When World War II broke out with the German attack on Poland a strange time began. The battle of Poland was quickly over and despite France and Britain declaring war on Germany not much happened during the winter of 1939-40. The French and German forces just stayed on each side of the river Rhine not engaging in any war for the following six month. The period was called the phony war since the world was at war but nobody seemed to be fighting.
This period of quiet ceased on April 9 1940 when the German forces attacked Denmark and Norway. Denmark was overwhelmed in a matter of hours and the Germans quickly occupied most of southern Norway. But up in the northern part of Norway the battle continued.
The battle up here was the first time the German forces were actually pushed back during the war. The Germans was limited in their options by the fact they had lost the sea battle of Narvik making it difficult to get reinforcement by sea and the transport overland through Norway to the far north was limited back then.
The allied force was combined of the last remaining Norwegian forces that were reinforced by an expeditionary force of British, French and Polish troops. This combined force was strong enough to overwhelm the German forces which were a combination of mountain forces, shipwrecked navel troops and paratroopers. During the battle the German forces were pushed back towards the border of Sweden and it really didn’t look like they could win the battle up here in the north any time soon.
Things changed when Germany decided to invade the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg and use this attack as the springboard to attack France west of the main defensive strong point of the Maginot Line. The sudden attack on France let the allied to withdraw their forces and try to stop the German attack on France. The defense of France quickly fail – but the withdrawal of the troops from northern Norway left the remaining Norwegian forces outnumbered and the battle of Narvik quickly ended in a complete German victory.
Today you will find six different memorials spread across the area around Narvik with some information about the battle. You can stop at the small memorials and learn about the battle as you drive through the area.