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]

Hitler reacts negatively to Seelöwe plan

When presented with it, Hitler's reaction to Seelöwe is unfavourable. This is probably the first time he has been presented with plans to invade England as it has not been presented to the OKW. At this stage the plan is a landing on the East coast.

Raeder:

The Führer and the Commander-in-Chief, Navy, discuss in private details concerning the invasion of England, on which the Naval Staff has been working since November.

Seeking guidance on U-boat strategy Raeder asks Hitler if the war was going to be decided quickly, or was it wiser to assume that it would "last some time"? Hitler favours the second assumption.

Hitler promises that, after the "main operations in France" are finished he will concentrate on the submarine and Ju 88 construction programs.

Raeder names air superiority over the Channel as the first condition of any invasion:

Rader:

I named absolute mastery over the Channel by our air forces as the first condition of any landing attempt.  Furthermore, this German air superiority had not only to achieve mastery of the air, but also would have to damage the British Fleet tremendously even if it could not completely prevent its appearance on the scene.  Anything less than this would make the risk too great and the invasion unjustified.  The diversion of a huge percentage of Germany's ocean, coastal and river shipping for transport of the invasion troops, I pointed out, would greatly impair Germany's domestic economy.

Hitler listed to all that I said, but expressed no views of his own at the time except to order that for the time being no preparations for a landing be made. But in any case Hitler had now been warned that any landing in England would have to be carefully studied first, and then just as carefully planned.

Reader brings the invasion plan to Hitler to forestall it being suggested by "some irresponsible person" and Hitler jumping to the idea which would mean the Kreigsmarine would be faced with impossible tasks.

All my experience with Hitler had convinced me of the importance of giving him our own opinions of a situation before less qualified people could gain his ear.

Furthermore, we had just completed a most successful amphibious operation, over wide waters, against Norway, and many people might get the idea that a similar move could be equally successful against England.

At first glance, the jump across the Channel, whose opposite shore could easily be seen from France in good weather, would seem far less dangerous that the Norwegian landings. But any experienced naval leader would know that just the opposite was true. A long and careful preparation was absolutely necessary.

Such a landing would be extremely difficult and attended with the gravest risks. However, the development of the aeroplane for both combat and and transport purposes had brought a new element not present in previous wars, and hence the possibilities of a successful invasion were not so infinitesimal as formerly. A powerful and effective Air Force might create conditions favourable for an invasion, whether it could was not in the Navy War Staff's province.

Generals Keitel, Jodel, Commander von Puttkamer (Hitler's naval adjutant) were present at the conference.

Halder records in his diary:

The overall picture of the day shows that the big battle is in full swing.

Hydrofoils and floating bunkers with caterpillar tracks that could climb beaches are mentioned as landing craft by Raeder.

Invasion Warning Sub-Committee is convened

This is an inter-service body, under a naval chairman, and holds its first meeting in the Admiralty. The committee is one of several intelligence agencies and will scrutinise all evidence available in London which might seem to have a bearing on the enemy's intentions. It was one of several intelligence agencies that advised the Chiefs of Staff via daily direct reports.

Invasion of England is not mentioned at Raeder's interview with Hitler

This is the first meeting since the invasion was initially proposed. It has not been disclosed outside Raeder's own headquarters.

Hitler states it is his intention "to dcrease the size of the Army when France has been overthrown and release all older men and skilled workmen" and primises the Navy and Luftwaffe will have "top priority".

OKH ordered to reduce the Heer's strength

Target is reducing by 35 divisions to 120 divisions - which means demobilising roughly 20% of the men under arms - allowing them to return to industry and agriculture where labour is needed.

Halder concludes:

[This is] based on the assumption that with the now final collapse of the enemy [France] the army will have fulfilled its mission [and] the Air Force and the Navy will be carrying on the war against Britain alone.

OKW assess invasion of Britain

Warlimont (Jodel's deputy chief of the OKW's Operations Staff) notes that:

With regard to a landing in Britain, the Führer … has not up to now expressed such an intention, as he fully appreciates the unusual difficulties of such an operation. Therefore, even at this time, no preparatory work of any type has been carried out at OKW.

Only the Kriegsmarine has begun provisionally earmarking shipping and collating topographical intelligence about the coast between The Isle of Wight and the Wash.

Raeder raises invasion of England with Hitler

Raeder urges the Luftwaffe to start "vigorous air attacks on British bases in order to destroy ships under construction and repair". Hitler replies he is contemplating "taking such action soon".

The preparations for an invasion of England … the locality chosen for landing … mines … shipping … special craft … air supremacy.

Raeder records no comment from Hitler but does talk about a plan to settle Jews on Madagascar and complains about a "rude telegram" from Göring sent him about a plan to invade Iceland code-named Icarus - Raeder says it will require the entire Navy.

Heretofore, apparently, no one outside the Navy had given the matter any thought. But shortly after my second report of 20 June the Supreme Command of Armed Forces suddenly began to show an unexpected interest. After the fall of France it was obvious that it would be a pertinent question as to what direction the war should take now. The last Norwegian defenders capitulated on 10 June. Norway was now in our hands. On the same day Italy entered the war on our side, and with the signing of the armistice with France on 21 June the only opponent left was England.

Keitel explains "that the demands made by the Navy have been approved at this very moment."