Complete History of Narvik

View of Narvik

Narvik is the third-largest municipality in Nordland region, Norway, by population. The administrative center of the city is the town of Narvik. Some of the notable villages in the municipality include Ballangen, Ankenesstranda, Bjerkvik, Beisfjord, Elvegård, Bjørnfjell, Kjøpsvik, Skjomen, Hergot, Håkvik, Vidrek, and Straumsnes.

The history of Narvik as a town started in the Bronze Age. The tribes were hunter-gatherers in the past, and they gradually moved towards farming. Sadly, not very much is known about these people, but the Vikings stayed in this area.

Narvik was promoted as an all-year ice-free port for the Gällivare iron mines and Swedish Kiruna. The history of the present-day Narvik started in the 1870s CE when the Swedish government started to understand the importance of the iron ore mines in Kiruna in Sweden. Obtaining iron ore from Kiruna had one vital problem in that there was no proper Swedish port. The nearest Swedish port, Luleå, had flaws. It was covered with ice all winter, it is remote and very far from Kiruna, and it allows merely medium-sized bulk freight vessels. Narvik offered a port that is ice-free thanks to the warm and 0pleasent Gulf Stream and is generally large, allowing boats of practically any size to anchor, up to 682 ft (208 meters) long and 89 ft (27 meters) deep. The Gällivarre Aktiebolag (Swedish company ) constructed the Iron Ore Line (Malmbanan) to Riksgränsen on the Norway–Sweden border. The Norwegian Ofotbanen railway line links Narvik to the Swedish entry point.

World War II

The Narvik port proved to be strategically relevant in the early years of World War II, and the city became a focal point of the Norwegian Campaign. In 1939, Germany’s war production depended upon iron ore mined in Malmberget and Kiruna in Sweden. During the summer season, this ore could be sent by freight ship to Germany through the narrow Baltic Sea via the then Swedish port of Luleå on the early-modern Gulf of Bothnia.

However, when the Gulf of Bothnia froze during the winter, more shipments of the ore needed to be transported through Narvik and, from there, down the west coast of Norway to Germany. The town of Narvik is connected by rail to Sweden, but not to any other cities in Norway. As a result, Narvik works as a gateway to the ore fields of Sweden that cannot be easily stretched from southern Norway via land. Winston Churchill realized that the administration of Narvik meant blocking most German imports of iron ore during the winter of 194 CE0. This would be helpful to the Allies, and it might help curtail the war. Equally as important, later in the war, German warships and submarines based there threatened the allied supply line to the Soviets.

On 12 April 1940 CE, Britain sent the first guards of Allied soldiers under Major-General Pierse Joseph Mackesy to Narvik. The Admiralty compelled Mackesy to lead an assault on Narvik from the sea as soon as possible. However, Mackesy held that the German harbor defenses were too strong for such an invasion. The Admiralty maintained that a naval attack of Norway would allow the troops to land safely. Still, General Mackesy refused to dominate Norwegian citizens to such a bombardment. Instead, he chose to land his forces near Narvik and wait until the snow melted to take over the city.

Organized by the Norwegian General Carl Gustav Fleischer, Norwegian, Polish, French, and British forces retook Narvik on 28 May 1940 CE. This is also deemed the first Allied infantry victory in World War II. However, by that time, the Allies were succumbing to the Battle of France, and the retreat from Dunkirk was underway. Since the Nazi German attack of France had made Scandinavia mostly irrelevant, and since the valuable troops committed to Narvik were greatly needed elsewhere, the Allies retreated from Narvik on 8 June 1940 CE in Operation Alphabet.

This was not an absolute submission to the Germans since the Norwegians kept fighting guerrilla operations inland.

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