Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 13 August 1940, at 1730.
1. Operation "Seelöwe". The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests a prompt decision on whether operation "Seelöwe" is to be carried out on the wide front proposed by the Commander in Chief, Army, or on the narrow front proposed by the Commander in Chief, Navy, as otherwise preparations will be held back. The Commander in Chief, Navy, expresses his opinion on the memorandum of the Commander in Chief, Army, dated 10 March 1940 (Gen. St.d.H. op Abt.(ia) Nr. 437/40 Gkdos., not included). (See Annex 1.)
The Commander in Chief, Navy, sums up as follows: In view of the limited means available for naval warfare and transport, operation "Seelöwe", as emphasized repeatedly, should be attempted only as a last resort, if Britain cannot be made to sue for peace in any other way. The Führer agrees completely. Failure on our part would cause the British to gain considerable prestige. We must wait and see what effect our intensive air attacks will have. The Führer will make a decision on 14 August after a conference with the Commander In Chief, Army.
2. The Führer wants the north Norwegian fjords to be more heavily fortified particularly at the crossroads, so that Russian attacks there would have no chance of success, and the foundation for occupying Petsamo would be laid. The commanding admiral in the northern area is responsible.
3. The Commander in Chief, Navy, requests that production of submarine torpedoes and torpedo tubes be given priority over other top priority items, as otherwise submarine warfare will be jeopardized from October on. The reason is the higher consumption of torpedoes as a result of using Lorient as a base, and the set-back in tube construction due to the fact that the numbers of workmen requested were not provided in spite of all the efforts made by the Ministry of Labor.
The Führer recognizes these demands and gives orders to the Chief of the OKW to settle the question. (The Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe, has also requested that preference be given to certain matters of air equipment.) The Commander in Chief, Navy, gives the Chief of the OKW two final copies of a Führer order, together with the draft.
Annex 1Views of the Seekriegsleitung [Skl] on the Memorandum of the Commander in Chief, Army.
Subject: Operation "Seelöwe".
1. The opinion held by the Seekriegsleitung and the possibilities which it foresees correspond to the facts as they were stated once more at the conference on 7 August between the Chief of Staff, Seekriegsleitung and the Chief of the General Staff, Army.
As regards details, attention is again drawn to the fact that all dates, figures, and other particulars calculated by the Seekriegsleitung were rather optimistic than otherwise. This applies particularly to the time required for the transfer of the first wave and to the time required by steamers to unload on the open coast; any possible delays owing to unfavorable weather or sea conditions have been disregarded.
2. The Seekriegsleitung recognizes very well the reasons for the demands made by the General Staff. Just as the General Staff, from its own point of view, must insist on certain demands which it considers essential for success, the Seekriegsleitung must do likewise with regard to its part in the operation.
The General Staff, Army, has asked for a simultaneous strong landing in the Brighton area, consolidated with sufficient speed. The success of such an undertaking cannot be guaranteed, however. All units cannot land simultaneously because of the difference in the tides and the length of time taken by the steamers to unload even if we did not take the weather and the enemy into account, which, however, we must do. The necessary strength could not be attained owing to the restricted transport space and again due to the long time required for disembarkation. A quick replenishment of forces and supplies could in no way be guaranteed, mainly because of the lack of transport space, enemy action, and weather conditions. Therefore the conditions necessary for "an additional speedy and successful operation" as desired by the General Staff of the Army cannot be considered as assured.
The same applies to the landing in Lyme Bay. The airborne troops can influence neither the weather nor the sea; they cannot prevent the destruction and incapacitation of the few harbors, nor hold off the enemy fleet or even a small part of it.
3. The Seekriegsleitung comments as follows on the various conclusions of the General Staff:
b. Simultaneous landing operations near Brighton in the west and Deal in the east cannot be carried out. The likelihood that even the first landing will be successful, not to speak of subsequent reinforcements, is so small as to make the attempt unjustifiable.
c. Transport facilities over and above those in the statement by the Seekriegsleitung of 2 August 1940 (Skl I op 1110/40) cannot be provided, nor could they be accommodated in the embarkation ports or area. Consequently it is impossible to meet the demands made by the General Staff for transporting and landing a first wave consisting of 10 divisions with appropriate equipment to the area between Ramsgate and the region west of Brighton. It is impossible for the same reasons to follow up more quickly with reinforcements and supplies, all the more so because of the losses in shipping space which we must expect.
d. Additional shipping space for the Lyme Bay landing is even more out of the question in view of these increased demands. The difficulties entailed in landing steamers on the open coast apply here as much as elsewhere.
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