Sweden in World War II - across borders
From the autumn of 1940 there was an increased number of refugees that wanted to serve Norwegian authorities abroad, or were on the run from the Germans. [s10]
However, it was not so easy to travel on to Britain. There was a German corridor between Sweden and Britain, and no normal traffic with aircraft or ship.
One Norwegian offical who was in Sweden when the Norwegian government left Tromsø for Britain on 7 June 1940, made a longer journey to London. From Sweden via among others the Soviet Union, Japan and the USA. [s01]
He was not the only one who travelled from Norway to Britain this long route, that took at least 2-3 months. Totally some 400 Norwegian soldiers were sent this route. [s36]
The Norwegian government contacted USA in October 1940 to purchase four large passenger planes, for transport of Norwegians from Sweden to Britain. There were also discussions with Sweden and Britain. After several problems in Britain, the traffic began in mid August 1941. Among the problems were the British demands that the British could send all the mail they wanted to send, and use half of the passenger seats. The Norwegians had hoped to transport at least twelve Norwegians per trip, but this sometimes was cut down to two Norwegians. When this traffic finally began, Norway had ordered two more planes from the USA. After a long period before these arrived in Britain and were prepared as the British wished, it was discovered that they only could take four passengers - at the most two Norwegians. Then the development of the war made Britain to take back the first two planes ... and flights could not be made when the planes needed service, and not when there was a full moon so the Germans easily could see them ... So, the refugees and other Norwegians who flew from Sweden to Britain were not so many. [s36]
(The Norwegian government was deeply dissatisfied with several of the British activities, which seemed to be less an effort to transport soldiers and goods to Britain - and more an effort to prepare for British competitive strength in shipping and aviation resources after the war. But, I will not describe that more on this web site. [s36] )
Later it became impossible to travel via Japan. A new route was via Sweden and Finland, south in the Soviet Union to the Black Sea, Turkey, Persia, ship around south Africa, across the southern Atlantic Ocean to the USA - and for some across the northern Atlantic Ocean to Britain. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, also this long route was stopped. [s36]
Britain later promised to help Norway to get larger planes. The USA did not want to sell any planes unless Britain said ok, and earlier they didn't say ok. Four Dakotas were ordered and delivered, but the British promises had changed. Until December 1943 not a single Norwegian refugee had been transported from Sweden to Britain with these aircrafts. [s36]
However parts for British fighters and bombers were freighted by the planes. [s36]
Some Norwegian officials also made journeys between Sweden and Britain, for various meetings in London [s36]. There were also meetings in Stockholm and other places.
After a meeting with among others the Norwegian king and prime minister in March 1944, Churchill ordered that all Norwegians who it was possible to transport to Britain - should be transported there. [s36]
From the autumn the situation had improved so much that Norway could fly all Norwegians, where there were special needs to get them to Britain, from Sweden to Britain. At the end of 1944 2,100 Norwegians had been transported with the Norwegian-governed aircrafts. During the whole war some 5000 Norwegian passengers were airlifted from Sweden to Britain. [s36]
In May 1943 a Swedish delegation went to Britain for trade negotiations. The Swedish civil aircraft was shot down by the Germans on its return flight to Sweden. The delegations return journey took around 12 days, with aircraft to the Faroe Islands and a Swedish ship (in the safe-conduct traffic) to Göteborg. [s58]
2013-07-24. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss