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Narvik kommune
Missing image

County Nordland
Landscape Ofoten
Municipality NO-1805
Administrative centre Narvik
Mayor (2004) Olav Sigurd Alstad (Ap)
Official language form Bokmål
 - Total
 - Land
 - Percentage
Ranked 29
2,023 km²
1,905 km²
0.62 %
 - Total (2004)
 - Percentage
 - Change (10 years)
 - Density
Ranked 51
0.41 %
-2.3 %
Coordinates Template:Coor dm

Data from Statistics Norway (

Narvik is a city in the county of Nordland, Norway. The municipality of Narvik covers large areas outside the town itself.

Missing image
Iron ore is extracted in Kiruna and Malmberget, and brought by rail to the harbours of Luleå and Narvik.
(Borders as of 1920–1940.)

Narvik is one of the most northerly towns in the world, with a railroad connecting to Kiruna, in Sweden, but not to Bodø, which is at the northern end of the rest of Norway's railroad network.


Narvik in World War II

The port of Narvik proved to be strategically valuable in the early years of World War II and the city became a focal point of the Norwegian Campaign. In 1939 Germany's war industry depended upon iron ore extracted in Kiruna and Malmberget in Sweden. During the summer this ore could be shipped to Germany from the Swedish port of Lulea on the Gulf of Bothnia. However, when the Gulf of Bothnia froze during the winter, most of the ore had to be brought from Narvik. The city of Narvik is linked by rail to Sweden, but not to other cities in Norway. As a result, Narvik serves as a gateway to the ore-fields of Sweden which cannot be easily reached from southern Norway over land. Then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill realized that control of Narvik meant stopping most German imports of iron-ore during the winter of 1939/1940, which would be highly advantageous to the Allies and might help shorten the war. Churcill proposed laying a minefield in Norwegian territorial waters around Narvik or possibly occupying the town with Allied troops. The Allies hoped that they might be able to use an occupied Narvik as a base from which to secure the Swedish ore-fields and/or to send supplies and reinforcements to Finland, then fighting The Winter War with the Soviet Union. Plans to lay a minefield around Narvik or to seize the town met with debate within the British government since both plans would mean a violation of Norway's neutrality and sovereignty.

Finally, on April 8, 1940, the British Admiralty launched Operation Wilfred, an attempt to lay minefields around Narvik in Norwegian territorial waters. Coincidently, Germany launched its invasion of Norway (Operation Weserübung) the next day. During this invasion, ten German destroyers, each carrying 200 mountain infantry soldiers, were sent to Narvik. The British Navy quickly dispatched ships, including the battlership Warspite, to Narvik and and during the Battles of Narvik took control of the coast, destroying the German destroyers that had brought the invasion force to Narvik as well as other German ships in the area.

The first convoys of Allied soldiers were sent under Major-General Mackesy to occupy Narvik on April 12. The Admiralty urged Mackesy to conduct an assault on Narvik from the sea as soon as possible. However, Mackesy felt that the German harbor defenses were too strong for such an invasion to take place. The Admiralty argued that a naval bombardment of Norway would enable the troops to land safely, but General Mackesy refused to subject Norwegian citizens to such a bombardment and instead chose to land his troops near Narvik and wait until the snow melted to take the city.

Coordinated by General Carl Gustav Fleischer, Norwegian, French, Polish and British forces recaptured Narvik on May 28, 1940. This is also considered the first allied infantry victory in WW2. However, by this time the Allies were losing the Battle of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk was underway. Since the invasion of France had made Scandinavia largely irrelevant, and since the valuable troops assigned to Narvik were badly needed elsewhere, the Allies withdrew from Narvik on June 8 in Operation Alphabet. Without support from the Allied task force, the Norwegians were outnumbered and had to lay down their weapons in Norway. This was not a complete capitulation; the Norwegians kept on fighting from abroad.

Narvik during World War II
Narvik during World War II

People from Narvik

External links

Further Reading

Churchill, Winston S. The Second World War: The Gathering Storm (Volume 2). Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1948.

Municipalities of Nordland Missing image
Nordland coat of arms

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ca:Narvik de:Narvik nl:Narvik nb:Narvik nn:Narvik pl:Narwik sv:Narvik


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