The Employment of the Fallschirmtruppe in Operation Weserübung II

Fallschirmjäger of 4./FschJgRgt.1 who have been relieved by forces from the Heer on the island of Masnedǿ and at Vordingborg await their transport back to Germany.

In the meantime the command section had cleared the runway of barbed wire rolls and the canopies of parachutes, and laid out recognition flags and landing crosses. At the same time the reinforced 5th squad seized a large house about 500m from the airfield from which it was fired upon. The 6th squad occupied a beach hotel which had been abandoned by the enemy.

Fifty minutes after the begin of the parachute assault, the first transport aircraft of KGr z.b.V.104, with soldiers of I./InfRgt.193 aboard, landed on the runway which had survived the preceding air raid intact. During these initial air-landings another German soldier, a Feldwebel of a radio team, was killed by fire from a Me 110.

3./FschJgRgt.1 had paid for its successful coup de main against the airfield at Stavanger-Sola with three killed and eight wounded. About half of these losses were caused by friendly fire. Of the Norwegian forces located on or near the airfield, 57 soldiers, among them 4 officers, were made prisoners of war. By noon the killed and wounded men of 3./FschJgRgt.1 were being flown out to Germany and around 1300 hrs the missing 8th squad arrived from Stade.

By the evening of 9 April the headquarters of InfRgt.193, I. and II./InfRgt.193, two Nachrichten-Ju, six heavy Me 110 fighters, six dive bombers of I./StG 1, a squadron of He 111 bombers and an air transport squadron with aviation fuel had landed at the airfield.

An airfield service company and elements of Luftgau-Stab 200 [Air Region Command 200], which was air-landed by KGr z.b.V.105, were able to render the airfield fully operational by the afternoon of 9 April.

On 10 April at 0800 hrs, 3./FschJgRgt.1 handed over the security of the airfield to 1./InfRgt.193 and at 1300 hrs was airlifted back to Stade. They arrived at 1650 hrs and were transported by rail to Stendal-Borstel, arriving on 11 April.

On 9 April 0530 hrs. the staff and the 5th and 6th squadrons from II./KGz.b.V. 1 and an assigned Nachrichten-Ju, altogether 29 Ju 52s took off from Schleswig with I./FschJgRgt.1, less its 3rd and 4th companies, bound for the airfield at Fornebu situated about 6 km west of Oslo. The operation order of Gruppe XXI for the occupation of Oslo, dated 14 March 1940, section 8.(c) stated that the mission for this battalion was to secure after parachuting the air-landing of the first air transport squadron with follow-on forces provided by the Heer, thereby gaining a start position for the occupation of Oslo from the west. The sole responsibility for the seizure of the airfield was assigned to the commanding officer of I./FschJgRgt.1, Hauptmann Walther. In Section 8.(f), the operation order contained a possible subsequent mission for I./FschJgRgt.1. This was the seizure of the airfield at Kjeller, which lay about 17 km north-east of Oslo, in order to accelerate the air-landings.

Dense and low cloud over the Skagerrak made it necessary, for security reasons, to break up the flight formation of the two squadrons of II./KG z.b.V.1 into individual flights of three aircraft each. When some of the aircraft lost visual contact within the formation its commanding officer, Oberstleutnant Drews, against the heavy protest of Hauptmann Walther, ordered his formation to return to Schleswig. Drews reported his decision via radio to the air transport ground chief but received confirmation directly from the command of X.Flieger-Korps. All aircraft of the formation were now on their way back, except the flight of two Ju 52, with the battalion staff aboard, and the Nachrichten-Ju.

The air movement toward Fornebu was also continued by 8 Me 110 fighters of I./ZG 26 under Oberleutnant Hansen, which were detailed for close air support during the parachute assault and for protection against enemy fighters.

About 60 km west of the airfield the cloud cover began to break up. Plainly visible now, the approaching aircraft received air-defence fire from Fornebu airfield. Consequently the Nachrichten-Ju now turned away. The Me 110s which were flying ahead were engaged in a lengthy aerial combat with nine Norwegian Gloucester Gladiator biplane fighters which had taken off from the airfield. The fighters succeeded in shooting down one of their agile opponents and in destroying two more on the ground after these had landed on the airfield to refuel. Two of the Me 110s were also lost. After the remaining Gladiators had withdrawn the Me 110s began to suppress the anti-aircraft weapons on the ground. The crews of two anti-aircraft machine guns at the northern edge of the airfield quickly abandoned their positions, whereas the three anti-aircraft guns in the emplacements at the eastern edge continued to fire, unconcerned.

At 0933 hrs the two Ju 52 carrying the staff of I./FschJgRgt.1, Oberleutnant Götte, a medical officer, nine non-commissioned officers and five other ranks touched down on the airfield. The landing was successful, as the anti-aircraft guns had no view over its western part. Quickly the soldiers, who had got rid of their parachutes and picked up their arms from the weapon containers during the approach flight, occupied the buildings with the direction finder and the switchboard, after they had overcome the weak resistance of the Norwegians of a searchlight platoon west of the runway.

About this time the first of 53 Ju 52 of KGr z.b.V.103, with II./InfRgt.324 aboard, which was following 20 minutes behind I./FschJgRgt.1, arrived at the airfield. The commanding officer of this group, Hauptmann Wagner, had also received an order to return to base from the command of X.Flieger-Korps. As this order was not submitted by the “air transport ground chief”, as arranged beforehand, Hauptmann Wagner suspected a ruse by the enemy and had carried on with his original mission.

The first Ju 52, piloted by Hauptmann Wagner, was hit by anti-aircraft fire during the descent. In this attack Wagner and four of the plane’s passengers were killed. As a result this Ju 52 left formation, but the aircraft right behind it managed to land undamaged and unloaded its infantrymen. In short intervals more and more transport aircraft followed.

In the meantime the first of the Me 110s, which were running out of fuel, also landed. Their crews joined in the combat on the ground, firing the rear machine guns of their aircraft at the anti-aircraft guns. These stopped firing at 1000 hrs because their crews withdrew about 3 km along the road leading to the north. Here, in positions favourable for defence, they waited for reinforcements.

By 1100hrs the majority of II./InfRgt.324 was on the ground. The battalion took over the protection of the airfield from the paratroopers. In this brief engagement these had captured six Norwegian soldiers and seized two anti-aircraft guns and two anti-aircraft machine guns and destroyed two searchlights.

As ordered by the chief of staff of Gruppe XXI, Hauptmann Spiller, the Luftwaffe attaché at the German embassy in Oslo, arrived and temporarily took over the function of the airfield commandant. At this time Spiller had no telephone or radio communication with the embassy and therefore was not informed of the costly failure of the Navy’s coup de main in the Oslo Fjord. Here, the cruiser Blücher, which was leading Gruppe 9 into the fjord, capsized after heavy bombardment from coastal guns and torpedo batteries of the Norwegian coastal command. It sank in the Døbrak defile. Around 1,500 of the 2,500 soldiers and naval personnel aboard the cruiser perished in this catastrophe. Among the troops embarked had been elements of the staffs of Gruppe XXI and 163.Inf.Div. as well as the shock troop who was supposed to arrest the Norwegian king and government.

Utilizing the considerable confusion on the Norwegian side, Götte and his men, riding in confiscated motor vehicles, managed to reach the German embassy around noon. After he had reported the seizure of the airfield at Fornebu, the embassy’s naval attaché guided his group to a Norwegian anti-aircraft position at the edge of Oslo in order to seize it. However the position had already been abandoned by its crew. Two heavy anti-aircraft guns, two anti-aircraft machine guns, a radio transmitter and a range finder were captured undamaged. On the way back to Oslo Gruppe Götte met with German infantry approaching from Fornebu and was informed about the capitulation of the Norwegian garrison of Oslo.

The shock troop, under Oberleutnant Götte, was tasked with the pursuit of the Norwegian king and government and was reinforced with a heavy machine gun half-platoon of an infantry battalion and received marching orders for Hamar. Its mission was to arrest the political leaders there and bring them back to Oslo.

About 30 km north of Oslo the shock troop came up against a Norwegian cavalry unit. An officer and 22 cavalrymen were taken prisoner and later two motorcycle dispatch-riders were also captured. However when superior Norwegian forces were detected, Oberleutnant Götte decided to withdraw his forces. During the ride back he quite unexpectedly met 2./ FschJgRgt.1 accompanied by Hauptleute Walther and Spiller. Hauptmann Walther, who had received the same mission as Oberleutnant Götte, ordered the latter to turn around and to take the point of the detachment with his shock troop. Quickly the question about the sudden appearance of Hauptmann Walther and his 2nd Company was answered.

After the commanding officer of II./KG z.b.V.1 had ordered the two squadrons of his command with him to return to Schleswig, his own aircraft and those with the majority of 2./FschJgRgt.1 aboard had landed on one of the airfields at Ålborg around 1030 hrs. Upon hearing the news that Fornebu was in German hands these aircraft were refuelled. At 1300 hrs they had taken off for Fornebu with Hauptmann Walther and his paratroopers who had left behind their jump gear and picked up their arms from the weapon containers. Together with the aircraft transporting III./InfRgt.307, Walther’s detachment landed on Fornebu at 1500 hrs. 2./FschJgRgt.1 was made up less four squads, as their Ju 52 had joined the aircraft of 1./FschJgRgt.1 and those of the battalion’s signals platoon back to Germany and finally to Stendal. On this flight one Ju 52 with a squad of 1./FschJgRgt.1 aboard collided with another Ju 52 and crashed into the sea. Its crew and all 12 paratroopers aboard were killed. With confiscated vehicles Hauptmann Walther and the reduced 2./FschJgRgt.1, accompanied by Hauptmann Spiller, drove from Fornebu to Oslo and took billets in the city hall. Shortly afterwards Hauptmann Spiller conveyed the mission to Hauptmann Walther to bring back to Oslo the Norwegian king and government, who were presumed to be still in Hamar. Hauptmann Spiller then stayed with the detachment.

Due to the priority of the new mission, but probably also in view of the weak personnel strength of 2./FschJgRgt.1, Gruppe XXI avoided undertaking the originally planned employment of I./FschJgRgt.1 against the airfield at Kjeller. The two battalions of InfRgt.324, parts of which were still on the move to Oslo, were considered indispensable for the occupation of the Norwegian capital and for the protection of Fornebu. At this time they were the only fully available units of combat troops after the failure of the coup de main from the sea. After all, elements of the Norwegian 1st and 2nd divisions were known to be positioned in the vicinity of Oslo and could well attempt actions to retake the city.

After some vehicles had been confiscated – the majority of 2./FschJgRgt.1 had to ride on two buses – Abteilung Walther moved out at 1700 hrs in the evening darkness and after a while picked up Stoßtrupp Götte.

Just before midnight on 9 April the point of Walther’s column was stopped at a barricaded bridge at the southern entrance to Hamar and was fired on by infantry. Half an hour later the obstacle was removed after the Norwegian pickets had withdrawn. One squad of paratroopers remained in Hamar, tasked with the mission to occupy the public buildings and to interrupt telephone communications from the town to the outside. On 10 April 0045 hrs the detachment moved on in the direction of Elverum on receipt of information that the Norwegian king and government had settled down there for the night.

Around 0110 hrs the detachment came up against a road barrier at the farmstead at Midtskogen, about 4 km south of Elverum. From there it was fired at with machine guns and rifles. During the advance of 2./FschJgRgt.1 against the road barrier one paratrooper was killed and Hauptmann Spiller was mortally wounded. The heavily defended farmstead was taken after half an hour of combat and two Norwegians were captured. Due to the growing resistance in front of Elverum, Hauptmann Walther decided to break off the engagement and to return to Oslo. After picking up the squad left back in Hamar the march continued under sporadic rifle fire from the surrounding terrain.

About 30 km south of Hamar the detachment encountered a large column of motor vehicles manned by Norwegian soldiers and approaching from the opposite direction. By bold and resolute action the paratroopers succeeded in disarming a few hundred of their surprised opponents, among them about 30 officers and the commander, a colonel. The Norwegian unit was the 1st Regiment of Dragoons. Its equipment comprised some field guns. The officers were taken prisoner and the vehicles were integrated into the column. The hundreds of Norwegian other ranks were sent away into the adjoining terrain with some shots fired in the air, after they had shown some signs of resistance in the face of the few Germans. After that, Walther’s column, now considerably larger and with many of the captured vehicles being driven by inexperienced paratroopers, moved on.

Shortly after a Norwegian anti-aircraft position was taken out, the point of the detachment at about 1100hrs came up against another column of Norwegian troops in front of a bridge some 30km south of Minnesund. However, this time the Norwegians were combat ready. A few shots fired in front of them prevented the leading German vehicles from crossing the bridge. The commanding officer of the Norwegian force seemed to be well informed about the low strength of Walther’s detachment and so he dispatched an officer with a flag of truce. He referred to three infantry regiments and artillery following close behind the Norwegian column and requested Walther to surrender. However the German commander refused to believe this ruse. He called a bluff on his part, making the negotiator believe that three parachute infantry regiments had been dropped right behind his detachment, poised for attack in the case that the road was not cleared of the Norwegians. As a consequence he requested their capitulation. Eventually a mutual silence of weapons was agreed upon and Walther’s detachment, made up of about 50 vehicles, including the captured officers, passed the Norwegian column without incident. At around 1700 hrs it arrived at a German outpost on the edge of Oslo. Besides the previously captured prisoners and the vehicles, the booty comprised 3 field guns, 7 heavy and 21 light machine guns, 600 rifles and 220,000 rounds for infantry weapons. On the way into the city, Hauptmann Walther stopped at the fortress of Akershus in order to report to the commander of the 162.Inf.Div., Generalmajor Engelbrecht, who in the meantime had been placed in charge of all troops of the Heer around Oslo. For the first time Generalmajor Engelbrecht received information about the recent actions of the paratroopers. Walther’s soldiers, who had not slept in the past 48 hours and had lived under conditions of continuous strain, were now able to spend the night of 10/11 April resting in their quarters in Oslo City Hall.

In the course of the morning of 10 April the remainder of the troops, who had originally been allocated for the occupation of Oslo from the sea, had been landed in the city’s port. Some of them were immediately employed against Norwegian forces identified north and south of the capital. Abteilung Walther was also drawn upon for reconnaissance. 2./FschJgRgt.1 received a mission early in the morning of 11 April; together with two companies of infantry it was to advance into the hinterland of Oslo to the North and East.

The company moved out at 0730 hrs in the direction of Lillestrøm-Fedsund. At a destroyed bridge across the Vorma River west of Mes the point platoon, under Leutnant Zuber, met with its first resistance. The balance of 2./FschJgRgt.1 bypassed the contested area, moved on in a northerly direction, crossed the Vorma over an undefended bridge at Swanfossen and advanced along the river. The new point platoon under Leutnant Graf von Blücher, consisting of two squads, soon encountered an abatis in front of Bastuolen and was fired at from a nearby hill by riflemen in civilian clothes. A shock troop, ordered forward by the company commander stormed the hill, where most of its defenders were killed in the firefight. In the meantime, other sub-units of the company had overcome the weak resistance in Bastuolen. The two infantry companies which had been transported in buses took almost no part in the engagement at Bastuolen. Their transports had continuously broken down and therefore had not caught up with the paratroopers.

On 11 April 2./FschJgRgt.1 returned to Oslo. During the mission one soldier was seriously wounded. It brought back 20 Norwegians as prisoners, two of whom wore civilian clothing. A heavy machine gun with 3,000 cartridges, 10 rifles and various entrenching tools had also been captured.

Leutnant Zuber and 11 other ranks from 2./FschJgRgt.1 were detailed to an infantry battalion on 12 April, in order to instruct its personnel about the experience gained so far in combat against the Norwegians. The infantry battalion was to conduct a reconnaissance in force into the area of Spyderberg where, it was suspected, there were elements of a Norwegian division. When the infantry was engaged, Zuber’s men were ordered to outflank an enemy force which had tied down an infantry platoon. The mission was undertaken successfully but on their way back the paratroopers were hit by concentrated machine gun and artillery fire. A Feldwebel and another paratrooper were seriously wounded. The latter died during his evacuation.

With the reconnaissance mission accomplished Zuber’s detachment reported back to the company at 1600 hrs.

On 13 April 2./FschJgRgt.1was again employed. It was to reconnoitre via Dammen and Titusberg against Porsgrunn, about 40 km south-west of Oslo, and to destroy a broadcasting station there. For the mission the company was reinforced with the three captured 8.5cm field guns and with 25 artillerymen as crews. The inexperience of the driver caused a truck to overturn near Dammen, causing two soldiers to be seriously hurt and five others lightly. Only once had the company come up against a road guard of six Norwegians, who had been captured. It reached Porsgrunn and destroyed the broadcasting station, as ordered. In spite of the fatigue of the drivers, the road march back through partly mountainous terrain was accomplished without further incidents. The detachment arrived in Oslo on 14 April 0100 hrs. Here the soldiers had a well-deserved rest.

1./FschJgRgt.1, together with the battalion’s signals platoon and four squads of 2./FschJgRgt.1, had been flown back to Schleswig as decided by Oberstleutnant Drews. On order of X.Flieger-Korps these paratroopers had been airlifted to Stendal on 12 April and had arrived at about 1300 hrs. On the same day at 1530 hrs X.Flieger-Korps was ordered to convey 1./FschJgRgt.1 and the signals platoon to Oslo. The squad of the company which was lost over the North Sea had been replaced by one of the four squads of 2./FschJgRgt.1 which were also returned to Stendal. After a stop-over in Schleswig, 1./FschJgRgt.1 and the signals platoon were airlifted to Oslo-Fornebu, where they arrived on 13 April at 1900 hrs and took billets near the airfield.

On this evening a meeting was convened at the headquarters of Gruppe XXI in a hotel in Oslo, to which Hauptmann Walther had also been ordered to attend. The subject of the meeting was a parachute operation in the area of Dombås. Some time earlier, the OKW had conducted deliberations about the employment of parachute forces in central Norway. These deliberations were probably triggered by intelligence about preparations for the landing of troops of the Western allies at Trondheim and Bergen which had been gathered by German signal and air reconnaissance.

On the morning of 14 April consultations about parachute operations in central Norway were continued, but now under the direction of the liaison staff of the Luftwaffe at Gruppe XXI under Oberst Knaus. The basis for a decision was a directive from the OKW, which arrived at Gruppe XXI headquarters in the morning and contained an order for the employment of Fallschirmtruppen in the area of Dombås. This town, halfway between Oslo and Trondheim at the northern exit of the Gudbrandsdal and about 250 km north-west of Oslo, constituted an important traffic hub. Here the railway and the road from Oslo bifurcated in a westerly direction toward the coast at Åndalsnes, and in a northerly direction toward Trondheim. Whoever wanted to exercise control over central Norway therefore had to be in possession of Dombås.

The conference beside Oberst Knaus was attended by the commanding officer of II./KG z.b.V.1, Oberstleutnant Drews, responsible for the transport of the paratroopers to the drop zone, Hauptmann Walther; Oberleutnant Schmidt, the commanding officer of 1./FschJgRgt.1, Oberleutnant Diley from 3./StG 1, which was to fly interdiction against the railway from Åndalsnes and Hauptmann Flakowski, the commandant of the airfield at Fornebu.

Shortly after noon, the operation order for the liaison staff was ready. It stated:

1.British naval forces had landed troops at Åndalsnes in the course of 13 April.

2.Friendly motorized forces advance to Dombås via Lillehammer. Bombing attacks from Stavanger against British naval forces and troops around Åndalsnes can be counted upon.

3.In order to prevent the advance of the British landing force from Åndalsnes to Dombås

I./FschJgRgt.1 (two companies)

II./KG z.b.V.1

3./StG 1

will be employed and placed under command of Gruppe XXI.

4.Execution:

a)3./StG 1 is to destroy the railway Åndalsnes-Dombås at vulnerable points as far to the north-west as possible;

b)I./FschJgRgt.1 is to seize the traffic hub at Dombås;

c)II./KG z.b.V.1 is to reconnoitre, together with I./FschJgRgt.1, suitable terrain for the parachuting near Dombås; is to drop I./FschJgRgt.1 (two companies), and is to prepare to supply the dropped parachute units from the air.

More precise information about the situation was not available to the liaison staff. The Germans, however, had also recognized the landing of British troops at Namsos about 220 km north of Trondheim, during the night of 13/14 April and probably had also detected the approach of naval convoys with additional troops toward the Norwegian coast.

As was found out later, the Allied supreme war council, after some deliberation, had decided to renounce a direct attack against Trondheim. Instead, by Operation Maurice, the British 146th Brigade (2 bns) and the 5e demi-brigade of the French 5th Light Division were to be landed at Namsos. It had been the advance-party of these forces, some 350 British marines and armed sailors, whose landing in Namsos on the night of 13/14 April was detected by the Germans. At Åndalsnes, about 350 km south-west of Trondheim, the British 15th and 148th brigades (3 bns each) were to be landed shortly thereafter in Operation Sickle. In cooperation with Norwegian troops Maurice Force and Sickle Force subsequently were to seize Trondheim from two sides.

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