The 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in Norway April 1940

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by Steve Foster, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, Here ares some photographs I took of the field near Rindheim farmhouse where the battle took place on 23 April 1940. I spoke to the young farmer who owned the field and he did not know what the stone firing positions (sangars) were! It is amazing they are still there after 80 years. Also a sketch made by Major Roberts of the "Tretten position" showing the firing positions in the field. My father was the platoon sergeant of the Brigade Staff soldiers who formed a rifle platoon. You can see their sangar was in the middle of the position next to the battalion HQ. It was here my father was wounded and captured.
     

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  2. Just amazing that those sangars still exist! There is not one thing left around and in Lillehammer, if you don’t know what you are looking for.
    I got told from a very wise colleuge at work about some German bunkers built on the top of the mountin that overviews the city. I went there this summer. It is really understanduble if they had an HQ of some sort built in there. You can see far south from Lillehammer and the whole city+the highway, but still at far reach from center of town.

    I am doing research for Lt Cl Ford as we speak.
     

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  3. Finally found some from the battle around Tretten
     

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  4. I am a active member og Biri pistol&rifleclub. I will bring this lorryincident up next when we meet. We have some really ”grow-up men” joining us every week. Thank you!
     
  5. I have used this day at researching from both internet and 2 different written sources(2 documentrybooks written by Norwegian authors). I am so sorry to report that Lt Cl. Ford are only mentioned 2 times in one of the books. First time is when he organized the defending positions just north out of Lillehammer. As you probably already know, they all fled from these early at the 22. of april. Went on to Øyer and later Tretten about 25km north of Lillehammer.

    Then Lt Cl Ford are not mentioned in 6 pages of frentic battles, in the end before Gen. Pellengahr continued for Ringebu 2 days later, the author wrote "The brigade of Morgen was now down to only 450 men, only officers under companycomand-grade beeing alive, and ready for combat was now 2 from "The Leicesters", and 4 from "The Foresters". (Horrible numbers!!!) 148. Brigade had lost 700 men(wonded, out of action, fleeing or what?) And the germans also captured G. J. German, that was sent to Berlin as a pow. Lt. Cl. T.A Ford fought and struggled through harsh terrain and deep snow to rejoin his Batallion "The Foresters" later on (?)

    I am wondering if the picture is of Lt Cl. King-Salter? Which is beeing mentioned in this book as a hero at battles around Rindheim. He was hunted fiercly, shoot 11 times, went on for 50km and 4 days before finally getting caught. Although it says later that he lost he´s leg in the fighting and was sent to Lillehammer hospital, as a wounded pow.

    I give up...nothing what I have read or written makes any sense against your picture posted of question. I am sorry, i only answer what I have found out today.
     
  6. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Thanks Nicklas, will reply in detail later tonight but here is a sketch of Lt Col King-Salter patrolling forward between Tretten and Rindheim with two Lieutenants from the Brigade Staff. Unbelievably he was the British Military Attache to Norway based in Oslo, but when he knew Oslo would fall to the Germans, he went north to join 148 brigade to help, still in his best uniform! He acted as Brigadier Morgan's adviser, as he was an infantry officer who had fought in WW1 and knew Norway. By the afternoon on the 23rd, Brig Morgan in Tretten did not know what was happening at the Rindheim position, so King-Salter volunteered to patrol forward to get a report for Morgan - two staff officers volunteered with him.
    Before they got to Rindheim and the angle in the road, they met German infantry who had by-passed Rindheim and were advancing to Tretten. There was a severe fire-fight during which Lieutenant Bradley was killed but the three officers put up a good defence and made the Germans go to ground - the Colonel fought like a private with his rifle. He and Capt Barrett escaped up the mountain and tried to march north to regain the British lines. He was joined by other soldiers who were behind German lines (including Lt Col German CO of the Leicesters) joined him. King-salter was severely wounded (eight bullets in his leg) when the group was found by the Germans at Ringabu - he fought back with his rifle until surrounded. His leg was amputated in Lillehammer hospital.
     

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  7. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, me again! Lt Col Ford, the CO of 8 Sherwood Foresters was captured in Rindheim field with the remainder of his battalion when the Germans overran the blocking position the Foresters had created there. Lt Col German, the CO of the 5th Leicesters, with two companies of Leicesters held the German advance at Tolstad, to the south of Rindheim overnight on the 22/23 April. Early in the morning he and his companies fell back through the Foresters at Rindheim and a road block of pine trees was put across the road near the farm house. The Leicesters then fell back to Tretten to become the reserve position around the bridge along with D Company of the Foresters. This was Brigadier Morgan's plan.

    As you know the fight started in the morning of the 23rd at Rindheim with German troops emerging from the woods near the farmhouse but held by the Foresters from their sangars. However, three tanks came up the track, shot up the positions and advanced to Tretten; German infantry followed the tanks and ski troops advanced higher up on the East side of the Vardekampen. The Foresters fell back to woods just under the Vardekampen cliffs and stopped the German infantry for some time until they ran out of ammunition. At 6pm, when all ammunition was gone, Col Ford ordered the small groups to break out of the position and retreat to Tretten but none made it. They were all picked up by the Germans. I have attached a photo of Col Ford and his HQ group surrendering at Rindheim (my father may be the soldier half in the picture) which I found in a German history book. They call him Col Ford under the picture. Also him being lead to the south by Oberst Laendle, who commanded 345 Jaeger Regiment. Also two of his group, after capture somewhere between Rindheim and Skardsmoen. Strangely no snow yet all the reports talk about snow in the fields!

    Lt Col German escaped the Germans at Tretten but was captured at Ringabu with Lt Col King-Salter on 26 April. There has been much confusion about Col Ford and Col German - Col German was a larger man with no mustache and I would recognise Ford from photos my father had before the war. He fought in a light coloured trench coat. When I visited the Gudbransdal Kriggsminnesamling at Otta, they had all of the pictures of Ford named as German and visa versa. I showed them the proof and they have changed all of their wall displays. It was Ford who went to Berlin to see Hitler, not German. I hope that helps, Steve
     

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  8. All excellent information Steve! Will you allow me to use the pictures in a forum? The thing is. I have a lead on some information that you are asking about. Sadly your good friend Amund, that you met in 2010 are not with us any longer(died in 2016). But I have been invited with 2 other fellows from Tretten that are known historians. I was wondering if I can show them this?

    Regarding snow, knowing this is april, it is normal that just a little bit higher up and where the sun doesnt reach, both low and high, it stays much longer, and the other way around where it doesnt. And as you already know the hillsides on the other side of the river there, are VERY high and steep, making the sun almost not visible in some areas the whole year.
     
  9. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, I am so sorry to hear of Amund's death, please pass to his wife my condolences, he was a gentleman. Here is a picture of Amund and his wife next to the plaque on the sangar. Also a picture of the plaque. I have also attached a photograph which I took from a sangar towards Rindheim farmhouse where the British would have waited for the Germans to attack. Perhaps you can see my motorbike. Here is an artist sketch of the very same position with the tanks exactly where my motorbike is! Please use all of the photos on this thread and if you need more, just ask. I am still thinking how to contact the living relatives of the soldiers who died in Norway. Steve
     

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  10. I will give here your best, for sure! Trying to find out if anyone else in the family has the same knowledge, but I’m afraid we have lost a greatfull source here...

    All these drawings, I have that book already :) I have saved all the pictures and are waiting for a link in the forum to upload tham at.

    Today I am trying to get in contact with these 2 historians in Tretten. Also waiting for respsons from relatives to Amund.
     
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  11. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, here is a link to a Norwegian forum where I have also told the story. Please use any photographs also. 8th Bn Sherwood Foresters - Last stand at Tretten

    Steve
     
  12. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, if you find this house in Tretten, you will see where the Germans buried the fallen British soldiers. They were moved to Lillehammer cemetery after the war. Picture2.jpg
     
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  13. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Try this photo Picture3.jpg
     
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  14. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, I have sent your request to contact relatives of the 35 men buried near you to Colonel David Sneath. He is retired, but commanded the 8th Sherwood Foresters in the eighties. He and the historian of the Sherwood Forester museum are going to try to contact living relatives of the dead by using the Sherwood Forester Journal which is a magazine for veterans. I will let you know if they find anyone. Steve
     
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  15. The 5 RAF crew I have control over now, they were doing a airdrop in the county next to us here, when they got hit from heavy AA and crashed on Mjøsa, the river passing Lillehammer. This happend in 1944. So now I think I can conclude that the other 30 servicemen are fallen from battles around and in the area of Lillehammer. There were very brutal scenes also at Åsmarka, just south of Lillehammer. At least one fallen British private from that clash are buried in Lillehammer. Looks like, when I read your posts that some of them are from the previously mentioned batlles at Tretten then?

    I am still working with getting in contact with the right people, with info about Lt. Cl Ford. Looks like the museum further north, in Kvam, have very accurate data...I´ve been told. Havent been there myself. Will reach out to them on monday and maybe, if possible make a visit before christmas. Sadly, many of the people that have experience and actual facts from the operations in Norway, are not with us anymore. I feel that some information gets less accurate the further away we get from the actual time, again...very sadly. I feel obligated to make things right here and bring the history on and alive.

    Hoping to get in contact before christmas with any of the relatives of the brave 30. Me and my family are going to make some time and make a visit to the graveyard at christmasday. Really appreciate your work and help Steve!
     
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  16. Send my best to Cl. D. Sneath. My intentions are the best, still. I only want to bring their attention that we are people living here, very much thankfull for their sacrifice and heroic effort during these days in april. I have bought candles and ordered flowers. However it goes we will make a moment out of it, togehter and show our gratitude. I will make sure we take pictures.
     
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  17. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    I have sent your kind wishes to Col David Sneath, who I am sure will be very grateful for all of your work. Thank you so much for visiting on Christmas day with flowers and candles. As the son of a soldier who fought at Tretten, I know my father would be very moved by his friends being honoured. I am sure you know this, but the Sherwood Foresters were a reserve battalion of part time soldiers and all lived in the same area of Nottinghamshire. They had little training and poor equipment, but tried their best to Defend Norway - a country they were strangers in. They would all have been friends from the same town of Newark and did their duty in a foreign land.
    The museum in Kvam is very interesting and I was made very welcome in 2010. However, the pictures of Lt Col Ford surrendering had the words "Lt Col German surrendering". I explained that it was incorrect but they needed proof. I found a a German history book which had the German words under the photographs identifying the Colonel as Colonel Ford and wrote to them. They accepted my proof and have told me that they have changed the words on the wall display. I have attached their letter - they called me Mr Stephen!. The display also talks about officers and sergeants from the brigade staff volunteering to form a rearguard just north of Tretten so the remainder could escape. I have to assume my father was in the rearguard. Best wishes,
    Steve
     
  18. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas, here is the letter. 1.jpg
     
  19. Steve Foster

    Steve Foster Senior Member

    Nicklas,
    The Norwegian Defence Medal 1940-1945 (Deltakermedalen) was eligible to all members of 148 brigade who fought in Norway but no one told them! Very few of the veterans received the medal. When I discovered my father was qualified, I wrote in 2013, after he died, but received a very kind letter from Lt Col Meum explaining that it could not be issued posthumously. He advised that I should try for the Haaken VII Freedom Medal which I applied for. Colonel Meum wrote to me that the application had been sent to the Norwegian Ministry of foreign affairs but I did not receive an answer. i have attached the letters. Steve
     

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  20. Hello again Steve.

    Sorry for my not very regular activity here. I have gone through a recent surgery and the days are on and off here....

    Anyhow, about the Haakon VII Freedom Medal, it seems everything is in order, but I do not see any further actions beeing taken after that last letter, is that correct? I will if you wish, contact the ministry and bring it up again? I would asume there must be 35 others who are supposed to be awarded with the same? At the same time I think there have to be an relative who can bring it to their attention...I will look into it with your permition Steve.

    Afortunatley I could not reach the warmuseum at Kvam. They are of course closed during winter. But arrangments can be made by calling them. So far, no sucsess...but have left a couple of messages.

    During these times, with my work trying to find the relatives for the 30 British beeing buried here, it is really slow progress. Not from my side though. I have sent many mails and messages to at least, 7 people now. Those are known to be having information...I am suspecting many of them are pretty old chaps, had 2 calls from unknown number today where nobody is talking, just breathing and sounding confused...

    I have given up using messenger via Facebook. People just dont belive my reason is true and honest. Had only 8 answers out of 122 that I have reached out to...

    So, the rest of this day I will try some more research on the internet.

    All my best to you Steve.
     

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