South African Military History Society


Newsletter / Nuusbrief 209
February / Februarie 2022


A reminder to our membership that the annual subscriptions to our society are now due. We, the Eastern Cape Branch of the South African Military History Society, were founded in 2005 and dare we say that we are a vibrant entity. We embraced the concept of Zoom meetings and despite the negative influence Covid has had affecting every sphere of life, we have emerged both alive and well. Our meetings have been well attended with at times more than 50 participants, be they seated locally, in London or the Far East!

Notice of SAMHSEC AGM 14 March 2022

Notice is hereby given of the SAMHSEC AGM to be held at 1900 on 14 March 2022 by means of Zoom. The Chairman’s and Treasurer’s reports for 2021 will be distributed to members in advance. Nominations for members to serve on the SAMHSEC Committee for 2022 and agenda points for the AGM are to be submitted to me by e-mail to before 28 February 2022, please.

10 January 2022 meeting

"The Heavy Load or Gulltransporten, the exfiltration of Norway’s sovereign gold reserves in April 1940” by Barry Irwin.

Presented from Norway where Barry holds a post at the University in Kristiansand.

In the early hours of 9 April 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Norway as part of Operation Weserübung, following the successful invasion and capitulation of Denmark days earlier. The assault up the Oslo Fjord was led by the newly commissioned heavy cruiser Blücher. Onboard Blücher, aside from its normal complement, were 1400 troops, Gestapo officers and various other staff that were specifically tasked with the capture of the Royal Family, control of media and seizing the treasury. The engagement with the Oscarsborg Fortress and subsequent sinking of the Blücher at Drøbak delayed the occupation of Oslo by roughly 8 hours.

As soon as news of the invasion spread, 50 tons of gold bullion was loaded from the Norge bank vaults in Oslo into a convoy of civilian vehicles for relocation to Lillehammer, some 190 kms to the north. The last truck left the bank as troops marched up the street to the Storting (Parliament) just after 13h00. The bullion had been pre-packaged under the direction of the Bank Director in 1939 as Europe prepared for war. From Lillehammer the bullion departed by train on 19 April destined for the town of Åndalsnes on the west coast.

Arriving in Åndalsnes arrangements had been put in place for the Government to ship the bullion to the UK on British warships though liaison with the British Expeditionary Force that had landed. A first tranche of eight tons was dispatched aboard HMS Galatea on 23 April. Due to continued air raids, the remainder was relocated by road to Molde, 60 kms further west.

The second and largest tranche of nearly 32 tons was dispatched from Molde aboard HMS Glasgow on 29 April. By this stage, the Royal Family and remaining parts of the Government had also arrived in the area. The final movement within Norway was 1400 kms to Tromsø, using a combination of smaller fishing vessels to Gjemnes and, finally, two larger vessels. The final 10 tons arrived in Tromsø on 9 May. This was dispatched on HMS Enterprise, along with the Royal Family to exile on 24 May.

From the UK, the bullion was transported to Canada and, later, the US along with bullion from France and the UK as part of Operation Fish in June and July 1940. During the whole process, only 297 gold Krone coins were lost. The evacuation not only denied the Nazis and Vidkun Quisling's government access to the resources, but enabled the Government to continue in exile and to fund the rebuilding post war.

In 1987, Norges Bank moved into its current location and repatriated the final 10 tons of bullion from Ottawa and New York. Norges Bank has retained 3.5 tons of this for its historical value. Much of the original batch of coins was purchased in 1998 by collector Jan Olav Aamlid for 100 million krone, in what at the time was the world’s largest purchase of coins. The Royal Canadian Mint issued a 75-year Commemoration Coin on 9 April 2015 to commemorate the evacuation.

Barry’s talk is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

SAMHSEC RPC 31 January 2022

SAMHSEC Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history on 31 January 2022.

Session 1:
Pat Irwin is to talk on The Ebb and Flow of the Desert War 1940 to 1943.

Session 2:
Nick Cowley is to review the book “I deserted Rommel” by Günther Bahnemann.

SAMHSEC 14 February 2022 meeting Ian Copley is to speak on “The Vikings”.

SAMHSEC RPC 28 February 2022

SAMHSEC Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history on 28 February 2022.

Session 1:

Paul McNaughton is to speak on his father, Jack’s service as a Vickers Machine Gun Platoon Commander in the 6th South African Armoured Division in Italy in 1944.

Session 2

Jaco Pretorius is to review the book “Jan Smuts -Son of the Veld, Pilgrim of the World” by Kobus du Pisani, Dan Kriek and Chris de Jager.

OBHAG Zoom talk on The War Diary of Wilhelm Eid 11 February 2022

Towards the end of World War I, Wilhelm Eid was held as a POW at Park Hall Camp in Shropshire in the United Kingdom. His diary survives and gives a stoical and poignant account of his experiences.

The Oswestry & Border History & Archaeology Group (OBHAG; see is hosting a Zoom talk on The War Diary of Wilhelm Eid by Heather Hidden at 1930 Greenwich Mean Time on 11 February 2022.

Meeting ID: 875 2738 4080
Passcode: 786714

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