The Liberation of Norway:
(L21) and HMS Mackay (D70) at Trondheim Operation Conan May1945
Lt Cdr John E Manners RN being presented with the Norwegian Medal of Honour by Colonel Dr Prof John Andreas Olsen, the Defence Attaché at the Norwegian Embassy And being interviewed by ITV for the 10 pm national news on Friday 22 November 2019 - click on the link to see the broadcast news interview John Errol Manners died on Saturday 7 March Courtesy of Errol Manners
Operation Conan was the Royal Navy's
contribution to Operation Apostle,
the liberation of Norway after the formal surrender of German forces at Oslo on the 9 May:
"On the 13 May, the Royal Navy
initiated Operation Conan,
sending two destroyers to each of the intended ports of entry, Oslo,
Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromso and numbers of
MTBs from Lerwick to smaller towns along the coast. The destroyers
carried with them the naval officers in command (NOIC) of the various
ports, naval disarmament parties and small elements of air and military
staffs from Britain". British
Policy and Strategy towards Norway; Christopher Mann (Palgrave
Macmillan, 2012), page 209.
On the 13 May eight
destroyers in the Rosyth Escort Force were sent to Kristiansand South
(HMS Valorous and HMS Venomous with three Norwegian
minesweepers), Stavanger (HMS Wolsey
and HMS Wolfhound), Bergen
(HMS Woolston, HMS Vivacious and the corvette, HMS Acanthus) and Trondheim (HMS Mackay and HMS Viceroy). Local surrender ceremonies were held
aboard these destroyers of the Rosyth
Escort Force in the harbours on Norway's
J H Ruck-Keene RN, Captain (D) of the Rosyth Escort Force, was
appointed Naval Officer in Command (NOIC) at Trondheim, the most
northerly of the four ports of entrance on the west coast of Norway.
The two destroyers which he selected fore the mission to Trondheim were
the Admiralty Class Leader, HMS Mackay, which was larger and better equiped for use by Captain (D) than a standard V & W and HMS Viceroy
with Lt Cdr John Errol Manners RN as her CO. John Manners was born in
Exeter on 25 September 1914 the son of Rear Admiral Sir Errol Manners
RN (1883 - 1953) and entered Dartmouth Naval college at the age of 13
in 1927. He played cricket for Hampshire while serving on the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert, in 1936. John Manners is 104 and you can read more about his long and distinguished career on this website.
He has written an account of his life and was a keen photographer and
the eleven pages of photographs he took in Norway can be viewed as as a
PDF on this page.
Ken Foster, joined HMS Viceroy as a Telegraphist on HMS Viceroy
in 1944. It was his first ship. By that stage in the war there were
only one hundred men in the ship's complement, no doctor, just a Sick
Berth Attendant (SBA). Ken only got to know the men in his mess, the
telegrapists (known as "sparkers"), signalmen (the "bunting tossers")
and coders. His action station was at the hoist for A Gun Turrett.
There were two Dual Pupose (DP) 4-inch Guns and Ken had to take the 37
lb shells from the hoist which raised them to deck level and with a
rope sling convey them to the loader in the Gun Turret. Ken is 94,
eleven years younger than John Manners, still fit and active and
living with his wife in his own home. Ken has revisited Stranda which
lies south of Trondheim since the war and was given photographs of HMS VIceroy berthing there in 1945.
The front page of Trondheim's daily newspaper Adresseavisen on the 17 May headlined the arrival of the two destroyers The story on the left is about the Norwegian author Nordahl Grieg who was shot down over Berlin in 1943 and on the right Crown Prince Olav's greeting to the Norwegian people on 17 May 1945
A copy of this newspaper was bought by Ken Foster on a postwar holiday to Norway
The caption under the photograph reads:
Arrival at Ravnkloa yesterday afternoon
From the left: Commodore Olav Bergesen and Captain Ruck-Keen of “Viceroy”.
Behind them from the left: Colonel Holterman and Colonel Glover.
A short translation of the headline article
"The first allied
troops came to Trondheim yesterday afternoon. Two large destroyers and
one smaller destroyer were clearly seen out on the horizon at 14.00 and
came slowly past Lehsvik before changing direction towards the harbour.
Outside the pier they were welcomed by Harbourmaster Hassel. The ships
dropped anchor outside the docks overnight and in the morning they
entered the docks.
Among the Norwegian officers onboard were Commander Olav Bergersen, officers and a number of
soldiers. The Commander together with Captain Ruck-Keene came ashore at
Ravbhloa and the waiting cars took them further. Their arrival was kept
secret and there were not many people there to greet them but
surprisingly there were some at Ravbhloa and the surrounding areas that
gave the officers the warmest of welcomes."
Welcomed to Trondheim with flowers The three square rigged ratings with flat
caps were: the Sick Berth Attendant (SBA) known as the Quak, the Cook,
and "Jack Dusty" (in charge of stores).
The man in seamens dress holding a flower and looking embarrassed was a "three badger", an AB with seven years service.
Ken Foster remembered the men but only knew them by their their trades, not their names Courtesy of Ken Foster
Lt Cdr John Errol Manners RN
After reading this brief description from John Manners autobiography click on the link to aPDF of the eleven pages of photographshe took in Trondheim and on the voyage
south through the narrow leads
to the small towns of Molde, Stranda, Aalesund and Kristiansand North.
Not only was he an excellent photographer with a Leica camera but his neat
handwriting and lengthy captions tell the story in more detail
than this brief extract from his wartime autobiography. The names
the naval and military in the photographs, both British and
Norwegian, are given. A sample page is shown below.
"Crossing to Bergen we entered the inland waters and proceeded up to
Trondheim where we had been chosen as the flagship of the naval officer
in charge namely Captain Ruck-Keene who had been our boss in Rosyth. We were accompanied by HMS Mackay but she returned to Rosyth after a day or two and Viceroy stayed on for a month. We
had embarked a Norwegian interpreter one Lieutenant Musters who amongst
his attainments was the world expert on mice! He used our loud hailer
and he welcomed all the Norwegians we saw because we were very close to
land going up the fiords.
We went alongside at Trondheim and were welcomed by the locals. There
were a lot of German military milling around in Trondheim. Not having
been defeated in Norway they tended to be a bit arrogant. They were
disarmed under the supervision of their own officers and then they were
re-patriated. Life was quite pleasant with no blackout and things were
feeling civilised for the first time in years. At this time the crews
on ships tended to become 'de mob happy' looking forward to the day
they could resume civilian life seeing that they comprised about 80-90%
'hostilities only' ratings. When the army arrived we embarked two of their senior officers plus the
Norwegian Oberst Holterman and Captain Ruck Keene went on a cruise up
the fiords visiting Aldasness, Molde and Stranda up the Hjorund fiord.
At Molde there were no less than 21 German midget submarines on the
jetty. Everybody was overjoyed that the war was over and greeted us
After one such stop after being entertained and refreshed by some
schnapps, Captain John H. Ruck-Keene with fire and brimstone coming out of his
nostrils said "Let me manoeuvre your ship out of here". He then gave an
exhilarating exhibition of ship handling in the very narrow fiord with
lots of 'full ahead' and 'full astern' causing black smoke to come out
of the funnels, which must have impressed the spectators, but goodness
it frightened me! Anyhow we all lived to see another dawn. The highlight of our stay was the visit of Prince Olaf on the 9th June. We paraded a
very smart guard of honour for him and he was entertained aboard
Viceroy. The photograph is of
Crown Prince Olaf shaking hands with Lt John Manners RN with Capt J H
Ruck-Keene RN, the NOIC at Trondheim, facing the
Eventually our time was up to return to Rosyth and we were sent the
following signal: 'The behaviour of your ships company at
Trondheim has been exemplary and has greatly assisted me in setting a
standard to other forces. Your help in running the port has been of the
greatest value’. On the trip home we were told to dispose of all our
ammunition and we spent the whole day throwing it overboard into the
On arrival at Rosyth we de-stored ship which entailed emptying it of
everything moveable and in the end it was like an empty coffin and
everyone felt very sad. On completion we were dispersed to be
demobilised or given new appointments. Having been a close-knit team
for so long the final dispersion was a great anti-climax."
Ken Foster Telegraphist
Ken Foster described their arrival at Trondheim:
first place we visited was Trondheim and they were very pleased to see
us. The town band turned out and we marched through the town with
people lining the streets. It
was all quite strange as when we arrived there were German soldiers in
their Grey uniforms and we didn’t really know what to do with them, so
they ended up being in the crowd when we marched through. I think they
were actually glad to see us as well.”
The page from Lt Cdr John E Manners album showing the arrival of HMS Viceroy at Stranda on the way south from Trondheim
Ken Foster has twice returned to Stranda on holiday and made many
Norwegian friends who gave him photographs taken during his first visit
aboard HMS VIceroy in May 1945 which can be seen below.
Some of the photographs given to Ken Foster when he revisited Stranda after the war
Ken recalled that when Viceroy
was ordered back to Rosyth they ran into a Force Eight gale which gave
them a very uncomfortable crossing, one reason why he felt more at home
on the larger ships in which he served later. Ken left Viceroy on arrival at Rosyth HMS Viceroy and was sent to Sydney on HMS Orion, an
ex-liner used as troop carrier, to join the staff of the staff of the
CiC of the Far Eastern Fleet at Sydney. When the Office of the CiC
moved to Hong Kong Ken was sent there for ten months before returning
home at the end of the war in the Pacific. After war Ken was War
Pensions Officer for the South West. He was also the Welfare Officer
for the V & W Destroyer Association and remembered a memorable
reunion in Worcester the highlight of which was a service in Worcester
Ken Foster and his wife Alma
with the scroll signed by Crown Prince Olav presented to all the crew
members of the V & W Class destroyers sent to Norway
While these events were taking place at Trondheim my father, Lt(E) William Redvers Forster RNR, was in HMS Venomous at Kristiansand South on the Skagerack with HMS Valorous A German officer surrendered to my father by handing over his Luger pistol and a Norwegian gave him a beautiful hand made model of a traditional open boat as a gift for me, his five year old son
you have stories or photographs of HMS Viceroy you would like to
contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster