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Operation Anklet was the codename given to a British Commando raid during the Second World War. The raid on the Lofoten Islands was carried out in December 1941, by 300 men from No. 12 Commando and the Norwegian Independent Company 1. The landing party was supported by 22 ships from three navies.
No. 12 Commando was a battalion-sized commando unit of the British Army during the Second World War. Formed in 1940 in Northern Ireland, they carried out a number of small-scale raids in Norway and France between 1941 and 1943 before being disbanded and its personnel dispersed to other commando units.
Norwegian Independent Company 1 was a British Special Operations Executive (SOE) group formed in March 1941 originally for the purpose of performing commando raids during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany. Organized under the leadership of Captain Martin Linge, it soon became a pool of talent for a variety of special operations in Norway.
At the same time, another raid was taking place in Vågsøy. This raid was Operation Archery, on 27 December 1941, and Operation Anklet was seen as a diversionary raid for this bigger raid, intended to draw away the German naval and air forces.
Vågsøy is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is located in the traditional district of Nordfjord. The municipality's administrative center is the town Måløy. Other population centers in Vågsøy include the villages of Bryggja, Deknepollen, Holvika, Kvalheim, Langeneset, Raudeberg, Refvika, Silda, Tennebø, Totland, Vedvika, and Vågsvåg. The municipality includes the island of Vågsøy, several small surrounding islands, and part of the mainland.
Operation Archery, also known as the Måløy Raid, was a British Combined Operations raid during World War II against German positions on the island of Vågsøy, Norway, on 27 December 1941.
After the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called for a force to be assembled and equipped to inflict casualties on the Germans and bolster British morale. Churchill told the joint Chiefs of Staff to propose measures for an offensive against German-occupied Europe, and stated: "they must be prepared with specially trained troops of the hunter class who can develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast."
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the name of the British Army in Western Europe during the Second World War from 2 September 1939 when the BEF GHQ was formed until 31 May 1940, when GHQ closed down. Military forces in Britain were under Home Forces command. During the 1930s, the British government planned to deter war by rearming from the very low level of readiness of the early 30s and abolished the Ten Year Rule. The bulk of the extra money went to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force but plans were made to re-equip a small number of Army and Territorial Army divisions for service overseas.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. The office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016. May resigned as Conservative Party leader on 7 June 2019, remaining as Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister is appointed.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.
One staff officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clarke, had already submitted such a proposal to General Sir John Dill, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Dill, aware of Churchill's intentions, approved Clarke's proposal.
Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke was an officer in the British Army, known as a pioneer of military deception operations during the Second World War. His ideas for combining fictional orders of battle, visual deception and double agents helped define Allied deception strategy during the war, for which he has been referred to as "the greatest British deceiver of WW2". Clarke was also instrumental in the founding of three famous military units, namely the British Commandos, the Special Air Service and the US Rangers.
Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill, was a senior British Army officer with service in both the First World War and the Second World War. From May 1940 to December 1941 he was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), the professional head of the British Army, and subsequently in Washington, D.C., as Chief of the British Joint Staff Mission and then Senior British Representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS), played a significant role during the Second World War in the formation of the "Special Relationship" between the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Commandos came under the operational control of the Combined Operations Headquarters. The man initially selected as the commander was Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, a veteran of the Gallipoli Campaign and the Zeebrugge Raid in the First World War.In 1940, the call went out for volunteers from among the serving Army soldiers within certain formations still in Britain, and men of the disbanding Divisional Independent Companies originally raised from Territorial Army Divisions who had seen service in Norway.
Combined Operations Headquarters was a department of the British War Office set up during Second World War to harass the Germans on the European continent by means of raids carried out by use of combined naval and army forces.
Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM". The rank is generally thought to have originated in Sicily from a conflation of Arabic: أمير البحر, amīr al-baḥr, "commander of the sea", with Latin admirabilis ("admirable") or admiratus ("admired"), although alternative etymologies derive the word directly from Latin, or from the Turkish military and naval rank miralay. The French version – amiral without the additional d – tends to add evidence for the Arab origin.
The Zeebrugge Raid on 23 April 1918, was an attempt by the Royal Navy to block the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge. The British intended to sink obsolete ships in the canal entrance, to prevent German vessels from leaving port. The port was used by the Imperial German Navy as a base for U-boats and light shipping, which were a threat to Allied control of the English Channel and southern North Sea. Several attempts to close the Flanders ports by bombardment failed and Operation Hush, a 1917 plan to advance up the coast, proved abortive. As sinkings by U-boats increased, finding a way to close the ports became urgent and the Admiralty became more willing to consider a raid.
The Lofoten Islands form part of the north western Norwegian coastline about 100 mi (160 km) inside the Arctic Circle. Operation Anklet would be the second raid on the islands. The first, Operation Claymore, had taken place in March 1941, and the third raid, Operation Archery, would take place at the same time as Operation Anklet.
The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles and the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude as shown on maps of Earth. It marks the northernmost point at which the centre of the noon sun is just visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point at which the centre of the midnight sun is just visible on the June solstice. The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone.
Operation Claymore was a British commando raid on the Norwegian Lofoten Islands during the Second World War. The Lofoten Islands were an important centre for the production of fish oil and glycerine, used in the German war economy. The landings were carried out on 4 March 1941, by the men of No. 3 Commando, No. 4 Commando, a Royal Engineers section and 52 men from the Norwegian Independent Company 1. Supported by the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and two troop transports of the Royal Navy, the force made an unopposed landing and generally continued to meet no opposition. The original plan was to avoid contact with German forces and inflict the maximum of damage to German-controlled industry. They achieved their objective of destroying fish oil factories and some 3,600 t of oil and glycerine. The British experienced only one accident; an officer injuring himself with his own revolver and returned with some 228 German prisoners, 314 loyal Norwegian volunteers and a number of Quisling regime collaborators.
The raid was organised by the Combined Operations Headquarters, and would only use naval and land assets, the Royal Air Force was not involved. But it would be the last raid undertaken without air support.
The naval force formed for Operation Anklet consisted of 22 ships from three navies. The Royal Navy provided the most ships which included the light cruiser HMS Arethusa; six destroyers (HMS Somali, Ashanti, Bedouin, Eskimo, Lamerton and Wheatland); three minesweepers (HMS Speedwell, Harrier and Halcyon); two Landing Ship Infantry (HMS Prins Albert and Prinses Josephine Charlotte); the submarines HMS Tigris, HMS Sealion; and the survey ship HMS Scott. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary provided two fleet tankers (RFA Grey Ranger and Black Ranger); the freighter Gudrun Maersk ; and the Tugboat Jaunty.
The exiled Royal Norwegian Navy provided the corvettes HNoMS Andenes and Eglantine, while the Polish Navy provided the destroyers ORP Krakowiak and Kujawiak.
The landing force was supplied by 223 men of No. 12 Commando, supported by 77 men of the Norwegian Independent Company 1.
The naval task force was assembled at three locations: Scapa Flow, Greenock and Lerwick. The task force, now known as Force J, left Scapa and Greenock for the Lofoten Islands on Monday 22 December, and those at Lerwick the following day. En route to join up with the main force, the infantry landing ship Prinses Josephine Charlotte developed engine trouble, and together with her destroyer escort Wheatland was sent back to Scapa, arriving on 24 December. Wheatland left Scapa alone on 25 December to catch up with the rest of Force J.As the task force approached the islands, the submarine Sealion was already in position to act as a navigational beacon for the attack, which was planned for 26 December.
When the task force arrived, the infantry landing ship Prins Albert, escorted by destroyer Lamerton and corvettes Eglantine and Acanthus, headed towards Moskenesøya to land the commandos.Some of the other ships conducted operations around the islands. The destroyer Bedouin destroyed a radio station at Flakstadøya, while the cruiser Arethusa and destroyers Somali, Ashanti, and Eskimo entered the Vestfjorden. Here they captured the Norwegian coastal steamers Kong Harald and Nordland and Ashanti sank a German patrol boat.
The 300-man landing force landed at 06:00 on Boxing Day. The date had been selected by British planners, who expected the German garrison to be concentrating on the Christmas festivities and would therefore be caught unprepared.The landings were unopposed as the commandos, dressed in white camouflaged overalls, were landed on the western side of the island of Moskenesøya. They soon occupied the villages of Reine and Moskenes, capturing the small German garrison and a number of Norwegian Quislings at the radio station at Glåpen.
The raiding force was attacked on 27 December 1941 by a German seaplane that bombed the cruiser Arethusa. Although it was not hit, it did suffer some damage that would require 14 weeks in dock to repair.With no air support of their own, the commander of the raid, Admiral Hamilton, having occupied the Norwegian villages for two days, decided to pull out and head back to Scapa, where they arrived on 1 January 1942.
During Operation Anklet, two radio transmitters were destroyed, several small German boats were captured or sunk, and a small number of Germans and Quislings were made prisoners of war.The navy also captured an Enigma coding machine, with its associated wheels and settings, from the patrol ship they had sunk. They also returned with over 200 Norwegians who volunteered to serve in the Free Norwegian Forces. The raid was successful, with no casualties to the Allied force. At least one lesson seemed to have been learnt, as it was the last raid undertaken without air support. During the war, there were 12 commando raids directed against Norway. The German response was to increase the number of troops they stationed there. By 1944, the German garrison in Norway had increased to 370,000 men. A British infantry division in 1944 had 18,347 men.
HMS Ashanti was a Tribal-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. Following the style of her sister ships she was named for an ethnic group, in this case the Ashanti people of the Gold Coast in West Africa. She served in the Second World War and was broken up in 1949. She was the first of two Royal Navy ships to bear the name Ashanti.
HMCS Algonquin was a V-class destroyer, laid down for the Royal Navy as HMS Valentine (R17) and transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on completion during the Second World War. She saw service in the Second World War escorting the aircraft carriers that bombed the Tirpitz in March 1944 and providing naval gunfire support to the Normandy landings. The destroyer was to participate in the Pacific Campaign but the war ended before her arrival in that theatre. Algonquin was converted in 1953 to a frigate and spent the majority of her remaining career in the Atlantic, being paid off in 1970.
HMS Penelope was an Arethusa-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Harland & Wolff ; her keel was laid down on 30 May 1934. She was launched on 15 October 1935, and commissioned 13 November 1936. She was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat near Naples with great loss of life on 18 February 1944. On wartime service with Force K, she was holed so many times by bomb fragments that she acquired the nickname "HMS Pepperpot".
HMS Aurora was an Arethusa-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Portsmouth Dockyard, with the keel being laid down on 27 July 1935. She was launched on 20 August 1936, and commissioned 12 November 1937.
HMS Tartar was a Tribal-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that saw service in most of the naval theatres of World War II. She had an eventful career, eventually receiving the nickname 'Lucky Tartar' due to her numerous escapes from dangerous situations. She was one of only four from the sixteen Royal Navy-operated Tribal-class destroyers to survive the war.
HMS Bedouin was a Tribal-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service in World War II. She was launched on 21 December 1937 by William Denny and Brothers.
Moskenesøya is an island at the southern end of the Lofoten archipelago in Nordland county, Norway. The 186-square-kilometre (72 sq mi) island is shared between Moskenes Municipality and Flakstad Municipality.
Operation Abstention was a code name given to a British invasion of the Italian island of Kastelorizo, off Turkey, during the Second World War, in late February 1941. The goal was to establish a base to challenge Italian naval and air supremacy on the Greek Dodecanese islands. The British landings were challenged by Italian land, air and naval forces, which forced the British troops to re-embark amidst some confusion and led to recriminations between the British commanders for underestimating the Italians.
HMS Opportune was an O-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was ordered from John I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston on 3 September 1939 for the 1st Emergency Flotilla. She was commissioned on 14 August 1942. She was the second Royal Navy ship borne Opportune.
No. 5 Commando was a battalion-sized commando unit of the British Army during the Second World War.
No. 9 Commando was a battalion-sized British Commando unit raised by the British Army during the Second World War. It took part in raids across the English Channel and in the Mediterranean, ending the war in Italy as part of the 2nd Special Service Brigade. Like all Army commando units it was disbanded in 1946.
The Commandos formed during the Second World War, following an order from the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in June 1940 for a force that could carry out raids against German occupied Europe. Churchill stated in a minute to General Ismay on 6 June 1940: "Enterprises must be prepared, with specially-trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts, first of all on the "butcher and bolt" policy..." Commandos were all volunteers for special service and originally came from the British Army but volunteers would eventually come from all branches of the United Kingdom's armed forces and foreign volunteers from countries occupied by the Germans. These volunteers formed over 30 individual units and four assault brigades.
Operation Kitbag was a raid in Norway by British Commandos of No 6 Commando and No. 12 Commando in December 1941, during the Second World War.
HMS Princess Beatrix was a commando troop ship of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Built as a civilian passenger liner in 1939 by De Schelde at Vlissingen, she was named the MS Prinses Beatrix, after Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and operated by Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland (SMZ) between Flushing and Harwich, along with her sister ship, MS Koningin Emma. After fleeing to Britain after the German invasion in 1940, she was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport, renamed HMS Princess Beatrix and converted to a troopship at Harland and Wolff's yard in Belfast. During the war her main role was transporting British Commandos, and she participated in the Lofoten Islands Raid and the Dieppe Raid. She had the advantage of a high speed that allowed hit and run operations. Later designated as a landing ship, infantry (medium) she took part in the landings in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and southern France. In 1946 Princess Beatrix was returned to her owners and continued to operate as ferry from Hook of Holland until 1969, when she was scrapped in Antwerp, Belgium.
HMS Wheatland was a Type 2 Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that served in the Second World War.