The navy was fully mobilized at the German invasion 9 April 1940. In June, 15 navy ships and 600 men accompanied the King and the government to Great Britain. In the course of 1941 and 1942 the navy was reinforced with an increase in personnel and an extension of the battle fleet.
But not everybody arrived safely to shore. In the encounters that followed after the invasion, the ironclad ships ”Eidsvold” and ”Norge” were sunk with many casualties.
In Great Britain several navy units were established: in Port Edgar, Edinburgh, Devonport and Scalloway, among other places. In 1941, the Navy’s shooter unit for the merchant fleet (SSH) was established. It was localized in Dumbarton and was responsible for educating navy personnel who were placed as shooters on merchant vessels. In total 2240 men were educated for this service during the war.
Multiple operations took place along the Norwegian coast. The Norwegian Naval independent Unit, also called ”the Shetland buses”, carried weapons, equipment and refugees. During the war, the navy got several vessels from British authorities, including five destroyers. The motor torpedo boats were particularly suitable for attacking German ships along the Norwegian coast.
Approximately 30 whale ships were converted to escorting- and minesweeper vessels. Minesweepers operated in the Persian Gulf, Suez and the Mediterranean. Mine ships operated in the British canal, and placed mines outside the French coast.
The battle of the Atlantic Sea resulted in many casualties, not least in 1942 when many ships were lost, most of them because of submarine attacks. The turnaround for the allied forces came in 1943, when the Germans were in retreat in the Atlantic war.
Throughout the war years the navy suffered great losses. 650 lost their lives in the exile period, in addition to the 300 who fell during the battles in Norway in 1940. That means that every sixth person in active navy service lost their lives. Mines and air plane bombing were constant threats. The maritime personnel were exposed to great stress. Harsh weather conditions, little sleep and a constant threat of enemy attacks left traces. Many had mental problems after the war.
The most extensive documentation of the Navy during the war years, you will find in the archive of the Naval Command with subdivisions. Apart from copies of outgoing letters and journals, there is an administrative archive that includes circulars and intelligence reports. Further there are documents that deal with prisoners of war, loss due to war risk, war production plans, decorations, officers, privates, raid reports (vessels), personnel, economy, jurisdiction and coordination.