The second battle of Narvik (13 April 1940) was a British naval victory during the German invasion of Norway of 1940. The Germans had launched their invasion of Norway on 9 April, attacking six Norwegian ports, amongst them Narvik. The forces for the attack on Narvik, in the far north of Norway, had been transported on a force of ten destroyers. On the following day the German destroyers had been attacked by a force of five British destroyers (first battle of Narvik, 10 April 1940). Both sides lost two destroyers in this battle, while three more of the German ships were badly damaged.
The leader of the German destroyer squadron had been killed on 10 April. His successor, the command of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, only had two seaworthy destroyers on the night of 10-11 April, partly because of the battle damage and partly because the squadron had run into a gale on the way to Narvik. He was under orders to return to Germany, but an attempt to break out that night was abandoned after strong British forces were discovered guarding the exit to the open sea. Two mores of his destroyers were seaworthy by the end of 11 April, but no more breakouts were attempted.
In the aftermath of the attack on 10 April, the British Admiralty believed that there were two cruisers and six destroyers at Narvik. A series of plans were made to deal with this threat. First the cruiser Penelope was allocated to lead an attack, but she ran aground on 11 April. On the next day aircraft from HMS Furious launched an unsuccessful attack on Narvik. Finally, it was decided to send in the battleship HMS Warspite, supported by nine destroyers.
This attack began on the morning of 13 April. The Warspite’s spotting aircraft performed valuable services, attacking the submarine U.64, and spotting a German destroyer in an ideal position to launch a torpedo attack from one of the side fjords. Both vessels were sunk, the destroyer where it was found while U.64 was able to reach the far end of Harjangs Fjord, north east of Narvik before sinking. Most of her crew escaped.
The British fleet reached Narvik at 1.00pm. The German destroyers fought back, inflicting serious damage on two British destroyers, Eskimo and Cossack, but after an hour the surviving German ships fled into the far reaches of Herjangs Fjord and Rombaksfjord. Two of the German destroyers were lost close to Narvik, one in Herjangs fjord and the last four in Rombaksfjord. German casualties were not as high as one might expect from such a total defeat, as several of the German ships were destroyed by their own crews. 2,500 of their crews survived to take part in the land battle for Narvik.
|The War at Sea, 1939-1945, Volume I: The Defensive, S. W. Roskill. This first volume in the British official history of the war at sea covers the period from the outbreak of the war through to the first British disasters in the Pacific in December 1941. Amongst other topics it covers the Norwegian campaign, the evacuation from Dunkirk and the first two years of the Battle of the Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, and is rooted in a detailed study of wartime records, both British and German. [see more]|
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