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Operation Claymore
Part of the Second World War
HMS Legion Lofoten raids.jpg
British destroyer HMS Legion stands offshore while oil tanks burn, 5 March 1941
Date 4 March 1941
Location Lofoten Islands, Norway
Result British victory
Belligerents
 United Kingdom  Germany
Strength
Approximately 1,000
Casualties and losses
228 Prisoners of War

Operation Claymore was a Second World War raid on the Lofoten Islands in Norway, by the British Armed forces. It was carried out on 4 March 1941, by British Commando and Royal Naval units on the remote islands off the coast of Norway, just inside the Arctic Circle.

The raid was conducted by approximately 1,000 men of No. 3 and No. 4 Commando, 52 Norwegians of Norwegian Independent Company 1 and demolition teams from the 55th Field Squadron Royal Engineers. The force made an unopposed landing and generally continued to meet no opposition. They achieved their objective of destroying fish oil factories and some 3,600 tonnes (800,000 gallons) of oil and glycerine (some of the oil being destined for use in munitions).

Through naval gunfire and demolition parties, 18,000 tons of shipping were sunk. Perhaps the most significant outcome of the raid, however, was the capture of a set of rotor wheels for an Enigma cypher machine and its code books from the German armed trawler Krebs. This enabled German naval codes to be read at Bletchley Park, providing the intelligence needed to allow allied convoys to avoid U-boat concentrations.

The British experienced only one accidental injury; an officer injuring himself with his own revolver; and returned with some 228 German prisoners, 314 loyal Norwegian volunteers and a number of Quisling collaborators.

The operation has been documented extensively by bombardier Evan John, who described the raid in an extended, humorous letter of running commentary to his wife. The letter has been published in several books, including the Mammoth Book of SAS & Special Forces. The original letter can be found in the archives of the Imperial War Museum in London.

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