German Plans for the Invasion of England, 1940 Operation "SEALION"

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by CL1, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron


    So nothing was happening on any of the streets of Britain, but there was plenty being done behind the scenes. Germany was taking its time in deciding which would be the best and most effective way in which to invade Britain. It is true, that landings will have to be made, these would come in the form of amphibious operations 'en masse' across the Channel which would be closely followed by paratroopers and gliders from the air. Although river crossings had always been a part of the German Army training, the channel crossing would present a different problem, namely it would be the widest crossing ever made, but for those that participate, they would have to contend with strong currents, possible high winds and there was always the possibility of attack from the air by the RAF.

    The decision was made that the Luftwaffe would prepare the way for a German invasion. Before any amphibious or paratroop landings could be made, the Royal Air Force would have to be eliminated, and Hitler and his Commander-in-Chiefs agreed that the Luftwaffe would have to establish total air supremacy over the English Channel and Southern England. This would then allow German aircraft to support the amphibious landings on the beaches. The plan was to eliminate the RAF on the ground, destroying aerodromes and aircraft before they had a chance to take off. Heavy bombers would be launched for the initial attack supported by Bf110 aircraft which had a longer range than their front line fighters, but these would be used to attack any aircraft that would manage to take off. Goering thought that this would be an easy task as he impressed upon his flight leaders "that not only do the RAF not have enough aircraft to win an air battle, their pilots are untrained in air combat and to clear the skies ready for our invasion should take no more than two......three weeks".

    Once the Luftwaffe had maintained air superiority, the plan was to land a number of German Army Groups around the south-eastern coastal beaches of England. Army Group A led by General Field Marshall Karl Von Rundstedt would control the main force making the crossing close to the narrowest part of the Channel near Dover. The sixteenth Army under General Ernst Busch would make their landings to the right of the main force near the townships of Ramsgate and Margate. General Strauss's ninth Army would land to the left of Army Group A in the region of Hastings. The landings in Southern England would be made by Army Group B who would launch their operations from Cherbourg in France and cross at the more wider section of the English Channel and make their landings between two points, namely Weymouth and Sidmouth in the Devon and Dorset area of England. The main force of Army Group B would land in the vicinity of Lyme Bay and this Army Group would then push northwards capturing the industrial port of Bristol before driving north-east towards the busy centres of Birmingham and Wolverhamton.

    The landings would be broken up into waves, the initial wave to land on Army Group B's beaches would comprise no less than ten infantry divisions made up of 120,000 infantry soldiers, 4,650 horses, 700 tanks, 1,500 army vehicles. Each side of the landings would be supported by some 30,000 paratroopers whose job it would be to cut communications, secure bridges, railways and small villages. The landings in the Dover and Ramsgate areas would also be carried out in waves and the final objective here would undoubtedly be London.

    That, basically was Hitler's plan, there is no doubt that Germany had the manpower, there was also no doubt that they also had the tanks, aircraft and military know-how. But some of the German Generals had repeatedly said that the plan was to rushed, that not enough research had gone into any of the tactics to be used. Others said that more has to be done as to find the exact strength of the British military forces before any such plan is to be put into operation. But Hitler, the man who at one stage did not want to have anything to do with an invasion of Britain, was now determined that these rushed plans for "Operation Sealion" the invasion of Britain should go ahead and the due date for this would be in mid August 1940. We must remember here that it was not until July 13th that the German Staff had put before Adolph Hitler the draft plans for an invasion. By the July 31st Hitler had been convinced that the operation must go ahead and his approval was stamped on "Operation Sealion" with the date of the invasion to be postponed from mid August until September 17th 1940.

    The initial plans for the Luftwaffe to wipe out the Royal Air Force started to take shape. They used the airfields in such countries as Belgium, Holland and France and used them as Luftwaffe bases and after stocking them up with aircraft, fuel, ammunition and bombs, installing a base communications system slowly converted them into operational bases.

    Goering divided these now occupied countries into five operational sections. Each of these sections
    would be known as as Luftflotten or Air Fleets. Luftflotte 1 and 4 were based in Germany and Poland, Luftflotte 2 was based in north-easten France, Luftflotte 3 in central and northern France and Luftflotte 5 was based in Scandinavia. Two of these Luftflotten were to be used on the attacks on the RAF and for the Germans be part of the Battle of Britain. Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring had his General HQ in Brussels attained fame in the German invasion of Poland, and was placed in charge of Luftflotte 2 and it was this Luftflotte that was to have the greatest responsibility in the air war that was to precede the invasion. Luftflotte 2 covered an area from the north-east corner of France, which was the shortest distance that his aircraft would have to travel across the Channel, and the entire coastline of Belgium and Holland. Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperle who had operational success in the Kondor Legion in the Spanish Civil War was appointed commander of Luftflotte 3 and had his operational HQ in Paris.

    Generaloberst Hans-Juergen Stumph was given the position to command Luftflotte 5 which covered Norway and Denmark. The main problem with Luftflotte 5 was that because of the distance between base and the English coast, it was impossible for the fighter aircraft to provide any cover for the bombers because they were limited by the range of their fuel load.

    Unlike the Royal Air Force who had Fighter Command and Bomber Command as separate identities with each of them having their own Commander-in-Chief's, each of the Luftflotten's C-in-C had both fighters and bombers at his command. Each of the Luftflotte's were divided into smaller sections called Gruppes. These were Jagdgeschwader (JG) The fighter Wing, Kampfgeschwader (KG) The Bomber Wing, Stukageschwader (StG) The Dive-Bombing Wing, Zerstöerergeschwader (ZG) The Destroyer Wing and the Lehrgeschwader (LG) which was the wing where pilots learnt the art of flying and combat. JG normally flew Bf109s, KG flew Heinkels and Junkers 88's, StG flew the Stuka 87 dive-bomber and ZG the Bf110.

    The three Luftflotten that formed the front line of attack were of considerable strength having 864 medium and heavy bombers, 248 dive-bombers, 735 single engine fighter aircraft and 200 twin engined Bf110 aircraft. A total of 2047 aircraft at Goering's disposal to attack Britain. In comparison, Britain at the same time had just 540 serviceable aircraft in which to defend with. We should note here, that most of these Luftwaffe planes, and the pilots that flew them were also used in the Spanish Civil War and in the German invasion of Norway, Poland and Belgium. But it was in these conflicts that they were used in conjunction with the German ground attack forces. What was to face them in the Battle of Britain was that they would have to fight this battle totally alone, for this was to be a conquest that would provide them with no assistance from the ground, this was to be a battle that would be fought entirely in the air. This then, was going to test their strengths and their weaknesses, because if Operation Sealion, the invasion of England was to succeed, the Luftwaffe had to at all costs, destroy the RAF both on the ground and in the air and gain control in the air. Once this was done, it would leave the path open for the German bombers to engage operations on bombing all of Britain's industrial centres, and allowing the German Navy free access to cross the Channel virtually unhindered.

    This then was the plan. The operation was to be conducted in four phases. The first phase was for the Luftwaffe to make a number of probing attacks at a number of southern England positions testing out the defences of the English military and looking for any weaknesses. At the same time, other Luftwaffe 'Gruppes' would attack the coastal shipping that was plying backwards and forwards through the English Channel. England at this time, relied heavily on the merchant shipping that was bringing in the needed raw materials that was required in building up their forces. The second phase was to destroy the Royal Air Force. The bombers attacking as many RAF airfields as they possibly can, the longer range Bf110 fighters taking on any RAF fighters in the air in the vicinity of the British fighter bases, the Bf109s attacking any British fighters in the air over the Channel, and the Ju87 dive bombers destroying the radar stations that were situated all along the southern English coastline. This then would leave the way open for the third phase which would see German troops, tanks and armoured vehicles make their assault at nominated places along the English coast from Dover in the east to Falmouth in the west.

    (The reality of it was that the first two phases went according to plan, but the third phase was put into jeopardy by the accidental bombing of London. The planned German third phase was never put into operation, instead, Hitler gave orders for the invasion of Great Britian insted.)

    Preparations in Britain
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  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Contending, or trying to contend, with the Royal Navy would be their biggest problem, in my opinion.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  5. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Extract from War Diary of my fathers hastily formed unit, 1 RAOC Infantry Battalion (WO 166/182) , he had only just got back from Dunkirk a a few weeks earlier and was sent to help defend RAF Syerston.

    The last comment shows they believed that the invasion was imminent.


    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
    CL1 likes this.
  6. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

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  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    thank you for posting very interesting

    from your link

    The present inventory 12488 contains a total of 2184 files of the German Wehrmacht on the companies "Sea Lion", "Haifisch", "Harpune" and "Grün". While "Sea Lion" was the code name for a planned German landing operation on the English coast in the autumn of 1940, the companies "Haifisch" and "Harpune" were supposed to continue to simulate the preparations of the Wehrmacht for an invasion of Great Britain and thus the preparations for the spring 1941 Camouflage attack on the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa. The company "Grün" aimed to land German troops in Ireland.
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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