If Sealion was impossible, what were the British so worried about?

The status of the British Army after Dynamo and Ariel is well known. Out of twelve "Class A" divisional equipment sets in Britain, ten had been sent to France and lost there and the other two were only saved because they hadn't gone to France yet. The two dozen divisions in Britain preparing to defend against the German invasion were poorly equipped, and the militias in an even worse state. Improvised anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles were common even among regular troops. Chemical weapons had been distributed to airfields for use against the invasion beaches. Obstacles and demolitions had been prepared across the South East, and large amounts of infrastructure had already been disassembled by the time the Luftwaffe abandoned the Battle of Britain.

Despite these issues with the British Army, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy were still thoroughly effective and modern fighting organizations. The RAF was seriously threatened by the Luftwaffe offensive through July, August, and September. The RN, on the other hand, still maintained some of the most capable naval forces in the world defending the Home Isles, and there was no comparable German fleet to bring the British to heel. Bismark had been sunk in May and the Twins were both in drydock recovering from Norway, where a quarter of the German surface fleet had been lost, mostly to the RN.

If the anti-invasion workup on the ground during the Battle of Britain had been mostly political maneuvering by the new Churchill government, as is often posited and as is seemingly supported by the transfer of 150 tanks to Egypt at the height of the crisis, why did Churchill also order such a risky operation as the transfer of British gold reserves to Canada?

Fundamentally, what were the British looking at that told them that the Germans had a chance of success? Was there a sense of German invincibility on the ground after the invasions of Poland and France when Norway and the Netherlands told different stories about the German navy and air forces? Were there fears that the Luftwaffe could keep the Royal Navy out of the Channel long enough to get tanks and supplies across? Did Churchill think that Parliament might force him to surrender the instant German forces landed instead of letting the Army fight it out in the South East?
 
It's not so much that the German could take over the British Isles if they landed, but about the damage they could do in the process of trying. The Brits had to endure bombing raids and (relatively) minor infrastructure damage and could keep the will to fight.

The Brits would have to fight on home territory, not having done so for centuries (I'm not counting the Jacobites here) and that could have a heavy blow on morale.
 
Well, IIRC, part of it is that at the time, few people really understood the thorny logistical problems involved with such an audacious amphibious invasion.
 
Shock, no one had expected the Germans to be able to conquer France in 6 weeks so to many it looked like they could do anything. Once people had time to catch their breath and think a more realistic assessment of the chances of a successful German landing was possible.
 
People were also worried the Japanese would invade Hawaii, Ceylon, and Madagascar and maybe even the west coast of the United States. People were also genuinely concerned about a German-Japanese link up somewhere in Central Asia or the Middle East. As others said, given the rapid success the Germans and Japanese enjoyed in the early stages of the conflicts in Europe and the Pacific they looked invincible to some.
 
Also, even if in retrospect German Victory was impossible, and the British military wonks at the time knew it was impossible, all the fighting still had to happen. There was no way Japan could defeat the US in World War 2, but a lot of folks had to die and a lot of stuff got blown up before the matter was resolved.
 
...Fundamentally, what were the British looking at that told them that the Germans had a chance of success? Was there a sense of German invincibility on the ground after the invasions of Poland and France when Norway and the Netherlands told different stories about the German navy and air forces? Were there fears that the Luftwaffe could keep the Royal Navy out of the Channel long enough to get tanks and supplies across? Did Churchill think that Parliament might force him to surrender the instant German forces landed instead of letting the Army fight it out in the South East?
Fog of war.
The British didn't know the exact extent of German capabilities - the British just knew that they kept getting thoroughly beaten by them, getting drubbed in Norway, despite the fact that that was mostly an amphibious invasion in the initial stages and Britain supposedly had a better navy, and then being outmanoeuvred and beaten again in France and Belgium.
 
Fundamentally, what were the British looking at that told them that the Germans had a chance of success? Was there a sense of German invincibility on the ground after the invasions of Poland and France when Norway and the Netherlands told different stories about the German navy and air forces? Were there fears that the Luftwaffe could keep the Royal Navy out of the Channel long enough to get tanks and supplies across? Did Churchill think that Parliament might force him to surrender the instant German forces landed instead of letting the Army fight it out in the South East?
No one knew for sure that the RAF would had prevailed.
 
When you're in the heat of war, especially with an enemy who's so close to your homeland, you'd be smart to not take chances.
 
Bismark had been sunk in May...
1941, not 1940. Of cause, that said Bismark was still working up and running trials during the plausible timeframe for Seelowe so doesn't make much difference.

why did Churchill also order such a risky operation as the transfer of British gold reserves to Canada?
Much of that gold was gonna be spent in the US anyway. So sending it somewhere closer to it's likely long term destination and safe should the highly unlikely worst case happen does make sense.
 
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Shock, no one had expected the Germans to be able to conquer France in 6 weeks so to many it looked like they could do anything. Once people had time to catch their breath and think a more realistic assessment of the chances of a successful German landing was possible.
This. It's basic psychology, prior to Fall Gelb the British seriously underestimated German military capacity, after France and Norway, two successes that by 1939 British assessments were impossible the British naturally revised their opinions of German capabilities but swung the other way and overestimated German capabilities.
 
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Maybe there was also some overacting? as said before the fight had to be done, and to get dominions and over all us support and involvement there was the need to transmit that the situation was even more serious than it was....
 
Nazi Germany had rolled over everyone from Poland to France in a stunning series of away wins. The early favorites France had been crushed because their old fashioned WM tactics, elderly management and demotivated players had no answer to the military tika takka of a modern, high press, blitzkreig system. This meant we had no European allies left and only plucky Britain was left for the Nazi machine to knock over before they could be crowned champions of Europe for the 1939/1940 season. At Dunkirk ( played on neutral ground due to crowd trouble) we had lost the first leg but we did not do so as badly as the pundits predicted and luckily, as it turned out, we had scored a crucial away goal but with a squad depleted by injuries and captures it looked unlikely we could overturn the deficit on home ground.

It turned out that the coaching and management of the Nazi team was not quite as good as we thought and that their system of play was suspect at best........................


Honestly: people at the time ( especially but not limited to normal people) did not have the benefit of hindsight or access to the complete strategic picture, the complete Nazi order of battle, the competence or otherwise of the Nazi invasion plans, access to Nazi stores and logistics records, accurate intelligence on the make up of the nazi military, know that the Battle of Britain would be won or really have had time to asses why the recent blitzkrieg approach had been, apparently, so successful and how to counter it. It looked like the Nazi war machine would crush anyone in their way and we were next.

I get, entirely, why people were worried!
 
If you ask the question correctly, it answers itself.

If we know now that Sealion was impossible, what were the British so worried about at the time?

See what I mean.
 
If we know now that Sealion was impossible, what were the British so worried about at the time?
Agree! that is the wording of the question that is often missed here. People focus on what we know now rather than was was known ( or assumed) and felt at the time.
 
The uk had a perfect knowledge of german naval assets and they had inflicted heavy losses on the kriegsmarina in the norway battle, so I guess they didn't need a lot of hindsight to know that the threat was limited on that point. Of course, maybe there was no such insight regarding the possibilities of the luftwaffe gaining air superiority and to what extent this could upgrade german possibilities in the cross channel?
 
Well, IIRC, part of it is that at the time, few people really understood the thorny logistical problems involved with such an audacious amphibious invasion.
Much of the general populace felt the German's would invade. I've spoken with a number about this and it seems to have been the general trend. Of course when I spoke to them many years later they knew it could never happen BUT AT THE TIME that wasn't known.
 
Part of the reason Sealion was impossible is because the British took precautions to ensure that it would not be possible.
 
Much of the general populace felt the German's would invade. I've spoken with a number about this and it seems to have been the general trend. Of course when I spoke to them many years later they knew it could never happen BUT AT THE TIME that wasn't known.
of course the populace was frightened, but key point here is what was thought at top level. I read in wages of destruction that when churchill sent cripps to talk to stalin in july 40 to make him see that with his agreement with hitler he had completely broken european balance of power, stalin replied that he saw it more balanced at that point thsn before and somehow recommended cripps to keep calm because Germany clearly lacked the seapower to do anything to the uk...
 
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