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Thread: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

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    Default Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Someone asked the question, then the thread disappeared before I had finished my response. Well, I'm not about to throw away my work, so here goes

    IF we are to assume that Hitler ever seriously intended to invade Britain, one reason for him to change his mind may very well have been the heavy naval losses the Germans suffered during Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway. The Kriegsmarine was never a very large force to begin with in comparison to the Royal Navy, and they lost or damaged almost 50% of their of their ocean-going fighting ships during the operations of April - June 1940.

    The heavy cruiser Blücher was sunk in the attack on Oslo. The pocket battleship Lutzow was heavily damaged in the same attack and had to limp back to Germany for extensive repairs, suffering further damage in a torpedo attack along the way. Light cruiser Karlsruhe was torpedoed and sunk off Kristiansand the same day, April 9th. The next day, the cruiser Königsberg was sunk by British carrier-borne Skua dive bombers in the harbor of Bergen, after having received heavy damage from a coastal battery the day before.

    While the first naval battle of Narvik, on April 10, did not cause any loss of ships on either side, the second battle three days later, on April 13, decimated the Kriegsmarine. In a spectacular push up Ofotfjorden, the Royal Navy destroyed ten German destroyers, a full half of Hitler's entire destroyer fleet at the time, with no loss of British ships.

    The Germans also lost 8 U-boats and 13 transports during the invasion.

    The battleship Scharnhorst was heavily damaged while attacking and sinking HMS Glorious and her escorts off the Norwegian coast on June 8th 1940, and in subsequent British bombing raids while anchored in Trondheim. Repairs were not completed until January 1941. Meanwhile, battleship Gneisenau, while attempting to draw attention away from the Scharnhorst limping back to Germany, was torpedoed in the Norwegian Sea and subsequently out of commission for just about as long as her sister ship.

    If you're wondering what happened to Bismarck and Tirpitz, the answer is that they were not yet operational. Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940, along with heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Tirpitz was commissioned in February 1941.

    It would have been a marginal call in the first place for the Kriegsmarine to protect an invasion fleet from the Royal Navy. It would have been nigh impossible after the heavy losses of the spring of 1940. While a surprise attack may have had an initial chance of success, it is unthinkable that the Germans would have had any chance to secure the Channel from the fury of the, mostly intact, Royal Navy for very long. Without a secure connection to the Vaterland in the back, and with some very angry Britons up front, any chances of sustaining an invasion would have been highly unlikely.
    Last edited by Oyvind Snibsoer; 12-05-2018 at 08:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Germany was in no position to even think of invading Britain till about '41. I don't believe Hitler was serious about Britain once he had conquered Western Europe. He may have been right that Soviet Russia was a greater threat but he really did not correctly consider the vast distances or "General Winter". Once committed east, he could not really think west and the "Battle of Britain" by air was a horribly destructive side show but never a rational approach to conquest. Germany had none of the logistics - not the army free for the task, not the maritime resources of transport and fighting ships, not the air power - to mount a cross channel invasion. And then, for what?

    It took the US entering the war with all that industrial might and then three more years for the allies to assemble a cross channel invasion force. Germany never had anything near those resources.

    It's easy to see why Britain, back to the sea, would feel utterly imperiled, but in my heart I believe that Churchill went on more than romance - he had to know that Germany really could not invade the island of shopkeepers.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    That makes sense. Thanks.
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

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    Very good analysis.
    Hitler also thought there was no good reason for a state of war to persist between the UK and Germany. Once France was defeated, England would surely sue for peace in a war they didn't need to fight. Reports from England of opposition to the war were focused on as confirmation bias. He fully intended for Britan to see peace, with a subsequent nationalistic government taking power and a restoration of Edward VIII to the throne.

    At which point he could invade Russia and focus on the Soviet oil and farmland he needed to be economically self sufficient.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    The lack of air superiority was a major factor. If he had continued to focus on airfields and the Home Chain...oh and not invaded Russia he might have had a chance. Russia aside the switch to bombing population centers was a big mistake. His only real window of opportunity was immediately after Dunkirk when Britain's army was on it's knees but even then it was impossible as his lines of supply were seriously over extended.
    The definition of stupid has got to be the belief that more guns will negate the bloodshed done with guns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WX View Post
    The lack of air superiority was a major factor. If he had continued to focus on airfields and the Home Chain...oh and not invaded Russia he might have had a chance. Russia aside the switch to bombing population centers was a big mistake. His only real window of opportunity was immediately after Dunkirk when Britain's army was on it's knees but even then it was impossible as his lines of supply were seriously over extended.
    Bombing British cities was a means of forcing the UK to seek peace when they stubbornly refused to after Dunkirk.

    Invading Russia would have likely worked if he could have gotten the UK out of the war (it almost did anyways) and was always the plan. They had what he wanted.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Germany was in no position to even think of invading Britain till about '41. I don't believe Hitler was serious about Britain once he had conquered Western Europe. He may have been right that Soviet Russia was a greater threat but he really did not correctly consider the vast distances or "General Winter". Once committed east, he could not really think west and the "Battle of Britain" by air was a horribly destructive side show but never a rational approach to conquest. Germany had none of the logistics - not the army free for the task, not the maritime resources of transport and fighting ships, not the air power - to mount a cross channel invasion. And then, for what?

    It took the US entering the war with all that industrial might and then three more years for the allies to assemble a cross channel invasion force. Germany never had anything near those resources.

    It's easy to see why Britain, back to the sea, would feel utterly imperiled, but in my heart I believe that Churchill went on more than romance - he had to know that Germany really could not invade the island of shopkeepers.
    There is an excellent book, part one of a trilogy that explores the logistical side in great detail...can't remember the name of it though. Basically it states that as long as Britain did not give up and the supply line from the US stayed open Britain could not lose. The Atlantic loses though huge were still only a fraction of the total crossing the Atlantic. As for US industry, how do you beat a country that can take a patch of swampy ground, build a shipyard on it and produce the first ship all in 6 months?
    The definition of stupid has got to be the belief that more guns will negate the bloodshed done with guns.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Logistics always wins.
    Xanthorrea

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by purri View Post
    Logistics always wins.
    Actually, logistics always loses. Hitler lost WW2 due to his logistics failures in Russia. December 6, 1941 - the day his over-extended supply line reached its limit.
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! zing...
    Xanthorrea

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Bigfella View Post
    Actually, logistics always loses. Hitler lost WW2 due to his logistics failures in Russia. December 6, 1941 - the day his over-extended supply line reached its limit.
    Not if you get it right.
    The definition of stupid has got to be the belief that more guns will negate the bloodshed done with guns.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Getting across the Channel might look easy, but perhaps not so? The short crossing faces cliffs and flatter ground would need some time in daylight. Slow moving barges might be vunerable to wash from fast moving distroyers if things were desperate.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    I once heard to launch a seaborne invasion you need a 7:1 superiority.
    The definition of stupid has got to be the belief that more guns will negate the bloodshed done with guns.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oyvind Snibsoer View Post
    If you're wondering what happened to Bismarck and Tirpitz, the answer is that they were not yet operational. Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940, along with heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Tirpitz was commissioned in February 1941.
    Funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha ha)--I now live about 2 miles away from the wreck of the Prinz Eugen, which was parked in the Marshall Islands during nuclear bomb testing to see how steel-hulled warships were affected by radiation. It's a popular dive site. I've climbed up on the hull (before I knew the ship had been thoroughly irradiated back then). At low tide a good chunk of the stern (inverted) is exposed.

    So, that's the ultimate fate of the Eugen.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Clearly Hitler took one look at our sea defences at Milford On Sea and just shuddered. There would be no way through for the NAZI war machine!







    There were a couple of pill boxes on the clifftop to take care of the rest. Seriously we're still digging it out, and Bomb Disposal come down and blow up the many mines exposed after bad weather: sometimes 3-4 in a weekend last winter! Fun to watch from my beach hut.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 12-06-2018 at 05:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Ha! A pike wall. Those Macedonians knew a thing or two………….


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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Don't tell him your name, Pike!

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Then there is this
    Saturday, September 17, 2016

    September 19, 1940: Disperse the Barges



    Thursday 19 September 1940

    Reconnaissance photo of invasion barges assembled in Dunkirk Harbour after attacks by RAF bombers, 1940.

    Battle of Britain: Adolf Hitler on 19 September 1940 continues his gradual retreat from Operation Sealion (a process that takes almost two years). He reviews the large overnight attack by RAF Bomber Command and makes a decision. With 214 of the 1918 barges assembled having been destroyed, and 21 of 170 transports sunk, he orders them dispersed because "under the present circumstances" he cannot "contemplate" an invasion. Much of the German economy relies on barges, so their loss is no small matter. Operation Sealion remains on the docket, but will never again come under serious consideration.

    It is extremely unlikely that the Wehrmacht can expect the British not to notice these changes, somewhat diminishing the value of the Ultra decrypts of the 17th. This, of course, will release the British bombers to resume strategic attacks on Germany, Italy and the occupied countries.
    http://worldwartwodaily.filminspecto...se-barges.html
    If that is not a clear intent to prepare for invasion, then . . . . .
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?



    The Home Guard………...

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?


    July 1940.



    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 12-06-2018 at 07:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Hitler was from Vienna where the coffee shops and cakes really are first rate, why on god's earth would he want to capture England, the home of weak milky tea and jam rolly polly?

    An army marches on its stomach.
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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    A bit tangential, but an invasion might have been unnecessary if Hitler had built 100 more U-boats by 1939, and focused from the get-go on a shipping blockage of Britain, coupled with bombings solely of airfields, fuel depots, ships, and ports. Britain would have run out of fuel.
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    Britain is on an island?!

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by S.V. Airlie View Post
    Always has been! At least for a couple of billion yrs! What's your point? Guernsey was an Island too and Germany occupied it.
    Billion years? I thought Earth was only 6,000 years old.

    I’m learning lots today.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Billion years? I thought Earth was only 6,000 years old.

    I’m learning lots today.

    Peace,
    Roberte
    Maybe 8000 years ago Doggerland was still connected to the continent, just before Noah and his Ark, but not much before... I'll bet it was a nice place except they probably spoke French.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doggerland

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Actually, Britain was connected to mainland Europe as recently as 8000 years ago. Recent enough that people would have migrated there by land.

    Edit- I see this was already pointed out.

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    So, Hitler should have made a time machine. Then they could have just driven across.

    Or ridden the Chunnel.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Why?
    He knew that Spike Milligan had been conscripted, and was on a south coast gun battery. ;-)

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    My wife has an American cousin residing in Drobak, Norway (on the fiord 30 miles from Oslo) married to a Norwegian whose father helped prepare Drobak and the island fort out in the Fiord for the Nazi invasion. They had some warning because the invasion force had sunk a Norwegian patrol vessel out in the Skagarrak (sp?) which had ben commanded by the son of the fort's commander. Drobak was defended by a battery of 10' to 12" guns from WW1, but trees that had grown to obscure the Fiord had to be cut down, The island fort was defended by more such WW1 guns. There was sufficient time for several guns facing the German approach to be readied and crews consisting of a few veteran NCO's and young cadets to be trained. A nighttime gun battle between the huge obsolete cannon emplacements and the Blucher (newest Cruiser in the Nazi Navy) resulted in the Blucher being sunk right near the fort where she remains today. The remainder of the task force retreated from whence they came.

    The battle not only stopped the German invasion (Oslo was bombed by aircraft a day or so later) but gave the Norwegian Parliament sufficient time to declare themselves under the rule of their soon-to-be-absent King, who escaped up the length of Norway to embark on a boat bound for England.

    Drobak's and the fort's guns also remain, ready for the next foolish invader. The trees in Drobak have been kept trimmed.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Churchill, in his WWII memoirs, has a wonderfully evocative account of Warspite at Narvik, ' her 15" guns sounding like doom '.

    Liddell Hart, in his book The German Generals Speak, interviewed a number of them about Sealion. Evidently they were not keen on the idea. One said, without air cover and with the RN out in force, an invasion would have been feeding his troops " into a sausage making machine".
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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    A bit tangential, but an invasion might have been unnecessary if Hitler had built 100 more U-boats by 1939, and focused from the get-go on a shipping blockage of Britain, coupled with bombings solely of airfields, fuel depots, ships, and ports. Britain would have run out of fuel.
    Of course, the British had reasonable intelligence, were alive to the U-boat issue (although they may have under-estimated it and over-estimated the capability of ASDIC), and had the option to build more escorts to counteract a build-up in submarines. Till the mid '30s they saw surface raiders as the main threat but they had done reviews of anti-submarine warfare, had built and set aside many ASDIC sets, and had bought trawlers to experiment with equipping them with ASDIC.

    The subs also only really became a major menace after the Battle of France. Up to May 1940, 24 U-boats had been sunk, so Doenitz's force was actually decreasing. For each U boat lost, the British were losing 57,000 tons of shipping, which was similar to the ratio when the Germans lost the first Battle of the Atlantic in 1918. The Flower class corvettes were also coming into service. Every history I can find indicates that the situation was under control and looked like staying so, with the stream of Flowers and other escorts coming on-line and more than matching U-boat production.

    The situation for the British only deteriorated after the Battle of France, which resulted in a long list of damaged British destroyers during Dunkirk, made U-boat access to the Atlantic dramatically easier and allowed them to operate outside the southwestern approaches. It was the French bases that allowed the U Boats to operate outside the range of effective British escorts, on sea and in the air, and drastically changed the situation.

    The other question is whether the Germans could have built 100 extra submarines. There was, I believe, a major shortage of steel in the German armaments industry pre-war; some figures show that during 1937, for example, the aircraft industry only received 1/3 of its requirements. If the Germans turned their attention to U-boats, what would have happened to their production of armoured fighting vehicles and their always-problematic shortage of trucks and how would that have affected the battle in France?

    Subs are also damn complicated and expensive - for example a Flower class corvette cost 90,000 pounds whereas a small British S,T or U class sub was over 300,000. British figures show that the annualised cost of buying and running 11 submarines was the same as buying and running a new battleship, and I don't think that include the cost of the expensive depot ship you need for 11 subs. The depot ship alone costs around as much as three corvette-sized escort ships. So if the Germans abandoned their capital ship programme they would only get a few dozen extra subs, while freeing up the British to switch more of their own resources to escorts.

    Another question is whether the Germans could have effectively bombed oil depots and ports. Night bombing was wildly inaccurate, level bombing by day wasn't great, the dive bombers were short-ranged and had been shot out of the sky and withdrawn early in the Battle of Britain, and the depots, ships and ports were often further north and west. The low-level attacks on places like Biggin Hill worked partly because they were so close to France that there was little effective warning. A raid on Liverpool, for example, would not only have given the British time to react but would have allowed Group 12 and Group 13 to come into action.

    Finally, the Me/Bf 109 could only reach to about Oxford, or not far north of London. Aircraft attacking Liverpool and many other ports would therefore have not had effective fighter escort, and no German bomber (or any other bomber) could fight its way through good fighter defences. The chances of them doing significant damage to fairly small targets (by ww2 standards) seem remote.
    Last edited by Chris249; 12-06-2018 at 04:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Fascinating thread. Thanks.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Hitler was from Vienna where the coffee shops and cakes really are first rate, why on god's earth would he want to capture England, the home of weak milky tea and jam rolly polly?

    An army marches on its stomach.
    Could scones, clotted cream and a topping of strawberry jam (or lemon preserve) have tipped the scales ?

    Unaware of Workman´s tea bags available in a bulk package at most supermarkets ?

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    Cream, butter, tea, and jam all rationed in 1941; no supermarkets either. Sorry.
    Last edited by birlinn; 12-06-2018 at 05:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Didn't Hitler Invade Britain?

    The decision by the Germans during the Battle of Britain to switch emphasis from attacking British airfields, fighters, and industrial targets and ramp up the bombing campaign on London was a dreadful mistake. I doubt the Luftwaffe would have prevailed in any event, but every BF109 that had to lumber around at half speed protecting German bombers was a plane that couldn't effectively destroy a Spitfire and rob Britain of a much needed pilot.
    German assessments of British fighter losses and British production capacity were completely wrong, and that led to some of the horrible decision making during the battle, along with a heady dose of wishful thinking that was pervasive in the German command structure, from Hitler on down.

    Jeff C

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