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

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,296
Whether I'm taken seriously is not up to you. In fact, you 're beginning to sound like Caesarmagnus. Do I need to point out where that's going? As regards research, I've done some. Your turn. I await a more informed reply about the historical subject of this thread rather than dismissive comments. You might be taken more seriously if you do.
 
Jun 2012
793
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.
I haven't missed the point. The point is that the cabinet were not discussing urgent problems with food supplies. That's the cabinet, the small number of ministers running the country, meeting in secret, with the record of their meeting automatically classified. Cabinet discussions were not reported.

You're argument is the country was days away from running out of food but the cabinet didn't discuss it. That when the food stocks, which were being maintained at around 5 million tons, fell to less than 200,000 tons, nobody even mentioned it. That when they discussed the long term supply situation, and the need to keep minimum stocks, and "elbow room" above minimum stocks, that they ignored the fact stocks were well below minimum. The cabinet, not parliament. The cabinet who met in secret and discussed strategy and the conduct of the war didn't discuss the fact that food would run out in days.

It makes no sense. It contradicts the figures we do have which show stocks lasting for 2 months even if all imports and domestic food production stopped completely.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,588
No.

For that matter Germany couldn't have even invaded Britain *with* air superiority. Germany lacked sufficient sea power to launch and sustain an invasion across the English Channel. Sea Lion was never anything more than one of Hitler's delusions.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,260
Whether I'm taken seriously is not up to you. In fact, you 're beginning to sound like Caesarmagnus. Do I need to point out where that's going? As regards research, I've done some. Your turn. I await a more informed reply about the historical subject of this thread rather than dismissive comments. You might be taken more seriously if you do.
What reserach have you done I seen none in this thread perhaps I missed it?>

"Britain came within three days of starvation conditions at one point. "

is your cliam and the sole supported evidence you have address is vague memories of a TV program. How is that research?
 
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Oct 2015
838
Virginia
According to Rohwer and Blair the worst month (for the allies) on the North Atlantic convoy routes was March 1943. 40 ships were sunk by U-boats from eastbound convoys HX-227, 228, 229, 230 and SC-121 and 122, 3 empty ships from westbound ON-168 and ONS-169, and 4 sailing independently. 3 eastbound convoys and 8 westbound were not attacked. 63 allied and neutral ships were sunk by submarines in other waters. ~360 loaded ships arrived safely in the UK.

The "best" month of the war for the U-boats was November 1942 when axis submarines sank 126 allied and neutral ships. In the North Atlantic they sank 15 loaded eastbound ships from convoy SC-107 and one from SC-109, 6 from westbound ON-144, one each from ON-143 and -145, and 5 sailing independently. 6 eastbound and 3 westbound convoys were not attacked. ~340 ships arrived in UK safely.

Between January-April 1943 most operational U-boats (54-90) were deployed against the the North Atlantic convoy routes. In these 4 months 1320 loaded ships sailed in 30 convoys from New York for the UK. U-boats sank 73 of them, 95% arrived safely.
 
Likes: Scaeva
Jan 2015
3,327
Front Lines of the Pig War
Another point to consider:
In 1939 the British merchant fleet was about 17 million tons. (GRT)
Starting in Dec 1939 and measuring at the end of every subsequent quarter, (Mar '40, Jun 40, Sept 40 etc), at no point do the British control LESS tonnage than they started the war with.
Additionally, they switched from bulkier lower calorie imports to foods with higher calorie content.
Similarly, they reduced bauxite imports and brought in more finished aluminium.

So if there wasn't mass starvation 1938, why would there be in 1941-1942 when the British controlled Merchant fleet was larger than the British pre-war tonnage?
 
Oct 2015
838
Virginia
Although the U-boats never really threatened to rupture the North Atlantic "lifeline", and the "tonnage war" was hopeless once American shipyards began serious production, there was reasonable cause for concern in the UK in spring '43. The government had calculated that to feed the population and keep war production going, the absolute, rock-bottom minimum annual requirement for imports of food and raw materials to the UK was ~22.5 million tons per year (~5.6 m tons/quarter). Due to convoying and military requirements, as well as losses, imports in the last quarter of 1942 fell to 4.6 m tons and to 4.4 m tons in the 1st quarter of 1943. These rates, if they continued, meant that stocks would reach dangerous levels by summer '43. The UK could not produce new ships to make up the deficit, and the government was unsure of how much help could be expected from the massive US shipbuilding program. These concerns evaporated by June '43 when FDR committed to providing the UK with 15-20 new ships each month from US production, and it became clear that allied forces had controlled the U-boat menace at sea. Imports to the UK in the 2d quarter of '43 were 7.2 m tons and rose afterwards.

The official history of the British War Economy (Hancock & Gowing) says : "...evidence suggests that the country was not quite so close to the margin of danger as the War Cabinet at the time believed. ...the calculation of minimum stock levels, and rates of consumption... and minimum import requirements...were too sombre."
 
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Likes: Lord Fairfax
Sep 2015
11
Romania
Possible only after defeating Russia, with the condition that the americans were not in possession of the a-bomb, and only if Germany would have invested more in the navy, or if Japan would have conquered India and gained access to the Suez. Common sense.
In the conditions of 1940 obviously an impossible task, without a surface navy.
With the resources of Eurasia, in 5-10 years, with a couple of aircraft carriers etc., maybe, as long as a-bombs are not yet in the game. And as long as USA does not win the Japan war and are not threatening Eurasia directly.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,296
I haven't missed the point. The point is that the cabinet were not discussing urgent problems with food supplies. That's the cabinet, the small number of ministers running the country, meeting in secret, with the record of their meeting automatically classified. Cabinet discussions were not reported.

You're argument is the country was days away from running out of food but the cabinet didn't discuss it. That when the food stocks, which were being maintained at around 5 million tons, fell to less than 200,000 tons, nobody even mentioned it. That when they discussed the long term supply situation, and the need to keep minimum stocks, and "elbow room" above minimum stocks, that they ignored the fact stocks were well below minimum. The cabinet, not parliament. The cabinet who met in secret and discussed strategy and the conduct of the war didn't discuss the fact that food would run out in days.
Yes you have missed the point. I have not claimed that the Cabinet, government, or political leaders were in any disinterested or non-consultative about potential shortages of food. What I suggested - for the third time of explaining it - is that the British government would not have broadcast that to the public or media of the time in order to prevent upsets in civil order and public morale. The quote of 'three days' is information subsequent to the immediate war situation, especially since items were being added to the rationing list as late as 1947, and rationing abolished in 1954.

I also have to point out that the concept of Germany coming close to success in the Atlantic War is hotly disputed by modern researchers. Interesting then that earlier commentators tend to describe a close run situation, whereas later writers describe a far less urgent situation. Clearly the Atlantic War is prone to interpretation, probably something you'd expect given the statistical nature of the arguments put forward. The truth is neither argument is final - one can find different viewpoints if you look hard enough. However, Britain was under pressure during WW2 - remember that the failures of the convoy system almost inspired their abandonment in march 1943. The issue here is how much pressure Britain was under. That was after all the entire point of the U-Boat campaign, although one has to admit there were only two periods where a victory of economic warfare was [possible and Germany failed to conclude it in either case, and that from 1943 onward the improvements in ASW and air cover in particular rendered any further such victory virtually impossible. Since the position Britain was in varied in intensity during the war, therefore analysis has to allow for these variations if the argument is to be at all acceptable.
 
Jan 2015
3,327
Front Lines of the Pig War
Although the U-boats never really threatened to rupture the North Atlantic "lifeline", and the "tonnage war" was hopeless once American shipyards began serious production, there was reasonable cause for concern in the UK in spring '43. "
Yes, although this is really a problem that the American military brass were reluctant to provide some cargo tonnage to the British, despite FDRs promise. Had the US not agreed, the British would need to shut down offensive operations in Burma in 1943 (A rather useless task anyways) to return Indian Ocean shipping tonnage to the Atlantic.

Remember that at this point in the war (Mar 43) the US still only has 8 or 9 million tons shipping (dry capacity) while the British are still up well over 20 million tons.