In 1940, on this day the sovereign governments of Norway and Sweden granted transit rights which authorized a British-French Corps to disembark at the Norwegian port of Narvik and support Finland via Sweden while securing supply routes along the way.
Allied Military Intervention in the Winter WarIn reality the actual prospect of Allied forces fighting the Red Army in the snow was quite ephemeral. Because the diplomatic exchange of these official requests masked a covert feint devised by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. His secret plan was for the vast majority of the 135,000 men sent to aid the Finns to occupy the Swedish iron ore fields that were supplying Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, upon hearing of the plan Adolf Hitler stated that should Allied troops enter Sweden, Germany would invade.
Of course the allied strategy of neutralising enemy resources had been fixed right at the beginning of the war with the fateful decision to bomb Azerbaijan's oil fields. And that military reaction to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact led inevitably to the Russians joining the Axis.
Doubtless the Swedish Cabinet's approval of the transit rights request was relucantly given upon the threat of a similiar strike. Yet for all its obvious geographical disadvantages, a Scandinavian theatre clash would enable the Allies to strike a blow of military authority with their considerable air and sea power. And perhaps a military stalemate that starved the Axis of strategic resources might lead to a peace settlement on more favourable terms. But as things turned out, the Winter War was merely an interlude between the Phony War and the Phony Peace. This was the infinitely more complex situation inherited by the incoming British Prime Minister when Neville Chamberlain died on 9th November 1940.
This article is part of our Resource War thread..