Operation Open Door

British naval undertaking to rescue the Norwegian inhabitants of Sørøya, a large island at the mouth of the Altafjord in German-occupied northern Norway (15 February 1945).

Learning that the Germans were besieging the Norwegians, who had been sheltering in the island’s mountain area for three months, Rear Admiral R. R. McGrigor, commanding the Arctic convoy operations at this time from a forward base at Kola inlet in the northern USSR, sent the fleet destroyers Zambesi, Zealous, Zest and Canadian Sioux, which were part of the escort for the JW.64 and RA.64 convoys, to effect a rescue. In full daylight, the warships raced down a fjord 8 miles (13 km) long, embarked 525 Norwegians, and departed before the German navy’s group of armed trawlers and patrol craft guarding a neighbouring fjord became aware of the Allied destroyers’ presence. The rescued Norwegians were brought back to Kola inlet and distributed on board various ships sailing in the RA.64 convoy for delivery to the UK.