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Operation Sealion - Possible? Outcome?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Andreas Seidel, Sep 26, 2001.

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  1. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Operation "Sea Lion"

    by Andreas Seidel

    Preface

    It is today generally accepted that the German invasion of Great Britain in 1940, code-named "Unternehmen Seelöwe" (or "Operation Sea Lion") in English, could never have worked. I have written several short essays on the subject before that took a different view of the matter, and since I have learnt more by now, I realise that my previous thoughts were not entirely correct either, and largely without a serious base. This I hope to remedy with this text.
    First of all, we must examine what the position was in the summer of 1940. What equipment did the Germans have and what did the British have? What were the morales of the armies and civilian populations? What was the supply situation?
    Next, it is important to take a look at the actual course the preparatory operations took and their effect. What forces could the Germans land? How could the British counter them? Could the Germans land them at all?

    Chapter One - The Strategic Picture of June 1940

    On June 22nd 1940, France capitulated and the last British units in France had already made a hasty retreat to the closest beaches from where they had been evacuated to England. Britain alone now faced a victorious Germany occupying Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland and half of France with Italy as its firm ally. In addition to that, the Soviet Union and Germany occasionally posed as half-allies while Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria were getting increasingly friendly towards Germany.
    The German armies, though possibly somewhat tired after almost a year of war in which they had overrun the armies of seven countries and severely mauled the British Expeditionary Forces, cannot be called very weakened. In the entire campaign in the west, they had lost 156.492 men, of which only 27.074 were killed (1). At the same time they had made 1,9 million prisoners of war of which the vast majority was French and only a very small proportion English (2). The German expenditure of ammunition is almost negligable, largely staying far under 10% of accumulated stocks but never rising above 20% (3).
    The British on the other hand faced Germany with an army that had lost most of its equipment on the beaches at Dunkirk and an air force that had endured many losses in the French campaign. Almost none of the English beaches were at this time fortified and the later Home Guard, then called Local Defence Volounteers was a token force largely armed with shotguns, sporting rifles, clubs and spears.
    It was only now that the first of the requirements for an invasion of England were fulfilled - the coast opposite England was entirely in German hands. The next requirement, as is now common knowledge, was air superiority over England and especially so over the English Channel.

    German Ability to Win the Battle of Britain

    We must therefore commit ourselves to looking at whether or not the Germans were capable of winning the Battle of Britain. After commencing air attacks on England in July and continuing in August with ever increasing strength, the real height of the battle must be seen in the period from 24th August to 7th September, which was the time when the Luftwaffe adopted the strategy of going for the Royal Air Force Fighter Command. During this time (two weeks), 466 Hurricane and Spitfire fighters were destroyed, 103 pilots killed and 128 seriously wounded, constituting a loss of a quarter of the entire pilots availabe to the RAF (4). Compared to the total German aircraft losses up to this point of 252 fighters and 215 bombers (5), who started with far superior numbers, this shows a disaster for the RAF.
    Interesting at this point are the estimates of the enemy's strength and achieved results either side produced.The RAF claimed 1711 German planes (6) as destroyed in the total period of the battle, somewhat exaggerated as the the real sum of 467 planes shows. On the other hand, the Luftwaffe claimed to have destroyed 1115 English fighters plus 92 bombers, which also appears to a bit above the actual losses, even if it is a lot closer to the real figure, but this is actually a very accurate appraisal of the British losses because this number is commented with the opinion that a large number of aircraft reported as destroyed could probably be very quickly repaired (7).
    Furthermore the Luftwaffe also claimed to have achieved the following by September 3rd. 18 Aerodromes destroyed, a further 26 damaged. Indeed there are confirmations of this from a large number of sources even if the numbers may be questioned. 10% of all aircraft repair facilities destroyed. 8 Aircraft factories, 3 aluminium factories and 19 cell factories attacked. We know that the English aircraft industry had indeed been hard hit from a noticeable decrease in aircraft production (see below). At the same time, the Luftwaffe estimated the RAF fighter strength at the beginning of the attacks at 900 modern fighter planes with 250 older ones in reserve, and the strength at the beginning of September at 700 of which 420 seemed operational. At the same time the strength of the Bomber Command was estimated at 600 planes with 500 suitable for nocturnal operations. Production of aircraft was estimated at 300 fighters and bombers each per month (8). Looking at the English figures available, it must strike us that the Luftwaffe's estimates were in fact rather good. RAF Fighter Command possessed at that moment almost exactly 700 aircraft, indicating that the Luftwaffe hit it right on the nose, whereas Bomber Command could boast of only 500 planes, showing that here the Germans even overestimated the RAF. The reverse is shown concerning aircraft production, however, because the British were producing about 500 fighter aircraft per month by September 1940 (in fact the exact amount for August is 476). It is highly interesting to note that the entire new production, plus all the American aid, is absorbed completely in the losses in early September and in fact the number of fighters the RAF can put up decreases significantly and continuously until the Schwerpunkt of the German airraids moves from the aircraft industry and from airfields themselves to the city of London (9). As for airfields, the Luftwaffe was at this point on the threshold of ravaging the entire defence of the Fighter Command in the South of England. No. 11 Fighter Group at Uxbridge, for example, which took the brunt of the Battle of Britain, had its six Sector Stations, the only way to perform a co-ordinated defence against the Luftwaffe, severely damaged and partly almost out of action (9a).
    Summing up, it is possible to generalize that throughout the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe did not underestimate the RAF, had found a way of combatting it and eventually exterminating it quite effectually but was forced to give this up by directives from higher up. And, postulating the first what-if in this text, it should seem fairly obvious that had the Luftwaffe continued their attacks in the fashion they had been conducting them in late August and early September, the Germans would have won the Battle of Britain, because the RAF would have been forced either to fight to the last plane, which would not have done much good, or they would have had to withdraw to airfields beyond the range of the Me-109 (which would not have been too difficult, seeing that it did not have that much range) but this would have exposed the Channel and part of the South of England to the Luftwaffe, where it would then have had nearly undisputed air superiority.

    If we assume that acquiring air superiority was a possible feat for the Germans to accomplish, we can continue our investigation into the plan for Operation Sea Lion.


    The German 'Armada' and its Way to England

    The plan for Operation Sea Lion was changed several times, because initially the Heer wanted to land on a very broad front with as many troops as they thought they needed and, after their planning was done they told the Kriegsmarine about it who in turn declared that it was impossible to do. In fact it would have required more shipping than Germany could ever have mustered in total.
    The plan which would have been ready for execution by mid-September was roughly as follows. Von Rundstedt would command the army group, consisting of the 16th Army and the 9th Army and holding in all 13 divisions with 12 more in reserve. The 16th Army would embark in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ostend, Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne and land between Folkestone and Eastbourne. The 9th army would embark in Boulogne and Le Havre and land between Brighton and Worthing. The 7. Flieg. Div. (paratroopers) would take the Downs in advance and secure the beaches from the landward side so that the German landing would be, in the best case, unopposed. The invading army would obviously include one of the major keys to German success so far - panzers. 208 panzers had been converted into U-Panzer, tanks that were watertight up to 15m depth and could drive on the sea bottom (9b).
    The mass of shipping assembled to take theses troops across amounted to 168 steamers of 700.000 tons, 1910 barges, 419 tugs and trawlers and 1600 motor boats (10). Naturally this accumulation of ships was known to the British and the RAF made very frequent raids on it, but failed to decimate the number of available ships decisively, meaning that there were still enough despite all attempts to conduct the invasion in the manner planned.
    The Kriegsmarine could protect the invasion fleet with one cruiser (Admiral Hipper, but this ship was in fact supposed to make a raid on convoys at the same time so we can discount it), two light cruisers, nine destroyers (all that were left), at most 55 U-Boats and possibly up to 33 torpedo boats (11). The U-Boats would act to strengthen the mine barrier that was laid on either flank of the route of the invasion fleet, while the destroyers (plus a certain number of cruisers, torpedo boats and small craft) would have to guard the fleet of four thousand vessels against direct naval attack. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the fleet is thus extremely ill defended against any sort of naval threat and would rely mainly on the Luftwaffe in this area.
    The British Admiralty had a thousand small craft patrolling the island, in addition the invasion-threatened zone between the Humber and Portsmouth was guarded by 40 destroyers (12), of which 30 the Germans had already spotted in southern and south-eastern harbours by September 14th (13). The main units of the Home Fleet were being held in readiness to repel and invasion attempt and were also prepared to deal with heavier German surface combatants such as the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, but all heavy cruisers and battleships of the Kriegsmarine were at this point being repaired, having suffered somewhat in the Norwegian campaign (14).
    It is pretty plain therefor that a German invasion under the historical conditions could not have taken place and succeeded. The sea forces, even if the Germans had performed as well as in the Skaggerak in 1916, sinking two British ships for one of their own, would have been outnumbered vastly and the invasion would have been an utter failure. Even if some Wehrmacht units had gotten ashore, they would have been cut off from resupply and been forced to surrender within days.
    However, we are no longer looking at the invasion solely under the historical conditions. We assume that the Luftwaffe controls at least the skies above the English Channel and the south of England.

    German Ability to Win the Battle for the Channel

    Did the Luftwaffe have the ability to ward off attacks by the Royal Navy on the invasion fleet and the subsequent supply traffic under the assumption of air superiority?
    It has often been declared that no. In fact one opinion I have heard was that the Luftwaffe's record against shipping was catastrophic backed up with the example that at Dunkirk, out of 40 British destroyers, the Luftwaffe managed to sink only six.
    In fact, to take up that example, there were only 39 British destroyers at Dunkirk and while the Luftwaffe indeed managed to sink only six, it inflicted significant damage on 19 more. Of the 861 vessels taking part in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation at Dunkirk, a total of 243 was sunk, over a quarter of all the ships including a third of all the British ships, and a further 48 of the larger ships were seriously damaged (15). If this still seems to be less than good, then we must remember that the main target of the Luftwaffe during the evacuation were not the ships but the ground troops in the pocket (16). Much higher sinking rates could therefore be expected in an air attack directed only against ships, the likes of which would have been launched in mid-September just before the invasion to destroy the RN vessels remaining in the landing area. Further evidence of the high performance of the Luftwaffe against ships is that in July alone forty ships of 75.698 tons and four destroyers were sunk in air raids on convoys (17).
    Interruption of the actual invasion especially by heavy units of the Home Fleet would probably have been impossible, since there is no evidence to show that the British knew the day on which Hitler would most likely order the attack. So they would have had to arrive, at the soonest, on the first day of the invasion, and at daylight they would be subjected to the full brunt of Luftwaffe attacks. Attacks that they could not possibly survive for long.
    That leaves the lighter units of the Royal Navy. Assuming that preliminary attacks have disabled or destroyed the British destroyers in the Channel, that would leave the huge fleet of small craft. Small fishing boats and motor boats would be impossible to combat with U-Boats and the mine belt laid would be ineffective too because the vessels are simply to small (and of course partly wooden and anti-magnetic). It has been said, usually emphasizing the unseaworthiness of most of the German ships, that this fleet alone would have torn up the invasion fleet. I doubt that very much, even if it is true that in an invasion fleet of four thousand vessels the fifty or so escorting German naval vessels could not possibly protect everything everywhere.
    First of all, these vessels are extremely light. They can carry no heavy weapons, probably the standard on them is a machine gun or two and I think nothing could cope with more than a two-pounder or a twenty millimetre anti-aircraft gun. Because they are merely civilian fishing boats and similar vessels put to a military use, they are not hard to sink either. In fact they are just as vulnerable as the German vessels they are sent to attack, and fewer in number. Since all the German vessels are occupied by fully-armed troops, the firepower of a German invasion vessel would very likely be several times that of its British attacker. If machine guns and maybe even light anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns could be brought to fire upon the British the ensuing battle would be a disaster for the attackers.
    Another weapon to be considered in this context is strategic artillery. The Germans as well as the British had batteries of heavy artillery mounted along the Channel coast, particularly at the narrowest part. Between Calais and Boulogne, the Germans had mounted by September six 38 cm, three 30,5 cm, four 28 cm and fourteen 17 cm guns, all of which could easily reach the English coast. The British mounted by September in the Dover promontary one 14", four 9,2", eight 6" and four 4" guns (for comparison, the calibres equate to 35,56 cm, 23,368 cm, 15,24 cm and 10,16 cm respectively), not all of which were capable of reaching the French coast and of those that could, some had to be super-charged to do so, making them grossly inaccurate (17a). The German guns had a clear advantage of firepower and had the British guns tried to interfere with the invasion, an artillery duel would have resulted, probably coupled with precision bombing, which the British could not possibly have won.

    So, now that we have the invasion fleet successfully across the Channel and the RAF and RN effectively removed from the scene, let us see whether the force of 13 divisions landed in the first wave would have been sufficient.

    British Forces on Land and Their Distribution

    The first British Expeditionary Force in France was forced to abandon all its heavy weapons in the evacuation of Dunkirk following the bold and brilliantly conducted German offensive into France. Because of this loss of war material some people think that even a very small force of German units landed onto England would have guaranteed success. Indeed, when we look at the state of readiness of the infantry divisions in England in July 1940, the picture we get is simply catastrophic. Following the loss of 7000 tons of ammunition, 90000 rifles, 2300 guns, 8000 Bren guns, 400 anti-tank rifles and the staggering sum of 82000 vehicles at Dunkirk (18), what all the divisions are short on are guns and vehicles. Five divisions (42nd, 45th, 61st, 1st London, 2nd London) have no anti-tank guns at all while seven others have them only in tiny amounts and only two divisions have more than half their supply (43rd and 52nd). The only two things where none of the divisions has extreme shortages are manpower and rifles (with the exception of the 1st Canadian, but they are in the process of arriving) (19). In fact there are only 3 divisions that are more or less properly equipped, and even these are not to be taken for granted as key units in stopping the German invasion. For example the 3rd infantry division under General Montgomery, which is at this date the second-best equipped division in England has only seven or eight operational Bren carriers at this time while on paper they have their full allotment of 96 (20). On top of that, the British were forming a second armoured division and four tank brigades, all without tanks (20a).
    In September, closer to the realistic date for German invasion, the picture has altered a bit. Five divisions now have more than 50% of their allotted AT guns, and there is only one division left that has none at all (61st), although 13 divisions still have a quarter or less of their normal strength. On the other hand, extreme deficiencies in the areas of field artillery have been more or less removed, with the average division possessing about 75% of what it should, and general ratios of about 50% strength established concerning machine guns, Bren carriers, AT rifles and mortars (21).
    All in all, the British had 26 regular divisions in Great Britain of which one was Canadian and one Australian, plus a New Zealand Expeditionary Force of brigade strength and two groups of independant brigades.
    There were also a number of tank units now. At the beginning of September, Britain had roughly 300 tanks available to (but not necessarily in) regular units, of which at least 50 were infantry tanks, plus another 400 tanks in training schools (composed of 103 cruiser, 64 infantry and 252 light tanks) (21a). The readiness of the training school tanks for combat cannot be ascertained but it would be safe to guess that the tanks were partly not fit for combat and that naturally none of them had experienced crews.
    In addition to all this the British had of course the Home Guard. The history of the Home Guard began in May 1940 when the "Local Defence Volunteers" were formed, bands of men that formed in towns and villages armed with shot-guns, sporting rifles, spears and clubs (22). In September, when the German invasion would have been possible, the LDV had been renamed into "Home Guard" by Churchill and was over a million men strong. They were still equipped, however, largely the way they had been at the beginning of the movement and only a proportion of them possessed standard rifles (mostly American Springfields with ten rounds of ammunition), uniforms and steel helmets (23).

    While the Home Guard was obviously anywhere, in August the British distributed their forces thus: from Cromarty (for non-Scots its about twenty miles north-east of Inverness) to the Wash there were 8 1/2 divisions, from the Wash to Dover 7-10 divisions, from Dover to North Cornwall (the actual point of the German attack) 5-8 divisions, and from there back to Cromarty again there were 2 1/2 divisions. The 26 available divisions were thus used up (24). The British had placed most of the emphasis on defence from the east and south-east, but when they became aware of the accumulation of transport ships in the French, Belgian and Dutch Channel ports they shifted their forces and ended up with a much better defensive arrangement. Only four divisions plus one armoured brigade now covered the sector from the Wash to the Thames while nine divisions and two armoured brigades covered the south coast. Four divisions and two armoured divisions were held in reserve for either sector (25).
    As usual, let us compare this with what the Germans believed the English had in store for them. Abteilung Abwehr and Abteilung Fremde Heere both came to the conclusion that Britain had - in the motherland - 22 completely ready and fully equipped divisions including 1-2 tank divisions plus 12 1/2 half-ready divisions, making a total of 36 1/2 divisions, almost one and a half times as much as they really had (26).

    Since we now know what would be meeting on England's green hills. It is time to look at the strategies either side was going to employ.

    British Defence Strategy and Deployment and Whether it Can Stop the Germans

    Almost all the estimates I have ever heard how a successful German invasion force would have done in England favour a view that after initial successes in the south the Germans would be halted just in front of London on a line roughly like London-Reading-Swindon-Bristol and being held there for about three years, unable to make any progress against the heroic defenders. These people seem to mistake Kent and Sussex for the Ukraine and White Russia. The former two are in fact a bit smaller and contain no significant obstacles either man-made or natural. Nor are they turned into vast mudbaths in autumn by heavy rains.
    The first plan for a defence strategy of Britain emerged in July 1940 when invasion grew increasingly probable. There were three basic parts to this plan. The first was an "entrenched crust" of units right on the beaches who were to fight for every inch, supported by reserves that could be quickly moved to the most dangerous points. The second part was an anti-tank fortification line running through the eastern middle of England, protecting London and defended by the Home Guard. The last part were the strategic reserves of three divisions and later also a few armoured brigades (27).
    Generally speaking, the British intended to defend everywhere and not cede an inch of territory of their own free will. This is indicated not only by numerous orders to that effect but also by Churchillanian propaganda which indeed could not accept a voluntary giving up of British soil. Moreover it is very unlikely that any British units would have retreated even if ordered (28).
    Churchill anticipated a fanatism of the British soldiers and even more so of the Home Guard that fits into exactly the same picture as suicide charges by Soviet troops in 1941, Japanese Banzai charges and the stubborn defences initiated by the Volkssturm and the Hitlerjugend in 1945. Doubtlessly in every case the soldiers were extremely courageous, extremely fanatical and achieved extremely little. Churchill had visions of British citizens sacrificing their lives in an attempt to destroy a German tank with a "sticky bomb" (29) and even had the slogan "You can always take one with you" prepared in case of an invasion (30).
    At the same time, the defences that did exist around the British coast were very thin indeed. As an example, one of the best of the British divisions, the 3rd infantry division under Montgomery, was protecting 30 miles of coast near Brighton and was virtually immobilised. Even a nearly fully equipped division of this kind could not have stopped the concentrated German assault of the 9th Army, especially if it was incapable of moving men to the critical areas immediately after and during the landing operations (31). Likewise a brigade guarding St. Margaret's Bay near Dover protected five miles of coastline with three anti-tank guns, and as if that wasn't enough, there were only six rounds of ammunition per gun and the crews had never fired a shot with the weapon ever before (32).
    Employing a strategy of defending everything to the last man and bullet, the British were doing exactly what the Poles and the French had done before them, and what the Soviet Union would do after them in the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa. In every case, this played right into the Germans' hands because their strategy of mobile warfare thrived on exactly this behaviour.
    The strategy of German Blitzkrieg was to penetrate at one decisive point, by concentration of tanks with support from co-ordinated precision air attacks, the enemy's line and immediately push through at least one or two panzer divisions followed as soon as possible by motorised infantry divisions to guard the flanks. The panzers would then ravage the enemy's rear, use their speed to encircle large enemy formations by which time horse-drawn infantry and foot-marching infantry would be able to take over protection of the flanks and prevention of a break-out, finally freeing the mobile units up to start afresh while the pocket of emeny troops was slowly burnt out. This whole process could take a week on army level.
    From the existing evidence there is absolutely no reason to think that this would not have worked in Britain. The south of England is excellent tank country, the British army would be largely static through their will to fight for every inch of England and they would achieve the exact opposite of what they would like to achieve (not to mention that they have very few anti-tank weapons anyway).

    Conclusion

    In Conclusion, I think it is safe to say that had the Luftwaffe continued wearing down the Fighter Command and its production facilities, it would have won the Battle of Britain by mid-September. With that achieved it would have been possible to win the Battle of the Channel too by attacking the Royal Navy units that dared to venture into it.
    The British coastal defences were incapable of stopping the German invasion forces immediately. They would have gained a foothold on English soil and been able to execute their strategy of mobile warfare in the same fashion as in Poland and France, forcing England to make peace after a campaign of four to eight weeks, in which much of Britain would be occupied.

    That is all that relates to Operation Sealion itself. Perhaps in these last few lines it is possible to dwell upon the possibilities that a victory over Britain in October 1940 would have had for the course of the war against the Soviet Union.
    An obvious consideration is that forces in western Europe could be significantly reduced and further reinforcements sent west. Furthermore, neither a U-Boat programme nor a very intense anti-aircraft programme are necessary anymore. In August 1941 for example, 145.000 people were working in the U-Boat programme while only 44.000 were working on the panzer programme (33). It is concievable that in 1940 there would have been similar proportions and that through a transfer, for example, of this workforce there could have been a fourfold increase of tank production, something that would have made a war of attrition in the East possible and would also possibly have allowed for victory of the Wehrmacht in Russia by September or October of 1941. In effect, Germany would have won World War Two.

    Bibliography

    (1) Vor Zwanzig Jahren (Chronik des 2. Weltkrieges) in: Wehrwissensch. Rundschau 1959 ff.
    (2) Anlage 5 zu OKH/GenStdH/GenQu/Abt. I (Qu 2/III) Nr. I/6562/41 g.K. vom 25.12.1941
    (3) To calculate this I had to combine the information of two sources, namely Anlage 3 zu OKH/GenStdH/GenQu/Abt. I Qu 2 (III) Nr. I/58/42 g.Kdos. v. 5. 1. 1942 Munitionslage a) Heer 3. Monatsdrittel Dezember 1941 (Monatsmeldung) and Munitionslage Stand 21. Juni 1941 Az. 74 Nr. 3290/41 g.Kdos. Genst. 6. Abt. (IV C)
    (4) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 292, Cassell London 1949
    (5) Entry of 3rd September 1940 into the war diary of the OKW
    (6) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 299, Cassell London 1949
    (7) Entry of 3rd September 1940 into the war diary of the OKW
    (8) Entry of 3rd September 1940 into the war diary of the OKW
    (9) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, pp. 640, Cassell London 1949
    (9a) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, pp. 292-3, Cassell London 1949
    (9b) Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, German Tanks of World War II, Brown Packaging Books Ltd. 1998
    (10) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, pp. 270, Cassell London 1949
    (11) Entry of 8rd August 1940 into the war diary of the OKW
    (12) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 253, Cassell London 1949
    (13) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 275, Cassell London 1949
    (14) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 253, Cassell London 1949
    (15) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 89-90, Cassell London 1949, 'larger ships' in this case means cruisers, destroyers, sloops, corvettes, gunboats, minesweepers, trawlers, drifters, armed boarding vessels, passenger ships, hospital ships. Of smaller vessels (such as yachts, schuits, tugs, motor boats etc etc) and all non-British vessels, only sinkings have been recorded. No doubt a large number of these were also damaged.
    (16) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 91, Cassell London 1949
    (17) Vor Zwanzig Jahren (Chronik des 2. Weltkrieges) in: Wehrwissensch. Rundschau 1959 ff.
    (17a) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 240-45, Cassell London 1949
    (18) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 125, Cassell London 1949
    (19) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 239, Cassell London 1949
    (20) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 232, Cassell London 1949
    (20a) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 128, Cassell London 1949
    (21) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 243, Cassell London 1949
    (21a) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 128, p. 245, Cassell London 1949
    (22) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 48, Cassell London 1949
    (23) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 246, Cassell London 1949
    (24) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 261, Cassell London 1949
    (25) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 262, Cassell London 1949
    (26) Entry of 23rd August 1940 into the war diary of the OKW
    (27) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 155, Cassell London 1949
    (28) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 235, Cassell London 1949
    (29) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, pp. 148-150, Cassell London 1949 The "sticky bomb" was an emergency weapon which consisted of a packet of high explosive that was supposed to be stuck onto the armour plating of a tank and then detonate. It was effective only against tanks whose armour plating was free of mud, oil, dirt etc because otherwise the bomb would not stick. Thus in practice it would not have achieved terrific results.
    (30) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 246, Cassell London 1949
    (31) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 233, Cassell London 1949
    (32) Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume II, p. 148, Cassell London 1949
    (33) Niederschrift, Besprechung Chef OKW mit den Wehrmachtteilen am 16.8.41 über "Die Auswirkung der Richtlinien des Führers vom 14.7.41 sowie die Durchführbarkeit des sich daraus ergebenden neuen Schwerpunkt=Programme", OKW WiRüAmt/Rü (II a), Nr. 2747/41 g.Kdos.
     
  2. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Excellent, excellent!!!!!. When before I had talked about Sealion and what units I thought would have been used, of course, were about 50% based on units not had even been formed at that time or battle tested. The position I took was to be about 75% as ficticious as I could get.

    But to do this from what units and conditions were then available and still see Germany winning that part of the war--this is priceless. Im at a disadvantage though, I have no access to any of my books to have evan thought of trying to do this what if, from a real standpoint.

    I had felt that becay=use of what is said and what I know about the British situation of that time, I have to agree that I believe England would have been if not lost, but at a stalemate with the Wehrmacht occupying a large portion of England.

    And for our British cousins, I definately are not knocking you down. England was in a very very tight spot and very well could have been done for. Now as for the Wehrmacht capturing the whole of England-- I dont feel it would be so, but, that wouldnt do the Allies any better in the least.

    One has to wonder about, having the Germans knocked England out of the war, or badly battered the lion, then I wonder if America would have once being in the war, I wonder if our military wuld have fought side-by-side and on Russian soil, whit the russians. All the lend lease materials going there instead of England??
     
  3. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Has anybody else read this? I would really love to hear some more feedback. I know it's a lengthy text, but you can't write something even semi-serious without some background information! [​IMG]
     
  4. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    Sea Lion was Impossible.
    "Invasion" by Macksey, "Operation Sea Lion" by Fleming, and "Cross Channel Attack" by Harrison are three of the best books that point this out.

    1) Weather, Weather Weather!!!!!
    A) Allied Command during Operation Neptune figured that there were maybe 20 days in year with the right weather conditions to operate their purpose built landing craft. The Germans force consisted on a large part large river barges that in even small swells would capsize or break up as they were not designed for the open sea. This meant they would need the channel to be almost smooth as glass and even then may expect an attrition rate of 30% or more just to craft lost to water conditions. Also, Allied Command figured possibly only 6 days would have the right weather and moon for para drops and landings, again while operating superior vessels.
    The Allies were able to pin these days down with very good meteorlogical data. The British launched a serious campaign during this time keeping the Germans out of Norwegian islands and the Artic to prevent them from obtaining the right meteorlogical data, and to a great extant they were successful. The weather campaign is detailed in Simon Rigge's,"War in the Outposts", its great read too. As the jet stream flows West to East, for the best forecast you want info from NE Canada and Greenland for a 4-5 day advance forecast. The Germans were only able operate weather trawlers and subs in the North Atlantic and Eastern Arctic reducing their forecasts to only 1-2 days advance when they were lucky, with incomplete info. This info then had to be transmitted to Germany and analyzed, so for the most part it was useless
    Also, the Channel was impossible for the Allies to cross with limited losses, with much better vessels, from Fall-Spring, Mid September through the end of May. The Channel is unforgiving. So supplying the invasion force would become ever harder as conditions worsened.
    In conclusion without the weather data the Germans would have to throw caution to the wind and take the chance that a sudden storm wouldnt send the entire force to Davy Jones locker.
    Also, the vast majority of the barges are not powered. They must be towed, train fashion, one after the other. Top speed of about 3 knots. Then to beach the barges, they must be untied and pushed ashore one by one. You can imagine the chaos of this operation, now throw in even small swells.
    Operation Neptune kicked off at the beginning of summer, the start of the better weather. A September invasion of England would be started at the tail end of the better weather.

    2) Ports. The Germans would most likely be unable to capture any large ports intact. The Germans then would have to unload all equipment and supplies on the beach, at the mercy of the tides. Again using Neptune as an example, the Allies had terrible trouble doing this with much better, specialized equipment. How the Germans do this with improvised stuff is beyond me. The Allies only managed to get large amounts of equipment ashore with the Mulberry's, artificial harbors.

    3) Allied wading tanks proved vulnerable to swells and suffered terrible losses to the sea, I'm to lazy to look up the exact figure, but I think they lost about 40-50% in the water. The Panzer III amphibs the Germans built were jerry rigged affairs compared to the M-4's of Op Neptune, so I would write those tanks off. The Germans also lacked the DUKW and Weasel amphibs the Allies had.

    4)If the Germans get good weather, these trains of barges are dead ducks against any air attacks as they are almost static targets. 8 hours of darkness of early september, moving at 3 knots at best, and only being beached one at a time, means the vast majority will be bobbing almost still for possibly hours of daylight. Even 20 British fighters getting through would cut these barges to shreds.

    Harrison in "Cross Channel Attack" states that most likely the WAKE of a destroyer or larger vessel would capsize or break up a barge. "Only a handful of RN vessels would have to get into the fold to slaughter the German ships like lambs to the slaughter" The RN could most likely suffer 75% losses, in a couple of hours, and still wipe out hundreds of German vessels. The likelihood of the RN suffering such losses is not likely so they would probably do a huge amount of damage.
    The Germans would have to task a huge amount of their airpower to stopping the RN, giving the RAF a pretty good chance of getting many sorties through to shoot up these "fish in a barrell" . With drop tanks the Spitfire has a far longer range than the Me-109, giving them more time over the beaches, and allowing them to operate out of German fighter range. Scores of British fighters should be able to interdict German shipping. Luftwaffe losses would have to be huge, when factoring in losses against the RAF, RN, accidents, running out of gas, and the weather.

    5) And what about the famed English fog? Not even going to go there.

    6) The British turned all the Abwehr spies in England and the Germans were under the impression that the English had far more hardware than they did. Canaris was feeding Hitler bad info on purpose in addittion!!!

    [ 29 September 2001: Message edited by: talleyrand ]
     
  5. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Much of what you say is true. It's true that I don't say anything about weather in the text at all, that should be remedied. I've seen the Channel dozens of times and actually when I seriously think about crossing it in a barge now... hmm... maybe better to leave it.

    There are some things I can't really agree with though. The first are these 20 days or what. If you say there were only 20 days of the year where operating was possible (and 6 days with paras) that makes the entire operation impossible, surely? I can read this only as an exaggeration or as devastating inefficiency of the Anglo-American forces.

    2. I have no knowledge of any preparatory measures to blow up ports. The situation in England at that time seems to me to be that they would have been lucky to actually have enough explosive on hand to blow ONE port up.

    3. The German tanks were sort of jerry-rigged (that term's worth remembering! [​IMG] ). but they were submersible, not amphibious, so the argument is moot. And they worked perfectly, and were used eventually in operation Barbarossa with great success.

    6. This is true, if you glance up into my text it shows that the German assessment of British forces is about 200%-300% of the actual figure. However, the Luftwaffe estimates of the RAF are astonishingly accurate. But anyway, if the Wehrmacht was willing to go against these fictional 300% and there was only a third of that there, isn't that an argument in favour of the Germans?
     
  6. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I dont remember where I read it but, the German Amphib tanks were only good in about 20 feet of water--still not bad at all.

    The RAF lost more than they officially recognized during the Battle of Britain. Im currently reading a bit on this in the book on JG26 and to which this is discussed a bit.
     
  7. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    Much of what you say is true. It's true that I don't say anything about weather in the text at all, that should be remedied. I've seen the Channel dozens of times and actually when I seriously think about crossing it in a barge now... hmm... maybe better to leave it.
    There are some things I can't really agree with though. The first are these 20 days or what. If you say there were only 20 days of the year where operating was possible (and 6 days with paras) that makes the entire operation impossible, surely? I can read this only as an exaggeration or as devastating inefficiency of the Anglo-American forces.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    TO GET THE 20 DAYS FIGURE THE VARIABLES ARE:
    A= THE RIGHT TIDES FOR THE BEACHING OF LANDING CRAFT
    B= NIGHTS WITH GOOD WEATHER
    C= LENGTH OF DARKNESS
    A+B+C=NUMBER OF DAYS MEETING CRITERIA(20)
    PARATROOPS ADD YET ANOTHER VARIABLE,
    D= PHASE OF THE MOON
    A+B+C+D=NUMBER OF DAYS MEETING CRITERIA(6)
    THE NUMBER OF POSSIBLE D-DAYS WAS COMPUTED BY MATHEMATICIANS DURING THE INITIAL PLANNING OF THE OPERATION



    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    2. I have no knowledge of any preparatory measures to blow up ports. The situation in England at that time seems to me to be that they would have been lucky to actually have enough explosive on hand to blow ONE port up.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    THEY DONT HAVE TO BLOW PORTS UP. JUST SINKING A COUPLE OF SMALLER SIZED CRAFT IN THE TRAFFIC LANES WOULD WRECK MOST PORTS FOR A COUPLE DAYS.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    3. The German tanks were sort of jerry-rigged (that term's worth remembering! ). but they were submersible, not amphibious, so the argument is moot. And they worked perfectly, and were used eventually in operation Barbarossa with great success.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    SEA CONDITIONS AFFECT THESE TANKS JUST AS MUCH AS WADERS. THE GERMAN AMPHIBS STILL MUST TAKE ON OXYGEN THROUGH PIPES WHICH EVEN SLIGHTLY ROUGH SEAS WILL RUIN THE SEALS ON. LITTLE LEAKS SPRING ABOUT ALL OVER AND THE ENGINE STALLS, WORST CASE THE AIR INTAKE SYSTEM GETS RIPPED OFF. CURRENTS CAUSED BY ROUGH SEAS CAN EASILY KEEP THESE TANKS FROM MAKING HEADWAY OR WORST CASE TIP THEM OVER. ALSO, THE ENGLISH CHANNEL WAS ABOVE WATER JUST A FEW THOUSAND YEARS AGO, THE SEA FLOOR HAS A LAYER OF SOFT LOAM MADE OF ROTTED VEGETABLE MATTER AND SOIL. I WOULD ASSUME ANY AFV WOULD BOG DOWN LIKE NO TOMORROW WHILE UNDERWATER.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    6. This is true, if you glance up into my text it shows that the German assessment of British forces is about 200%-300% of the actual figure. However, the Luftwaffe estimates of the RAF are astonishingly accurate. But anyway, if the Wehrmacht was willing to go against these fictional 300% and there was only a third of that there, isn't that an argument in favour of the Germans?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    THIS MISINFORMATION NOT ONLY BLEW CURRENT INVENTORY OUT OF PROPORTION, BUT ARRIVAL OF US GOODS ALSO, LEADING THE GERMANS TO BELIEVE UK SUPPLY WAS POSSIBLY BOTTOMLESS.

    7) IT IS WIDELY BELIEVED THAT UNCLE JOE WOULD BACKDOOR GERMANY IF SEALION KICKED OFF. THATS ANOTHER STORY THOUGH

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  8. alath

    alath Member

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    This is a small detail, but then, the small details do matter: Judging the Luftwaffe's efficacy against shipping, by their record against merchant ships and troop ships is fine, but wouldn't translate against warships.

    Off Salerno, the Luftwaffe had workable air superiority and they did somewhat disrupt the invasions supporting warships. I think they sunk a cruiser, damaged another one, and got a couple-few destroyers. But they came nowhere near close to driving the warships away, or neutralizing the force.

    So in Sealion, the Brits send the Home Fleet against the invasion and its support effort. The Luftwaffe causes them some problems, and inflicts some losses, yes. But still I think the RN plays havoc with with the German shipping.

    On the bigger picture, I'd look at 'safety margin' of the whole operation.

    You've got plausible scenarios where the Germans could, by the skin of their teeth, just barely manage to achieve partial air superority. And by the skin of their teeth, just barely get enough local control to use part of the Channel for a certain period of time.

    That makes the whole thing really touch-and-go, a very dicey affair.

    For Normandy, the Allies OWNED not just the Channel, but the whole Atlantic too. They OWNED the skies over France, and could penetrate via air into Germany's strategic rear. They landed with fresh, large, well-trained, lavishly-equipped troops, and a lot of them, facing in some areas bottom-of-the barrel, ill-equipped ill-supplied troops.

    And it was still touch and go, at times. Just the Channel itself played hell with the Allies' operational rear, and German forces weren't even contesting it.

    The best Sealion scenario hinges on skin-of-the-teeth bare margins, and anything going wrong could blow it. The slightest snafu or delay, and the Germans ashore are in big trouble. Such an operation could easily have been a crippling disaster for Germany, as a war-winning scenario.
     
  9. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    The Luftwaffe flew TWO sorties over Normandy during the entire first day of Operation Neptune.
     
  10. alath

    alath Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by talleyrand:
    The Luftwaffe flew TWO sorties over Normandy during the entire first day of Operation Neptune.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Talleyrand, please develop this thought a little more... two sorties, and therefore..?
     
  11. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    The Allied air superiority was so great only two German aircraft made it over the beaches. They were two fighters, cant remember which type, they werent even shot at by AA because of the lack of German aircraft, everyone thought they were Allied. They slipped in, emptied their guns and flew home
     
  12. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    One at least was a Fw-190F. IIRC, the pilot was actually so terrified when he saw the amount of material, ships etc. that he didn't even fire, just turned round and headed for home in order to stay alive. There is a rumour that the other one was an Ar-234, but I don't think that's true.

    Anyway, in 1944 the war was fought on different proportions than four year earlier. I mean, throughout 1944 the Luftwaffe lost more fighters per month than it actually had in 1942 (not to mention 1940).
     
  13. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    Exactly. What was done to the Luftwaffe in '44 must be done to the RAF for the Germans to invade them.
    This is not possible. This is why Russia was attacked and Sealion postponed, because Hitler finally saw that the invasion of England probably couldnt take place until '43.
    A better scenario would be, Op Barbarossa never takes place, Hitler doesnt declare war on the US in '41, and sets German production to producing an invasion fleet and air arm sufficient to pound the RAF into dust. Sealion kicks off in '43 after 3 years of strategic bombing, raids of hundreds of HE-177 are commonplace over London at this time. Do the Soviets attack Germany? Will the Germans make it ashore? Will the US help England?
    What are your thoughts on this?
     
  14. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Are we amputating the Eastern Hemisphere of the earth in this scenario? Otherwise incidents in Japan and Asia would interfere.

    Personally, I think that by 1943 it's quite possible that Stalin has already attacked westwards.

    But if he hasn't, then I believe that the Soviet Union would not help England but America will (because they've been doing so all the time covertly. There would be US troops in England and they would fight.
     
  15. piylic2

    piylic2 recruit

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    When is comes down to it of course hitler couldnt invade, but the place where operation sealion would fail had it been attempted was logistcally, indeed it can be argued the luftwaffe did infact gain local air superiority over the channel, after all the british did close it to all shipping after the C.W9 incident. However even if the raf had been wiped of the face of the earth the luftwaffe could not stop the RN iterfering indefinatly remember the RN would have been immune at night and in bad weather and as for the mines dont forget a significant number of destroyers and MTBs would have been inside the mine belt. The invading fortilla was so weak only what may be conceved as minor losses would have been enough to finish the invasion after all if the german army was fighting with no or very few artillery and tank support even the British army could beat it back.
    Somethings i would also like to point out about the barges is:
    i)Top Speed
    At best the top speed of a river barge was maybe 5 knots i'd like to point out currents in the channel are often 5knots meaning a already slow barge suddenly becomes even slower in some extreme cases even travelling backwards.
    ii)Flat Bottoms
    With flat bottoms and low drafts the Barges would have been very prone to drifting even in a light wind or current.
    The weak link in the german equasion was not, as is often stated, the luftwaffe it was the kreigsmarine who were grossly illprepared for any sort of amphibious assult
    Having said all this however the question must be asked as to whether hitler even intended to invade. In truth it made much better tactical sense in the long run for hitler not to invade, after all Britain posed no military threat there was no reason for hitler to believe america would get involved and if russia was knocked out there was a much better chance of Britain making peace which is what hitler wanted after all.
     
  16. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Ive just been reading a book about JG 26, I dont have it with me but, I think it mentiones that it flre some missions in that area or near there, on the first few days of what you guys are talking about. If I remember to do so, I will go back and check what I read so as not to be mistaken (again) :rolleyes: :rolleyes: and will let you know. Reason why this pops into mind is because Galland scored one or two victories in the few day time frame were taking about here.
     
  17. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    The real weak link of Sealion is probably the lack of the Kriegsmarine. I list all the Kriegsmarine forces available for Sealion, they're anything except impressive. The Luftwaffe had to make up for the Kriegsmarine plus perform its other duties, but I believe this would have been possible and do not share the apparently common belief that this would have been impossible under the scenario that I've developed.

    The weather is certainly an important factor. I must add that to my text.

    Resupply - just an idea, but what about airlifting troops, light equipment and supplies in? In addition to the naval route of course. It was done a lot earlier on, and succeeded several times during the war. Please nobody come screaming Stalingrad, that was under completely different circumstances.
     
  18. alath

    alath Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    I believe this would have been possible and do not share the apparently common belief that this would have been impossible under the scenario that I've developed.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    To me, the crux of this whole discussion so far is the operation's margin for error.

    You can lay out hypotheticals, where Sealion would have been just barely possible. But possible, feasible, and advisable are all very different concepts and you have to distinguish between them.

    Looking at the conditions the Allies were able to establish for Overlord - total dominance of the Channel and the whole ocean, and the air all the way back to Berlin - enormous reserves of manpower and material, massive shipping and naval support, vast amounts of specialized amphib equipment, and a fair degree of tactical surprise - you'd have look at the operation and say; "Not only is this operation feasible, it's darn-near invincible." But still, even with these EXTREMELY favorable preconditions, there were some very dicey moments as it played out in reality.

    The scenario you propose for Sealion is possible, yes, but just ever-so-barely. Feasible, only with great luck. Advisable, no way.

    It's like saying, "I can imagine Adolf Hitler dumping out a whole crateful of dice on the floor, and they all come to rest showing sixes."

    Yeah, it's possible, I guess. But it wouldn't be a very smart gamble to bet on things happening that way.

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  19. alath

    alath Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by piylic2:
    it can be argued the luftwaffe did infact gain local air superiority over the channel, after all the british did close it to all shipping after the C.W9 incident. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I guess it depends on your definition of air superiority.

    At the time you're talking about, control of the air over the channel was certainly *contested* and you can easily see how the Brits would have reckoned it a dumb idea to run merchant convoys through the area, especially when the same logistics could be accomplished by rail.

    Still, even under the same conditions, the Brits might well have felt that warships could operate in the area, or that warship losses would be an acceptable risk given the opportunity to disrupt the Sea Lion invasion and resupply efforts.

    But that's a whole different definition than the kind of air superiority the Allies had over Normandy. Over Normandy, the Allies could say; "Anything you Nazis put in the air is coming right back down. Anything bomb-able, rocket-able, or strafe-able that you put on the ground, can be destroyed whenever we happen to feel like it."

    That's real air superiority, the kind that's strategically decisive. The Germans never accomplished that over the Channel, let alone over England.

    PS: agree with you on the seaworthiness issues of barges. I wouldn't put anything I cared about very much on a flat-bottom five-knot river barge and try to cross the Channel with it, under any circumstances whatsoever. Let alone the cream of my country's armed forces.

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  20. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Alath:
    But that's a whole different definition than the kind of air superiority the Allies had over Normandy. Over Normandy, the Allies could say; "Anything you Nazis put in the air is coming right back down. Anything bomb-able, rocket-able, or strafe-able that you put on the ground, can be destroyed whenever we happen to feel like it.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Okay, if they were so great, why did they take most objectives weeks behind schedule (like Caen)?

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
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