Operation Stratford

'Stratford' was a British unrealised plan for a landing in southern Norway by five battalions of Major General P. J. Mackesy’s 49th Division to provide a southern flank guard for other Allied operations farther to the north (winter/29 February 1940).

The plan was part of a proposed development of Allied operations into the Scandinavian theatre in an effort to forestall German moves in the same direction, and was approved at the beginning of February 1940. One French demi-brigade of Chasseurs Alpins and one British brigade of regular troops were to be shipped into Narvik before advancing up the main railway line to occupy the important Swedish iron ore fields at Gallivare. A mixed force of two or three brigades was to be sent to the support of the Finns against the USSR in the 'Talvisota', but for logistical reasons was to operate no farther to the south than the head of the Gulf of Bothnia; the 49th Division was to occupy the southern Norwegian ports of Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim in 'Stratford'; and one regular and two territorial British divisions were to be withdrawn from the British commitment to France for operations in Sweden against any German countermove.

The plan thus envisaged the delivery of 100,000 men and 11,000 vehicles to Scandinavia in an operation taking 11 weeks. The key to the whole concept was Trondheim, where Allied troops were to be landed as fast as the Norwegian roads and railways could allow their onward movement to their operational areas.

'Stratford' was scheduled to begin on 28 February, but Norway was determined to maintain her neutrality as long as possible (especially after the 'Altmark incident' of 16 February, in which the British destroyer Cossack had halted and boarded the German supply vessel Altmark in Norwegian waters to free British prisoners taken by the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee), and 'Stratford' was cancelled on 29 February.