Operation Anklet

Last updated
Operation Anklet
Part of the North West Europe Campaign
Norway - Lofoten.PNG
Lofoten Islands
Date26–27 December 1941
67°59′N13°00′E / 67.983°N 13.000°E / 67.983; 13.000 Coordinates: 67°59′N13°00′E / 67.983°N 13.000°E / 67.983; 13.000
Result Allied victory
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Poland
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Admiral Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton
Captain Hugh Dalrymple-Smith
Lieutenant Colonel S.S. Harrison
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst

Royal Navy
1 Light cruiser
6 Destroyers
3 Minesweepers
2 Landing Ship Infantry
2 Submarines
1 Survey ship
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
2 Tankers
1 Freighter 1 Tugboat Royal Norwegian Navy
2 Corvettes
Polish Navy
2 Destroyers


No. 12 Commando 223 men
Norwegian Company 77 men
Eight divisions in Norway
three coastal defence
four infantry
one Luftwaffe Field Division [1]
Unknown number of aircraft and naval forces
Casualties and losses
1 light cruiser heavily damaged 1 patrol ship sunk
2 wireless stations destroyed

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

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. [2]

Vågsøy Municipality in Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

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 British Combined Operations raid during World War II

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." [3]

British Expeditionary Force (World War II) British Army in Western Europe from 1939 to 1940

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.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Head of UK Government

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.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during most of World War II

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. [3]

Dudley Clarke British Second World War intelligence officer, and pioneer of strategic military deception tactics

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.

John Dill Army officer

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. [4] 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. [nb 1]

Combined Operations Headquarters department of the British War Office set up during World War II

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.

Zeebrugge Raid naval battle in WW1

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. [6]

Arctic Circle Boundary of the Arctic

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

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. [7]

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. [8]

The exiled Royal Norwegian Navy provided the corvettes HNoMS Andenes and Eglantine, while the Polish Navy provided the destroyers ORP Krakowiak and Kujawiak. [8]

The landing force was supplied by 223 men of No. 12 Commando, supported by 77 men of the Norwegian Independent Company 1. [7]


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. [8] 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. [8] 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. [8]

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. [7] 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. [7]

Reine one of the villages occupied in the raid Reine at Reinefjorden, 2010 September.jpg
Reine one of the villages occupied in the raid

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. [8] 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. [7]


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. [7] The navy also captured an Enigma coding machine, with its associated wheels and settings, from the patrol ship they had sunk. [9] They also returned with over 200 Norwegians who volunteered to serve in the Free Norwegian Forces. [10] 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. [7] During the war, there were 12 commando raids directed against Norway. [6] 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. [11] A British infantry division in 1944 had 18,347 men. [12]



  1. The 10 independent companies were raised from volunteers in second line Territorial Army divisions in April 1940. They were intended for guerrilla style operations in Norway following the German invasion. Each of the 10 companies initially consisted of 21 officers and 268 other ranks. [5]


  1. Messenger, p.47
  2. "No. 38342". The London Gazette . 2 July 1948. p. 3881. "Raid on military and economic objectives in the vicinity of Vaagso island"
  3. 1 2 Haskew, p.47
  4. Chappell, p.6
  5. Moreman, p.13
  6. 1 2 Messenger, p.15
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Lofoten Islands 2nd Raid 26/27 December 1941". Combined Operations. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Background Events, December 1941 to February 1942". Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  9. "HMS Wheatland". Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  10. "Operation Anklet". Commando operations in Norway. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  11. Chappell, p.14
  12. Brayley & Chappell, p.17


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