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Subject: The other sea lion rss

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Pablo Klinkisch
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I always read avidly the recurring threads about the feasibility of Sea Lion during WWII and, given that the consensus seams to be, that it wasn't feasible, I often ask myself how realistic the other attempts at "sea lion" were, particularly the French plans in 1805.

So, my question(s) are:
- was a napoleonic "lion de mer" realistic?
- If the crossing of the channel were successful: would Nappy have crushed England?
- Would a victory in english soil have been enough to completely alter the course of history or would could england slowly recover and re-start the war?

And last, but not least: which games simulate this whole situation best?
1805: Sea of Glory comes to mind when you are trying to get your armies over the channel and Albion 20 while trying to conquer England. Are there other interesting games on the subject? What is your opinion on those two?
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
Are there other interesting games on the subject?


Perfidious Albion: Napoleon's (Hypothetical) Invasion of England, 1814 is a similar game... don't know if it is interesting.
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Pete Belli
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...the feasibility of Sea Lion during WWII and, given that the consensus seams to be, that it wasn't feasible...


Neither Hitler nor Napoleon really needed to immediately invade Great Britain as a strictly military objective... both men desperately wanted to force the British to begin armistice talks leading to a recognition of French (Nappy) or German (Der Fuhrer) domination of the Continent.

In both wars the invasion threats were diplomatic gambits. Obviously, neither of the British regimes collapsed in the face of this blustering.

In my opinion, Hitler should have tried something in 1940 and Napoleon was merely thumping his chest.
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Anthony Simons
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pete belli wrote:
Quote:
...the feasibility of Sea Lion during WWII and, given that the consensus seams to be, that it wasn't feasible...


Neither Hitler nor Napoleon really needed to immediately invade Great Britain as a strictly military objective... both men desperately wanted to force the British to begin armistice talks leading to a recognition of French (Nappy) or German (Der Fuhrer) domination of the Continent.

In both wars the invasion threats were diplomatic gambits. Obviously, neither of the British regimes collapsed in the face of this blustering.

In my opinion, Hitler should have tried something in 1940 and Napoleon was merely thumping his chest.


Agreed. It's been my understanding that Seeloewe was perfectly feasible regarding the amphibious and land ops; but Germany relied too heavily on the Luftwaffe winning air superiority.

It would also have been a very difficult occupation, and would arguably have brought the USA into the war earlier.
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Hi Pablo,

Both operations have in common a single need: the Royal Navy reduced to a minimum term.
Without this, no landing crafts (in wood or steel) could land on the english beaches, having to face His Majesty's fleet.

History and What if apart, if You know WiF you know what I mean ...

and ... Remeber Trafalgar!


F.
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Pablo Klinkisch
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pete belli wrote:
In both wars the invasion threats were diplomatic gambits. Obviously, neither of the British regimes collapsed in the face of this blustering.


So, you think Napoleon never really envisaged to cross the Channel?

Filippo Chiari wrote:
Both operations have in common a single need: the Royal Navy reduced to a minimum term.


Or to send the royal navy run errands in the Caribbean Wasn't that the original plan?

Of course, after Trafalgar, See Lion was impossible, so I am somewhat assuming that the maneuvers in the Caribbean worked the way they were intended to (or asking if that was at all possible) _and_ assuming no war with Austria (or a sea Lion _after_ Austerlitz).
A lot of ifs, I know, but I am quite interested in the "technical" side:
- was it for the french possible to bring over an army to the other side?
- What about supply once on the island?
- Assuming a British defeat, how long would this defeat have lasted?

Thanks for the answers, btw.
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Antonio B-D
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Only La Armada Invencible had a real chance of invading Britain, because it had naval and military superiority at the time, and it was, supposedly, allied with Scots and Irish.

Seelöwe? Was doomed from the start. It needed to have complete control of the air to sink the Royal Navy. Unreachable. Also, the barges and landing crafts were mostly river boats that would have gone down during the crossing. But... should a crossing in force have been carried out... I think that England would have easily surrendered. Note that for the crossing the Germans would have needed air total control, and in that case they could have stopped the shipping... therefore, England would have been doomed.

Nappy? If you could swap Villeneuve for Churruca... maybe. But mostly impossible.
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Pablo Klinkisch
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abendoso wrote:
Only La Armada Invencible had a real chance of invading Britain, because it had naval and military superiority at the time, and it was, supposedly, allied with Scots and Irish.


I knew I was forgetting one attempt, and one of my favorites for that matter!! (one of my first tries at wargame-design was an Armada game, quite a long time ago).

Any games you could recommend to simulate the Armada? Would you care to derail the thread a bit and elaborate on it?
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England was successfully invaded in 1688 by the Dutch led by William of Orange. Although it was by invitation to overthrow a highly unpopular king it still counts I think.

Napoleon lost his chance even before Trafalgar I think. The Battle of The Nile in 1798 took time to recover from. Still, England did build up its defences and also built sea forts (still there now) Also as Antonio said earlier Villeneuve was completely unsuited as a naval leader. As well as being indecisive he was terrified of Nelson.

Hitler had no realistic chance as said.

Spain had a very good chance. It just went horribly wrong for them.

As to 'would it be effective and would England recover' it is hard to say. In all instances the English were aware of the threat and were told to not only expect it but prepare for it. A lot of bailed out German aircrew were getting killed by pitchforks and all sorts of home made weapons as people were at such a state of expectation. It goes into Alt History where any opinion could be successfully argued really.

However looking back at William the Conqueror and the smaller Danish invasions before then, the UK benefited greatly from them. With the Spanish I think there would have been religious wars and programmes for many years and very disruptive. With Hitler, I think, as with all other countries, we would have set up a resistance. Unlike all other invaders he sticks out as being truly Evil. People knew that and will hate the Germans anyway (by association) I'm not sure the US would have entered the war at all after that. In fact If I had to do an Alt History I suspect the German people themselves may have overthrown Hitler and self determination given back to the invaded countries.
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Antonio B-D
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I don't have time right now to go into detail in the invasion of the Spanish Armada but just a few hints.

Spain was at the time THE major power. Charles I (or V) controlled more than half of Europe (Germany, Benelux, the Francocondado, Italy, Spain, etc...) and a good part of America (IIRC the Mayflower had not yet left England). England was a small and pretty poor country.

Spain was THE naval power. Spanish vast possesions called for a major naval power to be created. England almost lacked any naval power. The person that was commissioned to defend England by sea was a privateer (a pirate) because there was not a proper navy.

Spain had the crack infantry of the time. The Tercios. They were the unmortals of their century, their name inspired fear in their enemies (Rocroi was far away at the time). England prefered to fight among themselves and was pretty much away of European military levels.

Spain had allied with the catholic Scots and Irish and had the sympathies of a lot former or hidden catholics in England itself. England was through a difficult time with the change of official religion and the prosecution of certain renown individuals. (St. Thomas Moore, for one).

Nevertheless, one daring move (sending burning ships to the ports where the ships were), one coward decision (cutting the anchors just to let the ships out of the port thinking that the burning ships had explosives), one heck of a bad luck (the immediate initiation of a terrible storm that sank some ships and disperse most) and treachery on behalf of Irish and Scots (that killed some of the Spanish ships that arrived at their coasts) cemented the disaster.

Please note that the Armada was a disaster in that a pretty easy conquest was hampered, but at the end not many ships nor personnel were lost, and the ships were quickly and easily replaced.
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A successful Spanish invasion of England in 1588 is a great "what if" for history, and I agree, not wildly implausible.
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I can't disagree Antonio, although I may disagree on emphasis in places. What is forgotten is that England was actually a very small country with a low population. It was not until the Industrial Revolution that that changed. As to the leaders being Pirates (strictly speaking buccaneers) yes they were, witness the English Admiral sneaking off during a battle to nab some loot from a Spanish ship. Something Jack Sparrow would be proud of. But they were loyal and very highly experienced seamen for all that, which is why they were used.

I also seem to remember the Spanish made a major error in passing the Isle of Wight. They should have landed but overestimated the strength of the English fleet there after a deceptive move by the English. It was a series of little things like this which lead to the failure. The storm just guaranteed it.

You also have to forgive the Scottish and Irish for killing those Spanish that landed, I doubt they cared one bit about politics or who their enemy was or was not. There is a town in England famous for trying and hanging a 'Frenchman' which was actually a monkey.
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No-one has yet mentioned the invasion threats by the French during the Seven Years' War! Maybe it's because they weren't that serious. Anyone who knows more than I care to comment on them?
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Antonio B-D
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Halfinger wrote:
As to the leaders being Pirates (strictly speaking buccaneers) yes they were, witness the English Admiral sneaking off during a battle to nab some loot from a Spanish ship. Something Jack Sparrow would be proud of. But they were loyal and very highly experienced seamen for all that, which is why they were used.


Actually I am pretty sure they were privateers more than bucanneers but that is clearly a differen topic. I did not want to bash Drake by calling him a pirate, what I wanted to point out was that England had not even developed a navy of sorts, and I thought that Drake's example was very ilustrative.

Not that I don't hate that "·$!$"·&/%$ pirate of Drake! devil
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Sancherib wrote:


Any games you could recommend to simulate the Armada? Would you care to derail the thread a bit and elaborate on it? :)


SPI's Armada. Some people don't much like it, but I think it's pretty
decent for a campaign which doesn't get covered. Offers a number of
strategic options - including focusing on the Neatherlands instead.

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abendoso wrote:
Halfinger wrote:
As to the leaders being Pirates (strictly speaking buccaneers) yes they were, witness the English Admiral sneaking off during a battle to nab some loot from a Spanish ship. Something Jack Sparrow would be proud of. But they were loyal and very highly experienced seamen for all that, which is why they were used.


Actually I am pretty sure they were privateers more than bucanneers but that is clearly a differen topic. I did not want to bash Drake by calling him a pirate, what I wanted to point out was that England had not even developed a navy of sorts, and I thought that Drake's example was very ilustrative.

Not that I don't hate that "·$!$"·&/%$ pirate of Drake! devil


I can imagine Drake is not the most popular guy in Spain. I didn't notice any statues of him when I was there And yes he was a Privateer but like all of them they were opportunists which suited England perfectly at the time. You're right about the navy of course. What they did have though was a beacon system, almost a precursor to Radar I suppose.

Thinking about it the whole venture may have been doomed from the start. There was no proper planning for picking up the Spanish Troops in the Netherlands at all. Another example of assumption being the mother of all screw ups. The Spanish Commander had no experience and the best Commander, well up to the job, had recently died. Things like using unseasoned wood barrels for water storage hardly helped. I think it was a case of too much praying and not enough attention to detail.
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Charles Vasey
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abendoso wrote:


Spain was THE naval power. Spanish vast possesions called for a major naval power to be created. England almost lacked any naval power. The person that was commissioned to defend England by sea was a privateer (a pirate) because there was not a proper navy.


I rather think not, Spain lacked any ships able to handle the gun-platform English fleet. Having a large fleet is not the same as being the naval power. It seems to me that no-one could claim to be THE sea power at that time. As to the jibe at El Draco the Invincible Armada was commanded by a grandee not by an admiral, presumably because there was no proper navy?

By 1805 Britain was the sea power and as St Vincent said of Napoleon landing; "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea." Though (of course) the Government enjoyed a good panic.

The best chance of an invasion was during the American war where a Bourbon fleet got up the Channel (I forget the year) but did nothing.
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Charles Vasey
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spartax wrote:
No-one has yet mentioned the invasion threats by the French during the Seven Years' War! Maybe it's because they weren't that serious. Anyone who knows more than I care to comment on them?


They lacked the strength, but the next war was a different matter.
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abendoso wrote:
Please note that the Armada was a disaster in that a pretty easy conquest was hampered, but at the end not many ships nor personnel were lost, and the ships were quickly and easily replaced.

That's an interesting interpretation given that they had been difficult to assemble in the first place you can't replace the experienced personnel lost, even if you conjure up the crews somehow. I recall a very good BBC documentary which said the original Armada had been forced to press large numbers of non sailors (a fact established from contemporary records) simply to make up the numbers.

The Habsburg Empire may have been professional on land, but it was all at sea when it came to naval operations. I'm not saying that the English did much better (their crews starved in port unpaid after the action), but they simply had to foil the operation, not destroy the enemy fleet. In this regard they succeeded admirably.
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misteralan wrote:
abendoso wrote:
Please note that the Armada was a disaster in that a pretty easy conquest was hampered, but at the end not many ships nor personnel were lost, and the ships were quickly and easily replaced.

That's an interesting interpretation given that they had been difficult to assemble in the first place you can't replace the experienced personnel lost, even if you conjure up the crews somehow. I recall a very good BBC documentary which said the original Armada had been forced to press large numbers of non sailors (a fact established from contemporary records) simply to make up the numbers.

The Habsburg Empire may have been professional on land, but it was all at sea when it came to naval operations. I'm not saying that the English did much better (their crews starved in port unpaid after the action), but they simply had to foil the operation, not destroy the enemy fleet. In this regard they succeeded admirably.


Well the whole operation had problems due to lack of naval experience, not least Disease. Why they appointed a commander who got violently sea sick and had no naval experience I do not know. Their whole focus was the Army. The reliance on boarding rather than Gunnery was out dated as well, especially against the faster English ships. But they could have got to England if they had planned it better. There where a lot of small errors adding up to a major disaster.

It was still the best chance of them all though I think.

France threatened England many times, long before and up to the time of Napoleon. He did not get anywhere as close as Spain did though.
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Halfinger wrote:


France threatened England many times, long before and up to the time of Napoleon. He did not get anywhere as close as Spain did though.


If you go back to 1216 the future Louis VIII of France got as far as London. Although, like William of Orange he had been invited in by the English grandees. (The difference between the fates of Louis' and William's invasions being that James II and VII was unwilling to adopt King John's strategy of dying of a surfeit of peaches and being replaced by a less obnoxious heir)
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Charles Vasey
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misteralan wrote:
abendoso wrote:
Please note that the Armada was a disaster in that a pretty easy conquest was hampered, but at the end not many ships nor personnel were lost, and the ships were quickly and easily replaced.

That's an interesting interpretation given that they had been difficult to assemble in the first place you can't replace the experienced personnel lost, even if you conjure up the crews somehow. I recall a very good BBC documentary which said the original Armada had been forced to press large numbers of non sailors (a fact established from contemporary records) simply to make up the numbers.

The Habsburg Empire may have been professional on land, but it was all at sea when it came to naval operations. I'm not saying that the English did much better (their crews starved in port unpaid after the action), but they simply had to foil the operation, not destroy the enemy fleet. In this regard they succeeded admirably.


It's real skill I believe was in galley/amphibious actions, Santa Cruz showed at the Azores against Strozzi what they could do. But in northern waters they were "playing away".
 
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The Vikings often made raiding parties onto British soil to loot and pillage but had no major plans to take over Briton. The Romans of course did conquer Briton and stayed for about 450 years.

When I think of Hitler's attempt I often wonder how anyone could believe the wooden barges would survive even a channel crossing. They were gathered in numerous numbers in the area and wonder if this was a feint by Hitler similar to the wooden planes in East Anglia prior to D-Day. I wonder if a massive parachute drop similar to Market Garden would of been a better idea. Hitler had secured airfields from Northern Norway to Western France being able to reach anywhere in Britain.
 
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Charles Vasey wrote:
misteralan wrote:
abendoso wrote:
Please note that the Armada was a disaster in that a pretty easy conquest was hampered, but at the end not many ships nor personnel were lost, and the ships were quickly and easily replaced.

That's an interesting interpretation given that they had been difficult to assemble in the first place you can't replace the experienced personnel lost, even if you conjure up the crews somehow. I recall a very good BBC documentary which said the original Armada had been forced to press large numbers of non sailors (a fact established from contemporary records) simply to make up the numbers.

The Habsburg Empire may have been professional on land, but it was all at sea when it came to naval operations. I'm not saying that the English did much better (their crews starved in port unpaid after the action), but they simply had to foil the operation, not destroy the enemy fleet. In this regard they succeeded admirably.


It's real skill I believe was in galley/amphibious actions, Santa Cruz showed at the Azores against Strozzi what they could do. But in northern waters they were "playing away".


My interpretation is that a General was in charge of the Navy, that many non-sailor people were pressed in the ships (something that even the proffessional 1800 Royal Navy did) and that the ships were not the best for battle because... no battle was expected and no battle was going to happen.

The Armada had effective control of the seas, and it was just an invasion fleet, not a sea battle fleet. The best comparison would be with D-Day. A general was in charge and the LTC were not fit for naval combat... because no naval combat was expected. Imagine that before D-Day following terrorific acounts of submarine attacks, the allies would have sent the LTCs to open seas... the effect would have been terrorific, but similar to the Armada.

BTW, I don't have the numbers handy, but the loses of the armada were not that big, and, obviously, the loses came from inexpert crews and old ships more than from new ships or expert crews.

Finally, I see that Lord Foppington has moved to Scotland.
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abendoso wrote:

My interpretation is that a General was in charge of the Navy, that many non-sailor people were pressed in the ships (something that even the proffessional 1800 Royal Navy did) and that the ships were not the best for battle because... no battle was expected and no battle was going to happen.

The Armada had effective control of the seas, and it was just an invasion fleet, not a sea battle fleet. The best comparison would be with D-Day. A general was in charge and the LTC were not fit for naval combat... because no naval combat was expected. Imagine that before D-Day following terrorific acounts of submarine attacks, the allies would have sent the LTCs to open seas... the effect would have been terrorific, but similar to the Armada.

BTW, I don't have the numbers handy, but the loses of the armada were not that big, and, obviously, the loses came from inexpert crews and old ships more than from new ships or expert crews.

Finally, I see that Lord Foppington has moved to Scotland.


A battle did happen at Gravelines, causing the Armada to cut its anchors and sail all the way round the British Isles. There was additionally a running fight all the way up the Channel. A fleet that cannot control its own ships cannot control the seas and the Armada was in that position. Neither side had control, though the Royal Navy could deny control more effectively than the heavier Spanish/Allied vessels.

I think you would have to demonstrate the "obviously" point with actual data. Even an expert Atlantic crew attempting to round Scotland might find it required other skills. Whether the losses were high or not (and no-one pays a crew lost at sea) the mission of the Armada was a signal failure. A vast expenditure leading nowhere other than to spend English treasure which is (I think) its only success.


 
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