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Otto Schniewind Report on Operation Sea Lion

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13 Aug 1940

AUGUST 13, 1940 at 17.30.

Also present: Chief of Staff, O.K.W.
     General Jodl.
     Commander von Puttkamer
     Chief of Naval Staff.

  1. Operation "Sea Lion". - The C. in C., Navy requests a prompt decision on whether operation "Sea Lion" is to be carried out on the wide front proposed by the C. in C., Army, or on the narrow front proposed by the C. in C., Navy, as otherwise preparations will be held back. The C in C., Navy expresses his opinion on the memorandum of the C in C., Army, dated March 10, 1940. The C. in C., Navy, sums up as follows: In view of the limited means available for naval warfare and transport, operation "Sea Lion" 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 F├╝hrer agreed with this 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 F├╝hrer added that he would make a decision on August 14 after a conference with the C. in C., Army.
  2. The F├╝hrer stated that he wants the northern Norwegian fiords to be more heavily fortified, particularly at the crossroads, so that Russian attacks ther would have no chance of success, and the foundation for occupying Petsamo would be laid. The Admiral commanding in the northern area is responsible.
  3. The C. in C., Navy requested that production of submarine torpedoes and torpedo tubes be given priority over other top priority items, as otherwise submarine warfare will be jeopardised 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 production due to the fact that the numbers of workmen requested were not provided in spite of all efforts made by the Ministry of Labour. The F├╝hrer recognised these demands and said he would issue orders via the Chief of Staff, O.K.W., to settle the matter. He also mentioned that the C. in C., Air had also requested that preferences be given to certain matters of air equipment.

The meeting was ended but met again the following day.
  1. The opinion held by Naval Staff and the possibilities which it foresees correspond to the facts as they were stated once more at the conference of August 7 between the Chief of Staff, Naval Staff 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 Naval Staff 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 unfavourable weather or sea conditions have been disregarded.
  2. The Naval Staff recognises very well the reasons for the demands made by the General Staff, from its own point of view, must insist on certain demands which it considers essential for success, the Naval Staff 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 a 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 "additional speedy and successful operation" as desired by the General Staff of the Army cannot be considered as assured.

    The same applies to landing in Lyme Bay. The airbourne troops can influence neither the weather or the sea; they cannot prevent the destruction and incapacitation of the few harbours, nor hold off the enemy fleet or even part of it.
  3. The Naval Staff point of view is appreciated. The Naval Staff for its part can see no possibilities for improving the initial operation situation in the narrow landing area.

    Simultaneous landing operations near Brighton in the west and Deal in the east cannot be carried out. The likelihood that even the first landing be successful, not to speak of subsequent reinforcements is so small asto make the attempt unjustifiable.

    Transport facilities over and above those in the statement by the Naval Staff on August 2, 1940 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 Ztaff for transporting and landing a first wave consisting of ten divisions with appropriate equipment to the area between Ramsgate and the region west of Brighton. It is immpossable 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.

    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.

(Signed) Schniewind.
Seekriegsleitung (Chief of Naval Staff.) ww2dbase

Added By:
Hugh Martyr

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