Book review: Scandinavian Misadventure
The Campaign in Norway 1940
Author: Maurice Harvey
This book, as the title suggests, covers the campaign in Norway in April and May of 1940. Given that the author is an RAF officer, it has a particularly British view on the events of this campaign.
The book does an adequate job describing the events of the 1940 campaign in Norway. However, it tends to put more blame for the failures of the campaign on the Norwegians than they rightly deserve, though they certainly were woefully prepared for the German onslaught. It also completely glosses over the fact that the Norwegians lost their country in no small part due to the fact that the British goaded the Germans into invading, even though the British realized they had no realistic hope of helping defend the bottom two-thirds of the country, where most of the population resided.
The German invasion plan was audacious, and was as successful as it was mainly due to failures by the vaunted British navy. The subsequent British and French response was lackluster and confused, despite the fact that the Allies had been planning on inserting troops into Norway ever since the second week of September 1939.
Like most books on this campaign, this book shifts focus back and forth between the events in lower Norway and the events around the port of Narvik in the far upper reaches of the country. The author describes the events of the campaign, but fails to truly capture the disastrous nature of the Allied efforts. “Misadventure” hardly describes it.
The book is a good history of the campaign with detailed descriptions of some of the actions involved. Its downfall is its failure to adequately assign responsibility for the failures, particularly those of the armed forces of the United Kingdom.