In 1974, at the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, the German invasion of England, Operation Sealion, was wargamed with the late Paddy Griffith, a well known figure in the wargames world, as the chief umpire. The Kreigspiel, or wargame, was a Prussian invention. The German High Command did kreigspiel Operation Yellow (the invasion of France) in 1939, and obeyed its lessons a year later, but none was done for Sealion at the time.
Sealion at Sandhurst was based on the plans of both sides. Many of the players who came from Germany would have taken part in the real thing had Sealion been given the go ahead. The battles were umpired by a panel of generals, admirals and air marshals, disputes over exact loses were settled by the wargames standby of cutting cards. Admiralty weather and tide records were made available which suggested the situation would be favour an invasion between 19-30 September 1940. The wargame was run in real time from dawn on 22 September to sunset on 28 September. The results were outlined in TheDailyTelegraphMagazinein May 1974 and the wargame was later turned into the novel Sealionby Richard Cox.
Sealion 1940 The summer of 1940 has become legendary in Britain; ‘theirfinesthour’ taking on almost a mythical mantle. Many felt, as they saw it at the time,
the Germans merely had to turn up on her shores for Britain to be defeated. However, the average citizen knew little - only what they saw: the antics of the Home Guard, ‘Dad’s Army’ parading with broom handles, or the newsreels depicting a defeated army rescued from the beaches by the ‘little ships’ off Dunkirk.
However, on the other side of the hill, the Germans were as confused in victory as Britain was in defeat. On 21 May 1940, Hitler had a meeting with Grand Admiral Raeder, when a proposed invasion of Britain was first raised and discussed. The admiral asked beforehand how the war was going, all Hitler could tell him was “thebigbattle isinfullswing”. The attack on France and the Low Countries was not expected to bring a rapid collapse. Colonel-General Franz Halder said before the attack “ifwereachBoulogne aftersixmonthsheavyfightingwe’llbe lucky”. They did that in as many weeks.
On 16 July 1940, Adolf Hitler issued his Directive No. 16 which begins: “As England,inspiteofthehopelessnessof hermilitaryposition,hassofarshown herselfunwillingtocometoany compromise,Ihavedecidedtobeginto preparefor,andifnecessarytocarry out,aninvasionofEngland”. It was nearly six weeks since the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ when 338,000 Allied troops were evacuated to Britain, some, indeed, in small boats and ships, but the majority in destroyers and transports, under heavy air attack. However, even after the defeat of France, Hitler did not exploit the advantage and attack Britain; even Luftwaffeaircraft were told not to infiltrate British airspace. When the ‘crazyEnglish’rejected Hitler’s peace offer speech in the Reichstag on 19 July, the practical problems of an invasion began to loom.
The Kriegsmarinewas poorly equipped for such an undertaking. It had no purpose-built landing craft worth mentioning and it had suffered heavily in the Norway campaign (seeMWAugust 2010). All they had available was one heavy cruiser, the Hipper, one pocket battleship at sea, three light cruisers and nine destroyers. All other major warships had been damaged or were not yet commissioned and the British fleet was overwhelmingly powerful. They might be able to flank the invasion sea-lanes across the Channel with mines and attack the Royal Navy from the air, but German naval commanders were not confident. Everything would depend on the Luftwaffebeing able to deal with the Royal Navy, RAF and still support the land forces.
The army wanted to land at dawn during the periods 20-26 August or 19-26 September, when the tides would be favourable, on a broad front stretching from Ramsgate to the west of the Isle of Wight (Map 1). The first wave would be some 90,000 men landing in three main
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