was called Operation Fork.
The force was part trained, poorly equipped, and part
of their supplies had been left on the quay side in the
rush to depart.
The Germans had actually
had no plan to invade, but subsequently they hatched one
in reaction to the British invasion, Operation Ikarus.
This was abandoned, and in fact would have been very hazardous
for Germany, as any force would have to be transported
by sea past Scotland, where Scapa Flow, the base of the
British Home Fleet was located. Whilst the Germans were
powerful on land and in the air, the Royal Navy was the
equal largest navy in the world, and far outclassed the
German Kriegsmarine (the Royal Navy had been the largest
until about this time, when the US Navy reached parity.
During the course of the war, the size of the US Navy
far eclipsed that of the Royal Navy).
Possible resistance was anticipated
from the Icelandic Police (total 70 men), various Germans
present in Iceland or any Danish patrol vessels if present.
In the event, the sum total of resistance was an Icelandic
civilian who pushed his cigarette into the rifle barrel
of one of the Marines. The Marine got a telling off from
one of his officers for allowing this to happen!
One of the first targets of the invasion
force was the German Consulate. As it happened, there
was no resistance here, and the German Consul opened the
door to them when they knocked. He had been busy burning
papers in the bath. The fire was put out, and many documents
were recovered. He protested to the British soldiers that
Iceland was neutral. They reminded him that Denmark and
Norway had also been neutral.
The Icelandic Government protested. Throughout
the course of the rest of the war, whilst maintaining
their claim to neutrality, no resistance was given and
the Icelanders cooperated with their invaders.
On the 17th May, 4000 British Army soldiers
arrived to relieve the Marines. This force was later replaced
by a larger one of 25,000. A US force of 40,000 took over
on July 17th. The United States was still neutral, but
this was one of the ways President Roosevelt assisted
Britain as far as he could, without actually taking the
United States into the war (which American public opinion
would not support until Pearl Harbour). It was probably
seen as preferable to the Icelanders to be occupied by
a neutral country rather than one of the belligerents.
With a population of only 120,000, this
meant there were more American soldiers than adult male
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