Introduction to the various chapters of River Wide, Ocean Deep

 These examples are taken from the beginning of each chapter.


Unternehmen Seelöwe – Operation Sea Lion – was the name of the planned German invasion of the United Kingdom scheduled for fall 1940. It never happened. Despite the fact that the invasion did not take place, Operation Sea Lion is one of the most discussed items on the special websites devoted to topics from the Second World War....



Chapter 2 - "What-if"...?

Was Hitler at all interested in executing operation Sea Lion? Would he have given a go-ahead to invade if the Germans had achieved what was perceived as air superiority? In the beginning of August the Luftwaffe did have air superiority over the English Channel. What is this allegation based upon?....


Chapter 4 - The Little Ships

All through the war there was a constant struggle in the Channel and in the southern part of the North Sea between The Little Ships of the two parties. On the British side the Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB‘s) and the Steam Gun Boats (SGBs). On the German side the S-boats (Schnellboote) and R-boats (Räumboote).....


Chapter 6 - The Mining War

The planned German mine operation connected to Sea Lion are often discredited with three arguments. The Germans did not have:

1. The possibility to execute the planned mine operations due to the activity of the Royal Navy.

2. Enough mines to saturate the planned minefields.

3. Enough time at their disposal due to lack of minelayers....


Chapter 8 - Coastal Command and FAA

While we have so far concentrated on the more passive aspects of the events leading up to an eventual invasion of England, transport, coastal artillery, mine warfare and diversions — it is now time to move on to some of the more operational branches. The divisions of the British air forces which would have probably first made contact with the German invasion fleet would have been the Royal Air Force Coastal Command and the Royal Navy‘s Fleet Air Arm. ......


Chapter 10 - The Naval Forces - Royal Navy

Before the war it was said that the Rhine was England‘s first line of defense. This was based on the range of the RAF‘s bombers. In the fall of 1940 no one was joking about this, and any defenses along the Rhine had long since been breached. It was now up to the British Royal Navy to act as the first line of defense. If the ships could reach the invasion beaches the destroyers would have to take the lead. Destroyers made up the greatest number of proper fighting vessels in the Royal Navy and due to basing and speed could arrive fastest in the invasion area.t....


Chapter 12 - Bomber Command

On August 17, 1940, Churchill wrote to General Ismay:

"While we are keeping our eyes on the results of the air battle over the country we must not forget the serious losses experienced by Bomber Command. Seven heavy bombers were lost tonight besides 21 destroyed on the ground – most of them at Tangmere, 28 in all. If we add those to the 22 fighters our loss is 50 within one day."

Bomber Command, the organization controlling most of the British bomber units, did not have a good start in the war. They could not help the Poles in 1939, and thereafter their resources were much used for leaflet dropping over Germany during the hours of night. In some attacks against German fleet bases they suffered serious losses without inflicting much damage to the enemy..


Chapter 14 - RAF Fighter Command

The core of the Fighter Command was the squadron. Fully complemented it consisted of 16 to 20 planes with an equal number of pilots and its own technical personnel. The squadron was not meant to be tied to a specific locality; nevertheless, it seldom moved from its sector station, the main airfield, if not strictly necessary. The maximum operational strength of the squadron was regarded to be 12 planes, and the extras were to be reserves for scheduled and other maintenance or for planes damaged in combat. ....


Chapter 16 - The German Army

In the end, Sea Lion would have to be decided on land even if it could be influenced by conditions concerning supply across the Channel or shifts in the command of the air. Did either of the two armies have a definite advantage over the other? The British army played on their home field, that‘s for sure. But what did the home field look like? The Germans might come ashore in a less-than-perfect condition, but did the home team have their defenses in order?....


Chapter 18 - The Jokers

Churchill‘s German force summary from 1940 does not take into account the Küstenfliegers, the equivalent of a combined Coastal Command and Fleet Air Arm. They were specialists in night-flying, long-range ocean surveillance and anti-ship missions. This branch had a torpedo capability with their twin-engine He 59 and He 115 floatplanes as well as the single-engine Arado 95.....


Appendix A - The Convoy Plan

The plan for the organization and crossing of the invasion transport fleets

Naval Commander West September 14th 1940

B.Nr. Gkdos. 360/40 A1 Chefs.

Command matter

For officers only

Top Secret

Operational Order Nr. 1 Pr.Nr. […]

Order for the advance march of the transport fleets of Operation Sea Lion

Based on 1/Skl. I.Op.E, 12040/40 Gkdos. 2, Ang. v. 23.8.40

(If any differences the Operational Order Nr. 1 is to be followed).......


Appendix B - Directives and Orders

In Hitler‘s system orders were created more or less like this: Hitler got an idea (read: Fixation). He then discussed, or embroidered, this idea with his closest associates. He (or his staff) then asked for feedback or suggestions from the persons and institutions concerned. When he had made a decision, often totally according to his own opinions (after all he was the genius), he elaborated further to his staff. The staff would then issue a Directive. If he was satisfied with the draft it was signed and dispatched to be carried out.....


Appendix D - Halder's Diary

Franz Halder was one of Hitler‘s most respected generals and served as Chief of Staff of the German army. He became a popular interview object for western military historians after the war because he had kept a diary where one could follow the development on a day to day basis from the first little memory lists to large presentations and the war games at the end....


Appendix F - The Channel Dash

On the evening of February 11, 1942, almost 18 months after the planned German invasion of England, three large German warships left Brest Harbor at the north-western tip of France to traverse the English Channel on their way home to Germany. Does this have any relevance to Operation Sea Lion?...





Chapter 1 - The Build-up

When Hitler performed his war dance outside the German Western Headquarters on June 17th 1940 he had come a long way in achieving his goals. The immediate reason for the dance was the message that Paris was conquered by the German Forces and that the British were thrown back over the Channel, most of their heavy equipment strewn along the French roads, beaches and ports of evacuation. ....


Chapter 3 - The Sea Transport Fleet

One of the most frequently discussed subjects regarding Operation Sea Lion is the transport fleet that was to take the invasion force across the Channel. Could it be protected against the enemy‘s onslaught? Was it at all usable? Which barges (in German Kähne and Prähme or Campine and Penische) were assigned to the task? Were they not built to work the calm rivers and canals on the Continent?..


Chapter 5 - The Diversions

It should not surprise anybody that the Germans had planned for a whole lot of trickery and diversions for Operation Sea Lion, from simple radio transmissions to their largest phoney landing attempt – the Herbstreise – Autumn Journey..... 


Chapter 7 - The Coastal Artillery

In Rohwer & Hümmelchen‘Chronik des Seekrieges the following note is made on October 21st,1940, regarding activity in the English Channel:

During an attack by British MTBs against Ostende, MTB 17 is fired upon and damaged by German coastal artillery. It is later picked up by Kriegsmarine auxiliaries and brought in to Ostende...….


Chapter 9 - Die Kriegsmarine - The U-boats

Since the German U-boats probably would have been the first to meet the Royal Navy‘s reinforcements streaming towards the Channel, it is only fitting that they should open our discussion on the larger naval warships. The German BdU (Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote), the Commanding Officer of Submarines Vice-Admiral Karl Dönitz, intended to use all the submarine resources available to him for Operation Sea Lion....


Chapter 11 - The British Army

As Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, none of their armies were optimally organized, trained, or equipped. They looked very much like the armies that demobilized after the First World War. For England, the first priority was to expand the force that was to cross over to France to reinforce the defense there and participate in the future advance into Germany. This was reminiscent of what had transpired in the Great War. Many of the British commanders had served in France during that conflict. The French mobilization went according to plan as France had kept its conscription system between the wars. For the British the situation was worse. ....


Chapter 13 - Die Fallschirmjäger

It would not be correct to discuss the German paratrooper units in the German Army chapter, as they were formally under Luftwaffe command. I have therefore given them their own chapter. Their mission also justifies this choice since they were to be inserted as a separate entity and concentrated in their own special operation even if it was part of the overall Sea Lion plan.

The plans for the use of the German paratrooper units went, like the rest of the invasion plan, through several phases. The Army High Command would have preferred to use them on several places along the coast as a crowbar for the seaborne forces. The Luftwaffe, however, did not go along with this because they wanted the airborne force concentrated in a position where it could better be supported, just across the narrowest part of the Channel. 


Chapter 15 - Die Kriegsmarine

The Royal Navy is well known through innumerable books and publications. My impression is that much less is known of the German Navy, Die Kriegsmarine and particularly its history after the First World War. Such knowledge is vital to understand its fast resurrection in the midwar period and its degree of competence throughout this time….


Chapter 17 - The German Air Force

Soon after Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke had taken up position as Commander-in-Chief Home Forces in the United Kingdom, he attended a meeting of the Chiefs of Staff. After this meeting he wrote in his diary:

"…in afternoon went to see Dill at the WO (War Office) at 3 pm and from there on to the Chiefs of Staff meeting. Main subject of discussion was the priority of use of fighters in the event of invasion. I came away feeling less confident as to our powers of meeting an invasion. The attitude of representatives of the Naval Command brought (out) very clearly the fact that the navy now realizes fully that its position has been seriously undermined by the advent of aircraft. Sea supremacy is no longer what it was, and in the face of strong bomber forces can no longer ensure the safety of this island against invasion. This throws a much heavier task on the...

Appendix C - The Maps

On the following pages are some schematic outlines of the planned German proceedings on the four landing beaches. The maps are based on original road maps from 1940...


Appendix E - the War Office saw it...

Notes on the German preparations for invasion of the United Kingdom. prepared by the General Staff, War Office, MI14.

The second edition of this publication was issued in January 1942. As the title says, it was a set of notes on how the War Office perceived the invasion threat at the time. Knowing what we do now one must be slightly impressed by these notes. ....


Appendix G - The Books

Now that your brains have been reasonably saturated with information about Sea Lion, it might be a good idea to take a step backwards and have a look at some of the background literature. You might want to acquire some of these books for your own studies.


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