740.0011 E.W./1–1845

The Norwegian Ambassador (Morgenstierne) to the Secretary of State

No. 29

Excellency: In a letter dated November 28, 1944, addressed to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of his Government, called the British Government’s attention to the critical situation in Northern Norway, [Page 58] and proposed an Allied military expedition with a view to cutting off the German retreat.

By a letter of December 13, 1944, Mr. Eden replied that this proposal had received detailed study and consideration by the British Chiefs of Staff, but that unfortunately the expedition was not, in the circumstances, deemed possible, owing to the fact that the necessary forces could not be trained and equipped for operations under arctic conditions within the time limit proposed.

On January 15, 1945, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs replied, stating:

In the meantime, the German forces have continued their withdrawal to a temporary main line of defence in the Lyngenfjord area, leaving only small detachments behind. In withdrawing, they have burnt the houses, destroyed all means of communication, deported the population, and, in general, laid the country completely waste. Those who have managed to escape deportation find themselves in an extremely difficult and even desperate position owing to the devastation of the country, and they are constantly exposed to German raids by sea and by air and even by land.

The Soviet forces, who liberated the Kirkenes and the Varangerfjord areas and advanced as far as the Tanafjord in pursuit of the retreating Germans, have now halted in their advance and even withdrawn from their forward positions, and the Soviet Government have informed the Norwegian Government that, as far as they are concerned, they consider that the operations in Northern Norway should be carried on by Norwegian forces.

In these circumstances, the Norwegian Government, having carefully examined the situation both in its political and its military aspects, feel that it is their duty to request that the necessary facilities should be given for sending a combined Norwegian military expedition to Northern Norway with a view to protecting the population against further enemy raids, providing them with the necessary supplies, and continuing the liberation of the country as circumstances permit.

To this end, it will be necessary to release Norwegian naval, air and military forces who are now under British operational control in accordance with the Military Agreement of the 28th May, 1941, between Norway and the United Kingdom, and to make provisions for the supply and maintenance of such forces. It will further be necessary to make arrangements as regards other military supplies that [Page 59] cannot be otherwise obtained and also as regards supplies for the civilian population.

With his letter to Mr. Eden the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs enclosed a Memorandum giving an outline of the present military situation in Northern Norway and containing a brief summary of the plan proposed by the Norwegian High Command, together with the annexes mentioned therein. The Minister also, on behalf of the Norwegian Government, requested that these proposals be submitted to the British Government for their earnest and sympathetic consideration.

I have been instructed to inform Your Excellency of the letters exchanged between Mr. Lie and Mr. Eden and to ask that the matter be submitted to the American Government for their urgent and sympathetic consideration.

Accept [etc.]

W. Munthe Morgenstterne