Operation Tunnel (i)

This was the British immediate sequel to ‘Brick’ for the evacuation of the last elements of Brigadier H. de R. Morgan’s 148th Brigade from Åndalsnes on the west coast of Norway (1/2 May 1940).

The task involved the removal of the troops who had been last in contact with the Germans as they came down to Åndalsnes by train and truck late in the evening of 1 May. Åndalsnes was bombed during this day, though only sporadically, and in the course of the afternoon the two anti-aircraft ships in the harbour were forced by the weight of attack to put to sea pending the night’s operations. At about 19.00 a single raider dropped incendiaries on Veblungsnes, a village opposite Åndalsnes on the southern bank of the Rauma river, but the height of the intervening headland prevented the fires from illuminating the quay.

Vice Admiral G. Layton’s force (light cruisers Birmingham and Manchester and destroyers Delight, Diana, Inglefield, Mashona and Somali) suffered several attacks on the way in. One destroyer was detached to collect the party which had been landed at Ålesund and a second put in at Molde to collect Major General Otto Ruge, the Norwegian commander-in-chief, for transfer to the Narvik front. The rest of the force reached Åndalsnes a little before 23.00, and within one hour two of the destroyers had ferried nearly 1,300 men to the two cruisers. In the belief that only the rearguard remained, Layton ordered his ships out as quickly as possible. Of the two anti-aircraft ships (light cruiser Calcutta and sloop Auckland left behind, one found accommodation for 755 men of parties which had been overlooked in the confusion of departure, and the other took the true rearguard of 240 men, who were embarked in seven minutes.

By 02.00 the quay was deserted and the Gudbrandsdalen campaign was over.