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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    Last stand of the Krag as a battle rifle

    I put this up on the Culvericon site after returning from a long visit to Norway last summer. Here goes

    "The last Norwegianicon forces to surrender was the Telemark Infantry Regiment, an ad-hoc unit about 300 strong, organized and armed by Second Lt. Tor Hannevig, composed of a mix of regulars and Telemark hunters and farmers. They blocked the communications between Oslo and Bergen operating in the high country my family is from. They were never defeated, but gave up or went underground after the rest of the Norwegian military surrendered or disbanded. There isn’t much in English about this action, and everything I could find on the internet is word-for-word cut and paste identical. Wikipedia cites one source and it’s in Norwegian. There may be veterans still alive. Anyway here goes.

    Once the Germans got moving, they rolled up the Norwegian forces pretty fast and the command structure broke down. Lt. Hannevig was pretty much on his own, I think – or he may have been acting under orders of a rapidly-disappearing command. He managed to requisition a large quantity of weapons, including Kragicon rifles, Madsen SMGs and Colt machine guns, as well as trench mortars and explosives. It was enough that he would have had to have manpower and transport to move the stuff. So I’m thinking at least some of the regulars under his command chose to stay with him and continue the fight. Norwegian volunteers had been just showing up for battles with their own weapons if they had them, or asking to be issued rifles and ammo; the extra stuff was probably in anticipation of a good volunteer turnout.

    He formed the Telemark Regiment and set them to work blocking the main road from Oslo, through Telemark, to Bergen. This is rough country and there was one road through it. They conducted ambushes and blew up bridges along a forty-mile stretch of road from Vinje to Vagsli, also blocking the route from the canal port at Dalen to Vinje. This wasn’t just harassment; it was thought likely that the Britishicon and Frenchicon would land major forces somewhere in southern Norway and holding the road would block German communications and prevent them concentrating forces against an Allied landing in the south.

    In any case the invasion of France preempted any Allied action in Norway and the Germans brought major forces to bear on the Telemark Regimant. There was a pitched battle from May3-5. Wikipedia claims the Germans suffered heavy casualties but doesn’t provide numbers. The Panzers and Stukas were brought in. The Telemark Regiment negotiated a surrender and I’m assuming had to lay down arms. This was early in the occupation; later on the Germans would have shot every last one of them. Were prisoners taken? What about the Telemark citizen volunteers? How many of the veterans of this battle went underground?

    Far as I know, this was the last infantry battle in which Krags were used as one side’s battle rifle. It was Krags vs KAR 98 Mausers. They gave as good as they got. "

    and "?Do you know what happened to the troops after the country surrendered. Were they held until wars end etc. ?"

    "It depended who they surrendered to. The Wehrmacht and professional soldier OICs, at5 least in the beginning, would disarm them. take their uniforms and let them go home. There were a lot of SS units and they might execute prisoners or not. Some people, including soldiers, got sent to camps. Some men, even whole units, got to Swedenicon and were interned.

    A lot of the soldiers and volunteers joined up with MILORG, the home team military resistance. And got ratted out by informers, captured, tortured and executed or sent to camps in Germanyicon. My cousin was in a unit put together by British intelligence; he trained in Scotland. His unit "Company Lingen," had British weapons, got their instructions from Britain, but coordinated with what was left of Milorg. They mostly stayed in the high country unless they were on an operation. "

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    Somewhere in the literature on marksmanship in war I read an account of a similar "ad hoc" group of Norwegianicon rifleman who were said to have held up part of the Germanicon advance which allowed either all or part of the gold reserves or else the Royal Family to escape.

    A fine round and a fine rifle, in the hands of a fine marksman a very potent combination.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    You are thinking of the Battle of Midtskogen, April 10, 1940. The royal family and the cabinet members, plus all the gold reserves were on the road with the Germans in pursuit. The area is in the uplands and it was still snowed in pretty well. The pursuers were a motorized column of Fallschirmjaeger and it looked pretty serious. There was a couple of squads of Royal Guards along who determined to fight a delaying action. They raised some local reserves and also welcomed civilian volunteers, mostly hunters and rifle club members. The total force was about 100, armed mostly with Krags and with two Colt machine guns.

    They set up road blocks and started shooting when the Germans arrived. The Germans shot back but couldn't move the Norwegians out of the way. It was cold and dark and things didn't go exactly as planned for either side. The Germans couldn't get through on the road and realized they would be sitting ducks if they tried to slog though in the deep snow. The man overseeing the operation, the military attache for the whole invasion, was dead and unable to exercise command of the operation. The Germans retreated to Oslo. The Norwegians left once the threat was gone.

    The Royal Family and the Government made it to Elverum and issued the Elverum Proclamation which basically put the government in the hands of its ministers, none of whom were Quisling or members of his gang.

    The Germans bombed the hell out of Elverum the next day but the Royal family and Cabinet (and the gold) were already on their way to Englandicon. For that reason the Germans could never claim they had a legitimate government working with them.

    In fact the whole Norwegianicon operation was a loss for the Germans. They had a half million troops tied up, occupying the country throughout the war. They managed to recruit about 10,000 Norwegians into the Germanicon military. Do the math.

    jn

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    Ultimately the Kragicon is a fantastic rifle, just it wasn't as practical as a military rifle as many other options. That doesn't mean it wasn't effective though. The biggest problems being the extremely high cost to manufacture (they are so much more complex to machine than your average bolt gun such as a Mauser) and a lack of charger loading. But if your shooting at the enemy, its not like your sticking your head up firing as fast as you can, your generally firing a shot or two, ducking down, then when empty reloading. Whether or not it was by charger it still took a bit of time for the simple reason everyone's webbing wasn't really wasn't designed or optimized for speed.

    One of the biggest issues that affected most militaries especially early in the war was a lack of effective anti-armour weaponry. It doesn't really matter how good your small arms are if you can't stop that tank.

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    It's true about the armor - there wasn't much way to fight it. I don't think they knew about Molotov Cocktails ... As far as small arms: after the Germans put down the Milorg, armed resistance was carried out more and more by Britishicon-trained Norwegianicon commandos. They were provided with Enfields, Sten guns, and assorted other British gear that was smuggled or air-dropped. You can read about it in my cousin's book, "Skis Against the Atom" They lived a tough life between operations, holed up in the high country.

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    There was a movie made in Norwayicon about Hannevig called "The Last Lieutenant".

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    The sinking of the Blücher is the incident from the invasion that sticks in my mind. I see it is also credited with being a factor in the escape of the Royal Family. It is a curious thing that both cruisers named Blücher were sunk in action, and three Blücher brothers were killed on the same day in 1941. And the last brother was killed accidentally in 1944.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Funny you shoud mention that. I spent a couple days at Oscarsborg, the 19th-century shore battery that foiled the Germanicon surprise invasion of Oslo. I did a lengthy post on that episode on the Culvericon forum when I got back from Norwayicon. I'll put it up over here, maybe on the general discussion forum. It's a hell of a story.

    jn

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    I read somewhere years ago that the Gestapo detachment being sent to Norway went down the ship, or most of them did. The other thing that sticks is that the Germans stopped using Norwegianicon bus drivers for transporting their troops after a few decided to drive over cliffs with their passengers.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    The Blucher had a row of portholes in its sides! It was a combination heavy cruiser and cruise ship, and it was packed with mid-level bureaucrats and gestapo, in addition to its regular crew. No one is certain how many went down with the ship, perhaps as few as 800, maybe 1,500. The fish and the crabs had a feast. I never heard of bus drivers going off a cliff, but if it happened I'm sure the driver would have bailed out.

    It was only 35 years since Norwayicon got its independence from Swedenicon. The resistance is the thing that really made Norway as a country, the way the Revolution made America.


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