About The Navy Won The Batle Of Britain
|August 24th, 2006||#1|
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The Navy Won The Batle Of Britain info
Battle of Britain was won at sea. Discuss
By Thomas Harding
Comment on this story Read comments
The Battle of Britain was not won by the RAF but by the Royal Navy, military historians have concluded, provoking outrage among the war's surviving fighter pilots.
Challenging the "myth" that Spitfires and Hurricanes held off the German invaders in 1940, the monthly magazine History Today has concluded that it was the might of the Navy that stood between Britain and Nazi occupation.
The view is backed by three leading academics who are senior military historians at the Joint Service Command Staff College teaching the future admirals, generals and air marshals.
They contend that the sheer numbers of destroyers and battleships in the Channel would have obliterated any invasion fleet even if the RAF had lost the Battle of Britain.
The idea that a "handful of heroes saved these islands from invasion" was nothing more than a "perpetuation of a glorious myth," the article suggests.
"Many still prefer to believe that in the course of that summer a few hundred outnumbered young men so outfought a superior enemy as solely to prevent a certain invasion of Britain. Almost none of which is true," reports Brian James, the author.
Dr Andrew Gordon, the head of maritime history at the staff college, said it was "hogwash" to suggest that Germany failed to invade in 1940 "because of what was done by the phenomenally brave and skilled young men of Fighter Command".
"The Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands. The Navy had ships in sufficient numbers to have overwhelmed any invasion fleet - destroyers' speed alone would have swamped the barges by their wash."
Even if the RAF had been defeated the fleet would still have been able to defeat any invasion because fast ships at sea could easily manoeuvre and "were pretty safe from air attack".
While admitting it was an "extremely sensitive subject", Dr Christina Goulter, the air warfare historian, supported the argument. "While it would be wrong to deny the contribution of Fighter Command, I agree largely that it was the Navy that held the Germans from invading," she said.
"As the German general Jodl put it, so long as the British Navy existed, an invasion would be to send 'my troops into a mincing machine'." Any challenge to the long-held theory that the 2,600 pilots of Fighter Command defeated the might of Germany would be subject to "more than a modicum of hostility", she added.
The Battle of Britain was "a sacrosanct event" for the RAF, like Waterloo for the Army and Trafalgar for the Navy.
It inspired Churchill to say: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Although six destroyers were lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 this was due to them being stationary as they picked up troops.
Tackling capital ships would have been an even greater task because at the time the Luftwaffe, unlike the Japanese during the destruction of the fleet at Singapore, did not have armour-piercing bombs, the article says.
It has been argued that German minefields strung across the Dover Straits would have prevented the Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, from destroying slow troop barges.
But Dr Gordon disputed this saying that Britain had 52 minesweepers and 16 minesweeping trawlers arrayed against four German minelayers.
The disparity between the navies was huge with Britain having 36 destroyers close by and a similar number two days away. The Navy also had five capital ships on hand, whereas the Kriegsmarine had lost or had damaged their battleships.
"Anyway, in an emergency, the Royal Navy steams straight through minefields as they did when pursuing the Scharnhorst," Dr Gordon said. "They have a drill, following line astern. 'Each ship can sweep one mine' is the rather grim joke."
Can you imagine the RN's targets? An invasion fleet of Rhine barges, moving at about two knots over the water, with a freeboard of a few feet. . . an absolute field day for our navy. So that was the nightmare for the German navy. They knew it just couldn't happen."
Prof Gary Sheffield, the JSCSC's leading land warfare historian, said while some Germans might have got ashore it would have been near impossible for them to be re-supplied with the Navy so close by.
The article also argues that while the RAF had 644 fighters to the Luftwaffe's 725 at the beginning of the battle by October 1940 Britain was far out-producing the enemy.
It also said that after the defeat in France in early 1940 it was vital for Britain to have a victory to reassure the public it was winning the war and the RAF fighter pilots were an obvious choice. "In 1940, the total acceptance of the story's simple broad-brush strokes was very necessary," the historian Richard Overy said.
Dr Gordon added: "The RAF's was a substitute victory - a substitute for the certain victory over Sealion, had the Germans been mad enough to attempt invasion."
LeEnfield Rides again
|August 24th, 2006||#2|
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Well, it seems to me that hindsight by so called experts is often unkind to those who actually participated and lived through the events of history. I am sure that had the RAF not prevailed through their heroic efforts against overwhelming numbers, that the Navy itself would likely have been hard pressed to survive and onslaught by an unchallenged Luftwaffe. I wouldn't presume that the war could have been won without the Naval superiority of the British, at the same time I would question the longevity of that superiority had it not been for the victory of the RAF at the Battle of Britain. I wish they'd (historians) give credit where credit is due. There were plenty of heroics to go around. It does no good to cast aspersions on the RAF. Each branch played a vital part in the total victory, wouldn't you say?
I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which in truth, they are.
Gen. W.T. Sherman
|August 24th, 2006||#3|
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Now with out air cover the Navy lost the Battleships the Prince Of Wales and the Repulse around Malaya, so with out air cover how were they going to beat of the German Air Force. Also in 1940 most of the ships has only a minimal amount of Ack Ack as they still did not see air craft as that greater threat.
|August 24th, 2006||#4|
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Hmmm... while true, I think that they overlooked one extremely important point. The Battle of Britain was won by the RAF, simply because by winning it when they (the RAF) did, the Royal Navy never had to fight it. If you want to win, you have to fight, and the RN never fought the Battle of Britain. A better way to say this is that the first round of the Battle of Britain was won by the RAF, but in the end, it would have been won by the RN in round two had the RAF lost round one. But they did not lose, so it becomes a moot point.
In addition, the German High Command set three conditions for the fighting of the Battle. The first was having air superiority over Britain and over the English Channel, and the second, using that air superiority along with the German Navy to neutralize the RN in the Channel. As they never achieved air superiority, they could never get condition two, so the battle was lost when the Luftwaffe was defeated by... the Royal Air Force. I think Dr Christina Goulter is wrong.
There was a third condition, and that was that the Kreigsmarine had to stop Britain from being resupplied from the US and Canada. It could be argued that the RN did participate in this effort, but IMO, the main fight in the Battle of Britain was in the air. The Battle of the Atlantic had many facets, and defending Britain from Germany was only one of them. In fact, the Battle of the Atlantic was won long after the Battle of Britain was over.
Last edited by Dean; August 26th, 2006 at 03:22..
|August 25th, 2006||#5|
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This article was also run in the London Times.
The Royal Navy’s main contribution to the ‘Battle of Britain’ was a few months earlier during the Norway campaign. Although this is seen as a British failure it was in fact a proportionate victory for the Royal Navy in which they destroyed or disabled a large number of German ships, some by heroic suicidal actions. Germany was left without an effective fleet during the latter half of 1940 whilst Britain could afford to take their losses.
One of the reasons why it is claimed that the RAF won the Battle of Britain (ignoring the definition) was the subsequent importance of air actions at sea, such as the sinking of the Bismarck and Force Z for example. This implied that ships could not operate effectively without air cover. This assumption is somewhat doubtful however, when smaller ships such as destroyers and motor torpedo boats are concerned which would have been in the forefront of action. The Luftwaffe were wary of coming too close to warships with anti aircraft fire notwithstanding the inadequate fire control system used at that time. Although many British merchant ships were sunk in the Mediterranean and Arctic were the Luftwaffe generally held control of the air, they were unable to stop these convoys. The later American anti-aircraft systems were more than a match for any aircraft the axis forces could deploy against them and this questions the validity of the need for aerial dominance altogether.
I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. Frank Lloyd Wright
Last edited by perseus; August 25th, 2006 at 07:44..
|August 26th, 2006||#6|
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|August 26th, 2006||#7|
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I suppose one could risk a naval bombardment of the barges at night with the location indicated by a sub during the day, but only if ordered to.
I think Sandhurst played several wargames of Sealion one scenerio with Luftwaffe superiority, it might be interesting to find information on this version.
Letters from Today radio 4 listeners, and the view of the former 1st sea Lord is here, press listen again and adjust the Podcast below to 1.22 (I think this link is valid for 24hrs)
Last edited by perseus; August 26th, 2006 at 11:55..
|August 26th, 2006||#8|
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Back on topic. The Royal Navy had to be a factor, but I always wondered what would have happened to the Navy without air support.
The Navy may have stopped an invasion but at what price? The lose of ships that would have probably resulted could have been fatal for Britains convoy protection requirements.
|August 27th, 2006||#9|
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Although you are correct, I was just trying to be courtious and clear considering this is an international forum. quote
Outside the UK, The Times is sometimes referred to as "The London Times", or "The Times of London" in order to distinguish it from the many other "Times" papers such as The New York Times and The Times of India. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Times
Regarding the Battle of Britain
The problem with some military theorists is that they like a simplistic view of events, in this case either the RAF or Royal Navy must have stopped the German invasion. The truth is that both contributed to the security of Great Britain before, during and after the official Battle of Britain. Certainly continuing the struggle would certainly have been far more difficult without having both.
However, of the two I believe that the Navy contributed the most, through its earlier exploits destroying or disabling much of the German Navy, and the sheer threat of being able to stop the supply route across the Channel. It was not just a matter of materiel strength, Hitler and his commanders respected the Royal Navy and they knew they would stop at nothing in destroying the transports. The RN had a long tradition of moral superiority with an almost psychopathic zeal.
In contrast, the Germans had far less respect for the RAF even during the Battle of Britain. The RAF ‘few’ were originally composed of amateur ‘Gentlemen’ who although brave and courageous were still learning tactics and had little of the professionalism of the Luftwaffe.
The German combat tactics were greatly superior, being based on the ‘rotte’ (pair) developed in Spain in 1936/7, with each pilot concentrated his search inwards so as to cover his partner’s blind areas behind and below. Two pairs made up the ‘schwarm’ (formation) of four, with the leading pair flying to one side and slightly ahead. The RAF in contrast still flew in neat V patterns which the German pilots dubbed the vics "Idiotenreihen" or rows of idiots.
Some of the more experienced ‘Gentlemen’ flyers communicated poorly to the more ‘common’ new recruits, failing to explain how to use the aircraft guns more effectively by aligning guns at a point and firing close. One is tempted to believe they were more interested in obtaining individual glory than overall success. The success of the RAF was less down to the pilots or the aircraft, but the air defence system, the superior strategy employed by Park and Dowding verses that of Goering and the advantages of flying over home soil.
Last edited by perseus; August 27th, 2006 at 13:00..
|August 28th, 2006||#10|
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I have just been watching the programme about Douglas Bader and what exactly brought him down over France (he claimed that a ME109 collided with his tail). It was interesting that the JG26 group using 109s appeared to get the better of the Spitfires in this operation now the fighting was over France. So I decided to check on the statistics regarding the number of planes shot down on either side in this situation.
Incidentally, it now appears that the most likely explanation was that Bader was shot down by one of his own crew after Bader accidentally drifted near a squadron of 109s.
Last edited by perseus; August 28th, 2006 at 20:57..
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