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Reasons to be grateful, Part III ....

Weaselchap

Swinger
Did the RN really have enough ships and assets to see of the Germans, at that time?
My understanding is that the German plan was to mine and use their limited naval forces to block the channel either side of the proposed landing grounds whilst using river barges to transport their troops across the channel.

Two minor problems with this plan was that a) the freeboard of the barges was so low that anything above a seastate of two would sink them. The wash of a fast moving destroyer was higher than this and b) the Royal Navy had destroyers based at Dover, inside the proposed block area. The RN could literally have sunk the invasion barges without firing a shot just by driving through the invasion fleet.
 
My understanding is that the German plan was to mine and use their limited naval forces to block the channel either side of the proposed landing grounds whilst using river barges to transport their troops across the channel.

Two minor problems with this plan was that a) the freeboard of the barges was so low that anything above a seastate of two would sink them. The wash of a fast moving destroyer was higher than this and b) the Royal Navy had destroyers based at Dover, inside the proposed block area. The RN could literally have sunk the invasion barges without firing a shot just by driving through the invasion fleet.

That is actually a myth. The Germans sacrificed about 1/3rd of their lift capacity to make the barges seaworthy, and tested them in some rough seas. These modifications, however, didn't prevent a 4in shell from obliterating the barge.
We had a lot of 4in shells.

On mines, however, the situation is shite. Even adding together every single mine captured in Europe, and somehow making them all serviceable, the Germans only had enough mines for one of the two proposed barrages.

Equally, the RN's minesweeping ability was actaully higher than hte Germans Mine laying aboility. So the RN could sweep them faster than the Germans could lay them. Net result, the sea lanes stay open and we'd be able to bring 4in shells to visit Mr Barge.
 
So this isn't a thread about Ian Dury then?...


Further to the idea of Sealion myths - does anyone know how practical was Churchill's idea of setting the Channel on fire?

Was it pure deception? - or Churchill's fevered imagination? Was any serious planning done in that direction?

There were disguised oil pumping stations on the South Coast - but as I remember they were to do with PLUTO.



...Eighteen wheeler Scammells
 

QRK2

LE
So this isn't a thread about Ian Dury then?...


Further to the idea of Sealion myths - does anyone know how practical was Churchill's idea of setting the Channel on fire?

Was it pure deception? - or Churchill's fevered imagination? Was any serious planning done in that direction?

There were disguised oil pumping stations on the South Coast - but as I remember they were to do with PLUTO.



...Eighteen wheeler Scammells



 



Many thanks @QRK2
 
I have heard one of the more... Special ideas from a NAZI apologist and fanboy of using a bridge over the channel. The galloping loon saw a loading bridge like this one:


And decreed it was therefore possible to bridge the entire channel with such devices. Then the RN would no longer be able to sink all the transports and a steady stream of German supplies and Panzers could traverse the inconvenient puddle that is the channel.
He also suggested that U-boats could be used to tow disposable containers full of supplies. The Containers could be fabricated using Germany's massive concrete production industry.
Another high-light, if you can call it that, was the use of several thousand Fieseler Storch's to transport supplies, after all
Trying to do any serious wartime research using the internet is fraught with Nazi fanboi crap. Last year I was researching material on the German V weapons programmes and encountered all sorts of fantastical rubbish, often on serious-sounding forums; I'm afraid I am still wedded to using archives and contemporary accounts.
 
So this isn't a thread about Ian Dury then?...


Further to the idea of Sealion myths - does anyone know how practical was Churchill's idea of setting the Channel on fire?

Was it pure deception? - or Churchill's fevered imagination? Was any serious planning done in that direction?

There were disguised oil pumping stations on the South Coast - but as I remember they were to do with PLUTO.



...Eighteen wheeler Scammells

Well if memory serves, at the outbreak of war we had some 5 million tons of POL in store in the UK. By mid 1940 we'd used about 1 million. We figured if there were any germans coming up the beach there was no point in going down with anything left up the chamber. And as any stores of POL about to be captured were to be fired, we figured we might as well see how many Germans we could burn at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

Trying to do any serious wartime research using the internet is fraught with Nazi fanboi crap. Last year I was researching material on the German V weapons programmes and encountered all sorts of fantastical rubbish, often on serious-sounding forums; I'm afraid I am still wedded to using archives and contemporary accounts.

Yeah, I stick to primary sources mostly. If you want an unpleasant experience, try researching any of the Indo-Pak wars, or the Cypriot civil war. The forums you can end up on make Hitler look only mildly irritated with the Jews...
 
Well if memory serves, at the outbreak of war we had some 5 million tons of POL in store in the UK. By mid 1940 we'd used about 1 million. We figured if there were any germans coming up the beach there was no point in going down with anything left up the chamber. And as any stores of POL about to be captured were to be fired, we figured we might as well see how many Germans we could burn at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak.



Yeah, I stick to primary sources mostly. If you want an unpleasant experience, try researching any of the Indo-Pak wars, or the Cypriot civil war. The forums you can end up on make Hitler look only mildly irritated with the Jews...

That would make sense - why leave the enemy with assets.

What I can't understand is that improvised fougasse devices were supposedly in the manuals until recent times.

No idea why that passed me by - especially since Institute trainees at Minley and Chatham (pre Holdfast) were still referring to RE pams from 1937, 44, 46 and 1964 and the later Pocketbooks 1990 and the new one in 2008. Guessing emphasis for Obstacle Integration, defile denial and track cutting was all on packaged dems
 
My understanding is that the German plan was to mine and use their limited naval forces to block the channel either side of the proposed landing grounds whilst using river barges to transport their troops across the channel.

Two minor problems with this plan was that a) the freeboard of the barges was so low that anything above a seastate of two would sink them. The wash of a fast moving destroyer was higher than this and b) the Royal Navy had destroyers based at Dover, inside the proposed block area. The RN could literally have sunk the invasion barges without firing a shot just by driving through the invasion fleet.


The RN understood this, they had in excess of 160 minesweepers in place to cover that eventuality

The RN also fully understood that they may take heavy losses to mines (less so to U Boats as the eastern end of the Channel wasn't prime U boat territory apparently)

As I understand it, the RN planned for the minefields, acceted the likelyhood of losses but believed that the losses would not be significant enough to stop them
Neither Raeder or Doenitz believed the RN could be prevented from absolutely dominating the Channel either and were quite vocal about it.
 
The Royal Navy Home Fleet in 1940 was the worlds biggest war machine, bar non.


It was huge, state of the art and well motivated. Within 24 hours of an invasion atempt there would have been nothing alive in the Channel that wasn't British or fish.

Have a read of the link. Had it been necessary for the RN to stop anything moving across the Channel there wasn't anything capable of stopping them closing it down.

The RN had 67 Destroyers, 6 Cruisers and upwards of 600 patrol craft on standby for the invasion, thats before the Cruiser Squadrons and Capital ships arrive from further north.
The RN's immediate response to the German crossing the Channel would have been brutal and would probably have ended Germany's war within weeks.

I was always of the opinion that the RN was the biggest navy in WW2, but then my American friends disagree.

The Americans had the biggest fleet by the end, but did they have the biggest in 1940?

Perhaps they don't count the RAN, RCN, RNZN and RIN cos they were all technically part of a greater RN force.

With regards to being grateful, when I'm feeling down I always recall a passage from Bernard Fall's Street Without Joy. After the battle of Dien Bien Phu the PoWs were forced marched miles across the jungle to their camps and some poor fker was seen trying to crawl along the trail after his legs were blown off.

There's having a bad day and then there's having a really bad day.
 
I was always of the opinion that the RN was the biggest navy in WW2, but then my American friends disagree.

The Americans had the biggest fleet by the end, but did they have the biggest in 1940?

Perhaps they don't count the RAN, RCN, RNZN and RIN cos they were all technically part of a greater RN force.

At the utbreak of war the RN was the largest and most pwerful in the orld by a considerable margin. I think the USN disn't catch up until late 43, early 44 but stand to be corrected on that.
 
That would make sense - why leave the enemy with assets.

What I can't understand is that improvised fougasse devices were supposedly in the manuals until recent times.

No idea why that passed me by - especially since Institute trainees at Minley and Chatham (pre Holdfast) were still referring to RE pams from 1937, 44, 46 and 1964 and the later Pocketbooks 1990 and the new one in 2008. Guessing emphasis for Obstacle Integration, defile denial and track cutting was all on packaged dems

Well the flame fougasse is so bloody simple. Explosive charge, form of trigger and a barrel of Texaco's finest. There was something similar to what the Home Guard emplaced (which incidentally occasionally will be turned up by a road work crew) listed in the traps and ambush explosives hand book produced by the US during the Vietnamese war to describe assorted booby traps the Viet Cong employed. It was a slab of C4, or other explosive, a barrel of fuel and a command detonation.
 

Bluenose2

Old-Salt
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned this book.

Amazon product
A little repetitive in places but draws upon a lot of good evidence, as well as analysis of just how ineffective the luftwaffe were at bombing moving ships.

I think it is also worth bearing in mind that the weight of forces held back in case of Sealion left Atlantic conveys extremely vulnerable, but Churchill was equally as aware of how that narrative played out in the US as he was of 'The Few'.

Sadly, both 'underdog' and 'victim' narratives (that were perpetuated to provoke US support) seem to have pervaded into modern consciousness and tend to underplay the actual balance of forces at the time.

The US weren't really buying into it, but Roosevelt saw an opportunity to bleed dry the Empire's economic power across the globe through lend lease etc.

Sealion remains one of the biggest 'what if' scenarios of WW2. Sadly it never happened. It may have set Germany back 2 years and given Russia more forwarning of what was going to happen over on their side of Europe.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
At the utbreak of war the RN was the largest and most pwerful in the orld by a considerable margin. I think the USN disn't catch up until late 43, early 44 but stand to be corrected on that.

So much so that in a 1930's USN assessment of potential foes, the RN was seen as the biggest threat by a country mile .... 1935 I think.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Ronald Wheatley's "Operation Sea Lion - German Plan for the invasion of England 1939 - 1942" (published 1958 ) is probably the best study of German invasion plans and their eventual abandonment, and read in tandem with Peter Fleming's "Invasion 1940" (more recently released as "Operation Sea Lion - Hitler's Plot to Invade England"), will give a rounded view.

Regardless of how unlikely we now believe success of Sea Lion was (given the wondrous gift of 20/20 hindsight), at the time the Nazis were winning (rather spectacularly), were seen as unbeatable, and a significant part of our Government was seriously considering some form of capitulation. There is an awful lot written about how the Germans really didn't have their hearts in it; examination of the preparations made, and more significantly the efforts put into those preparations gives the lie to that. Wheatley demonstrates convincingly that the intent to invade was real, surmounted only by the realisation of the German forces that they were not equal to the task; post war rationalisation by surviving senior German officers can be seen as self serving: "well we didn't really try, because we knew we wouldn't succeed". Not only did we believe the Germans were unbeatable in spring 1940, so did the Germans; nothing seemed impossible to them following the shattering victory over Western Europe, and when crossing the Channel to invade Britain was given as the next task, all three services threw themselves into the planning with enthusiasm. That their plans were not realistically capable of success doesn't mean they weren't willing to try. To contrast, have a look at the preparations for Barbarossa, which were extremely slipshod to say the least, often relying on exhorting German soldiery "great efforts" in place of sound logistics. They went ahead with the invasion of Russia regardless.

The failure of the Luftwaffe campaign to wipe the RAF from the sky as a precursor to invasion was no doubt met with relief by some in the Wehrmacht and the Kriegsmarine, but if they had succeeded the case for an invasion attempt being launched was very strong. That they would almost certainly have been wiped out in the Channel is somewhat irrelevant; German military planners would no doubt have countered any foreseen issues with "Great efforts" to be made by their unfortunate soldiers and sailors.
 
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ches

LE
I really don't hold much truck with the 'Sealion wasn't really a plan' ideas. If it wasn't why squander the critically important aircraft trying to gain superiority over southern UK? It makes no sense when Russia was going to get a shoeing asap. BoB & the failure to launch Sealion delayed planning for Barbarossa.
 
I really don't hold much truck with the 'Sealion wasn't really a plan' ideas. If it wasn't why squander the critically important aircraft trying to gain superiority over southern UK? It makes no sense when Russia was going to get a shoeing asap. BoB & the failure to launch Sealion delayed planning for Barbarossa.

'A man's reach should exceed his grasp'

Basically Hitler and Goering thought they had the UK beaten, and believed their own propaganda about the power of the Luftwaffe. To be fair they had gotten recent examples, in the Rotterdam blitz. Which then caused the Dutch Government to surrender.
I suspect they saw the situation as largely the same. However, they did notice that the UK was bigger than Holland and so would need a bit more work.
But look at the MO of the German forces.
Step 1: bomb the enemy air force to gain air superiority.
Step 2: Have the army invading as well to ensure the situation is over quickly.
Step 3: If needed bomb the population centres to force a capitulation.

It's almost exactly the same approach they used on the UK. Trouble is the situation was new in that the Army wasn't on the ground and the UK had an integrated air defence network. They couldn't achieve Step 2 due to the RN. So they got involved in a long term slugging match, then when their faulty intel said they'd achieved #1 they went with #3.

All they managed to do was to ensure that when it was our turn, we did it properly.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
'A man's reach should exceed his grasp'

Basically Hitler and Goering thought they had the UK beaten, and believed their own propaganda about the power of the Luftwaffe. To be fair they had gotten recent examples, in the Rotterdam blitz. Which then caused the Dutch Government to surrender.
I suspect they saw the situation as largely the same. However, they did notice that the UK was bigger than Holland and so would need a bit more work.
But look at the MO of the German forces.
Step 1: bomb the enemy air force to gain air superiority.
Step 2: Have the army invading as well to ensure the situation is over quickly.
Step 3: If needed bomb the population centres to force a capitulation.

It's almost exactly the same approach they used on the UK. Trouble is the situation was new in that the Army wasn't on the ground and the UK had an integrated air defence network. They couldn't achieve Step 2 due to the RN. So they got involved in a long term slugging match, then when their faulty intel said they'd achieved #1 they went with #3.

All they managed to do was to ensure that when it was our turn, we did it properly.
Once again, we're in furious agreement! I agree with virtually everything you say here; my contention is that if the KanalKampf air campaign had been won by the Luftwaffe, an invasion would almost certainly been attempted regardless of the RN threat (and doubtless would now be remembered as "The great massacre of the Barges"). The German military proved again and again throughout the war that there was no problem that couldn't be made worse by liberal application of "push-on-itis" and a demand for greater exertions from the bods in meat-mincer.

I believe the Germans skipped your Step 2 not because of the very real threat of the RN, but because of the unexpected failure to defeat the RAF, when they found that despite their belief that they'd shot down every Spitfire ever made, there were rather a lot of Spits and Hurricanes coming up against every raid. Coming up against this unpalatable reality, they lost focus on their core aim, and moved to Step 3 partly in retaliation against RAF raids on Berlin (and also because it was something that they could do). The invasion was set aside (to the great relief of the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine) thanks to the Luftwaffe's failure, and finally knocked on the head when Adolf found a new shiny thing to chase - Russia.
 

Bluenose2

Old-Salt
Once again, we're in furious agreement! I agree with virtually everything you say here; my contention is that if the KanalKampf air campaign had been won by the Luftwaffe, an invasion would almost certainly been attempted regardless of the RN threat (and doubtless would now be remembered as "The great massacre of the Barges"). The German military proved again and again throughout the war that there was no problem that couldn't be made worse by liberal application of "push-on-itis" and a demand for greater exertions from the bods in meat-mincer.

I believe the Germans skipped your Step 2 not because of the very real threat of the RN, but because of the unexpected failure to defeat the RAF, when they found that despite their belief that they'd shot down every Spitfire ever made, there were rather a lot of Spits and Hurricanes coming up against every raid. Coming up against this unpalatable reality, they lost focus on their core aim, and moved to Step 3 partly in retaliation against RAF raids on Berlin (and also because it was something that they could do). The invasion was set aside (to the great relief of the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine) thanks to the Luftwaffe's failure, and finally knocked on the head when Adolf found a new shiny thing to chase - Russia.

Sadly I lost my copy of Hitler's Armada so I cannot quote the book or its sources directly, but what struck me was the odd 'phony war' between Hitler and his advisors on this very point. The author makes a convincing argument that Hitler simply wanted to knock Britain out of the war, and then co-exist in relative harmony with the British Empire (it is important to remember we were seen as a global entity, not an odd little island off the north west coast) but likewise didn't want his commanders to think he lacked the stomach for facing down that empire militarily.

On the flipside, his naval commanders were simply horrified by the prospect of facing the prospect of crossing the channel in Rhine barges, being towed across in such small numbers (and draught) that only a single wave could be landed, as there was no way to get them back across to pick up a second wave - all whilst being smashed by the North Sea fleet.

The irony was, they were too frightened to tell Hitler 'we can't do it', and he was too proud to tell them 'actually I don't want to do it'. Eventually it got brushed under the carpet and focus shifted to the Atlantic wall.

Additionally, the Kreigmarine's ability to field even a modestly-escorted invasion fleet were shattered by the Battles of Narvik. They lost a significant amount of their destroyer fleet which consigned their capital ships to occasional raiding and little else (other than legging it up the channel from Brest).

I think the difference between Sealion and Barbarossa was that the latter involved a form of warfare the Germans excelled in, and therefore they had the arrogance and appetite to engage in.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
On the flipside, his naval commanders were simply horrified by the prospect of facing the prospect of crossing the channel in Rhine barges, being towed across in such small numbers (and draught) that only a single wave could be landed, as there was no way to get them back across to pick up a second wave - all whilst being smashed by the North Sea fleet.
"Greater exertions", old boy...

The irony was, they were too frightened to tell Hitler 'we can't do it', and he was too proud to tell them 'actually I don't want to do it'.
But GROFAZ had demanded it, and if the Luftwaffe had destroyed Fighter Command as promised, the remnants (following Norway) of the Kriegsmarine would have sailed out of the Channel ports and shortly thereafter been scattered on the sea floor at all points between Dogger and Biscay, along with much of the European river transport fleet, a Division or two of the Wehrmacht, and the very occasional RN ship.

I think the difference between Sealion and Barbarossa was that the latter involved a form of warfare the Germans excelled in, and therefore they had the arrogance and appetite to engage in.
Do not underestimate the heights of German hubris by summer 1940, as undefeated masters of Europe. Invasion of England was seen as practicable simply because "we're German, nothing can stop us", crossing the Channel was considered a contested river crossing (until a little realism set in, by which time promises had already been made), and regardless of the obvious mismatch of sea power Britain was seen as already defeated (not only by the Nazis - there were plenty in Westminster seriously considering surrender).
 

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