Chunnel built in 1936.

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john2
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Chunnel built in 1936.

Post by john2 » 30 Sep 2003 13:57

There was another thread similar to this but it was locked because it was deemed unrealistic. Hopefully this variation will fit the guidlines. The chunnel is an underground tunnel that goes under the English channel and connects England and France. What if the technology existed and the tunnel was built in 1936? Could the Nazis have used it to get to England instead of a seaborne invasion? To protect the entrance on the English side a group of paratroopers could land and wait until the main forces came. Is this possible? Does this what if fit in the guidlines?

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 30 Sep 2003 14:38

Background info:


THE CHANNEL TUNNEL

Cross-Channel Traffic

The Anglo-Norman kings were constantly on the move between England and their continental possessions, policing them, deciding legal disputes, waging war and living on their various landed estates. Regular ferry services ran between Portsmouth and Southampton to Dieppe and Harfleur. While England formed part of a continental empire, the Channel operated more as a great internal waterway than as a frontier.



Defence of the Realm

In 1336, Edward III declared that "our progenitors, kings of England, were lords of the English sea on every side" – a claim somewhat difficult to substantiate. The Channel’s defensive role was emphasised by the mid-15th century Libell of English Polycye, a book of naval policy which stressed the importance of England holding both Dover and Calais, in English hands from the mid-14th to the mid-16th century – "keep these two towns sure to your majesty as your two eyes to keep the narrow sea. For if this sea be kept in time of war, who can here pass without danger and woe".

As well as for reasons of domestic security, command of the Channel allowed control of vital trade routes – "cherish merchandise, keep th’admiralty, that we be masters of the narrow sea".

After the loss of Calais the idea of England, and later Great Britain, as an island fortress, defended by the Channel, grew. These sentiments persisted into this century. For defence reasons, the War Office opposed the building of a tunnel under the Channel well into the twentieth century.


The Channel Tunnel

A French company was formed in 1875 to finance a tunnel underneath the Channel to link England and France and in 1879 it sank an access shaft at the Sangatte on the French side. In England, the railway entrepreneur Sir Edward Watkin formed the Submarine Continental Railway Company in 1881, sinking a shaft on the English side at Shakespeare Cliff near Dover. He proposed to the Board of Trade that he would pay for a mile of tunnelling before looking to the government for financial assistance but there was little positive interest from the British government. The War Office saw a railway tunnel under the Channel as a military threat to the defence of the country. Lieutenant- General Sir Garnet Wolseley warned the War Office’s Commission of Enquiry that – "a couple of thousand men might easily come through the tunnel at night, avoiding all suspicion by being dressed as ordinary passengers, or passing at express speed through the tunnel with the blinds down, in their uniform and fully armed". Watkin was told not to drive his tunnel under crown land and, after a couple of abortive parliamentary bills, interest in the project died down. The Committee of Imperial Defence continued to oppose the tunnel, both before and after the First World War, although Marshal Foch had observed that the existence of a Channel Tunnel would either have prevented the war or brought the Allies victory by 1916. A Royal Commission reported in favour of a tunnel in 1930 but the recommendation to go ahead was defeated in Parliament. By the 1950s, military objections had been overtaken by warfare’s technological advances, notably the dominant role of air power, and the main issue became one of commercial viability and financing.

On October 20th 1972, the British and French governments, British and French tunnel companies and both national railways, all signed a formal agreement to build the Channel Tunnel according to series of phased agreements. However, it was not until 1986 that the concession was awarded to the Eurotunnel consortium and a full treaty was signed between the two countries. The Channel Tunnel was formally opened in May 1994 and began carrying railway passengers in September 1994 and vehicles from March 1995.

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 30 Sep 2003 14:43

I think, had a Channel Tunnel been built before or after the First World War, it could/would have been designed with military defence in mind - most importantly, embedded explosives or other flooding mechanisms so that the tunnel could be flooded if needed.

Once flooded, the tunnel is worthless to any invader.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 30 Sep 2003 18:08

They would likely blow the tunnel, but even that may not have been necessary.

The current tunnel is an amazing and complicated feat of engineering. It has numerous ventiliation apparatus to extract toxic fumes from the shaft and introduce breathable air. Simply shut off the equipment at the English end and the tunnel is virtually useless.

Additionally, picture how vulnerable the troops emerging in small groups would be as they tried to exit under hostile fire.

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Reply.

Post by john2 » 30 Sep 2003 18:23

Assuming the troops could get through the tunnel a paratroop force as, I said earlier, would be landed to hold the side that came out on English territory.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 30 Sep 2003 20:56

In order for the paratroop force to succeed, they would need air escort and more or less constant patrols to ensure the RAF would not obliterate them.

As well, "holding" the tunnel is not enough. Like holding a bridge, such troops could prevent the British from entering or using the tunnel, but would not protect troops inside from being picked off as they tried to exit. The local roads and rail lines would be prime locations for air raids and naval bombardment.

Therefore we need a rather large force to cover the tunnel's surrounding countryside, even with the smaller British force left after France fell. With the requirement for local air superiority as well, most of the invasion requirements for the non-tunnel scenerio would still have to be met.

Additionally, even if the operation in France went more or less as planned, could the British then not use the tunnel to escape with the bulk of their troops and heavy equipment? This would make the Wehrmacht's job all the harder.

I do agree, that a working tunnel would make supplying a large force in Britain much easier, once they had conquered a significant portion of the country.

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Reply.

Post by john2 » 30 Sep 2003 21:10

It seems however that it would be almost as difficult to gain control of the tunnel then to to invade from the sea. An additional thing I didn't I think of is that the British realizing the tunnel made them vulnerable would probably blow both entrances as soon it became clear France was going to surrender. Hitler would then be stuck in the same situation he was historically. I guess then a tunnel wouldn't change anything very much. Well, at least it was something to think about. Thanks for your replies.

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 30 Sep 2003 21:14

This is not a realistic scenario, as Tim (so far the only poster from UK :lol: ) said, the British had long feared a cross channel invasion by continental powers, especially the French. So even if the technology existed before the war, the UK government wouldn't allow such a tunnel to be built, period!

Even if somehow the tunnel was built, the UK would surely blow it up at the faintest hint of hostility with Germany. So everything would develop as in reality, that is, without tunnel.

Thus I don't see this discussion is going anywhere!

Regards!

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Post by Xanthro » 01 Oct 2003 01:14

The tunnel would have allowed for more British heavy equipment to escape in 1940, and fighting through a tunnel isn't exactly easy to do.

The smallest number of people could hold off an army there, and I doubt the Brits would leave it unguarded.

It would seem to have more military value to the Brits than Germans. The only German value would be AFTER an invasion to supply troops. Easier to supply if you captured both sides of the tunnel in an attack, cleared the flooding and demolitions, then used it for supply trains.

That would be important, but you'd still need the seaborne invasion.

Xanthro

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Ti.P
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Post by Ti.P » 01 Oct 2003 09:59

maltesefalcon wrote:In order for the paratroop force to succeed, they would need air escort and more or less constant patrols to ensure the RAF would not obliterate them.

As well, "holding" the tunnel is not enough. Like holding a bridge, such troops could prevent the British from entering or using the tunnel, but would not protect troops inside from being picked off as they tried to exit. The local roads and rail lines would be prime locations for air raids and naval bombardment.

Therefore we need a rather large force to cover the tunnel's surrounding countryside, even with the smaller British force left after France fell. With the requirement for local air superiority as well, most of the invasion requirements for the non-tunnel scenerio would still have to be met.

Additionally, even if the operation in France went more or less as planned, could the British then not use the tunnel to escape with the bulk of their troops and heavy equipment? This would make the Wehrmacht's job all the harder.

I do agree, that a working tunnel would make supplying a large force in Britain much easier, once they had conquered a significant portion of the country.
if u look at the operation in greece for example, couldnt they ahve mounted something similar to that? they took krete with paratroops then.

if the english retreat through the tunnel wouldnt te germans be able to trap them ALL? easpecially if they had control of both entrances

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Post by maltesefalcon » 01 Oct 2003 17:22

Reply to Ti.P

The Operation Herkules on Cypress was a costly victory for Germany's parachute corps. They lost so many that Hitler refused to sanction another, relegating these troops to elite infantry status. Please keep in mind that paratroops landing on English soil would be facing the wrath of the entire force that escaped France, not just Freiburg's corps. It was also successful due to lack of air cover for the defenders, a condition that would be rectified over East Anglia, I believe.

Also I think you misunderstood my comment on using the tunnel for a retreat. I meant that the BEF and French forces that were trapped in Dunkirk could have used the tunnel to escape with their heavy equipment and vehicles to Britain. There would be no point in a defeated British army trying to use the tunnel to escape to France!

This whole thread makes a basic assumption, which is the focal point for its unlikely outcome. The current tunnel was built to bring Britain closer to the European Common Market, which did not exist at the time. If Britain and France had spent the money on this undertaking, would the Armed Forces suffer for it? No Maginot Line? No Bomber Command? No Chain Home radar stations? In fact Britain was thrilled to be an island at the time, and it is not likely they would spend this money during a depression to make an invasion all the easier.

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Sam H.
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Post by Sam H. » 01 Oct 2003 17:39

Excuse me for being the bore but ... the German paratroops were used against Crete ... the Germans did not invade Cyprus (wrong Med. island) - and I believe Hercules was the planned invasion of Malta.

But your basic premise is correct, after the blooding the paratroops received on CRETE, Hitler never again employed paratroops in a large scale operation.

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Post by Andy H » 01 Oct 2003 23:54

Well playing along with this premise that the tunnel is built, the most obvious fact is that if the Allies hadn't destroyed it upon it's retreat from France, Germany would have.

As mentioned earlier, the tunnel would be the quickest and safest way to bring in men & materials into France. Thus it would become a prime target for Germany to destroy ASAP, and given the fact that Germany had no firm idea's about invading Britain prior to the offensive in the West they wouldn't have given a second thought to it's consequences, once destroyed.

Andy H

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Post by GFM2000 » 02 Oct 2003 01:47

I understand that the collaborative efforts of building a tunnel with the English would be very difficult, but is it feasible for the French to begin and complete the Chunnel all by themselves (understandably performed in secrecy)? I believe even Napolean considered this option when he was planning his own invasion of England. It is obviously no small feat, but had it been even partially completed, I'm sure the Nazis would similarly consider completing it for Operation Sealion. Any comments?
:D

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Post by maltesefalcon » 02 Oct 2003 12:06

Thanks for correcting my post. I don't know what I was thinking. It must have been a Freudian thing.

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