Book to mark sacrifice of Yorkshire soldiers killed in action in Norway

THE relatives of Yorkshire soldiers killed in Norway in the German invasion of 1940 are being sought for a book commemorating their sacrifice.

Last year a new war memorial was built in Steinkjer, Norway to remember 11 British soldiers who died in action on April 21-22 1940 during a rapid German advance.

Three men from the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and eight from the Lincolnshire Regiment are named on the memorial.

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Research carried out by British man Paul Kiddell, now living in Steinkjer, established that the only memorial to the British dead was at Verdal, 18 miles from Steinkjer and which only mentioned two Lincolnshire soldiers.

The authorities in Steinkjer paid for a new memorial and Mr Kiddell is now trying to contact relatives of the 11 men.

The three KOYLI men were Thomas Francis Doran, 21, of Horbury, Wakefield, William Arthur Dean, 26, of Bloxwich, Staffs, and John Nightingale, 22, whose birthplace is not known.

The eight Lincolnshire men were Ronald Stanley Ballaam, 20, Edward Harrison, 21, George Humphrey, 20, Harry Prike, 21, George Frederick Roe, 22, Ronald Maurice Smith, 19, Frederick William Tibbs, 37, and Alick Toyne, 20.

Mr Kiddell said the action in which the KOYLI soldiers died took place at Sparbu, south of Steinkjer.

"The Germans had invaded Norway on April 9 and their well- planned invasion to capture the whole country was very effective – the KOYLI Territorial Army soldiers didn't really stand a chance.

"They were defending this position on April 22. I have interviewed locals who remember this action, and it is told that two of the men fell in close combat and the third was hit by artillery shrapnel."

Last year's unveiling was attended by Skipton man Frank Lodge, himself a KOYLI Territorial Army veteran of Norway.

Yesterday the 90-year-old Mr Lodge recalled the blizzards and bitter cold during the ill-fated campaign, and the subsequent desperate retreat.

He walked with hundreds of other British soldiers in a successful march to escape back to Britain just three weeks after landing. "We walked about 100 miles in five days. It was very cold. We walked in single file over the mountains.

"In 2009 I went back for the first time since 1940. Norwegians are lovely people, very proud and very sad that we had these losses."