Operation Sea Lion - Chances of Success

Chances of Success

The great majority of military historians believe Operation Sea Lion could not have succeeded. Kenneth Macksey asserts it would have only been possible if the Royal Navy had refrained from large-scale intervention and the Germans had assaulted in July 1940 (although Macksey conceded they were unprepared at that time), while others such as Peter Fleming, Derek Robinson and Stephen Bungay believe the operation would have most likely resulted in a disaster for the Germans. Len Deighton and some other writers have called the German amphibious plans a "Dunkirk in reverse". Robinson argues that the massive superiority of the Royal Navy over the Kriegsmarine would have made Sea Lion a disaster.

Adolf Galland, commander of Luftwaffe fighters at the time, claimed invasion plans were not serious and that there was a palpable sense of relief in the Wehrmacht when it was finally called off. Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt also took this view and thought that Hitler never seriously intended to invade Britain and the whole thing was a bluff, to put pressure on the British Government to come to terms. He observed that Napoleon had failed to invade and the difficulties that confounded him did not appear to have been solved by the Sea Lion planners. In fact in November 1939 the German Naval staff produced a study (on the possibility of an invasion of Britain) and concluded that it required two preconditions, air and naval superiority, neither of which Germany ever had. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz believed air superiority was not enough and admitted, "We possessed neither control of the air or the sea; nor were we in any position to gain it." As early as 14 August 1940 Hitler had told his generals that he would not attempt to invade Britain if the task seemed too dangerous, before adding that there were other ways of defeating the UK than invading.

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    Tyranny destroys or strengthens the individual; freedom enervates him, until he becomes no more than a puppet. Man has more chances of saving himself by hell than by paradise.
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