A Better Show in 1940

And so it begins...

BTW, there are no mayor changes to the Luftwaffe tactics against warships in this ATL, right?
Minor changes.

As mentioned in 5., which deals with the Kanalkampf, there's the Bf 110. In this ATL, its heavy fighter role is secondary, while it's much more used for ground attack (the reverse of OTL); it follows it is also used against minor shipping. There are two problems, however:
- during the Kanalkampf, the targets were slow, unarmed, unprotected small cargo ships. Attacking fast, armed, armored warships is another kettle of… ships. Though the Bf 110 would still come in handy against the minor auxiliary boats in Royal Navy service.
- but what's worse, during the Kanalkampf the Germans still had a sizable number of Bf 110s. Using them intensively against ground targets which are getting better and better AA defenses took its toll. When the time for the invasion came, the remaining Bf 110s had to be mostly used for other tasks than against ships.
Note that in both cases (attacking cargos during the Kanalkampf or patrol boats during the invasion) it's not important that the Bf 110's weaponry might not sink the targets. Damaging them heavily would serve the real purpose of both attacks just as well.

The other change is not doctrinal. Wever has seen the need for more AP bombs for the Stukas, and has tried to have more of those stocked – though with not entirely satisfactory results.

I do not deem that there are any other changes that could reasonably be implemented. As a rule, I stuck to minor, very simple, realistic and reasonable changes.
Castle Bromwich had been plagued with delays since the beginning of the production. The problems were mostly founded in sheer lack of know-how, and they wouldn't be easily solved in a matter of a few days.
The factory delivered 10 Spitfires in June, as per the latest update of the target for that month; note I said delivered, not produced, because the aircraft were produced elsewhere and clandestinely moved North for the purpose of meeting the deadline. The figures for July, August and September: 23, 37 and 56. Even with massive effort over a few days, with these figures as the base line, Castle Bromwich is not going to replace the main Supermarine industry hub's output. The British are better off pouring that massive effort in repairing the damaged production lines elsewhere.
In sum, fighters are being delivered by Castle Bromwich in this ATL; but not much faster than in OTL.
The reason I was asking was in OTL apparently Beaverbrook finally lost patience and sent in a troubleshooting team from Supermarine to sort them out. (This wouldnt have affected the urgent repairs to the main factory)
Given the rather more urgent need for them in this TL, wouldnt that have hapenned a bit sooner and with more urgency? Not a huge difference, I admit, but more planes than they produced in OTL.
The reason I was asking was in OTL apparently Beaverbrook finally lost patience and sent in a troubleshooting team from Supermarine to sort them out. (This wouldnt have affected the urgent repairs to the main factory)
Given the rather more urgent need for them in this TL, wouldnt that have hapenned a bit sooner and with more urgency? Not a huge difference, I admit, but more planes than they produced in OTL.

I confess I don't know about the Supermarine trouble-shooters. I do know that under Beaverbrook's pressure, Lord Nuffield stepped aside and Vickers managers, not Supermarine, took charge at Castle Bromwich. Which was high time, considered that the know-how problems mainly stemmed from the fact that Castle Bromwich initially was an automotive plant of Morris (while some of the delays, although they mostly happened before the war, derived from labor disputes).

However, this change at the top took place before the battle, and the production figures from Castle Bromwich were those I mentioned; Woolston was attacked late, on September 11. In this ATL, the Supermarine production is heavily damaged on August 15, but not shut down; while the production of Hurricanes is effectively interrupted only on September 7. All in all, I don't see the possibility of meaningfully increasing the output of the shadow factories within a useful time limit.

While the Luftflotten and Fighter Command were busy, the other services and arms of both combatants did not remain idle. The preparations for Unternehmen Seelöwe and for the defense against it became frantic, over the first week of September. And they developed a different quality, too.
The Kriegsmarine's attitude gradually became quite different, for example. By mid-August, it had become clear that Seelöwe would have fair chances of being actually attempted, thus the German navy turned much more serious about it – and much more worried. It was no bluff any more. For instance, staff officers suddenly decided they needed the time to wonder about the features of the currents, of the sea bottom and of the prevailing conditions in the areas where they planned for vessels to anchor just off the coast, and discovered that staying put would not be that easy in several places. So they came up with more, and heavier, anchors.
The Germans also spent more and more effort in planning about the capture of seaports, being well aware that both landing further waves and supplies for them and for the first one would be nearly impossible without port facilities. They decided to strengthen the planned coup against Dover, devoting 30 fast motorboats to a surprise attack there, landing Brandeburger troopers to try and prevent demolitions and sinkings.
The mine warfare efforts were concentrated more on gradually building up a safe box across the Channel, and less about just hindering the approaches to British ports everywhere. This attempt's effectiveness was reduced by the fact that the Germans simply lacked the means to lay all the mines they would wish – not that they had enough mines, anyway.
By September 1, no U-Boote were out on anti-shipping missions any more. The whole submarine fleet was to be committed to try and stop the Royal Navy from interfering.

On the other side of the Channel, preparations were busily underway, too. A sizable part of of the Home Fleet was moved South from Scapa Flow to Rosyth. By the first days of September, most of Bomber Command's and a significant proportion of Coastal Command's efforts were concentrated on the barge fleets; by September 12, they had sunk about 10% of the pool, and the worst was yet to come. The Germans were replacing the losses, but this delayed their own readiness. Coastal Command intensified its recon efforts.
On September 7, due to the mounting flow of intel reports, the Luftwaffe's continued onslaught, and general nervousness, the code-word message ("Cromwell") announcing the invasion, was issued. Before it was countermanded, some bridges were blown up and roadblocks set up. The false alarm served as a dress rehearsal anyway, and some of the demolitions would actually come in handy after a few days.
Finally, if Kesselring had rather successfully played his tricks, Dowding had been busy preparing a little surprise of his own.

The decisive reports arrived on September 9. A recon flight over Antwerp, two days before, had photographed vehicles being loaded on ships. Exiting from this port would take a long time, especially for these slow vessels, and the loading operations were long and drawn out. This initial warning was confirmed by similar operations being undertaken on the 9 in Dunkerque and Rotterdam. Further confirmation came from human intel and Ultra decrypts. At this point, the British knew the Germans were coming. Seelöwe might well wade in, but certainly not as a surprise.

The respite the Luftwaffe provided because of the need to maintain and repair the aircraft and to rest the aircrews lasted from September 10 to the night of September 12, also because of some poor weather. On that date, the forecasts were for several days of good weather in a row, even though with some moderate wind over the Channel. That night, the Luftwaffe used its Knickebein rays again to attack the Royal Navy bases at Portsmouth and Southampton, with smaller, less accurate raids pestering Portland, Plymouth and other ports farther North. While some installations wre damaged by fires, nothing vital was destroyed by these night raids; the one exception was a lucky blind hit that put out of action a small French destroyer, La Flore, in Portsmouth. These attacks confirmed the correct British assessment of the enemy intentions.

On September 13, the Luftwaffe came back in strength in broad daylight with a massive raid of 174 bombers escorted by no less than 482 fighters. A heavy proportion of the fighter strength was up front for a free sweep; the attack was conspicuously aimed at London. It was indeed an attempt to draw up Fighter Command once again, but not all the German aircraft were actually to bomb the docks; about one third split away over Kent and paid the by now customary visits to the least damaged airfields of Fighter Command. This latter proportion of the attackers met with somewhat less opposition than the rest, and cratered once more Biggin Hill, Kenley, and Hawkinge. A fierce battle developed over the Thames, and the Germans used no subtleties this time; they were hoping for the enemy to be exhausted. It seemed the British weren't in a good shape, but neither were they ready for the KO blow; all in all, 34 German aircraft were downed for 21 British fighters. The damage to the docks was extensive.
Some German fighters had to be kept back, not only as a reserve, but also in order to try and intercept the enemy recon flights, by now really bothersome. Without radar warnings, these interceptions were often ineffective, and the British garnered telling evidence.
No operations took place in the afternoon, and at this time Dowding carried out his last redeployment before the invasion. Most of the movements were within #11 Group, even though he also ordered his questionable Defiants down to Fowlmere, in #12 Group's territory but on its Southern edge. If an expendable pawn should be needed, they might be it.

Since by now the main limiting factor for the Luftwaffe was the low number of fighters to escort their vulnerable bombers, a much larger bomber force took off that evening. No mass raids took place, but rather a large number of smaller ones, hitting many diverse targets: naval installations again, but also London, some airfields, the radar sites of Pevensey and Dunkirk. In an attempt to deceive the enemy, couples of bombers roamed up to Bristol, Birmingham, Hull and elsewhere. The game was rather given away by the attacks against the Royal Navy and by the bombing of the marshalling yard of Canterbury and the railway junction of Ashford.

That same night, Bomber Command and Coastal Command attacked in force Calais, Dunkerque and Antwerp. In the latter, they caused little damage, since by now the convoys were moving out. In both the former ports, however, they managed to locate the large, fat targets of the enemy shipping and to cause grevious casualties. In Dunkirk, among other things, four panzers ended up on the bottom together with their vessels.

In the morning of September 14, the new British code-worded command, "Drake", was issued. This time, no counter-orders followed. All Army units in Southern England went on 2-hour readiness. Home Guard units were standing by; they set up roadblocks again and frantically started patrolling the shores and the countryside. Pillboxes and bunkers were manned. All preliminary work for demolitions in ports was prepared and standing engineer parties were ready to blow things up. Bridges were destroyed over the Military Canal, and the New Romney Marshes were flooded. Later in the day, as intel reports were worked out from photo recon missions over the French and Dutch ports, a sizable part of the Royal Navy also went on alert. An advance flotilla made up of three cruisers (flagship: Naiad) and six destroyers left Rosyth at about 10:00, heading South. Unless otherwise ordered, they could be in the Channel, West of Dover, in about 19 hours.

At about this time, the Germans made their final "softening up" operation before the invasion. On the huge table at Bentley Priory, over 30 raids were plotted simultaneously, moving against a sizable part of the Channel Coast! And none of them seems small. Almost all units of #10, #11 and #12 Groups were scrambled. Actually, about half of these raids were feints. Kesselring simply had too many bombers, and he dared not sending them out unescorted until that was really unavoidable. So he came up with this final trick. The real raids hit four radar stations and the rest are against Fighter Command airfields. The defenders were thinned out by the diversionary moves; some Squadrons which had been sent up in a wild geese chase were redirected, but some of them failed to intercept and others did, but only after the targets had been bombed. The air action was generally rather confused, no profitable bounces happened on either side, and the losses remained low: 16 German to 11 British aircraft were downed. The damage on the ground was marginal, save at Pevensey, where a lucky hit downed an antenna.
The real objective of this last preparatory attack was a final contribution to the destruction of Fighter Command. Once he reduced his pilots' claims, Kesselring was still left with an assessment of some 20 British losses, but what was worse was that the enemy did not seem as weakened as he had expected only a few days before. Kesselring had some second thoughts at this point, but by then it was too late.

In the afternoon, the German long-ranged guns opened up against Dover. This time, they weren't firing at their British counterparts, or at the port, but at the radar station. The fire from these guns, at this distance, was rather inaccurate, but each round was like a little earthquake, and the station suffered from multiple minor damages. The power line was severed, but by now there were emergency generators. The station would be back on line in some seven hours.

That evening, a Coastal Command Anson was downed in the vicinity of Le Havre, not without having radioed in a report: "several scores" of ships were grouping up in the roadstead. Between 21:30 and 23:30, almost all of the Royal Navy assets already in the Channel steamed out of their ports to prowl the night. Coastal Command sent out small patrols to pepper the accesses of the French and Dutch ports with mines, while Bomber Command took a night of rest; it would fly in daylight very soon.

On the eve of Unternehmen Seelöwe, Fighter Command could rely on the following operational aircraft in #10, #11, #12 Groups (with no Spitfires or Hurricanes remaining outside the range of the combat area):

Hurricanes: 241
Spitfires: 153
Total front-line fighters: 394

Defiants: 19
Blenheims: 45
Total second-line fighters: 64

Reserve: 0

Overall: 458

At the same time, Luftflotte 2 and 3 fielded the following operational aircraft:

level bombers, all types: 889
dive bombers: 294
Bf 109s: 602
Bf 110s: 87
Any of those barges that run into the RN are not going to have a happy channel crossing experience....not to mention what it will do to the arrival confusion!

Dont see the Germans having any hope of getting a port - its pretty obvious they have to get one, and the British are equally determined to make sure they dont - if in doubt, blow it up...

Waiting for the next part now...:D
My compliments for all the detail. I can see the 'Bungay' influence! I think with any survival of Wever it's all too tempting to use it as a way of having the 'Ural bomber' e.g. Do 19 instead of Do 17s, interesting that you have used him, to add a bit of professional sanity to the Lw High Command.
Possibly the LW has had the 'lucky breaks' here, but otherwise plausible and thoroughly enjoyable - keep it up.
The interesting part now is two fold, what can the RAF pull out of the bag, and how disastrous will an invasion in this ATL be.
Another thought, with the situation being so critical with all the airfield attacks on 11 Group, wouldn't Leigh-Mallory have had a kick-up-the-bum for the failure of the 'big wing' to get there quick enough!?

I must get around to my own ATL where the RAF does much better! If I can think of the right Pod(s).
My compliments for all the detail. I can see the 'Bungay' influence!
You see right.

I think with any survival of Wever it's all too tempting to use it as a way of having the 'Ural bomber' e.g. Do 19 instead of Do 17s, interesting that you have used him, to add a bit of professional sanity to the Lw High Command.
The problem with numbers remains (as in, we want as many bomber as possible, no matter if they are not as big as possible), even the Luftwaffe still has Wever.

Possibly the LW has had the 'lucky breaks' here, but otherwise plausible and thoroughly enjoyable - keep it up.
Yes, some luck, but remaining reasonably plausible was part of my objective. And thanks.

The interesting part now is two fold, what can the RAF pull out of the bag, and how disastrous will an invasion in this ATL be.
Another thought, with the situation being so critical with all the airfield attacks on 11 Group, wouldn't Leigh-Mallory have had a kick-up-the-bum for the failure of the 'big wing' to get there quick enough!?
No. Analysis wasn't as clear as today, at that time. It wasn't as evident that the Big Wing was not such a good idea (well, it was to Dowding). Besides, there's the problem with good connections. Remember how, with the Battle of Britain victory under his belt, Dowding was replaced.

I must get around to my own ATL where the RAF does much better! If I can think of the right Pod(s).
Do make your proposals for the PODs you have in mind!

September 15, 1940. The crux of the problem for the Luftwaffe in Seelöwe was how to distribute its limited assets to cover all the numerous and difficult tasks it had to carry out.

The first and most important job was to protect the landing areas and the invasion armada as it unloaded. A weighty standing force of fighters was needed here, at all times during daylight. Kesselring reckoned that in order to be sure he could keep 80 fighters out there at all times, he had to set aside some 250 of them. They would fly in relays and make extensive use of the remaining drop tanks. Even so, this meant no more than 20 fighters on patrol over each of the four landing areas, while these pilots would need to fly 4 or 5 sorties per day, depending upon the intensity of the enemy attacks.
The fighters assigned to this task but not currently airborne could be, of course, scrambled on alarm; this could be done if the defenders of the beachheads signaled they were being overwhelmed, or in order to intercept British attacks against French or Dutch ports. Of course, if this happened, the sorties would pile up, and anyway, it would take some time to reach the English coast, even from bases in the Pas de Calais.
The second but no less critical task was to keep the Royal Navy at bay. Wever had been told countless times by now by his Kriegsmarine colleagues that the fleet had no chance of survival, unless the Luftwaffe did what the German warships simply could not do. So, for the first day of Seelöwe, 250 of the some 300 operational Ju 87 were to be assigned to this task. Obviously these lame ducks couldn't be sent out alone, but Kesselring reckoned he could assign just 200 Bf 109s to escort them. It was a paltry ratio, but these missions would take place over the sea; Kesselring thought the British fighters would have other things to do than to interfere out there. Besides, there were much less British fighters by then, and their operational bases were farther from the Channel – or so he believed.
This left just some 100 Bf 109s for other tasks. Which was a problem when it came to the level bomber force available; the Germans had almost 900 of them, but if they kept sticking to the ratios used until then (at least 2 escort fighters per bomber), they could use only 50 of them! Kesselring decided he could use a 1:1 ratio for 50 Heinkels and 50 Bf 109s, which he was going to keep as his reserve and for other tasks. Additionally, he would use a sizable part of his level bombers (some 400 of them) for the initial ground support missions over the beachheads; after all, numbers counted for something, and these areas would be patrolled by the above-mentioned CAPs. To these 400 level bombers he added the remaining 50 Stukas for pinpoint direct support missions.
Some 450 level bombers remained unused! So they were slated to go out for a final night bombing assault before dawn, and then remain available. These night attacks would be aimed at naval bases, army barracks, railroad marshalling yards and, once more, Fighter Command airfields.
At this point, Kesselring was left with some 90 Bf 110s and the last 50 Bf 109s. 40 of the two-engined aircraft would integrate the direct support to the ground forces, as fighter/bombers. The remaining 50, together with the Bf 109s, would provide a 100-strong mixed escort for the last but not least Luftwaffe effort: the parachute airdrops.
Coastal, long-range and some of the short-range recon aircraft would serve as the eyes of the anti-shipping details; those Royal Navy ships had to be found first. The obsolescent seaplanes would also have a go with their ineffective torpedoes. Other minor units would be, as customary, directly attached to the Heer; they were intended to serve in their primary role of recon, but also, four of them would be used for calling down CAS missions. They were redundant, because the same role would be carried out by Luftwaffe FAC teams having their own radios and light vehicles, assigned to the four landing areas. These wouldn't be able to call down level bomber raids; only the Bf 110s and, to a lesser extent, the Stukas, would have short enough response times to be useful in this role.

This was the Luftwaffe plan for the first day of Seelöwe. However, the first casualties of that day had nothing to do with the air combat. At about 00:40, the Naiad's flotilla, coming down from Rosyth, lost a destroyer to a mine. They were hugging the coast exactly in order to stay in a cleared corridor out of the German minefields, maybe it was a floating mine. The Admiralty had finally decided to keep this force out of the Channel, at the height of Harwich, almost out of Stuka range. They would probably not be committed during the daylight hours of the first day. They were, however, joined by the 6 destroyers of Harwich.

The Brandeburgers' attack at Dover was an abysmal failure; its only chance was surprise, and it was no surprise at all, of course, the garrison fully expecting something like this. They were first intercepted by a patrol boat well out at sea; their motorboats came under fire from coastal guns while lit up by illuminating rounds; and only a handful of survivors made it to the vicinity of the port, where they would do no more harm than a few nuisance skirmishes. The Dover port authorities started their demolition programs at about 03:00, and they would be even too thorough.
The German barge formations were also incurring their first losses, having nothing to do with enemy action. Indeed, their minesweepers had done a good job opening the way out of the roadsteads. But the barges were prone to accidents. In the night, collisions happened, engines malfunctioned, water came in over the low boards, passengers or loads moved, unbalancing the vessels. Given the pitiful seaworthiness of these things, and the desperate shortage of experienced sailors aboard them, a minor accident easily left a barge in a very dangerous situation, and several of them ended up capsizing. Apart from the losses, these accidents delayed the other barges and disrupted the formations.
Enemy action, on the other hand, also began taking its toll when two British torpedo boats on aggressive patrolling stumbled across Geleitzug 4 from Le Havre. This convoy was escorted by converted, armed fishing boats and minesweepers, but speed won over firepower in this confused night action, and a trawler and an escort were sunk. Unfortunately for the Germans, tracers, explosions and fires drew the attention of two British destroyers, Volunteer and Wolverine, coming from Southampton, and this fight was much more one-sided; a minesweeper, two small steamers and some twenty barges were lost, for light damages incurred by the two destroyers, which then withdrew. There was a further domino effect, no longer involving British units. The continued gunfire in the vicinity was too much for a nervous gunner on one of the motorized sailboats of Schleppverbande 5; in the moonlight, he spotted some dark shape looming close. A full friendly-fire battle erupted within this formation. When the commodore finally managed to stops it, plenty of vessels were badly shot up, the convoy was in disarray and it was going to be late on the beach.
While all of this did not bode well for the Westernmost landings, the Royal Navy's smorgasbord of press-ganged ex-civilian fishing boats, yachts, motorboats, cutters and launches scored some points on the other end of the invasion area; the British had hundreds of these boats, they were by now used to night patrolling in the Channel, and some two hundred of them were out that night. They got a contact off Dover with Geleitzug 2, from Rotterdam. This time the Germans dished out more than they took, but the fact was that the British had a large edge even in this lowest-end class; they would barely notice the loss of three of those boats, while the loss of even one gun-carrying minesweeper would be significant for this convoy in the hours to come.
About two hours before dawn, two of the Costal Command flights spotted the Calais and the Antwerp flotillas in the moonlight as they had almost reached their final turning point. The bombing, unfortunately, was rather inaccurate. That didn't mean the attack was fruitless, because a few barges were damaged, and two collided and quickly sank. Furthermore, AA tracers and incendiary bombs once again acted as beacons, and there was another fight between light-weights, a squadron of British cutters exchanging blows with the armed fishing boats. The convoys were both badly damaged, disrupted and delayed.
In the grey light just before dawn, finally, another naval engagement took place. One of the German submarines, laying in ambush West of the landing areas, was lucky enough to find itself exactly astride one of the zigzags the Revenge's flotilla was taking from Plymouth (this being the almost only way to have a good firing opportunity against these warships, way faster than the usual targets for U-Boote). But as it often happened with German torpedoes in this time frame, the Revenge's keel was just scratched by a dud, and the U-62 had to run away, chased by two destroyers (the contact would be broken later in the morning, with no losses on either side).
Meanwhile, the German bombers carried out their final night runs. Attacks on naval bases and Fighter Command Southern airfields were totally useless, given that by now they were empty; some damage was taken by the main communication lines between London and Dover.

But morning has broken, and the Seelöwe armada was in sight of the English coastline.
From East to West, landing zone B had two beaches between Folkestone and New Romney. The soldiers of the first echelon of the 17. Infanteriedivision started out unlucky, since Geleitzug 1 from Ostend had about half the planned tonnage; they were going to be short on everything. Landing zone C covered an area between Rye and Hastings, and the mountain troopers wouldn't find it amusing that their beach was bisected by a river mouth, with stuff ending up on both sides; the other Kampfgruppe's barges were spread out all over the sea due to the engagements and accidents during the crossing. The tow formation from Boulogne headed towards two beaches between Bexhill and Eastbourne (landing zone D), and, although not attacked, it had been disrupted by a false alarm in the night. This force also had no cargos, trawlers, nothing moving fast and arriving early. Finally, the landing zone E went from Beachy Head to Brighton. This was a substantial effort, with three beaches and three first echelons. Two of them had been disrupted by the night actions and lost cohesion; they were going to find remarkable fortifications, a seawall hard to cross with vehicles, and plenty of bottlenecks to fight through (what with cliffs, rivers and lagoons just behind their beaches). On the plus side, they had the benefit of some local early-morning mist.
During the final two course changes needed to line up with the beaches and then head towards them, the first carried out still in darkness and the second with limited visibility, several barges more collided with each other, or lost control and capsized, or fell out of formation. But the bulk of them pushed ahead, now preceded by the faster units.

The Germans weren't just coming by sea. The first relay of CAP fighters was already high up over the beaches. The first support mission was flown by 27 of the some 50 Stukas set aside for this task, and by 18 Bf 110s; they had no FAC direction for the time being, but many of the British fortifications were clearly visible on the German recon photos, and this attack was a softening. Of course these weren't thin-skinned hangars; they were RC pillboxes or thick brick and stone fortifications, and a direct hit was needed. Many of the strongpoints survived. There were two more "raids" just at this time: the Ju 52s carrying two battalion-strength parachute Kampfgruppen, with a mixed escort of almost 100 between Bf 109s and Bf 110s in the fighter role.

Switching now to the RAF's perspective, heated arguments had been going on over the last few days and even hours as to how to use its assets. Nobody could deny that the Royal Navy's task forces would be going to need air cover, so Dowding had grudgingly conceded some of that, especially from the peripheral Squadrons, those of #10 and #12 Groups (by now, he had also taken care to deploy all of his most experienced Squadrons to #11 Group, so that the veteran pilots could fight for the true air superiority contest). On the other hand, he adamantly refused to employ fighters as escorts to bomber attacks, at least not immediately. He pointed out that if the air-to-air battle was won, then nobody would molest the British bombers, and in order to defeat the German fighters, he had to have his hands free. The Air Staff could have easily overruled him, were it not for the fact that Bomber Command eggheads were still convinced that their theory that the bomber would always get through might still be proved true. The compromise that was reached in a final Air Ministry meeting was that in the afternoon of invasion day, Fighter Command would try to swamp the German fighter defenses over the beachheads, and if Bomber Command was able to time a strike surge correctly, they should find them unprotected. Bomber Command was not ruling out snap raids by Battles and Blenheims, without fighter escort. The Hampdens would keep hitting the invasion ports in France and Holland, at night.
Coastal Command was going to carry out its usual tasks, apart from trying to harass the invasion fleet at night.
On September 14, Dowding also gave his final activation order to his own little trick. All through the so called "combat zone" close to the coast, #11 Group had redeployed several Squadrons. Only, they were not based in Fighter Command airfields. #32 Squadron was hidden in the hangars of Detling, among the trainers of the FAA; the abandoned strip of Andover still looked abandoned, but #152 Squadron had just set up shop there; West Malling hosted the Poles of #303 Squadron, the Royal Aircraft Establishment airstrips of Farnborough were now home to #605 Squadron. Other units were stabled with Bomber Command (whence the accidental destruction of a handful of Hurricanes during one of the raids against it) or Coastal Command. A few experimental top-secret emergency strips also existed: nothing more than fields along the edge of wooded areas, with the trees and camouflage netting hiding the dispersal places from enemy recon; critical stages of the work on these were carried out in rainy days. Dowding played a Judo move on Kesselring, turning his opponent's strength against him; the concentration on Fighter Command airfields, in itself a correct choice, would turn out to be a drawback. Park had plenty of forward-deployed fighters to send up quickly, and the Germans did not even know where they were.

So, when the various German missions mentioned above showed up at dawn, their arrival did not go unnoticed (with the exception of the fighter/bomber Bf 110s, which flew low as usual). The radar network was dented, but still good enough to see them coming. Park, with Dowding's approval, reacted conservatively as always, even if he knew this was the day. Pairs of Squadrons got scrambled, and intercepted most of the raids (not all of them, because the radar network's weakness, and because of a local mistake by a new Squadron Leader). The Bf 109s on CAP fought back, and were high enough not to get bounced; the ground missions mostly went ahead unopposed. However, after an almost equal fight (6 British fighters downed for 7 German ones, and a Stuka that did not come out of the dive), it was already time for the CAP to be replaced.
Meanwhile, over Hythe and Lyminge, I. and II./JG 52 and I./ZG 26 fought hard against #64 and #32, with the Hurricanes of the latter trying to get through to the vulnerable Ju 52s. The Germans were largely successful, at the price of 3 Bf 110s and two Ju 52s. The British lost two fighters, and some of the other Ju 52s did get sprayed with .303 rounds, which incapacitated many of their passengers. Several other transports were damaged, and their paras wounded, by the Royal Navy's AA in Folkestone. What was worse, the drops were spread over quite a wider area than planned, due to this attack.

As the first canopies dotted the sky over the Paddlesworth high ground, the assault boats were fighting against the undertow, while under fire from many MG positions. As the dust from the altogether few aircraft bombs had settled, the German vessels tasked with fire support opened up – and the coastal guns, especially in the vicinity of Folkestone and Brighton, and from the Dymchurch and Eastbourne redoubts, did the same. Now, a makeshift mount onto an unarmored civilian vessel, with no fire direction, bobbing up and down, was no match for a proper and fortified shore battery. The only bad things about the latter were that the British did not provide every beach with one, and that they did not provide most of them with plenty of ammo. Where they did, several boats were hit and sunk or greviously damaged.
And the Germans were slaughtered by the hundred in their flimsy assault boats and as they came ashore, mainly by MG fire. The bad thing (for the British), again, was that there wasn't a lot of MGs. Indeed, at Cuckmere Haven the Germans managed to make a lodging beyond the water mark only after a frantic green gunner jammed his Bren and an ancient Vickers MG ate through all the scanty ammo it came with.
Nevertheless, after the assault boats and other small boats that unloaded men from the trawlers and fishing vessels, the barges began coming ashore. Some were blown up by mines, but only a few, given that the British minefields were definitely too thin. Several were beached on their side, having lost control in the final run; both unloading them, and moving them back to the sea to use them more than once would thus be very difficult. Many more landed on the wrong beach, on the wrong side of a river, at the wrong time, their formation having hopelessly spread out.
Things went from bad to worse at landing zone B, because a swarm of 14 MTBs from Harwich, London and Dover itself showed up just as the Germans finished landing the assault boats and the barges were approaching the beach. The main force had come down from Harwich, and had passed beyond the German S-Boote screen in darkness, without spotting each other. Now a battle erupted in daylight between these boats and the minesweepers, Vorpostenboote and armed trawlers. The action was fast and furious, and the British lost three torpedo boats, with several more badly damaged, then withdrawing towards the Thames with their tubes empty. But before leaving, they sank four of the escorts and seven small steamers, one of which, in the panic, trampled over a barge too.

Even so, by about 08:00, already late on schedule, the Germans had a foothold on all the beaches. Patrols of the 26. Infanteriedivision's vanguard were climbing the dunes West of Bexhill, having hit a weak spot; conversely, on two beaches of the landing zone D, most of the men ashore were dazed survivors, still pinned down by enemy fire. The other missions of the Brandeburgers (apart from the Dover disaster) were having mixed results. The attack against the British battery at Beachy Head was in progress, being delayed by defenses around it. The dash towards Folkestone and Dover was far from being carried out, as the Brandeburgers would only be the spearhead of it, and there's little to send along behind them. Elsewhere, they met with the Home Guard roadblocks. These would be a ridiculous obstacle to a tank, or even to anybody being able to call down artillery on them; but the Brandeburgers were commandos on light motorcycles, armed with their own small arms. They had to fight out classic light infantry actions to get rid of the problem. The Home Guard men were no match for the Brandeburgers at that, yet defeating them took time.
Meanwhile, plenty of barges were still milling around, and lots of them were aground, but not being unloaded yet. Loaded steamers were at anchor in front of the beaches. The faster-moving fishing boats and motorboats, that carried the very first assault teams, began their journey back.

At about this time, the paras of Kampfgruppe Stentzler fought out the usual skirmishes for gathering their armament canisters, and the more they got organized, the higher the losses for the Home Guard squads challenging their control of the hills. Kampfgruppe Meindl, on the other hand, was unable to secure the bridges over the Royal Military Canal because, well, they had been destroyed. In the area, patrols of paratroopers linked up with Brandeburger teams – in the sense that they could wave at each other over 20 meters of canal waters and the ruins of the bridges. A small but spirited fight was going on just out of Hythe, where part of a bridge did not fall due to faulty demolition.

A see-sawing aeronaval action was going on to the West of the Westernmost landing areas, and would go on for some time more. First, just after dawn, a couple of He 115s had spotted the Cardiff's flotilla (that light cruiser and 8 destroyers; other destroyers and torpedo boats had split away), tried to pin their torpedos in it, and got downed, but not without reporting the sighting. Then this force was engaged by part of the Western Stuka strike group, 34 Ju 87s escorted by 21 Bf 109s; the paltry flight of 6 Blenheims from #10 Group being unable to stop them. Luckily for the destroyers, it's harder to hit a fast warship taking evasive maneuvers at flank speed and firing its AA, than to hit a slow, unarmed and undefended coaler; but on the other hand, the Stukas were carrying some of the limited stock of new AP bombs Wever specifically requested for this very situation, and they concentrated on the Cardiff. So the first round ended with that light cruiser sinking after having taken six hits, and the old Branlebas limping towards home (and it would later be dispatched by a submarine before reaching a port), 3 Blenheims and 3 Stukas downed. But the remaining 7 destroyers were undeterred and pushed on, now some 30 minutes away from the first landing beach, so that the Kriegsmarine had to chip in. The force ratio was rather typical: the Germans had to make a brave attempt with 2 destroyers and 2 torpedo boats, so the Riedel and Lody, 20% of the total destroyer force available to Germany right now, were mortally wounded and would sink in a short while, together with the T2; the other torpedo boat turned tail. The Havelock was heavily damaged, but it would make it back to port. At this point, another German submarine tried at least to delay the threat to the highly vulnerable invasion armada, and the action was drifting South–West. Another German destroyer squadron was moving North-East to plug the gap.
Unfortunately for the Germans, this was only one of the three British flotillas moving West into the Channel at this time. Some more destroyers had maneuvered away from the Cardiff, and slightly behind there was the Revenge's real punch coming. Back in Plymouth, a reserve of five more destroyers was being prepared; two had a lower readiness, one had just had a minor failure, and two were just back from an escort mission.
The consequence of the Cardiff's sinking was that the Admiralty would soon stop asking politely for some fighter cover. They were now going to demand it, in quantity. The Revenge, anyway, being the one battleship in the Channel, already had a way more substantial CAP.

When the new German CAP arrived over the beaches, Park called Dowding. He was fairly sure these were only fighters, so the standing policy would be not to engage them; but they were temptingly few, so this could be a good occasion to give the Germans another bloody nose. Dowding, however, still was for the conservation of force. He only allowed two Squadrons to be scrambled from Northern bases and be kept ready, in case bombers arrived.
Bombers did arrive. Kesselring had correctly decided, a few days before, that the second and main parachute drop had to be accompanied by bomber raids, in order to draw defenses away. Only two of the Luftwaffe's forward "eyes" are currently operational. A ground FAC team was asking for support against an attack that is developing out of Brighton (a jumble of Home Guard platoons and elements of the 1st MMG Brigade); and a Hs 126 observer plane was desperately requesting the Dymchurch redoubt, which had already been pounded both by air attracks and naval bombardment, to be silenced. Another recon flight had been asking for support against the enemy resistance at Hythe, but was no longer transmitting. The Brighton tentative counterattack had to be dealt with by means of an on-call sortie, something the level bombers were basically unable of, so the Bf 110s were sent; the fortifications seemed to be targets already earmarked, so level bombers could do. Further level-bomber raids would be carried out against pre-selected targets to the North of the positions the landed troops have gained, and over Hythe. At the same time, the huge mission of some 300 Ju 52s, with close escort by some 100 Bf 109s and 110s, was to go in. They wouldn't be getting very far from the beaches, so the CAP shoul also have helped.
Unsurprisingly, the Germans failed at coordinating this grand effort. The sorties were flown, but over about an hour and a half. Park was free to react according to his true and tested staggered-parry tactics, and he committed, over this time, almost 200 between Hurricanes and Spitfires. From the North, Leigh-Mallory also sent in four Hurricane Squadrons and a dozen of Defiants, with the latter ignoring the enemy fighters and simply wading in through to the Ju 52s. When the first sighting confirmed the largest raid was made of the paratroop carriers, the British concentrated their efforts against it.
The end result was 14 Hurricanes, 7 Spitfires and 5 Defiants downed, on the one side; the other side lost 7 Bf 109s, 9 Bf 110s, 14 bombers and 29 Ju 52, with many more bombers and paratroop transports shot up and unusable until after repaired. It was worth observing that the German fighters were locally overwhelmed, even with the CAP adding up to the direct escort provided to individual missions.
On the ground, the first British counterattack was stymied; the Dymchurch fortifications were damaged again but not entirely silenced. Hythe was heavily damaged, but the resistance seemed to be going on and the German units in the area (mostly paratroopers in platoon strength, plus a Brandeburger platoon) began developing an outflanking move to the North of the town. Other target areas got hit, more or less accurately; on one occasion, even though the German bombers flew longitudinally along the coast, they managed to hurt a couple dozen of their own soldiers. As to the paradrop, it was badly disrupted. Those Fallschirmjäger who weren't killed in their seats got dropped just about anywhere. At least, several battalions were now on the ground, behind the enemy defenses; but, to be more accurate, several battalions' worth of dispersed men were on the ground. It would take them some time for them to be effective.

But the immediate problem the Germans faced was another. The naval engagements described above screened the 9 destroyers and 5 torpedo boats from Portsmouth that had not stayed with the Cardiff's flotilla. These skirted along the coast, slipped past the battle, and were by that time coming in sight of the smoke rising from the Rottingdean area, the Westernmost beach of landing zone E.
Looking very good...:D

Just one little point - I know the Home Guard were usuallu considered to be pretty hopeless, but if the Germans cant get artillery or tanks together they could be quite useful. They do have 2 advantages - many of them are veterans of the Great War, and they know the territory intimately. They could slow and disrupt infantry attacks considerably, and time is what the defenders need to get their counterattacks together. And the more the mess the Germans arrive in, the more this will work.
Looking very good...:D

Just one little point - I know the Home Guard were usuallu considered to be pretty hopeless, but if the Germans cant get artillery or tanks together they could be quite useful. They do have 2 advantages - many of them are veterans of the Great War, and they know the territory intimately. They could slow and disrupt infantry attacks considerably, and time is what the defenders need to get their counterattacks together. And the more the mess the Germans arrive in, the more this will work.
Yes, I'm aware of that, and there's already a hint at that in the description of the first engagements between the Brandeburger vanguard teams and the Home Guard roadblocks.

The Germans now had a foothold on the beaches, almost entirely gained by the assault parties and now held by unsupported infantry. It is therefore time to have a look at the problem of reinforcing and supplying these advance parties.
As a case study, the tanks of the D battalion can be enlightening. Tanks were among the highest priorities on the Heer's unloading list; being self-propelled and tracked, they were also easier to disembark than ammo crates or Kubelwagens. This battalion, in particular, had a key task, being expected to follow up the Brandeburg vanguard on the road to Folkestone and Dover from landing zone B.
Now, the plan assigned it 49 submersible or "swimming" tanks (more than a quarter of the total to be used with the first wave). Then one company was detached to the other end of the invasion area. Then, just 160 Tauchpanzer in all were available, meaning some 40 per battalion (there were 4 battalions), meaning this understrength battalion only had 32.
Then losses were taken. As mentioned above, 4 tanks were sunk in port by Bomber Command even before leaving. 4 more were in the night crossing (to a collision and to Royal Navy attacks). 2 Pz IIIs tried wading through a short distance in water, as they were expected to do, but something must have gone wrong either with their sealing or something else, because they flooded. They could probably have been retrieved at the tide's lowest, if the Germans had had time and manpower and equipment for that, but whether the engines would still work was a big question. One PzII, floating with its flotation hull, exploded; it probably hit a mine. Another had an engine breakdown (probably another case of leakage) and floated away in the current; it took a tugboat to push it ashore, and the crew then started trying to get the engine running again. A third one drifted past the mouth of the Military Canal, managed to reach the shore there, but at this time it was cornered near Hythe by the enemy and had to wait to be relieved by a crossing in force. Two more tanks were immobilized by enemy fire on the beach. Another had a malfunction, and would be repaired if and when spare parts were unoladed. Another one threw a track while crossing some improvised obstacle at the beach exit, and the crew then started trying to fix that. Another one was still in its barge at this time, which was aground with its side to the beach and a list to starboard so pronounced that trying to move the tank was impossible; it was retrieved and put to use only at the next high tide. Four panzers more were still on vessels and their unloading had been delayed for one reason or another. Two were unloaded successfully on the beach, but late. The tide was ebbing by then, and they were slowly making way across the wide, treacherous tidal muddy flats. Any attempt at driving them faster brought them dangerously close to bogging down in place.
So, by mid-morning, the tank force expected to lead the drive onto the all-important ports was made up of 8 tanks out of the 49 planned. Some of those not available at that time still joined the fray – later. Of course, those 8 tanks were still trapped on their side of the Military Canal.

The unloading of anything else save men and small arms, unsurprisingly, was not going any faster or better than the unloading of the tanks. It is now worth mentioning that the Germans had not come up with a position comparable to the Allies' "beachmaster". It was not altogether clear who was in charge to decide what, how, when and in what order to unload. The Kriegsmarine personnel had their ideas, but they were mostly interested in moving away from the beaches as soon as possible. In any case, they expected the army men to do the heavy lifting involved. The Heer officers, on their part, expected their ammo to be handed over to them on firm ground, and at the same time they were totally concentrated on sending inland as many men as possible as fast as possible. Quarrels followed.

But if the Germans were experiencing logistical problems, the enemy in front of them was also becoming more of a nuisance. For instance, vanguard elements of the advance party of the 38. Infanterieregiment advanced beyond the beach and into the line held by the 6th Shropshire Light Infantry, where they faced the latter's toy train. Well, it looked a toy because of the size. But the wagons are armored and sport old Lewis MGs and not-so-old Boys ATRs. The Germans were stopped. Taking that absurdity under mortar fire would probably have been enough, if only they had any mortars already available to fire. So this pocket armored train was another request for the Luftwaffe to take care of.
Back in London, General Brooke had a fairly clear picture of what was happening. The German air bombings notwithstanding, his communications network was providing his HQ with even too many reports. Very soon, he was going to have to decide whether to start moving reserves. He had to be wary of possible further landings, as the Germans had certainly not employed all of their sealift capability. So, for the time being, he only allowed local adjustments by units already in contact: for instance, the 1st MMG Brigade was ordered to contain the enemy and not to launch other unsupported counterattacks, and the 1st London Rifle Brigade was ordered to take up prepared positions astride the road to Folkestone. The sizable reserves Brooke was holding back were only ordered to prepare for movement, and start concentrating close to pre-selected railway yards. There was one exception, however: Brooke ordered just one of its reserves, the New Zealand reaction force, to move. The so-called Milforce was made up of an infantry brigade, an attached artillery battalion, the divisional cavalry mounted on its MkVIB light tanks, and the attached 8th RTR battalion, with its Matildas. These units started concentrating at Ashford, to move South-East in a short time; the sparse Fallschirmjäger outposts were no more than some 10 kms away in that direction.

Pressing requests for air support were crowding Kesselring's operation room's table. He had obtained to have a Heer liaison officer from both the 16. and 9. Armeen at his HQ, who gave him faster access to situation reports and requests, but now the two officers were vying for his bombers. Sending bombers, actually, would have been no problem, he had plenty which had not been used save in the night; but he had too few fighters. The main issue with fighters, until now, wasn't the number of airframes available; they had taken light losses, actually, to his mild surprise. But the issue was the number of sorties. A sizable proportion of his pilots had already flown two missions, and the day was far from over. While he weighed his options, he consoled himself by thinking the enemy had the same difficulty.
Unfortunately for him, he was not entirely right.
He had been painstakingly studying intel reports; he knew a lot about damage done on the ground and had a fairly accurate, if still overblown, estimate of British fighter aircraft losses. But even if his intel reports as to the functioning of the British training schools were somewhat accurate, they were still falling short. The British training system had been churning out many more pilots than the German one. On top of those, a British pilot who parachuted out of a lost aircraft had fair chances of going back to his unit, not so for a German one in the same predicament. As a consequence, unbeknown to Kesselring, the British had a shortage of aircraft, and a shortage of veteran pilots – but not a shortage of pilots in general. And when it came to veteran status, it's not as if the Luftwaffe's pilots were all experienced.
So, by way of comparison, on S-Day #66 Squadron only had 10 serviceable Spitfires, while I./JG 26 had 20 serviceable Bf 109s. If one looks at these figures alone, which would be a reasonable thing to do for assessing these units' strength over a normal cycle of operations, the German unit would be considered as twice as strong as the British one. But, on that same day, #66 Squadron had 19 pilots, and I./JG 26 has 21. Now, during a surge like the one going on that day, the point isn't the number of aircraft, the point is the number of sorties. And while the fighters' mechanical limitations played a role, the pilots' physical exhaustion would set in first. In these terms, the numerical advantage of I./JG 26 was very small.
On the other side of the Channel, Dowding was aware the Squadrons could rotate the pilots if the need arose, as it would. Of course some of those pilots were young trainees, or had little experience; but on balance, he thought that by applying this system, over a day or two they would be less tired than their German counterparts. Only time was going to tell if this could make a difference.

The German fighter and dive-bomber pilots didn't look tired at all to the British airmen and sailors facing them right then, some twenty miles South of Worthing, in a large and important battle. The Revenge flotilla and the 6 destroyers that were the survivors of the Cardiff's force came under air attack, almost simultaneously, by the balance of the Western Stuka group, with 71 Stukas escorted by 59 fighters. A flight of 23 Stukas of II./StG 2, having taken off from a distant base, almost attacked a German destroyer formation by mistake; they aborted the strike at the last second, but by then they had not enough fuel to look for the right targets.
The British wanted to prevent another outcome like the Cardiff's, and the Revenge was protected by two Squadrons, with more being scrambled as the Worth Matravers radar station picked the unmistakable tracks up. The other 6 destroyers, led by the Saladin, were less well off with just one understrength Squadron.
The engagement quickly became chaotic, with the vessel breaking formation and running away, preferably to the South-West, which meant away from the confines of the coast and of shallower waters, but also away from the landing areas. The Stukas hunted the ships and the British fighters hunted the Stukas and the German fighters hunted the British ones; once the whole air dogfight reached low altitude (since the Stukas were, well, diving), the new wave of British fighters hunted from above both the Stukas and the Bf 109s, bouncing them and pinning them against the sea. The ships' AA guns added sound and fury and the occasional hit.
At the end of the battle, the Revenge had been hit six times; its speed was down to 15 knots, its aft turret wasn't working any more and its stern end was shrouded in smoke. The Emerald, a cruiser, and the Sardonyx, a destroyer of the Portsmouth force, were sinking; and a small Dutch destroyer, the Bouclier, had already gone below, having had the misfortune of swallowing not just a bomb but also the Stuka that was carrying it. The other cruiser, the Newcastle, and all the other destroyers were untouched for the time being. The British also lost 3 Hurricanes (one probably to friendly fire). On the other side, the Germans lost 14 Ju 87s and 6 fighters; 9 more dive bombers were damaged, which was way more important now than in a prolonged campaign.
Sperrle was elated; his reports said the British battleship is sinking, together with several other warships. The Stukas' losses were very heavy at about 19%, but that price could be paid if the result was swift and decisive, as it seemed it might be.
The battle was not over, however, even though the Stukas withdrew for the time being, because in all the maneuvering some of the British ships moved over a group of three German submarines waiting for just such an opportunity. Another destroyer, the Vansittart, took two torpedoes and sank, with two more evading the torpedoes thanks to luck and their engine's acceleration capability. The U-Boote showed their hand by this attack, of course, and one was quickly sunk, with the others driven away towards the French coast.
By the end of the morning, both British formations resumed their dogged, and now slower, advance towards the invasion beaches.

They would't be the first there, though. The other half of the Portsmouth flotilla, 9 destroyers and 5 TBs that skirted along the coast, slipping past these battles, were coming onto the Westernmost landing beach. The light direct escort vessels moved to interpose themselves and defend the vulnerable transports. This was rather one-sided; the German Vorpostenboote, minesweepers and other armed vessels had a few 105mm guns and a number of 88mms, all without fire direction, on slow, mostly civilian-construction boats. Many had already expended lots of their ammo in the night and against coastal targets. The only advantage was in numbers, with over 50 boats swarming towards the British.
The destroyers sank 19 of them and pepper many more, taking limited damage on three of theirs. At this point, however, having heard the distress calls, 2 German destroyers and 3 TBs joined the fray from the South.
The British were pinned against the coast, with enemies on two other sides. The evasive maneuvers that an exchange of torpedoes required could only take place to the West, away from the Germans' floating depot. This was a classic small-vessel naval engagement, with almost no air interference (towards the end of the action, a couple of Bf 109s from the CAP strafed the British ships of their own initiative). The initial attack by the Ihn and the Galster was successful, sinking one British destroyer and crippling another; after that, however, the numbers became telling. The British lost a torpedo boat, but sank every enemy vessel of this force save the Ihn. This destroyer withdrew with it superstructure on fire, and would later be sunk by a mine, probably a German one.
The British, with several warships damaged, their ammo stores depleted, and the threat of air attack, did not resume the attack; they reluctantly asked permission to disengage towards Portsmouth. The landing flotilla had not been involved in the battle.
When, some time later, Raeder was updated about the naval losses this far, he was furious. He phoned Wever, Jodl and Halder. The Luftwaffe was not maintaining its promise to keep the Royal Navy off of his back. His few destroyers were sacrificing themselves one after another, and if the Luftwaffe didn't improve its performance very soon, the whole invasion fleet would be at risk.

At about the same time, Bomber Command made its first attempt. 18 Battles arrived low over Rottingdean, while, almost at the same time, 23 Blenheims attacked the Cuckmere Haven from a reasonable height. The idea was that the Bf 109s couldn't attack both. Indeed, they did not; the German fighters engaged the Blenheims, leaving the low-flying intruders jump into a cloud of AA fire. If there was a gun the light German vessels had in numbers, it was the 2cm FlAK. The Blenheims damaged some of the stores piled up on the beach, while the Battles achieved little if anything; the British lost 8 bombers. It has to be said the Bf 109s had just arrived for their CAP turn, and they had to go back straight away. The turnover was definitely too quick.

Turning again to the situation on land, there weren't just bad news for the Germans. Several batteries, including the one on Beachy Head and the Dymchurch redoubt, had been stormed in classic WWI style (which also meant the assaulting parties took whopping casualties and were now no longer combatworthy units); most of the fortifications were not firing any more. The fall of Beachy Head took away its CHL station, too; Pevensey (a CH station) was disconnected from the network after the morning bombing cut all of its lines, Poling had been destroyed by the commando raid, and Fairlight (CHL) was now under attack by a German vanguard, while Rye (CH) was clearly at risk. Fortunately, Truleigh, Dover and Dunkirk were still operational and not directly threatened, but once Rye fell, the hole in the radar network would be large and no longer repairable.
The German engineers were trying to find a solution to the Military Canal problem. They had three small teams at work. One was fitting a footbridge over the remains of an incompletely demolished bridge near Hythe; motorcyles would be able to use it, too. Another one was at work on fording ramps; the Pz IIs could keep their flotation hulls and swim across the canal just like they came ashore, and the Pz IIIs could probably wade through, hoping that the bottom was not too treacherous. A third one, working together with the sailors, was trying to bring a few barges up into the canal's mouth. They could be used to create a pontoon bridge. All of these efforts looked promising, but none would bear fruit before late afternoon. The dash to Folkestone and Dover was replaced, for the time being, by infantry skirmishes at the vanguard, as the Brandeburgers and some infantry that joined them were removing light Home Guard opposition and closing towards the 1st London Infantry Division's line before Folkestone.
The paratroopers were not faring bad. Their perimeter was consolidating and expanding to the South-East and South-West; where they advanced, they only met with light resistance for the time being. Indeed, they easily took the Sene golf course, where their equipment would arrive in the afternoon with the gliders. The fight had been briskier around the Lympne airfield, but it having been abandoned for some time, the RAF garrison there was small and the Germans overcame it.
The bad news arrived when a Leutnant strolled on the airstrips to assess how long would it take to fill up the few bomb holes. He tripped into an anti-personnel mine, whose purpose actually was to set off a well-buried aerial bomb. The Leutnant had just made another crater, and larger than all the others. The British had taken their precautions, and preparing this airfield for the 22. Luftlande Division was not going to be as easy as the Leutnant thought a few moments before dying.

At about 12:00, the Revenge reported that it would be able to engage the enemy West of Brighton within an hour.
Basically, being repaired after Norway. Those that weren't sunk....:)
Which is why they only have around 10 destroyers available.
Narvik in particular was a catastrophe for the German Navy

I think the Emden is available, not sure if anything else is.
May I ask where the capital units of the German Navy are?
Sure you can!

The Bismarck is on sea trials.
The Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Lützow are under repairs after being torpedoed (all by the Royal Navy, IIRC).
The Scheer is working up after major modifications.

The Hipper, Emden, Köln and Nürnberg, together with the training ship Bremse, a handful of obsolete torpedo boats and torpedo boat flotilla leaders are being used for the diversionary maneuver in the North Sea, Operation Herbstreise (Autumn journey). They are escorting some 8 cargo ships and 4 fast liners. They'll be turning back after having, hopefully, distracted the Home Fleet, to the exception of the Hipper which is to carry out a surface raiding mission if it can break out. This part is briefly touched upon in the next post(s). It's not something that only happens in this ATL; it's the OTL German plan.
Sure you can!

The Bismarck is on sea trials.
The Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Lützow are under repairs after being torpedoed (all by the Royal Navy, IIRC).
The Scheer is working up after major modifications.

The Hipper, Emden, Köln and Nürnberg, together with the training ship Bremse, a handful of obsolete torpedo boats and torpedo boat flotilla leaders are being used for the diversionary maneuver in the North Sea, Operation Herbstreise (Autumn journey). They are escorting some 8 cargo ships and 4 fast liners. They'll be turning back after having, hopefully, distracted the Home Fleet, to the exception of the Hipper which is to carry out a surface raiding mission if it can break out. This part is briefly touched upon in the next post(s). It's not something that only happens in this ATL; it's the OTL German plan.
Had they fixed the Emden by now? She was damaged by Norwegian coastal batteries, but not sure when she was fixed.

Distracting the Home fleet is fairly pointless, of course, as the RAF is still going - its not battleships they need in the channel right now.

One question, though. What are the FAA doing? While it doesnt make sense to send a carrier down south, it WOULD make sense to send the air wing down on antiship and aircraft duties. Or are they all tied up in the decoy? (In which case, that decoy could get more costly than expected...)