Friday, February 1, 2019

The Rescue of Norway's Gold: A WWII Story & A GIVEAWAY

by Cindy K. Stewart
A Norwegian Gold Coin. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Public Domain.

Last month I shared the beginning of the story about the dramatic rescue of Norway's gold during the Nazi invasion of 1940. If you missed the post, you can read it here. We left the gold train sitting undetected on a railroad siding in Otta, Norway on its way to the west coast. The train didn't run during the day because the German bombers loved to target anything moving. After a twenty-four-hour wait at Otta, the gold train left at 10:00 PM and arrived at the port town of Åndalsnes at 4:30 AM on April 20th. 

View of the innermost part of the Romsdalsfjord with Åndalsnes up to the left in the picture.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Åndalsnes is located at the head of a fjord - a long narrow inlet which connects to the Norwegian Sea. The British had landed troops and secured Åndalsnes two days before, and at 9:00 AM on the 20th, the Germans commenced bombing the port, the British ships, all transport routes, and the town of approximately 2000 people. In spite of their intelligence, the Germans were not aware of the presence of Norway's gold, which remained at the station awaiting transportation out by British warship to the United Kingdom.

At 11:00 PM, Fredrik Haslund, the official tasked with conveying the gold out of Norway, sent the gold train to a siding at Romsdalhorn, a few kilometers away. Towering mountains guarded the tiny station, making it a perfect place to hide a train. Due to the constant daytime bombing, a crew of railwaymen worked in twelve-hour shifts to repair the area's rail lines.


On the night of April 24th, Mr. Haslund ordered the gold train to be brought down to the dock in Andalsnes. Norwegian soldiers loaded 200 boxes of gold onto the HMS Galatea which had just unloaded British troops and equipment. The cruiser carried sixteen tons of the gold along with Norwegian officials to Scotland, and from there, the gold was transported to London and the Bank of England. Thirty-four tons of gold remained in Norway, awaiting transportation to the Allies. If the Nazis took possession, the precious metal would provide a tremendous boost to the enemy's war chest.


A Modern View of Åndalsnes from the Romsdalsjjord
Courtesy of 
Creative Commons via Wikimedia. Author Ludovic Peron.

The Norwegians expected German soldiers to come up the valley into Åndalsnes at any moment. Only hours remained to move the gold. An army captain obtained twenty-five trucks and drivers, and in two hours' time, all the gold was removed from the train and loaded on the trucks. The convoy navigated over poorly paved roads that were covered with melting snow and mud. Unfortunately, the Luftwaffe returned to Åndalsnes and attacked the convoy. The soldiers and drivers ran for cover and no one was injured during the forty-five minutes of strafing. The convoy continued its journey, and when the next attack commenced, the drivers sped up. The Germans weren't successful at hitting their targets. After reaching a ferry crossing, some trucks were hidden and some were camouflaged until dark. 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

A ferry arrived but could only carry two trucks across the water at a time. It took six hours to convey all the trucks to the other side. Because of deep ruts and potholes caused by the winter weather, the road ahead had to be repaired in places before the convoy could pass through. Trucks broke down and had to be replaced, and the crews became exhausted unloading and reloading the gold. Local farmers utilized their horses and equipment to drag one truck out of a ditch and back onto the road. Eventually the convey arrived at the port of Molde where the Norwegian Government, King Haakon, and Crown Prince Olav were taking cover. They had arrived on April 23rd, and Molde had essentially become the new capital of Norway. The gold was unloaded into a large vault in the basement of the Confectionsfabriken building (clothing factory) in town.


Confectionsfabriken Building - Molde

The people of Molde were very helpful. They assisted with unloading the gold, providing security, and feeding the exhausted soldiers. But the Germans were intent on capturing or killing the King, Crown Prince, and Government. The Luftwaffe attacked Molde and it's surroundings with bombs and incendiaries. The townsfolk set off the air-raid alarms as soon as they spotted aircraft, which allowed everyone time to escape to the woods. On April 28th, the German Government announced that they were at war with Germany and that King Haakon was wanted 'dead or alive.' This was no surprise to the king or the Government. The relentless air strikes forced the British to send the cruiser HMS Glasgow to Molde and plans were made to evacuate. 

The Germans bombed Molde for the first time at night. With debris littering the roads and fires raging, Norway's gold was loaded on any available truck and transported to various locations at the harbor. Not all the trucks were immediately able to find a safe path through the destruction. 

Before the HMS Glasgow could pull into port, a fire had to be extinguished on the dock. A portion of the gold was carried on board from this dock, and some was ferried by smaller ships from other points and loaded by crane onto the ship. The King, Crown Prince, members of the Norwegian Government, and the French, Danish, and British embassy members and staff joined British soldiers aboard the ship. 


The Ruins of Molde - 1940. Courtesy of Flickr.
No known copyright restrictions.

After the Germans unsuccessfully attacked the ship, the Glasgow left port and sailed down the fjord in reverse for at least an hour. It was too dangerous to turn around in the fjord at night. Not all of the gold had been loaded and not all of the gold had even made it to the dock before the Glasgow was forced to sail. 

Please return on March 1st to read the conclusion of the dramatic rescue of Norway's gold.

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Source:  Gold Run by Robert Pearson. Casemate Publishers, 2015.

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Cindy Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical fiction author, semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2017 Genesis contest, and won ACFW’s 2014 First Impressions contest in the historical category. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of thirty-seven years and near her married daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren. She’s currently writing a fiction series set in WWII Europe.



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Giveaway: Leave a comment below by Sunday, 2/3, at 8:00 PM EST to enter the contest for a free copy of Sarah Sundin's WWII best-selling novel, The Sea Before Us. If you share this post on social media, you will earn another chance to win. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address and to tell me if you shared the post.



31 comments:

  1. Shared on Google+ This is a fascinating post. I love to read fascinating new to me historical articles. Thank you for the great post. Thank you for the giveaway chance.

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    1. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment, Deanne. You're entered in the giveaway.

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    2. Thank you for sharing and for liking the post of Facebook, Matthew! You've earned two chances to win the giveaway.

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  2. Shared on google. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thank you for sharing, Kim. You've earned two entries in the drawing!

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  3. Good Heavens! I'm tired just reading about everything that had to be done for the government to try to stay safe! Thanks for the giveaway. bcrug(at)twc(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ha! It wore me out to write about it! Thank you for reading and commenting, Connie. You're entered in the contest.

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  4. Great information! I shared on Twitter and Facebook. paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by, Paula. You've earned two entries in the giveaway!

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  5. Interesting!
    drea2go@gmail.com

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  6. I imagine all of that gold will have really loaded down the ship. Cool information!

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    1. Yes. They split the total amount of gold on three ships. But I'm getting ahead of myself. :)

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  7. Wow! What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing this, Cindy!! I think it is amazing how the people rallied together to get the gold to the harbor!! What unified courage and determination! I'm looking forward to the next edition on March 1! Thanks for sharing this, Cindy!!
    ~Alison Boss

    nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

    I also shared this post on Twitter and Pinterest. Here are the links:

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/aligirl777/status/1091842339256090624
    Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/505177283200086002/

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Alison, and thank you for sharing on Twitter and Pinterest. You've earned two entries in the giveaway!

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  8. I absolutely loved this story. Would really enjoy having my own copy! I shared on Facebook.

    dmandres5 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa, and thank you for sharing on Facebook. You've earned two entries for the contest!

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  9. I love learning about history like this! Great post. Thanks for the giveaway! I shared the post on twitter.

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi, Heidi! I love learning about heroic stories too. Thanks for dropping by and for sharing. You've earned two entries in the giveaway!

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  10. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway. Janngrogan@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Judy. You're entered in the contest!

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  11. Very interesting! I've never heard anything about Norway's part in WWII.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi, Patty! I've enjoyed researching Norway's story from WWII. I'll be posting more about it soon. You're entered in the giveaway!

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  12. I love learning history, especially something so unique as the story of the gold and all the helping hands it took to get it transferred. I can't wait to read the final installment.

    LLWaltz [at] gmail [dot] com

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, Laura. Thank you for stopping by. You're entered in the contest!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post.
    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  14. And the winner is . . . Laura Waltz! Congratulations, Laura!

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