Operation Alphabet

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This article is about a World War II manoeuvre. For the 1960s television program on literacy, see Operation Alphabet (TV series).
British troops returning to the UK at Greenock in June 1940.

Operation Alphabet was an evacuation, authorized on May 24, 1940, of Allied (British, French and Polish) troops from the harbour of Narvik in northern Norway marking the success of Nazi Germany's Operation Weserübung of April 9 and the end of the Allied campaign in Norway during World War II. The evacuation was completed by June 8.

The evacuation was prompted by the Wehrmacht's assault on Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France in the spring of 1940, which reduced the relative importance of Germany's iron ore provision, and of Scandinavia as a whole.

Several nights after the final military evacuation, the civilians of the town were rescued by British Sub-Lieutenant Patrick Dalzel-Job. Against orders, he organized local fishing boats to remove the population just before a German reprisal bombing. The town was largely destroyed, but only four people were killed. The Royal Navy wanted to discipline Dalzel-Job but was unable to, after King Haakon VII awarded him the Knights Cross of the Order of Saint Olav (First Class). Later in the war, he served with Ian Fleming. Many sources cite Dalzel-Job as the inspiration for the James Bond character.

A consequence of the evacuation of Allied troops from Norway was that Sweden's and Finland's position vis-à-vis Nazi-Germany was weakened. Subsequently an agreement was reached in June leading to extensive transfers of (unarmed) Wehrmacht troops on Swedish rail-roads – probably Sweden's chief digression from her policy of neutrality between the parties of the World War – and in August Finland concluded a secret agreement according to which Finland could acquire weapons through Germany and Germany could transfer (armed) troops by truck through northernmost Finland. Thereby Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, still united by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, had excluded other international powers from influence in Northern Europe.

Related reading[edit]

  • Hauge, Andreas (1995) Kampene i Norge 1940 (Sandefjord: Krigshistorisk Forlag) ISBN 82-993369-0-2 Norwegian
  • Kristiansen, Trond (2006) Fjordkrigen – Sjømilitær motstand mot den tyske invasjonsflåten i 1940 (Harstad: Forlaget Kristiansen) ISBN 82-997054-2-8 Norwegian

Coordinates: 68°26′00″N 17°25′00″E / 68.4333°N 17.4167°E / 68.4333; 17.4167