historium: Polish soldiers during their evacua…


Polish soldiers during their evacuation from Narvik, Norway to France, June 1940

The Battles of Narvik is seen as the first Allied victory of WWII, taking place a few months after the Nazi invasion of Norway. The allies hoped to take the port of Narvik, and thereby secure north Norway’s ore fields.

Coordinated by the Norwegian General Carl Gustav Fleischer, Norwegian, French, Polish, and British forces recaptured Narvik on 28 May 1940. However, by that time, the Allies were losing the Battle of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk was underway. Since the Nazi German invasion of France had made Scandinavia largely irrelevant, and since the valuable troops assigned to Narvik were badly needed elsewhere, the Allies withdrew from Narvik on 8 June 1940 in Operation Alphabet. The same day, while operating in the Narvik area, the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sank the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious during the withdrawal from this battle. Without support from the Allied naval task force, the Norwegians were outnumbered, and they had to lay down their arms in Norway on 10 June 1940. This was not a complete capitulation since the Norwegians kept on fighting guerrilla operations inland.