A stela beside a fjord
Image source: French Ministry of the Armed Forces
In April 1940, Paris and London decided to send an expeditionary force to Norway to cut off Germany’s supplies of Swedish iron ore, which passed through the port of Narvik.
France deployed a naval force (Force “Z”), commanded by Rear Admiral Derrien, and a brigade of Chasseurs Alpins, under the command of General Béthouart, reinforced by Legionnaires of the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion and Polish elements.
This Franco-British operation was a success that could not be exploited. With the launch of the German offensive in the west (10 May 1940) and the rapid deterioration of the military situation following the breakthrough at Sedan, the order was given to evacuate the expeditionary force and abandon the port of Narvik.
The 122 men killed in the operation are buried in the French plot at Narvik cemetery, where stands a memorial in the form of a stone cross, unveiled by General Béthouart on 11 July 1954. The stela shown here was erected on the spot where the French troops landed, on 28 May 1940.
Source: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Find out more:
A reference text on the Norwegian Campaign, by Tristan Lecoq, inspector-general of national education
A series of resources on the 80th anniversary of 1940