• Si Biggs

RM Fortress Unit - Norway 1940

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: Bardufoss


Period/ Conflict: World War II


Year: 1940


Date/s: April - June 1940


During World War II, RAF Gloster Gladiators (No. 263 Squadron RAF) and Hawker Hurricanes (No. 46 Squadron RAF) operating from Bardufoss Air Station played a vital part in keeping the Luftwaffe at bay during the fighting on the Narvik front in the April–June 1940 during the Norwegian Campaign.


The airfield at Bardufoss was provided Anti Aircraft cover by the Royal Marines Fortress Unit.



Every effort was now being concentrated on preparation of the Bardufoss and Skaanland aerodromes, even operations taking second place in importance.


At the same time, the mounting of A/A guns was being pressed on. The speedy and efficient work of Lieutenant Colonel H. R. Lambert, D.S.C., R.M., and his men of the Royal Marine Fortress Unit in mounting guns under difficult conditions merit the highest praise.


Hurricane Mk I PO-M is sheltered at Bardufoss where No 46 Squadron RAF assembled to begin operation on 26 May 1940. At 08.30hrs, S/L Kenneth BB "Bing" Cross took off from HMS Glorious in PO-X to assemble at the Norwegian airfield. During patrols over the land and naval forces at Narvik, the pilots accounted for at least 14 enemy aircraft, despite poor runways and primitive servicing and repair facilities.

Group Captain Moore, R.A.F., who commanded the Air Component was most assiduous in the aerodrome development.


The Fortress Unit, the first formed up in Orkney in 1939 for the defence of Scapa Flow, was a self-contained body of marines who could defend a Naval base against attack from land, sea or air.


Men trained and operated anti-aircraft weapons, searchlights, boom patrol vessels (to prevent submarine incursions), and provided infantry to fight an enemy attack ashore.


A final denial plan was also envisaged where explosive demolition would used to deny the base to the enemy.


The fortress units were later formed into the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organizations (MNBDO):


Fortress Unit I: Formed 8/1939 as defence units to install and man guns for Scapa Flow and other Naval bases. Also served in Iceland. Disbanded 1/1941 when absorbed into MNBDO II.


Fortress Unit II: Formed 5/1940. It became the L & M Group of MNBDO II.

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