Operation Provident (ii)

This was a British naval sweep by elements of Admiral Sir Henry Moore’s Home Fleet against German coastal shipping off the west coast of German-occupied Norway (26/29 November 1944).

The objects of the undertaking were to bomb and destroy U-boat depot ships, to mine Stoff, Meløysund and Ramsøyund, to make a fighter attack on Bardenfoss airfield, to bomb the ferry service between Banaasjoen and Rørvik, and to attack any shipping found between Lødingen and Rørvik.

Under Moore’s command, Force 7 departed Scapa Flow on 26 November with the fleet carrier Implacable, light anti-aircraft cruiser Dido, and destroyers Myngs, Scorpion, Scourge, Zephyr and Canadian Algonquin and Sioux of the 23rd Destroyer Flotilla. On the following day carrierborne aircraft attacked German coastal shipping off Bodø and Rørvik, and well as destroying the depot ship Karl Meyer. Later in the same day the carrier’s aircraft visited the area off Lødingen and Kristiansand, sinking three German supply ships totalling 3,135 tons and also three minesweepers, as well as damaging a number of other coastal vessels.

On the following day Implacable’s Fairey Firefly warplanes sighted and attacked Oberleutnant Herbert Brammer’s U-1060, complete with the crew of U-957 that had been damaged in a collision, being transported back to Germany. Caught on the surface off central Norway, the U-boat was badly damaged and an escorting minesweeper sunk, and the U-boat was forced ashore with many dead and wounded on board. U-1610 was then destroyed two days later by Consolidated Liberator aircraft of Air Chief Marshal Sir William Sholto Douglas’s RAF Coastal Command.

On 27 November Force 7 linked with Force 8 (escort carriers Premier and Pursuer, heavy cruiser Devonshire, and destroyers Saumarez, Venus, Vigilant, Volage and Zealous of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla for farther-ranging and more intense air attacks on German coastal shipping off Norway, an on 27 November attacked a convoy off Masjoen, to the north of Namsos, sinking the Norwegian ships Korsnes and Rigel. Unknown to the British, these ships were carrying Soviet prisoners of war, many of whom were killed. The attack also sank two Flak ships which were escorting the convoy, and sank the freighter Spree at anchor.