War Diary - G Branch - March 1941
1 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Communications are still badly affected by the gale of yesterday which has now veered to the West and considerably moderated. There is no communication with BUDAREYRI or AKUREYRI but communication with the UK is now working.
(2) At the request of the F.O.I.C. 98 Squadron RAF was instructed to make a search to the South for H M Boom Ship BARCLIFF now missing. The ship was located in good order.
(3) A message was sent to H B M Minister confirming that fuel oil up to 650 tons might be stored in the oil tank near LAUGANES, provided that it was camouflaged by painting. Information was also received that the owners of the oil tanks at KEFLAVIK and VESTMANNAEYJAR were agreeable to camouflaging their tanks.
(4) The following were issued :-
a. List No. 13 of Code Names to be brought into operation as ordered. Copy attached as Appendix No. 1.
b. Force Intelligence Summary No. 45. Copy attached as Appendix No. 2.
2 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) In view of the general arrangement made to provide identification certificates for all Icelandic vessels using Icelandic ports, instructions were given that F.S.C. (Field Security) personnel were to co-operate with the S.T.O’s. at AKUREYRI and SEYDISFJORDUR and with the British Vice-Consul at VESTMANNAEYJAR who were respectively responsible for their issue at these ports.
(2) Communications generally were re-established throughout the island save that communication to SEYDISFJORDUR is by cable only and to reach BUDAREYRI it is necessary to cable SEYDISFJORDUR and request its onwards transmission by telephone.
(3) In view of the provisional despatch of 50 Vickers Medium Machine Guns as station stores, instructions were given as to their employment, for the increase of mobile reserves by any personnel released, and for the formation of Machine Gun courses.
3 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Communications throughout the island were generally restored wiith the exception of telephone communication to SEYDISFJORDUR and one or two of the more isolated coast-watching posts.
(2) At approximately 14:25 hours a Battle aircraft flying over Reykjavik bay on Anti-aircraft practice was challenged by His Majesty’s Armed Merchant Cruiser ANSONIA lying in the roads. Owing to some confusion in the reply ANSONIA opened fire on the Battle aircraft and fired four shots but no damage was done.
(3) Force Operation Instruction No. 39 on the grant for training stores was issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 3.
4 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) In view of information received that attempts to land enemy agents in ICELAND were likely the G.O.C. after consultation with H B M Minister and F.O.I.C. issued a warning notice to all concerned directing special vigilance both seawards and in the vicinity of Camps and Stations. In view of this a message (0 603) was sent to the War Office requesting that the sailing of ships from PETSAMO to ICELAND be prohibited. The F.O.I.C. was also requested to consider the advisability of making EIDISVIK (an anchorage in the Reykjavik area) a prohibited area for civilians.
(2) Telephone communications to military stations (excluding SEYDISFJORDUR) are now normal. SEYDISFJORDUR can be reached by cable line.
(3) The following were issued :-
a. Additions to lists of Code Names already issued. Copy attached as Appendix No. 5.
b. Notes on Force Exercise No. 1. Copy attached as Appendix No. 6.
c. Notes on the proposed Force Exercise No. 3 for Coast Defence Batteries (fixed for 11th March). Copy attached as Appendix No. 7.
5 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Mutual reliefs of 147 Infantry Brigade and 70th Infantry Brigade were commenced today. Exchange of Brigade HQ at Reykjavik and Alafoss respectively and of 1/ 7 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment at Hafnafjordur by 11th Durham Light Infantry from Alafoss and 160 Field Ambulance at Reykjavik by 187th Field Ambulance from Alafoss were completed. Command of the Western Sector changed from Commander 70th Infantry Brigade to Commander 147 Infantry Brigade, vice versa in South West Sector.
(2) Force Operation Order No. 2 (Revised) was issued. Copy filed as Appendix No.8.
6 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Reliefs by 147 Infantry Brigade and 70th Infantry Brigade continued today.
(2) A letter was sent to the War Office on the subject of air defences in ICELAND in view of the general feeling of the inhabitants. A copy of the letter and the article referred to are attached as Appendices Nos. 9 and 10 (see below for copy of article).
(3) Amendment No.1 to Operation Order No. 2 issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 11.
7 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) 4” Coastal Defence Quick-firing Battery Royal Marines sailed for the UK on board S.S. “LOCH GARRY”.
(2) H M Transport “ROYAL ULSTERMAN” reached Reykjavik with 4 Officers and 103 Other Ranks of 603 Road Construction Company, Royal Engineers and sundry other reinforcements for Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Infantry and Royal Army Ordnance Corps units.
(3) At 13:30 hours a request was received from F.O.I.C. for air support for a naval vessel to the South East of ICELAND. The position in which the ship reported herself was beyond the effective range of the 98 Squadron RAF machines.
8 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) A message (55197 dated 7th March) having been received from the War Office summarising the considerations affecting permission for neutral ships to sail to and from SCANDINAVIA and requesting decision on what should be permitted after consultation with H B M Minister and F.O.I.C. Iceland a reply (0 610) was sent agreeing that one shipload of pipes should be permitted to sail for Reykjavik in S.S. IMMO RAGNAR and that if shipment led to nothing untoward, further shipments could be permitted.
(2) Instructions as to priorities in road construction were issued to Chief Engineer.
(3) Captain F N J Moody Royal Engineers joined as G.S.O. III (Camouflage).
(4) The following were issued :-
a. Amendment No. 1 to Force Operation Instruction No. 28. Copy filed as Appendix No. 12.
b. Additions to list of Code Names. Copy filed as Appendix No. 13.
9 March 1941 – Irtun, Iceland.
(1) Confirmation was received from the F.O.I.C. Iceland that an immediate report would be made by Naval Officer in Charge (N.O.I.C.) FAEROE ISLANDS when hostile aircraft were operating in the FAEROES area.
(2) Force Intelligence Summary No. 46 was issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 14.
10 March 1941 – Irtun, Iceland.
(1) Command of 146 Infantry Brigade passed from Brigadier Phillips to Lt Col Robins of 4 Lincolns on Brigadier Phillips departure for the UK. Brigadier Phillips arrived in Reykjavik by air during the afternoon to await ship.
(2) Major L F Heard (G.S.O. 2) left by Icelandic seaplane for BUDAREYRI but owing to bad weather en route the plane was compelled to turn back and made a forced landing on the South coast near HOLT (about 30 miles West of VIK). The occupants were not injured and Major Heard will return to Reykjavik by road as soon as practicable.
(3) A conference was held attended by Lt Col Davies (G.S.O.1) Captain Wise (G.S.O. III 1b) Major Collier (Officer Commanding 25 Group Pioneer Corps) and Commanding Officers of 86 and 140 Companies, Pioneer Corps on the subject of detention of suspected persons in the event of any emergency and any change necessary to the existing Operation Instruction No. 16 in view of altered locations and commitments. An amendment to Operation Instruction No. 16 will be made.
(4) Move of Section 4 Heavy Anti-aircraft Battery from SKELETON HILL to AUDSHOLT (Kaldadarnes area) completed.
11 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Major Heard (G.S.O.II) returned to Force HQ from HOLT.
(2) REYNIR KRATSCH, son of German interned in July 1940, interned on approaching nineteen and deported to UK in H M T ROYAL ULSTERMAN.
(3) Message (0 615) sent to the War Office on the question of appointment of a G.S.O. II (I).
12 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Owing to thaw and heavy rain roads in South West Sector are in a soft and dangerous state generally. In particular the road between Borganes and Akranes is virtually impassable owing to a subsidence near a bridge.
(2) Report received that the ICELANDIC trawler FRODI had been fired on by a hostile submarine on 11th March at a position 90 miles South East ¼ East of VESTMANNAEYJAR. The Captain, Mate and three of the crew were killed and the Chief Engineer wounded.
(3) G.O.C. held a conference attended by Lt Col Davies (G.S.O. 1) Lt Col Mason (A.A.& Q.M.G.) and Brigadier Bliss (Chief Engineer) on the Group Captain’s report.
(4) The following were issued :-
a. Amendment No. 2 to Force Operation Instruction No. 34. Copy filed as Appendix No. 15.
b. Force Location Statement No. 12 (in three parts). Copies filed as Appendices 16, 17, 18 and 19.
c. Note on the postponement of the Civil Defence Exercise. Copy filed as Appendix No. 20.
13 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Major Heard (G.S.O. II) left by ICELANDIC plane for BUDAREYRI and arrived at 14:20 hours.
(2) A conference was held by G.S.O. 1, attended by Lt Col Mason (A.A. & Q.M.G.) Major McCracken (D.A.D.O.S.) and Captain Alpin (G.S.O. III) and representatives of the Infantry Battalions on future employment and organisation of the Ski Platoons. An amendment to the relative (relevant?) Operation Instruction will be issued.
14 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) On the instructions of the War Office a seaward patrol by 98 Squadron RAF of DENMARK STRAIT was ordered for 15th and 16th March.
(2) As a result of the conference Operation Instruction No. 16 on the detention of suspected persons was revised and issued to come into effect at 00:01 hours tomorrow. Copy filed as Appendix No. 21.
(3) The following were also issued :-
a. Force Operation Instruction No. 40 on the role of the Selfoss detachment. Copy filed as Appendix No. 22.
b. Note on training ammunition returns. Copy filed as Appendix No. 23.
c. Amendment No. 2 to Force Operation Order No. 2 (revised). Copy filed as Appendix No. 24.
15 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Owing to weather conditions (heavy rain and low cloud with very bad visibility) the seaward patrols by 98 Squadron RAF ordered, could not be undertaken. The War Office were advised accordingly (Message 0 628).
(2) It was decided that access to the Power Station at ARTUN should as from the 19th March be limited to those holding passes (i.e. those employed or having regular business there). The necessary instructions were issued to all concerned.
(3) The following were issued :-
a. Force Intelligence Summary No. 47. Copy filed as Appendix No. 25.
b. Amendment No. 3 to Force Operation Order No. 2 (Revised). Copy filed as Appendix No. 26.
c. Force Operation Instruction No. 31 (revised). Copy filed as Appendix No. 27.
d. Additional list of Code Names. Copy filed as Appendix No. 28.
16 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Despite bad weather the patrol of Battle aircraft was able to take off from Kaldadarnes at approximately 11:30 hours and observed the area STAALBJERGHUK 65 degrees 30 minutes North 24 degrees 30 minutes West point 66 degrees 55 minutes North 27 degrees West and point 65 degrees North 27 degrees West. No shipping was seen but many large patches of oil about 50 yards square were observed in position 65 degrees 17 minutes North 23 degrees 40 minutes West and 65 degrees 28 minutes North 24 degrees 22 minutes West. The patrol was in this area from 13:00 hours to 15:00 hours. One aircraft crashed on taking off and another had to land at MELGERDI landing ground but in neither case were there any casualties. Weather conditions worsened during the day. The information was passed to F.O.I.C. and a report (0 637 and 0 638) was made to the War Office.
(2) In view of the request of the ICELANDIC Government for permission to import rifles and ammunition for destruction of floating mines a letter was sent to H B M Minister suggesting that, rather than their import, it was preferred to loan rifles and ammunition for this purpose.
(3) The following were issued :-
a. Amendment to Force Operation Instruction No. 17. Copy filed as Appendix No. 29.
b. Amendment to Force Location List No. 12. Filed as Appendix No. 30.
17 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) The seaward patrol by 98 Squadron RAF could not be made owing to bad weather.
(2) Notes of the decisions made at G.O.C’s. Conference on inter-Brigade reliefs issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 31.
18 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) The aircraft from 98 Squadron RAF carried out a seaward patrol from Kaldadarnes over DENMARK STRAIT but no shipping was sighted. Visibility was poor to the South West. A report (Message 0 644) was made to the War Office.
(2) A Joint Exercise of the Coast Defences of Reykjavik was carried out by the Reykjavik Fire Command and naval vessels between the hours of 20:00 and 23:00. Visibility was good up to 5000 yards but there were patches of mist.
(3) A “Sunderland” flying boat landed at Reykjavik from the UK at approximately 19:45 hours.
19 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Further seaward patrols over DENMARK STRAIT by aircraft from 98 Squadron RAF were carried out, the first being over the area from 09:00 hours to 12:00 hours, the second from 13:00 hours to 16:00 hours. Nothing was sighted. Visibility to the North was good (up to 50 miles) to the South bad (six miles).
(2) Between 16:15 hours and 18:30 hours reports were received of an unidentified plane being heard and seen off the South coast in the neighbourhood of ALFTAVER. No friendly or neutral aircraft were known to be in the vicinity at the time, though it may possibly have been from a friendly warship.
(3) In reply to a message (56846 dated 17th March) as to suspected despatch of enemy agents from Norway in fishing craft a reply (0 650) was sent that no arrivals of fishing craft from Norway had been reported from any source.
(4) A second “Sunderland” flying boat reached Reykjavik from the UK. A request was made to 18 Recce Group RAF (message 0 654) requesting that one of these aircraft should carry out tomorrow’s seaward patrol.
(5) Major L F Heard (G.S.O. II) returned from BUDAREYRI.
(6) Additional list of Code Names issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 32.
20 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Two survivors from the missing ICELANDIC trawler “REYKJABORG” were landed at Reykjavik today, both wounded by machine-gun bullets. Details of the attack are not yet available but the ship has been sunk by enemy action. The attack has had repercussions on Icelandic traffic to the UK and at the moment some trawler owners are refusing to sail. Several packing cases reported to have been shipped in S.S. “TEXELSTROOM” have been washed up at GRINDAVIK and fears for the safety of this ship are entertained.
(2) Conferences were held by the G.O.C. with the branches and services concerned attended by the RAF and other experts who arrived yesterday in the Sunderland flying boat on the organisation and supply for the additional RAF establishment and base shortly to arrive.
(3) Force Intelligence Summary No. 48 was issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 33.
21 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) A further seaward patrol to the South West was carried out by aircraft from 98 Squadron RAF. Nothing was sighted. Visibility was poor and deteriorating and a second (afternoon) patrol was not sent.
(2) Lt Col H L Davies left on Sunderland flying boat for the UK at 08:20 hours and vacated appointment of G.S.O.1 which was assumed by Major L F Heard. Lt Col Davies accompanied Rear Admiral Scott and took with him Major-General Curtis’ appreciation of the general present position in ICELAND for immediate discussion with Imperial General Staff.
(3) Amendment to Force Location List No. 12 issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 34.
22 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) In the absence of any orders cancelling the seaward patrol, aircraft from 98 Squadron RAF carried out seaward patrol to the South West in the morning and afternoon. One submarine and one merchant ship of 4000 – 5000 were seen at about 17:05 hours and not identified. The merchant ship when challenged did not reply and jammed the wireless of the aircraft. The submarine when observed immediately submerged. These were reported to His Majesty’s Armed Merchant Vessel RODNEY STAR at sea and to 18 Recce Group RAF by 98 Squadron (message A.0 26).
(2) Draft of the operational and technical orders for Coastal Defence Batteries was issued to F.O.I.C. and all concerned for comments before final issue.
23 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) On the instructions of the War Office a patrol from 98 Squadron RAF was sent at approximately 14:50 hours to a point off the South East coast of ICELAND to assist a naval vessel in a search for a hostile submarine reported in that vicinity. No hostile craft was observed. The result was reported through RAF to Coastal Command.
(2) In view of the appointment of Major J J PACKARD as G.S.O. II at Force HQ Captain WHITEHEAD assumed appointment as G.S.O. II Tactical School and Captain STEVENS 1/5 West Yorkshire Regiment became temporarily G.S.O. III Tactical School pending any permanent appointment.
24 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(a) 52 Light Anti-aircraft Battery Royal Artillery (9 Officers and 217 Other Ranks).
(b) Advance Party 249 Heavy Anti-aircraft Battery Royal Artillery (1 Officer and 4 Other Ranks)
together with drafts for Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Infantry, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps and the RAF. The Batteries landed. In addition, Brigadier N P Proctor for 146 Infantry Brigade also landed.
(2) Additions to Lists of Code Names issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 35.
25 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Force Operation Instruction No. 41 on light anti-aircraft defence was issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 36. 52 Light Anti-aircraft Battery Royal Artillery are now located at Helgafell Hospital Camp Helgafell preparatory to their taking up the positions and role assigned to them in this instruction.
(2) RAF operations room opened on board H M S BALDUR (naval land base at Reykjavik) at 09:00 hours and will be manned from 09:00 to 19:00 hours daily.
26 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) H B M Minister was informed that no objection would be raised to the repatriation of the ICELANDIC subjects OLAFUR SIGURDSSON and GISLI EYLANDS but that permission would not be given for DANISH engineers to land for the hot water project.
(2) Major-General Curtis (G.O.C.) attended field firing exercise by 386 Field Battery Royal Artillery in the SANDSKEID area.
(3) Brigadier PROCTOR sailed for North East Sector on board S.S. ESJA.
(4) The following were issued :-
a. Destruction Certificate for Code Name List No. 12. Copy filed as Appendix No. 37.
b. Amendment to Force Location List No. 12. Copy filed as Appendix No. 38.
27 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Major-General Curtis (G.O.C.) attended a Machine Gun demonstration organised by the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa C.A.S.F. at Kleifervatn. In this an improvised Anti-aircraft mounting for a Vickers Machine Gun was demonstrated effectively.
28 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) In view of a report of the presence of a submarine in the vicinity of SNAEFELLSNES peninsula, an offensive patrol by aircraft from 98 Squadron RAF was ordered. No craft was sighted.
29 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) Information having been received at 11:15 hours of enemy submarine activity against a convoy off the South coast of ICELAND, a patrol of three Battle aircraft was ordered off. A hostile submarine was sighted by one of the aircraft at 16:02 hours at periscope depth and one anti-submarine bomb was dropped. No hit was observed. A report (A 035) was made direct by 98 Squadron RAF to HQ 18 Recce Group.
(2) Force Intelligence Summary No. 49 was issued. Copy filed with the War Diary as Appendix No. 39.
30 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
(1) At 09:41 hours an unidentified aircraft was seen by the coast-watching post at VESTMANNAEYJAR flying West along the coast line but some distance out to sea. At a point West of Kaldadarnes it turned North and at 10:09 hours reached Reykjavik where it circled the area for about ten minutes until it turned East over Hafnafjordur. Whilst in this area it was engaged by the Anti-aircraft defences but no hit was observed. Its height was between 10500 and 11200 feet. Its subsequent track from Hafnafjordur was Eastwards then North to THINGVELLIR South to the coast West of Kaldadarnes and then East to VIK. It was again reported from VESTMANNAEYJAR at 10:59 flying West over the mainland but turned East again and was not subsequently seen. The aircraft was provisionally identified as a four-engined FOCKE-WULF CONDOR 200 K.U. Five Battle aircraft took off from Kaldadarnes to intercept but were not successful. A report (message 0 688) was made to the War Office.
(2) 52 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery took up battle positions today as follows :-
a. One troop less two detachments at Kaldadarnes (with two guns).
b. Two detachments at FOSSVOGUR (with two guns).
c. One troop less two detachments at HVITANES (with two guns).
d. Two detachments at HVAMMSVIK (with two guns). Battery HQ with the troop for AKUREYRI remain at Helgafell.
(3) A message (0 689) was sent to the War Office on the subject of fire-fighting equipment available to the Reykjavik area and requesting the provision of one fire float and four additional trailers with personnel.
(4) Force Operation Instruction No. 42 on the defence of the KEFLAVIK (UTSKALAR) emergency landing ground issued. Copy filed as Appendix No. 40.
31 March 1941 – Artun, Iceland.
Appendices attached to the War Diary of G Branch Iceland Force for March 1941.
The only Appendix to have been documented from the file is Appendix No. 10 – a facsimile of an article in the Icelandic Press, referred to above. A copy is set out below.
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