Operation Governor

This was a British naval diversionary sweep, essentially a larger repeat of ‘Camera’, by elements of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser’s Home Fleet off the south coast of German-occupied Norway in an attempt to keep the focus of the German leadership drawn to an area well away from Sicily and ‘Husky’ (i) (26/30 July 1943).

The Allied force in this undertaking, designed to persuade the Germans that a major landing was about to be made in Norway, were primarily British and comprised five groups in the form of Force ‘A’ (battleships Anson and US Alabama, fleet carrier Illustrious, and destroyers Milne, Mahratta, Meteor, Musketeer and US Emmons, Fitch, Macomb and Rodman); Force ‘B’ (battleships Duke of York and US South Dakota, light carrier Unicorn, light cruiser Bermuda, and destroyers Onslow, Grenville, Impulsive, Matchless, Obdurate, Obedient, Saumarez, Scorpion and Ulster); Force ‘C’ simulating an invasion convoy (destroyers Savage and Ripley, trawlers Cedar, Hawthorne, Larch, Lilac, Oak, Sky, Switha and Willow, LCI[L]-167, and motor launches ML-252, ML-286, ML-442, ML-473 and ML-445); Force ‘D’ (light cruiser Belfast and destroyers Oribi and Orwell); and Force ‘E’ (heavy cruisers Kent, London and Norfolk).

The ships departed Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands group on 26 July, steamed east to operate off the Norwegian coast on 28 July, and returned to base by 30 July. German aircraft shadowed and reported the various Allied forces, but the Germans refused to be drawn into any major surface action.

Even so, ‘Governor’ was deemed a success, and in the air Illustrious’s Grumman Wildcat fighters shot down two or three Blohm und Voss Bv 138 reconnaissance flying boats while Bristol Beaufighter heavy fighters of Air Vice Marshal A. B. Ellwood’s No. 18 Group of Air Marshal Sir John Slessor’s RAF Coastal Command in a parallel effort shot down another two and damaged two more.