Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 18 Apr 2017 23:34

redcoat wrote:After the ease which Germany had defeated Poland, Norway and then France, the British tended to over-estimate the capabilities of the German forces, so they tended to take the view that the Germans could land anywhere suitable. So defenses were built everywhere, they even built some pill boxes in the town where I live in NW England, 60 miles from the sea, as protection from a paratroop attack !!!!!!
...


antwony wrote:From what I understand (sorry, but I can't remember where I read this), British Intelligence determined that the Germans didn't have the capability to mount a serious invasion over the channel. Therefore, they came to the conclusion that any "German Invasion Fleet" (which in actuality didn't exist) must be in the Baltic somewhere and would probably land on the east coast. Thought they were more concerned with Norfolk, but seems they hadn't ruled out Scotland.


Here is the core of it. The Brit leaders in 1940> were: A. Unsure of the actual German capabilities. B. Planing for the worst case. The construction of the defenses dont tell us anything about the reality of German capabilities, but instead they inform us about the PoV of the Brits.

Leros87
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Leros87 » 19 Apr 2017 23:23

As part of Operation Sealion the Kriegsmarine planned to have 4 large transports (Bremen, Europa, Gneisenau and Potsdam), supported by the battle fleet (2 battle cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 3 T boats) out of Hamburg sail into the North and Norwegian Seas, unless intercepted. 7 uboats were to deploy off Scapa Flow and the Forth. The pocket battleship was also to deploy in to the Atlantic via the North Sea to raid convoys.
The Heer was to prepare diversionary landings between the Tyne and Forth with 69 and 214 Inf. Divs and Pz Detach 40, all from Norway. The Luftwaffe was to contribute its Air Fleet 5 in Norway.

As for the British, General Ironside (then CinC Home Forces) recorded "the coastline is terrific in length and could be attacked at any point; air landings can take place anywhere in the country and with even less warning than for seaborne landings". By the end of June an Admiralty survey had been completed of the entire coastline, identifying and categorising vulnerable landing areas and allowing for resources to be provided accordingly ( Kent, Sussex and East Anglia were the highest priorities). Plans were even drawn up to counter a seaborne invasion of the Isle of Man!

The Army (Scottish Command) had by September developed a Command Stop Line covering Fife. It had three infantry divs - 51st covering north east Scotland, 5th covering Fife and the 46th covering south east Scotland. In addition a Divisional sized Polish Force was at Montrose and a battalion sized Norwegian Brigade at Dumfries. All these forces were under equipped with artillery but were backed up by smaller local forces and Home Guard. There were strong AA defences covering the main naval bases at Scapa Flow, Clyde and Forth and coastal artillery covering the ports. There was even an Auxilliary Unit structure in Scotland (100 patrols with nearly 600 men).

The Navy had strong forces at Scapa Flow (1 battle cruiser, 1 aircraft carrier, 2 heavy, 2 light and 2 AA cruisers, 8 destroyers and 2 armed merchant cruisers),Forth (2 battleships, 1 battle cruiser, 3 light cruisers, 23 destroyers and 3 subs) and Clyde (1 light cruiser, 7 destroyers and 15 subs) with a submarine force at Dundee (6 subs). Local forces were deployed at key ports.

The RAF had 14 Fighter Group (8 sqns) and 18 Coastal Group (15 sqns) covering Scotland.

Could a surprise landing succeed? In my opinion doubtful given the distances to travel and intense Sea and air observation of the North Sea.

Hope this helps. More detail can be found in the book "We shall fight them".

Knouterer
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Knouterer » 20 Apr 2017 07:50

Leros87 wrote:As part of Operation Sealion the Kriegsmarine planned to have 4 large transports (Bremen, Europa, Gneisenau and Potsdam), supported by the battle fleet (2 battle cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 3 T boats) out of Hamburg sail into the North and Norwegian Seas, unless intercepted. 7 uboats were to deploy off Scapa Flow and the Forth. The pocket battleship was also to deploy in to the Atlantic via the North Sea to raid convoys.
The Heer was to prepare diversionary landings between the Tyne and Forth with 69 and 214 Inf. Divs and Pz Detach 40, all from Norway. The Luftwaffe was to contribute its Air Fleet 5 in Norway.



This operation "Autumn Journey" (Unternehmen Herbstreise) was in fact just a feint, to divert attention from the actual invasion in Kent and Sussex. The Germans did not actually plan to land anywhere in Scotland or the north of England. The Kriegsmarine did however plan the operation in some detail. Europa and Bremen would sail empty (after some simulated loading activity), Potsdam and Gneisenau would take troops on board at Hamburg but unload them again at Cuxhaven under cover of darkness. These ships with escorts formed Convoy IV, three others would sail from Norway, see map from Schenk, Landung in England, p. 369.

The Germans would generate a lot of radio traffic, also from aircraft, to alert the British. The convoys would sail three days before the actual invasion (S-3), and turn back once the Royal Navy had taken the bait or at the latest at 21h30 on S-2. If necessary, the whole operation would be repeated.

No battle cruisers; Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were both under repair. The pocket battleship Admiral Scheer likewise was not yet available in Sept. 1940, as she was undergoing extensive trials in the Baltic following a major refit. The only heavy units remaning - all assigned to Herbstreise - were the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the light cruisers Emden, Nürnberg and Köln. Emden would escort Convoy IV, Nürnberg, Köln and some smaller navy vessels formed the Kreuzergruppe shown on the map
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Knouterer
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Knouterer » 20 Apr 2017 09:57

To speculate a little bit about the possible British reaction to this feint: Rodney, Nelson and Hood were at Rosyth (Forth) by the end of September. The two battleships were well armoured and almost impervious to air attack (as Luftwaffe experts had concluded before the war) but relatively slow at 23 knots. Hood could do 31 (29.5 at full load), a bit faster even than Emden, which was not much of a warship anyway.
So it seems possible Hood would be the core of a fast task force also including some ships of the 15th Cruiser Flotilla and the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, both also based at Rosyth.
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Knouterer
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Knouterer » 20 Apr 2017 10:30

Knouterer wrote:
Leros87 wrote:As part of Operation Sealion the Kriegsmarine planned to have 4 large transports (Bremen, Europa, Gneisenau and Potsdam), supported by the battle fleet (2 battle cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 3 T boats) out of Hamburg sail into the North and Norwegian Seas, unless intercepted. 7 uboats were to deploy off Scapa Flow and the Forth. The pocket battleship was also to deploy in to the Atlantic via the North Sea to raid convoys.
The Heer was to prepare diversionary landings between the Tyne and Forth with 69 and 214 Inf. Divs and Pz Detach 40, all from Norway. The Luftwaffe was to contribute its Air Fleet 5 in Norway.



This operation "Autumn Journey" (Unternehmen Herbstreise) was in fact just a feint, to divert attention from the actual invasion in Kent and Sussex. The Germans did not actually plan to land anywhere in Scotland or the north of England.


As a footnote, admiral Raeder and other Kriegsmarine commanders were hoping they would not actually have to carry out Operation Sealion as planned, in view of the crushing numerical superiority of the Royal Navy. Which is why they kept insisting on the absolute necessity of air superiority, knowing or suspecting that the Luftwaffe would be unable to achieve it. It was hoped, as a best case scenario, that the British will to resist would be broken by the combined efforts of the Luftwaffe and the U-boats, that Churchill would be toppled and a new government would ask for terms. In that case the landing would be unopposed and the Kriegsmarine would just have to ferry the army of occupation across.

It's possible that some plans were made to transport troops across from Norway in that eventuality.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Knouterer
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Re: Feasibility of landings in Scotland?

Postby Knouterer » 22 Apr 2017 13:56

Another little map from Schenk, showing other diversionary operations besides Herbstreise, simulating landings in East Anglia and Ireland. As the Kriegsmarine had no further ships available for these feints, they would mainly consist of radio traffic, also from aircraft.

To give these feints some credibility, some landing exercises on a limited scale were carried out by the troops (supposedly) designated for the operations.
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