David Knights' Weblog

May 25, 2016

Book Review: Norway 1940, The Forgotten Fiasco

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 9:42 pm
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Book Review: Norway 1940, The Forgotten Fiasco
by  Joseph Kynoch. 174 pgs. Airlife Publishing 2002
ISBN 1 84037 380 6

I have a particular interest in the Norwegian campaign of 1940.  Only recently has this long ignored part of World War II gotten the attention it deserves.  What is even rarer is any account of the battles of the campaign written on a tactical level by the participants.  This is one of the few books I have found addressing that area.

The author was a young man of 22 when he and his regiment, the 2/5 Battalion of the Royal Leicester Regiment when in April of 1940 he was committed to the battles in central Norway.  The defeat that the British suffered in these battles, despite the bravery of the soldiers in her units was to presage the defeats in France and Belgium that were to come a month later.

Mr. Kynoch tells how his unit arrived in Norway in a slapdash fashion, with little of their heavy equipment due to plans being changed and changed again at the upper levels of British command.  The criminal folly of pulling men loaded on transports off and then onto other transports with little though to the proper loading of equipment is more than enough to reinforce the old adage that amateurs worry about strategy and tactics, but professional commanders worry about logistics.

Having arrived in Norway the author and his unit were rushed to the front lines in an attempt to provide some relief to the Norwegian army which had been fighting the Germans on their own for three weeks.  Unfortunately the British were no better equipped that the Norwegians and were forced to fall back in the face of tanks and artillery for which they had no response.

The story at the small unit level is both interesting and heartbreaking.  Time and time again the allies make a stand only to have to fall back in the face of tank attacks backed by artillery.  The authors work is very descriptive.  It suffers, however, from a lack of editing which causes the story to jump back and forth in time and location between events that the author experienced and events experienced by other British units.

The maps and photos included in the book do a reasonably good job in helping the reader understand the events being described.  It helps even more if the reader is already familiar with the battles in central Norway from a history told at an operational level.  There are several good books that can give that level of insight.

Even with the less than stellar editing and organization, it is still a great story and an important contributions to understanding this most misunderstood campaigns of World War II.  I recommend it to anyone interested.


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