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Royal Marines Burnout Gloster Gladiators on Frozen Lake Airstrip Norway

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Norway

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1940

Date/s: 30 April 1940

Westcott and ourselves stayed behind to pick up 150 Royal Marines who were waiting on a lonely beach to be embarked.

This we had to do in boats which was a long task and just got them off by 03.00 / 1st May when it was just daylight. The German planes were due any moment now!

The Marines had been told to embark at 04.00 but there would have been no-one there at that time if we hadn’t found them. Apparently the Germans were having it all their own way.

The RMs were fed up at the RAF and told us the following true tale;

Glorious flew off 18 Gladiator pilots for patrol round Andalsnes and they landed on a frozen lake. (This could be Gloster Gladiator Mk. II, of 263 Squadron RAF, Lake Lesjaskog)

Gloster Gladiator Mk. II, of 263 Squadron RAF, Lake Lesjaskog Norway, © IWM HU 2874

Next morning over came the Germans and bombed the lake and planes to hell. 7 were left while the RAF men ran for cover and didn’t move the planes. They had let their engines freeze up. Next day two crashed taking off so 5 were left.

These RMs had to guard, and actually burnt them the same day we picked the troops up. There was no-one to fly them.

Burnt out Gloster Gladiators of No 263 Squadron, RAF on the frozen surface of Lake Lesjaskog after being destroyed by the Germans. © IWM HU 2873

Well, we left in a hurry down the fjord – 36 miles to open sea and broad daylight!

We were all standing on the bridge wondering why the Luftwaffe hadn’t turned up and the First Lieutenant remarked, “nasty black things, these Heinkels” when rat tat tat came the machine gun fire and we looked aft over the mainmast and there was a German diving at us. One could see the tracer bullets coming at the bridge but the range was too far and they fell into the sea astern.

These journal entries were made by John Adams (later Rear Admiral ) when serving as Sub Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Walker during the Norwegian campaign of 1940. [1]

The Luftwaffe attacks the new RAF Gloster Gladiator base at Lake Lesjaskog outside Andalsnes throughout the day. In between, they give some support to the British at Kvam.

In the morning, a single Heinkel He 111 of Stab/LG1 drops its bombs and destroys four Gladiators and injures three pilots, including Squadron Leader John William Donaldson (concussion).

At 13:05, another bombing attacks destroys four more Gladiators. Two of the Gladiators get airborne and bring down a Heinkel at 14:00 south of Vinstra, near Dombås.

They then damage another Heinkel from 6/LG1, wounding two of the crew. The last five useable Gladiators are then withdrawn north to a temporary landing ground at Stetnesmoen, near Åndalsnes. The pilots then shoot down a Heinkel of II/LG1 which had been attacking British shipping near Andalsnes.

Another of the Gladiators is destroyed during the evening.

The Luftwaffe attacks and sinks three British armed trawlers at the base at Andalsnes: HMS Bradman, Hammond, and Larwood. [2]

27 Apr 1940 - KG 54 together with KG 26 and G 1 furnished a total of 61 He 111s for attacks on Aandalsnes town and harbour, shipping in Moldefjord and Romsdalsfjord and other targets - KG 30 also sent 34 Ju 88s to take part in these attacks.

30 Apr 1940 - KG 54 together with KG 4, KGr. 100 and LG 1 sent 65 He 111s to attack shipping found between Aalesund and Aandalsnes following up on an early morning recce flight by an aircraft of KuFlGr. 506. [3] Related Royal Marines 'Dits'

Reference/ Read More

[2] World War Two Daily - Norway Air Operations

[3] Luftwaffe Data - KG54

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