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April 10th, 1940 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: U-50 on patrol off the Shetlands in support of the Norwegian invasion, sunk by destroyer HMS Hero.

T class submarine HMS Tarpon is sunk in the Norwegian Sea at 57 43N 06 33E by depth charges dropped by decoy Schiff 40. As such it is the RN submarine to be sunk by decoy. (Alex Gordon)(108)

The events in Norway have suddenly forced the Admiralty to prioritise its operations. Clearly, if the Allies are to have any chance in the upcoming campaign, they will have to challenge the German mastery of the air. With no airfields available in Norway itself, the only plausible solution lies with the Royal Navy aircraft carriers and their Fleet Air Arm squadrons. Unfortunately, while HMS Furious is in home waters, the Royal Navy's other two fleet carriers, HMS Ark Royal (Flag of Vice-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, Lionel Victor Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Glorious are in far off Alexandria. Thus, the Admiralty immediately orders both to return to the UK forthwith. (Mark Horan)

RNAS Hatston:

In early evening, German aircraft were identified in the area of Scapa Flow which prompted the dispatch of all three sections of 804 Squadron, Sub-Lieutenant M. F. Fell, RN leading Yellow, Lieutenant R. H. P. Carver, RN leading Red, and Lieutenant R. M. Smeeton, RN leading Blue. In the dusk air battle, Yellow section claimed the probable destruction of a Do-17, Red section claimed a He-111">He-111 damaged, and Blue section claimed to have probably downed another. In actuality, while two of the KGr 100 He-111">He-111s were badly damaged, but both managed to return to base. (Mark Horan)

 

NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN.

First Battle of Narvik: The 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (Capt. Warburton-Lee with HMS's Hardy, Havock, Hostile, Hotspur and Hunter) enters Ofotfjord to attack the German ships assigned to the occupation of Narvik. These include 10 large destroyers. Several transports are sunk together with 'Anton Schmitt' and 'Wilhelm Heidkamp'. Others are damaged, but as 2nd Flotilla retires, H class destroyer HMS Hardy is sunk at 68 23N, 17 06E by gunfire and H class destroyer HMS Hunter is sunk by gunfire and collision at 68 20N, 17 04E, and HMS Hotspur is badly damaged. Capt. Bernard Armitage Warburton-Lee (b. 1895) RN is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Remaining German ships are GEORGE THIELE, HANS LUDERMANN, HERMANN KUNNE, DIETHER VON RODER, WOLFGANG ZENKER, ERIC GIESE, ERICH KOELLNER and BERND VON ARNIM. Ammunition ship RAUENFELS sunk. (Peter Beeston)

The Norwegian Government and Royal Family leave Oslo. Vidkin Quisling declares himself as head of a German sponsored puppet government.

The stocks of arms at various mobilization centres around Norway are now in German hands, due to the rapid German success. This decreases any chance of Norwegian success at resistance.

Home Fleet is now reinforced by battleship HMS Warspite and carrier HMS Furious.

T class submarine HMS Thistle  is torpedoed and sunk by U-4 off Skudesnes, in the Lofoten Islands of Norway. Thistle had made an unsuccessful attack on U-4, and remained in the area hoping for another sighting, however it was U4 that made the next sighting and the subsequent attack: despite surfacing to look for survivors, Kapt-leut Hans-Peter Hinsch found nothing but oil on the surface. U4 remained in continuous commission throughout WW2.

6,000 ton Cruiser K÷nigsberg, damaged by shore batteries in the landings at Bergen is sunk at her moorings by FAA Skuas of 800 and 803 Squadrons flying from the Orkneys. This is the first major warship to be sunk by air attack. All but one Skua return to base after the 330 mile night crossing of the North Sea.

The Attack on Bergen:

(Mark Horan adds): At the time of the German invasion of Norway, all four of the Fleet Air Arm's Skua fighter-dive bomber squadrons were based in the UK. The two most experienced, 800 and 803 Squadron, were based at Royal Navy Air Station Hatston, in the Orkneys. As events unfolded on the 9th, one RAF sighting report placed one German cruiser in Bergen Harbour tied up at the main docks.

Determining that this prime target was just within the range of his aircraft, Lt. William Paulet Lucy, RN, Commanding Officer of 803 Squadron, approached the station commander, Commander C. L. Howe, and proposed that he take the all the available Skuas over to Bergen and make a dawn attack on the target. The operation was approved. It was to be the first attack on an major warship by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.

The aircraft were each armed with a single 500 pound Semi-Armour Piercing (SAP) bomb and a half load of .303 calibre ammunition. The pilots received their final briefing at 0415, the first aircraft took off at 0500, and the 16 plane formation departed at 0515 in two waves. 

The first wave consisted of (nine Skuas of 803 Squadron under Lt. Lucy, while the second wave consisted of five Skuas of 800 Squadron and two of 803 Squadron, led by the Officer Commanding 800 Squadron, Captain Richard Thomas Partridge, RM. Acting Lt. Edward Winchester Tollemache Taylour, RN of 800 Squadron lost touch on the way across the North Sea and attacked separately.

Landfall was made at 0655, and the formation, now at 12,000 feet, turned to approach Bergen from the Southeast (up sun). The target was sighted at 0715, the aircraft commenced there approach dives while forming into line-astern formation. At 0720, Lt. Lucy pushed over from 9,000 feet and began the attack, the rest following over the course of 10 minutes. 

Anti-aircraft opposition was moderate, mostly consisting of "pom-pom" type (37 mm). The results of this, the first dive bombing attack by the Fleet Air Arm were, to say the least, spectacular. Three hits and a very near miss were obtained. Even before the attackers departed, KMS Konigsberg had begun to sink. Gutted by the hits, with several serious fires blazing, and with a large part of her side plating stove in by the near miss, damage control efforts were ineffective, and she rolled over and capsized. The action reports indicate that the first wave scored two hits ( Lt. Alexander Beaufort Fraser-Harris, RN the third to dive, Lt. Cecil Howard Filmer, RN, eighth to dive) and the second wave one (Lt. Kenneth Vyvyan Vincent Spurway, RN), all of 803 Squadron. 

Notable in the reports are the actions of two of the other pilots. Lt.(A) William Coutenay Antwiss Church, RN, of 803 Squadron, found himself out of position in the dive and pulled off climbed back to altitude over the city, and made another solitary attack after every one else departed. Lt. Taylor, of 800 Squadron, having become separated in route, arrived alone just after the main attacked ended, and also attacked alone.

The attackers suffered no losses during the attack. In fact, only two Skuas were even hit, both receiving but a single "pom-pom" type round through the main plane. However, as events transpired, one Skua was lost on the way home. About 50 miles Southwest of Bergen, the formation encountered a large cloud formation and elected to climb though it. While doing so, Skua L2923:A8P went into a spin and crashed into the North Sea. 803 Squadron's Red section leader, Lt. Bryan John Smeeton, RN and his observer, Mid.(A) Fred Watkinson, RN were both killed. This was the  first of 30 Skuas that would be lost through various causes during the subsequent campaign.

Luftwaffe: 41 bombers of KG 26 in company with Ju88s of KG30 attack Royal Naval units, damaging cruisers HMS Devonshire, Glasgow and Southampton and sinking the destroyer HMS Gurkha.

The Nazi newspaper 'Volkischer Beobachter' carried this descriptive account of German airborne landings in Norway.

After a smooth trip - reports Obergefreiter [Airman 2nd class] Dambeck - we reached Trondheim airbase. Everyone was keyed up and on the alert.

We started north to Narvik. An uncanny land-scape sailed past beneath us. Nothing but mountains, snow and ice. It was bitter cold. After several hours of flight we finally reached our drop point.

"Get ready!" Out I go! I made a smooth landing, set down on a moss-covered expanse of free snow. Then it was on to the so-called Base Two with a Norwegian bearer column. Once up on the mountain, we were surprised and no exactly pleased to learn that we had still farther to go, that we were supposed to occupy Hill 698 with our trench mortar train. The Swedish border ran along 150 yards from our new position. So, we had to take charge of the right flank of the German front at Narvik.

 

DENMARK: 24 hours after it began the German occupation of Denmark is complete. Danish ports and airfields are now available to the Germans as forward bases for their attack on Norway.

ICELAND: The Al■ingi (Icelandic parliament) takes control of its foreign affairs, transferring 'royal prerogatives' to the Al■ingi. Sveinn Bj÷rnsson, who later became Iceland's first president was the provisional governor. Britain offered Iceland assistance as a "as a belligerent and an ally", Iceland responded with a reiteration of its position of neutrality. Currently there are some 60 German sailors interned in Iceland. (Dave Hornford)

U.S.A.: The US Pacific Fleet arrives in Pearl Harbor from San Diego. (Marc Small)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, acting under the Neutrality Act of 1939, issues a proclamation extending the combat zone to include the north-western part of the USSR on a line to the southern point of Svalbard, a Norwegian possession, to the north-western tip of the combat zone issued in the President's proclamation of 4 November 1939. (Jack McKillop)

The US also freezes Norwegian and Danish dollar assets and gold to prevent German control. FDR's Executive Order No. 8839 rested upon his powers under Section 5(b) of the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act, the only part of that acts which remains in force. (Edward S. Miller)

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