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Norwegian Campaign

by actiondesksheffield

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John Hodgson
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06 May 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of John Hodson, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Norwegian Campaign
John Hodgson

Yesterday I watched with interest the BBC D Day to Berlin Docu Drama. I don't remember how many times this has been shown, but it is always of interest to the remaining veterans who took part in this historic day. I took part in the D Day Landings with one of the assault 3rd Division.

We have also seen the Dunkirk evacuation and Western Desert war film footage.

However to a few Veterans who are left, all in our 80s, there was a campaign in which the 49th West Riding Division took part. In fact the Barracks where this Division had its HQ was almost opposite to where your present Leeds Studio is was called Harewood Barracks.

We had been mobilised on the 18th April 1940, about this time German Troops, without a shot being fired, occupied Norway.

As most divisions had been sent to France, this local Division was supplied with sheepskin coats which we could hardly walk in. By train we went to Gorock in Scotland. We got off the train here and walked up to the nearby jetty where a British Cruiser HMS YORK was berthed. We went straight onto the ship and sat down on the deck when we could find some space. As the last man boarded, the ship moved off. None of us had even been on a ship as it was buffeted with high waves.

We were not told our destination; we were told to go below decks in small groups where we were give a mug of hot tea - very welcome. We returned to the open decks crouching on the wooden surface. We dozed off a little. Proper sleep was not possible. After about 22 hours HMS York slowed down as we entered the Norwegian Port of Andalsnes. As we disembarked a voice in English told us, "We have had 19 air raids today." We did not have long to wait for the 20th.

I was Corporal in the 146 West Riding Field Ambulance. It was our job to give first aid to the wounded, then send them to the rear areas as quickly as possible where they would be evacuated back to the UK.

We did not see any German soldiers, but saw plenty of German planes which bombed and strafed us throughout the long hours of daylight. Anti aircraft fire was supplied by the Royal Navy with their Pom-Pom Guns.

We were evacuated on HMS Sheffield on the 4th of May. On returning to Scotland I was told our CO wanted to see me. He had not been to Norway as only about 20 of us from the Unit went. I did not know what to expect, his words to me, "What is your date of birth Corporal?" I told him 30.10.21. He told me I should not have gone to Norway. I was posted to Edinburgh Castle the following day.

A pity the Norwegian Campaign has never been mentioned by the media.

I should mention we were a Territorial Army Division, just part time soldiers. On my 19th birthday I was called by the CO of the castle and told I was being posted. I was sent to be attached to an Anti Aircraft Unit on the Orkney Islands...Sanday.


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