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The Norwegian Merchant Fleet in the Second World War (Hardback)

Maritime > Merchant Shipping P&S History > By Century > 20th Century WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Norway in WWII

By Kenneth L Privratsky
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781399043861
Published: 5th May 2023



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At the outbreak of the Second World War, Britain, desperately short of merchant shipping, turned to the Norwegians who agreed to loan several hundred of its modern cargo and tanker ships. In early 1940 when Hitler invaded Norway, both the British and Germans rushed to seize the remainder of the fleet. King Haakon VII and his government, now fleeing from Nazi occupation, refused to relinquish control of this vital national asset. Instead, they nationalized the fleet and established the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission. Nicknamed Nortraship, it became overnight the largest shipping company the world had seen with a thousand ships and offices on six continents. Generously made available to Great Britain, it became a priceless Allied asset without which victory over Germany would arguably have been impossible. By the end of the war, about half Nortraship’s fleet had been lost to enemy action.

The Saga of Norway’s Merchant Fleet in the Second World War is a superbly researched addition to Second World War history being the first detailed account in English of Norway’s critical contribution to the Allies. As well as telling this little-known but hugely significant story, the author covers the controversies that developed and persist into the present day.

"This is a welcome addition to maritime history."

Sea Power Magazine - June 2024 Issue

As featured by

Maritime Information Services

"[The author's] exhaustive research has brought this important story to life...Sixteen pages of photographs illustrate the ships, people and events of this story."

Powerships Magazine - Fall 2023

Review as featured in

Highlight: 'This meticulously researched book is the first detailed account in English of Norway's contribution to the war, telling a little-known but hugely significant story.'

Ships Monthly

A popular yet scholarly account with appropriate endnotes and splendid black-and-white photographs and gives the reader some idea of the 'business of war' with its political and economic intrigues.

The National Maritime Historical Society

The author, a retired US Army logistics major general, has written previously on aspects of the Falklands War and has lectured at the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone. He enjoys Norwegian parentage and brings to this work passion about the topic. He writes clearly and in detail. The book has useful maps, interesting photos and a full set of endnotes, bibliography and index. Well recommended to all interested in Norway’s wartime government in exile and the management of her merchant fleet which made a huge contribution to the Allied shipping effort. A good and interesting read.

Read the full review here

The Naval Review

"This hardback book is the saga of Norway’s Merchant Fleet in the Second World War. It is a splendidly researched addition to Second World War maritime history and is claimed to be the first detailed account in English of Norway’s critical contribution to the Allies’ war effort."

International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations Newsletter - Number 64, May 2023

This is a very well researched account of Norway's involvement in WWII. It's definitely a side to the war I wasn't aware of and I find it all very intriguing. The author has done a great job with his research and documenting the events of this time in history.

Erika Milligan

About Kenneth L Privratsky

Major General Kenneth L Privratsky served in the US Infantry in Vietnam before becoming a logistics specialist. He taught at West Point and commanded organizations supplying US Forces worldwide.

He was a military fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In civilian life he was an executive in the ocean transportation industry. He writes and lectures regularly.

He lives in Alaska.

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