaualal NNavy News competition rules apply.
mines and improvised explosives.
of the Königsberg, tapping many sources not seen in English in the
ForFoFFor a discounted copy of Mark’ a a disdisc s book, call Bookpost on 01624 677 237
Mark Ormrod is a rare
process – as well as some of the forgotten episodes of the campaign.
andand quote the code ‘marine’.ndd ququuototete tt
exception. He has appeared in the
A chapter is devoted to the sacrifices made by British submariners
pages of Navy News. And most
(Spearfish crippled the heavy cruiser Lützow, Triton wiped out much
national newspapers. And on the
of Infanterie Regiments 340 and 345 by sinking two steamers, Thistle
was sunk by U4, Sterlet sunk by anti-submarine escorts after she’d
lot of choice Anglo-Saxon (but The moment was captured by a remembered the three men from
Not by choice, the Royal
fatally wounded the gunnery ship Brummer).
not gratuitously). There’s a lot Royal Navy photographer. It’s as 40 Commando who would never
Marine found himself thrust into
Weserübung remains a baffling operation. As the German Naval Staff
of Bootneck speak (and a handy defining an image of the conflict be coming home.”
the spotlight – thanks in part to a
conceded at the time, the invasion of Norway “broke all the rules in
guide for non-Royals). against the Taleban as the ‘fix
visit to Headley Court by Princes
the book of sea warfare”.
And above all there’s a lot bayonets’ photograph on the cover
William and Harry last spring, a
It was planned in six weeks, carried out in the face of a vastly
of honesty, not least some dark of Man Down.
visit which received considerable
superior naval force and was the first combined air-land-sea assault
emotions as the Royal began to It captures the tenacity not just
media coverage.
in history. It should have failed. It didn’t largely because, argues
grasp the enormity of his injuries. of Ormrod but the entire corps.
Since then he’s attended a Bond
the author, it was a plan so radical, so unorthodox “far beyond
He concedes thoughts of suicide What it doesn’t capture is the
film premiere, featured on the
the comprehension of British and Norwegian military and civilian
after his first attempts to climb on applause rippling around Norton
X-Factor, met pop stars, and raised
authorities” of the day.
to a sofa – a simple act for the Manor or the fact that the then
a lot of money for charity.
able-bodied but one which left Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral
The reason for his reluctant
the disabled Royal feeling “as if Sir Adrian Johns, called the young
● (Below) A matrose and a German soldier stand next to the memorial
to the cruiser Blücher, sunk in the fi rst hours of invasion
celebrity status? A Taleban bomb
I’d just been 12 rounds with Mike Royal “a legend”.
on Christmas Eve 2007 which
Tyson”. And it doesn’t tell you that
deprived him of both legs and his
Here was a man, one of just Mark Ormrod spent the 40-minute
right arm.
16 on an initial course of 60 ceremony doing his utmost not to
Much of his memoir Man
at Lympstone to earn the green fall over, or that he “felt like a
Down (Transworld, £16.99 ISBN
beret, now “reduced to crawling fucking idiot” being praised as a
978-0-593-06355-2) is devoted to
across a floor on my arse inch-by- legend by an admiral. “All these
that fateful day and the long road
inch and having the fight of my life other hundreds of marines had
to recovery.
just to get on to a sofa”. managed to come home without
But it also offers a fairly rare What is clear is that spirited stepping on an IED.”
insight into Bootneck life right at though Mark Ormrod is, his But the thinned ranks of 40
the very coalface. daughter Kezia and especially his Commando that day reminded
So far, we’ve had a smattering fiancée (now wife) Becky were the green beret that he was one of
of accounts of the Royal Marines’ instrumental to his physical and, the lucky ones; good friends, such
actions in Helmand, but none from above all, mental rehabilitation. as Cpl Damian Mulvihill, had
professional service locating out
the down-and-dirty end like this. So too were the experts at been killed by Taleban bombs.
And first-person books from the
of print titles on all
Headley Court who provided the “We’d been given a second
green beret ranks in Afghanistan Royal with his artificial limbs (the chance and had lives to live thanks
subjects. No obligation or SAE
are as rare as a snowflake in hell. ‘bionic legs’ – officially C-Legs – to the courage, skill and hard work
required. Contact: Mosslaird,
But aside from some visceral are £20K apiece; you plug them of so many people,” says Mark.
Brig O’ Turk, Callander, FK17 8HT
descriptions of combat, Man into the mains overnight “to juice “We certainly knew how lucky Telephone/Fax: (01877) 376377
Down provides a good account up the batteries”) and helped him we were – especially when we
of life as a trainee at CTCRM in to walk again.
Lympstone. As did fellow amputees and
Mark Ormrod was studying for a other severely-injured Servicemen,
career in business, until he watched not least squaddie Sam Cooper,
an Arnold Schwarzenegger film. left partially-paralysed and with
“Arnie gets to lead an elite squad impaired speech after being shot
through a jungle spunking the in the head by the Taleban.
world’s supply of ammo while In Born on the Fourth of July
being chased by an invisible alien. fashion, the pair would tear
Could happen.” around the recreation room in
That prompted him to join the their wheelchairs.
Army... until his dad persuaded “I might only be able to say one
him the Corps was the only force word beginning with ‘f’ but I’ve
an Ormrod was going to serve in. got one more hand and two more
That was reinforced by the feet than you,” the soldier would
recruiter in Plymouth who showed taunt Ormrod.
him that life in the Royal Marines “You’ll never beat me
really was like a Schwarzenegger sunshine.”
film. “It looked like one long Perhaps not, but he would walk
adventure holiday.” again – as demonstrated to the
Oddly enough, it wasn’t... world one day last spring when the
Mark’s memoirs are not a men of 40 Commando received
great literary work. There’s a their campaign medals.
044-045_NN_Sept.indd 2 18/8/09 11:43:53
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