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

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!
Indeed. One can make the same argument about the Germans. Why on earth did they start all that, given there was no way they could win?

Further, The British had to rebuild their forces regardless, whether it was for defense or offense.
 
One thing to remember is that the British people are just that , people. As such they are as vulnerable as anyone else to fear. It is one thing for us to coolly estimate the odds, nearly 80 years later and another to do so when it is YOUR son or husband who has just been killed in France or bombs are dropping bombs on your head.
 
And don't forget the shock caused by the german paratrooper assaults in the Dutch/Belgian campaign. Even amongst higher ranks, some were concerned about massed airborne assaults.
 
Lots of what is described as worry was the general public and measures to reassure them. It has to be noted it was in Britain's interest to appear weaker/more desperate than it was ( rather cynically either to get the Germans to launch Sealion so it could be crushed or increase the chance of the US getting more involved ). Let's also remember during the Battle of Britain , North Africa was getting reinforced by armored troops from Britain so there was not that much real belief by those who were making the decisions of an invasion being practical.
A lot of the Home Guard stuff does seem to be for morale purposes and to foster a "all doing their bit" image. Stuff was done for Newsreels, the Ministry of Information was not that far behind Gobbels on the PR front
 
Also it was something new so the Generals had no idea how to combat such attacks and deal with the fact they could be launched anywhere.
Yes, which increased the worry. Even Germany overestimated their abilities, which lead to the near-disaster of Crete...
 
the Ministry of Information was not that far behind Gobbels on the PR front
The Ministry of Information was a long way ahead of Goebbels on the PR front. Considering both the success of Britain in getting international sympathy, aid and support versus Germany and fact that Britain didn't need a Gestapo to keep the population firmly behind the government.
 
Sealion was impossible. River boats going through a standing Royal Navy without naval and air superiority was impossible. The idea of an invasion of Britain in itself was not impossible. The British did not know what preperations or plans the Germans had for an invasion.
 
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Sealion was impossible. River boats going through a standing Royal Navy without naval and air superiority was impossible.
Prior to the Battle of Britain the R.A.F was perceived as having utterly failed to protect the B.E.F, the primary RAF assets for attacking any German landing and supply convoys (the light bombers) had been hacked from the sky in France, the Luftwaffe and in particular the Stuka's had gained a vastly overblown reputation so there were grave doubts about the RN being able to interfere with an invasion (in daylight). We now know the true capabilities of both air forces to interfere in any naval action in the channel, in 1940 they didn't. In truth the skies would have been neutral which would have ensured the defeat of any German invasion attempt before it reached England.
 
The impossibility of sealion is seen today through the lenses of hindsight, in 194 the German's had run through Poland in weeks and had conquered the Holland, Belgium and France in six weeks and ignominiously sent the BEF home via Dunkirk. So in June/July the possible invasion of the UK by the all conquering irresistible German army was an all to viable reality to the British government and people. The feat of subduing the unconquerable fort Eben Ebenal in just hours by air assault negated the historical invulnerability of the English Moat.
 
The victory of the RAF was not a certainty, nor was the survivability of the Royal Navy if Germany had near total air superiority. A Royal Navy that couldn't fight in the Channel wouldn't be much good against invasion. In short, lots of fog of war.
A cross-Channel invasion clearly is possible--what was needed to make it happen was uncertain.
 
Hype up the german threat, best way to get attention of US
What got US attention was the thought that if Britain either gave up or fell the Royal Navy could fall into German hands. Up until that became a possibility (however unlikely) US voters, and thus politicians mostly didn't give much of a damn what happened in Europe other than to not get involved.
 
Let’s say you get a reverse Dieppe sealion that’s really crappy and basically indefensible, but there’s sizable numbers of German soldiers in Britain.

This is after disaster after disaster all over the place in Europe. The reality vs perception of the Tet Offensive in America would be NOTHING compared to British morale with actual German units on the ground.

They’d need a lot to go right but psychologically, it was a serious threat.
 
What got US attention was the thought that if Britain either gave up or fell the Royal Navy could fall into German hands. Up until that became a possibility (however unlikely) US voters, and thus politicians mostly didn't give much of a damn what happened in Europe other than to not get involved.
And shortly upon them realising that could very likely occur ... Well the USN got a big pile of cash and was told to go on a building bonanza
 
Were the invasion panic propaganda then why did panic production take priority over war winning product?

The panic in the UK ruling class was real.

So one of the following must be true:

* faulty analysis
* faulty information
* both

The UK should have had a thorough awareness of German naval capacities and capabilities (objects and systems respectively). They didn’t and this was abysmal bureaucratic failure.

The UK could have had a like awareness of German aviation. They didn’t but this is more forgivable due to the rapid development of this field and the untried novelty of air powers use for strategic effect. That the UK did not develop this capacity really demonstrates something is wrong in the UK elite’s maintaining and protecting itself.

So what about analytical capacity? While not a joke it was deeply dysfunctional. And here’s the rub: a ruling class is failing to reproduce the circumstances of knowing if it has a security of continued existence. This isn’t just ideological—though the general strike should have been a wake up call on the self delusion of Whig and Tory—this is about other imperialist state agents who would wish to impose their views counter to the wishes of the UK elite. “Could Germany wish to bash the French again?” Well they do border each other, better keep an eye on the situation and develop the capacity to keep an eye on. Why this failure?

The Irish revolution, the general strike, the revolving door governments, the shattered party system, the ulcer of empire and finally HRH wanting an official imperial acknowledgement of his sticking his dick and heart into a yank divorcee. This is a structure of governance creaking under the weight of its insufficiency for the tasks of business as usual, and, which is manifestly failing to possess a hegemons knowledge of all other major agents. War and Post war civil service and party-system reforms should speak to this.

So not so much Colonel Blimp, but his cousin in the foreign office. And when the cowl is lifted, and more than the potency of Germany, when the impotence of Britain is revealed like the one singularly hetero guy at the soggy biscuit match, the UK elite drop their guts in public and misallocate two years of panic production.

Best sea lion thread start in 25 years of my allohistorical engagement—good question well done.

Yours,
Sam R.
 
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.
The Norway experience was probably more influential on (especially RN) thinking than a lot of people now give it credit for. The Germans had been able to land significant forces all along the Norwegian coast, right under the noses of the RN. On the other hand, the Norwegian coast was basically defenseless, especially when the Germans had such overwhelming air superiority, which ties into the importance of the RAF's performance in the Battle of Britain.

Further, The British had to rebuild their forces regardless, whether it was for defense or offense.
The issue I'm looking at with the British Army was that they were equipping forces specifically for a last ditch defense. The 2-pdr AT gun was more or less obsolete after the Battle of France, but it was still being produced in huge numbers because the gap to switch production to the 6-pdr was unacceptable. Fifty thousand flame fougasses were emplaced in defense positions along the British coast. Large numbers (possibly more than a thousand) of Armadillo and Bison improvised armored vehicles were deployed to defend airfields from German paratroopers. These were not the actions of a force rebuilding itself to fight in North Africa, and certainly not a force planning to undertake offensive operations. The British Army at the time had plenty of organized combat units; what they lacked was the heavy equipment that had been left behind in France.

And don't forget the shock caused by the german paratrooper assaults in the Dutch/Belgian campaign. Even amongst higher ranks, some were concerned about massed airborne assaults.
Also it was something new so the Generals had no idea how to combat such attacks and deal with the fact they could be launched anywhere.
The small assaults on fortifications and bridges in Norway, Denmark, and Belgium certainly would have been concerning, but the big airborne assault on the Hague in the Netherlands was convincingly defeated on the ground. The Germans had demonstrated an ability to conduct airborne assaults, but only on a small tactical scale with immediate support by ground forces. Did the British have any idea of how badly damaged the German transport fleet was after the Netherlands? If the Germans had attempted to replicate the Hague assault against a port town on the South East coast, how would the British have fared compared to the Dutch?

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.
Lots of what is described as worry was the general public and measures to reassure them. It has to be noted it was in Britain's interest to appear weaker/more desperate than it was ( rather cynically either to get the Germans to launch Sealion so it could be crushed or increase the chance of the US getting more involved ). Let's also remember during the Battle of Britain , North Africa was getting reinforced by armored troops from Britain so there was not that much real belief by those who were making the decisions of an invasion being practical.
A lot of the Home Guard stuff does seem to be for morale purposes and to foster a "all doing their bit" image. Stuff was done for Newsreels, the Ministry of Information was not that far behind Gobbels on the PR front
A lot of this seems to tie into Churchill's political situation after the Battle of France. Churchill had been brought in to replace Chamberlain over the failure to defend Norway, and had subsequently supervised the failure to defend France. As a politician, he had never been well-liked by the British elite so his position was always threatened. I imagine Churchill would have thought the situation quite similar to his own position after the failure at Gallipoli.

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?
Prior to the Battle of Britain the R.A.F was perceived as having utterly failed to protect the B.E.F, the primary RAF assets for attacking any German landing and supply convoys (the light bombers) had been hacked from the sky in France, the Luftwaffe and in particular the Stuka's had gained a vastly overblown reputation so there were grave doubts about the RN being able to interfere with an invasion (in daylight). We now know the true capabilities of both air forces to interfere in any naval action in the channel, in 1940 they didn't. In truth the skies would have been neutral which would have ensured the defeat of any German invasion attempt before it reached England.
What was the Stuka's anti-ship reputation based on? They certainly sank a lot of ships in port or during evacuations (no different from any other point target), but performance against warships at sea was far more mixed. The British response to the Luftwaffe threat off Norway also seems to have been more cautious than at later events like Crete, so I have no doubt that the RN would have pressed for the Channel regardless of any Stukas if the Germans were crossing.
 

Khanzeer

Banned
What got US attention was the thought that if Britain either gave up or fell the Royal Navy could fall into German hands. Up until that became a possibility (however unlikely) US voters, and thus politicians mostly didn't give much of a damn what happened in Europe other than to not get involved.
Irrational fear IMHO on the part of US politicians
1 firstly without oil they are useless
2 british capital ships can find refugee from canada to Australia ( pretty much anywhere in the world ) and can easily evade the german coast guard [ aka kriegsmarine]
3 britain worse case scenario transfer their govt from British isles and still give Germany a very tough time
4 Germany has no crews to man them and train new ones will take years
 

Khanzeer

Banned
At Crete RN was already short on AA ammo

Plus if I remember correctly a lowly bf109 sank the fiji and others like ju88 damaged several others
It was mainly the destroyers, overloaded and overworked that took the brunt of the stuka attacks in almost total absence of FAA or RAF
 
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