Operation Sealion

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by hansvonhealing, Aug 21, 2005.

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  1. As we seem to enjoy 'what if' debates, I wonder what our resident military buffs consider were the chances of the British Army repelling Operation Sealion?
    Much has been written about the RAF and the RN's involvement if Sealion had gone ahead but how would the Army have done?
    This website lists the German plan:- http://www.answers.com/topic/operation-sealion
  2. didn’t they wargame this at Sandhurst sometimes in the 1970s? They used some interesting umpires IIRC Adolf Galland, Admiral Friedrich Ruge, Air Chief Marshal Christopher Foxley Norris, Rear Admiral Edward Gueritz, General Heinz Trettner and Major General Glyn Gilbert.

    The outcome was the Germans get ashore, there supply lines are cut to pieces with most of the converted Rhine River barges getting sunk and they surrender around 100 000 troops.

    There is a book about it called unsurprisingly "Sealion" by Richard Cox good read
  3. What was the Brish Army's plan then, was it to meet them on the beaches?
    Also, what state was it in after Dunkirk, didn't it lose most of its heavy equipment?
  4. I believe that the Germans were not equipped or experienced in amph operations, being unable to disembark sufficient quantities of troops rapidly on the shore or to carry much heavy equipment across the channel. The whole operation with the equipment and experience they had would have been difficult enough unopposed. If the British were waiting for them, and they were, the only way to get a reasonable beachhead with sufficent heavy equipment would be to capture a port, most of which were very heavily defended, by cammando style assault from the sea or the air. Taking a port may not have been a huge problem, holding it long enough would have been.

    I think the more likely senario was that the Germans would have blockaded the sea routes with Canada and the US and hoped to starve the islands into submition. The USA joining the war was the only thing that stopped that being a reality and for that reason we may just be a little grateful to the Japanese.

    Just my opinion, which counts for bugger all really but I thought I'd add my €2 worth.
  5. ah found it

    Operation Sealion - summary of an exercise held at the
    Staff College, Sandhurst in 1974.

    The full text is in 'Sealion' by Richard Cox. The scenario is based on the
    known plans of each side, plus previously unpublished Admiralty weather
    records for September 1940. Each side (played by British and German officers
    respectively) was based in a command room, and the actual moves plotted on a
    scale model of SE England constructed at the School of Infantry. The panel
    of umpires included Adolf Galland, Admiral Friedrich Ruge, Air Chief Marshal
    Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, Rear Admiral Edward Gueritz, General Heinz
    Trettner and Major General Glyn Gilbert.

    The main problem the Germans face is that are a) the Luftwaffe has not yet
    won air supremacy; b) the possible invasion dates are constrained by the
    weather and tides (for a high water attack) and c) it has taken until late
    September to assemble the necessary shipping.

    22nd September
    Morning The first wave of a planned 330,000 men hit the beaches at dawn.
    Elements of 9 divisions landed between Folkestone and Rottingdean (near
    Brighton). In addition 7th FJ Div landed at Lympne to take the airfield.

    The invasion fleet suffered minor losses from MTBs during the night
    crossing, but the RN had already lost one CA and three DDs sunk, with one CA
    and two DDs damaged, whilst sinking three German DDs. Within hours of the
    landings which overwhelmed the beach defenders, reserve formations were
    despatched to Kent. Although there were 25 divisions in the UK, only 17
    were fully equipped, and only three were based in Kent, however the defence
    plan relied on the use of mobile reserves and armoured and mechanised
    brigades were committed as soon as the main landings were identified.

    Meanwhile the air battle raged, the Luftwaffe flew 1200 fighter and 800
    bomber sorties before 1200 hrs. The RAF even threw in training planes
    hastily armed with bombs, but the Luftwaffe were already having problems
    with their short ranged Me 109s despite cramming as many as possible into
    the Pas de Calais.

    22nd - 23rd September
    The Germans had still not captured a major port, although they started
    driving for Folkestone. Shipping unloading on the beaches suffered heavy
    losses from RAF bombing raids and then further losses at their ports in

    The U-Boats, Luftwaffe and few surface ships had lost contact with the RN,
    but then a cruiser squadron with supporting DDs entered the Channel narrows
    and had to run the gauntlet of long range coastal guns, E-Boats and 50
    Stukas. Two CAs were sunk and one damaged. However a diversionary German
    naval sortie from Norway was completely destroyed and other sorties by MTBS
    and DDs inflicted losses on the shipping milling about in the Channel.
    German shipping losses on the first day amounted to over 25% of their
    invasion fleet, especially the barges, which proved desperately unseaworthy.

    23rd Sept dawn - 1400 hrs.
    The RAF had lost 237 planes out 1048 (167 fighters and 70 bombers), and the
    navy had suffered enough losses such that it was keeping its BBs and CVs
    back, but large forces of DDs and CAs were massing. Air recon showed a
    German buildup in Cherbourg and forces were diverted to the South West.

    The German Navy were despondant about their losses, especially as the loss
    of barges was seriously dislocating domestic industry. The Army and Airforce
    commanders were jubilant however, and preperations for the transfer of the
    next echelon continued along with the air transport of 22nd Div, despite
    Luftwaffe losses of 165 fighters and 168 bombers. Out of only 732 fighters
    and 724 bombers these were heavy losses. Both sides overestimated losses
    inflicted by 50%.

    The 22nd Div airlanded successfully at Lympne, although long range artillery
    fire directed by a stay-behind commando group interdicted the runways. The
    first British counterattacks by 42nd Div supported by an armoured brigade
    halted the German 34th Div in its drive on Hastings. 7th Panzer Div was
    having difficulty with extensive anti-tank obstacles and assault teams armed
    with sticky bombs etc. Meanwhile an Australian Div had retaken Newhaven (the
    only German port), however the New Zealand Div arrived at Folkestone only to
    be attacked in the rear by 22nd Airlanding Div. The division fell back on
    Dover having lost 35% casualties.

    Sep 23rd 1400 - 1900 hrs
    Throughout the day the Luftwaffe put up a maximum effort, with 1500 fighter
    and 460 bomber sorties, but the RAF persisted in attacks on shipping and
    airfields. Much of this effort was directed for ground support and air
    resupply, despite Adm Raeders request for more aircover over the Channel.
    The Home Fleet had pulled out of air range however, leaving the fight in the
    hands of 57 DDs and 17 CAs plus MTBs. The Germans could put very little
    surface strength against this. Waves of DDs and CAs entered the Channel, and
    although two were sunk by U-Boats, they sank one U-Boat in return and did
    not stop. The German flotilla at Le Havre put to sea (3 DD, 14 E-Boats) and
    at dusk intercepted the British, but were wiped out, losing all their DDs
    and 7 E-Boats.

    The Germans now had 10 divisions ashore, but in many cases these were
    incomplete and waiting for their second echelon to arrive that night. The
    weather was unsuitable for the barges however, and the decision to sail was
    referred up the chain of command.

    23rd Sep 1900 - Sep 24th dawn
    The Fuhrer Conference held at 1800 broke out into bitter inter-service
    rivalry - the Army wanted their second echelon sent, and the navy protesting
    that the weather was unsuitable, and the latest naval defeat rendered the
    Channel indefensible without air support. Goring countered this by saying it
    could only be done by stopped the terror bombing of London, which in turn
    Hitler vetoed. The fleet was ordered to stand by.

    The RAF meanwhile had lost 97 more fighters leaving only 440. The airfields
    of 11 Group were cratered ruins, and once more the threat of collapse, which
    had receded in early September, was looming. The Luftwaffe had lost another
    71 fighters and 142 bombers. Again both sides overestimated losses
    inflicted, even after allowing for inflated figures.

    On the ground the Germans made good progress towards Dover and towards
    Canterbury, however they suffered reverses around Newhaven when the 45th Div
    and Australians attacked. At 2150 Hitler decided to launch the second wave,
    but only the short crossing from Calais and Dunkirk. By the time the order
    reached the ports, the second wave could not possibly arrive before dawn.
    The 6th and 8th divisions at Newhaven, supplied from Le Havre, would not be
    reinforced at all.

    Sep 24th dawn - Sep 28th
    The German fleet set sail, the weather calmed, and U-Boats, E-Boats and
    fighters covered them. However at daylight 5th destroyer flotilla found the
    barges still 10 miles off the coast and tore them to shreds. The Luftwaffe
    in turn committed all its remaining bombers, and the RAF responded with 19
    squadrons of fighters. The Germans disabled two CAs and four DDs, but 65% of
    the barges were sunk. The faster steamers broke away and headed for
    Folkestone, but the port had been so badly damaged that they could only
    unload two at a time.

    The failure on the crossing meant that the German situation became
    desperate. The divisions had sufficient ammunition for 2 to 7 days more
    fighting, but without extra men and equipment could not extend the
    bridgehead. Hitler ordered the deployment on reserve units to Poland and the
    Germans began preparations for an evacuation as further British arracks
    hemmed them in tighter. Fast steamers and car ferries were assembled for
    evacuation via Rye and Folkestone. Of 90,000 troops who landed on 22nd
    september, only 15,400 returned to France, the rest
    were killed or captured.

    In less than a week, the German invasion of Britain ends in desaster
  6. Good find 'windin'....
    It seems the Army had recovered quite well after Dunkirk
  7. Perhaps we should have encouraged them to do it?

    Just a thought.
  8. It may be just a thought, but remember that this was only playing out the senario and if the Germans had tried it and had more than their fair share of luck it could have turned out different from the senario. Encouraging them to bring on the invasion and cause them crippling losses would have been a very dodgy tactic when we thought that we were well under strength at the time ourselves. ... "favours the bold" and all that but there would have been very little chance of recovery if things had gone wrong.

    Just my thought
  9. Excellent thread.
    No mention of the heavy units of the Home fleet or Mediterianian Fleet. I will accept that major units would be at great risk in channel but as a last throw could not immagine the Royal Navy would miss the big one with it's heavy units.
  10. There's little doubt that the RN would have played a major role(along with the RAF)in seeing off the Hun, so feel free to continue along those lines - is the scenario found by 'windin' realistic in your opinion?

    To return to the Army, surely morale must have suffered from the events in France. Were the troops brought home from Dunkirk put straight back into front line units? What plans were formulated to combat the new Blitzkreig tactics of the Germans? Does anyone know how the Army intended to fight to protect the homeland?
  11. Well Gerry kick mi dad out at Dunkirk and he always said they had nothing, mind you I don't suppose Gunner Williams had been fully briefed on the situation.
    The Kriegspeil held at Sandhurst seems most reasonable in it's conclusions but we still had a most powerful navy, a battleship steaming down the channel or a battle squadron could do massive damage and be out of range of Luffwaffa cum morning.
    Our 80 + year old engineer here, spent those days as a young sapper officer prepareing defences, a line was constructed in Kent.
  12. Provided a modicum of the RAF survived to protect the Home Fleet in the Channel it would'nt have been a huge contest until they were ashore, and no doubt some would make it.
    Once ashore the Army would undoubtedly have suffered from lack of armour and reduced mobility due to the amount of equipment left in France.
    As far as I can see the biggest factor would have been the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe, could it cope with supporting the German Army in the South of England and the Home Fleet and RAF?
    Personally I dont think they would ever have been in a position to get enough resources accross the Channel, I doubt if the Luftwaffe would have had sufficient capability to prevent British Army movements (even if only moving by train) as well as deling with the RAF and RN.
    Blitzkrieg could only loose most of its effectiveness because of the Channel.
    Also, once the in Britain the army would not be hampered by allies that fled because they "heard" the Panzers were coming.
    If I remember my histort rightly a huge part of the collapse in the battle for France was due in no small part to French force breaking and running because of a unfounded rumour that Guderians Panzers had crossed the river Muese.

    If the French had bothered to deploy their availabble resources in France in 1940 Sealion would never have been on the cards anyway. French fighter strength actually increased right up until the fall of France, 1st line fighter aircraft production outstripped losses to the Germans, when France fell 1500 plus fighter aircraft where tucked away for safe keeping, French armour was technically superior to the Panzers..... without France for an ally in any fight for southern England we may have stood a pretty good chance of defeating them outright
  13. One big assumption is the strength of the RAF in the region.

    Had Adolf been that close to an actual invasion, rather than still hedging his bets, the move away from hitting airfields would not have happened.

    However, you have to start somewhere, and it would be interesting to see the Krauts evacuating from Rye which is some miles inland with a tiny tidal river.

    One wonders if brother Fritz would now be making his films on the brave evacuation?. We've had cinematic classics like "Dunkirk", they would have had "Camber Sands".
  14. My Grandad was one of those Sappers too. According to him the defences were very formidable within weeks of Dunkirk - and he was in a position to judge; having gone ashore at Salerno and Anzio he knew what defended coasts should look like.

    Re. the question of RAF strength in the face of continued air attack on the aerodromes.

    Wing cdr H Allen wrote a book calle 'who won the battle of britain?', which (rather churlishly I thought but then I didn't lose half my mates in it) slagged the RAF cmd off big time. His main gripes, apart from the well rehearsed ones about aircraft procurement, armament and comms, concerned interdiction. Why, he wonders, did the RAF blenhiems etc. not go over and smack fcuk out of the Luftwaffe on their fields in northern France post Dunkirk?

    I have to say it looks like he had a point. The big factor in op. Seelowe was the respective air strength. Why did our attack forces (blenhiem, battle etc) not get used for this at the crucial moments? Why no commando style assaults?
  15. The Blenheims were used early on (along with the Battles) and suffered horrendous casualties, because they were cr@p!