Customer Review

1 September 2013
As a number of authors have pointed out since the 1950s (Grinnell-Milne, Hewitt, Robinson), the central fact about Operation Sealion is and remains that in Sept. 1940 the Royal Navy in home waters outnumbered the Kriegsmarine ten to one in (operational) surface units. And far from "staying nervously at the fringes" (p. 170) the RN destroyers, MTBs, and a host of other vessels would have attacked all out, as their very explicit orders told them to do.
So the most likely scenario is in fact that in the night before the landing - when the Luftwaffe would have been powerless to intervene - half the invasion fleet would have been sent to the bottom and the other half scattered all over the Channel.
Apart from that, it is somewhat perplexing that the author bases his British defences on German maps and intelligence reports, instead of taking the trouble of finding out what was actually waiting for the Germans. As a result, the defenders seem strangely absent for the most part.
For instance, the landing at Rottingdean is described as "a relatively mild and uneventful affair" and "the defences were trivial, consisting of Home Guard road blocks and lacking sophisticated pillboxes".
I beg to differ. The coastal area around Brighton was held by "Brocforce", later to become the 26th Armoured Brigade in the 6th Armoured Division. The Rottingdean sector was held by the 5th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, a machine gun battalion, well supported by mortars and artillery. Right behind that, there were three cavalry regiments (16/5 Lancers, 17/21 Lancers, 2 Lothian & Border Horse) as a mobile reserve, at that time still mostly equipped with Beaverettes and carriers, but also with about a dozen brand new Valentine tanks. In other words, a single German infantry regiment (with a few self-propelled guns) trying to push through that narrow gap in the cliffs would have had no chance at all.
And so it goes on; the Germans were blissfully unaware of the presence of most of the coastal gun batteries so Marix Evans ignores them too. VII Corps dawdles north of the Weald for days instead of counterattacking and driving the enemy into the sea as they had orders to do and had practiced many times.
On the German side, many minor and major miracles happen, even apart from the continued inactivity of the RN. They have 750 Ju 52s instead of the 450 (at most) that we know were there. And they can hold 18 parachutists instead of 12-13 as was the case in reality. And even though in the most optimistic German plans it would take 9-14 days before the divisions of the second wave would begin to come across, Marix Evans pulls them out of his hat on S+5. Astonishingly, unloading an armoured division - on a beach ! - takes only a couple of hours or so and they can move inland immediately(page 250-252).
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