Hello to all ; an interesting story.............
Sorko Mountain Hunter Battalion goes to Narvik 1940.
The Mountain Hunter Regiment (Gebirgsjäger-Regiment) 137 was created on August 1, 1938 in Military District XVIII (Austria). The regiment was formed from the 12th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Carinthian Alpenjäger Battalion and the Austrian 3rd Alpenjäger Battalion of the Austrian Armed Forces (Bundesheeres). The Regimental Command and the III. Battalion were stationed in Lienz, in the XVIII Military District. The I. Battalion of the regiment was stationed in Salzburg, also in the XVIII Military District. The II. Battalion of the regiment (of which we are interested) was stationed in Spittal, also in the XVIII Military District. The regiment was subordinate to the 2. Mountain Division (Gebirgs-Division).
The mountain division was commanded by Generalleutnant Valentin Feurstein, the Mountain Hunter Regiment 137 (GJR 137) commanded by Oberst Georg Ritter von Hengl, and the II./GJR 137 commanded by Oberstleutnant August Sorko.
The long march to Narvik.
On the night of May 4, 1940, the Austrian mountain hunter battalion Sorko (II./ GJR 137) began the long march from Nord-Trøndelag north towards Narvik. The mission was to go as soon as possible to the aid of the German troops who had suffered greatly during the Allied counterattacks and who were in danger of having to abandon Narvik.
After parts of Trøndelag were taken by German forces following the attack on April 9, 1940, it became clear relatively quickly that further progress had to be made by land. The English navy controlled the maritime areas off northern Norway. The Austrian 2nd Mountain Division (formed there, now in the German Heer) was chosen to carry out this mission.
Initially this division was intended to be used in the upcoming campaign in France, but was therefore diverted to Norway. The terrain in the area north of Trondheim became more and more rugged the further north one moved, and mountain hunters were specially trained for missions in that terrain. This was an experienced division that had taken part in the Polish campaign the previous year and therefore had valuable war experience.
The 2nd Mountain Division consisted of the 137th and 138th Mountain Hunter Regiments, and during the campaign in northern Norway a company of the 136th Mountain Hunter Regiment was added. We will follow one of their battalions on the march to the north, the II. Battalion of the 137 Mountain Hunter Regiment, also called the Sorko battalion after its leader. It was the lead battalion for most of the march towards Narvik, and it was parts of Sorko's soldiers who first reached Narvik on June 13, 1940.
The trip to Norway.
Parts of the Sorko battalion were transported from Germany by train to Denmark on 27 April. After a brief stay in Denmark, they flew on a Ju-52 plane to Værnes, near Trondheim, on May 2. The rest of the division had arrived in Norway the day before on a transport ship. However, this had not happened without losses for the division. Torpedoes from British submarines had caused 50 deaths and 64 wounded. As it turned out, this was slightly more than half the losses the division suffered during the campaign in Norway. From Værnes the following days the battalion was transported by train to Steinkjer, where they awaited the go-ahead for the mission.
Sources: https://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gl ... R137-R.htm
Cheers. Raúl M .