Hitler declares the air war to be a requirement for invasion

If the results of air warfare are unsatisfactory invasion preparations will be stopped.

Göring:

First of all, success is to be achieved within the target areas of Luftflotten 2 and 3. Only a complete victory over the RAF in southern England can give us the possibility of further attacks on enemy forces stationed in the depth of the country.

Raeder:

[Hitler] admitted that the invasion of England would be an extremely daring enterprise. He agreed that we could not expect to effect a surprise landing, and that we would be facing a most resolute opponent who controlled the water area we had to cross. Also he conceded that to keep the invasion force of approximately 40 divisions supplied after they had landed would present the utmost difficulty. An absolute prerequisite for the whole operation would be the complete supremacy in the air and an effective minefield protection along both flanks of the crossing channel, plus the added protection of a barrage from heavy guns installed on the French side of the Straights of Dover. He concluded by saying that owing to the lateness of the seasons, the main operation would have to be completed by 16 September, and therefore if all preparations had not been completed in time for the landing to begin by the first of September, then other plans would have to be considered.

Hitler postpones Unternehmen Seelöwe indefinitely

An operation in October is not ruled out but unlikely.

At a Luftwaffe conference a report titled "Air Situation, September 15" is presented that states on the 15th they had mounted over 1,000 sorties with 56 aircraft lost. They were forced to concluded that Fighter Command had adequate reserves of aircraft.

Raeder is concerned that invasion barges are being sunk by R.A.F. bombers, recently over 80 were sunk in one night. He suggests: "The present air situation does not provide the conditions for carrying out the operation, as the risk is still too great. A decision should be left over until October."

The German War Diary records: "The enemy air force is still by no means defeated; on the contrary it shows increasing activity. … The Fuhrer therefore decides to postpone Sealion indefinitely."

Two days later a directive is given to scale down preparations and barges are moved back from the Channel ports.

Raeder:

Even Hitler admitted that the invasion could not be made at this time, and therefore would have to be postponed. However, because of the psychological effect on the English public, the decision for the postponement was not to be made public, and the threat of a landing, plus the air attacks on London was to be kept up for its over-all effect.

I had to agree with the reasons Hitler gave, but the most satisfactory thing for me was that, with the landings postponed, the probability was that they would never be carried out. So outwardly all preparations were to be continued until 12 October, when Hitler privately me informed us that the preparations were to be carried out throughout the winter, but only to keep military and political pressure on England. If the movement was to be revived the following year, he said, he would give the necessary orders. To my mind this definitely buried any project for the invasion of England. From the first the Naval War Staff had never budged from its standpoint that an invasion across the Channel was so risky that it should be considered only as the ultimate operation in case all other measures against England Failed.

OKW releases ships allocated to invasion

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt. L 1 Nr. 33294/40 g.Kdos.Chefs.
Berlin
19 Sep. 1940
Eight Copies
Top secret

Re: Operation "Seelöwe"

The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has made the following decisions:

  1. Concentration of the transport fleet is to be stopped, insofar as it has not already been completed.
  2. The ships assembled in the ports of departure are to be dispersed in such a way that losses from enemy air attacks will be reduced to a minimum. However, it should remain possible to reassemble the ships at the ports of departure on 10 days notice under favorable weather conditions.
  3. The 10 steamers from the Norway traffic earmarked for operation "Herbstreise"* should be returned to their normal tasks. Six other steamers earmarked for operation "Seelöwe" should be withdrawn over a period of time unnoticeably, and should be used until further notice to speed up supplies for group XXI.
  4. The Commander in Chief, Air is to increase the Air defenses in the invasion ports to the greatest possible extent.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel

* Landing on the coast of Scotland planned as a diversionary operation in connection with "Seelöwe". Four empty ocean liners and 11 transport steamers heading towards Britain between Newcastle and Aberdeen whist the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper attempted to break out into the Atlantic via Iceland and the Faroes.

Hitler rules out any invasion of Britain before the end of the year

The Armed Forces High Command
WFSt/Abt. L (I) Nr. 33 318/40 g.K.Chefs.
Führer Headquarters
12 Oct. 1940
Fourteen Copies
Top secret

  1. The Führer has decided that preparations for the landing in Britain are to be kept up from now until spring, merely as a means of exerting political and military pressure.
    Should a landing in Britain be decided on again in the spring or summer of 1941, the required degree of readiness will be ordered at the proper time. Until then the military dispositions for a later landing are to be further improved.
  2. All measures connected with relaxing readiness for combat are to be ordered by the High Commands according to the following principles:
    1. The British are to be left under the impression that we are still preparing a landing on a wide front.
    2. At the same time the strain on the German economy is to be eased.
  3. This, in detail, means that:
    • Army:
      The units earmarked for operation "Seelöwe" will be available for proposed new formations or other assignment. However, we must avoid allowing it to become noticeable that the coastal areas are less heavily garrisoned.
    • Navy:
      The preparations in personnel and material are to be eased n such a manner that both personnel and tonnage, especially tugboats and fishing steamers, will be returned, insofar as is necessary, to the tasks of naval warfare and the public economy. All movements of shipping connected with the relaxation of of combat readiness are to be carried out inconspicuously, and extended over a considerable period of time. They are to be utilized as far as possible for the transportation of goods or captured material.
  4. The High Commands are requested to report by 20 Oct. to the Armed Forces High Command all measures taken in connection with relaxing the preparations for operation "Seelöwe", as well as the length of time which will be required to restore ten-day readiness.

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces High Command

signed: Keitel