British invasion of Denmark at start of WW1

I'll admit this one is a bit of a stretch because historically the British were ostensibly intervening due to German violation of Belgian neutrality. However, the British did specifically have a distant history of violating Danish neutrality (see "Copenhagening") and at least contemplated with the idea in OTL (the Baltic Plan during the first world war, and pre-war proposals to land Russian armies in Pomerania) so I think it's vaguely plausible. I believe at the start of the war the Danes had not yet laid defensive minefields and German armies were mostly busy fighting a two front war, so there's a narrow window for BEF formations to occupy key defensible locations like Zealand before the German armies rush into Jutland. Presumably such an operation would have to be covered closely by the Grand Fleet at least initially, exposing it to losses by submarine and torpedo boat attack, but if the Royal Navy does gain a port to operate out of such as Copenhagen they have a very advanced base to strike at German bases in Kiel with their own light forces.

How do the French do without the BEF at Mons and the battle of Marne? How do the Germans react to what is essentially a third front? What does Sweden do?
 
How quickly can the British get the necessary shipping ready to move a large chunk of the BEF at once? This would also likely result in a 1914 Jutland since anything less than the GF covering the convoys would be suicide for the Brits and I imagine the Germans won't like the idea of British troops in Denmark.
 
How quickly can the British get the necessary shipping ready to move a large chunk of the BEF at once? This would also likely result in a 1914 Jutland since anything less than the GF covering the convoys would be suicide for the Brits and I imagine the Germans won't like the idea of British troops in Denmark.

I mean they seem to have gotten across the English Channel fairly quickly so that's one possible source of shipping. I wonder if another option is simply putting soldiers directly on warships, the same way Blücher and other warships carried soldiers in the WW2 invasion of Norway. I think the real test of the Grand Fleet would not be in the initial landings, but covering the inevitable resupply convoys.
 
I mean they seem to have gotten across the English Channel fairly quickly so that's one possible source of shipping. I wonder if another option is simply putting soldiers directly on warships, the same way Blücher and other warships carried soldiers in the WW2 invasion of Norway. I think the real test of the Grand Fleet would not be in the initial landings, but covering the inevitable resupply convoys.
The channel is 1) Far narrower allowing for more trips per boat compared to Denmark so you either ship less overall, take more time to move troops or have to pull transports from elsewhere (such as those bringing supplies to UK) and 2) landing in friendly ports not hostile ones. 3) Also requires extended deployment of the RN so you burn through coal and oil reserves faster. Is it doable, initially yes, is it a good idea. Not in the slightest

Also how much of the BEF are you looking to have go on this operation? The forces that OTL deployed to France? And absent the BEF in France and Belgium those fronts are going to go worse, you will not slow the Germans at the Mons so there is an army that is fresh and now wheeling into the flank of the French 5th. Even with some German units being pulled from the Frontiers to compose an army to oppose the BEF in Denmark the French are going to be in a worse position.
 
Unlike the Turks at Gallipoli, The German's will have the ability to crush the British beach head on the Jutland with relative ease.

You'd also be handing the Danish navy and the straits over to the Germans, and possibly putting Sweden even further in the Central Powers camp.

Nothing good can come out of this for Great Britain.
 
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It'd make more sense to run through the straits, meet up with the Russian fleet sailing from the East, occupy Copenhagen and the Danish islands to protect the BEF from the German army, and force a battle with the German navy in the Baltic.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Unlike the Turks at Gallipoli, The German's will have the ability to crush the British beach head with relative ease.

You'd also be handing the Danish navy and the straits over to the Germans, and possibly putting Sweden even further in the Central Powers camp.

Nothing good can come out of this for Great Britain.
The effect on the USA of Britain carrying out an invasion of a neutral nation i.e. doing exactly what the Germans did in Belgium, will be huge. Propaganda score draw.

I also agree with previous posters that the real problem for the RN will be having enough ships to protect the supply lines as well as the beachhead and having enough left over to handle the inevitable HSF sorties. The latter will benefit from having their short-range small TB's available on their own doorstep.

The British Army will have to cover a frontage of at least 40 miles, possibly 90, if they land on the Jutland peninsula to seal off the Danes from German support, and that line would have a second front covering the Danish Army. Best invade the islands then, although that frees up Jutland for the Germans to garrison, which increases problems for the sea lines of communication with the landing beaches.

Really, about as good an idea for the Allies as Essen's attempt to attack Sweden.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
It'd make more sense to run through the straits, meet up with the Russian fleet sailing from the East, occupy Copenhagen and the Danish islands to protect the BEF from the German army, and force a battle with the German navy in the Baltic.
Coordinating actions with the Russian Fleet would be "interesting" at least. Let's hope they can agree on a common calendar!
 
It is not just an issue of the RN having the ships to cover, it is having the ships active. Ships need to go into maintenance and refit, and with the GSF on constant activity (and unsure how well Copenhagen can support them) if they ever pull the GSF back the HSF is going to sweep any light elements left behind which basically forces the GSF to stay on station away from their facilities.
 
I'll admit this one is a bit of a stretch because historically the British were ostensibly intervening due to German violation of Belgian neutrality.
no it isn't.
I mean it's a stretch because it's an idiotic idea, but it's not a stretch because of any sort of compunctions - The sole difference between the UK and everyone else is PR.
If they had thought it a good idea, they would have done it.
 
From a strength point of view the British Army was quite weak at the beginning of the war and I doubt that it would have the capability to invade Denmark and then defend it against any German Response.

The BEF in most of 1914 comprised no more than 5 or 6 Regular Divisions and not all until towards the end of the year with some being retained as an anti invasion force and some having to wait while regular battalions returned from the various imperial garrisons around the world (replaced with TA or other imperial forces).

So such a force invading Denmark would very likely have to involve only 3 odd Divisions and this would obviously prevent the BEF being involved in the early pivotal battles up to the Race to the Sea in France and their absence might very well prove the difference.

So from this issue alone its a no from me.
 
Also how much of the BEF are you looking to have go on this operation? The forces that OTL deployed to France?

Probably most of it. IIRC the BEF was 4 divisions plus a little extra in August 1914. When Germany occupied Denmark in 1940, they devoted 2 divisions, but they were doing it under more favorable circumstances, so doubling the forces involved seems like a starting point if the British want to do it.


2) landing in friendly ports not hostile ones.

Point well taken, but I’m curious how much resistance the Danes would offer. If a Royal Navy squadron shows up at dawn and the ambassador hands them a note telling them to surrender Copenhagen’s fortifications or the city gets bombarded, what do the Danes do? The 1940 Danes folded, but the 1914 Belgians fought. However, even if the 1914 Danes do fight, do they even have the ability to hold off an amphibious landing until the Hochseeflotte arrives? Worst case for Britain is a failure like the attempts to force the Gallipoli narrows: mission failure with multiple large ships sunk due to mines and coastal artillery. But best case is like what happened for the Germans in 1914: Danes surrender by noon, and their ports become bases for further operations.

The German's will have the ability to crush the British beach head on the Jutland with relative ease..

I think you’re actually right so I don’t think the British would devote most their attention to Jutland. What the British care about the most is command of the Danish straights, which means Zealand (with the large port of Copenhagen and potential command of at least the Oresund) is the real priority. Funen is probably a priority too because of its position on the Great Belt. These are conveniently islands with a defensive advantage. If objectives in Jutland are included at all, (IMO) the safest options are landings in the North Jutlandic island to neutralize the port of Aalborg and establish a defensive line along the Limfjord.

You'd also be handing the Danish navy

I don’t think the Danes had a navy that was worth much. Some obsolete coastal defense ships and a handful of torpedo boats maybe?


The effect on the USA of Britain carrying out an invasion of a neutral nation i.e. doing exactly what the Germans did in Belgium, will be huge. Propaganda score draw.

I think propaganda is worth something, but in 1914 American intervention is a long ways away.

The latter will benefit from having their short-range small TB's available on their own doorstep

If (and this is the if that the operation hinges on) the British take Copenhagen as the opening move of the campaign, the Royal Navy will also have a location for their light forces to coal in-theatre.


It is not just an issue of the RN having the ships to cover, it is having the ships active. Ships need to go into maintenance and refit, and with the GSF on constant activity (and unsure how well Copenhagen can support them) if they ever pull the GSF back the HSF is going to sweep any light elements left behind which basically forces the GSF to stay on station away from their facilities.

I think you’re right that the Grand Fleet proper would not operate out of Copenhagen. But substantial light forces could. As long as there’s some fortifications to hide behind, those Royal Navy forces aren’t going to get swept away any more than Goeben did(n’t) at Gallipoli.
 
Perhaps they could use the Frisian Islands as a jumping off point to invade Germany itself.
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However, even if the 1914 Danes do fight, do they even have the ability to hold off an amphibious landing until the Hochseeflotte arrives?
What matters is how long they can hold out against the Heer.
Which is what would determine Danish policy more than anything else.
The second the BEF sets foot on Danish soil, Denmark can either be liberated or invaded by Germany, one option is clearly preferable.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
no it isn't.
I mean it's a stretch because it's an idiotic idea, but it's not a stretch because of any sort of compunctions - The sole difference between the UK and everyone else is PR.
If they had thought it a good idea, they would have done it.
It should be noted that Britain & France had few, if any, compunctions regarding beaching neutrality when they occupied Salonika and threatened to bombard Athens in 1915.
 
I think you’re right that the Grand Fleet proper would not operate out of Copenhagen. But substantial light forces could. As long as there’s some fortifications to hide behind, those Royal Navy forces aren’t going to get swept away any more than Goeben did(n’t) at Gallipoli.
Except that here the fortifications are under direct land threat from a German army along with parts of the Danish army (though that is only 100k or so but the BEF is only 250k or so in 1914). Also UK will have to keep a constant supply of parts and fuel to Copenhagen to mantain any forces there and a sorties by the HSF when the GF is back at Scappa combined with a ground attack is going to have quite a bit of time before the GSF can get back. At which point you are trapping whatever light forces are remaining behind. You also need to pour a lot of resources into making sure the port can support light forces as well as expand the defenses (and that is going to be costal artillery they have to wrench away from home defense). If the Danes cant stop the GSF with existing fort levels the British will need to bring in and work on the fortifications themselves.
Probably most of it. IIRC the BEF was 4 divisions plus a little extra in August 1914. When Germany occupied Denmark in 1940, they devoted 2 divisions, but they were doing it under more favorable circumstances, so doubling the forces involved seems like a starting point if the British want to do it.
So you are looking at the 4 divisions deployed OTL which were deployed in pieces as opposed to needing to hold the shipping to move the divisions and there equipment and supplies in one go so it is not going to be at war start as that will take time to assemble the BEF, shipping and the fleet.

Point well taken, but I’m curious how much resistance the Danes would offer. If a Royal Navy squadron shows up at dawn and the ambassador hands them a note telling them to surrender Copenhagen’s fortifications or the city gets bombarded, what do the Danes do? The 1940 Danes folded, but the 1914 Belgians fought. However, even if the 1914 Danes do fight, do they even have the ability to hold off an amphibious landing until the Hochseeflotte arrives? Worst case for Britain is a failure like the attempts to force the Gallipoli narrows: mission failure with multiple large ships sunk due to mines and coastal artillery. But best case is like what happened for the Germans in 1914: Danes surrender by noon, and their ports become bases for further operations.
Well the Germans started mining early (August 4th or 5th for the first mines) to pressure the Danes to mine the straights and without the BEF assembled the British can't control a city from the sea alone, at that point you are asking for HSF sorties to attack you while your force is stationary at which point Copenhagen is liberated and the Germans score some easy PR. So by the time you assemble a force that can hold on land parts of the minefield is going to be laid down. As for holding out it depends on 1) if the Germans detect the invasion force with scouts and 2) how long they give the Danes to comply. From my limited look at the Danish fortifications I don't think those can hold out but depending on how much of the minefield is down things can get interesting. More so since you are looking at night naval battles as well.
 
It should be noted that Britain & France had few, if any, compunctions regarding beaching neutrality when they occupied Salonika and threatened to bombard Athens in 1915.

Yeah but who cares about Greece.

Seriously, northern European countries tended to get more clout for whatever reason. Don’t think Americans thought anything if it.
 
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