The two months campaign in Norway is justly famous for its record of arduous duties faithfully performed, in many cases by newcomers to the trade of war, for some notable acts of individual gallantry, for more than one fighting withdrawal finely conducted, and for the two naval victories which lend lustre to the name of Narvik. But these by themselves would constitute an incomplete and largely uninstructive story. For, as the Editor has indicated, it is also the function of the historian to attempt the ungrateful task of showing how deficiencies in our preparation for war, psychological as well as material and technical, handicapped and even thwarted the efforts of the three services to check the German advance in this small and relatively unimportant field, where the first main clash of arms occurred. We were heavily outnumbered. On the ground the enemy mustered seven divisions against the Norwegians and their helpers, that is, about three men for every man we landed to give that help; his predominance in the air was still greater; only at sea were we in superior strength. But numbers alone do not explain the sense of frustration which seems to brood over the scene, so that more than one leading participant has found the closest parallel to his experience in that tragic misadventure, the Walcheren expedition of 1809.
In his use of official papers, which are the main source of his narrative, the author has had the benefit of two special guides. One was the recollections and opinions of distinguished officers who commanded in, or otherwise controlled, the operations in Norway: they have given very readily and fully of their time and patience to unravel the tangle of events. The other was what could be learnt by enquiry on the spot—from the Historical Section of the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, who threw open their carefully maintained records with a generosity all too rare, and from a journey covering every district and place in which our forces served. Sometimes the rugged ground spoke for itself; often there were eye witnesses to be found of what our men did and endured nine years before.
It is hoped that the addition of photographs and the rather numerous maps and plans, on which great care has been lavished by expert colleagues, will help the reader to reconstruct for himself the adverse physical conditions which played so large a part. Of the Appendices, the first two set out exactly what our generals were instructed to attempt in Norway and with what forces; the third gives a full reference to every published work on the campaign which is cited in the text, and will enable the student in some measure to judge for himself, where it might be seen that the author, like the subject of Kipling’s verses, merely ‘wrote what another man wrote Of a carl in Norroway’.