The defeats of the british navy

Jan 2015
3,244
Front Lines of the Pig War
#81
By comparison, do we consider the German naval operations of Weserübung in 1940 to be a Franco-British defeat?
Without question.
While some consider it a somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory for the German surface fleet in the long term, it was a clear victory for the German Navy.
??
Really?

It was a victory for the German Army, which completed the occupation without major casualties, but a clear defeat for the German navy, which took heavy casualties in an operation in its own backyard, and crippled it's capabilities so much that Sea lion and Ikarus were no longer possible. The loss of so many German cruisers and destroyers, plus the heavy damage to Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Lutzow is something the German surface fleet never recovered from.

Had the Germans managed to sink significant British assets without taking many losses, they might have changed the balance of power
 
Likes: benzev

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,665
Stockport Cheshire UK
#82
??
Really?

It was a victory for the German Army, which completed the occupation without major casualties, but a clear defeat for the German navy, which took heavy casualties in an operation in its own backyard, and crippled it's capabilities so much that Sea lion and Ikarus were no longer possible. The loss of so many German cruisers and destroyers, plus the heavy damage to Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Lutzow is something the German surface fleet never recovered from.

Had the Germans managed to sink significant British assets without taking many losses, they might have changed the balance of power
The overall operation was a success and the German navy shared in that success. German naval losses were severe but even if they hadn't been Sealow was always a pipe dream, a couple of extra cruisers and less than a dozen destroyers isn't going to change the naval balance.
 
Likes: Edratman

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,663
#83
Yes. It achieved the operations it was tasked with doing. Pyrrhic victory is a good description.

It was a victory for the German Army, which completed the occupation without major casualties, but a clear defeat for the German navy, which took heavy casualties in an operation in its own backyard,
How did the army get there? operating againstg the Royal Navy, backyard or not it faced very significant odds.

and crippled it's capabilities so much that Sea lion and Ikarus were no longer possible.
They never were realistic possibilities.

he loss of so many German cruisers and destroyers, plus the heavy damage to Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Lutzow is something the German surface fleet never recovered from.
Yup.

Had the Germans managed to sink significant British assets without taking many losses, they might have changed the balance of power
unrealistic. The amount of ships the German Navy would have to sink to change the balance of power was very large. This could never have been achieved in Norway. Impossible.
 
Likes: Edratman
Feb 2011
13,513
Perambulating in St James' Park
#84
Had the Luftwaffe lost the BoB then the German losses from Norway could have been used to escort the invasion barges. With the Luftwaffe in the air the Kriegsmarine would have been free to lay mine fields covering the invasion route across the channel. Any RN retaliation would have come under heavy air attack. The Kriegsmarine losses made Sealion that little less likely, not to mention clearing the way a bit for future arctic convoys, though they weren't to know that at the time.
 
Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#85
I feel that the uncertainty stems from the wording of the OP 'How many defeats for the british navy from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II ? '.
'Defeat in this context can have a very wide meaning; in the first pages of this thread it seems to have been taken to mean' loss of a naval battle' then after the relatively meagre results of that examination (certainly in the context of centuries of action), the meaning has been widened (with it seems to me, increasing degrees of frustration) to include 'virtually any failure to achieve something'.

No nation is invincible, yet the Royal Navy, surrounded by powerful and frequently hostile nations and combinations of same, survived to project its power worldwide. Its combat record is highly impressive. But any such assessment of naval victory or defeat is increasingly difficult to make in the context of combined operations, which many of the 'defeats' happen to be.

Re Weserubung. This was certainly an important campaign victory for Nazi Germany. However, the objective for the Navy, initially, was to AVOID battle with the British and hope to take British intelligence by surrpise, to escort and land troops in a narrow time window. It was successful in this objective. (By the same token, D-Day in 1944 was presumably a devastating naval victory). If you wish to call this a 'naval defeat', go ahead, but it is certainly at odds with the initial meaning of the thread in 'losing a combat'. Subsequently, in attempting to support the landings, the German Navy was engaged and severely mauled. Regardless of the overall outcome of the campaign, these were a naval defeat.

What the subsequent effect on Sealion would have been is academic, but the weakness of the German navy must have been a factor in the decision not to proceed.

The view of Weserubung as a consolidated whole is also at odds with the views expressed when Rheinubung was discussed. In that instance, the 'pro-defeat' argument went that it would be misleading to look at the overall result (an overall loss for Germany) but the individual engagements must be considered separately- one naval defeat for Britain, one naval defeat for Germany. The German naval objective was completely failed, yet despite this the operation was also claimed as a 'victory.'. I don't think you can have this argument both ways.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2014
365
Istanbul Turkey
#86
Frankly Weserubung basically had been death ride of German surface fleet and merchant marine. For sake of of reaching and landing invasion waves on Norwegian shores , their losses had been so severe Kriegsmarine surface fleet never engaged any large fleet action aside occasional sorties as raids against convoys at Atlantic ( which ended after German defeat at Rheinenbung in May 1941) , Arctic (ended after loss of Scharnhorst in 1943) and Baltic Sea. Yes strategical and operational objectives of invading Norway was achieved by Germans BUT attrition in Weserubung had been in favor of Alllied navies (despite their losses including a carrier they eventually gained three million tons of Norwegian merchant marine , Doenitz's tonnage war aim took a big reverse) not German Navy which lost three cruisers , ten destroyers (half of their available destroyers in total) and 22 merchant ships plus four U-Boats (which had a miseable time in Norwegian waters due to torpedo failures)
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,663
#87
Frankly Weserubung basically had been death ride of German surface fleet and merchant marine. For sake of of reaching and landing invasion waves on Norwegian shores , their losses had been so severe Kriegsmarine surface fleet never engaged any large fleet action aside occasional sorties as raids against convoys at Atlantic (
The Kriegsmaine was incapable of large fleet action before Weserubung. Not even close.

If the Allied occupation of Norway had been successful leading to the stopping of Swedish Iron ore (far from certain) , the effect on the German war ecnomy could have been significnat. As high as the cost was. It MAY have been worthwhile.
 
Likes: Edratman
Jan 2019
10
Kent, England
#88
I don't know why people consider the Raid on the Medway in any way significant. The RN at the time consisted of something like 200 battleships, and they lost a handful of them. Not long before, the Raid on Vlie (also called Holmes' Bonfire) burnt 160 Dutch merchantmen as well as a large number of warehouses full of valuable goods - the damage was estimated at £1,000,000 in the money of the day. To put this in perspective, an average line-of-battleship cost about £5-6,000 at the time. Combined with the capture of very large numbers of Dutch merchant ships and herring-busses during all three of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the result was to break the Netherlands as a major power, and by the time of the War of the Spanish Succession they were finding it very difficult to meet their commitments in terms of ships and troops.
 
Sep 2016
911
Georgia
#89
Combined with the capture of very large numbers of Dutch merchant ships and herring-busses during all three of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the result was to break the Netherlands as a major power, and by the time of the War of the Spanish Succession they were finding it very difficult to meet their commitments in terms of ships and troops.
Because you lost the war and Raid on Medway was embarrassment.

You were defeated in Second Anglo - Dutch War and then failed in Third Anglo - Dutch war. By the way, in third war Dutch raiders captured more English ships (over 550 merchantmen; 2800 vessels of all Allies ) than vice versa.

Not to mention, that 1688 happened as well. You became a major player in Europe, only after 1688. Dutch Republic and England were fighting together against France under the leadership of William III ( who was a Stadtholder of Dutch Republic ).
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,895
Netherlands
#90
OK I admit you guys got me on that one and I showed bias in my historical perspective :p

You gotta cut me some slack though, I'm ex Royal Naval Reserve with family history in the Navy and I was born in Chatham. It's quite hard to remain neutral when talking about the destruction of the fleet and the burning of your home town...
We wont do it again, promise ;)
 

Similar History Discussions