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April 7th, 1940 (SUNDAY)


GERMANY: German warships begin to leave their home ports for the invasion of Norway. The British have detected the concentration of shipping in Kiel but because they have no previous information to compare this with they fail to appreciate the significance. Some of the German units are sighted and attacked by RAF aircraft, however. The whole of the German surface fleet is committed to this operation, sailing at different times in six groups. They plan to land at Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, Kristiansand, Oslo and a small detachment at Egersund.

Heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and 14 destroyers leave Bremen at 0510 hours bound for Trondheim and Narvik, escorted by battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sail with the Narvik group but are to go on to operate against shipping in the Arctic. In the evening, heavy cruisers Blucher and Lutzow and light cruiser Emden with eight minesweepers, two armed whaling ships and three torpedo boats sail with their troops for Oslo. Around midnight, light cruisers Koln and Konigsberg, a gunnery training ship, a storeship and eight torpedo boats leave Wilhelmshaven bound for Bergen. A large part of the U-boat fleet is also involved in the campaign but they achieve very little, partly because they use torpedoes with magnetic exploders which do not function properly in high latitudes. (This error is discovered during the campaign and is later rectified.) The ships carry units of three divisions for the assault. Three more are earmarked for a second wave. Only one, 3rd Mountain Division, is regarded by the Germans as being of best quality. They have air support from 500 transport planes, over 300 bombers and 100 fighters. For this air support to be effective it will be necessary quickly to take airfields in northern Denmark and Norway itself. This difficult task will be achieved.

Meanwhile, British units are preparing to sail for their own mining operations. In the evening the main forces of the Home Fleet sail.

NORWAY: During the night of the 7th/8th, the British lay three minefields in Norwegian waters and Norway protests British minelaying operations off the Norwegian coast.

GERMANY: Two Army officers - Brigadier General Kurt Himer, chief of staff of the 31st Corps, and Lieut. Colonel Hartwig Pohlman, operations officer of Falkenhorst's Gruppe XXI are sent to Copenhagen and Oslo respectively, as secret Plenipotentiaries of the Wehrmacht to advise and assist the German ambassadors. They travel in civilian clothes, their uniforms being forwarded separately as diplomatic baggage.


UNITED KINGDOM: The prototype Blackburn B-20 crashes into the sea off Gourock Head on the Clyde in Scotland during high speed trials due to aileron flutter. Three crew escape by parachute but Flt. Lt. Bailey (Blackburn's chief test pilot) is killed.

The British Norwegian invasion fleet sails from Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. Escort is provided by units of the Home Fleet including the battleships HMS Rodney and Valiant, the battle cruiser HMS Repulse, four cruisers and 14 destroyers which sail from Scapa Flow and Rosyth.

Accompanying them is a French cruiser and two destroyers. Two more British cruisers and nine destroyers leave other duties and sail for Norwegian waters.

PANAMA CANAL ZONE: USN Destroyer J. Fred Talbott (DD-247) departs the Canal Zone to rendezvous at sea with Japanese steamship SS Arimasan Maru to provide medical assistance to a passenger on board the Japanese steamship.

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