From: Bedfordshire UK
No I did not say that wouldn't happen, but a lot of things happened
that shouldn't have happened was my point. Nobody watching the Ardnennes,
nobody thinking the Wehrmacht could drive across it in summer just because
they couldn't do it themselves. Germany's invasion of Norway right under the
nose of the Royal Navy! The French Army falling apart in a month after
holding the Germans for four years the last time. None of these things "should" have
happened. I think Sealion would have been a disaster for many reasons but
a lot of funny things happened that summer....
I think the point here is that at the beginning of the war, most of the combatants (on all sides) were amateurs, in modern warfare, apart from specialists such as Guderian, even many Germans were surprised at the success of the Ardennes attack. Most 'experts' would have agreed with the Allied assessment, only with hindsight does the error become obvious.
However, the British demonstrated that, at short notice, they could retain enough command of the Channel, to organise and carry out, the evacuation of 300,000+ men from Dunkirk, using mainly slow and un-armed vessels.
I suspect the German High Command, at all levels (including Hitler), knew that Sea Lion could not succeed, unless there was an almost complete political collapse in Britain and that the operation was prepared to take advantage, in the event that it occurred.
During the Falklands War in 1982, prior to the landings at St. Carlos, the Admiral asked one of the frigate captains to enter the Sound that night and 'sail around a bit'. It was not said, but both knew that the mission was to see if there were any mines, if there had been, the ship would be lost.
If the Germans had attempted 'Sea Lion' the RN would have entered the Channel, in force, with the older 'expendable' DDs leading, the possibility of minefields would not have stopped them. The Luftwaffe did not have the expertise in anti-ship bombing that they achieved by 1941, it would have been a vicious battle of attrition, which the Germans would have lost.
However inefficient the RAF may have been in hitting barges, the margin of success was so small for the Germans, that only small losses could have been catastrophic. They did not have the naval reserves necessary to maintain an offensive, unless there was a rapid collapse in Britain. I think Sea Lion would have been another 'Dunkirk' moment for Britain and, however much the war may have failed in other areas, this would have drawn another supreme effort.
One small thought, you're a Luftwaffe Ju87 pilot over the Channel during the Dunkirk evacuation, any ship you see you can bomb, they are all Allied, but if Sea Lion is launched, there are going to be ships of all shapes and sizes, going every which way, which ones will you bomb, it's not going to be easy.
< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/23/2012 2:04:32 PM >
"We have to go from where we are, not from where we would like to be" - me