Operation Nightlight (ii)

'Nightlight' (ii) was a British unrealised plan for an invasion of Norway (1944/45).

Elements of the plan were later incorporated into the Allied occupation of Norway by Major General E. N. Bols’s British 6th Airborne Division and Colonel Edwin Walker’s US 474th Infantry (Separate) after the 12 May surrender of the 300,000 German troops in that country. The US element of this Allied force totalled some 5,000 men including a force headquarters and the 99th Battalion (Separate) with Norwegian-American personnel. The core of the US force comprised men who, up to 5 December 1944, had been on the strength of the Canadian/US 1st Special Service Force. At the disbandment of the 1st Special Service Force the Canadians left the unit, while 37 officers and 583 other ranks joined the US 82nd Airborne Division, and eight officers and 345 other ranks joined the 101st Airborne Division.

On 6 January 1945 the rump of the 1st Special Service Force was redesignated as the 474th Infantry (Separate), and comprised 684 officers and men of the original 1st Special Service force, 434 officers and men of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions, 900 officers and men of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) comprising Norwegian Americans, 156 officers and men of the 552nd Anti-Tank Company and 1,064 infantry replacements. On 1 April 1945 the 474th Infantry joined the US 3rd Army, and following in the wake of this army’s advance carried out security missions until VE-Day on 7 May. The 474th Infantry then departed northern France on 4 June, the bulk of the regiment by sea in tank landing ships to reach Norway on 7 June, but the 2/474th Infantry by air to reach Norway on 8 June.

The US force then became Brigadier General Owen Summers’s Task Force 'A', which was deployed in and around Oslo, the Norwegian capital, to disarm and repatriate the German forces in the Oslo Zone, which was all of southern Norway excluding the areas of Bergen and Mandal areas.

The British 6th Airborne Division took charge of disarmament in the rest of Norway excepting the far north, where the area of Narvik and Kirkenes came under Norwegian control.

The 1 and 2/474th Infantry settled into evacuated German installations at Drammen 27 miles (43.5 km) to the south-west of Oslo on the Drammenfjord, the 99th Battalion moved into a camp at Smestad on the edge of Oslo, and the regimental headquarters took over the old Rosa Hotel. It was not until a time late in July that screening camps had been readied and shipping made available for the repatriation process. The first Germans were sent home early in August and thereafter the 474th Infantry controlled the repatriation of almost 100,000 disarmed men in German ships for return to Bremen, Kiel and other north German ports. Early in October orders arrived for the withdrawal of all US troops from Norway, and on 15 October the regiment embarked in the transport Dominican Victory and departed Oslo’s port. The ship reached New York on 25 October, and the 474th Infantry was disbanded two days later.