One of the more entertaining ideas I've seen in awhile, and not really absurd, so I'll bite.Stoat Coat wrote: ↑18 Dec 2022 01:52FYI, Spitsbergen is 600 miles from mainland Norway. If it’s occupied earlier in the war, before all summer convoys ceased, Spitsbergen is much closer to the summer routes. Bear Island straddled both the winter and summer routes. The greater frequency and intensity of air attacks alone enabled by a significant LW presence is substantial; in fact for most of the air attacks on Allied convoys there was no air. escort for the German attack planes, the distances were too large. Obviously a major downside is that the anchorage can’t be used for the long winter period because of the ice cap.Takao wrote: ↑13 Dec 2022 13:07Given that German naval and air forces operating from mainland Norway could accomplish the same task, with less of a logistical tail...I don't see any benefit.Stoat Coat wrote: ↑13 Dec 2022 04:34I thought OP made a good case for the benefits of occupying Bear Island and Spitsbergen, and also how it could be I totally captured with ease. It’s wether or not Germany can hold them that is the question.
It is not like these are far flung islands in the Pacific covering dead ground.
Btw, I don’t think the Germans sending a more substantial force to occupy Svalbard is that much of a stretch, if for nothing other than Hitler’s obsession with defending Norway from an imagined Allied invasion, and the disproportionate forces committed to Norways defense reflect that, regardless of the real benefit of the Germans, a more ambitious and/or earlier version of Zitronella is easy to imagine and even accomplish. The real question, as I brought up earlier, is would the Allies care enough to re-occupy those islands so they couldn’t be used by the Luftwaffe? On the one hand: MacArthur had Nimitz launch the Palau islands campaign purely out of concern for possible flanking and air attacks by…a cut-off force defending an already wrecked airfield on Peleliu, so never doubt how inane a target may seem, but then again the Allies don’t seem to have ever seriously considered operations in Norway after 1940, unlike the Philippines. So I admit that part is very “what-if” material, although I suspect Special Boat Service commando raids is probable.
What I don’t understand is why some in this thread act like the Germans occupying Svalbard with more forces and earlier is some massive departure with reality. LOL. Yeah, German invasion of Svalbard….that could never have happend... https://www.criticalpast.com/video/6567 ... iegsmarine
Any serious German attempt to defend the island of Spitzbergen would focus on the Nordenskiöld penninsula; its the one place there is enough reasonably flat land in the huge Mountain ravines to establish numerous air bases, and thats the area where Barentsburg and Longyearbyen are located anyways. Looking on google earth, it might make sense, if you are intending to place airfields in the interior basin, to place Gebirgsjager units for the defense, since the approaches are all guarded by huge mountains, but since we are talking about rather static defenses, you could honestly just give standard infantry some mountain and arctic equipment, along with some mountain guns, and they probably perform about as well.
Since the Germans landed a single fortress infantry battalion in '43, I can easily see them putting a force several times that size on the island, but thats with the caveat of knowing that force will be lost to any serious allied attempt to root out the German presence in the area. Don't think the Germans will be pulling a "Tokyo Express" Guadalcanal style either, the moment an invasion force lands the supplies they will have is whats been stockpiled.
Maybe a German force of at most four static battalions, maybe one or two Gebirgsjager battlions for a reserve would be used, and thats being generous. If this is late 1941, and the British are under serious pressure from Stalin to resume the convoys thereafter (and I'm going out on a limb by granting that German attacks on the convoy route would be much more effective than from Norway, and honestly I doubt that, but I don't know) then you'd probably see the Home Fleet and a land force consisting of the 49th West Riding Division pulled from Iceland assembled for the operation.
What then? They are going to lose the archipelago if the British really want it, regardless of its greater proximity to Norway the RN is too strong for the Kriegsmarine to challenge. The only caveat is that if this is really early, carriers are one thing the British can't assemble in mass thanks to their commitment in the Med against Italy, so maybe the air escort is weak enough for whatever German aircraft are based on the island to inflict serious damage on the invasion fleet. Otherwise, you're looking at a German Iwo Jima where the only thing plausible is inflicting large enough casualties on the enemy infantry advancing up those mountainous passes to the airfields that you can justify losing the whole force you stationed there.
Just my two cents.