So here is the write-up for Eidsvold (Harald Haarfagre still to come):
.B Engine(s) output: 4,500 hp
.B Top Speed: 16.5 knots
.B Main armament: 2 x 8.2-inch (210mm), 6 x 5.9-inch (150mm) guns
.B Displacement (standard): 3,645 tons
.B Thickest armour: 6-inch (belt)
.P The Norge-class coastal battleships (Panserships), consisted of two ships;
Norge and Eidsvold. They were built by the British for the Royal Norwegian Navy
(RNN) at the turn of the century.
.P Although, relatively powerful at the time of their launch, their main armament
was no more than a standard heavy cruiser; 8-inches. Two such guns were mounted
in two single turrets. Their secondary armament featured six, single 5.9-inch
guns that were mounted in casemates. Eight 3-inch guns were fitted in four twin
turrets and for anti-aircraft (AA) defence, two 3-pdr guns were mounted. Their
weapons package was rounded off by with 18-inch torpedo tubes.
.P 6-inch belt armour was modest for this vessel type, and like their main
armament, this did not compare even to Swedish coastal defence ships of similar
vintage. Horizontal defence was provided by an armoured deck, 2-inches thick.
.P Speed was of secondary importance for coastal battleships, and the Norge-class
ships were no exception. Their 4,500 horsepower producing a top speed of just
.P The two ships were named as follows: Norge was named after the country she
served, while Eidsvold was named after the town, north of Oslo, where the
Norwegian Constitution was signed in May 1814.
.P This write up will look at the events of the 9th April 1940 at Narvik.
.P The northern port of Narvik, important as a port from which iron ore was
embarked for trasnfer to Germany, was the northern most objective of the German
armed forces during Operation Weserubung on the 9th April 1940.
.P Ten German destroyers, packed full of troops, had made the journey to Narvik,
escorted by the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The latter departed from
the destroyers at entrance to Vestfjorden and the destroyers continued on to the
.P The Norwegian forces of the Ofoten Divison were deployed as follows:
.P The panserships Norge and Eidsvold were moored at Narvik. The submarines B1
and B3 were also in the harbour with their depot ship Lyngen. Of the three
patrol vessels that completed the Ofoten Division, Senja was in the harbour,
while Michael Sars and Kelt were on patrol in the fjord. In command of the
division was Captain Per Askim whose flag was in Norge.
.P Also in the harbour that morning were twenty-six merchant vessels – ten of
which were German.
.P On the 8th April, upon hearing news that British destroyers were laying mines
in Norwegian territorial waters, Captain Askim, in charge of the Ofoten Division,
ordered steam be raised in the elderly panserships and also sent his two
submarines and their depot ship to Liland as a precaution.
.P In the evening with gathering evidence of a possible German attack, Askim held
a conference with Captain Odd Willoch of Eidsvold, and it was agreed that any
defence of Narvik would be best carried out outside of the harbour. At 2200hrs
Eidsvold left to take up position to the north of the harbour. Norge stayed to aid
communications, but would follow later. The patrol vessels Michael Sars and Kelt
were ordered to the mouth of Ofotfjorden to report any vessels seeking to venture
into the fjord.
.P At around midnight an order came through that any attack on Narvik (including
by the British) should be met with force – and this was passed to all ships of the
command. The patrol vessel Senja was ordered to sail at 01:35hrs and head for the
minefield laid in Vestfjorden.
.P In the early hours of the 9th developments started to move quickly. Reports
came in that various points along the coast were under fire and the intruders were
.P Meanwhile, at 0310hrs, nine of Bonte’s ten destroyers (Giese was around three
hours behind due to the storm encountered en route), with fuel tanks almost dry,
were entering Ofotfjorden. The German ships were spotted by Kelt and Michael Sars
and their presence was reported to Askim. The patrol vessels continued to patrol
to be ready to report any further incursions while Bonte continued on. Askim
passed the news to HQ in Tromso and this message – sent in clear text – was picked
up by Bonte. The Germans now knew that their presence was known and so could
expect a likely unwelcome reception.
.P At 03:40 the German destroyers reached Ramnes-Hamnes, in the narrows at the
entrance to Ofotfjorden and the three ships of the 3rd Flotilla – Ludemann,
Schmitt and Roeder – were ordered to detach. Their role was to land men to capture
the forts at Ramnes and Hamnes that the Germans were led to believe were in place.
.P The three ships of the 4th Flotilla – Zenker, Koellner and Kunne – were also
ordered to detach and head for Herjangsfjorden, northwest of Narvik. Their task
was to off load troops to take the barracks at Elvegardsmoen. This would leave the
remaining three destroyers to continue on to Narvik.
.P Senja, which had been ordered to Vestfjorden had by now reached Ramnes/Hamnes
and spotted a destroyer near Ramnes. The confusion and errors that abound in time
of war now started to move into overtime. In the poor weather, with snow falling
and visibility limited, Senja reported a British destroyer was at Ramnes. This
message was picked up onboard Norge… but was read as British cruiser at Ramnes.
One can only imagine the relief felt by Askim in hearing the news that the Royal
Navy were close at hand…. The inquisitive crew of the Senja moved toward the
destroyer and quickly realised their mistake. There were actually two of them and
they were German. A revised message was sent to Norge but for some reason was
.P Norge slipped anchor and sailed to a position off Malmkaia, just outside the
harbour. I am unclear as to why the two ships didn’t operate together for mutual
support. The two ships were about a mile apart but could not see each other for the
snow. At 04:20hrs the order was passed to Askim that British vessels were not to be
fired upon. For some reason this message was not relayed to Willoch on Eidsvold.
However Eidsvold did receive a message sent a little earlier to order her to
prepare for war.
.P At 04:15, with Eidsvold in the process of weighing anchor, Heidkamp came into
view, just 400 metres away. Eidsvold ordered a warning shot to be fired and Bonte
brought Heidkamp to a stop. Meanwhile Arnim and Thiele continued on into Narvik,
presumably unseen from Eidsvold. Bonte ordered a party to take to a boat and head
over to Eidsvold. Heidkamp’s guns remained fixed fore and aft, although her torpedo
tubes were manned, armed and swung into position.
.P The Germans, led by Captain Gerlach, boarded Eidsvold and gave Willoch the
prepared story that the Germans were there to help Norway defend herself against
the British and that Willoch should surrender his ship. Willoch advised that he
would need to seek higher authority and Gerlach refused to wait for an answer and
left. Willoch’s brief conversation with Askim was clear; “Open Fire!” And Willoch
confirmed “I will attack!”.
.P But at this point, Willoch hailed Gerlach, who was by this time heading back to
Heidkamp. Back on board the pansership, Willoch gave Gerlach the news that he would
not surrender, upon which, Gerlach departed once more. While heading back, a red
flare was launched from the whaler to warn Bonte that the Norwegians would fight.
.P What is strange at this point – and something we will never know the answer to
– is why Eidsvold didn’t fire. Apparently Willoch gave the order and Eidsvold
started to move toward Heidkamp. Why Willoch felt he needed to even do this is also
not clear. In addition, during Gerlach’s conference, Heidkamp was not at anchor but
instead was allowed to circle Eidsvold – although Eidsvold kept her guns trained on
the German ship. After the flare went up, Heidkamp was about 700 metres away from
Eidsvold and in a perfect position to fire her torpedoes, but Bonte was under
orders not to fire first. He hesitated but both General Dietl (concerned for his
troops aboard the destroyer) and Heidkamp’s captain (alarmed that his ship had two
8-inch guns and three 6-inch guns trained on his ship at point blank range, had no
.P Reluctantly Bonte gave the order to fire the torpedoes and four were launched.
Two minutes after the warning flare had been launched, and with still no shot being
fired by Eidsvold, the torpedoes started slamming into the hapless Eidsvold. It is
unclear whether two or three of the four torpedoes hit, but what is clear is that
Eidsvold exploded – presumably one of her magazines was penetrated through her thin
armour. It was 04:37hrs. One hundred and seventy seven men died and only eight men
survived the carnage.
.P While Heidkamp and Eidsvold were facing off, the destroyers Arnim and Thiele had
continued their journey toward Narvik harbour. Askim had positioned Norge at the
entrance and spotted the two German destroyers. Askim ordered them to halt and
flashed a “what ship” signal. The two destroyers ignored the pansership and
disappeared, without changing course, into the snow.
.P At this stage Askim knew that German ships were in the fjord because he’d just
had a communication with Willoch, he also thought he knew the Royal Navy was in the
fjord because of Senja’s erroneous report. He now had two German destroyers sailing
past him and, just a few moments later, he heard an explosion from far off.
.P The two German destroyers headed for the pier and moored, one each side – and
the troops began immediately to disembark. Norge followed them into the harbour and
they came into view as they were mooring. Askim ordered the guns to fire and, from
a range of about 800 metres, but in poor visibility, Norge’s shells landed over or
short. The Germans responded but their shooting was not much better. However, Arnim
was able to loose seven torpedoes at the pansership. Five missed despite the range,
but two struck Askim’s flagship with almost as devastating results as befell her
sister ship. Norge rolled over and sank within 60 seconds. 105 men were killed.
.P After despatching Eidsvold to her watery grave, Heidkamp also headed for the
harbour and the pier at Fagernes which she reached at 0500hrs.
.P While these events were taking place, the other two flotillas were busy
discharging their orders. The 4th Flotilla, which had been ordered to Harjangsfjord,
arrived at their objective at 0415hrs and found an almost empty barracks as troops
had been ordered into Narvik and their replacements had not arrived at
Elvegardsmoen. The facilities for disembarking and embarking the four destroyers
were basic and so it would not be before the afternoon that the 4th Flotilla
.P We left the 3rd Flotilla sailing to Hamnes/Framnes to capture the non-existent
forts. Roeder acted as picket while Schmitt was sent to Ramnes and Ludemann to
Hamnes. In the north, German troops found, and captured, a naval depot and the
mines within. But that was it. All troops were back on the destroyers by 1100hrs
and they headed for Narvik.
.P Michael Sars and Kelt continued to patrol the narrows and reported the presence
of Roeder and the tardy, and almost fuel-free Giese which had finally caught up
with her fellow destroyers and was heading for Harjangsfjord as economically as
possible. Roeder ordered the two Norwegian patrol vessels to surrender and head
back to Narvik. Any thoughts the little vessels had of resisting were ended by a
couple of warning shots. They proceeded to Narvik. Senja too was intercepted and
ordered back to Narvik by Schmitt.
.P And what of the two submarines? Unable to contact Norge, the commander of B3
acted on his own initiative and took his two submarines into the fjord. But by the
time they had taken up station, the Germans had passed. At around 0600hrs B3 came
across the two auxiliaries that had been ordered to Narvik. Michael Sars reported
to the submarine commander Brekke, that they had been ordered back to Narvik… but
neglected to inform Brekke of why! So B3 headed back to Liland to find out what was
.P At this point Brekke found out that the panserships were sunk and he was ordered
to head for Vestfjorden. The boat started to spring a leak and so, upon reaching
Vestfjorden, she was camouflaged as best she could be, and repair work began. B1
was ordered to Tromso and she arrived there a few days later.
.P By the early morning of the 9th April, Narvik had been captured.
< Message edited by warspite1 -- 3/21/2020 1:05:28 PM >
England expects that every man will do his duty. Horatio Nelson October 1805