Raeder initiates a study of an invasion of England

Grand Admiral Raeder, Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, gives an order for "the possibility of invading England to be examined" as he thought Hitler might suddenly ask him for an invasion-plan at some point.

After consultation with Admiral Saalwächter, Reader sets up a small special staff for the preliminary work to study an armed conflict with Britain. The studies were the responsibility of Vice Admiral Schniewind, Chief of Staff of the Naval War Staff, and Rear Admiral Fricke, Chief of the Operations Department - both considered by Raeder as among his most competent advisors.

There were to study the possibilities of an invasion of England from the specific technical problem of transport, in addition to the overall naval and military problems. Extreme care was taken to keep the knowledge of this study limited.

The Navy would be the ones who first had to determine weather, and under what conditions, it could be carried out.

Hansjürgen Reinicke, Raeder's operations officer, reports back five days later outlining the following prerequisites:

  • Eliminating or sealing off Royal Navy forces from the lanidng and approach areas.
  • Eliminating the Royal Air Force
  • Destroying all Royal Navy units in the coastal zone.
  • Preventing British submarine action against the landing fleet.

Two weeks later a seaborne assault "on a grand scale" across the North Sea "appears to be a possible expedient for forcing the enemy to sue for peace". The Heer, and later the Luftwaffe, were uncompromisingly sceptical and it wasn't passed to the OKW.

The study is based on Hitler's Directive No. 6 which gives an objective of capturing sections of the Dutch, Belgian and French coast. The report concludes that if the conditions could be set up the British would be so demoralised that an assault would not be necessary. A landing from the North Sea on the east coast of England is preferred, though less advantageous than capturing harbours. There is no mention of a unified command or timely provision of amphibious equipment.

Raeder records:

Up until now my main endeavour had been to convince Hitler and the armed forces command that this war on commerce should be carried out on to the maximum extent of Germany's warpower and armament. Hence, any diversion of our already inadequate naval forces for some other objective would materially impair out naval campaign against the British enemy. Only if such a landing in England could be achieved without too much risk or too much difficulty - and that was highly improbable - should we deviate from our original plan.

[Date TBC]

Luftwaffe Intelligence publishes 'Plans for Air Warfare on England'

This expands on several points and suggests that continuous attacks should be made by day and night in widely separated areas. The RAF would then have to retain aircraft in the United Kingdom and even withdraw some of those already in France. The targets which are to be attacked by a force which numbered fewer than 400 medium bombers of Fliegerkorps X are listed. They include warships at sea and in port, the naval dockyards of the Tyne, Clyde, Birkenhead and Barrow-in-Furness, harbour installations at Liverpool, the Manchester Ship Canal, Avonmouth, Cardiff, Swansea and ‘the important military target’ of Billingham.

The "key is to paralyse the British trade" by blocking imports and attacking sea ports.

Hitler issues Directive No. 9 Principles for the Conduct of the War against the Enemy's Economy

The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
Berlin, 29 Nov. 1939
OKW/WFA Nr. 215/39 g.Kdos. Chefs. Abt.L I
Eleven copies
Top secret

Directive No. 9 Principles for the Conduct of the War against the Enemy's Economy.

  1. In the war against the Western Powers, Great Britain is the driving spirit and the leading power of our enemies. The conquest of Britain is, therefore, the prerequisite for final victory.

    The most effective means to achieve this is to paralyze Britain's economy through interrupting it at critical points.

  2. The development of the situation and progress in our armament may, in the near future, create favorable, conditions for extensive warfare against the foundations of British economy. The necessary provisions must therefore be made as early as possible for striking a destructive blow at the British economy by concentrating suitable weapons of our Armed Forces on the most important targets.
    The non-military means of warfare, complementary to the measures of the Armed Forces, will be put into effect according to special instructions.
  3. As soon as the Army has succeeded in defeating the Anglo-French field army and in occupying and holding a part of the coast facing England, the task of the Navy and the Air Force of carrying on warfare against the economic structure of Britain will become of prime importance. Cooperation of the sabotage and fifth column organizations is desirable.
  4. To the Navy and Air Force will fall the following joint tasks, enumerated here in the sequence of their importance:
    1. Attacks on the main British ports of transshipment by mining and blocking the approaches to the harbors and by destroying vital port installations and sea locks.
      In this connection the role of the mine-laying planes will be a very important one, especially with regard to the harbors. on the west coast of Britain, in narrow waterways, and estuaries.
    2. Attacks on British merchant shipping and against the enemy fleet protecting it.
    3. Destruction of British supplies of oil and of food in cooling plants and grain elevators.
    4. Interference with British troop and supply transports to theFrench coast.
    5. Destruction of industrial plants, the elimination of which is of decisive importance for the conduct of the war; above all of key-plants of the aviation industry and the factories producing heavy ordnance, anti-aircraft guns., ammunition, and explosives.
  5. The most important transshipment ports in the British Isles, which handle 95% of the foreign trade and could not be adequately replaced by others, are:

    • London
    • Liverpool
    • Manchester

    for imports of food, timber, and oil, and the processing therof.

    These three harbors, handling 58% of England's peacetime imports, are of decisive importance.

    • Newcastle
    • Swansea
    • Blyth
    • Sunderland
    • Barry
    • Hull

    for the export of coal.

    The following may be considered alternate harbors, but to a limited extent and for certain goods only:

    • Grangemouth
    • Leith
    • Middlesbrough
    • Grimsby
    • Southampton
    • Glasgow
    • Holyhead
    • Bristol
    • Belfast
    • Newport
    • Goole
    • Dundee

    It will be necessary to watch continuously for any possible shifting in the use of these harbors. Besides it will be important gradually to compress and shift British foreign trade into channels which are within easy range or our naval and air forces.

    French harbors will be attacked only insofar as they play a role in the siege or Britain, or if they are or importance as debarkation points for troops.

  6. In harbors which cannot be blocked effectively with mines, merchant shipping is to be paralyzed by sinking ships in the roadsteads and by destroying vital harbor installations. Special emphasis is to be laid upon the destruction or the great canal locks at the harbors or Leith, Sunderland, Hull, Grimsby, London, Manchester (Ship Canal), Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea, and Bristol-Avonmouth. Particularly on the west coast these locks are very important in regulating the water level and, through it, the harbor traffic.
  7. In preparing these actions it will be important to do the following:

    1. Continually to check and supplement the basic data available on British harbors, their installations and capacity, as well as information on the British war industries and supply depots.
    2. To rush the development or an effective method enabling planes to lay moored mines also.
    3. To provide a large supply or mines, sufficient for the increased demands or the Navy and Air Force.
    4. To coordinate the strategy of the Navy and Air Force, as to time and location.

These preparations are to be made as soon as possible. I request the Commanders in Chief of the Navy and the Air Force to keep me constantly informed about their plans.

I shall decide later as to when the restrictions still in effect in the naval and air war will be lifted. This probably will coincide with the start of the big offensive.

signed: Adolf Hitler