1940: The British Conquest of Iceland

1940: The British Conquest of Iceland
Photo Credit To https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HMS_Berwick_%2865%29.jpg

The British military invasion of Iceland began on this day in 1940. The United Kingdom attacked a neutral and peaceful country. At the time, Island was an independent and sovereign kingdom, but had the same king as Denmark – Christian X (a so-called personal union). Furthermore, Iceland and Denmark had a common foreign and defense policy. As a neutral and peaceful country, Iceland had an “army” consisting of only 60 officers.

Why did the United Kingdom attack Iceland? It was a preventive action because they wanted to forestall Nazi Germany. During the previous month, the Third Reich had invaded Denmark and Norway (Operation Weserübung). The Germans practically conquered Denmark in just one day. Soon, Norway was conquered too. King Christian X was out of the game, and Iceland declared its independence.

The British had wanted to prevent that situation in Denmark and Norway, and began military invasion of Iceland on this day. Its initiator was Winston Churchill, who became Prime Minister on the same day. Earlier, he had proposed an invasion of Norway and Sweden, but his proposal wasn’t accepted.

The invasion of Iceland was not a major operation, because the country had only 60 officers. 746 British Marines landed there. One week later, a contingent of 4000 British soldiers also came there. The Government of Iceland protested against the UK due to the violation of neutrality, but still ordered their citizens to treat the British invaders as “guests”. Iceland came under the control of the UK and the United States during World War II.

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