Hawker Hurricane plane.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft.

Sea Lion

a novel by Steve Barrett
Sea Lion Home page.

 Alternative History
in the novel
"Sea Lion"

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Information on Sea Lion.

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Hitler did not attempt Operation Sea Lion for several good reasons. However, if events had unfolded as described in my novel, things may well have been different and Hitler may well have been photographed with Tower Bridge as a background as shown at the head of this page.

I am currently working on general historical notes to the novel and I will add a link here and on the "Background" page when these are complete. The idea is that the interested reader will be able to learn about the realities concerning Operation Sea Lion referred to in the book as well as the alternative history elements.  

Chapter Notes on deviations from actual history
1 & 4 Brucke's appointment as Head of Combined Operations means that there is a strong organiser and administrator co-ordinating the planning and activities of Germany's armed forces. In reality the convoluted command structure, inter-service rivalry and diversification of responsibility caused many problems. Germany's early military successes were hindered rather than helped by the situation.
8 The actual invasion of Norway was achieved at the cost of severe losses to the German Navy. Peter Fleming's Invasion, 1940 gives these in  a footnote as 1 cruiser, 2 light cruisers, 10 destroyers and 8 submarines sunk, with many other vessels damaged. In the novel German losses are much lower and Royal Navy losses higher. This begins to tip the balance of local naval power - one of the major obstacles to Operation Sea Lion from the German point of view. 
10 General Guderian has described in his memoirs (Panzer Leader) the actual course of events upon which the majority of this chapter is based. The eventual order to stop the tanks from pursuing the retreating Allies had, according to Guderian (who can be assumed to have had a biased viewpoint!) "...a most disastrous influence on the whole future course of the war." The conversations that Guderian has in the novel with von Kleist and with List are based largely on Guderian's own account; what I have done is to shorten the amount of time that the tanks were halted for and then given them much more of a flexible brief (as Guderian intended).
12 In reality nearly a third of a million men were evacuated from Dunkirk and some other coastal areas. In my book about of tenth of that number escape - and again the Royal Navy suffers worse losses than was the actual case, adding to the change in the balance of naval power begun in chapter 8.

The closing part of this chapter assumes a German intelligence operation in Britain that was at least competent. In reality their efforts appear to have been woefully inadequate with badly trained and less than inspired agents (see Fleming's book and others for examples). 

13 The Germans were denied the opportunity to seize the French Navy by the British action at Mers-el-Kebir/Oran in which some 1,500 French seamen were killed. The British Government obviously saw a very real threat of the French ships being turned against them. 

Although the details of the Cabinet discussion in the novel concerning the issue of gas shells is invented, it is apparent that the use of gas was seriously considered during the time that an invasion was considered to be a real threat. It was to be sprayed from aircraft rather than fired by the artillery, however. (Fleming mentions this contingency plan in his book, and the Imperial War Museum library confirmed to me that this was the case.)

14 Admiral Darlan was in fact assassinated much later in the war than I have suggested in the book, after he had become involved with the Vichy government.
16 The sinking of HMS Persistent (as far as I am aware, a fictitious name) illustrates the situation that would have arisen in terms of balance of Naval power with the transfer of major elements of the French navy to Germany. Incidentally, Persistent's 6" guns are a larger calibre than those found on World War 2 Royal Navy destroyers (maximum used was 4.7", according to my informant Tony James - thanks for that Tony, though as I say, Persistent is a fictitious ship!).
18 The raid on the aircraft factory is used to illustrate the idea that in the novel, German bombers continued to attack key manufacturing targets throughout the Battle of Britain, with no diversion to the bombing of centres of population as actually happened. 

It has been suggested that the first bombing of the City of London (in the small hours of 25 August 1940 - the suburbs had already been attacked) was an error, caused by a lost aircraft "ditching" its bombs to get home faster. This theory is put forward in Deighton's book Fighter, among others. Whatever the reason for the attack, an immediate reprisal raid on Berlin was ordered, and the resulting "tit for tat" operations certainly attenuated the Luftwaffe effort against strategic military targets during the Battle of Britain. 

19 The idea of keeping to purely military targets is again described, in this case it is radar - the "eyes" of the RAF - that is being concentrated on. The novel calls the "blinding" of these the decisive blow in the battle.

With its early warning system off the air, the RAF becomes ever more susceptible to attacks on its airfields with devastating effects.

The Directive at the end of this chapter, ordering the invasion to go ahead, is naturally an imaginary one.

20 In reality of course gas shells were not issued (see 13 above), and the evacuation of the King, his family and the Government was not necessary. Given the way that His Majesty King George VI pointedly shared the Blitz with Londoners, I was not at all sure that he would have agreed to go in any case.

After this point, of course, there is no correspondence with actual events, since the invasion did not take place. However, I hope the notes above provoke some thought on what might have been. If you have any queries, comments, questions or constructive criticism, please feel free to e-mail me.

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Web site and novel both copyright 2001 Steve Barrett