** World War II -- Norway Finnmark

World War II Norway: Finnmark (October 1944-May1945)

Norwegian World War II Sørøya Island
Figure 1.--Here a British sailor carries a Norwegian girl to an ambukance from 'HMS Onslaught'at Gourock (March 1, 1945). The gurl was one of more than 500 civilians recucued by the Riyakl Navy from German-held Sørøya Island. The civilains were hiding from Grrman patrols in the caves of the snow covered island. The destroyers raced in nrescue the civilians. The little girl seems delighted by the royal treatment.

Finland had to agree to expel the Germans from their country, inclusing Pestamo wjich they had to ceede. Germany had substantial forces in northrn Norway and Finland. The Finns had no obligation to clear the Germans from Norway. The Soviets were anxious to seize Pestamo and drive the Germans from northern Norway. The Germans observing Soviet prparations decided to withdraw and pursue a scorched earth policy, burning very building. The operation involved the deprtation of the population of Finnmark (northern Norway) south. The Norwegian Government in Exile urged the population not to cooperate, apparently feeling it was important to maintain a Norwegian presence in Finnmark. As a result, thousands of people took to the hills and hid in caves. About a third of the Norwegians decided to hide in the desolate wilderness instead. Anyone who the Germans found attempting to remain were shot. The Germans retreated in the north, but some 0.5 mllion German troops remained in Norway depite the desperate need for men on other fronts. The German forces in Finnmark withhdrew south to the Lyngen line north-east of Tromsø. That left the northern island of Sørøya a kind of 'no mans land' between German and Soviet front lines. Northern Sami (Sørøya) off Norways norther coat is Norway's fourth largest island. Sørøya looks on the map to be a stratergic psition because of the Allied Arctic Comvoys. As best we can tell, however, the Germans made little use of it because of its remote location. The Norwegians that fled the German deportation were in difficult circumstances. The Norwefian GIE learned that some 1,000 civilans were in difficult conditiion on Sørøya and being subjected to German raids (January 1945). A Royal Navy squadron of three destroyers raided the uisland. The Norwagians were consideraing the possibility of establishing a base on the island. The destroyers ships returned to Kirkenes with 220 civilians and an assessment that the whole island needed to be evacuated. Another force of 80 Norwegian soldiers returned organize an evacuation and to begin work on a Norwegian coastal battery which had been trained and equipped in Scotland (February 6). Four Royal Navy destroyers evacuated some 500 civilians (February 15). Thry were brought to safety in Scotland via Soviet Murmansk. The rescue operation was code named Operation Open Door. Some 100 civilians decided to stay behind with the Norwegian forces. The Germams mounted an attack 2 weeks later. They captured some of the Norweagian soldiers, the rest and the civilaims scattered, and a low-level camapign was fought (February 1945). After the fighting died down. Sørøya is a huge islnd and the Germans made no real effiort to hunt thed Norwegians down. This was the situation when the Germans finally surrendered (May 1945).


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Created: 6:41 PM 7/1/2015
Last updated: 2:32 AM 8/29/2018