Into the White was a 2012 Norwegian film loosely based on real events from World War II’s Norwegian Campaign, when the Allies tried to keep the Germans from engulfing Norway in their quickly spreading military conquests.
The film is a fun and captivating dramatization of how the crews of a German Heinkel He 111 bomber and a British Blackburn Skua (which had shot down the German bomber and crash-landed soon after) survived in the remote Norwegian wilderness in late April 1940.
There are, as would be expected, many discrepancies between the movie and the actual events, but both the true story and the fictionalized one are fascinating tales of survival during a tumultuous time.
After Germany had invaded Poland and the British and French were officially at war with the Third Reich, very little conflict ensued between these countries. All had begun to shore up their defenses against each other and naval combat was beginning to break out in the Baltic and North Seas. This was mostly due to the German attempts to keep their supply of desperately needed Swedish iron ore flowing in to feed their war machine.
Much of this iron came via Norway. The northern port of Narvik was of special importance because the iron could be shipped from there when the Baltic Sea was frozen and treacherous during the winter.
As Europe descended into war, Norway began mobilizing its army, navy, and air force to guard against any parties violating its neutrality. The British and Germans grew more and more bold in doing just that to take hits at each other with navy and aircraft. By early 1940, Hitler was resolved to invade Norway to secure its strategic importance for the war effort against the Allies.
The entire Norwegian Campaign lasted from April 9th til June 10th 1940 until the German invasion of France shifted the bulk of the Allied forces south and Norway was captured. The Norwegian government went into exile in London.
Despite all the horrors of war, some cooperation between enemies happened way out in the wilderness, if only for survival.
The Heinkel bomber flown by Lieutenant Horst Schopis was shot down by Captain R.T. Partridge and his radio operator R.S. Bostock in their Skua. Schopis’ tail gunner Hans Hauck was dead on impact, but Schopis, along with Unteroffizier Josef Auchtor and Feldwebel Karl-Heinz Strunk, the remaining survivors of his crew, now faced the vast, cold unknown.
They weren’t alone, however. Partridge and Bostock had crash-landed on a frozen lake not too far away after their engine failed.
The two crews were nearest to Grotli, Norway, but surrounded by mountains and lakes, and miles from any road.