Black Friday (1945)
The battle for Norway was fought over a period of weeks in February and March 1945. The operation was called ‘Black Friday’ by the Allied survivors. Germany’s surface shipping was largely confined to the lower Baltic and Norwegian waters. This left ports in Norway as Germany’s last remaining bases.
About Black Friday (1945) in brief
The German destroyer Z33 entered service in February 1943. She was the last German destroyer to leave Norwegian waters and sailed for Germany on February 5, 1945. It was intended that Z33 would be the last ship of its kind to leave Norway. The battle for Norway was fought over a period of weeks in February and March 1945. The operation was called ‘Black Friday’ by the Allied survivors. The Battle of the Atlantic was fought in the North Sea between the Allies and the German Luftwaffe. Germany’s surface shipping was largely confined to the lower Baltic and Norwegian waters by late 1944. This left ports in Norway as Germany’s last remaining bases to conduct trade with Sweden and transport iron ore from the Baltic to the port of Narvik. In response to the growing importance of German maritime transport routes through Norwegian waters, the Royal Air Force’s Coastal Command transferred seven squadrons of anti-shipping aircraft from eastern England to northern Scotland during September and October 1944. Attacks by the Banff Wing quickly forced German ships travelling along the Norwegian coast to sail at night and take shelter in deep fjords during the day where they were very difficult to attack. By December 1944, patrols were routinely escorted by RAF Mustang Mk III fighters and accompanied by Vickers Warwick air-sea rescue aircraft. These units were equipped with Fw190s and Twelfth Squadron was commanded by Leutnanti Linz, a 28-year-old flying ace with ‘kills’ to his credit.
On 9 February 1945, a force of Allied Bristol Beaufighter aircraft suffered many losses during an attack on the German destroyer Z33 and its escorting vessels. The Allies damaged at least two of the German ships for the loss of seven Beaufighters shot down by flak guns. The decision to attack Z33 and her escorts, rather than a nearby group of merchant ships, followed instructions from the British Admiralty to RAF Coastal Command. The losses led to merchant ships being made the priority over destroyers and small warships. During the first weeks of 1945 the Allied strike wings flew few operations due to severe weather. During this period, the Allied squadrons developed a tactic of sending two ‘outriders’ ahead of the main body of the patrol; these aircraft were manned by experienced aircrew and penetrated into fjord in search of shipping which might not be spotted by the other aircraft. By the end of the month onwards it was common for Allied wing-sized operations near Norway to be attacked by groups of up to 30 fighters. In the resulting fighting five Mosquitos and five Fw 190s were shot down and about about about 65 miles of Bergen, near Førde Fjord, were about to leave for Germany. The Twelfth Squadrons were based at Herdla near Bergen and were about about 35 miles south of Følrde Bergen. The raid on the town of Leirvik was on February 9, 1945, when five Mosquito bombers and five Fw190S were killed.