Intended FJ role in Sealion...

Discussion in '1940' started by phylo_roadking, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    All, it was only when discussing the general shortage o JU52s in the summer of 1940 after operations in Norway and Holland and how that and other problems would affect the roles envisaged for the FJ in Sealion - that I became aware how thin on the ground details on that role actually are!

    MacDonald refers to it briefly in his book on Crete; he notes that in the first draft of the Sealion plans, the only role foreseen for the FJ were drops on the high ground north of Dover and at Brighton to secure the flanks of the invasion, but SO many obstacles were evident on the planned landing grounds that finally any airborne role at all for them was ruled out, and the 7th Flieger and 22nd Airlanding divisions were to be relegated to the General Reserve.

    The problems cited by MacDonald as leading to this were - in no particular order or precednece -

    1/ the shortage of Ju52s; over the summer of 1940 Junkers worked hard at repairing as many of the aircraft damaged in Norway and the West as possible...but it's own new-build rate seems to have been quite slow, down around 25-30 a month - and this took a back seat for June and part of July because of the reconstruction/cannibalisation work. Between the losses in Norway and those in Holland, over 2/5s of the Transportverband's Ju52's ha been destroyed.

    2/ By the end of the summer, the numbers lost in Norway and Holland had been made good - but very few of these new volunteers had as yet received their jump training! Some of the losses suffered by the FJ had been quite horrendous - the high-casualty blocking action at Donbas in Norway, for instance...where their inserting Ju52s had to fly BELOW the level of Norwegian machinegunners in the mountains around the Donbas drop zone, leaving them like sitting ducks...the losses at Rotterdam...and the very-effectively defended airfields they assaulted in Norway and Holland...together of course with the casualties from cracked-up aircraft attempting to landing on boggy and wreckage-strewn Norwegian strips, flooded Dutch strips, and the unsuitable sands out at Zandvoort on the Dutch coast when they ran out of room anywhere else...

    3/ an overall shortage of SILK! After the conquest of France the Germans had to scour France for material suitable for parachutes.

    4/ a shortage of gliders; operations in the Spring had used up nearly the whole of the Luftwaffe's stock.

    5/ a general unwillingness on the part of OKH to get involved in the same sort of mess the FJ got themselves into in Holland (so Halder records in his diary). They didn't want the whole focus of the Sealion beach landings to change into making fast, costly dashes to relieve FJs marooned far behind enemy lines as had happened in Holland.

    It was only when the recovering Student (from his Austrian sanatorium, he was recovering from a head wound received in Holland) heard how limited this role was to be in the original plans that he sent Gen Putziger hotfoot to OKH to beg a greater role for the FJ.

    It was now decided that Eben Emael-style combat engineer landings should be ade to take out the coastal gun batteries north and south of Dover. And a SECOND role was now planned for the FJ; the 7th Flieger were to make TWO mass airborne landings, at Hythe and Hawkinge, to assemble then take Lympne airfield..after which the 22nd Airlanding could be brought in. The FJ would then move to a secondary objective - and secure the line of the Royal Military Canal through Romney Marsh. Once they were relieved - both the Lympne and RMC objectives were very close to the landing beaches - they would go back into the General Reserve for the ground fighting to come.
     
  2. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    At THIS point I came across a copy of James Lucas' Storming Eagles I'd forgotten I had! :lol: He of course gives more detail on this operation - MacDonald's data was just an in-passing resumee of events leading up to Crete, after all.

    It was proposed the two minutes after dawn, Meindl's battalion would drop around Hythe while bruno brauer's would jump over Paddlesworth and Etchinghill. Both groups were to rendezvous at Sandgate...and while they did so, the Ju52's were to return to France to emplane Stenzler's battalion. This would drop around the villages of Sellinge and Postling, rendezvous in turn with the first wave, and begin to surround Lympne airfield. A combined attack was THEN to be carried out on the airfield - a simultaneous ground attack by the three units on the ground, and a glider attack on the airfield itself. After taking the airfield they were to immdiately to move to the north and secure the highground overlooking the airfield.

    Once Lympne was in the FJ's hands, a FOURTH return wave of the same Ju52s was to bring in the 22nd Airlanding, who would thicken the perimeter than move out to take position along the line of the Royal Military Canal. After this, if all went to plan, the Luftwaffe could fly in a forward operating unit and Bf109s could be put into Lympne...hopefully! :lol:

    Well - you can see the obvious difficulties!!! Mandated by the lack of sutable transport aircraft - TWO waves had to drop parachute troops and two separate rendezvous had to be made...even before a THIRD wave of the same aircraft on a return leg brought gliders into Lympne. So ANY delay anywhere in that timetable pushes the airfield attack further and further back through the day.

    Whatever happens IN FRANCE - even if no runways are blocked by damaged aircraft crashlanding on their return, and all personnel in all waves are loaded to schedule....LOL...the second, third and fourth waves will be flying through an aerial combat zone as Fighter Command tries to regain air superiority over the invasion beaches. Likewise the area will be filled with the RAF's "Banquet Bombers" - light and training aircraft converted to drop Mustard Gas and Paris Green weedkiller on the beaches....AND Bomber Command will have its medium bombers...its Blenheims with their crews exhausted by nights of pre-invasion bargebusting...in the Kent and Sussex areas...

    Those sucessive waves of Ju52s are going to be taking cumulative losses :rolleyes: The number of aircraft available for each wave is going to decline.
     
  3. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Lucas goes on to identify a couple of other "new" problems...

    1/ the training aspect resurfaces; the new recruits of the half-reformed 7th Flieger would "not have undergone the training exercises which convert groups of soldiers into crack battalions"...especially the light skirmishing tactics that airborne forces specialised in in the field.

    2/ as well as shortage of planes...and parachute silk - there was ALSO a shortage of trained dispatchers in the FJ as a result of events earlier in the year.

    3/ Britain in the autumn of 1940 wasn't Crete of 8-9 months' development of X Flieger Korps and its support echelons later; the FJ still didn't have any heavy-lift capacity as of 1940. They would be dropping without anti-tank guns, transport, any form of armour even the lightest armoured car. How long would they be expected to hold on? Could the ever-diminishing Ju52 fleet carry in enough supplies to keep the 7th Flieger and 22nd Airlanding fighting until they should be relieved - if there was any delay at all?

    Now...this is where details on the plans starts to dry up; Lucas notes that some details and a rough maps of the drop zones survives in the IWN. He would know - when Storming Eagles was being written he was the Deputy Head of the Dept. of Photographs at the IWM! The rest of his short chapter on Sealion and the FJs deals with the preparations through the summer rather than the plans...

    So does anyone know more???
     
  4. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    One of the areas I'm currently trying to uncover is the actual defences at Lympne. Over the last few years I've become increasingly aware that defences around RAF airfields were actually quite strong, with a variety of standard defensive works and emplacements. Last month Britain At War ran an article on the sort of defences the RAF had on the ground, and I'm aware each field had a defensive force of the RAF Regiment and a minimum of two A-T guns or weapons of some type. I also had a chance a couple of years ago to crawl (literally now!) through surviving BoB-era airfield defences here in Northern Ireland - and they were as hardened as any British pillbox of the invasion threat period.

    But I'd like to lay my hands on a diagram or map of the specific defences at Lympne.
     
  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Ah well, where would we all be if it weren't for the cold realities...

    "Logistics, the bane of all What Ifs" :)
     
  6. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    But I'd like to lay my hands on a diagram or map of the specific defences at Lympne.

    Have you tried RAF Museum archives at Hendon? They have supplied me with airfield maps a couple of times in recent years:
    Site Plans for RAF Airfields and Stations

    Good luck.

    H
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Lympne is only round the corner from my parents and I'm down there next month so let me know if you want any pictures etc of anything specific :)

    Aswell as Capt. S's suggestion a quick call to the Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge may bare fruits too. They seem to be pretty clued up regarding 1940's Kent.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    H., do the maps you have show the defences as well or just the "airfield" details?
     

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