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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. alath

    alath Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Andreas Seidel:
    Okay, if they were so great, why did they take most objectives weeks behind schedule (like Caen)?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You're actually arguing my point. Like I said, the Allies had overwhelming material superiority and forces at Normandy and extremely favorable preconditions -- and yes, they still had a tough time.

    That's my whole point of comparing your Sealion scenario to Normandy. You're asking the Wehrmacht to invade England under far less favorable circumstances than the Allies had.
     
  2. piylic2

    piylic2 recruit

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> do not share the apparently common belief that this would have been impossible under the scenario that I've developed. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    OK under the scenarion you developed i think you are right sealion may have suceeded what i meant in my text was under the conditions preasent at the time sealion would not of suceeded.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Resupply - just an idea, but what about airlifting troops, light equipment and supplies in?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I personally dont think this could have worked. The luftwaffes transport aircraft would have been tied up resupplying the paratroopers who probably would have been used. The amount of material they would have been able to drop in after its other resposiblitys had been catered for would have been very small. They only managed to be able to resupply paratroopers because they work off less equipment. Parachuting troops in sound like a bad idea bacause not only would they have been untrained, thet would have been unable to carry large amounts of equipment they would have been scattered everywhere and would have no doubt suffered high casualty rate and there wounldn't have been many of them. Onlt very light equipment would have been able to have been dropped in and again there wouldn't have been much of it and if the raf was still about no doubt they would have had something to say about all those very slow tansport planes.
    U're right the german no where near gain the kind of air superiority the allies had the kind the had was the kind that was surrendered to them by the british, However if the german had the kind of invaision fleet the allies had the may not have even have quite needed that kind of superiority.
     
  3. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Alath:
    That's my whole point of comparing your Sealion scenario to Normandy. You're asking the Wehrmacht to invade England under far less favorable circumstances than the Allies had.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Ah, but the Allies were attacking a fortress. The Germans would be attacking a wooden hut. It's the getting across that is really the problem and here you are probably right. But the Allies could have had steamers and towed barges too for all that mattered, right?

    And I am giving the Germans a similar air superiority over the channel as the Allies had during Overlord. So, there remains the RN, and I 'deal' with that with prelminary bombardment and sinking of known ships in known spots and continuos CAP over the channel during the invasion and more importantly resupply (because the RN would most likely arrive too late to stop the invasion itself.


    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Piylic2:
    Naturally under historical conditions as they were Sealion couldn't take place. More than likely, that's why it didn't.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    With 'airlifting' I don't mean 'airdropping' I mean landing in a suitable field (something all Junkers aircraft I know are quite capable of), unloading and taking off again

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  4. Ron

    Ron Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by alath:
    I guess it depends on your definition of air superiority over the channel, after all the british did close it to all shipping after the C.W9 incident.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    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.
     
  5. Ron

    Ron Member

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    all i can say is WOW!
    this is the best, most factually based forum discussion i've seen in my experience here!
    I'm going to suggest to Otto that he archive your finished essay Andreas.
    I'll be brief being that SOOOO much has been said already! I think it took me an hour to read this whole thing!
    Ok...Well going back to the points of the essay...i pretty much support everything BUT what you said about the germans gaining control over the channel.
    What people mention about the weather is true...with the weak craft the germans would have used, and the landing strat that would have been employed IE (beaching barges) disaster was looming.
    My main point is that the german airforce would not have made the british navy mute. Reports of the landing would have come in...the british probably would then have sent in the smaller faster ships like torpedo boats and destroyers to attack the beaches and barges etc. (i feel the british would do this cause they knew that the slow battleships and cruisers would be easy prey to aircraft, being in this case the germans own the sky so to speak) wether that operation was successful or not the british big guns would have gone into the beaches the minute the sun was down...then..if the battleships and cruisers could get in...the landing craft and suppies would have been decimated. they then would repeat this strat until german supply was impossible.
    I think that even had the german had air superiority the British navy would have played a more decisive role along with the weather. Thus i feel that if an army was landed then they would not get enough supplies to execute succesful offensives...a stalemate would at first occur...and eventually if the germans didn't improove the supply situation...they would be forced to withdraw in some manner.
    another thing i think of is that even if the british were defeated in the battle of britian...they would still posess an airforce able to do moderate damage to the invading fleet...i'm sure the RAF would have concentrated all bombing efforts on the support ships and beaches.

    [ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  6. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    Hello, I came across this post on my travels on the web. I think anyone with an interest in Sealion will find it interesting.

    Do not say they cannot come, only that they cannot come by Sealion

    Operation Sealion - The Background

    One of the more common suggestions that crop up at all-too regular intervals goes along the lines of: "If Hitler hadn't switched from bombing airfields to bombing cities, then Operation Sealion would have worked."

    Unfortunately for these suggestions, the plan for Sealion was perhaps the most flawed plan in the history of modern warfare. Getting it to a workable state requires so many changes that an author's artistic license would be revoked.

    When France collapsed, in mid-June 1940, the German staff had not even considered, never mind studied, the possibility of an invasion of Britain. Troops had received precisely zero training for seaborne and landing operations, and nothing had been done to gather the means of getting troops across the Channel.

    At the time, the balance of naval forces in the region were as follows:

    RN
    5 capital ships
    11 cruisers
    53 destroyers
    23 destroyers on convoy duty
    Kriegsmarine
    1 capital ship
    1 cruiser
    10 destroyers
    20-30 submarines

    In addition, the RN had countless smaller craft, including sloops, minesweepers, converted trawlers etc. These would have been of marginal value against warships. However, against the Rhine barges forming the main invasion transport force, they would have been effective.

    Thus, any Sealion which takes as its Point of Departure the premise that German forces attempted to cross in the immediate aftermath of Dunkirk has to answer the following questions:

    1.How are troops transported?
    2.How will the Germans cope with contested air?
    3.What is going to prevent the RN from interfering?
    4.Once ashore, how will the German forces be resupplied?

    If we turn our attention to point 3 for a while, the standard response is to say that the Luftwaffe could sink the RN ships. However, the Luftwaffe of the period had a pathetic record against warships. 39 RN destroyers took part in the Dunkirk evacuation. This operation required maneuvering in a small harbour, with periods stationary while embarking troops. The Luftwaffe had command of the air for long periods. In these ideal conditions, the Luftwaffe managed to put out of commission a grand total of 4 destroyers. 4 out of 39 does not bode well for the Luftwaffe's chances.

    However, the most typical AH suggests that if the Luftwaffe had continued to attack the airfields of 11 Fighter Group, Sealion would have worked.

    Operation Sealion - The Plan

    We turn to the formal plan for Operation Sealion. The first instruction to begin planning was issued 2 July, giving 84 days before the invasion. (D-Day had been planned for 2 years). The Germans planned to lift 9 divisions (D-Day had 5).

    In Normandy, the Allies had total naval and air superiority, a host of special equipment, considerable hard won experience, and a considerable level of support and assistance from the local population. Despite facing defenders that can be most charitably described as second-line, the Allied forces did not have an easy time on D-Day.

    Amphibious combined operations require close co-operation between the various branches. The Germans did not have this.

    The Wehrmacht wanted a broad-front landing (it proposed Ramsgate to Portand - 275 miles). The Wehrmacht expected the Kriegsmarine to carry out a landing on this massive front in the face of an overwhelming superior navy, with no transport fleet yet assembled. The Wehrmacht document stated: "The Luftwaffe will do the work of artillery, while the Kriegsmarine will do the work of engineers."

    Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine were displaying a similar level of understanding of the needs of the Wehrmacht. It stated that the time between first landing and the second wave of reinforcements and supplies would be 8-10 days. Thus 9 Wehrmacht divisions, without any heavy equipment or resupply, would be expected to hold out against the 28 divisions in Britain, which had unlimited access to supplies and the available equipment.

    Hitler called a meeting on 31 July to decide among the various options. The Luftwaffe did not attend this meeting, although it was recognised that the Luftwaffe was essential to win air supremacy and to keep the RN out of the way. The Kriegsmarine proposed landing 10 infantry regiments at Folkestone, because a broad front would be impossible to protect. The Wehrmacht did not like this. The discussion moved on to purely army matters, so Raeder left the meeting. In Raeder's absence, Hitler announced that he favoured a broad front approach.

    It was not made clear what the Luftwaffe was expected to do. On 1 August, Hitler told the Wehrmacht and the Kriegsmarine that an essential prerequisite was that the Luftwaffe gain "Total domination of the air." The Luftwaffe, however, was told by Hitler on the same day that it had to achieve "Temporary or local air superiority." Examples of such total lack of co-operation abound.

    Operation Sealion - The Crossing

    Ignoring for the time being the air battle, we will look at the mechanism proposed for getting 9 divisions across the Channel. This was the responsibility of the Kriegsmarine. The plan was:

    Block the west end of the Channel with U-Boats (operating in shallow, confined waters and required to stop, with 100% effectiveness, fast moving warships rather than slow moving merchantmen).
    Block the east end of the Channel with mines and 14 torpedo boats (with 20 enemy destroyers immediately to face).
    The main surface fleet of the Kriegsmarine was to "Break out into the Atlantic and draw the Home Fleet into following it."

    Even if this exercise in wishful thinking worked perfectly, there was a problem. The RN had, based within the limits proposed, 3 light cruisers and 17 destroyers. However, the Kriegsmarine had thought of this, and decided that the barges would be adequately protected if the soldiers on the barges (traveling at night) "Fired at unidentified ships".

    Less adequately considered by the Kriegsmarine was how to capture an intact port. The chosen port was Dover. The operational plan was to sail the barges in and capture it. This was the detailed plan. The defences of Dover included a considerable amount of equipment "Surplus to establishment" (courtesy of HMS Sabre, which had passed on abandoned equipment from Dunkirk). This equipment included:

    3 Boys anti-tank rifles
    19 Bren guns
    4 mortars
    3 21" torpedo tubes
    8 6" guns
    2 12 pounder guns and the main weapons, called Winnie and Pooh
    2 14" guns.

    There were two limiting factors. Firstly, lack of ammunition (the anti-tank rifles had only 19 rounds each) and lack of personnel. (The CO complained to his diary that he didn't have enough troops to use all the weapons he had, and he couldn't request more troops because he shouldn't have all this equipment in the first place.) Overall, the plan to capture Dover was far less well thought out that the Dieppe fiasco.

    The German logistical plan to get troops and supplies across the Channel were not as professional and thorough as that for the initial crossing described above.

    To get the first wave across, the Germans gathered barges and tugs, totally disrupting its trade in the Baltic. Eventually, 170 cargo ships, 1277 barges, and 471 tugs were gathered. These were, inevitably, bombed by the RAF (about 10% being sunk before they dispersed again). The barges were mainly those designed for use on the Rhine, with a shallow freeboard. They sink in anything above Sea State 2. The wash from a fast moving destroyer would swamp and sink the barge. (Correct: the RN could sink the whole damn lot without firing a shot).

    The situation with regard to mariners for the barges with experience of the sea was even worse. When used as a landing craft, the barges, tugs and motorboats required extra crew. In total, the Kriegsmarine estimated that a minimum of 20,000 extra crew would be needed. That's 20,000 extra crew at least knowledgable of matters maritime. By stripping its ships to the minimum (which doesn't bode well for the Kriegsmarine if it is required to fight a fleet action), the Kriegsmarine was able to supply 4,000 men. The Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe transferred 3,000 men who had been sailors in civilian life, and an in-depth trawl of the reserves and the factories and the drafts brought forward another 9,000 men. After digging through the entire manpower cupboard, the barges were still 4,000 men short of the minimum required.

    Nothing could alter this, and the Kriegsmarine came to the reluctant conclusion that the barges would have to sail in an undermanned condition.

    Finally, the barges were under-powered for open water operations, and required towing. The basic unit was a tug towing two barges, and travelling at 2-3 knots, in the Channel, which has tides of 5 knots. Given that the distance that the far left of the invasion had to cross, a minimum of 85 miles, the poor bloody soldiers would be wallowing for a minimum of 30 hours in an open boat, and expected to carry out an opposed amphibious landing at the end of it.

    The most comical element of the plan, however, was that for manoeuvring the flotilla. The plan was that this huge mass of towed barges would proceed in column until reaching a point ten miles from the landing beach, then wheel and steer parallel to the coast. When this was complete, the vessels would make a 90 degree turn at the same time, and advance in line towards the coast. This was to be carried out at night, and controlled and co-ordinated by loud hailers. There had been no chance to practise the operation, and there was less than one skilled sailor per vessel.

    If this seems to be a nightmare scenario, and a recipe for disaster, it is as nothing compared to other elements.

    Operation Sealion - Improvisations

    Given the shortage of transports, it was inevitable that the Germans would look to improvisations. These proved to be decidedly imperfect.

    The Engineer Battalion 47 of VII Army Corps was designated as having responsibility for the "construction of seaworthy ferries out of auxiliary equipment, local supply and bridging equipment". What was unusual in this was that this task, requiring a good knowledge of matters maritime, was tasked to this particular battalion, which had its home base in Bavaria.

    The engineers were nothing if not enthusiastic. They built rafts from pontoons, and were undismayed when half of these rafts sank while in harbour. Attempts to provide these rafts with power failed, because they broke up under the strain. Nonetheless, the Wehrmacht announced that these rafts would be towed behind the barges being towed by the tugs, and that the horses would thus be transported across the Channel on these rafts, saving the difficulties of loading the horses into the barges. One wonders what the horses would have made of this concept.

    The engineers turned their attention to pontoons used for crossing rivers. Even the most optimistic observer had to regard this as a failure. The open pontoons filled with water and sank. The iron beams holding the pontoons together snapped in waves, and the exercise was discontinued.

    Operation Sealion - Resupply

    The next phase of this analysis is resupply of those troops that make it ashore.

    It was recognised that it was essential to capture an intact port. Dover was the port chosen. The Kriegsmarine were told to put the Wehrmacht ashore in Dover, but nothing in the Wehrmacht plans indicates that they were required to capture Dover.

    It was planned to drop all the paratroopers on the heights north of Dover to help 16 Army. However, 9 Army had been told that all the paratroopers would be dropped near Portsmouth. The Luftwaffe had been told to support the seaborne landings, but no escort was intended for the paratroop drop, wherever it might end up taking place.

    In a stroke of tactical genius, the Dover drop zone was about the worst possible for human ingenuity to select. It was intended to drop the paratroopers between 10-15 miles from the target (shades of Arnhem) in a landing zone that was a mixture of hills and hop fields. No resupply was planned.

    As for beachheads, there was literally no plan for tactical development. The plan states:

    "Once local beachheads have been won, junior commanders will set about co-ordinating small units in their vicinity and use them to seize objectives on their front. Weak but continuous fronts will be formed. These will be extended and deepened by a continuous flow of reinforcements. After daylight, but not before, the Luftwaffe will support the main effort of the assault troops, acting as artillery."

    It goes on later: "Premature crossing by higher staff will be valueless, as it would interfere with the flow of reinforcements. It will be the duty of regimental and battalion commanders to direct operations. The restricted area of the bridgehead will not be able to accommodate vehicles, supply columns and staffs."

    The Kriegsmarine's responsibility for supply ended with dumping the stuff on the bridgehead. The Wehrmacht had given the responsibility of ensuring that supplies were moved from the beach to the front to, well, to whoever happened to be on the spot and felt like getting involved in this operation. Can you say chaos?

    Operation Sealion - The Obstacles

    Just to make matters worse, no engineers were included in the first wave, and no equipment to deal with obstacles.

    The bulk of 9 Army was to be landed on the Romney Marshes, and would have to first of all deal with the Martello Towers - which against modern artillery, would be useless, but the Germans had no modern artillery with them. They would have to be dealt with by rifles and grenades.

    Then 9 Army has to cross the Royal Military Canal. Now again, this is an antiquated defence, but would actually prove to be a problem. It is 60 feet wide - and the Germans have brought no means of getting across it. Within 30 minutes of the Romney Marshes, the British had no less than 100 pieces of artillery.

    In the immediate vicinity of 9 Army, the British had the following:

    2 Territorial Divisions
    1 Brigade from India
    1 Brigade from new Zealand
    1 Armoured Division
    1 Canadian Division
    1 Army Tank Brigade

    Then there is the example of the question of life jackets. Thousands of life jackets had been provided. However, despite all the best efforts of the planners, there were only sufficient for the first wave. The intention was, according to the plan, that these life jackets would be brought back again by the boats for the second wave. The problem was that these life jackets were worn beneath the combat pack. Those involved would be expected, on landing on an open beach while under fire, to first take off their pack, then their life jacket, and then don combat pack, and only then start doing something about those inconsiderate British soldiers shooting at them. One wonders what the veterans of Omaha beach would say about the viability of this.

    Not that it would have been of the slightest use. While the Wehrmacht had been given strict instructions to do this, no-one had been made responsible for collecting the life jackets and return them to the boats. The boats, however, did have strict instructions not to wait once they had unloaded their troops. The life jackets would have piled up uselessly on the beach.

    Then there was the matter of artificial fog. A serious conflict of opinion arose between the Wehrmacht and the Kriegsmarine regarding the use of artificial fog. The Wehrmacht wanted it, for the quite reasonable view that it would be the only form of protection available on the open beaches. The Kriegsmarine was opposed to its use for the also quite reasonable view that the landings were quite difficult enough without making it impossible to see anything.

    Inevitably, a compromise solution was found; it was ruled that the Wehrmacht would get to decide whether or not to deploy artificial fog, but that it was the responsibility of the Kriegsmarine to actually deploy it, if practicable. This compromise would have very quickly resulted in the pantomime discussion of "Oh yes it is" "Oh no it isn't".

    Still, the Germans would have had one thing in plentiful supply. In a decision that is difficult to understand, given that there was no heavy equipment for them to pull, the Germans decided to include well over 4,000 horses in the first wave.

    Operation Sealion - The Air

    So far, we have looked at an exercise in wishful thinking. We now turn to the Luftwaffe in order to gain an appreciation of the inability to count.

    The strength of the Luftwaffe at the point of Sealion was about 750 bombers and 600 Me109 fighters. The Germans estimated the strength of Fighter Command at 300 planes, of which 100 were not available to the RAF.

    In fact, 11 Fighter Group had 672 planes, of which 570 were Spitfires and Hurricanes.

    The Luftwaffe, with its resources, was expected to do all of the following:

    Act as artillery for the landing forces
    Keep the RN out of the Channel
    Win total air superiority
    Prevent British Army reinforcements from getting to the zone by bombing railway lines
    Make a mass attack on London to force the population to flee the city and choke the surrounding roads.

    One presumes that, in their copious free time, the Luftwaffe pilots would eat three Shredded Wheat for breakfast.

    Now, we actually have a pretty fair idea of how the RAF would have reacted if the southern airfields had been made untenable. Dowding had made preparations to pull 11 Fighter Group back to the Midlands in order to preserve an effective fighter opposition to an invasion proper.

    This would have placed the RAF fighters out of the range of the German fighters. Given the disasters that the Luftwaffe bombers suffered when they undertook unescorted daylight missions, we can see that while Kent and Sussex could have had a lot of bombs dropped on them, the industrial heartlands and the RAF and the RN ports and the British Army concentrations would have been pretty much untouched.

    So what happens if the Luftwaffe go after the airfields more effectively? 11 Group pulls back to the Midlands. The Luftwaffe pounds Kent and Sussex for a while, achieving diminishing returns (although the hop fields, and hence the output of beer, will be reduced noticeably).

    When Sealion starts, 11 Group has had chance to rest and recover and build up its strength, while the Luftwaffe have had to carry out a lot of sorties. On Sealion, 11 Group, in addition to 10 and 12 Group can re-enter the fray. They won't have so long over the area of operations, but against that, they have a huge number of potential targets - barges and landing beaches and transport aircraft. The Luftwaffe fighters have equally limited time over target, and they have a huge number of things they have to protect. If any target is damaged severely, Sealion is made unworkable. Thus the RAF need to succeed only once, while the Luftwaffe need to succeed everywhere and everytime.

    Meanwhile, RAF's bomber command has just been presented with a massive, unmissable target in the form of the barge fleet. If the Germans are flying fighter cover over the barges, then these fighters are not flying as escort for the German bombers. If they are not escorting the bombers, then the bombers are unprotected against RAF fighters. In this case, the Luftwaffe will be ineffective at keeping the RN Home Fleet at bay. In essence, if the RAF doesn't get the barges, then the RN does.

    It is worth reiterating the key figures, that of fighters. At the time in question, the fighters available were 600 for the Luftwaffe, and 670 for the RAF.

    Britain was outproducing Germany in planes, so the proportions are steadily moving in Britain's favour.

    Another key element was the number of trained pilots. Again, Britain has a massive tactical advantage. A British pilot who survived being shot down could quickly be returned to operational status. A German pilot who survived being shot down became a prisoner of war, and removed from the battle.

    Operation Sealion - The One Exercise

    One single main exercise was carried out, just off Boulogne. Fifty vessels were used, and to enable the observers to actually observe, the exercise was carried out in broad daylight. (The real thing was due to take place at night/dawn, remember).

    The vessels marshalled about a mile out to sea, and cruised parallel to the coast. The aramada turned towards the coast (one barge capsizing, and another losing its tow) and approached and landed. The barges opened, and soldiers swarmed ashore.

    However, it was noted that the masters of the boats let the intervals between the vessels become wider and wider, because they were scared of collisions. Half the barges failed to get their troops ashore within an hour of the first troops, and over 10% failed to reach the shore at all.

    The troops in the barges managed to impede the sailors in a remarkable manner - in one case, a barge overturned because the troops rushed to one side when another barge "came too close".

    Several barges grounded broadside on, preventing the ramp from being lowered.

    In this exercise, carried out in good visibility, with no enemy, in good weather, after travelling only a short distance, with no navigation hazards or beach defences, less than half the troops were got ashore where they could have done what they were supposed to do.

    The exercise was officially judged to have been a "great success".

    Operation Sealion - The July Option

    Some have suggested that an immediate invasion in July would have produced success. This claim derives, ultimately, from Guderian's claim that it would have been easy at this time. This, of course, is the same Guderian who claimed to have been the first German to reach the Atlantic coast during the Battle of France. This claim was made on reaching Noyettes, on the Channel coast.

    It is perfectly true that the British Army was less able to resist in July than it was by September. That, however, misses the point in a fairly dramatic fashion. The difficulty facing the Germans was not beating the British Army, but it was getting across the Channel in the face of the RN and the RAF.

    The German capacity for doing this is lower in July, and the odds are more heavily stacked against them.

    Firstly, the Kriegsmarine is weaker, as a result of unrepaired battle damage from the Norway campaign.

    Secondly, the German forces haven't had chance to gather transports. Without the efforts of bringing up the Rhine barges and scavenging and scrounging to the extent that took place, the Germans have the capacity to lift less than one infantry division.

    Thirdly, according to the precise timing, the Germans are either turning their backs on the French army before the Armistice with France, and allowing the French army to recover and reorganise; or the Germans beat France and immediately turn towards Britain, without taking time to rest their pilots and Panzer crews, and without taking time to repair battle damage to their planes and tanks.

    Fourthly, the Luftwaffe is not being allowed any time to inflict attrition on the RAF. Much to the disgust of the French, Britain had retained 24 fighter squadrons as Home Reserve. These squadrons were rested, maintained and ready. The Luftwaffe, on the other hand, have been flying a lot of sorties. The British Radar chain is undamaged, as is the command and control; in short, one is re-running the Battle of Britain, but giving the Luftwaffe tired crews and machines in need of repair, giving the RAF peak efficiency, while ensuring that the Luftwaffe have even more essential tasks to carry out than in a September Sealion.

    Operation Sealion - The End

    We can choose to wave a magic wand, and wipe out the RN and the RAF, and examine how successful the invasion was likely to be in their absence. Sandhurst has done this on four occasions to my knowledge. Both sides were given the historical starting positions, with an invasion date of 24 September.

    In each case, the details of the fighting varied, but by each analysis resulted in 27 September dawning with the Wehrmacht holding two isolated beachheads, one at roughly 2 divisions strength on Romney March, and one of 1 division at Pevensey. Each were opposed by more numerous forces, with growing numbers of tanks and artillery. German resupply was still across open beaches.

    Operation Sealion can only be described as a blueprint for a German disaster.

    Copyright ((c)) Alison Brooks/David Flin, 1998

    thanks to the above [​IMG]
     
  7. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I have posted that the Luftwaffe could have won the battle of Britain by focusing on the airfields, it would have accomplished it's task and pave the road for seelowe. But I agree that it would not have taken place. Your point number one is the only piece where there was not answer. The RN interference could have been handled by the Luftwaffe. Yes, they may not sink many but the Luftwaffe could prevent interference. Lets not forget the U-Boats and E-Boats. I would think the initial invasion would involve fallshirmjager drops around airfields. Once taken, flying in troops to hold onto the fields with figher support could have taken place. Contested air would not be a problem. Resupply would be via the channel with a heavy air umbrella. The only strong arm the Brits had was the Royal Navy. The RAF was fatigued and overstretched. The Army was no real threat. Once the British army started to rack up casualties, they would have sued for peace.

    The one thing Hitler taught us is that one can overwhelm a numerically superior enemy with surprise and lightning speed. France had more ships and tanks than the Germans. They lost. The invasion of Britain would have been a repeat of the invasion of Norway. Just in a larger scale and because of this.
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I still think that even the fatigued and overstretched RAF would have had some fun with those Ju52s.
     
  9. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Impressive thread here...for my 2 cents...
    I think alath really hit it here. It does seem that sealion would have been possible, in the theoritical sense. but practical? Not a chance. The germans would have had to have EVERYTHING go absolutley perfectly to even stand a chance. And I can't think of a single operation where everything went perfectly.
    The cross-channel thing is the biggest issue here. I certainly doesn't seem like there was any good chance of the germans making the cross-channel voyage in good shape, when considering the weather, opposition, and boats available.
    And I also think the Brits are being somewhat under-estimated here. Even if the germans had been able to land a significant force on the beach, I certainly don't think the Brits would have simply rolled over and given up upon seeing the firsg german troops. Remember, the troops in the first waves (despite all those horses!) would have no heavy equipment- these would not be the panzer forces that cut across France. And the Brits would have been fighting on their own land, and they would have had urban terrain to fight in. I think this would have resulted in an operation much like many smaller Stalingrads- the germans would have been bogged down having to fight through each British city.

    The Normandy example serves best... the allies had nearly complete air superiority, they had higher quality troops, and they had a massive logistics network. And yet, despite these advantages (which the germans had none of in 1940), the Normandy invasion was still a rather difficult feat for the allies.

    my 2 cents worth!
     
  10. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I would agree with most of what Crazy88 has posted except that the fighting would have been as intense. There was no way the Germans could have carried through with the invasion. That much we agree on. Had it actually happened, the Brits would not be able to put up such an intense fight due to the fact that they had not the resources (tanks, artillery) nor the manpower to carry out such a fight. There would be two choices.

    1. Throw everything at the invasion force and hope to push them back into the sea. If this failed, then the Isle would be lost.

    2. Set up a defense line somewhere inward and wear the Germans down with fighting withdrawals.

    I would say that the first option would have been the one I would choose because this is where any amphibious invasion is at its weakest. Setting up a defense inward would have given the Germans time to consolidate and bring in the heavy stuff. Given that the British army had very little in the way of armour and the home guard was about as good as the volkstrum of 45, it would have been a lost cause anyway.

    At that point the RAF would be its sole source of effective defense. Dowding refused to send more planes to France unlike the Army. Now, the RAF had the manpower (fatigued maybe) and planes but the army did not.

    Either way, there was never any seriousness given to the plan even by the General staff. They knew then what we are now discussing.
     
  11. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Redcoat, I have seen this article before. I must say I am not in the least happy with it for several reasons:

    a) It leaves important questions unanswered.
    b) Much of the evidence is inconclusive.
    c) The figures are open to other interpretations.
    d) Certain findings are contradictory.
    e) Some of the main conclusions have been questioned.

    In my opinion it is not really a basis for long-term discussions, not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment, no reason for any fundamental rethink of existing opiion. Broadly speaking it endorses current possibilities.

    Furthermore, the way the whole text is slanted makes me believe, against my will and previous judgement, that the original author may be harbouring a grudge against the government. He seems to be a publicity seeker, trying to get his knighthood or his chair or Vice-Chancellorship or something. Besides, I have heard he was once a consultant to a multi-national company.... so...

    [Only the Brits MAY understand the deep-down joke in this post. If you don't, apologies. Ignore it! [​IMG] ]
     
  12. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    I'm suddenly confused... I thought Jumbo posted something on this one, and I thought I had a second reply... Have some posts been lost here?
    Or am I just crazy?
     
  13. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    I'm suddenly confused... I thought Jumbo posted something on this one, and I thought I had a second reply... Have some posts been lost here?
    Or am I just crazy?
    No, :mad: one of my posts went as well
     
  14. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    So have a few of mine...i suspect it happened when the time shifted.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, had the feuhrer set a long term goal of invading Britain, like a pre-war build-up, or shifting the economy to war production early, then he could have achieved it, albeit with a heavy cost. Hitler, however, imho, set the plan up more of as a ruse to fool the British into wasting resources on a defense that never would have been needed. Had Barbarossa been successful, Germany would have control over enough resources to flatten Britain by air and sea and force them to sue for peace. There is no real advantage to invading Britain, whether or not they could have actually done it.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The question of just how serious Hitler was about invading, or even fighting with, Britain continues to cause controversy.

    Although Hitler may have been unaware of it in 1940, the greatest advantage of 'neutralizing' Britain by whatever means would have removed the 'aircraft carrier' and invasion springboard from Germany's doorstep, which Britain had become by 1943/44.
     
  16. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

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    Yes, My post seems to have gone the way of all things.

    Andreas and PzJgr. If an invasion took place in September do not make the mistake that the British were woefully short of weapons! By late September 1940 Brooke felt secure enough to release two armoured brigades to the Western Desert. Canadian troops were in the country and there was plenty of older artillery (18lb, 13lb and 4.5" Howitzers) to equip strongpoints. We were building a pill box every 7 minutes by Ausgust 1940 and churning out mines by the thousands. We were not short of infantry or explosives. We would have used poison gas.

    This implies the Germans could get to the beach. PzJgr: the british also had submarines and MTB's which could have been used to devastating effect on the SLOC of any German invasion force. Remember it is a matter of gaining consistent control of the Channel to maintain supplies to the beachhead: what happens when the depleted Kriegsmarine have to go home and refuel, re-arm or refit? The RN is exceptionally aggressive: sacrificing capital ships to save the country is the sort of thing that appeals to the Nelsonian spirit and I don't think they would have hesitated for an instant, especially against a tired and worn down Luftwaffe whose Ju87's had already proved to be death traps in the BoB. The RAF, presumably secure in it's bases north of the Thames could have struck at leisure.

    A gigantic bluff, which only the truly suicidal would have seriously considered.

    If you want to see a map of Sealion there is one in the Cabinet War Rooms which we captured in Berlin on display.

    Jumbo
     
  17. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    To go at these one by one:

    You certainly were still short of weapons. Read the relevant passages in my article please. They refer explicitly to the strengths in September. You are right when you say that things are better than in July, but in September the British army is not fully equipped, and in some areas lacks woefully indeed.

    The armoured brigade was with or without tanks? At this time a new armoured division was raised in Britain without tanks. At least Churchill says so.

    I question absolutely the numbers you give for building pillboxes and mines. Can you give a source or tell us where these were built and laid?

    There was one Canadian division in the country. It does not make a decisive difference when compared to the odd-23 British divisions.

    You could have used all the poison gas you like. I don't know why you even mention this as if this was THE ultimate decisve argument. The Germans were well-equipped to fight a gas war, in fact it seems to be a tradition even today for the German army to be prepared extremely well for chemical warfare. So you would have used gas. Fine, a few hundred possibly thousands of German soldiers would die. But then the surprise would be lost and the Germans would retaliate with gas. So now you have gas warfare on England. Churchill would have known this, I personally don't think he would have used it. It would have killed more Britons (civilians at that) than Germans.

    I also know of the plans of Churchill to bomb German cities with poison gas, but he made these only to be used if the Germans bombed English cities with gas first. They never did and never would have. If Churchill had dared to bomb Germany with gas unprovoked, world opinion (IMHO) would have suffered drastically.

    Your naval points are quite valid of course. The German's only hope there was the Luftwaffe. You can read in my essay the actual KM forces available for Sealion. Nothing outweighs a light cruiser, and the number of ASW vessels is ridiculously small. The Germans wanted to lay a mine belt, I know. Does anybody know where or how long? Would it have blocked the Channel?

    In any case, at the end of the day I am in fact in agreement that it was more or less impossible to get the troops across and keep them supplied even for two weeks.

    BTW - a point on the Ju 87. I disagree with your evaluation of the aircraft as a "death trap". Most of the Stuka losses over England were the result of a missing fighter cover. I will never forget one entry in the OKW war diary that ran roughly as follows: "a little error today. 150 Stukas over London without fighter escort. Lost 79 planes." A little error....
     
  18. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

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    Andreas

    There were plenty of small arms for the regulars, although the Home Guard was still receiving dribs and drabs. The Divisions in the South East got the best equipment as it rolled of the production lines and were pretty well set-up by September. Additional rifles were coming in : Springfields and Ross rifles from across the Atlantic. There was plenty of older artillery as I said before: an 18lb or a 4.5" shell would still make a nasty mess of most operational German armour, not to mention plenty of 2pdrs, as these had been left behind because the British in France used the 25mm French thing instead.

    The armoured formations sent out in 1940 did have tanks. Brooke specifically details these in his diaries (not the Bryant ones!).

    Poison Gas. I didn't say this was decisive, but it slows everything down, for both attacker and defender and makes combat very difficult. It still does. For the British the idea was to slow down the Germans to allow the movement of reserves to meet the threat. If you don't believe Churchill (but you do about his armoured Division) again how about Brooke or Montgomery, both of whom refer to this, and the issuing of Gas Capes to frontline units?

    I mentioned the Canadians because they were equipped. I suspect if I had mentioned the 23 British Divisions you might say that they were only armed with broomhandles and Beaverettes!

    As you say it is the weakness of the Kriegsmarine which dooms the project. There was a very good Timewatch here a few years ago on the Sealion preperations, specifically looking at German modifications to apple barges and rhine steamers to turn them into assault craft. After watching this I just felt so sorry for the lads of 16th Army if they had ever tried to step aboard these Heath-Robinson contraptions which were barely seaworthy.

    Jumbo
     
  19. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    On Britians forces- from Ian Montgomery-
    Montgomery also correctly notes that the germans essentially had no chance of contesting the British in the English Channel. The germans had far too few transports of poor quality and little hope of protecting them. We have noted the Luftwaffe's record against sinking enemy ships- very poor.
    from BBC-http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/invasion_ww2_02.shtml
    This article also talks about the british defences... although it makes no mention of specifics on the speed of construction, it does confirm that many of the british defences were constructed very quickly.

    I'd say this was only one of many issues that doomed sealion. Sealion MAY have been possible if every single little thing had gone absolutley perfectly for the germans. But in war, every little thing never works. In fact, looking at the D-Day invasion, usually the opposite is true- anything that can go wrong probably will...
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Jumbo, Andreas,
    I'll help out with a source for the pillboxes. It is the definitive work, 'Pillboxes - A Study Of UK Defences 1940' by the late Henry Wills ( London, 1985 ). This gives maps of pillbox lines and even lists map references of surviving buildings.

    The effort put into building these fortifications was fantastic - and as I mentioned above, they were all manned ( for the first and only time ) on September 7th.

    [ 04 September 2002, 04:03 PM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
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