The first half of this book is a complete reproduction of a report produced in Britain in 1948, looking at the evolution of Britain’s defensive plans from 1933, when Hitler came to power, through to 1942, when the arrival of the first American troops and the unexpected resilience of the Soviet Union meant that the realistic threat of invasion was over, and then the plans to deal with smaller scale raids and the V weapons from 1942 to the end of the war.
More than half of the book is taken up with the appendices, which reproduce the original wartime documents that the main study was largely based on. It is thus unusually important to read the appendices to get a clear view of the topic. These documents also include a number of German reports, looking at the invasion plans from 1940, when the threat was at its most real.
One of the most interesting features of these plans is how the perception of the threat changed over time. Until 1940 the expectation was that any invasion would have to come directly from the German coast, or at worst from Holland, so the east coast was most at threat, while German bombers were expected to be operating outside the range of their fighters. This all changed after the fall of France, and the danger point moved to the south-east, with an attack into Kent most likely. However much of the material looks at smaller scale raids rather than full scale invasions. The attitude towards these threats also changed over time – most obviously when Churchill took over as PM, and changed the emphasis at the top.
These plans serve as a reminder of how seriously the threat of invasion was taken in 1941 and into early 1942. Even after the start of Operation Barbarossa the threat was still taken seriously – the pace of the German advance in 1941 suggested that Soviet resistance would soon end, allowing the Germans to turn their attention back to Britain, and plans were put in place to deal with that possibility.
This is a unusual publication, and gives us a detailed insiders view of how the British military prepared to cope with the most serious threat of invasion since Napoleonic times.
Part I: Home Defence Plans 1933-39
1 - The Attempt to Prevent German Aggression 1933-36
2 - Britain on the Defensive
3 - Defence Against Air Attack
4 - The Julius Caesar Plan: 27 October 1939
Part II: 1940: The Threat of Air Attack Preparatory to Invasion
5 - The German Offensive Against the Western Powers
6 - Defence Against a Large Scale Raid
7 - Defence Against Air Attack
8 - Defence Against Invasion
9 - The Control Organisation
10 - The Battle of Britain
Part III: Home Defence Plans 1941-42
11 - Effect of the Battle of the Atlantic on Home Defence
12 - Defence Preparations for 1941
13 - The War Situation Transformed by the Battle of Russia
14 - Assumptions for the Home Forces Plan for the Spring of 1942
15 - Defence against Seaborne Attack
16 - Defence against Air Attack
17 - Defence against Airborne Attack
18 - The Estimated Requirements for Home Forces Considered Excessive
19 - Civil Defence Measures
20 - The German Plans for Invasion Fades Out
Part IV: The Threat of Raids and of Rocket Bombs
21 - The United Kingdom as a Base for the Counter-Offensive
22 - Defence Against Sea and Airborne Raids
23 - Defence Against Air Raids
24 - Defence Against the Flying and Rocket Bombs
Author: Captain G.C. Wynne
Year: 2017 edition