Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationHMS VICEROY




The Liberation of Norway:
HMS Viceroy (L21) and HMS Mackay (D70) at Trondheim

Operation Conan
May1945



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.

The entry ports and their NOIC were: Oslo (Capt C.R.V. Pugh RN), Stavanger (Capt R.St.V. Sherbrooke RN), Kristiansand (Capt Lord Teynham RN), Bergen (Capt B D Nicholson RNVR) and Trondheim (Capt J H Ruck-Keene RN). On the 12 May the Flag Officer Norway, Rear Admiral J.S.McL. Ritchie RN, left for Oslo with the cruiser HMS Devonshire, the minelaying cruisers Apollo (with Crown Prince Olav on board) and Ariadne, and four destroyers (Iroquis, Savage, Scourge and Arundel).

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 west coast.

Capt 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 ten 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.


Newspaper
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 wth flowers
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 a PDF of the eleven pages of photographs he 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 is he an excellent photographer with a good camera but his neat handwriting and lengthy captions tell the story in more detail than  this brief extract from his wartime autobiography. The names of the naval and military in the photographs, both British and Norwegian, are given. A sample page is shown below.

John Manners album- Viceroy at Trondheim

"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.

Prince Olaf shakes hands with John Manners 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 ecstatically.

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 camera.

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 North Sea.

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:

“The 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.”

HMS Viceroy at Stranda 1945
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.

HMS Viceroy at Stranda, Niorway 1945
On the bridge of Viceroy at StrandaGoing ashore at Stranda
HMS Viceroy at Stranda 1945
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 Cathedral.

Scroll
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


If you have stories or photographs of HMS Viceroy you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster


If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Viceroy you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


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