Изучил статьи о высадке на Шпицберген. Привожу их здесь на английском. Меня заинтеесовал вот этот абзац.
1 Although this raid was not carried out by commando Troops proper, it is included in this bulletin because the mixed
task force received typical commando training for a combined amphibious operation.
Получается что наш герой проходил тренеровку для командос,что возможно в дальнейшем повлияло на назначение его в группу десантников. Может быть эта выборка кому нибудь будет интересна.
Friday, August 22, 1941 Spitsbergen Operation1
(Note: Not all personnel assigned to Force 111 went on operation see individual records)
Section II. British Task Force, Spitsbergen Operation1
28. Strategic Value. This report deals with the combined operation successfully completed by a small task force of
Canadian, British, and Norwegian Troops in the islands of Norway's Spitsbergen Archipelago during August and
September 1941. These islands had acquired additional strategic importance after Germany began war against Russia
on June 22, 1941, because of their position on the Arctic Ocean route to Russia's northern ports (see Map No. 3).
Before this date the islands, although not garrisoned by the enemy, served the Nazis as a shipping base, a source of
coal, and a weather station.
The purpose of the expedition was to destroy coal mines and stocks of free coal, transit facilities between mines and
harbor installations, and wireless and meteorological stations; to repatriate all Russians to Archangel; and to evacuate
all Norwegians to the United Kingdom. A preliminary reconnaissance by a destroyer indicated that the landing would be
unopposed. It was believed, however, that the enemy would be able to attack the task force with 60 to 100 bombers
based on airfields 350 miles or more distant. The commander of the Canadian Corps in Great Britain said he believed
the expedition would be worth while even if the only result should be to divert a sizable force of bombers from their
regular missions, where they would do far greater harm.
Before actual training for the expedition was started, considerable preliminary planning and political conversations
between British and Canadian civil and military authorities were necessary. This preliminary phase will not be
discussed here, but it is mentioned in order to stress that a great deal of time is needed in order to lay the groundwork
for an operation of this kind.
29. Special Training. The task force was assembled in the Combined Training Center in Scotland on August 8, and it
trained intensively and realistically for the mission. This training program stressed landings on a coastline controlled by
the enemy. The Troops were divided into two main groups which took turns on alternate days at practicing boat
landings and unloadings, and going on stiff hikes through hilly terrain. They were also trained thoroughly in demolitions,map reading, and street fighting.
30. Composition of Force. The task force was mixed, consisting of 47 officers and 599 enlisted men of the Canadian,
British, and Norwegian Armies under command of a Canadian brigadier. By nationalities, there were: Canadians, 29
officers and 498 enlisted men; British, 15 officers and 79 enlisted men; Norwegians, 3 officers and 22 enlisted men.
(See Appendix A, below, for detailed composition of the task force.) In addition there were 31 enlisted men of the 1st
Maritime Antiaircraft Battery of the British Army who, because they manned the Bofors guns on the troop transport,
were considered a part of the ship's crew and not of the task force.
31. Unity of Command. Although the Canadian brigadier was in charge of all the Troops and of land operations, the
expedition as a whole was under the command of the rear admiral in charge of the expedition's naval units. The
following excerpts from the directive for the expedition show why this responsibility was assigned to the naval
"The enemy is not yet in occupation of the islands, which we hope will still be unoccupied by the enemy when you (the
brigadier) arrive. In the event, however, of your finding enemy forces in occupation, you will report to the naval
commander whether, in your opinion, you will be able to put your force ashore and carry out your task. It is fully
realized that, if the enemy is established in the islands in any strength, your force is not suitably equipped to effect a
landing in face of opposition.
"The final decision as to whether your force is to be landed will lie with the naval commander * * *.
"The conduct of the expedition will, while at sea, be the responsibility of the Royal Navy. Operations ashore will be
under your command.
"Should, however, any question arise, while your force is ashore, which affects the security of the forces under your
command or the execution of your task, your decision will be paramount; except that, should the naval commander
consider it necessary to withdraw your force before its task is complete, you will comply * * *."
32. Voyage. At 0100 on August 19 the force sailed for Spitsbergen on a transport that was escorted through the North
Channel into the Atlantic Ocean by an aircraft carrier and three destroyers.2 The commander of the force outlined the
mission to his senior officers on the first day out. On the evening of this same day the naval escort left the transport at
a rendezvous with a squadron consisting of two cruisers and three destroyers, which was to accompany the transport
On the morning of August 21 the expedition arrived at a port in northern waters where the military commander and the
naval commander drew up detailed plans for the operation. The force sailed again at 2100 on August 21, after
refueling. The commanding officer explained the purpose of the expedition to the whole force on the evening of August
22. It was on this date that the Troops learned for the first time that they were going to Spitsbergen.
The squadron was to keep another rendezvous with four naval trawlers and an oiler. In an effort to establish contact
without using radio, which might have betrayed the expedition, two planes were sent up from a cruiser on August 24.
The aircraft spotted the additional ships and by evening of that day the two naval units joined. Then they steamed
toward Spitsbergen to make a landing next morning.
Before the ships approached land, two Walrus planes of the Fleet Air Arm reconnoitered Ice Fiord (Isfjord), the great
inlet on the island of West Spitsbergen on which the most important settlements of the archipelago are located (see
Map No. 4). No enemy activity was observed and the ships moved in.
33. Landing and Operations. The first landing was made at 0430 on August 25 by five men of the Royal Canadian
Corps of Signals and four Norwegians, who seized the wireless station at Kap Linne, on the south side of the mouth of
Ice Fiord, with the cooperation of its Norwegian staff. About 0700 the large ships of the squadron steamed into Green
Harbor and anchored near the Russian mining village of Barentsburg. A landing was made there at 1000, and it was
obvious there would be no opposition, for the jetty was crowded with unarmed and curious civilians. The Russian
community, in fact, had been apprised by radio from Leningrad of the purpose of the expedition and had completed
plans for evacuation.
Other detachments proceeded in small vessels to other Russian and Norwegian settlements on Ice Fiord, one party
landing at Longyear City on Advent Bay, the chief Norwegian settlement. Here, too, the wireless station was seized. A
small party of Royal Engineers and of the Canadian * * * Regiment went to Grumantby, on the south shore of Ice Fiord,
and another party to Pyramiden, near Mount Pyramid, at the head of Ice Fiord. The latter two places were Russian
mining settlements. Demolitions of facilities and destruction of free coal was started immediately. From Grumantby 638
persons were evacuated and from Pyramiden 99 persons.
The next important mission was to take the Russian population of 1,969 persons, including 326 women and 72
children, to Archangel. The Canadians worked arduously on August 26 to unload the transport of military stores and to
load the considerable personal baggage and communal property of the Russians. About midnight of August 26-27 the
transport sailed for Archangel with an escort of one cruiser and three destroyers. A platoon of infantry, a group of
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 6 of 28
machine gunners, and a medical detachment remained on the transport for protective duties.34. Major Demolitions. With the Russians gone, demolitions in the Barentsburg area began on August 27. A disused
wireless station at Finneshavn on the east side of Green Harbor was destroyed by engineers. Two other stations,
having been active, were continued in operation throughout the 10 days of the occupation in order to avoid arousing
suspicion. Fires were started in coal dumps at many places by the the use of oil and gasoline and by incendiary
bombs. A total of 370,000 tons was reported destroyed by these means. At Barentsburg a heavy crane, trestles, frogs
and switches of the narrow-gauge railway, hoisting machinery at the New Mine, and four motor boats were demolished.
Approximately 225,000 gallons of oil stocks were burned. Numerous stores and spare parts were removed.
At Longyear City the aerial tramways for transporting coal from the three mines were disabled, the motors were
removed from the turbines in the power plant, and the wireless station was destroyed. About 50,000 gallons of fuel oil
and gasoline were poured into the sea.
Mine entrances and the surface plant and other installations at Grumantby and Pyramiden were destroyed by
explosives. At Ny Alesund on Kings Bay the power plant of a mine was destroyed, wireless masts were felled, and a
motorboat and a lighter were wrecked.
35. Evacuation of Norwegian Settlements. The concentration of the Norwegian population was going on meanwhile,
and by the time the transport returned, at 2230 on September 1, a total of 799 persons had been assembled at
Longyear City. The transport brought back from Archangel 192 Free French military personnel, including 14 officers,
who had escaped from German prison camps. The transport and her escort began the homeward journey at 2300 on
September 3, arriving in Great Britain on the night of September 7-8.
36. Signal Operations. The two chief radio stations on the islands were at Kap Linne and Longyear City and both of
them were in touch with the German-controlled station at Tromso, Norway. The Kap Linne station was put out of action
at 1800 on September 3. With the loyal and efficient cooperation of the Norwegian operators, normal transmissions to
Tromso were continued from Longyear City for the purpose of concealing the fact that any unusual event was taking
place at Spitsbergen. The usual meteorological data were sent out until August 27, when the transport had left for the
North Sea with the Russians. Then the meteorological readings were altered gradually to indicate bad flying conditions
in order to discourage German air reconnaissance.
To keep up the deception until the last possible moment a party consisting of one officer and 11 enlisted men of the
Royal Corps of Signals, a Norwegian operator, and a power-plant engineer was left behind after the withdrawal of the
main body of Troops at 2200 on September 2. This party sent its last weather report at 8 p.m. on September 3,
dismantled the station and power house, and embarked on a destroyer at 2330. Apparently the deception was
complete, for when the force was well out to sea Tromso was heard calling Spitsbergen strongly and inquiring what
37. Secrecy. Every possible precaution was taken to keep the expedition secret, particularly its departure and
objectives. In the early stages it was treated as an exercise, and only a very small group of officers at Canadian Military
Headquarters had any knowledge of it. The operation was first offered to the Canadians on July 25, 1941, but the word
"Spitsbergen" was not placed in the secret file of the expedition until August 16, 1941. After the force returned, a
communique was issued to report the results obtained.
38. Appendix A. Composition of Task Force:
COMPOSITION OF SPITSBERGEN TASK FORCE
Unit Officers Enlisted
Headquarters, *** Canadian Infantry Brigade _ _ _ _ _ _ 5 12
Signal Section, *** Canadian Infantry Brigade _ _ _ _ _ _ 2 32
*** Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 5 191
*** Company, *** Regiment, plus one platoon from *** Company _ _ _ _ _ _ 6 153
*** Light Infantry (Machine Gun) (composite detachment) _ _ _ _ _ _ 4 80
Detachment Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (from *** Canadian Field Ambulance) _ _ _ _ _ _ 3 23
Canadian Field Cash Office, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 2
Assigned to Troop Transport (from *** Regiment) _ _ _ _ _ _ 2 5
Captain ***, Royal Canadian Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Detachment, *** Corps Troops, Royal Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 4 31
Detachment, *** Docks Operation Company, Royal Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 18
Detachment, Section ***, Motor Boat Company, Royal Army Service Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 19Detachment, Detail Issue Depot ***, Royal Army Service Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ -- 6
Field Cash Office ***, Royal Army Pay Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 2
Royal Engineers (Movement Control) attached to Brigade Headquarters _ _ _ _ _ _ -- 3
Intelligence Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ 3 --
Army Film Unit _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Major ***, Liaison Officer _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Major ***, Royal Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Captain ***, Royal Engineers _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Major ***, Royal Army Service Corps _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 --
Detachment, Norwegian Infantry _ _ _ _ _ _ 3 22
Total, Canadian, British, Norwegian _ _ _ _ _ _ 47 599
Note. 31 enlisted men of * * * Maritime Antiaircraft Battery, Royal Army, manned the Bofors guns on the transport; they
are not included here, as they were presumably regarded as a part of the crew of the ship.
39. Appendix B. Diary of Newspaperman with Task Force:
Diary kept by Mr. Ross Munro, Canadian Press, of Operations of Spitsbergen Task Force
* * * * * * *
(The portions relating to events previous to actual departure for Spitsbergen are omitted.)
* * * * * * *
ARCTIC FORCE DETAIL DIARY
Tuesday, Aug. 19.
Sail in darkness, joined by 3 destroyers, * * * (aircraft carrier) with Hurricanes and some Canadian pilots. Coastal
Command bombers patrol us as we move northwest.
The Commander holds conference at which reveals we are going to a northern island under Norwegian sovereignty to
incapacitate coal-mine operations until spring and to take off 1,800 Russians and 800 Norwegians. Russians to be
taken to Archangel. Norwegian detachment and Norge Governor with us. Big job for sappers. Navy will join us later and
plans drawn up in detail.
Gunnery practice Bofors and machine gun.
In evening aircraft carrier and 3 destroyers leave us and we are joined by 3 destroyers and 2 cruisers.
Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Head steadily NW for a northern port where will refuel. Cruiser on ack ack practice in a.m. with "4" guns. Aircraft
patrols overhead. We are going to Spitsbergen island and on to Russia.
Stand 4 hours watch on bridge during day.
Smoker in evening on suggestion of Commander.
Thursday, Aug. 21.
Arrive a northern port about 0900. Br. and American warships there. U.S. air patrol.
Friday, Aug. 22.
Leave a northern port in morning light. Sea smooth but patched with fog throughout the day.
Commander holds conf. for officers and then tells all plans to men before ship's concert at night.
Saturday, Aug. 23.
Continue to move ahead at 20 knots thru calm sea and fog. OC's conf. held and detailed plans discussed.
Plan to send (individual's name) with Norwegians to Advent Bay. I will remain with Commander at Barentsburg until
Russians aboard transport.
Sunday, Aug. 24.
Convoy circles north of Bear Island, seeking trawlers and oil tanker. Aircraft takes off to search sea. Early in the
evening, other ships sighted and the whole convoy together. Stores ready and men armed, ready for landing. Final
conferences wind up plans of operations.
Monday, Aug. 25.
Steam up Green Harbor at 0700 and by 1000 Commander lands, protected by detachment of infantry. Conference held
with Russians who prepare to leave.
Spend day ashore and return to transport for supper and sleep.
Tuesday, Aug. 26.
Return to shore in launch. Evacuation continues all day long and is only completed (Russian) by evening. But this is
Canadians take over town completely and plans laid for demolitions.
One of the most fantastic days I've ever been thru.
Transport, a cruiser, and five destroyers sail at midnight.
Wednesday, Aug. 27.
Demolitions start at Barentsburg. Sapper subsection goes by motor boat to radio station down Green Bay and with
three charges, totalling 40 blocks of gun cotton, topples the radio towers, both 300 feet high.
Then demolitions carried out in a coal mine.
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 8 of 28Major * * * goes to Longyear City to start demolitions and fires there.
Thursday, Aug. 28.
Demolitions and fires continued. 150,000 tons coal fired down Bay and 75,000 gallons fuel oil destroyed. Demolitions
attempted in mine buildings and mine set ablaze. Brought under control by sappers but still smouldering.
Friday, Aug. 29.
Go from Barentsburg to Svalbard (Green Harbor) by motorboat in 31⁄2 hours journey. Pass Grumantby, blazing and
smoking like Chicago fire. Move into clean and neat Norwegian town.
Saturday, Aug. 30.
Spend all day looking over town, defense posts and learning of operations generally. Preparations made for fires and
Sunday, Aug. 31.
Attend church service in a.m. Sailors, soldiers, (Canadian and Norwegian) and Marine band march from jetty to church,
decorated with Union Jack, White Ensign and Norwegian Flag.
In p.m. fly in Walrus flying boat to Barentsburg.
Shoot roll of film and come back by air in an hour.
Monday, Sept. 1.
Turn out first copy of "Spitsbergen Arctic News." Hear that Barentsburg blazing. Expect transport tomorrow.
Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Transport at Barentsburg and loading starts. Norwegians all leave Svalbard and preparation made for fires and
During night cover 150,000-ton coal fire and the big blasts. No get to bed till 0600.
Wednesday, Sept. 3.
2d anniversary of the war. Leave Svalbard aboard destroyer at 1100 and sail to Barentsburg to board the transport.
French Troops aboard and 900 Norwegians.
Four weeks today expedition left camps.
Sail at midnight and pass blazing Barentsburg. Can see Grumantby burning down Isfjord.
Thursday, Sept. 4.
Calm seas as flotilla speeds south. Learn we are going direct and some talk we'll put in to where I could get my story
away to London.
Friday, Sept. 5.
Still heading S. and I estimate we're not far off Norwegian Coast. Some officers think we might be making another raid.
It sounds ridiculous with all these civilians aboard.
Saturday, Sept. 6.
Cruisers leave us. Sunderland flying boat and a Beaufighter spot us. We begin to feel safe again.
The Faroe islands appear in mist off starboard bow.
During evening we are in British waters and can see green and brown hospitable shores of Scotland. Tremendous
Learn we are going direct to * * * (a Scottish port). Two destroyers replaced by two others. Destroyer * * * continues
Sunday, Sept. 7.
Move down W. coast Scotland and go into * * * (a Scottish port) at night.
Anchor at 0200.
Monday, Sept. 8
Troops leave ship at 1400 and return to camps in S. England.
40. Lessons of the Spitsbergen Operation. "a. Value of the raid." The strategic importance of the islands of the
Spitsbergen Archipelago increased considerably after Germany began her war against the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics on June 22, 1941. Consequently the primary value of the operation was that it destroyed the facilities of a
potential air and naval base from which Germany could have attacked British and American shipping along the Arctic
Ocean supply route to Russia's northern ports. The expedition also deprived the Germans of a source of coal and of a
radio meteorological station which, through the Nazi-dominated radio station at Tromso, Norway, had furnished the
German Air Force with valuable weather data for bombing raids against the British Isles.
b. Special Training. Even though no opposition was expected, the members of the expedition were thoroughly trained
and conditioned for an opposed landing. The intensive course they underwent at the Combined Training Center
enabled the ground Troops and naval units to work together with a maximum of efficiency. Each group rehearsed its
role and learned exactly when close coordination was necessary. The physical hardening of the men enabled them to
endure the extremely strenuous labor necessary in carrying out demolitions, and in loading and unloading ships.
c. Unity of Command. Supreme command of the expedition was assigned to the naval commander because of the
vulnerability of the naval units to air attack, but the brigadier was in command of all Operations ashore. This
assignment of authority placed the greatest responsibility for the safety of the expedition and its ships on the individual
"the naval commander" who alone controlled the means of evacuating the comparatively small force of soldiers.
d. Composition of Task Force. The composition of the task force indicates that careful consideration was given to the
problem of providing a carefully balanced group that could handle all phases of the mission. The largest element of the
force, except for the infantry, consisted of engineers, who were charged with carrying out the main object of the task
demolitions. An adequate number of signal Troops were also to seize, operate deceptively, and finally destroy the
Spitsbergen radio stations.
The inclusion of free Norwegian Troops was a factor that tended to give greater validity to the mission in the eyes of
the Norwegian residents, who had to stand by and see their property destroyed at a time when it was not under control
of the enemy nor facing direct threat of attack.
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 9 of 28e. Security "Secrecy." From beginning to end the greatest secrecy was observed in carrying out the mission. During
the early stages the expedition was treated as a training exercise, and the Troops did not learn where they were going
until they were well out to sea, and then only on the evening before the landing. This circumspection precluded any
possibility of a leakage by gossip that might have imperiled the whole task force.
f. Security at Sea. During the most dangerous part of the voyage the troop transport was safeguarded by an aircraft
carrier and land-based aircraft patrols, as well as by the three destroyers, so that it could have maximum protection
against air attack. When distance had reduced the danger from German bombers, the aircraft carrier left the expedition
and two cruisers joined the destroyer escort as replacements. The cruisers and the destroyers were the best type of
vessels to deal with a possible opposed landing and to safeguard the transport in evacuating the Russians to
g. Signal Operations. Two phases of signal operations contributed a great deal to the security of the expedition: the
maintenance of radio silence by the naval units during the voyage, and the transmission of deceptive weather reports
from Spitsbergen as a means of discouraging aerial reconnaissance by German air units.
1 Although this raid was not carried out by commando Troops proper, it is included in this bulletin because the mixed
task force received typical commando training for a combined amphibious operation.
2 For notes on the expedition, see Appendix B, excerpts from the diary of a newspaperman, Mr. Ross Munro of the
Canadian Press, who accompanied the force.
Tuesday, August 26, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
1941-09-10 Escaped Soldiers of France returned with Artic Expedition
Escaped Soldier of France returned with Artic Expedition
(By Ross Munro)
London, September 9, 1941 (CP) – A group of French officers and men, weary after months of aimless wandering after
months of aimless wandering following their escape from Nazi prison camps, where brought to Britain by the Canadian
Details of their adventures and how they met the Canadian force cannot be disclosed tonight, but when they met the
Canadians welcomed them like long-lost brothers.
Canadian soldiers in the Allied forces which occupied the artic islands turned over some of their own clothes to the
ragged French men who expressed pleasure they were able to wear Canadian battle dress, boots, shirts and coats.
The Frenchmen came joyfully to Britain with excavated Norwegians and will be free to join the Fee French forces.
These Frenchmen were captured by the Nazis during the Flanders campaign of 1940 and they related terrifying
experiences when they met the Canadians.
It was pathetic scene. The poilus and their officers came alongside a troopship and wore tattered civilian garb.
Overcome with Emotion
They saw it was a British ship and some of them leaned from their small boats to touch the side of the vessel. A few
tried to sing “God Save the King” but broke down with emotion.
Tears of joy were in their eyes as they showered thanks upon the Canadians.
“For fourteen months we were dead.” Said a French captain, who command a tank battalion before he was captured,
“and now Canada and Britain have given us a second life.
“It is said that a man always has two fatherlands, his own and France. I say we now have our two fatherlands, France
It is the most merciful thing that ever happened to any soldier that the Canadians brough us to Britain,” said a young
officer who worked in Paris business officer before the war.
“We made our escape from German camps in dribbles and met later. We knew how the war was going and of the
Vichy situation, and we all vowed we would join the Free French forces of Gen. de Gauile and fight on against the
Nazis. Now we have got the chance and we are going to take it.”
A French poilu who fought beside the British Expeditionary Force in Flanders, and was captured in the rearguard action
protecting the Channel ports said:
“A feeling that I was free again welled up in me and nearly choked me when I saw your ship was British.”
Anther said: “The kindness of the Canadian boys in handing over their extra uniforms and all this equipment has been
“Why we thought we’d be in rags for weeks yet. And the food we got and the way you treat us is too much to thank you
Hint Russian Vialed
New York, September 9 (AP) – Advances received in New York tonight indicated some of the French refugee soldiers
taken from Spitsbergen by the British-Canadian-Norwegian expedition were landed in Russia and have gone to
Moscow, presumably en rout to join the de Gaulle Free French.
These advise gave the first indication that the expedition was carried out with Russian knowledge and perhaps co-
operation and that one or more ships in the expedition stopped at a Russian port, possibly Murmansk.
Globe and Mail – Sep 10, 1941 Page 1
Globe and Mail
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 10 of 28Monday, September 1, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Mines Equipment Taken to Britain; Poilus are rescued
Rich Property are Left Useless Should Nazis Reach Them.
(By Ross Munro)
London, September 9 (CP) Royal Canadian engineers in the Canadian raid on Spitsbergen wrecked the island’s coal
mines and set fire to vast coal and oil dumps, starting the greatest fires this correspondent has ever seen.
Rich mining properties were damaged so badly they were tendered useless. They were wrecked to remove any
possibility that they would be of value later to the German war effort.
In the spectacular fires, 400,000 tons of coal were destroyed as well as 125,000 gallons of fuel oil. Five mining
properties were put out of action.
Only tonight was the ban lifted against mention of the extent of the damage caused by the raid carried out by the
Canadians with British and Norwegian Assistance. Announcement that Canadian troops had landed on the Norwegian
island above the Artic Circle was first made last night.
Many months of intense work and expenditure of Considerable money would be necessary to make the mines useful
again. The Canadian Engineers removed millions of dollars’ worth of essential machinery and other equipment.
One of the most spectacular configurations of the whole expedition roared for four hours when a fuel dump containing
75,000 gallons of fuel oil was fired.
Barrels were pickaxed and the stream of oil set afire. Then there were great explosions as the flames raced to the
dump which burned like a great blowtorch.
These fires ere greater even than those caused by German bombs in London.
FIRE COAL, OIL IN SPITZBEGEN
Canadian sappers raced ashore as soon as shock troops had occupied. (Missing line) the island settlements. Carrying
out their biggest assignment of the war, they worked without a hitch and left the mines wrecked and unworkable.
Half a dozen of them were within fifty years of the great oil dump when it went up. They sprinted for safety like its an
100 yard dash entries and a few seconds the whole place was an inferno of scarlet flames leaping through black
smoke what curled into the Artic sky, a mile above a fjord.
Terrific blasts one after the other hurled flaming, bursting drums to the sky like gigantic fireworks. The head was
intense and fascinated Calgarian soldiers 100 yards away had to move further back from the danger of falling drums.
Settlements thirty miles away saw smoke rising from the slopes where the mines and dumps were located spreading
over the great mountain peaks. A trawler 45 miles to sea reported spotting the great black column.
At almost the same time a coal pile of many tons was lighted up with gasoline.
OAKVILE MAJOR IN CHARGE
An Eastern Ontario held company of the R.C.E. commanded by Major Geoffrey Walsh of Oakville carried out the
destruction of both dumps and mines.
One detachment of sappers immediately after landing raced for two small settlements dynamiting the mines within a
few hours. Yards explosion tossed up timbers, Chunks of steel whined through the air like shells.
Entrances to mines were destroyed and working deep in the ground turned into rubble.
Capt. J.C. Byan of Vancouver, the sappers second in command, said the coal fires will burn for years.
The largest coal dump contained 150, (xx) tons. Four hundred small fires were lit around the base of this mammoth
pile. Gasoline was sprinkled over piles of tracery wood. The sappers used a long torch to start the fire.
It was artic midnight and broad daylight. When the sun poked over the mountain tops two hours later the entire fjord
was blanketed with fog and smoke. A destroyer leaving the fjord had to navigate by compass.
Mine Extends 18 Miles.
Demolition of mining property was carried out methodically and scientifically.
One of the mines I entered before the sappers had finished their work ran eighteen miles through a mountain. It was
equipped with every modern mining device and turned out vast quantities of coal.
The rich producer had been operated by an American named Longyearbyen thirty years ago. Entrenches to the mine
shafts were 50 feet up the mountainside. A long conveyor cable carried the coal by bucket to the loading dock.
The Canadians placed hundred of pounds of guncotton at the bases of the many towers supporting the conveyer.
Toppling of the towers crippled the system.
The Norwegian miners had left the town. The only persons watching the fantastic show besides a group of Canadian
soldiers were the mine manager, the chief engineer and myself.
The two mining men accepted the end of their years of work good naturedly and expressed no objection.
Sheltered from Blasts
Before the first detonation we took shelter behind a little building serving as an officers’ mess. There we were
comparatively safe from timbers and steel cables that whipped out on all sides.
The explosion also brought crashing down a number of 300-foot pylons carrying high-tension cables the that whipped
out on all sides.
The explosives also brought crashing down a number of 500-foot pylons carrying high tension cable.
I Climbed up the steep side of the mountain, walking through the first snow of the season to watch them blow up. Far
down in the valley I saw a bright flash, but it was seconds later before the sound reached my ears. The blast whirling
up the barren cliff snapped my battle dress trousers against my legs.
Then slowly and gracefully a pylon fell, its stanchions twisting into a figure eight.
Lieut. Des Battett of Vancouver set off the mightiest blast, destroying the junction box where all the converged cables
Globe and Mail
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 11 of 28
met. This was a steel structure, thirty feet long and ten feet wide, holstered with cement and heavy timber. Explosives
were placed on all sides.
I went down into a nearby dich with the officer and sergeant Harold Vodden of Rainsville. One and lay on the edge of
the glacier as they tested the detonator. When Sergeant Vodden drove down the plunger the earth shuddered, and a
thunder clip burst on us.
I looked up, my eyes popping. Jagged metal pieces and broken cement whizzed overhead. Big steel buckets from
sagging cover cables clattered to the locks below.
Rail Junction Blown up.
In a seaplane of the Fleet Air Arm I flew to the second large settlement to cover the operations there.
The demolition work already had started under the direction of Capt. Ryan with Captain Perry Hall of Vancouver and
Port Arthur, Ont. Directing the use of the explosives.
Sappers were hustling about a small gauge railway placed about the mine property. Charges were placed in the
I joined one section headed by C.S.M. Kenny Barrett. Thetford, Mines, Quebec and Sgt. Joe Kitching, Thelford Mines,
Quebec and Sgt. Joe Kennedy, Toronto. They were working the lads inside the barnlike buildings.
Soon after the sappers quit the area there were heavy blasts. Sections of rails were flung upward, and vital sections of
the railway were torn apart.
The Canadians, hewed up and spoiling for a fight, were disappointed when they arrived and found that instead they
exchanged amenities with Norwegians and Russians. There wasn’t a Nazi in sight, not even a quisling.
This was the men who have come back from the Northern adventure freely admit. They are happy that the whole
episode involved no bloodshed and that timing and operations were carried out promptly as scheduled, but.
“There is no doubt that most of the men were bitterly disappointed there was not scraping.” Said Major Bill Bury of
Edmonton, who saw plenty of scrapping in France during the 1st war.
“When we were sent on the trip, we through it was a godsend after the monotony of waiting with no fighting.” He said.
It was disclosed today that the Canadian commander of the expedition was Brig. Arthur E. Potts of Saskatoon.
Major Bury admitted that the taking of Spitzbergen if opposition had been encountered, would have been a “Tricky Job”
“When I saw the coast of Spitzbergen with its rocky shores, dropping steeply into the sea. I personally was glad the
landing was unopposed maneuver. Had there been any opposition it would have been a taller trick job for everyone.
“Still, we should have made a crack at it and in any doubt most of the men would have been glad of the scrape” he said.
“As it was, instead of a hostile reception we were met by a sort of reception committee. We went ashore on small
boats holding fifteen or sixteen men apiece and landed on the small jetty at Barntsbung.
“You can tell what kind of reception we had when I say that after I had landed with platoon of my company”. I could not
see the men for about half an hour because they were simply surrounded by men, Women and children showering
them with gifts, such as cigarettes and candy.
Staff Sgt. G. Callany of Calgary said “We had a really marvelous time with excellent hunting and fishing. There were
pork chops for breakfast and steaks so tender you could eat them with a spoon ...
I should like to have stayed there at least a couple of months.
During the uprooting of the Railway one building caught fire. For one-hour troops fought the flames, fearing that it might
spread to the (Article ends)
Globe and Mail Sep 10, 1941
Wednesday, September 3, 1941 Spitsbergen RaidFind French In Far North
LONDON. Sept. 9 (CP) — A group of French officers and men, weary after months of aimless wandering following their
escape from Nazi prison camps, were brought to Britain by the Canadian Spitzbergen expedition.
Details of their adventures and how they met the Canadian force cannot be disclosed tonight, but when they met the
Canadians they welcomed them like long lost brothers.
Calgary Herald - Sep 9, 1941 Page 1
CalgaryWednesday, September 3, 1941 Spitzbergen Island
Has Deprived Germans of Rich Coal Deposits
Expedition Carries out Mission Unmolested by Enemy – Force Including Detachment from Alberta Strikes one of
Canada’s Heaviest Blows
Expert Norway Miners taken to Britain after giving aid to occupying Forces.
By Ross Munro
(Canadian Press War Correspondent)
LONDON, Sept. 9, 1941, "A Canadian army force has delivered one of Canada’s heaviest blows of the war against the
Germans and deprived the Nazis of the rich coal deposits of the bleak Spitzbergen islands. .
The expedition to the islands 500 miles north of Norway in the Arctic was led by Brig. Arthur E. Potts of Saskatoon. It
included smaller British and Norwegian detachments. The Canadians included a detachment from Alberta (including
many Edmontonians), a regiment from Saskatchewan, a regiment of Royal Canadian Engineers, a field company from
eastern Ontario and signal and medical units.
After two years of patient waiting behind Britain’s bristling ramparts, the hand-picked Canadian force seized the
archipelago in a bloodless occupation which deprived the Nazis of millions of dollars’ worth of fuel they had planned to
use to feed their war machine.
Unmolested by the enemy, the expedition carried out its mission, main purpose of which was to prevent the Nazis
using for their own purposes the islands with their valuable coal mines.
Canadian Reporter Describes Rapid Sortie at Spitzbergen
Canuck Force Seizes Coal Mines, Evacuates most of the Population
By Ross Munro (Canadian Press Military Correspondent
WITH THE CANADIAN SPITZ BERGEN EXPEDITION, Sept 09, 1941 — I have traveled with an allied force,
composed mainly of Canadians supported by Britons and Norwegians, Into the Arctic circle, to a strange dawn landing
that might have been a bitter and bloody battle, but which turned out to be an unopposed, peaceful sortie to prevent the
flow of high-grade Norwegian coal to the Nazi Reich. The force evacuated nearly all of the civilian population.
The Canadians came on a mission described by their commanding officer as "not an Invasion but merely a necessary
part of the common war against Germany."
Norwegians and Russians — the Russians outnumbering the Norwegians three to one —have been mining the coal in
the Spitsbergen archipelago, 750 miles from the North Pole, and they both hailed the arrival of their Allies with a
warmth and enthusiasm that contrasted with the reception of steel and gunfire the Canadians were prepared to face.
Some 1,000 Norwegians were removed to Britain, to take up with their fellow citizens serving in the Norwegian force
the fight against the Nazis.
For the Canadians It was the first taste of the "real thing. " The only thing they needed to make the expedition a
complete success was a few skirmishes with the Germans whom they expected to meet but didn't.
Everything Friendly Instead the suspense of arrival and the tension of expected opposition dissolved into sociability, as
the Norwegians challenged the Canadians to a football match — and defeated them — and the Russians, under huge
portraits of Lenin and defeated them — and the Russians, under huge portraits of Lenin and Stalin, passed around
their long cigarettes and gave the Canadians candy and other sweets.
The expedition left a British port in warm weather, amid complete secrecy, but after a few days at sea heavy clothing
As the zero hour for the arrival off the island neared, the corridors were Jammed with tense soldiers prepared to make
an assault landing against heavy opposition if needed, their guns and ammunition ready.
The men had learned but a low hours before where they were bound and what their mission was to be. The Canadian
officer commanding the entire expedition issued his order of the day 24 hours before the arrival.
"I ask you to work willingly and cheerfully in order that we may return safely knowing we have carried out our task to the
best of our ability it read. "God Save the King"
He told his men, "While it is necessary to be firm in carrying out your duties you are also to be sympathetic and assist
in convincing these people that our force is not an Invasion..."
The Canadians, supported by British and Norwegian detachments, made a sudden descent on the islands m a dawn
attack. The first landing party captured the wireless station which the residents helped them operate.
Landing parties, nosing through the mist shrouding the fjord, were warmly greeted by the populace which included
many Russian miners.
The plan had the approval of the Norwegian government in London, which was aware of the threat of a German military
invasion of Spitsbergen on top of the economic domination of Norway, and the whole scheme was carried out
completely with the Royal Navy, the fleet air arm, and detachments of British and Norwegian troops supporting the
Nazis Caught Napping
As a predominant part of the force, the Canadians manned the guns and defence positions on the Island. There was
no Indication the Germans would attempt to retaliate or even had any Idea that troops were there. One afternoon a
lone German reconnaissance plane flew along the coast but foiled to spot the Canadian units nearby.
After making their unopposed landing the Canadians lived in Norwegian and Russian towns. Everywhere they were
hospitably treated by the Inhabitants of the island, who bear no love for the Nazis.
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 13 of 28The flotilla had sailed amid wild rumors and speculation. The guesses about the destination ranged from the coast of
Norway to the Bay of Biscay but nobody picked Spitsbergen. One day out of Spitsbergen the commander gave the
officers their operational orders. It was not known whether there were Germans on the Island so plans for both
opposed and unopposed landings were pre-pared.
Find No Nazis
The Imposing flotilla reached Spitsbergen at about 6:00 a.m. after a destroyer and aircraft of the fleet air arm had
reconnoitred ahead to determine no Germans were there and the Allied landing probably would be unopposed.
Troops crowded the rails as the ship moved down the long fjord. The snow-capped mountains, possessing the
grandeur of the Rockies, reached' to misty clouds and the lower slopes were brown with moss and small growth.
At sea some signalmen had transferred to a destroyer and they made the first landing to take over a wireless station
which communicated with the Germans in Norway.
Canucks Ready for Fight
Loaded Into small boats, with a Bren gun in the bow, the Canadians armed to the teeth, were ready for a light. The
Norwegians rushed out of their shacks to greet them warmly and helped them occupy the wireless station.
The next party ashore took over another wireless station.
Following these initial sorties the commander and interpreters went ashore for an official landing at a Russian town.
In another boat was the first landing party.
The commander was first ashore, climbing to the dock aided by husky Russian miners. Officials of the town met him,
surrounded by a score of stolid Russians.
There was no sign of animosity. As the troops in leather jerkins, steel helmets and battle kit climbed upstairs to the
community centre, the miners touched their hats and grinned.
Three Canadians who could speak Russian were surrounded by throngs of miners, their wives and children.
A Norwegian major, representing the Norwegian government in London, went ashore with his troops.
The Canadians got along well with the Norwegians and the officers and men were billeted in private houses as well as
in community buildings.
Landings also were made at two other settlements.
The Norwegians, particularly the young people, seemed glad to leave Spitzbergen. They held joyful farewell parties and
a last-night dance when the Canadian, Norwegian and British 'soldiers danced with the Norwegian girls to the folksongs
and tunes of Norway.
Next morning the evacuees crowded the dock with their personal belongings. Most of them, including children were
dressed in colorful ski costumes.
One Norwegian youth said so far there had not been any want on the islands but it was necessary to use more and
more tinned foods.
“We were very concerned about how the food situation would have developed if we had not been assisted In getting
away,” he said.
Spitzbergen Climate Moderated by Drift (By Canadian Press)
Spitsbergen, where Canadian troops have landed, is an Arctic archipelago 500 miles northwest of the northern tip of
Norway and 800 miles west of Greenland.
While it is almost as far north as the northernmost of Canada’s Arctic islands. Grant's land, its climate is moderated by
a branch of the North Atlantic drift and even in January and February the average temperature is between zero and
eight degrees below. The temperature in July averages between 30 and 40 degrees above.
Spitzbergen, which is located between Greenland and Novaya Zemlya off the Russian mainland and not far from Franz
Josef land, has a total area of 25.000 square miles. It comprises West Spitzbergen, 15,200 square miles; Northeast
Land, about 6,000 square miles; Edge Island, 2,500 square miles; Barents island, 580 square miles; and Prince
Charles Foreland, the Wiche islands, Hope island and many smaller islands.
The sharp peaks which gave Spitsbergen its name rise to 4.960 feet in Horn Sund Tind in the south, 3.450 feet in Mt.
Monaco on Prince Charles Foreland and 4.170 feet In Mt. Eidsvoll In the northwest.
Spitsbergen, which many Arctic expeditions have made their base and which the Norwegians call Syalbard, was taken
over by Norway through an International treaty In 1925 after Its political control had been m dispute between Russia,
Sweden and Norway since 1870.
It is a mountainous glacier-filled land where the only trees are the polar willow, which does not exceed two inches in
height, and the rare dwarf birch and the only bushes arc the crowberry and cloudberry.
Coal mining, carried on since the start of the century and stimulated during the First Great War by the scarcity of coal
hi Scandinavia, is the principal occupation of the natives.
Used by Explorers
King’s buy was used by Amundsen in his unsuccessful flight to the North Pole in 1925 and by him and Admiral Richard
E. Byrd in their successful flights in 1926.
The sea around the Islands is shallow and ice accumulates quickly during the cold weather. However the warm drift
opens passages for vessels along the western coast which enable vessels to reach shore during most months of the
year. The fjords are frozen from October or November to April or May.
Even in the coldest months of the winter a thaw may set in for a few days but on the other hand, snow often falls in July
and August. Winds are generally light.
The population in the winter of 1937-33 was 2.653.
Press Sees Part of Plan to Get Aid to Russia
LONDON, Sept. 9.—The landing on Spitzbergen was splashed by London’s morning newspapers as the day’s biggest
story, but it broke too late for general comment.
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 14 of 28Papers which did comment saw it as part of a plan to aid Russia and the News Chronicle, listing other possibilities
arising from the landing, said it "may reasonably be deemed a small but welcome appetizer for offensive in land
operations which Britain must under-take in more than one theatre of war if she is to play her full part in easing the
heavy prolonged strain on her Russian ally.”
"Sure possession of this Arctic base should assist us in our protective patrols in the North Atlantic" the newspaper
The political correspondent of the Daily Express said particular importance was to be attached to the landing and
added Prime Minister Churchill Is expected to give further details to parliament soon and to fit the landing into a
general re-view of the progress of the war.
The Daily Express noted a coincidence in the announcement a German submarine had been captured in the Barents
sea, as announced by the Russians, and the Spitsbergen raid.
After pointing out the location of the capture was further north than any U boat had been reported, the Express said it
may have been sent out in a last-minute effort to interfere with British operations against the islands.
Spitzbergen Move Well-Kept Secret
LONDON. Sept. 9.—The Allied expedition to Spitzbergen was one of the Canadian army’s best kept secrets of the war,
and most of the troops in the camp areas did not learn about their fellow soldiers' operations until they read the
The departure was unheralded and it is doubtful whether any of the Canadians other than Lt.- Gen. A. G. L.
McNaughton, commander of the Canadian Corps, knew what was planned.
The expedition was bound to stir the hopes of all Canadians for action, judging from the reaction of those few who
learned the news after it was announced Tuesday morning.
“Those lucky stiffs," said one soldier.
Edmonton Journal September 9, 1941
Wednesday, September 3, 1941 England
Canadians Disappointed When No Fight, Says Bury
LONDON, Sept. 9. 1941 Canadians in the Spitzbergen expedition were deeply disappointed there was no fighting to be
done when they got there.
Describing, his experiences Tuesday, Maj. Bill Bury of Edmonton said "There is no doubt that most of the men were
bitterly disappointed there was no scrapping. When we were sent on this trip we thought it was a Godsend after the
monotony of waiting with no fighting.
‘'But when I saw the coast of Spitzbergen with its rocky shores dropping steeply into the sea, I personally was glad the
landing was unopposed because, had there been any opposition, it would have been a rather tricky job for everyone."
Still we should have made a crack at it and no doubt most of the men would have been glad of the scrap.
As it was, instead of a hostile reception, we were met by a sort of reception committee. We went ashore in small boats
holding. 15 or 16 men apiece and landed on the small jetty at Barentsburg.
You can tell what kind of reception we had when I say that after I had landed with one platoon of my company, I
couldn’t see the men for about half an hour because they were simply surrounded by men, women and children
showering them with gifts such as cigarettes and candy.
Soldiers "Got on Well, He said that despite their lack of knowledge of the language, the soldiers got on well with the
"Most of the time we could understand each other perfectly by means of sign language." Maj. Bury said. "One of the
officers became friendly with a local man who was first classed as a sign language interpreter. The officer called him
"George." Whenever there was any trouble about trying to understand one another he used to yell for George and
within two minutes the whole language tangle would be straightened out.
"Barentsburg seemed dry from the liquor point of view and the only drinks the men had were the rum issue and what
we had taken ashore. We met with nothing but kindness on every hand. All officers and men came away with presents
given them by the inhabitants. I received a barometer.
Were Given Cigarettes
"Most of the time we couldn’t smoke our own cigarettes because the inhabitants insisted on giving cigarettes to us.
They were mostly of American manufacture. On the first day the inhabitants led our whole force. Among our men were
two full-blooded Indians, "Bit Chief" and "Little Chief."
Staff Sgt. G. Carbury of Calgary said: “We had a really marvelous time, with excellent hunting and fishing while we
were there. There were pork chops for breakfast and steaks so tender you could eat them with a spoon. An open air
cafe was rigged up on a band stand and white-coated waiters served us. We lived like kings. I should like to have
stayed there at least a couple of months."
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 15 of 28Wednesday, September 3, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Town Insisted on Best for Canadian Raiders
(By Ross Munro)
London, September 29, 1941 (C.P.) – The Spitsbergen raid was the Canadian Corp’s best-kept secret of the war.
Before the raid was well under way the word “Spitsbergen” apparently was unknown in army conversation.
The first time it was used in public was when the Canadian force with its British and Norwegian detachments, was over
the Arctic Circle, heading through misty polar seas. It was evening, and Canadian troops crowded nosily into troopship
dining-room for a concert to begin.
They did not know yet where they were going. Before them was a blackboard, chalked with a map of an island and
some meaningless names.
The padre, Capt. F. Arthur Smith of Trenton, Ontario, concert Director said, “The brigadier has a few words to say to
you before we start.” Brigadier Arthur E. Potts of Saskatoon came forward and told the men”
“You are all puzzled where we are going. I have not been able to tell you sooner. It has been a question for security
We are going to occupy an island to deprive the Germans of the use of valuable coal mines. We are going to
For two seconds there was not a sound. Then a burst of cheering erupted through the ship as the troops applauded
their brigadier. With his swagger stick, he outlined the plan of the raid on the map of Spitzbergen drawn on the
Soldiers had the “Stuff”
“We will land here and here and here” he said, pointing to spots on the rugged fjords. “We will blow up mining
properties at this place and at this spot. It will be difficult. But I know you have the stuff in you to do it.”
His explanation was followed by another outburst of applause.
The most tense moment of the expedition was where the first group landed at the Russian town of Barentsberg, not
knowing whether they would be met by Russian hand Shakes or German bullets.
Brigadier Potts was first ashore. He met the Russians on the quarry and started up the long flight of stairs leading to
the town. Between him and the protecting detachment several officer sand myself eyed the buildings for possible
snipers. I noticed one officer unhook his holster flap. But we all felt a little chastened when we found there were no
Germans in the town.
A Montreal officer sail loudly at the top of the stairs: That reminds me of climbing the stairs to the top of Mount Royal.”
Barentsberg was untidy, like most mining towns, but its peculiarity was the heavy small of cau de cologne in every
building and shack. The Russians were found of this perfume and imported cases of it.
“If I get back to Canada and go out with my gal.” complained one young officer, “and if she uses even a little of this
kind of perfume on her hair, I’ll call her the Barentsberg Blossom and send her home in a taxi.
Evacuate Russians First.
The Russians were evacuated immediately and the whole Communist town had to be taken over and adjust to army
The troops found time to wander around and salvage all kinds of souvenirs. High Russian boots, fur caps, sheep skin
coats, musical instruments, candy, cigarettes and chess sets. – all left by the Russians. One soldier found a Charlie
Chaplin movie short with Russian captions and an if off on a projector one night for an amused audience of Canadians.
Within two days, the troops established excellent messes in a movie house and school and were catering fresh pork
and beef, butchered by farmer soldiers glad of the chance to handle stock again. The officers mess was in the
commissar’s house – somebody called it Joe’s house – and under huge pictures of Stalin and Lenin, they ate meals
which improved every day.
At Longyearby or Svalbard, the Norwegian settlement, the troops lived even better than at Barrentberg. They had their
own rations brought from England, as well as food the Norwegians gave them.
The Norwegians did everything in their power to make the Canucks feel at home. The officers said they would look
after their own mess and have batmen cook the meals – not a very appealing prospect.
“No. No.” said a Norwegian town official. “You shall have a real mess fit for Canadian officers. You shall have a
Norwegian waitress and cook and the best Norwegian food. We will make you feel at home”.
Several nights we entertained Norwegians in the mess. First there was a group of young people, miners and their
wives and girlfriends. One man was a brilliant guitar player – he was church organist and a mine foreman – and he
would play Norwegian fold songs, accompanying the Norwegians as they sang. Then he would pick up an English
refrain. Before the night was over, we had him playing “Alouatta” and American swing.
Another night the civil governor or the community, the mine director, and the chief engineer of the mine – the town’s
biggest men – came to the mess and everything was amiable as a smoker in Canada.
While we were in Longyearby there were ten weddings of Norwegian couples wishing to be married on Norse Soil in
their 20th year old church. Their honeymoon was the ocean voyage to Britain.
Norwegian Steam baths were a novelty. For weeks none of us had been able to have a bath, and to go into those
steam chambers and really get clean again was a welcome feature of the town.
The Globe and Mail Sep 30, 1941 – Page 7
Globe and Mail
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 16 of 28Tuesday, September 9, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
(Photo - Brig. A.E. Potts)
SASKATOON, Sept. 9 (CP) - Brig. A. E. Potts (above) of Saskatoon, who was in command of the Canadian
Spitzbergen expedition, is a soldiers’ soldier. He rose from the ranks in the first great war to his present position as
commanding officer of a first division brigade. The brigadier came from Edinburgh, where he received his early
education at Heriots school and later obtained his Bachelor of Science degree at the
University of Edinburgh. His parents still live in Edinburgh. Potts was an agricultural professor at the University of
Saskatchewan before this war.
(Photo Ross Munro)
(Map of Spitsbergon)
Hardy Norwegians and Russians Wrest Coal from Icy Spitzbergen
The Spitzbergen archipelago has a total area of 25,000 square miles and is only 750 miles from the North Pole. The
chief island, West Spitzbergen, is a plateau with many deep fjords.
Pack ice prevents access to most of the islands except for a few months in the year. However, vessels can approach
the western coast during most months. The fjords are frozen from October to May.
In the winter of 1936-37 the islands’ inhabitants totaled 2,466, of whom 654 were Norwegians and the remainder
The coal mines have been worked by both Russian and Norwegian miners. In 1936 they had a combined output of
707,117 tons of the best quality steam or bunker coal, but this has been considerably increased.
Informed sources pointed out that airfields could be constructed on the islands in good weather to guard any seaborne
supplies to Russia from the United States.
The islands also have a potential value as a stepping-stone naval base although the ice-locked harbors in a long winter
limit their usefulness as compared to Iceland.
While Spitzbergen is almost as far north as the northernmost of Canada's Arctic islands, Grant's Land, its climate is
moderated by a branch of the North Atlantic drift, and even in January and February the average temperature is
between zero and eight degrees below. The temperature in July averages between 30 and 40 degrees above.
Spitzbergen comprises West Spitzbergen, 15,200 square miles; Northeast Land, about 6,000 square miles; Edge
Island, 2,500 square miles; Barents Island. 580 square miles; and Prince Charles Foreland, the Wiche Islands, Hope
Island, and many smaller islands.
The sharp peaks which gave Spitzbergen its name rise to 4,960 feet in Horn Sund Tind, in the south; 3,450 feet in Mt.
Monaco. on Prince Charles Foreland, and 4.770 feet in Mt. Eidsvoll, in the northwest.
Spitzbergen. which many Arctic expeditions have made their base, and which the Norwegians call Svalbard, was taken
over by Norway through an international treaty in 1925, after its political control had been in dispute between Russia.
Sweden and Norway since 1870.
It is a mountainous, glacier - filled land, where the only trees are the Polar willow, which does not exceed two inches in
height, and the rare dwarf birch, and the only bushes are the crowberry and Cloudberry.
Calgary Herald 1941 Sep 9 Page 1 and 2
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 17 of 28
Tuesday, September 9, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
CANADIANS TAKE SPITZBERGEN
Churchill Indicates Army Garrison Left
Mines Wrecked, Oil Dumps Fired by Invading Allied Forces
[A map of Spitzbergen and an eyewitness report of the Canadians’ sojourn on the Islands appear on page 2.]
LONDON, Sept. 9 — (CP) — Royal Canadian Engineers wrecked the Spitzbergen coal mines, setting fire to vast coal
and oil dumps.
The island’s rich mining properties were damaged so badly they were rendered useless.
Five mining properties were put out of action, more than 400,000 tons of coal set afire and 125,000 gallons of fuel oil
The ban against mention of the extent of the damage caused by the raid carried out by the Canadian forces was lifted
tonight by British authorities without explanation.
LONDON, Sept. 9 (CP) —A statement by Prime Minister Churchill in the House of Commons today that ‘‘the Allied
front now runs in an immense crescent from Spitzbergen in the Arctic ocean to Tobruk in the western desert” was
interpreted by some people to indicate that the Allied expedition to the northern islands left a garrison there after
destroying the coal workings.
Another indication a garrison remained after the rest of the expedition returned to Britain was seen in eyewitness
accounts of the unloading of vast stores of ammunition and quantities of supplies on the
islands. Since there was no fighting, it was assumed by some observers that the ammunition and supplies were for the
use of a force to be left to protect the islands.
By ROSS MUNRO
[Canadian Press War Correspondent]
LONDON, Sept. 9 — A Canadian army force has delivered one of Canada’s heaviest blows of the war against the
Germans and deprived the Nazis of the rich coal deposits of the bleak Spitzbergen islands.
(London authorities, for reasons of security, refused to divulge whether the entire raiding party returned to Britain^ or
whether a garrison was left in Spitzbergen.)
The expedition to the islands 500 miles north of Norway In the Arctic was led by Brigadier Arthur E, Potts of Saskatoon.
It Included smaller British and Norwegian detachments. The Canadians included a de-tachment from Alberta, a
regiment from Saskatchewan, a regiment of Royal Canadian Engineers, a field company from Eastern Ontario and
signal and medical units.
After two years of patient waiting behind Britain’s bristling ramparts, the hand- picked Canadian force seized the
archipelago in a bloodless occupation which deprived the Nazis of millions of dollars’ worth of fuel they had planned to
use to feed their war machine.
Unmolested by the enemy, the expedition carried out its mission, the main purpose of which was to prevent the Nazis
using for their own purposes the islands with their valuable coal mines. The war office announcement said it had been
decided to send a military force to the Arctic “for various
purposes’’, but the Spitzbergen landing was the only activity disclosed.
The expedition returned to Britain with expert Norwegian miners and their families who welcomed the troops of
occupation and gave them valuable information.
Between 700 and 1,000 Norwegians normally live in Spitzbergen. All were evacuated so there would be no reprisals
such as followed the Lofoten raids last March. No one was left behind.
The occupying force swept around Germany’s northern flank in the spectacular offensive and struck with such speed
and accuracy the Nazis were caught off guard.
The only war correspondent covering the raids, I sailed 5,000 miles from Britain to Spitzbergen and back to witness
this most northerly military operation of modern history.
Bristling with arms and eager for the fight they never got. the Canadians landed at half a dozen communities on the
bleak islands in full battle kit, only to be welcomed to Russians working Soviet mines in the archipelago, and by the
Today this special force is the toast of the Canadian Corps. Some of the troops had twice before been disappointed
when expeditions they were on to Norway and France last year either were cancelled or recalled, but this time they
went all the wav and finished the job.
The settlements were garrisoned, and operation of the coal mines stopped immediately. Wireless and meteorological
stations in communication with Norway and the Germans who dominated the Island's economy were taken over
Many of the specially-picked troops were trappers and hunters from the Canadian north and others were rugged
farmers accustomed to the rigors of outdoor life in the cold Canadian winters.
Officers and men stood up well under the strain of heavy work and long hours, and the only casualty was a soldier
injured in an accident He is rapidly recovering.
Apart from this casualty a medical officer had to operate on another soldier for appendicitis.n
See Page 2-SPITZBERGEN
Spitzbergen Taken Over From Page 1
In a trim Norwegian hospital, the operation was completed successfully and the patient recovered.
Members of the staff which helped direct the dangerous occupation included Major Scott Murdock of Vancouver, and
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 18 of 28Lieut. Bob Proctor of Edmonton, one of Alberta's former leading golfers.
Major Bill Bury of Edmonton commanded the Alberta detachment with Capt. Dick Carter of Edmonton second in
The engineers were under Maj. Geoffrey Walsh of Oakville. Ont., whose second in command was Capt. J. C. Byrn of
Vancouver. Capt. Peter Wilson led the signalers and the Saskatchewan detachment was under Capt. Bert Thompson
and Capt. G. F. P. Bradbrooke, both of Saskatoon.
Major Archie Donald of Edmonton was officer commanding the troops aboard ship and the ship’s adjutant was Capt.
Len Dawes of Edmonton.
OTHER ALBERTA SOLDIERS
Further officers included Lieuts. Bill Cromb and Ed. Newton, both of Edmonton; Harry Smith of Medicine Hat. and
Victoria, and Roy Couch of Lavoy, Alberta, all of the Alberta Regiment; Lieut. Michael Webber of the Ottawa Signals
and Lieuts. Winston Mair, North Battleford, and W. E. Walsh of Melfort, both of the Saskatchewan Regiment.
Heavily armed detachments effected landings along the forbidding fjords. The first landing was made by Lieut. Webber
and four other Ottawa signalmen. They went ashore over smooth waters in a rowboat from a destroyer and landed on a
promontory. They took over a wireless station.
AT RUSSIAN SETTLEMENT
At a big Russian settlement, a detachment that provided protection for the brigadier in charge of the expedition in his
first landing was commanded by Maj. Bury, the commander of the Alberta de-tachment, which included
Cpl. Joe Flynn, Edmonton
Ptes. Don Russell, Edmonton
Larry Ryan, Edmonton
George Taylor, Coronation
Wilf Whitford, Fort Saskatchewan
Alf Tousignant, Grand Prairie
Colin White, Spirit River
Ed Beaudry, Bonneville.
Three Canadians familiar with the Russian language were a great help in this settlement. They were Ptes. K. Sobkiw
and H. Shatzko of Edmonton, and Sapper George Wowk of Lethbridge, Alta., who acted as interpreters.
At the Norwegian settlement Lieut. Cromb led his Alberta men ashore. Among them were Sgt. Bunny Allen and Cpl.
Don Gower of Edmonton, and Pte. Andy Erickson of Camrose.
Lieut. Smith landed on the beach at a small Russian settlement. Soldiers with him included Pte. J. T. A. Miller of
Bulwark. Alberta, and Pte. D. Trimble of Slave Lake. Alberta.
Commanding another landing party at a Soviet town at the foot of a mountain was Lieut. Couch. His men were Cpl. J.
.1. Mackie of Athabasca, Alberta: Pte. R. M. Davidson of Alexo, Alberta; Pte. J. Barr of Wetaskiwin and Pte. H. B.
Atkinson of Windsor.
Staying on board the troopship all the time to handle stores and guard them were two Canadian detachments and
several additional non-commissioned officers.
C.Q.M.S. Andy Hawreliak and R.S.M. J. C. Anderson, both of Edmonton, did yeoman service.
Among the Alberta regiment troops staying aboard and dubbed "Alberta Marines" were R.S.M. All Symington and Pte.
George Austin, a northern trapper, both of Edmonton, and Ptes. R. K. McEachern, Viking; Fred Paupst, Rahab, and J.
Krokolowich, Waskalenau, another Russian speaker.
Tuesday, September 9, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
In Arctic Grab
By A. C. CUMMINGS
LONDON. Sept. 9 - Occupation of Spitzbergen by Canadian, Norwegian and British troops will go far to dislocate the
German high command's plans for an Arctic campaign designed to seize some of the richest mineralized country in the
world, that of the Kola peninsula in North Russia.
Though the Nazis have been able to obtain all the iron ore from Sweden they require. And take it, to Germany
unmolested across the Baltic Sea, they lack other war metals which are to be found in enormous quantities around
Murmansk. Operations in Northern Finland have consequently been directed mainly against Murmansk which in a few
years has developed from a collection of wooden shacks to a city as big as Ottawa.
More important still, Spitzbergen can be used as an Allied base to check Nazi submarine operations in the Arctic as
well as to help Russia Indirectly by endangering German and Finnish forces on Soviet territory.
Calgary Herald Sep 9, 1941 Page 1
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Tuesday, September 9, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
1941-09-09 Canadian Troops in Norway Lose at Soccer
(By Ross Munro)
(Canadian Press War correspondent)
With the Canadian Spitzbergen expedition, September 9, 1941 (Tuesday) (CP Cable) – In the midst of a tense war
occupation, in which Canadian and Allied troops were landed on the Spitzbergen Islands, Canadians took time off for a
game of soccer against the rugged Norwegian miners of the North, and received a 6-1 pasting.
The game was played on a regulation sized field beside a fjord, where glaciers reached down to the sea and seals
It was the strangest setting in which any Canadian soldier soccer player has ever dribbled a ball.
The Canadians wore colorful sweaters loaned to them by the Norwegians. The Norsemen turned up in complete soccer
equipment, looking like Cup finalists.
More than 200 excited Norwegians watched the game and gave the outplayed Canadians sporting support.
Sapper Ernie Gagnon, Deschenes Mills, Quebec, Scored the Canadian Goal. Other members of the team were:
Frank Mills, Wolfe Island, Ontario
Sapper Bill Dickinson
Sapper Bill Tankard of Kingston, Ont.
L/Cpl. Alex Kerr, Owen Sound, Ont.
Sapper Jerry McCurdy, Cleveland, O.
Sapper Bert Gay, Victoria, B.C.
Sapper Bob Turned, Calgary
Sapper T.H. McManus, Ottawa, and
Sapper Ken Mason, Sutton, Ont.
A British sailor was the other player.
The Globe and Mail 1941-09-09 Page 14
Globe and Mail
Wednesday, September 10, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
“Potts’ Polar Pirates” Prized North Pole Hotel Stickers
With the Canadian Spitsbergen Expedition, September 9 (CP) – “Potts Polar Pirates was the nickname tagged on the
Canadian raiding expedition to Spitzbergen under the expedition of Brig. Arthur E. Potts of Saskatoon, who was a
professor of agriculture in the University of Saskatchewan in peacetime The nickname stuck throughout the operation.
Baggage stickers from the North Pole Hotel in Spitzbergen were prized souvenirs. On the stickers is the picture of a
polar bear on an ice floe and up in the corner is the note “Northernmost hotel in the world Just 1,001 miles from the
Privat Dan Spicer of Grande Prairie, Alberta waited impatiently for months to see some war action and finally he went
to Spitzbergen, But While his mates were sleeping around looking for Nazis who weren’t there, sightseeing and
gathering solitaires, Private Spicer was in the Norwegian hospital appendicitis, by Capt. J.E. Andrew?. Patient Spicer
Capt. Don Young of Ottawa one of the medical officers with the expedition cared for several of Russians and got along
with them in fine fashion. “Dr. young, he’s great man “Was one Russian comment.
The Russians gave several shots guns to the Canadians, one of them going to Capt. R.A. Smith of Trenton, a popular
The best story of the expedition established Capt. Perry Hall of Vancouver and Port Arthur, Ont. who plugged a small
fox with his revolver from a distance nearly 400 yards.
Globe and Mail Sep 10 1941 Page 3
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Wednesday, September 10, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Spitzbergen Invasion Chief No Brass-Hat
No fuddy-duddy or brasshatted soldier is Brigadier A. E. Potts, of Saskatoon, who commanded the Canadian
expedition to Spilzbergen. Norway.
A soldier’s soldier (he enlisted during the last war as a private). Brigadier Potts ("Pottsy" to his friends), is an out-and-
out outdoor man. a golf maniac (and a low-eighties shotmaker), and has an irrepressible sense of humor.
Summer before last the Brigadier took his family to their cottage up in the northern Saskatchewan woods at Waskesiu,
the annual "lobstick” golf tournament was on.
One night we were seated quietly before a blazing fire in the brigadier’s cottage. He gazed reflectively into the flames
for a few moments, then withdrew his big pipe slowly from his mouth, turned to me and said:
"Tomorrow they are going to play the mixed doubles in the "lobstick." I think you and I ought to team up."
I tried to say something, but by then the brigadier had swung into action.
"Let’s see. " he said, "you’re the tall, willowy type; you need a wilting sort of name. I've got it, 'Miss. Geraldine
Smackum.’ Be here tomorrow morning at a quarter to eight and I’ll have everything you'll need."
Next morning, I was a little late in getting up. but I strolled over to the brigadier’s cabin without worrying, because I felt
certain the whole thing probably would have blown over by that time.
1 did. that is, until I got within a couple of hundred yards of the brigadier’s front door. Then I saw the brigadier standing
"You’re late." he said Over one arm he had a sweater, over the other H skirt. Stockings dripped out of one pocket;
assorted handkerchiefs, bandannas and gloves from another.
"Well, we’re all set," said the brigadier. "Just be coy and leave the rest to me ”
I’m sorry to confess I got cold feet: but don't think the brigadier wouldn't have gone through with it.
Lieutenant W. E. "Ted" James, Former city police motorcycle officer, just can’t seem to get away from this investigation
Ted. who is back in town for a few days, was in charge of many a police traffic and accident investigation in the old
days. He has even more
investigations to make now. because he is investigating officer for the 5th Canadian Army division.
He arrived back in the city to see all his old friends. Tuesday morning, and will stay here until Saturday, with friends at
2337 Third avenue northwest.
His visit, however, is really an official one. Its purpose? investigation.
Calgary Herald Sep 10, 1941 Page 9
Thursday, September 11, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Spitsbergen Evacuee Tells of Leaving Northern Home
LONDON, Sept. It (CP)—A minor's sturdy wife who traveled from Arctic Spitsbergen to Britain
under the protecting wing of the Canadian expedition to the remote Norwegian islands, told today In touching phrases
how the fear they were experiencing a Nazi invasion gave way to joy at discovering their unexpected “Visitors”
were Canadians. Norwegians and Britons.
Mary Olsen, ST. mother of a 13-year-old daughter, described the emotional conflict she and other Norwegians
experienced — relief that friendly troops had come, sadness at leaving long-established homes.
“What we did was right. We know it," she said.
But It was hard doing it all the same, she admitted. They locked up their homes and its belongings. Their pet husky
had to be shot because he could not be taken along
"I had one last look at all the things I left behind," she said. "I carried little treasures from Norway. And or (her husband)
locked the door and took the key. I never looked back.
"Now I am glad to be here,"
Calgary Herald Sept. 11, 1941 Page 14
Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 21 of 28Saturday, September 13, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Troops Reaching England Include Manitoba Unit
By DOUGLAS AMARON
(Canadian Press Staff Writer]
A BRITISH PORT. Sept 13 Cheered by news of the Canadian Spitsbergen expedition and hoping there will be more
such raids "so we can get some action too," fresh detachments of the Canadian 3rd Division arrived today.
A Manitoba rifle regiment, most of whose members are Winnipeggers, and signals and ordnance troops comprised the
latest recruits for the overseas army. A majority o' the signalmen are from Prince Edward Island and the ordnance
personnel from all parts of Canada.
The Canadians, who remained on their ship overnight so they would make the rail journal to their barracks in daylight,
were welcomed by Maj.-Gen, P. J. Montague, senior officer of Canadian military headquarters in London, and the
brigadier commanding the brigade which their arrival completed.
The bronzed soldiers lining the decks let out a great cheer when they saw the red hats oi the general and the brigadier.
Gen. Montague, who comes from Winnipeg, welcomed the troop- on behalf of Lt.-Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton,
commander of the Canadian Corps, and told the men, whose departure from Canada was delayed because their slow
moving ship could not keep up with transports which brought other 3rd Division troops last month, "it’s time you were
"You are with good people, you've come from a good city," he said. "I welcome you to England and I hope you have
Three rousing cheers echoed across the decks and these were redoubled when the brigadier, also a native of
Winnipeg, told the men they would get five days' landing leave within a few days.
The Canadians, whose ship was part of a huge convoy, had an uneventful crossing.
"The only thing we saw was an iceberg," said Lieut. Jeff Nicklin of Winnipeg, a Blue Bombers' all-star and now the
Calgary Herald Sep 13, 1941 Page 1
Monday, September 15, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Of Arctic Raid
LONDON. Sept. 15 (CP) King Haakon of Norway received Brig. Arthur Potts of Saskatoon in audience today at the
Norwegian legation and thanked the Canadian officer for the job his troops did in the Spitsbergen raid
The brigadier had been requested to come to London to tell the King personally of the King personally of the
Spitsbergen expedition and the evacuation of Ron Norwegians.
"We had quite a long talk and the King was very interested in every aspect of the operation." Brig. Potts told the
“He wanted to know particularly how the people felt about leaving their homes in the north and he was interested in the
demolition we earned out
"Just before I left, he extended his most cordial thanks for the job the Canadians had done."
Calgary Herald Sep 15, 1941 Page 5
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Saturday, October 11, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Britain Training Shock Troops in Guerrilla War, Sea Landings
LONDON, Oct. It (CP) - A war office disclosure that Britain has organized a special corps of shock troops skilled in sea
landings and guerrilla warfare was taken in some quarters today as foreshadowing more and bigger raids upon
German occupied soil.
The foray last March in which 11 German ships were sunk and 225 men captured on the Norwegian island of Lofoten,
was cited as the type of work the new striking force might be called upon to execute.
Details of the corps' extensive field exercises were disclosed in London newspapers at a moment when sections of the
public and press were demanding to know what Britain has done, is doing or plans to do to relieve German pressure
The announcement caused speculation that the new corps, or the announcement Itself, might have been intended to
divert German troops front the drive toward Moscow.
The rigorous regime of the corps - forced marches on short rations, the use of all infantry weapons, and small boat
work outs - suggested it was meant primarily for invasion.
London newspapers freely asserted the shock troops — called "commandos" — would be those who "one day may
storm enemy beaches.' but there was no speculation as to when that day might be
Neither was there an indication of the size of the corps. The normal corps is made up of two or more divisions, perhaps
30,000 to 60,000 men.
The King recently Inspected these troops practicing beach landings, raids and frontal assaults on the shores of a
Small, selected groups of Canadian officers will participate in commando training. They had a preview of the powerful
invasion equipment which His Majesty saw recently during an inspection. There were special armored barges, fast
motorboats, tank and infantry landing craft built for a continental thrust, and the Canadians did some of their training for
Spitsbergen in those. Canadian gunners learned how to load and unload field guns and anti-aircraft guns and move
them rapidly from transports to the shore.
Calgary Herald Oct 11, 1941 Page 1
Saturday, November 15, 1941 Spitsbergen Raid
Alberta troops Helped Russians
LONDON. Nov. 15 (CP) It was disclosed today that Canadian troops accompanied 2,000 Russian miners to Russia
when the latter were evacuated from Spitsbergen while the strategic Arctic archipelago was occupied by Canadian
troops several weeks ago. The Canadians returned after leaving the Russians at Archangel.
The officer commanding the troops on the ship. Major Archie Donald of Edmonton, and his adjutant, Capt. Len Dawes
of Edmonton were in charge of the Russians.
Calgary Herald Nov 15, 1941 Page1Print Date 2020-12-23 Page 23 of 28
Thursday, December 17, 1942 Spitsbergen Raid
Death Decrees Don’t Alarm Free French
FREE FRENCH ARMY HEAD-QUARTERS IN BRITAIN. Dec. 17 (AP) - The young airman who had been sentenced to
death finished a second plate of soup. His appetite was even better than usual.
A tanned 26-year-old captain who expected to be sentenced to death yawned in boredom.
These two men were typical of the 60.000 soldiers, sailors and airmen who fight and die in Britain, Libya, New
Caledonia and Africa for the Free French.
They are a varied company. Scar-faced foreign Legionnaires fight side by side with 17-year-old university students.
Dark Senegalese march shoulder to shoulder with American youths brought up in New Jersey and Chicago.
They have one thing in common. If Laval's Vichy government uncovers their identity they are sentenced to death by a
special court — sentence to be carried out if and when Vichy can lay hands on them.
The young captain who expected to be sentenced to death had escaped from a Nazi prison camp. His name must
remain secret but his father is well known in Canada and the United States.
POSED AS ITALIAN
Captured during the fall of France, the captain escaped by posing as an Italian laborer. With two companions, one of
whom was from Alsace Lorraine and spoke German fluently, he made his way 400 miles to the Russian border from
inside the Reich.
The trio spent five months in a Russian prison and then were taken to Spitsbergen where they
met the Canadian Army expedition which in September. 1941, destroyed mines and other resources of the island. The
Canadians brought them to Britain.
What driving force makes these men risk death hundreds of times to reach a place where they can fight and face
The captain — a professional soldier — said: "I must fight till France is free—that's my life."
A 17-year-old sergeant from Paris with a grim look on his youthful face replied:
"I just couldn’t stand seeing those Germans on the streets anymore."
Calgary Herald Dec 17, 1942 Page 13
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