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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Ron Walker

Would Operation Sealion have succeeded?

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  1. 1. Would Operation Sealion have succeeded?

    • Yes
      17
    • No
      31


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Other recent - and popular! - threads have discussed German mistakes during WW2, and fairly high on the list have been the failure to annihilate the BEF at Dunkirk, and the unwise decision to switch from hammering airfields and RADAR stations to bombig towns (specifically London) There has ben - or so it seemed to me! - an easy, and almost unanimous assumption that if the Germans had continued to target the RAF then (1) they'd have won and (2) the invasion that was supposed to follow would have been a success., 

I strongly disagree. In 1940, the UK, tired from a string of defeats, and having lost pretty much ALL our allies, was desperate for a success, and the Battle of Britain provided one. So, the government of the day "Bigged it up" to the maximum.Germany had lost almost the entirety of its (anyway rather small) inshore fleet in action against the RN off of Narvik, meaning that the "invasion fleet" - composed not of purpose built landing craft, but merely conscripted barges from European inland waterways would have to cross 20+ miles of open sea, totally unescorted.  -and having deposited their invading troops in England, would need to return to collect a second wave and supplies. This is the kind of exercise that has been repeatedly wargamed since the end of WW2, including by teams of senior officers who'd served both Germany and the UK during the war. Same result time after time. Total disaster for the invaders. Which is WHY, in 1944, after over a YEAR of preparations, the establishment of vast stockpiles of gear, with th enemy utterly confused as to where and when the invasion would come, the Allies were still VERY nervous as to the outcome.Quite a number of people down the last 1,000 years have considered the idea of invading England. Since William of Normany's attempt in 1066... nobody has succeeded. Not Phillip of Spain with his Armada, Not Napoleon. Getting from one side of the Channel to the other still in a condition to fight is NOT easy. William might be considered to have cheated: He convinced his Viking Allies to make a simutaneous invasion on the EAST coast at Stamford Bridge. Harold's army took on one invasion, defeated it, then marched South to meet William.

Any other opinions? Would Hitler have succeeded? Ought I to have made this post into a Poll?!

SeaLion.jpg

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I think it would have failed, the Germans had no invasion fleet to support the invasion and the barges they were going to use could only lead to catastrophe. That would have suited me just fine!

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Well had the Germans been able to force the RAF away from the invasion area the luftwaffe could have taken care of the home fleet. The Japanese showed the world how that was done in 1941. 

With the RAF forced away and the homefleet on the bottom of the channel, what choice would Britain have but to surrender?

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1 minute ago, The_MadMan said:

Well had the Germans been able to force the RAF away from the invasion area the luftwaffe could have taken care of the home fleet. The Japanese showed the world how that was done in 1941. 

With the RAF forced away and the homefleet on the bottom of the channel, what choice would Britain have but to surrender?

Interesting theory, but if you examine what happened when a German fleet attempted to dash the full length of the Channel, West to East (not just the 20 odd miles North to South ) February 12th 1943.The Germans called it "Operation Zerberus". The RAF had been bombing Brest (Where the German fleet was anchored) with enough success to bother the German Navy, who decided they needed to move the ships back closer to home. From Brest to Dover is a LONG WAY. And there's no doubt of where you're going. Your theory seems to be that whether or not the trip was feasible was entirely down to airpower. Reality, in the form of Operation Zerberus suggests otherwise. Tarranto was a different situation; The Italian fleet attempted to escape from their base via a dash through a relatively narrow channel.After one ship sank in that channel, the others were either "fish in a barrel", or tore themselves below the waterline trying to  get past the sunken ship.

Channel Dash.jpg

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On 09/11/2017 at 1:14 PM, Ron Walker said:

Other recent - and popular! - threads have discussed German mistakes during WW2, and fairly high on the list have been the failure to annihilate the BEF at Dunkirk, and the unwise decision to switch from hammering airfields and RADAR stations to bombig towns (specifically London) There has ben - or so it seemed to me! - an easy, and almost unanimous assumption that if the Germans had continued to target the RAF then (1) they'd have won and (2) the invasion that was supposed to follow would have been a success., 

I strongly disagree. In 1940, the UK, tired from a string of defeats, and having lost pretty much ALL our allies, was desperate for a success, and the Battle of Britain provided one. So, the government of the day "Bigged it up" to the maximum.Germany had lost almost the entirety of its (anyway rather small) inshore fleet in action against the RN off of Narvik, meaning that the "invasion fleet" - composed not of purpose built landing craft, but merely conscripted barges from European inland waterways would have to cross 20+ miles of open sea, totally unescorted.  -and having deposited their invading troops in England, would need to return to collect a second wave and supplies. This is the kind of exercise that has been repeatedly wargamed since the end of WW2, including by teams of senior officers who'd served both Germany and the UK during the war. Same result time after time. Total disaster for the invaders. Which is WHY, in 1944, after over a YEAR of preparations, the establishment of vast stockpiles of gear, with th enemy utterly confused as to where and when the invasion would come, the Allies were still VERY nervous as to the outcome.Quite a number of people down the last 1,000 years have considered the idea of invading England. Since William of Normany's attempt in 1066... nobody has succeeded. Not Phillip of Spain with his Armada, Not Napoleon. Getting from one side of the Channel to the other still in a condition to fight is NOT easy. William might be considered to have cheated: He convinced his Viking Allies to make a simutaneous invasion on the EAST coast at Stamford Bridge. Harold's army took on one invasion, defeated it, then marched South to meet William.

Any other opinions? Would Hitler have succeeded? Ought I to have made this post into a Poll?!

SeaLion.jpg

I'd take issue with the final paragraph of your otherwise excellent summary.

I think that you are mistaken that William of Normany was in any way allied with Harald Hardraade of Norway, and,thus, any notion that they somehow coordinated their invasions of England in 1066 is wide of the mark.

Actually Hardraade with Harold's brother Tostig were very much the greater threat  and they would have had no intention whatever of  sharing anything with William had they triumphed at Stamford Bridge.

But, back to the thread, the chances of an actual invasion of Britain succeeding was virtually nil,even if Dunkirk had been a disaster for the British and the RAF had been defeated in the air.

But a physical invasion might not have been necessary for Germany to win.

 

 

Edited by Philip Whitehouse
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12 hours ago, Joris said:

Here is the full text from the Telegraph Magazine's report on the Sandhurst wargames, in which they played out the scenario of a German invasion of Britain:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_JIBYcrqYoOdEVBS0dOWldlQ00/view

 

Thanks for finding that - it's pretty much as I remembered. The allied forces, headed the other way in 1944, had - at the insistence of the British - delayed matters by over a year from the date proposed by the Americans, to allow for the development of vehicles, stockpiling of armaments, huge amounts of deception...and even when attacking a coastline where the civilian population is predominantly in favour of the invaders, it was STILL a close run thing. There's FAR MORE to an invasion than just managing to put some men ashore. They need reinforcement, artillery and armour support... fresh ammunition supplies, fuel...Meaning that you MUST maintain control over the "door" through which you entered, in order to bring MORE stuff through it.Otherwise you wind up with a LOT of soldiers stranded on a hostile shore with dwindling ammunition supplies and food.

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In a weird way, landing troops is the easy bit. Keeping them there, supplied, equipped and fed is the real challenge. Canal barges would never have been able to survive repeated channel crossings and resupply by air, we've seen how that worked at Stalingrad and Arnhem. 

 

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19 hours ago, Joris said:

In a weird way, landing troops is the easy bit. Keeping them there, supplied, equipped and fed is the real challenge. Canal barges would never have been able to survive repeated channel crossings and resupply by air, we've seen how that worked at Stalingrad and Arnhem. 

 

I don't know about Arnhem, but Stalingrad is not really comparable with Sea Lion-day. At Stalingrad, the Germans were eventually surrounded by well-equipped Russian troops. May I play the devil's advocate? The war games mentioned does not seem to take into account possible German use of paratroopers and use of an 'air bridge'-type supply-line. This strategy might have forced the Germans to return to a focus on destroying RAF airfields rather than London? The German use of paratroopers was successful in Crete, but of course that was somewhat later in the war, and Crete wasn't Britain; Britain was in 'readiness' - but short of heavy weapons.  

 

 

Edited by Gunnar Sivertsen

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4 hours ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

I don't know about Arnhem, but Stalingrad is not really comparable with Sea Lion-day. At Stalingrad, the Germans were eventually surrounded by well-equipped Russian troops. May I play the devil's advocate? The war games mentioned does not seem to take into account possible German use of paratroopers and use of an 'air bridge'-type supply-line. This strategy might have forced the Germans to return to a focus on destroying RAF airfields rather than London? The German use of paratroopers was successful in Crete, but of course that was somewhat later in the war, and Crete wasn't Britain; Britain was in 'readiness' - but short of heavy weapons.  

 

 

I didn't want to compare the events, they were for reference to instances that supply by air is nice on paper but doesn't work in real life. The Germans didn't have the planes to pull this off in 1940, especially after losing staggering numbers of Ju 52 planes in the Netherlands. 

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7 hours ago, Gunnar Sivertsen said:

I don't know about Arnhem, but Stalingrad is not really comparable with Sea Lion-day. At Stalingrad, the Germans were eventually surrounded by well-equipped Russian troops. May I play the devil's advocate? The war games mentioned does not seem to take into account possible German use of paratroopers and use of an 'air bridge'-type supply-line. This strategy might have forced the Germans to return to a focus on destroying RAF airfields rather than London? The German use of paratroopers was successful in Crete, but of course that was somewhat later in the war, and Crete wasn't Britain; Britain was in 'readiness' - but short of heavy weapons. 

Puzzling again. "Stalingrad" has now been renamed "Volgograd" reflecting its position on one bank of the river Volga.  While not nearly as wide as the English Channel, it still represents a formidable obstacle, restricting manoeuvre to three of the four compass directions. Many years back, when I lived in Hannover, a friend offered me a lift to a party, and we stopped off on the way to pick up another friend. Our departure for the party was slightly delayed by the return of the second chap's parents - nicely bronzed! - from holiday. I politely asked if they'd been somewhere nice, and was told "Yes, Crete. And THIS time they were a lot more friendly", The pal's father had been adjutant of the German FallschirmJaegers who dropped into Crete - and got cut to ribbons while doing so. Their parachute harnesses were fixed, giving zero control of where one lands, and their "heavy" weapons were dropped separately in cannisters. The skies over Crete during the drop resembled the opening day of the Grouse season, and Germany never again allowed paratroops to be used in the conventional manner.
At Stalingrad, aviation played a key role, particularly after the town had been surrounded. The Garrison was both on the brink of starvation AND running dangerously low on ammunition. Casualty evacuation was only possible by air. The Secretary of the Bristol/Hannover Council was a doctor (who post war had married a major from BAOR) she (as a field medic) had been one of the last survivors to be evacuated from Stalingrad by air.

it's amazing the range of people one meets over the years!

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1 hour ago, Joris said:

Incredible story, Ron! 

Probably (according to my German girlfriend of the time's mother) because Germans who actually lived through WW2 were starved of accurate information by their own leaders (she tuned in to Marius Goring on the BBC German language service, at great personal risk) They're almost eager to talk about their experiences... particularly if they think that you might know more about it than they do - like what the other side were thinking/doing. German propaganda was great at trumpetting a new offensive... but tended to go silent if things didn't go quite as intended, My family put up a lot of Hannoverians over the years, including a guy called Otto, who'd lost a leg. He mentioned (with no expectation that I'd have any understanding of what he was talking about) that "he'd left it at Kursk". When I asked "Magnetogorsk or Orel?" he was amazed.(The battle of Kursk was a two-pronged attack, effectively two battles happening at the same time, many miles apart.) Germans were (obviously!) aware that there had been a war, but somewhat less aware of what happened. Their media had reported a series of tremendous victories, and whitewashed over the defeats. I found an eagerness to find out "what happened after that?" It probably helped that I was an anomaly: a foreigner, who spoke German well enough that my "Foreignness" was imperceptible, and (which is rarer than hen's teeth in WEST Germany) I spoke pretty good Russian...:

Everyone has a story... the knack is, getting them to share it with you - sometimes after having kept quiet about it for years. It's a central plank of successful interrogation technique that you make the person you're grilling believe that you already know the important stuff, and now you're just clearing up the details. I think it spills over: if a person is reminising about ther war experiences it helps if they don't need to keep on explaining stuff that you are assumed not to know. My wife's cousin was amazed when her mother told ME stuff about her wartime experiences in the Dutch resistance that she'd never shared with her own daughter. The daughter had a PhD in Dutch language, but doesn't know a Sten gun from a Bren gun.

Edited by Ron Walker
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It is the same with everything, you have a connection with somebody or you don't and that makes all the difference. 

I've been fortunate to listen to the stories of a couple of WWII Veterans from the UK and the USA, and the most amazing thing to me is realizing that they actually went through it. They are the linking pin between the history books, black and white photos and footage that I've been watching since I was a toddler. Then it all becomes very, very real. 

One of my most special memories is watching A Bridge Too Far on a big screen on the John Frost Bridge with the veterans at the 60th commemoration. When we were at the part of the SS recon group trying to force their way across the bridge (where we were sitting) and the veteran sitting next to me said that he was there at the bridge as a machine gunner firing down from the rooftops. That was so weird, so special. 

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This is an interesting article - nice work.

I don't like answering 'what if' questions generally preferring to study what 'did' or is perceived to have happened.

Predicting what did not happen is impossible and largely irrelevant but this subject is interesting so I'll offer my opinion.

The decision to bomb London, as you know, was as a result of our bombers bombing Berlin. So its our actions which have relieved the pressure and forced the Luftwaffe to change tactics.

If they continued on the airfields then yes I think we would have pretty much ceased to defend ourselves.

How long can a population and government stand when an opposing air force has free reign to bomb its cities, people and naval units at will? The Luftwaffe could have destroyed our coastal units with the likes of Stukas. If they had time to wear us down then I think the government would have been forced to the table.

If they flat out decided to invade after we put up little resistance in the air then I would expect the navy to inflict damage but then again they would be heavily engaged by the Luftwaffe making that extremely difficult and pretty much suicidal. We've seen the effect on naval units without air protection - HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse.

It all depends on time. If Hitler was willing to wait, grind down our coastal defences and units and force the Navy to stay up at Scapa Flow then they would have had a decent chance of succeeding in an invasion.

However, who knows!

Would/could/should...not reality.

The navy, on pretty much suicide missions could have mincemeat their invasion fleet but then again they had their own surface units which would have in theory been free to engage ours.

I'm just pleased we bombed them and they took their eyes off the prize!

The decision by Goring to keep their fighters close to their bombers instead of giving them free reign to engage our fighters is extremely important. Gave us breathing space and restricted their tactics.

That's a decision brought about by us bleeding them though.

Ultimately - they failed and we're still here :D

 

 

 

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In my opinion the Germans were able to land on the English coast , and that will be all !! With the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and Force G ( Adm. Somervell ) out of Gibraltar unbeaten ,  the Germans had no chance to supplied and re-enforce the landed troops with the necessary goods for an further invasion . Only my opinion !

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Any invasion of the British mainland would've failed. The German high command knew that they wouldn't be able to control the channel long enough to get Hitlers invasion force to land. The German navy was very small compared to Britain and the Brits maintained control of the sea. The only area where the Germans had numerical superiority was in the air. Germany had over 2,600 fighters and bombers at the battle of Britain while the Brits had around 700. 

They had the air for the most part but england owned the sea and that's why Sea Lion would've failed.

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Germany had NEVER attempted amphibious landings. all their successes were in the blitz, that's where they were successful. Royal Navy was Best in world. anytime they had to fight block to block , house to house they lost. like in Stalingrad.  They had to score a quick knock out cause they were limited in their resources.  However there were other things they could have done to beat Britain. Like had they produced more u boats cause at that time the u boats were KING! Would have starved Britain into submission without drawing the u.s. into war.    also the battle for Britain was lost cause Hitler decided to start bombing cities instead of RAF.   Again terrible use of resources that could have destroyed Britain.  Britain at the time could not beat Germany.  But Hitler wouldn't give it a go without air superiority.  They would have been getting bombed all day and could only move at night.   Royal Navy would have been kept in check by the guns at Calais 

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4 hours ago, btownd said:

The German navy was very small compared to Britain and the Brits maintained control of the sea. The only area where the Germans had numerical superiority was in the air. Germany had over 2,600 fighters and bombers at the battle of Britain while the Brits had around 700.

Crucially, however,Neither the Luftwaffe nor the RAF had objectively accurate figures for the other side's losses. Both knew roughly how many planes the other side had started out with, and they knew how many planes their OWN pilots had claimed to shoot down.Both sides serious overestimated the number of kills by their own pilots.Yes, the RAF was down to 700 planes.... but according to Germany's estimates, that figure was barely a third as big. The Hurricane especially was remarkably "repairable". If shot down, it could often be patched up and back in the air within 48 hours.Because it would have come down under its OWN territory. A German plane shot down over Kent was LOST to the Luftwaffe. Also, Germany still hadn't understood how the RAF actually USED RADAR. Not just to detect incoming enemy aircraft (Germany had dismissed the UK's abilities in that sphere in the early 1930's, and never bothered to reassess their views on the matter) but s part of a system to allocate resources appropriately. (To be fair, the pilots of the RAF received instructions to go to a specific map reference, and intercept enemy planes which would be found at X thousand feet. No reference was made to how the person giving the instructions KNEW that their information was accurate, nor where it had come from). Attacking 250 fighters who don't know where you're coming from is a VERY different prospect to attacking 700 planes who know exactly where you're coming from, and at what altitude. It's a HUGE "force multiplier".If ALL of your defenders are positioned in exactly the right place and at the right time. they can do more damage than the same number who are randomly placed. Germany expects maybe 250 fighters, and is hit by 700 - who are behaving like tey were 1,000+... It's a recipe for disaster.

 

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On 12/13/2017 at 8:24 AM, Edward, The Black Prince said:

This is an interesting article - nice work.

I don't like answering 'what if' questions generally preferring to study what 'did' or is perceived to have happened.

Predicting what did not happen is impossible and largely irrelevant but this subject is interesting so I'll offer my opinion.

The decision to bomb London, as you know, was as a result of our bombers bombing Berlin. So its our actions which have relieved the pressure and forced the Luftwaffe to change tactics.

If they continued on the airfields then yes I think we would have pretty much ceased to defend ourselves.

How long can a population and government stand when an opposing air force has free reign to bomb its cities, people and naval units at will? The Luftwaffe could have destroyed our coastal units with the likes of Stukas. If they had time to wear us down then I think the government would have been forced to the table.

If they flat out decided to invade after we put up little resistance in the air then I would expect the navy to inflict damage but then again they would be heavily engaged by the Luftwaffe making that extremely difficult and pretty much suicidal. We've seen the effect on naval units without air protection - HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse

Remind us... how many aircraft carriers did Hitler have in his arsenal? How many torpedo bombers, with highly trained crews? Looks to me as if you're confusing Imperial Japan with Hitler's Germany. Elsewise, Prince of Wales and Repulse are largely irrelevancies: They were sunk by an enemy with a highly developed naval aviation facility. Germany simply didn't have one.

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My grandfather was a welder/boiler maker in germany during ww2 and he used to tell us stories of being taken in the middle of the night in sealed trains to remote locations where they were asked to build railwais quickly into the mountains or into waterways, when done they were taken away for a few days then brought back again under cover of darkness to rip up the rail lines and make it all look normal again, they were under constant guard from the SS and talking to anyone outside the crews was a death penalty on the spot.  and they kept doing this for months accross europe, he ended the war building submarines 

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