Iceland Question.

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Rand
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Iceland Question.

Post by Rand » 01 Aug 2004 19:10

Hey,

Just reading a book written by a relative of mine on his experiences in WW2. He mentioned in the book that Iceland had been briefly occupied by the Germans, but they left due to the problem of keeping it supplied. Is this true?

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USAF1986
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Post by USAF1986 » 01 Aug 2004 20:45

Hello! Germany never carried out a landing operation against Iceland. Here’s a quote from Guarding the United States and its Outposts. A complete online edition of this book can be found at the U.S. Army Center for Military History website:

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/Guard-US/
Early in the European conflict both the British and the Germans had recognized what the Vikings had demonstrated ten centuries before, namely, that Iceland was an important steppingstone between Europe and the New World. Hitler several times toyed with the idea of a descent upon the island and laid preliminary plans for it; but to forestall such a move British troops, soon joined by a Canadian force, had landed in Iceland on 10 May 1940. Icelandic annoyance with the British and Canadian garrison, and British losses in the war, which made a withdrawal of the Iceland garrison seem desirable, plus American concern for the Atlantic sea lanes, combined to bring Iceland within the American defense orbit.
On 7 July 1941, the first U.S troops – the 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) commanded by Brigadier General John Marston – arrived in Iceland to help defend the country from attack. U.S. Army troops began arriving in early August. Effective 3 September 1941, the U.S. Iceland Base Command was organized under the command of Major General Charles H. Bonesteel, U.S. Army. In March 1942, the 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) departed Iceland for its return to the United States.

Of interest, the Commandant of the Marine Corps granted the officers and men of the 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) the right to wear the shoulder insignia of the British Iceland defense forces (its wear had been invited by the British commander) while on the island: a polar bear patch worn on both shoulders in British fashion.

I've also included the U.S. Army shoulder patch worn by members of the Iceland Base Command.

Best regards,
Shawn

SOURCE: Smith, Richard W. Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of the U.S. Armed Forces, 1941-1945.
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Rand
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Post by Rand » 03 Aug 2004 03:31

Goddamn lying relatives!!!!!!

Thank you for the info USAF1986.
Do you have a particular interest in this area?

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 04 Aug 2004 00:26

as far as I am aware, Kriegsmarine weather ships travelled close to Iceland and did surveys here.

E δ

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USAF1986
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Post by USAF1986 » 04 Aug 2004 02:19

Rand,

Just curious, but could your relative have meant Spitzbergen/Svalbard? I don’t know too much about operations there, but the Allies launched Operation “Gauntlet” in August 1941 to destroy the coal mines, etc. in the event the Germans tried to make use of them.

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.c ... 20Gauntlet

I think the Germans had a small weather outpost (or several over time) on Spitzbergen with radio transmitters, but I don’t know what became of it. In any case, it didn’t amount to an “occupation” per se.

In March 1942, Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, the chief of Luftflotte 5 in Norway, proposed occupying Spitzbergen to use the airfield there for attacks on Allied convoys making the Murmansk run. The German Army of Norway opined a battalion with supplies for one year would be sufficient to hold the island. However, the German Armed Forces High Command disagreed with the proposal as it would tie down too many naval and air resources without offering any decisive advantages. Hitler agreed and killed the plan on 22 March 1942.

On 8 September 1943, Admiral Oskar Kummetz led a naval surface attack on the British and Norwegian-manned weather stations at Barentsburg and Longyearbyen at Spitzbergen. After departing the Alta Fjord in Norway, the battleship Tirpitz (Kapitän zur See Hans Karl Meyer) and the battlecruiser Scharnhorst (Kapitän zur See Friedrich Hüffmeier) bombarded the two settlements. As the destroyers Z 29, Z 31 and Z 33 provided inshore fire support, the destroyers Z 27, Z 30, Erich Steinbrinck, Karl Galster, Hans Lody and Theodor Riedel landed a battalion from Grenadier Regiment 349 (230th Infantry Division) that wrecked various installations and took some prisoners before withdrawing. The bulk of the garrison escaped capture and began rebuilding shortly thereafter.

Best regards,
Shawn

SOURCES: Whitley, M.J. Destroyer! German Destroyers in World War II. The Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1983; Ziemke, Earl F. The German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945. Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-271, Washington, D.C., 1959.

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Rand
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Post by Rand » 07 Aug 2004 03:47

USAF,

I'm 100% that he meant Iceland as he described the capital city and so on. It was a stop over for his RAF unit on their way to the USA for training, maybe 1943? I don't have the book handy. He wrote it for his family just before he passed on. It mentions that Lord Haw-Haw spoke of his capture over the radio.

Rand

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