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Yet another "Operation Sealion" what if?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by John Dudek, Feb 24, 2006.

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  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Attention to all you stalwart historians! There have been many "What if?" books written, dealing with a possible German invasion of England in 1940, some of them good, many of them outright balderdash.

    My questions are. How would the RAF, Royal Navy and Army have responded to an invasion of their homeland, had Hitler indeed come to call? Have there been any comprehensive works written lately, using credible military sources, showing possible British strategic military reactions to a German invasion by both sea and airborne means?

    I already have several books on the subject, but they all seem to either dwell on the mundane, or slip into the realm of impossibility.

    Lastly, I recall reading awhile back, that the British codewords "Cromwell" and "Stand-to" were the alert warnings to the military and civilian populace, meaning that an invasion was imminent or in progress. I seem to remember reading that the Royal Navy equivalent were the words, "Sir Francis Drake." Could anyone confirm or deny this for me?

    Thanks Guys!
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    While this has been gone over in length on this board and others, the short answer is the invasion would most likely have been a disaster for the Germans.
    The British had 30 destroyers and about 200 smaller vessels positoned to counter the invasion. Larger ships, up to a battleship in size, could have made the invasion crossing area in less than 24 hours.
    The invasion fleet itself would have taken somewhere between 48 and 96 hours to cross and another 72+ hours to actually complete the landing. The biggest gun among the escorting vessels was a 4" with the vast majority of the escorts being converted fishing trawlers with nothing bigger than a 37mm AA gun. When you add the marginal stability of many of the vessels crossing (including about 1000 8 to 10 man outboard motorboats suitable for fishing on your favorite placid lake :eek: ) and the total lack of sailing experiance of most of the crews, you get a recipe for massive destruction and loss of life among the invasion fleet.
     
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    And don't forget that the RAF had Mustard Gas stocked at strategic airfields around Britain; in the event of an invasion, the authorities were quite prepared to drop poison gas on invasion beaches as a last-ditch resort.
    TA is right about it being bloody for both sides. The British had the Auxiliary Units set up (the only European nation to have a Resistance movement in place before actually being invaded), who would have inflicted as many casualties as possible before being wiped out.
    There are numerous recorded instances from 1940 of strangers being in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffering for it. I remember a case on TV a few years ago; a surveyor from some government dept was sent out to measure a farmer's field (in Oxfordshire, I think)to determine it's potential yield. Some halfwit local saw him, assumed him to be a German spy marking out a landing ground, and came back with his mates. Upshot was that a Dunkirk veteran home on leave was among this crowd, and he finished up shooting the guy. The country was already parochial and paranoid about strangers before war broke out, I think the appearance of German troops in one's own area would have triggered all sorts of violent mayhem.
     
  4. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Sounds like you’ve probably got The Last Ditch” by David Lampe, else I’m sure find it of interest John. You mention the Airborne invasion aspect. As it would not have been logistically possible to ‘swamp’ Britain with Airborne forces, I presume you take it they would have been sent against specific objectives only? What sort of numbers and which objectives would you envisage?

    No.9
     
  5. Fortune

    Fortune Member

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    an airborne invasion would have been possible, if dropping them into the countryside of somewhere as you said, they still couldnt "swamp" britain...just rattle the cages a bit..
     
  6. Richard

    Richard Expert

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    We can thank Hitler for not going ahead with the invasion a German blunder that was not. Shame Hitler didn’t stop to think about the other ones.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    With the very limited endurance of the Luftwaffe fighters, and the extreme vulnerability of the Ju 52, I dread to think of the mess the RAF may have made of a German airborne invasion force.
     
  8. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    From what I've read, the Fallshirmjagers got shot up pretty badly in Holland, Kurt Student as well and were not yet up to Divisional strength.

    Furthermore, I'd hate to see what RAF Fighter Command would do to hundreds of Ju-52 transports that were transporting the Germans, plus some gliders for a drop over England.

    It appears that they would have been used as a blocking force at strategic road junctions into the port of Dover, also to be used in seizing several airfields in the South of England.

    Unfortunately, by mid September, 1940, the British Divisions located in the area were no longer the weaponless, "ghost formations" that they were following their recovery from Dunkirk. Much of their TOE had been restored by the British War industry in the intervening months.

    I can't see how the Germans could hope to succeed in such an endeavor, given the air superiority the RAF enjoyed and the supremacy the Royal Navy had over the much smaller elements of the Kriegsmarine committed to the operation.

    I think it would have resulted in a German massacre, killing tens of thousands and putting many more than that into British POW cages.
     
  9. Fortune

    Fortune Member

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    it would be quite chaotic i would have to put...
     
  10. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Re an air drop John, as said without the RAF being effectively knock back it’s not going to work. Raids on airfields to try and achieve that could be one use, but to mount anything with the RAF fully operational would have been suicide.

    On the ground Britain was not that poorly off for fighting men. In addition to the BEF evacuation from Dunqurque, there’s the often overlooked second evacuation from and around Cherbourg where all men and equipment were got away barring a broken truck and subsequently men lost in an air attack on shipping. Then there's the Commonwealth/Empire troops already arrived in Britain.

    The Land Defence Volunteers (Home Guard) were up and running and were given priority to be armed. While it was hoped a few hundred thousand would volunteer, they actually swamped with over a million at the outset. They should not be thought of as ‘old men’, which in itself actually speaks quite highly. Firstly, Britain had by no means yet mobilised all men of fighting age and many when into the Home Guard while waiting for call-up. Secondly, the many of the older men were Veterans of the W.W.I and I really don’t see the 19 year old German was going to teach them anything of fighting a blood and guts war.

    In June 1940 the Commandos started to be formed and were subsequently assigned over to Home Forces specifically to counter air invasion. Largely they were allocated tasks of the rapid reaction type, or airfield dense. Some were also tasked with covering some withdrawal aspects of regular forces from the coast inland, with no orders or provision dealing with their own withdrawal.

    No.9
     
  11. Panzer6

    Panzer6 Member

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    Hitler should have not even tried Operation Seelowe, but tried to strangle Britain with U-boats. He could have tried taking Egypt as well. But no way was the Operation going to be a success except by luck for many reasons.
    1. The Luftwaffe needed complete Air Supremecy, and that could never be achieved. If Britain was going to lose over Southern Britain, they planned to pull back.
    2. The Germans needed to cross but the RN would stop it, as well as crappy Rhine river boats to cross. Not sufficient boats, nor good as the English channel can be rough water.
    3. Airborne troops could not win the Battle. The Germans had a tops 6,000 parachute soldiers ready, and tanks could not be air dropped in great numbers, leaving mainly light equipment only.
    4. Logistics. The largest reason of all. If the Germans somehow got to Britain, and their soldiers survived the first British counter attack, the Germans could never supply the soldiers with enough food, ammo, equipment, or fuel to get far. They would be defeated.
     
  12. Richard

    Richard Expert

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    In the second part of The Real Dad's Army military experts today made a study of the military academy Sandhurst re-enactment in 1974 with veterans from England and Germany, they concluded SeaLion would have ended in a military defeat for Germany, the invasion area Dover they would have only got 18 to 20 miles in land and after a week of fighting forced to withdraw.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Interesting. The Germans got over the channel according to their view?
     
  14. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Yes, the British fully expected the Germans to be completely capable of making a seaborne landing in England.

    Unfortunately for the Germans, supporting that landing with the proper amount of logistics, men and material was a far different matter to deal with, especially when one sees the amount of weaponry that the RAF, Royal Navy and Army would bring to bear against it, in order to drive them back into the sea.
     
  15. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    The plan was to let them land in the south-west Kai - per Monty. The shore was expected to be lost with an eventual withdrawal of the remaining coastal forces, as best possible, to the real perimeter defence. Thereafter the Germans ashore would be eliminated, plus dramatic loss of supply shipping. The RAF, withdrawn west, (hence why airfields in Wales for example were so important to preserve), would have a strike field-day as, being inland, the Germans would have less combat airtime than on the coast.

    No.9
     
  16. Fury

    Fury Member

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    Hitler's racial beliefs regarded the British as Aryan cousins of the German people. Fighting the English was never a desirable outcome for the Fuehrer. His priorities lay elsewhere. At one point, he even believed the British and Germans would join together to stop the threat of Bolshevism. Operation Sea Lion was first and foremost, a threat, a bargaining chip in a complex military and diplomatic effort to get the English to stand down. This effort, I believe, even included the Hess Mission, which was later denied by all, except Hess.
     
  17. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Oops, an error in my last post, meant 'south-east' not 'south-west'. However, when I went in to edit it a message told me I was "out of time"? Since when a time limit?

    No.9
     
  18. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    All of those half-drowned German soldiers on the British beach heads along with their equipment would have represented a "Target Rich Environment" to the RAF flying from nearby, airfields, not to mention, the Royal Navy hovering offshore, doing its level best in interdicting the German re-supply efforts.
     
  19. rifleman1987

    rifleman1987 Member

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    YEAH I GUESS THE ROYAL NAVY WOULD BE A WILL PAIN FOR GERMANS TO KEEP AWAY FROM ANY LANDINGS YEAH I GUESS THEY WOULD LAY MINES BUT THE GUNS ON THE NAVY COULD FIRE MILES AND MILES AWAY
     
  20. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    The purpose of the war-game was to see if the invasion would succeed, if the Germans managed to land their forces
    So in the interests of this, the senario allowed the Germans to land their first wave unopposed , by the RN and RAF.

    It would be a very, very, short war game if the RN caught it in mid-channel ;)
     
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