The British Response To Operation Sealion

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Pips
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The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Pips » 10 Jun 2011 01:32

Has a book ever been written detailing how the British Army would have fought a German invasion on land? With details of arms, supplies, defence lines, unit OOB's etc?

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phylo_roadking
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Jun 2011 01:43

To the detail that Peter Schenk did for the prospective invaders? - not that I'm aware of.

It's definitely an oversight; there are a LOT of books covering the British side over the years - Richard Cox, Kenneth Macksey, Peter Fleming of course and recently Brian Lavery's comparison of 1803-4 with 1940 that includes a lot of interesting "new" facts drawn together - but nothing really REALLY detailed...

One of the problems is - there's just so MUCH of it, an "embarassment of riches" when it comes to the British side of Sealion...a full year, from June 1940 to June 1941 (and the onset of BARBAROSSA) then all the preparations in place and refined and refined until the stand-down of the Home Guard in late 1944; where do you start? Where do you stop???...

Whereas for the Germans it was 3-4 months of equally furious activity then - fffffft!
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Jabberwocky » 10 Jun 2011 02:53

One of the chief problems with the British response to a prospective German invasion is that its something of a moving target, given the rapid re-arming and expansion of the British Army and formation of the Home Guard.

The composition of British forces in June 1940 is markedly different to the composition of forces in September, which is very different from the situation in early 1941.

There are several PRO documents that deal with a general outline of the battle plan, formed in August/September. In broad brush strokes, locally positioned forces were to pin or delay German forces, relying on several local defensive lines. While this was happening, regular army forces were to assemble (west of London I believe, but I may be well out on this one) and then counter attack the main German push one sufficient weight of forces had been collected.

I get the feeling that the fixed forces were expected to die in place and try and sell themselves as expensively as possible. While the outline of the plan is that these forces would slowly withdraw to the various defensive lines, writing down German forces somewhat as they did so, I always had the impression that the lack of transport available to these units meant that they were expected to do little more than provide a breakwater to channel German forces, denying them strategic points while other units assembled behind the lines.

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Pips
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Pips » 10 Jun 2011 03:36

phylo_roadking wrote: where do you start? Where do you stop???...
Ideally covering whatever manpower (trained and untrained), armaments, production capability, transports and AFV's were available to the British Army from the aftermath of Dunkirk up to the end of September 1940.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by fredleander » 10 Jun 2011 07:05

Pips wrote:
phylo_roadking wrote: where do you start? Where do you stop???...
Ideally covering whatever manpower (trained and untrained), armaments, production capability, transports and AFV's were available to the British Army from the aftermath of Dunkirk up to the end of September 1940.
In my recent book on Operation Sea Lion - River Wide, Ocean Deep - I am sorry to say I have mostly leaned on earlier publications regarding the compositon of the British army. While we know which units were where, it is difficult to find details of the status, equipment and size of the various units in ready sources. A division/brigade/battalion/company is put down as that. But what did they consist of....Part of the problem might stem from the fact that many of the books we are taking our information from were written not far after the war when secrecy still was important due to the ongoing cold war. As an example the stay-behind forces.

I think I can say, however, that I have put forward quite a few other points in my book which should be of interest..

:wink: ..
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
https://www.fredleander.com
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Jabberwocky » 10 Jun 2011 08:58

A good place to start is David Boyd's article on the British equipment situation post-Dunkirk and the rearming over the summer

http://www.wwiiequipment.com/index.php? ... &Itemid=61

Some highlights:

Army stocks as of 06-Jun-1940

2pdr: 333 - enough for 4.5 divisions*

Bofors 40mm: 283- enough for 6.5 divisions
3.7": 662 - enough for 16 divisions

2" mortar: 3,100 - enough for 24 divisions
3" mortar: 261 - enough for 5.4 divisions
18/25pdr: 114
18pdr: 180
4.5": 280

Field artillery was enough for 15 divisions
Medium artillery was enough for 10 divisions
Heavy artillery was enough for 12 divisions

Rifles: 1.15 million - enough to fully equip all divisions
Bren guns: 14,023 - enough for 14 divisions
Boys AT: 6,676 - enough for 13 divisions

Cruiser tanks: 141
Infantry tanks: 140
Light tanks: 407

% of establish strength for 27 token divisions as of 30-June/31-July/31-August

AT rifles: 40/51/55
Bren guns: 40/53/59

2" mortar: 80/87/91
3" mortar: 20/35/35

2 pdr: 16/23/24
Field artillery: 43/49/51
Medium artillery: 26/27/30
Heavy: 44/-/-

Medium AAA: 24/29/33
Heavy AAA: 59/62/65

By 'token' division the article notes: "The equipment for these 27 "token" divisions includes all the equipment for 27 Infantry Divisions, 2 Armoured Divisions, 7 Army Tank Brigades, 11 Divisional Cavalry Regiments and all equipment for the Air Defence of Great Britain. Note, a the equipment requirement of a token division includes all the initial equipment of an infantry division, its share of equipment from the armoured divisions, all equipment from non divisional troops and reserves. For example a regular infantry division required around 740 Bren guns while a "token" division requires 1,171."

Between 30-June and 31-August tank numbers went from

Infantry: 140 to 274
Cruiser: 209 to 322
Light: 582 to 659
Carriers: 2242 to 2784

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Jun 2011 11:14

How much of the artillery was of types that were establishment-prescribed? For example, it is one thing having a full complement of modern 25pdrs, but quite another to have a full establishment of elderly, ex-US, ex-French pre-WWI vintage M1897 75mm pieces in their stead.

It is sometimes quoted that immediately after Dunkirk there was only one fully-equipped-to-establishment division left in the UK, and this was Canadian. How long to did it take before there were any other British divisions back at full official establishment, and when did they come on stream?

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Send an armored brigade to Egypt.

Post by Dave Bender » 10 Jun 2011 14:30

http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war ... x-1940.htm
22 August 1940.
A convoy containing 150 tanks dispatched from England to Egypt.

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Double post. Please delete.

Post by Dave Bender » 10 Jun 2011 14:31

Double post. Please delete.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Jun 2011 14:47

This is from the War Diary of 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment who were defending the Suffolk coast and should give an idea how that battalion and many hundreds like it would have evolved that summer.


"This month, with a move into G. H. Q. Reserve coming within a few days of the start of November, may be said to mark a definite stage in the career of this Bn.

In April when the Division moved to East Anglia the Bn comprised approximately one third Territorials, one third 1st and 2nd intake and one third April intake. The latter had not even finished their recruit training when the crisis in May drove everyone to strenuous defensive work.
There was no Carrier platoon, no Motor Cycle platoon and the Mortar platoon had no Mortars. Rifle companies had not got their 2” Mortars, Anti-Tank Rifles and the transport was primarily old hired vehicles. Personal equipment was mixed and incomplete.
On leaving East Anglia the Bn moves with all ranks equipped except for small deficiencies. Transport not up to strength but almost entirely W.D. Complete in Mortar 3” and 2”.
Anti-Tank and Carrier platoon complete and with training which its regular opposite number would have been glad of when war started. Every man exercised in Rifle, Bren and Anti-Tank Rifle with some experience of 2” and 3” Mortar firing and a very considerable experience of night work and active service conditions even if primarily defensive.
12 Tommy guns have been added to its equipment and a Motor Cycle platoon added to the establishment.
Physically the Bn is extremely fit and if not yet marching fit (a test of the reserve company in this last month has shown that the company would do 15, 15 and 13 miles on consecutive days without strain at 3 miles in 50 minutes).

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by fredleander » 10 Jun 2011 15:47

Jabberwocky wrote:A good place to start is David Boyd's article on the British equipment situation post-Dunkirk and the rearming over the summer

http://www.wwiiequipment.com/index.php? ... &Itemid=61

Some highlights:

Army stocks as of 06-Jun-1940

2pdr: 333 - enough for 4.5 divisions*

Bofors 40mm: 283- enough for 6.5 divisions
3.7": 662 - enough for 16 divisions
I mean to have read a couple of places that most of the Bofors guns were removed from the army to be positioned around airfields and important points. 40-50 remained with the army. Manufacture of new were quite slow due to its complexity.

Nice link, BTW!
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
https://www.fredleander.com
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Jun 2011 17:20

It is sometimes quoted that immediately after Dunkirk there was only one fully-equipped-to-establishment division left in the UK, and this was Canadian. How long to did it take before there were any other British divisions back at full official establishment, and when did they come on stream?
Fully-equiped and formated...which is an important conditional :wink: However it wasn't the only fully-formated unit - Suprisingly, this short list ALSO includes the early Ulster Home Guard of the Royal Ulster Constabulary - which was a completely different beast to the LDV in the rest of the UK :wink: When the requirement for a Local Defence force was first promulgated in the UK...under the rather clumsy name "parashots" before the LDV monicker was dreamt up...the gvoernment of Northern Ireland formed an armed "military" force drawn from the "B" Special Constabulary of the RUC - a body that had been "in the field" on numerous occasions over the preceeding two decades against flying columns of the IRA during the Irish Civil War...who operated on BOTH sides of the new Border, attempting to eradicate the Border settlement by force as well as fighting against the Dublin pro-Treaty government :wink: The Northern Irish government wasn't allowed to organise and arm its own military force - so here ALL members of the Home Guard were members of the various POLICE Special Constabularies. This notwithstanding, it came into existence promptly and with a MUCH higher level of training and equipment than the LDV in the rest of the UK.
How much of the artillery was of types that were establishment-prescribed? For example, it is one thing having a full complement of modern 25pdrs, but quite another to have a full establishment of elderly, ex-US, ex-French pre-WWI vintage M1897 75mm pieces in their stead.
IIRC, the artilery establishment issue had been resolved by the end of August (Postan), artillery having been given priority over tank production during the six-month "Emergency Period" of industrial production after Dunkirk. The rapid "devolution" of the 1,000 American re-carriaged 75mm guns from forming 100% of divisional arty batteries to 50% of batteries to completely being replaced by 25pdrs can be noted through the summer in many units...and the 75mms in turn can be traced being given over to A/T echelons, then fixed A/T positions....then gradually to airfield protection, where eventually the new-formed RAF Regiment two years later takes them on charge in many locations, one or two per aerodrome :wink:

Mind you - all things being equal - don't knock the American 75s...in an era of AP or APC anti-tank munitions, they'd make a hell of a hole in a PzII or III! 8O
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Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by fredleander » 10 Jun 2011 18:31

phylo_roadking wrote:Mind you - all things being equal - don't knock the American 75s...in an era of AP or APC anti-tank munitions, they'd make a hell of a hole in a PzII or III! 8O
The Hotchkiss 75 mm was used to good effect in direct fire by the Norwegian Army during the Norwegian campaign. It was about the only A/T gun available to them.
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
https://www.fredleander.com
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Jun 2011 11:13

Hi Phylo,

Thanks, but I am little more enlightened about divisions.

From your post, I understand that the Canadian division was the only complete division available in the UK immediately after Dunkirk.

But when did other divisions fully equipped to modern establishment become available? I presume they would have been the largely regular divisions evacuated from Dunkirk.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jun 2011 11:40

But when did other divisions fully equipped to modern establishment become available? I presume they would have been the largely regular divisions evacuated from Dunkirk
Not necessarily; depends how close to full readiness some of the divisions still in the UK as of May 10th and DUE to go to France had been :wink: At a guess, some of those would have been far closer to establishment as of DYNAMO than the evacuated ones! 8O

EDIT - weren't some of the units withdrawn from BEF II to the south evacuated with full equipment?

Is there a good resource anywhere that details the speed of delivery of materiel and equipment to specific units in 1940? What I mean is - was there any re-prioritisation of which unit got which new kit straight off the production line in June-July-August 1940? I.E. away from nearly-complete divisions in the UK to re-equip the newly-returned from France ones???

Or is this another aspect that would require legwork through the unit war diaries for equipment returns? :(
Twenty years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs....
Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

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