Sunday, April 9, 2017

That Time A Couple Of Old Norwegian Guys Put Down Their Coffee, Sank A Nazi Warship and Saved Western Civilization

Okay, the 'saved Western civilization' part may be a bit much but April 9, 1940 was an important day.

Going back 77 years to the story of how a couple old coots, Birger Eriksen and Andreas Anderssen, hanging out on their little island, decide it's their job to defend the country against a Nazi freakin' armada headed for Oslo, go out and sink a brand new battle cruiser and send the rest of the invaders running, allowing the King and Government enough time to evacuate the capital to Hamar, 125 km north and eventually to set up the Government-in-exile plus kept the national treasury, 50 tons of gold, out of the hands of the Nazis.

As I put it a couple years ago to mark the 75th anniversary:
...sank the most modern ship in the German Navy, saved the Norwegian King and government from being taken captive and pulled Churchill's fat out of the fire-keeping the path open for him to assume the premiership of Britain and thus save Western Civilization.
We like Norway.

The two old guys at Oscarsborg that evening were Colonel Birger Eriksen, commander of the fortress, age 64 and Andreas Anderssen, a 60 year old Kommandørkaptein but retired and living in the town who Eriksen probably enticed to come out to the fort with offers of coffee and brown cheese.

As the German armada approached, Eriksen aware his rookie cadets had started their national service just days earlier and wouldn't be able to reload the old cannons, Moses and Aron, knew he'd only get one chance so he waited and waited for the Nazis to get closer.

At around a mile he disobeys general orders to first fire a warning shot, says "Either I will be decorated or I will be court-martialed, Fire!" and shoots at the heavy cruiser Blücher which had only been completed in September 1939.

No neutrality there.

They missed.

With the artillery now pretty much useless, Eriksen tells Anderssen to fire a couple obsolete land-based torpedoes. Anderssen does, missing the mark with the first, adjusting his aim and:

The rest of the flotilla including the pocket-battleship Lützow turned tail and ran back down the fjord, not quite sure what had hit them.
A pretty good English language version of the story is at:
Making do with what you have...
One of these days I'll get around to explaining why Churchill almost wasn't going to become Prime Minister the following month.