Operation Audacity

This was a British unrealised plan to land a major raiding force at Ålesund, on the west coast of German-occupied Norway, with the object of drawing a substantial portion of the German navy’s surface warship strength from German to the north into the Norwegian Sea for a decisive defeat at the hands of Admiral Sir John Tovey’s Home Fleet (February 1942).

Created largely at the instigation of Prime Minister Winston Churchill by Commodore the Lord Louis Mountbatten’s Combined Operations Headquarters, the plan was one of a series of what Churchill deemed 'small raids' intended to keep the Germans off balance and, by suggesting that these raids were merely precursors to a large-scale invasion, also to persuade Adolf Hitler to maintain and indeed increase the number of German divisions in Norway and therefore unavailable, at least in the short term, for service elsewhere.

'Audacity' was considered in terms of an attack on Ålesund by a force of 1,500 commandos supported by three cruisers and four destroyers, in a 10-hour landing. The Chiefs-of-Staff Committee was, as usual, concerned about Churchill’s enthusiasm for such projects, especially as they almost invariably targeted areas which could not be reached by British warplanes, and the plan was therefore abandoned after the British learned that the German battleship Tirpitz had already arrived at Trondheim in Norwegian waters.