The Battle of Britain.

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
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phylo_roadking
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 01 Apr 2010 15:08

Nonsense. We know where the Germans are intending to land - in an area thick with British troops.
Exactly - WE know. But the British didn't in 1940!!! 8O
And in an area where most of the civilian population have been evacuated.
They were intending to evacuate the coastal crust - whether for their own safety or to create a free-fire zone isn;t aften stipulated :wink: In fact, the populations of the coastal towns shrank quite spontaneously during the summer of 1940! It's suprising the number of people who could who decided to holiday late in the summer in Scotland and the South-West :lol: But evacuate territory as far behind the coast as 7th brigade's operational area? A stone's throw from Chatham??? Meanwhile - who milks the cows?
Perhaps the British army is deaf as well as blind.
If you read Bishop....even the "professionals" at the job, the ROC, were misidentifying aircraft and loosing raids during the BoB. Look at the legend of the Bf110 "Jaguar" for instance, discussed a couple of times on the forum. A few thousand feet up, in the dawn half-light, are squaddies on the ground going to be able to distinguish between a Ju52 heading inland and a Ju88 heading inland? :wink:
Where does it say 5th Brigade rendezvous with Milforce?! Milforce is the Advance Guard of NZ Div. - it goes first, 5th Brigade follows.
No it doesn't it's PRE-POSITIONED in the vicinity of Charing!
East of Maidstone there was 5 Brigade, north of the Maidstone-Charing road was 7 Brigade, now commanded by Brigadier Falconer, and at Charing there was Milforce, an armoured group, commanded by Brigadier Miles and formally constituted the following morning.
The orders clearly indicate that 5th Brigade was going to have to motor along the A20, protected by 7th Brigade....the Harrietsham to CHARING road. And we KNOW that historically Milforce was billeted AT Charing/Westwell...remember this?
Milforce is not in Tunbridge Wells but around Ashford. 'C' Sqn Divisonal Cavalry billetted in Westwell village, 8 RTR in Charing .
So - given that Milforce was supposed to "cover the 5th Brigade Group debussing" you're saying there would be NO rendezvous??? There would somewhere - either IN Charing....or wherever circumstances demanded the couter-attack start line would be; admittedly, Milforce COULD have been sent off up the Canterbury Road or down the Ashford Road ahead of the pursuing 5th Brigade Group...but that's a hell of a complicated stepped movement - exactly the sort of thing that cocked up frequently in France in 1940 AND on Crete in 1941!

But whatever happens somewhere there's a coming-together of the two formations so that 5th Brigade can debus (literally! :lol: ) behind Milforce, then go into action as the tanks' infantry support.
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Gooner1 » 01 Apr 2010 16:16

phylo_roadking wrote: Exactly - WE know. But the British didn't in 1940!!! 8O
Eh? The area where the German paras. are intending to drop, 'Lyminge—Sellinge—Hythe', is thick with British troops. Ergo the reporting chain will not be "Civilians on the groud ->LDV/Police->local Army command"
I A few thousand feet up, in the dawn half-light, are squaddies on the ground going to be able to distinguish between a Ju52 heading inland and a Ju88 heading inland? :wink:
Yes, the three-engines, slower speed and lower height would be a dead giveaway. Oh, so too would the thousands of parachutists jumping out of them.
But whatever happens somewhere there's a coming-together of the two formations so that 5th Brigade can debus (literally! :lol: ) behind Milforce, then go into action as the tanks' infantry support.
Yes, presumably when Milforce bumps into more Germans than they can run-over.
BTW the tanks of 8 RTR were only under command of Milforce until the debussing of 5 Brigade IIRC.
I'll post the whole of Milforce operation instruction later. If you can find a way of converting Cassini grids to OS grids you can even plot the actual start lines of plan A, B and C.

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Dunserving » 01 Apr 2010 16:24

I have to agree with the comment about identifying a Ju52. Some of you are aware that I live in the area being discussed, and a couple of years ago I watched a Ju52 fly right over me at around 1,500 feet heading in the general direction of Duxford. I've never seen an aircraft fly so slowly. It seemed to take forever to approach, pass overhead, and head into the distance. The shape, when viewed from below is also most distinctive.

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 01 Apr 2010 16:52

If you remember -
8th RTR at this time were equipped with Matildas (the majority actually Matilda Is IIRC)
In this case - I'd guess it's the Matilda Is...
C Squadron Divisional Cavalry had six light tanks and six Bren carriers.
Either Is or Vickers Lights by that description - and neither was going to set the world on fire...apart from the Matilda's armour which would at least withstand the FJ's "doorknockers".
Yes, presumably when Milforce bumps into more Germans than they can run-over.
Milforce as a whole didn't have much in the way of organic infantry...
...and an infantry battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser and made up of the men from the two batteries of 5 Field Regiment and the two batteries of 7 Anti-Tank Regiment that were still without guns.
...so, the aforementioned "Odds'n'Sods".
Eh? The area where the German paras. are intending to drop, 'Lyminge—Sellinge—Hythe', is thick with British troops.
No, not "thick" - they're in various positions, and the ground in between isn't going to be thick with anybody. And remember the original "FJ" thread - the terrain they were intending to drop on was like the terrain north of the A20...wooded in lowlying valleys between higher ground.

What troops are going to be sent to the rear from Hythe two minutes after dawn when they drop - when dawn reveals the invasion fleet to their front? 8O That's why they were planning to bring counter-attacking forces down from Maidstone direction - on the day everyone closer was going to be slightly busy.
Yes, the three-engines, slower speed and lower height would be a dead giveaway.
In the halflight, with the LW bombing them as soon as the sun is up, if not continuing to bomb the burning coastal towns and villages by darkness? With raids heading at higher altitudes inland to continue pounding RAF fields?

If they do correctly identify Ju52s...all they can do is report them passing over their position, until -
Oh, so too would the thousands of parachutists jumping out of them.
...this starts to happen - several miles behind the coastal positions. Plus - remember the terrain again; the FJ jumped from a low altitude with their various "assists" for a safe landing...and the terrain as discussed in the other thread was hilly; in many cases the FJ could drop a mile away from a fixed position and not be seen - with a Down in between! 8O Even a low hill can drastically foreshorten a viewer's "horizon".

As a P.S. - of course then there's the minor problem of even if they see a drop in the distance - ALL they have is the bearing from their position; without height data...and a Mark11a Instrument with a Micklethwaite height correction attachment -
Image
Image

...they won't be able to tell exactly where the FJ are dropping unless it's right on top of them!
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 01 Apr 2010 23:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Graeme Sydney » 01 Apr 2010 22:54

Gooner1 wrote:
Dunserving wrote: Edited to add: Phylo is also right to note that Google Earth does NOT give an accurate indication of the topography of the area. I'd suggest referring to: http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm

This site allows you to compare modern OS maps with aerial imagery and also OS maps from both the 1940's and 1930's.
Look at the contour lines and think about lines of visibility.
Triffic find! Bookmarking that.
Ditto.

(Tour England from the warmth and comfort of my Ozzie home. Bonus :D ).

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Gooner1 » 02 Apr 2010 19:16

phylo_roadking wrote: In this case - I'd guess it's the Matilda Is...
Nope, C Squadron 8 RTR was the one equipped with Matilda IIs. Which makes sense as they were twice as fast as the Matilda Is. :lol:
C Squadron Divisional Cavalry had six light tanks and six Bren carriers.
Was that before Freyberg reported "100 per cent of our Bren carriers, 100 per cent of our Bren guns, 100 per cent of our Boys rifles. From today we are to all intents and purposes almost 100 per cent equipped."
By organisation the Squadron at full strength should have what 8 MkVIs and 12 - 14 Carriers?
Either Is or Vickers Lights by that description - and neither was going to set the world on fire...apart from the Matilda's armour which would at least withstand the FJ's "doorknockers".
Milforce as a whole didn't have much in the way of organic infantry...
"...and an infantry battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser and made up of the men from the two batteries of 5 Field Regiment and the two batteries of 7 Anti-Tank Regiment that were still without guns. "
...so, the aforementioned "Odds'n'Sods".
A lot of firepower though. Maybe 70-80 MGs?
No, not "thick" - they're in various positions, and the ground in between isn't going to be thick with anybody. And remember the original "FJ" thread - the terrain they were intending to drop on was like the terrain north of the A20...wooded in lowlying valleys between higher ground.
OK, fair enough. The army won't spot exactly where all the paras. drop and the Home Guard and civilians will probably be very useful in pinpointing exactly where the paras are.
Worth noting though that the terrain is certain to increase jump casualties and disorganisation.
What troops are going to be sent to the rear from Hythe two minutes after dawn when they drop - when dawn reveals the invasion fleet to their front? 8O That's why they were planning to bring counter-attacking forces down from Maidstone direction - on the day everyone closer was going to be slightly busy.
Simultaneous landings from sea and air was pretty much expected. The force set by the RIF defending Rye, the Carrier platoon, the Mortar platoon, the M/C platoon and a lorry borne platoon, were probably typical as a battalions counter-parachute troops - high mobility, high firepower. Of course when defending the coast they were also the Bns chief counter-attack force ..
If they do correctly identify Ju52s...all they can do is report them passing over their position, until -
...this starts to happen - several miles behind the coastal positions. Plus - remember the terrain again; the FJ jumped from a low altitude with their various "assists" for a safe landing...and the terrain as discussed in the other thread was hilly; in many cases the FJ could drop a mile away from a fixed position and not be seen - with a Down in between! 8O Even a low hill can drastically foreshorten a viewer's "horizon".
Yeah, its not as if any observers will be on the high ground.
...they won't be able to tell exactly where the FJ are dropping unless it's right on top of them!
The defending forces have been in those positions months. They know the area intimately.

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 02 Apr 2010 20:05

In no particular order...
...they won't be able to tell exactly where the FJ are dropping unless it's right on top of them!
The defending forces have been in those positions months. They know the area intimately.
That doesn't matter. Looking at parchutes opening from several miles away...then dropping out of sight behind woods or hills - they won't know where unless they actually see them land. Just at a mile or two wrong across country would mean a diversion of miles by road for any reaction force...or it haring off in the wrong direction entirely.
Nope, C Squadron 8 RTR was the one equipped with Matilda IIs. Which makes sense as they were twice as fast as the Matilda Is.
...apart from the problem in the summer of 1940 being availability not capability...

BTW - I see a major issue there, dont you? :wink: If the Divisional Cavalry had Lights, and 8RTR had Matilda IIs...the boot is on the other foot...for Milforce' onward move from Charing is limited to the speed of its slowest unit I.E the 15mph road speed of the Matildas 8O
C Squadron Divisional Cavalry had six light tanks and six Bren carriers.
Was that before Freyberg reported "100 per cent of our Bren carriers, 100 per cent of our Bren guns, 100 per cent of our Boys rifles. From today we are to all intents and purposes almost 100 per cent equipped."
Over a month before, towards the start of July. Freyberg wrote that in mid-August. Actually, I was more interested in the word "light" and its connotations rather than the "six".
A lot of firepower though. Maybe 70-80 MGs?
Except only the M.G. company are going to be really used to handling theirs. The scratch battalion might have been better suited to holding a position rather than attempting offensive (or counteroffensive!) action...it still leaves Milforce fatally weak as an indpendent formation in extremis, and dependent on coordinating with 5th Brigade's three battalions. As a P.S.....see below*
The army won't spot exactly where all the paras. drop and the Home Guard and civilians will probably be very useful in pinpointing exactly where the paras are.
This is the point I was making before; it will take x-amount of time to correlate all the different incoming reports in the various reporting chains THEN 5th Brigade have to be ordered where to move to - Canterbury or Ashford. Then they have to actually cover the ground to Charing, then move forward at the speed of Milforce...which we've seen from THEIR orders they've to motor quite spread out, so there will be x-amount of time to take positions to cover whatever start line then 5th Brigade Group have to debus behind them and start their sweep...

The whole process isn't exactly rapid reaction...But if it's the only mobile reaction force in the area, they're obliged to start from far enough to the rear that they can cover EITHER Canterbury and beyond OR Ashford and beyond. But it's still going to take hours...more than I was thinking of during the other thread months ago. At that time I didn't realise how complicated the NZ division forward deployment was potentially going to be!...

...with how many potential delays 8O I can see them sitting piled up at Charing waiting on definitive final word on whether to go north or south...if in the end the FJ had had the strength/Ju52s/DFS230s to carry out a proper widespread operation of the kind the British feared...what was 5th brigade/Milforce supposed to do THEN??? Split the formation? 8O

* - there's one more thing I don't really grasp...
Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav.
32 A/Tk Battery
"C" Coy. 21 Bn.
M.G. Coy.
Sig. Dett.
"C" Sqn. 8 R Tanks
To take part in this all-important counter-attack the New Zealand brigades were being transferred to the outskirts of the Dover-Folkestone area. The signals strength for this role was increased by 100 British signallers who had served in France or Norway
...unless the list of Milforce elements above is only it's admin roster??? Otherwise, where's the sense in positioning the combined reaction force's extra signallers at Charing? Surely they'd have been embedded with an exercising with 5th Brigade for some time beforehand...

EDIT: Am presuming that this particular assignment - the signallers to Milforce rather than the NZ Division - was done administratively so that once it was time to send the NZ "second echelon" to join the rest of the NZEF in the Med....they didn't take the 100 extra signallers with them :lol:
Worth noting though that the terrain is certain to increase jump casualties and disorganisation
Historically...not sure about the terrain; certainly looks fro Google Earth that at least the first wave would drop on relatively open ground. Disorganisation...would indeed be true..but there's one major factor that will assist in this - their objective was several miles to the west, and they'd have to move on it, as they crossed country, no matter how split up, they'd accrete/gather up again to an extent.

(IF their objective had been to hold where they dropped - that would probably have been disastrous - but at least they'd have MAJOR nuisance value in that they'd still attract/distract the attention of the NZ division and would still have to be policed up! :wink: )
Simultaneous landings from sea and air was pretty much expected. The force set by the RIF defending Rye, the Carrier platoon, the Mortar platoon, the M/C platoon and a lorry borne platoon, were probably typical as a battalions counter-parachute troops - high mobility, high firepower. Of course when defending the coast they were also the Bns chief counter-attack force ..
Yes, they'd more likely be dashing up or down the coast until pinned by contact...but I doubt they'd ever in those circumstances be sent to @rse about in the hills! 8O
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Gooner1 » 03 Apr 2010 01:10

phylo_roadking wrote:BTW - I see a major issue there, dont you? :wink: If the Divisional Cavalry had Lights, and 8RTR had Matilda IIs...the boot is on the other foot...for Milforce' onward move from Charing is limited to the speed of its slowest unit I.E the 15mph road speed of the Matildas 8O
The fastest elements - the NZ Div Cav - were to lead the advance. And the advance was to be 8 miles in the hour.

Except only the M.G. company are going to be really used to handling theirs.
Eh?!
The scratch battalion might have been better suited to holding a position rather than attempting offensive (or counteroffensive!) action...it still leaves Milforce fatally weak as an indpendent formation in extremis, and dependent on coordinating with 5th Brigade's three battalions. As a P.S.....see below*
"MILFORCE will act as Div. Adv. Guard. and will take up a position covering the debussing of 5 Inf. Bde"
Although its hard to see what the paras can do the stop Milforce.

This is the point I was making before; it will take x-amount of time to correlate all the different incoming reports in the various reporting chains
Who to correlate what information? XII Corps receives reports of large scale enemy landings by air and sea in 2nd LRB Sub-area but no reports of same from 198 Bde or 35 Bde sub-areas.
THEN 5th Brigade have to be ordered where to move to - Canterbury or Ashford. Then they have to actually cover the ground to Charing, then move forward at the speed of Milforce...which we've seen from THEIR orders they've to motor quite spread out, so there will be x-amount of time to take positions to cover whatever start line then 5th Brigade Group have to debus behind them and start their sweep...
What 'sweep'?
The whole process isn't exactly rapid reaction...But if it's the only mobile reaction force in the area,
It was not.
they're obliged to start from far enough to the rear that they can cover EITHER Canterbury and beyond OR Ashford and beyond. But it's still going to take hours...more than I was thinking of during the other thread months ago. At that time I didn't realise how complicated the NZ division forward deployment was potentially going to be!...
Hours is good.
...with how many potential delays 8O I can see them sitting piled up at Charing waiting on definitive final word on whether to go north or south...
There is no north or south. Just S/SE to Dover or Folkestone.
if in the end the FJ had had the strength/Ju52s/DFS230s to carry out a proper widespread operation of the kind the British feared...what was 5th brigade/Milforce supposed to do THEN??? Split the formation? 8O
" to counter attack vigorously any enemy landing in 1 Lon. Div. area,"
* - there's one more thing I don't really grasp...
Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav.
32 A/Tk Battery
"C" Coy. 21 Bn.
M.G. Coy.
Sig. Dett.
"C" Sqn. 8 R Tanks
EDIT: Am presuming that this particular assignment - the signallers to Milforce rather than the NZ Division - was done administratively so that once it was time to send the NZ "second echelon" to join the rest of the NZEF in the Med....they didn't take the 100 extra signallers with them :lol:
Your assumption that the signals detachment with Milforce was the whole signals detachment to NZ Div is wrong.

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Gooner1 » 03 Apr 2010 01:27

phylo_roadking wrote:Historically...not sure about the terrain; certainly looks fro Google Earth that at least the first wave would drop on relatively open ground.
Relatively open ground that nevertheless cunningly hides them from British observation by means of hills and woods - a typical shabby Nazi trick!
Disorganisation...would indeed be true..but there's one major factor that will assist in this - their objective was several miles to the west, and they'd have to move on it, as they crossed country, no matter how split up, they'd accrete/gather up again to an extent.
Why not just land closer to their objective?
(IF their objective had been to hold where they dropped - that would probably have been disastrous - but at least they'd have MAJOR nuisance value in that they'd still attract/distract the attention of the NZ division and would still have to be policed up! :wink: )
The airborne landings take place in 1st London Divison area whilst the seaborne landings take place in 45th Division area. A major water obstacle seperates the sea landed forces from the airborne forces and the airborne forces are dropping (at Hythe, Sellindge, Postling and Lyminge) - right on top of strong British forces, and powerful mobile reserve located close by. Good luck with that.

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 03 Apr 2010 01:57

Except only the M.G. company are going to be really used to handling theirs.
Eh?!
The scratch battalion....
I meant the rest of Milforce's "infantry" element were artillerymen without their artillery! 8O They might have completed Basic - but it's been a long time since they handled small arms or even expected to in close combat...until the scratch battalion was formed :P They might have had the benefit of a summer's training and exercising, but...
The fastest elements - the NZ Div Cav - were to lead the advance. And the advance was to be 8 miles in the hour.
That's my point exactly. Limited to the speed of 8 RTR's Matildas. Without those Milforce's lorries, buses, Vickers Lights and carriers could have moved more rapidly.
Who to correlate what information? XII Corps receives reports of large scale enemy landings by air and sea in 2nd LRB Sub-area but no reports of same from 198 Bde or 35 Bde sub-areas.
I'm talking about the areas that the FJ were going to drop in - that's dozens of square miles for the four battalions in two waves. They're going to receive hundreds of reports channelled through the various reporting chains - and they're going to have to plot all those different bearings on observed drops to determine approximately where they are...after winnowing out all the reports that are wisps of morning mist floating in the narrow valleys, or baling-out aircrew from the fighting overhead, or...
What 'sweep'?
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
...etc.

You don't just motor merrily along a road into an area where parachute landings have been reported heading to the named locations - that's begging to be ambushed. 5th Brigade/Milforce are reacting to reported landings - they're NOT prep-positioned ON any expected landing ground; therfore by definition the enemy are going to already be on the ground in any given location BEFORE they get there.
The whole process isn't exactly rapid reaction...But if it's the only mobile reaction force in the area,
It was not.
What OTHER reaction forces were specifically tasked with
a) N.Z. Div. less 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to counter-
attack enemy in area:
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
(iii) POSTLING GREEN (5153) LYMINGE (6059) - Plan "C"
(b) 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to:
(i) Attack enemy air-borne landings in the area
SITTINGBOURNE - FAVERSHAM - CHARING - MAIDSTONE.
they're obliged to start from far enough to the rear that they can cover EITHER Canterbury and beyond OR Ashford and beyond. But it's still going to take hours...more than I was thinking of during the other thread months ago. At that time I didn't realise how complicated the NZ division forward deployment was potentially going to be!...
Hours is good
Hours is bad - if they're reacting to reports of paratroop landings, then the clock is ticking for the FJ to achieve their given objectives before 5th Brigade/Milforce get to them from the moment they land.

Remember the lesson of Crete - paratroop landings should be counterattacked IMMEDIATELY. Except the reaction/counterattack force was starting 25-30 miles away from Lympne!

(As an aside - the centre of Maidstone to Lympne is 32 miles. Given that 5th Brigade is somewhere "east of Maidstone" I've reduced the distance they have to travel to secure the FJ's objective by anything up to seven miles)
.with how many potential delays I can see them sitting piled up at Charing waiting on definitive final word on whether to go north or south...
There is no north or south. Just S/SE to Dover or Folkestone.
Once again - WE know that. But they didn't, hence EITHER north from Charing -
(a) N.Z. Div. less 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to counter-
attack enemy in area:
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
OR south from Charing -
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
(iii) POSTLING GREEN (5153) LYMINGE (6059) - Plan "C"
Your assumption that the signals detachment with Milforce was the whole signals detachment to NZ Div is wrong.
Of course it wasn't. But the extra 100 experienced signallers were given to them because they were going to be operating so mobile-ly and so many elements of the formation doing different things! To whit -
To take part in this all-important counter-attack the New Zealand brigades were being transferred to the outskirts of the Dover-Folkestone area. The signals strength for this role....
Brigades plural - split up across the county in the beginning. And requiring cordination for all they had to do.
Disorganisation...would indeed be true..but there's one major factor that will assist in this - their objective was several miles to the west, and they'd have to move on it, as they crossed country, no matter how split up, they'd accrete/gather up again to an extent.
Why not just land closer to their objective?
They PLANNED to - the second wave was to drop a lot closer to Lympne than the first.
(IF their objective had been to hold where they dropped - that would probably have been disastrous - but at least they'd have MAJOR nuisance value in that they'd still attract/distract the attention of the NZ division and would still have to be policed up! )
The airborne landings take place in 1st London Divison area whilst the seaborne landings take place in 45th Division area. A major water obstacle seperates the sea landed forces from the airborne forces and the airborne forces are dropping (at Hythe, Sellindge, Postling and Lyminge) - right on top of strong British forces, and powerful mobile reserve located close by. Good luck with that.
My point wasn't whether or not they'd encounter opposition - quite the reverse. I was saying that even if they don't succeed in achieving any of their objecticves for whatever reason - they HAVE to be found, fought and neutralised. Which will take time and effort that could be used elsewhere...given that there's an invasion going on! They're not going to sit down and say "ho hum we can't make it to Lympne after all - we surrender!"...and the British certainly aren't going to say "It's okay, we can let them wander around, we've got other things to do."

As an aside -
The airborne landings take place in 1st London Divison area whilst the seaborne landings take place in 45th Division area.
Only in the second "narrow front" version of the Sealion plans; prior to that the amphibious landings would have occured as far east as Dover.
A major water obstacle seperates the sea landed forces from the airborne forces and the airborne forces are dropping (at Hythe, Sellindge, Postling and Lyminge)
...while this is true at the point of the FJ's porposed LZs - from the time they land and re-formate as much as possible they'll be heading west towards their objective - and that objective - Lympne...is only two and a half miles from the sealandings at Hythe.
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Dunserving » 03 Apr 2010 14:46

Gooner1 wrote:
phylo_roadking wrote:Historically...not sure about the terrain; certainly looks fro Google Earth that at least the first wave would drop on relatively open ground.
Relatively open ground that nevertheless cunningly hides them from British observation by means of hills and woods - a typical shabby Nazi trick!

Gentlemen......

Please remember that Google Earth shows you what the ground looks like at the time it was imaged - recently. It does not show you what the ground was like seventy years ago. There have been great changes in the agricultural world of this part of the country. Many field boundaries have been grubbed up, different crops are grown, there are fewer fruit (mostly apple) trees. The look of the land has changed a great deal. Also, taking advantage advantage of undulations in the land (let alone hills and woods) to avoid being seen is NOT "a typical shabby Nazi trick" - it is a basic skill known to all who have had experience of infantry training - in any army....

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 03 Apr 2010 19:55

It does not show you what the ground was like seventy years ago. There have been great changes in the agricultural world of this part of the country. Many field boundaries have been grubbed up, different crops are grown, there are fewer fruit (mostly apple) trees. The look of the land has changed a great deal.
:wink:
You don't just motor merrily along a road into an area where parachute landings have been reported heading to the named locations - that's begging to be ambushed. 5th Brigade/Milforce are reacting to reported landings - they're NOT prep-positioned ON any expected landing ground; therfore by definition the enemy are going to already be on the ground in any given location BEFORE they get there.
Remember the lesson of Crete - paratroop landings should be counterattacked IMMEDIATELY. Except the reaction/counterattack force was starting 25-30 miles away from Lympne!
...even if they don't succeed in achieving any of their objecticves for whatever reason - they HAVE to be found, fought and neutralised. Which will take time and effort that could be used elsewhere...given that there's an invasion going on!
Once you've made the mistake....or been forced by any number of circumstances into the mistake...of positioning your paratroop counterattack/reaction force too far back from likely LZs...you've obligated yourself to sweep the ground. You can't just motor along roads marked on maps to check every single report - you have to police the ground in between. And in this circumstance - this is where the period terrain assists the FJ. Pocket-sized fields, huge hedgerows, narrow lanes - and not many of them. It was a VERY tangled landscape, not actually overly different to the Bocage! POVS are very limited, horizons are foreshortened to the next field over. Fleming - who set up one of the very first MI-sponsored stay-behind organisations, based in the area, before being drafted into the Auxiliary Units to continue his work as a liaison offcier there - talks about the landscape of Kent and how "opaque" it was.
Also, taking advantage advantage of undulations in the land (let alone hills and woods) to avoid being seen is NOT "a typical shabby Nazi trick" - it is a basic skill known to all who have had experience of infantry training - in any army....
It might be difficult for the FJ's first wave to cross the 4-5 miles from the edge of Hawkinge to Lympne...but it will be doubly difficult in that terrain for the NZ division to find them then fight them as well! The counterattacking 5th Brigade/Milforce has to cross the ground Sellinge->Folkestone and check where the enemy isn't as well as find where they are and engage them...

BTW - I'm suprised noone has mentioned the one REALLY major disadvantage the 5th Brigade Group suffers from...It's commander! 8O

Brigadier James Hargest? The NZ officer who made so many c0ck-ups not reacting to parachute attack properly then not counterattacking swiftly enough etc. or in enough strength on Crete eight months later??? :lol:
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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Dunserving » 03 Apr 2010 20:43

Got to agree with you.....

Rural Kent was, and still is in parts, an area that would be hard to fight in - opportunities for snap ambushes every hundred metres or so. A broad swathe of land stretching from Folkestone to Lydden is pretty much unchanged, by virtue of being MoD land comprising the major part of the Cinque Ports Training Area. It is superb for infantry training, and is extensively used - last time I was on it the Dutch Army was too....

As Phylo has noted, the minor roads are narrow, and not suited to anything larger than a tractor. They are also few in number (you can travel a surprising distance without crossing a road), and the real problem is policing the land between the roads. Very easy for a large number of troops to stay out of sight if they want to!

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by Gooner1 » 04 Apr 2010 01:51

[quote="phylo_roadking] I meant the rest of Milforce's "infantry" element were artillerymen without their artillery! 8O They might have completed Basic - but it's been a long time since they handled small arms or even expected to in close combat...until the scratch battalion was formed :P They might have had the benefit of a summer's training and exercising, but...
[/quote]

The Bren was a standard issue weapon to every anti-tank gun section - for reasons that should surely be obvious? There are no other artillerymen in Milforce but there was of course 'C' Coy. 21 Bn.
That's my point exactly. Limited to the speed of 8 RTR's Matildas. Without those Milforce's lorries, buses, Vickers Lights and carriers could have moved more rapidly.
[and]
You don't just motor merrily along a road into an area where parachute landings have been reported heading to the named locations - that's begging to be ambushed. they're NOT prep-positioned ON any expected landing ground; therfore by definition the enemy are going to already be on the ground in any given location BEFORE they get there.
Milforce was not (just) limited in speed by the Matildas but by the fact that they were making a tactical move. The Advance Guard mobile troops proceeding by moving from one tactical feature to another in "bounds".
I'm talking about the areas that the FJ were going to drop in - that's dozens of square miles for the four battalions in two waves. They're going to receive hundreds of reports channelled through the various reporting chains - and they're going to have to plot all those different bearings on observed drops to determine approximately where they are...after winnowing out all the reports that are wisps of morning mist floating in the narrow valleys, or baling-out aircrew from the fighting overhead, or...
And I am asking you again who, which organisation, you think will be receiving these 'hundreds of reports'?

What 'sweep'?

(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
...etc.

They are directions, not tactical instructions. No mention of 'sweep'.
Hours is bad - if they're reacting to reports of paratroop landings, then the clock is ticking for the FJ to achieve their given objectives before 5th Brigade/Milforce get to them from the moment they land.
5th Brigade/Milforce are not only tasked with tackling landings by air. Secondly there are the local forces..
Remember the lesson of Crete - paratroop landings should be counterattacked IMMEDIATELY. Except the reaction/counterattack force was starting 25-30 miles away from Lympne!
The local forces all had their "fire engines" designated and organised to immediately counter-attack parachute landings in their area. Another lesson from Crete was not to land airborne forces directly on top of well defended objectives - something the FJ planners were unaware of in their September '40 planning.
(a) N.Z. Div. less 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to counter-
attack enemy in area:
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
OR south from Charing -
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
(iii) POSTLING GREEN (5153) LYMINGE (6059) - Plan "C"
You have quoted the wrong bit (hopefully :lol: ) the compass directions above are where the NZders will be attacking from.
They PLANNED to - the second wave was to drop a lot closer to Lympne than the first.
Milforce and 5th Brigade will, probably, therefore be much closer to where the second wave is dropping ..
My point wasn't whether or not they'd encounter opposition - quite the reverse. I was saying that even if they don't succeed in achieving any of their objecticves for whatever reason - they HAVE to be found, fought and neutralised. Which will take time and effort that could be used elsewhere...given that there's an invasion going on! They're not going to sit down and say "ho hum we can't make it to Lympne after all - we surrender!"...and the British certainly aren't going to say "It's okay, we can let them wander around, we've got other things to do."
Fair enough but the British have more mobile forces beyond NZ Div.
Only in the second "narrow front" version of the Sealion plans; prior to that the amphibious landings would have occured as far east as Dover.
No version of German planning that I've seen had landings near Dover. Lack of good beaches and the numerous batteries kiboshed that.
...while this is true at the point of the FJ's porposed LZs - from the time they land and re-formate as much as possible they'll be heading west towards their objective - and that objective - Lympne...is only two and a half miles from the sealandings at Hythe.
Those two and a half miles will be the tough ones. :lol:

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Re: The Battle of Britain.

Post by phylo_roadking » 04 Apr 2010 03:06

...while this is true at the point of the FJ's porposed LZs - from the time they land and re-formate as much as possible they'll be heading west towards their objective - and that objective - Lympne...is only two and a half miles from the sealandings at Hythe.
Those two and a half miles will be the tough ones.
Not necessarily. Remember, the FJ plans included both infiltrating around Lympne AND a small drop on the "other" side of the RMC, the seaward side; the Germans intended to break that particular defensive line early on before starting to wrap up the full length of the RMC once 22nd Airlanding arrived at Lympne...and that subsidiary landing just south of the RMC brings the distance between FJ forces and the ampibious forces down to just over a mile...
The Bren was a standard issue weapon to every anti-tank gun section - for reasons that should surely be obvious? There are no other artillerymen in Milforce...
Yes, there were...
and an infantry battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser and made up of the men from the two batteries of 5 Field Regiment and the two batteries of 7 Anti-Tank Regiment that were still without guns.
Hargest had policed up the unemployed gunners from ALL the NZ division's artillery elements to form the scratch battalion.
Milforce was not (just) limited in speed by the Matildas but by the fact that they were making a tactical move.
Yes, and I DID note that they wwere also slowed down by the density of Milforce vehicles per mile that the orders mandated. But even given the density the forward move could have been faster IF not slowed by the Matildas. If those "10 v.t.m." had been lorries/buses/lights minus the Matildas, the mandated speed could have been higher...for the "10 v.t.m." would simply move faster along a given stretch of road. Think of a bicycle chain - all the links are the same length, a given number of links per foot - but the faster the chain goes round the same density of links per foot simply moves faster :wink:
And I am asking you again who, which organisation, you think will be receiving these 'hundreds of reports'?
The Police and LDV will be receiving reports from the civilians and deciding which to pass up the line; the LDV reports will go up the chain of LDV command to the point they're liaised across to XII Corps....OR as the case may be in each area they're to up up to Division BEFORE going up to Corps! In other words - LDV reports from a landing inside 2nd London's area will have to be reported to to Division...who will spend x-amount of time evaluating it before deciding to bin it or pass it on up to Corps.

Meanwhile Corps would be receiving the reports from the Army's own positions reporting drops that Divison have thought reliable enough to pass up to them. At each "highest" point" in the Police/LDV reporting chains before it goes over to the Army there'll be an element of discretion applied - "Old Jones is ALWAYS seeing paratroopers...", "Fred was down the Feathers' pissed last night..." etc.

The point is - every decision level, no matter how minor, adds minutes into the time it takes for valid reports to move up the line to XII Corps...then THEY have to evaluate them and decide what direction to send 5th Brigade off in.
They are compass directions, not tactical instructions.
They give a starting location, and a location to approxiamtely end up, don't they? That's an instruction to begin at point A and end up at point B.
And there is no mention of 'sweep'.
Okay - how DO you find and fight light troops in unfavourable terrain with dozens of possible conflicting reports as to their location several hours previously?
5th Brigade/Milforce are not only tasked with tackling landings by air. Secondly there are the local forces..
The local forces all had their "fire engines" designated and organised to immediately counter-attack parachute landings in their area.
Exactly. In their area...and Lympne airfield was just east of but still outside 2nd London's "area".
Another lesson from Crete was not to land airborne forces directly on top of well defended objectives - something the FJ planners were unaware of in their September '40 planning.
Wrong and wrong.

First of all, before I go on - in 1940 noone knew the lessons of Crete! 8O BUT -

1/ The FJ were aware of the problems of landing airborne forces on top of well defended objectives - hadn't they got their noses bloodied in several places in Norway and Holland by even LIGHT defence??? How many airfields did they end up controlling and using in Holland before the Dutch surrender? :wink:

2/ the FJ were also quite well aware of this problem; remember this was EXACTLY the reason they'd been left OUT of the first version of Sealion exept for the blocking actions at Dover....because their original style of dropping/landing directly on defended airfields didn't work!
You have quoted the wrong bit (hopefully ) the compass directions above are where the NZders will be attacking from.
Read the orders AGAIN...
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY
...FROM Canterbury to the "North and N.W. of DOVER " means they move south-east from Canterbury
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE
TO the "N.W. of FOLKESTONE" FROM Sellinge means they move east from Sellinge!
Milforce and 5th Brigade will, probably, therefore be much closer to where the second wave is dropping ..
Nope - they'll still be on the road heading there... :wink: It depends on how quickly the Ju52s can be turned round and dispatched again...but if everything works in heir favour, they could be dropping the second wave while 5th Brigade/Milforce are still well to the north-west of their LZs, with the first wave moving towards the second wave's LZs with only a few miles to cover.

My personal opinion has always been that the second wave will be in fact delayed AND have lost aircraft. BUT I was doing some figuring out last night; whatever happens...even IF there's absolutely NO delay AT ALL 8O between the very first report of FJ landings coming in and Corps making the correct evaluation and cutting final orders for 5th briage group - it STILL takes them at least three and a half hours to reach Sellinge at the very minimum! Add in time for reliable reports to make their way to Corps and be evaluated and final orders sent to Hargest on what area to actually counterattack in...and embarkation time "east of Maidstone" and de-bussing and formating time at the other end, the start line somewhere around Sellinge...you could be looking at four-four and a half-five hours - plenty of time to get the second FJ wave on the ground even with the GERMANS suffering delays too!
Fair enough but the British have more mobile forces beyond NZ Div
Yes, but as I asked before - which ones ordered to clear/counterattack into those same specific locations/areas? :wink:
No version of German planning that I've seen had landings near Dover. Lack of good beaches and the numerous batteries kiboshed that
Topmost black arrow certaintly puts them nearer Dover than Hythe! Bit obscured but it looks roughly like east of Folkestone...
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