Could Germany have successfully invaded Britain by sea without air superiority?

Jun 2012
793
it does not counter the information that on one occaision the reserves of food supply in Brtain was down to three days.
I find that very hard to believe. Reading through the cabinet papers there is never any great urgency in the food situation. Plenty of long term concern, but if stocks were so low at any point there'd have been dramatic cuts to rations etc. Most of the references to food during 1943 are either regarding the situation in India or about relief supplies for occupied Europe after the war.

The fifth report from the shipping committee, April 1943, has the following figures for food stocks (excluding farm and retail stocks):

Stocks at end of 1942: 5,644,000 tons
Home production: 10,598,000 tons
Arrivals from Eire: 96,000
Imports: 4,948,000
Consumption Jan - June 1943: 15,806,000 tons (including air raid damage and expired food)
Stocks at end of June: 5,480,000

That shows there were just over 2 months of stocks at the end of 1942 and still just over 2 months in the middle of 1943. That doesn't rule out a collapse to 3 days at one point, but it does make it unlikely. I don't see how the storage and distribution system could function with only 3 day's supply, either.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,296
The British government was certainly not going to show any urgency about a food situation. As I pointed out, the British were more turbulent than other regimes suffering shortages. The cultural emphasis on obedience in Japan for instance would see them carry on with barely enough food to sustain a pulse, and ultimately was one reason for the weakened public resolve by 1945 and a looming US invasion. The Russians were out for survival against all odds, their political reverence and beliefs having been profiled to emphasise loyalty, communal effort, and so on. In places, their suffering was extraordinary. It's hard to see the British going to that degree. This was a problem known to the British government who were full of appeasers anyway, and many disliked Churchill's gung-ho approach.

Look at the issue rather like a modern 'just in time' warehouse. You can't keep reserves. Too much space, too much cost. So the warehouse is supplied with enough to keep a few days buffer intact, first in, first out. But what happens if a container ship is delayed by a storm out at sea? The buffer declines at the same rate as production, because the schedule is already fixed and manpower allotted. Emergency measures might take place, such as expensive airlift of vital merchandise. But essentially, the system is in danger of grinding to a halt very quickly.

Britain was very much like that. The public had rationing levels deemed politically safe in the circumstances (the British knew full well what might happen if they surrendered to the Nazis). But the levels of food are subject to spoilage - cats would become employees of railways with wages to pay for their upkeep and deter vermin from getting at the all-important food supply - and need constant re-supply to support the population. It is perfectly understandable, given the two 'Happy Times' of U-Boat success in sinking merchant shipping in extraordinary numbers, that on one occaision the reserves had fallen to three days.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,262
The British government was certainly not going to show any urgency about a food situation. As I pointed out, the British were more turbulent than other regimes suffering shortages. T/QUOTE]

More turbulent. than other regimes. A conclusion supported by extremely sketchy evidence. A disorder with demobilization in 1919 is pretty much irrelevant.
 
Jun 2012
793
The British government was certainly not going to show any urgency about a food situation. As I pointed out, the British were more turbulent than other regimes suffering shortages. The cultural emphasis on obedience in Japan for instance would see them carry on with barely enough food to sustain a pulse, and ultimately was one reason for the weakened public resolve by 1945 and a looming US invasion. The Russians were out for survival against all odds, their political reverence and beliefs having been profiled to emphasise loyalty, communal effort, and so on. In places, their suffering was extraordinary. It's hard to see the British going to that degree. This was a problem known to the British government who were full of appeasers anyway, and many disliked Churchill's gung-ho approach.
It doesn't make sense that the cabinet weren't concerned about the food situation if it was a: so critical, and b: the UK public wouldn't stand for it. That should have made the cabinet more concerned, not less.

There's simply nothing in the cabinet records to show an urgent food situation. There's long term concern, there's talk of the food reserves in time maybe going below the limits set (400,000 tons above the minimum reserves required to allow efficient distribution), talk about the supply of food and raw materials being balanced against the need for shipping reserves to support fighting in North Africa, but nothing at all to suggest there was an imminent danger of reserves being low enough to actually run out.

What the figures show is that stocks at the end of 1942 were sufficient for 65 days and at the end of June 1943 for 63 days. Given the government were targeting two months or more of stocks, if they had actually dropped to 3 days at any point I think it might have warranted at least a mention in cabinet (and the distribution system would have broken down).

EDIT: The shipping report for August 1943 sets out the results for the first half of 1943:

The stock position at the 30th June, 1943 was not unsatisfactory. Food stocks had risen by almost 400,000 tons compared with the beginning of the year, and were some 1.12 million tons above the minimum safe levels for that time of year as estimated by the Ministry of Food.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,262
But 2 months stocks does not translate 2 months till starvation or collapse, there is a still very significant domestic production (30% of consumption) and measures that cloud be taken in a crisis (slaughter stock diverted stock food) and increase the amount of food in the shipping mix.

put in perspective was was the greatest percentage of ships traveling to Britain the U boat sank in a month? It never approached being a real blockade

Tonnage war - Wikipedia

"In all, during the Atlantic Campaign only 10% of transatlantic convoys that sailed were attacked, and of those attacked only an average of 10% of the ships were lost. Overall, more than 99% of all ships sailing to and from the British Isles during World War II did so successfully. "
.....
"To win this, the U-boat arm had to sink 300,000 GRT per month in order to overwhelm Britain's shipbuilding capacity and reduce its merchant marine strength.

In only four out of the first 27 months of the war did Germany achieve this target, while after December 1941, when Britain was joined by the US merchant marine and ship yards the target effectively doubled. As a result, the Axis needed to sink 700,000 GRT per month; as the massive expansion of the US shipbuilding industry took effect this target increased still further. The 700,000 ton target was achieved in only one month, November 1942, while after May 1943 average sinkings dropped to less than one tenth of that figure."
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,296
It's a precedent to illustrate a possibility. Nothing more. It's open to discussion but please , stop all this negative dismissal unless you have a better argument. You won't pop the bubble by your chosen means. Do some research and come back with a proper argument please.

It doesn't make sense that the cabinet weren't concerned about the food situation if it was a: so critical, and b: the UK public wouldn't stand for it. That should have made the cabinet more concerned, not less.
You missed the point completely. I did not suggest the British government weren't concerned - Churchill for instance regarded the U-Boat menace as the one thing that really worried him - what I suggested was that the British government were not going to advertise the oncoming shortages nor induce any possibility of public panic or disorder, especially during wartime with Britain hard pressed against a powerful military occupation on the continent.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,262
It's a precedent to illustrate a possibility. Nothing more. It's open to discussion but please , stop all this negative dismissal unless you have a better argument. You won't pop the bubble by your chosen means. Do some research and come back with a proper argument please.
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Pot kettle black. I have not made a claim that "More turbulent. than other regimes" you have one just vaguely related incident and that is simply not enough.
You want to be taken seriously do some research and come back with proper argument please,

You have made a cliam that Britain was few days from exhausted supplies and supplied the evdience of recollection of a TV series,
You want to be taken seriously do some research and come back with proper argument please,