5-025 Memorandum for General Handy, January 18, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 18, 1945

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

January 18, 1945 Washington, D.C.


Subject: Equipment of Norwegian Ground Forces.

The Crown Prince of Norway called on me today and stated that there was being taken up in London with the British Foreign Office and this afternoon with our State Department, the proposition of certain Norwegian naval, air and ground forces having their equipment completed and being transported to the Finnmark region in extreme northeastern Norway where they already have a small naval force. He stated that the matter of the naval force was already under discussion with the British Admiralty, that the air force of one squadron of Mosquitoes, now on coastal patrol duty, required the agreement of SHAEF, and that the ground force (the equivalent of a brigade of 5,000, with 4,375 of these 75% equipped), now on duty in northeastern Scotland, also required the release by SHAEF.

Specifically what is wanted from us is our cooperation on the Combined Chiefs of Staff, with the direction to SHAEF to release the units referred to and the agreement on the U.S. part to complete the equipment of the 5,000 ground troops and to assure their maintenance. All these troops will have to operate under Russian control so long as the Russians dominate in Norway. The Norwegians wish to be able to approach the Russians with an assured basis for the statement that they have these troops and can maintain them and desire to place them in the Finnmark region subject to over-all Russian control.

While I have not the definite data regarding the equipment required for the ground force, which seems to be our only concern, I gather that what is urgently required are the following items: heavy winter clothing, complete; 100 2 1/2-ton trucks; 100 weasels;1 100 motorcycles; and certain minor items to make good present deficiencies. They also need skis of which I rather imagine we have a number on hand, and ski shoes and possibly clothing.

The ground force is now equipped with the British 25-pounder, so unless the gun were changed the supply of ammunition would have to be furnished by the British.

Please have someone go into the details of their desires with the proper Norwegian officer and ascertain for me in advance of a formal presentation about what is wanted and what the chances are of our being able to help them.2

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 091 Norway, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. The Weasel (U.S. cargo carrier M29) was a tracked vehicle used over snow or rough terrain that carried one thousand pounds of cargo and a crew of two.

2. Major General John E. Hull, head of Operations Division, replied that there was no objection to furnishing noncritical items. (Hull Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 20, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 091 Norway].) On January 20 Crown Prince Olaf presented his plan regarding operations by Norwegian forces in Upper Norway (Finnmark) at a War Department meeting conducted by Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy. Hull reported that “Crown Prince Olaf fears that if the Norwegians do not start operations soon, the Russians might accuse the Norwegian government of failure to act and then proceed to occupy Norway themselves. He stated that the Norwegians are anxious to establish a base in Upper Norway which will be independent of the Russians so that eventually U.S. and British forces can be invited to participate in the liberation of Norway.” Since the operation involved forces under British operational control, the matter would be presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff. (Hull Memorandum for General Marshall, January 22, 1945, ibid.) While the C.C.S. appreciated the urgency to alleviate conditions in northern Norway and to assist the government in assuming control of liberated areas, the proposed plan presented military objections when considered with requirements for current operations. (Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, 9 vols. [Washington: GPO, 1967-69], 5: 57-63.)

Norway did receive wheat and rye seed for spring planting. See Marshall Memorandum for Operations Division, March 27, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-073 [5: 103]. Soon after the German surrender, General Marshall congratulated Prince Olaf on his return to Norway and “the release of your country and its fine people from the German yoke. I will always remember our conversations and regret that there was so little that I could do to be of assistance. Therefore I feel all the more grateful for the fact that Norway is free again.” (Marshall to Prince Olaf, May 17, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 35-37.

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