Battle of Britain

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john2
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Post by john2 » 20 May 2003 18:46

Reply to David Brown.
Hello John2
The idea that Hitler was close to defeating Britain is a myth.

Sorry John, but this is wrong.
Can you explain? When operation sea lion was first proposed it envisioned the start of amphibious assaults to take place in September 15 1940. The operation was planned on July 16, this gave Germany exactly 2 months to be ready. Even if air superiority could be gained could Germany invade? So you think the Germans could cross on wooden barges, make it past the royal navy, mines, air patrol (even with air superiority there would still be some enemy air craft flying), the weather and not only do this once but many times as a supply line would have to be established. You've got to be kidding. Even the navy command said on July 29 that if Germany launched an invasion and the royal counter attacked the invasion force nothing could be done. Gaining air superiority simply wouldn't cut it besides British were out producing Germany in planes anyway and although in July and September supplies from the US had stopped they resumed immediately in late September and even then Britain was getting supplies from her empire. Finally last but least was Britain's advantage of being able to pull her aircraft out of range this ability cplemented by superior navy meant that actual prospects for an invasion of Britain were next to none. So under these circumstances how could Germany ever invade Britain in 1940?

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 20 May 2003 21:11

Not a proper order of battle James Patrick that I can find. I just know that on may 31st their were 15 divisions. And by augustr their were definatly alot more, their were 39 divisions in early 1941.




regards,

James Patrick
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Post by James Patrick » 20 May 2003 22:41

Thanks Lord Gort. I'm curious as to what the status of the divisions was concerning vehicles, artillery, ADA, and AT. I'm specifically interested in the armour division. I know the 1st Armoured Division that deployed with the BEF had serious trouble bring its tanks, especially heavy tanks, with them and left alot of them back in England. I wonder if the were able to rebuild in time of the proposed invasion.
Jim
Last edited by James Patrick on 20 May 2003 22:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 20 May 2003 22:46

The 1st Canadian Division arrived in Scotland on December 17th 1939 in Greenock, from there it travelled down to Aldershot some 30 miles from London. The 2nd Canadin Division arrived in 1940 but I think this was after the summer?

Andy

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 20 May 2003 23:11

Funny isnt it, after the fall of France only a Canadian division stood in the way of Hitler if he did manage to get ahsore!

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 20 May 2003 23:28

Well it would have been tragic if the 1st Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division, hadn't been evacuated from France after arriving in Brest on June 14th 1940 in some forlorn attempt to keep a foothold in France.

Andy

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 21 May 2003 00:24

Hello again john2.
Can you explain?
Can I suggest you take a look at all the postings I've made on this subject...It'll bore you to tears most likely but it will save me having to go over old ground again.

You will find that the main thrust of my argument is that the tactical switch from attacking airfields to attacking cities was the decision that lost the Air War for the Luftwaffe.

Take care

Dave

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Post by Yngwie J. » 21 May 2003 00:31

Hi Dave!

I´m sorry, but this is the myth :
You will find that the main thrust of my argument is that the tactical switch from attacking airfields to attacking cities was the decision that lost the Air War for the Luftwaffe.
When the Luftwaffe switched to attacking cities, the battle was allready lost.

Best regards,
Yngwie J.

john2
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Post by john2 » 21 May 2003 14:12

Reply to David Brown.
Hello again john2.
Can you explain?

Can I suggest you take a look at all the postings I've made on this subject...It'll bore you to tears most likely but it will save me having to go over old ground again.

You will find that the main thrust of my argument is that the tactical switch from attacking airfields to attacking cities was the decision that lost the Air War for the Luftwaffe.
I never said it wasn't possible for Germany to gain air supremecy I'm talking about the physical invasion aspect. Just because Germany has control of the sky over Britain doesen't automatically the invasion can succeed as it doesen't solve the problems of transporting the troops or dealing with the royal navy.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 21 May 2003 17:59

David

Can you try and give us a credible arguement or scenario as to how Germany would make and support an invasion, given what has said in this thread so far, especially the logistical side, otherwise I think your on the losing side in this arguement my friend!

Andy

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 21 May 2003 19:30

Hello Andy H.

One of my points in this argument has been that the German occupation of Norway left the Kreigsmarine badly mauled, hence the problems they knew they had when it came to the invasion of Britain.

Yet despite this situation, even with the shipping numbers as they were, they still managed to keep the supply line open, and they had a bigger stretch of water to deal with.

It's my contention that if the Wehrmacht were capabale enough to do this in Norway, they could most certainly do it in Britain. However, you've asked me for a credible argument with regard to logistics and all I can say for this moment is "Give me time to fish around at the library, and I'll see what I can come up with" (...and this is not a cop out, I'll keep coming back to this thread until it's locked!...No Hermann Goring for me Andy :D )

Dave

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Post by john2 » 21 May 2003 19:36

The way I understood it Norway fell because of surprise and the fact that there existed a fifth column. The British knew that the Germans would invade them and there was no significant fifth column to subvert the country. Also as you said Germany's navy was badly mauled. Just because can manage to defeat Norway doesen't mean she can defeat Britain remember they are two entirely different things.

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David Brown
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Post by David Brown » 21 May 2003 20:00

john2 wrote: Just because can manage to defeat Norway doesen't mean she can defeat Britain remember they are two entirely different things.
Yes, I can take that point, but the question here is a logistical one. My point is that IF the Germans had launched a successful invasion, they could keep supply lines open as they did in Norway, and I believe it could have been done with relative ease.

One of the evils of occupation is that the black market thrives. During the occupation of France the well off had no real difficulties in finding what they needed; for the ordinary family however it was a different matter. It would not make any difference to the Nazi administration that a number of their officials received payments from racketeers for goods that they could themselves make a profit on by selling to the rich.

The same would have happened in Britain. I know that someone will say that the subject of black marketeers has nothing to do with the Battle of Britain, but it does.

Andy H has issued the challenge to come up with a credible argument or lose the war, so I will, and everything will be in there...including the kitchen sink :D

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 21 May 2003 22:21

Well If Andys issued the challenge then I second him and demand...


"That satisfaction which it is a Gentlemens right to request and which a Gentlemens honour will always agree to." :D :D




regards,

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David Brown
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Post by David Brown » 26 May 2003 19:04

Lord Gort wrote:
"That satisfaction which it is a Gentlemens right to request and which a Gentlemens honour will always agree to." :D :D
I’ve spent hours trying to come up with a smart-arse reply to this but they all come out sounding like I’m a pervert so I thought I’d best leave it alone. :D


This posting is not as long as I originally thought it would be because I’ve lost a lot of the material I’ve made notes of over the years and also because I have tried hard not to repeat what I have already put in previous posts on this subject. So here goes.

From the outset it should be remembered that the Luftwaffe were not the victors in the Battle of Britain, so therefore at the end of the day the arguments put forward in this posting are theoretical.

However, it is my contention that the Luftwaffe should NOT have lost the Battle of Britain and would not have done so had it not been for two remarkable tactical changes; tactical changes that would not have been made if it had not been for Hermann Goring’s ineptitude.

NUMBERS

On the coast of France at the end of June 1940, the Luftwaffe had 1107 Bf109e’s available to them. Of these 856 were operational. Their pilot numbers were 906. By the end of September they had 712 Bf109e’s operational but not enough pilots, 676.

Add these figures to: -

220 - Bf110’s;
260 - Ju87’s;
990 - He111, Do17 & Ju88’s

Compare them to RAF 11 Group, which bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe attacks.

11 Group had, on the 8th July 1940, just 22 operational squadrons available, of those 12 were Hurricane Squadrons, 6 were Spitfire Squadrons, and 4 Blenheim Squadrons; approximately 350 aircraft. Fighter Command strength throughout Britain was in total 50 Squadrons with a further 8 Squadrons non-operational.

So as you can see, the weight of numbers was in favour of the Luftwaffe. Add to this that the British Army had left most of it’s equipment behind following the evacuation at Dunkirk, the only defence with any real strength was the Royal Navy.

METHODS OF INVASION

I think we are all in agreement that the precursor to the invasion of Britain was the securing of air supremacy. It has been my contention that the invasion of Britain would have been made by methods other then the sea barges, which does appear to be recognised today as the ONLY means that the Germans intended to use. This is not the case.

The British Air Staff were, in 1940, aware of three possibilities.

1. A seaborne invasion of Britain, launched from Norway and the Baltic and landing in the Northeast.
2. The invasion as we have come to understand it from France in the south.
3. The seaborne invasion of Eire, launched from Brittany, giving instant access to the north west, and a complete stranglehold on the Atlantic Merchant Fleet.

These can be found in ELMT 2/1 German Air Force Order of Battle; and the Elmhirst Papers, Churchill College, Cambridge.

While we understand that the Kreigsmarine was severely weakened after the Norway campaign, it is obvious at the time that it was not considered to be weakened enough so as not to attempt options 1 and 3.

We may also be over-estimating the strength of the Royal Navy in this matter.

On the 19th June 1940, the Chiefs of Staff stated in their communiqué 66/8 that the war would…

“almost certainly turn upon our ability to hold out for the next three months”.

It added that Fighter Command’s efforts should be …

“concentrated on taking all steps necessary to meet the imminent threat with which we are now confronted”.

Prior to this, on the 25th May 1940, it was reported to Churchill (Chiefs of Staff paper 168 of 1940) that while the RAF was in existence, together with the Royal Navy probably had the power to prevent a seaborne invasion. If the Luftwaffe were to gain air supremacy, the Royal Navy would NOT be able to stop landings.

It goes on to state that the British Army would be…

“Insufficient to deal with a serious invasion”.

My argument that there would be nothing to stop a successful invasion is not based on “because that’s what I think may have happened if…”, but because these are facts known by the British military and the Government in 1940. They are a reality.

We have assumed that, following a successful invasion, the Germans would be unable to maintain supply lines, that ports would be destroyed before the Germans landed. I have argued that the ports would have been overrun by Luftwaffe Paratroops before any real damage could have been caused to the docks and harbours. We should not overlook the importance of the very strong subversive elements that existed in this country. While Oswald Mosley springs to mind, we should remember that by this time he had been interred. There were many more who would have been active who would be more then keen to see Britain fall and not just because they had Nazi sympathies.

We have also assumed that the British would fight to the last man and woman. This is heralded in Churchill’s “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech. The fact is that in the same report of the 25th May 1940 the Chief’s of Staff believed that if the Luftwaffe gained air superiority (before supremacy) they may attempt to win by aerial attack alone. The effect of the “wholesale havoc and destruction” would be such that the morale of the people would be broken.

I have added to this my belief that while Churchill’s speech was delivered as it was intended, to boost the fighting morale of the people in our darkest hour, I don’t believe he would have been here to fight anyone. I believe that he would have been spirited away by the Royal Navy to the safety of America.

The Royal Navy fleet would remain in America while Churchill continued his persuasion of America to join the war. Later, as the world was to witness, the Americans reached across the Pacific to attack Japan. The same would have been possible to achieve across the Atlantic at a later time if the desire to do so was there.

Remember that the attack on Pearl Harbour gave both the Americans and the British a common goal when it came to the war against Japan. Had Britain fallen to the Germans it would have eventually become a mutual and reciprocal action for both nations to do the same in the Atlantic, but this would only have been after Japan had been defeated.

That said, if the Royal Navy were to fight the Germans after the fall of Britain, the sort of order of action I have assumed might happen, would not happen. It would not be possible if the Royal Navy, as has been suggested in previous postings, had fought until the last ship.

The question to ask here is if the war against Japan had been exclusively the Americans war, would a war weary USA after defeating Japan be interested in turning their attention to Europe?

On July 10th 1940, Hitler ordered that all heavy ordinance moved to the Channel coast to provide covering fire for the invasion. Gun placements were set up along the coastline between Calais and Boulogne. Radar masts at Dover were shelled by German artillery from France, so the facility was already in place to attack any ship from the Royal Navy.

Once the initial landings had succeeded it was intended to set up sea facing artillery defences on the beaches along the south coast to give further cover to any cross channel movement of German troops and machinery. This would effectively trap any shipping in the vicinity, a lesson the Kreigsmarine had learned the hard way with the sinking of Blucher

LOGISTICS

This has been the weak point of my argument but not the death of it. It has been argued that the German military machine had nothing in the way of heavy lifting shipping. This is to some point true. However, the Germans did have heavy shipping that would be capable of moving the necessary equipment. The problem was persuading Hitler to divert them from what they were being used for, the transportation of Iron Ore and other raw materials to keep the flow of the German armaments industry up to speed. The demands of the German economy would not permit its diversion to moving tanks and other heavy equipment to Britain. Hitler would have seen no reason for this either.

Despite this, the Luftwaffe had at its disposal numerous aircraft that would have transported troops and supplies in abundance.

Focke-Wulf FW200 Condor – capable of carrying 21,495lb in weight
Blohm und Voss BV142 – 12,081lb troops or supplies.
Blohm und Voss BV1138 – 9,850lb plus the added advantage of being an amphibious landing aircraft.
Dornier Do19 – 14,627lb
Dornier Do23 – 7.936lb
Junkers Ju52 – 11,971lb
Junkers Ju86 (E-1) - 6,616lb
Junkers Ju290 (V5) - Weight when full 99,141lb – Unlaiden figure not known but is estimated to be approximately 45,000lb, giving an approximate carrying figure of 54,141lb
Junkers W34 – 3,308lb

All of these aircraft could have flown in thousands of German soldiers and tons of supplies in addition to the numbers of soldiers and tonnage of supplies that would have been delivered in the sea barges. This would have brought the contents of the Chiefs of Staff report 168 to Churchill to fruition. Namely that the British Army would be…

“Insufficient to deal with a serious invasion”.


GORING’S BLUNDERS.

The Luftwaffe’s initial tactics of attacking the radar installations and the RAF airfields was beginning to pay dividends, so why Goring opted to make tactical changes will remain a mystery for all time and eternity. It is an indication of how much out of touch he was with the reality of modern day aerial warfare, and therefore a hindrance to the men who did know about it.

The first blunder was switching the attacks from the RAF airfields and radar installations to the bombing of cities. The objective had been therefore switched from taking out the RAF to attempting to demoralise the British public to such an extent that eventual invasion would be left with little or nothing in the way of opposition.

If there was a belief that the bombing of dockland areas would bring food and material shortages to a quicker conclusion and subsequently hasten the shattering of the British people’s resolve, it was misguided belief. On the contrary, if the Luftwaffe had still launched a successful invasion after this tactical switch, they would have beaten themselves because of the state of the docks following their own bombing campaign.

The second blunder arose from the arguments of the Luftwaffe bomber crews. They believed that they were not getting enough protection from the fighters because they would not fly close to them. The fighters argued that if they did fly closer to the bombers they would be below speed, and therefore not able to respond quickly enough when the RAF sent up its defenders.

Goring came down on the bombers side and issued the command for the fighters to stay close to the bombers.

It is no coincidence that the number of Luftwaffe losses rose sharply after this change of tactics. By the end of the year, the number of operational fighter aircraft alone (Bf109e’s) had plummeted to just 586. However, they did have a surplus of fighter pilots with 711.


CONCLUSION

There is no doubt in my mind that had the Luftwaffe continued to attack the British airfield and radar installation, Operation Sealion would have become a reality. Given the state of the British military machine; no RAF; extremely weak Army; Royal Navy stretched to the limit; it would have come to a very quick conclusion.

Much has been made of the weakness of intervention from Luftflotte 5, flying out of occupied Norway and Denmark. My point is, and always has been, that if the RAF were non-existent, which they would have to be in order for the German invasion to take place, then this route would have been safe to use to further bolster troop numbers and supplies with very little danger of being shot down.

Had Fighter Command failed to repel the Luftwaffe in 1940, the history of Europe as we know it today would be very different indeed. As Churchill said,

“Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war.”

18th June 1940
House of Commons



That he didn’t, and that he did.

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