When the Germans invaded Norway in April 1940, around two thirds of the country’s gold reserves had already been moved to the United States, but the remaining third was still in the national bank in Oslo, where it was one of the main targets of the German invasion. However the German plans for Oslo were badly disrupted when the cruiser Blücher was sunk in the approaches to the city. This gave the Bank time to put in place its evacuation plans. Over the next few weeks the gold was moved north, first to Lillehammer, then to Molde and finally all the way to Tromso in the far north of the country. This took place against a background of the failed Allied intervention in Norway, the valiant Norwegian attempts to defend their country, and a constant hail of German bombs.
This is a really comprehensive look at the topic. We start with a detailed look at the sinking of the Blücher, which disrupted the German attack on Oslo and gave the bank time to get the evacuation under way. We then follow the gold transports as they moved slowly north by land and sea, while the various sailings from Norway to Britain each get a chapter of their own. There is also a look at what happened to the gold after it arrived in Britain, how it was used, and its fate after the war.
Most of the book takes place within Norway, and follows the efforts of the national bank staff to move the gold. They faced a series of obstacles - German bombing, poor roads, terrible weather, suspicious Norwegians who had to be convinced that they weren’t fifth columnists or even Germans in disguise, and al against the backdrop of the often chaotic British intervention. Despite all of these problems the gold reached safety in Britain, where it helped give some credibility to the Norwegian government in exile.
Ironically the only thing missing was a determined German effort to actually find the gold. One relatively junior officer set out with his own column early in the invasion, but ran into trouble, the commander was killed, and his men gave up. By the time the Germans in Oslo actually realised the gold was missing, it was behind Allied lines, so the main danger came from bombing rather than capture by ground troops. Even so this is a fascinating story, and the people involved in the evacuation could never be sure that the Germans weren’t close behind (or on some occasions ahead).
1 - The Sinking of the Blücher April 8-9th
2 - The Flight & Fight Begins April 9th
3 - The Bank and the Bullion
4 - Flight to Lillehammer April 9-10th
5 - Allied Help Arrives
6 - Move the Bullion!
7 - Andalsnes
8 - HMS Galatea
9 - The Road to Molde April 24th-29th
10 - Molde - Capital of Norway
11 - A Daring Rescue April 29th
12 - D/S Driva April 30th
13 - The Road From Molde
14 - Welcome Arrivals
15 - HMS Enterprise
16 - The 'Sealed Cargo' Arrives in the UK
17 - Pimpernel Gold
18 - Atlantic Sailings
19 - The Issue of Gold
Author: Robert Pearson