Would Hitler really have invaded Britain?

Discussion in 'General' started by spidge, Nov 26, 2008.


Did Hitler really have the intention to invade Britain or was he bluffing?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member


    Mr Google tells me that the English Channel has an average depth of 50 metres at the Dover/Calais area.

    Deep enough for your average BB.

  2. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    I could forsee a great laying of magnetic mines - the Germans laying them to obstruct and the British clearing them.
    In terms of who could afford losses serveral transport barges and boats sunk would see a sizeable loss of quality troops and supplies.
    Crete and Norway are examples of how costly invasions of this type are.
    The Kriegsmarine must have been hugely aware of the Norway adventure and the cost to them and that was largely with command of the air.
    Crossing the Channel in a range of hastely built , untested vessels , landing under fire , without gun support , having to lower ramps by hand - securing them by hand again under fire , very high risk.
    Fighting against the British on their own soil , the Royal Navy outnumbering the Germans , doubtful command of the air and a very vunerable supply line.
    ( Note the expereince of the Allies in Normandy when the storm hit the Mullberry harbours)
    Hitler might have liked to have been able invade and in different circumstances would have but against this background and the serious doubts from the Navy and the Air Force with the Army looking to the other servcies to provide guarrentes of their being able to support them ( to be able at least to get them there in good order) , it worth noting that even Goring gave no undertaking that he could supply the invasion by air - his promise to destroy the RAF in a matter of a few days having come to nothing was evident to all around the conference table.

    I voted no because Hitler was really not in a position to invade and I think he realised that before the Battle of Britain ended.
    At this stage he was still willing to listen , plans may have been made and each service made preparations but the conditions of more than ( and even this is pushing it) an even chance of success never existed and in realisation of this the will to invade - to actually put troops into barges - it never even came close.
    (Hindsight being again a wonderful thing).
    In this I am trying to view it from a purely German point of view , the Navy wanted no part of it unless their counterpart was stopped from appearing - chances of that slim to remote.
    The Airforce - lacked the tools to defeat the RAF and as the limited window of opportunity closed time became a friend of the British.
    The time wasted by the Germans in June was long gone and their failure at Dunkirk must have weighted heavy on the senior commanders.
    The Army would have gone but not without the green light from the other two services.
    My "no" vote was based not on a lack of will to fight in England but on the realisation that they could not do so with a reasonable chance of success within the time period existing.
    That both sides faced off and acted accordingly was natural , one of the last times that reality governed in the Fuhrer HQ , but I think that Hitler did not take a lot of persuading.
    The fact is they never came , the reason why is that they could not and knew it.
    "Would" depends on will and the "will" or resolve stands or falls on the available opportunity and the resources to do the job in hand - in the time period which existed the Germans could not achive the circumsatnces which would have given them even a reasonable chance of success and as time played out this reality became ever more apparrant.
  3. Grounded

    Grounded Junior Member

    Of course Hitler intended to invade Britain, and no doubt could have succeeded in landing a considerable force, however there was no way he could supply it therefore it would soon have been defeated. Dr Six would have been the man to be scared of, all males between the ages of 16 and 45 were to be deported to Germany for slavery, so it would have been a bitter fight to the death if he had succeeded, thank god for the R A F and the Royal Navy.
  4. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I voted No for the reasons that James put forward in his post and also with regard to the Speed of the French Campaign and the fact that they were always up against it in terms of the weather.
  5. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    I just wonder how his ad hoc invasion craft might have fared in the Channel even in a moderate sea and to attempt the invasion the RAF and RN would have had to be neutralised and quite frankly this never looked like happening.
    I just wonder how long his intention lasted - I do believe it had receeded ( rather like my hairline !) before Sealion was finally cancelled.
  6. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Mr Google tells me that the English Channel has an average depth of 50 metres at the Dover/Calais area.

    Deep enough for your average BB.

    John - two problems -1/ that's an AVERAGE depth...

    Goodwin Sands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Off Deal in Kent...exactly where the Sealion invasion force would be landing...

    The problem is - the first invasion wave had to land at mid- or low tide, so that the limited number of landing barges didn't get hung up on the beaches and could be got back to France to be reloaded. Therefore the first landings would be made at a time when capital ships couldn't protect them close to the landing beaches. The RN's destroyers could make merry....

    and 2/ the actual "break-in battles against the RN Home Fleet coming down from Scapa Flow would be fought in the southern area of the North Sea...Dogger Bank???...

    Dogger Bank - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    and both areas would be mined FAST by the RN in the last days before Sealion, in addition to the RN mine barrage in the North Sea.
  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Just incidently, tonight I came acros THIS list...

    KM combat vessels sunk in the Norwegian Campaign;

    Blucher (Heavy Cruiser)
    Karlsruhe (Light Cruiser)
    Brummer (Gunnery training ship)

    Anton Schmitt (destroyer)
    Bernd von Arnim (destroyer)
    Dieter von Roeder (destroyer)
    Erich Geise (destroyer)
    Erich Koeller (destroyer)
    Hans Ludemann (destroyer)
    Herman Kunne (destroyer)
    Wilhelm Heidkamp (destroyer)
    Wolfgang Zenker (destroyer)

    Albatross (heavy torpedo boat)


    KM combat vessels damaged in the Norwegian Campaign;

    Lutzow (pocket battleship)
    Bremse (Gunnery training ship)
    Hipper (heavy cruiser)
    Emden (light cruiser)

    As I said up the thread, a HUGE chunk of the KM surface fleet...
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The English Channel is a very tricky stretch of water to navigate only a few weeks ago the QE2 ran aground and up at its narrowist point (Dover/Calais) there are only a few channels (3 I believe) for ships to navigate through.

  9. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The Navy naever made any bones about being more than concerned as to their ability to support and get the troops there.
    If you look at what the invasion force was to come over on , well it is at this point that the whole thing looks very , very shakey.
    Purpose built assult vessels - few and far between , were there actually any ?
    Europe's inland waterways had been stripped of barges and large craft anything which might have been impressed into service to carry the invasion force was taken and adapted as best it could to go to England.

    Flat bottomed river barges - designed to navigate the Dutch and German Rhine - a mighty waterway but it was not the English Channel.
    These boats would have had to travel fully loaded with troops , equipment and arms to defend themselves , the troops would be crammed in , they would arrive seasick , in their own vomit , to land on a hostile shore , going straihgt into battle, their tanks and vehicles would in the main go down ramps which had to be placed by hand , be secured by hand under enemy fire , men being killed around them whislt the craft moved on the water.

    Forget the images of D-day with landing craft , LST's supported by purpose built assult ships with naval destroyers and battleships / cruisers giving support fire - this was not what the Wehrmacht was coming on or with.

    The Army knew it was high risk - for that reason what they would face when they fought their way ashore was going to be bad enough - the attentions of the RAF and Royal Navy would make an already dangerous and difficult operation even worse.

    The Kriegsmarine had paid the price of taking Norway and the Luftwaffe alone could not deliver on ther necessary conditions to allow and invasion of Southern England to go ahead - againsty this background the will to invade had to encounter the reality of what was and I think the will ebbed away.
    John Keegan( Editor) of "Oxford Companion to WW2" (Oxford University Press)-

    Hilter did not issue his directive for the preparation to Invade until 16th July.
    "In conference on 21st July he again voiced his doubts about a landing : "If it is not certain that preparationscan be concluded by the beginning of of September , other plans will have to be considered".( Among these plans was an attack on the Soviet Union).
    The navy at this conference voiced their own anxieties and concerns regarding the feasibility of a landing - air supremacy , not only for the crossing but for the orderly deployment of the transport fleet and the necesary mine sweeping operations.
    On the 1th July Raedar had stated to Hitler that in his view a landing "could only be cionsidered as a last resort."
    On 31st July Raeder stated that the navy would have its resources in order by 15th September , Hitler had decided that all preparations would work towards this deadline.
    Any decision to "go" would depend on the outcome of the Battle in which the Luftwaffe was engaged.
    It is stated that between 8-14 days after the start of ther air battle a decision based to launch the invasion. ( taking into view the status of the air battle and progress madein the destruction of the RAF).

    Eagle Day was not launched until seven weeks aafter the fall of France. ( 13th August).
    Hitler informed his Cin C's on 14th September that inspite of successes the Luftwaffe did not have command of the air and the invasion would not go ahead.
    He did not cancel the invasion but wanted to continue the air attacks with the threat of invasion backing them up. ( Psychological threat ).
    Whilst dates in September were considered and even into October the plan rested on the Luftwaffe and command of the air.

    On 16th September Goring and Raeder spoke of the need to increase attacks throughout GB which might suggest that both no longer saw invasion as an option.
    ( Otherwise why would they seek to attack regions away from the proposed invasion area).
    The transport fleet was dispersed on 17th September.
    By 2nd October he had ordered that all measures taken in conjunction with Sealion were to be largely dismantled.
    ( Author of this section Klaus A Maier).

    Hilter had viewed Russia as being "Britains last hope" and war with Russia was what he was moving towards , invasion was always a last resort , not his first choice and he was not going to do it if circumstances dictaed he could do otherwise or if he had to do it the conditions for success had to be achieved.
    Within this frame work I doubt his absolute will to have invaded- he made plans as he had to but eyes were already turning eastwards - Stalin had not been slow to take advantage of serving his own interests whilst German eyes were turned towards GB.
    Throughout 1940 the relationship between Russia and Germany had been going from uneasy mistrust to bad and then to to worse.

    This is from Bekker's "Hitler's Naval War" ( MacDonald, 1974.)
    (A bit dated but worth considering in view of what is said).
    "While the pilot circled Admiral Karigeorg Schuster stared anxiously downwards "With astonishment and mild dismay", as he later put it.For what he saw was hardly a confidence inspiring spectacle.There were motoe-boatsand fishing vessels, salining yachts, coasters lighters and ferry boats. The most common sights however and stretching as far as the eye could see were tugs with trains of river barges" Page 167-168.
    "Tell me your opionion", Raeder asked Bartels , after inspecting the preparations at Dunkirk, "do you think we shall make it across to England? Are you opotmistic about it ?"
    Bartels was somehwhat surprised at his Supreme Commander's question , but finalkly answered:"Without optimism, Herr Grossadmiral the thing will be a flop from the start".
    (Page 169-170).
    At the Fuhrer's Headqyuarters at that time , the then Lt. Colonel Adolf Heusinger said " Hitler kept Sealion up his sleeve though without the seriosu intention of of putting it into action"

    In June when visiting Von Rundest's HQ he told the General in the company of his chief -of-staff , Sondenstern he expected that Britian would be ready to conclude a peace.
    "Then I shall have my hands free for the real big job;to settle with the Bolsheviks".
    This exchange took place on 2nd June - Russia had already been identified as being next on the list.
    Cajus Bekker notes a number of exchanges at high l;evel which to him indicates that Hitler was going through the motions - allowing planners to plan , using sealion and the implied threat as a chip to throw on the table in the hope that Britain might accept a settlement - keeping the eyes of the world in the West - his real goal and focus of interest lay in the east.

    Had Hitler really been intendiong to invade , why did he not spend the winter making peprepartions for the following spring ?
  10. militarycross

    militarycross Very Senior Member

    Personally, I have always believed the Invasion of Britain was in Hitler's plan. The question that we might muse upon is assuming a successful invasion, where was he going next? Will the students of the mastermind's plan offer their wisdom.
  11. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    i THINK after DUNKIRK .. HITLER believed we would sue for peace .
    and when this wasnt forcoming he had every intentions of invading BRITAIN
    providing of course he would not have the R.A.F. to deal with ..

    i wonder what the NAVY would have done had the germans launched an attack across the channel ,,and having no air cover .would it have been do or die and attacked the armada ..
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    i wonder what the NAVY would have done had the germans launched an attack across the channel

    From Page 5 above...

    Norway left the KM with only 4 undamaged capital ships and 4 undamaged destroyers. The KM plan was to "secure" the channel with smaller vessels of the S-boat class, the Norway campaign having not touched German coastal vessels - and use the surviving surface ships and U-boats in the North Sea. Minefields were to close the Channel end of the Western Approaches.

    Against THIS "mighty" fleet, the RN mustered a destroyer force of thirty-six destroyers divided into three flotillas each under a cruiser as command ship, based at Medway, Southampton and Portsmouth. Together with these they had all the vessels of the RN Patrol Service in the South of England for ASW and anti-mine duties - literally hundreds of assets.

    When gamed at Sandhurst in the famous reconstructions of the 1970s, the Home Fleet sortied from Scapa Flow on the first day of the invasion, cleared the North Sea in two days and entered the Channel on the third - cutting the "sea bridge" to the South of England and shelling the bridgehead to bits. Three days wouldn't have been enough for the Germans on land to advance out of naval gunnery range...

    In Norway the Royal Navy on a few occasions ran shy of committing surface units for fear of losses to bombing, especially after the Luftwaffe basically bombed the bridgesheads at Andalsnes and Namsos out of existence. The Navy DID take damage a a FEW losses from air attack, but despite what the Navy thought at the time, the REAL lesson was that modern ships with good AA armament and plentiful AA munitions could hold off air attack. HMS Resolution and her destroyer group held off two days of intense attack for only the loss of HMS Gurkha and one hit on Resolution, while the Suffolk, though damaged by bombs held off further damage despite concentrated attack as she limped home.

    The RN would have several advantages in the Channel when they went into action against the invasion...

    1/ obviously...NIGHT! Like the actions NORTH of Crete in 1941, they'd be able to enter the Channel at night, shell the bridgehead, shell the transports as they moved back and forth etc. - and protected from air attack. probably even enter french ports and shell barges and freghters etc. as they loaded; they did this in 1941 when the East Med Fleet entered Tripoli and shelled the harbour handling most of Rommel's supplies at that point in the North African campaign before retiring with no loss.

    2/ Unlike the period of the evacuation of Crete, when ships far too short of AA ammunition HAD to be sent back into range of the Luftwaffe, the RN's destoyer groups would be operating within twenty or thirty miles of their bases and resupply!

    3/ The Germans would be terrbly short of surface ships. Their surviving and undamaged ships would HAVE to be sent into the North Sea to try to halt the Home Fleet coming down from Scapa Flow...and this would leave only light coastal ships and U-boats to protect the invasion fleet itself.
  13. ShropshireMad

    ShropshireMad Member

    I do believe there were plans to use Bridgnorth, Shrops as the German HQ.

  14. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    I think if Britain sought peace it would have been with no German troops in Britain ie leave us alone and we'll leave you alone.
    It is difficult to see Germany taking peace terms which did not include making sure GB was in no position to challange Germany at anytime in the future or would be in a position to open hostilities or mainatin forces which might have threatened Germany - part of the "we leave/ you leave" might well have been resulted in GB becoming isolated , in time the most local outposts of Empire , Gibratler , Malta and Egypt would have been given up - "bringing troops home" but allowing the Italians in.
    Any threat real or imagined would have to be dealt with on German terms, if not at once soon after.

    Germany would always have had political considerations one of which was Turkey - she would have been courting her hard to join the Axis and having GB influence out of the Mediterranean would have been a stepping stone to Turkey joining the Axis , possibly before any military intervention in Russia, which would probably have followed it pretty darn quick.

    The land of "what if" but terms would eventually have been altered to accomadate further German plans.
  15. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    At the very least they'd have insisted in some level of demilitarisation in the UK...and an inspectorate to police it, just as the German/Italian inspectors mandated in the Armistice with France to ensure the French Fleet was decommissioned.
  16. Nazihunter

    Nazihunter Junior Member

    I think that Hitler was just bluffing because secretly he admired Britain and their previous conquests of India. He might have gone through with it but he wouldn't have invaded full force.
  17. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Had the circumstances existed for an invasion and the necessary prerequistes been achieved he would have come with sufficent forces to force a surrender , to do less would have defeated the object.
    Whilst he did admire Britain this would not have counted for little in the event of landing.
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Enterprise Seelöwe, umgebauer Pz. Kpfw. III Specially information: France. - " preparation of the enterprise; Seelöwe" (German invasion in England - attempts with the Pz converted to the amphibian tank. Kpfw. III.

    Taken in 1940. I saw a programme a few moths ago that mentioned a model of Panzer III designed to travel under the English Channel on the sea bed from France to England.
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Some more 'Seelowe' pictures:


    Headlines: Exercise to the enterprise " Seelöwe" Specially information: Major of the Air Force as observers of the exercise for " Enterprise Seelöwe" at the French coast

    Specially information: France. - " preparations of the enterprise; Seelöwe" (German invasion in England). Attempt with the Pz converted to the amphibian tank. Kpfw. III (dipping tanks).



    Fecamp Oct 1940.


  20. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    When you look at it it is all so much like Crete , the painted fishing boats - it is so thrown together - I don't doubt that had the Royal Navy got in to the / an invasion fleet they would have cut it to ribbons.
    The only way this invasion could have worked was in the event of 24/7 aircover and the eclusion of the intervention of the Royal Navy.
    Look at the way the tanks are going into the water , imagine this being done under fire ?
    How would you get those barges over in anything remotely like a moderate sea - the intention has been translated into action given the resources to hand but in terms of being effective it does not inspire confidence.

    I think that the invasion was only coming if they could get to England with acceptable losses and that to be honest never looked likely.

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