21 August 1670-1734
Background and early career
Berwick was a bastard of James Duke of York (later James II) and Arabella Churchill (sister of John Churchill duke of Marlborough). At age 7 Berwick was sent to France in order to raise him in the catholic religion. There he went to college of Juilly, and later to the college of Plessis till 1684. Later that year he was visited to England and on his return he was sent to another college. After his father had become king in February 1685, Berwick was sent to Paris. After finishing his last lessons there he left for Hungary in order to start a military career. In Hungary he participated in the long siege of Buda in 1686. After the campaign he returned to England where he received the title Duke of Berwick only to return to Hungary in the spring of 1687. There he served as Colonel Commandant of an Austrian Cavalry regiment in the great victory of Mohacs. After the campaign Berwick got an Austrian grade that was about equivalent to Maréchal de Camp.
Berwick in Stuart service
After returning to England in fall Berwick became colonel of an English infantry regiment as well as of a regiment of the Horse Guards. In 1688 Berwick stayed in England and saw the Prince of Orange arrive in England in November. In the Salisbury affair Berwick played a role in returning the four regiments that Lord Cornbury had tried to bring over to that prince. Apart from this Berwick tried to hold on to the city of Portsmouth, but failed due to the fact that the fleet blocked it from the sea and the militia from land. He therefore went to the king and hastened on to France to announce his arrival.
After realizing that most of Ireland stayed loyal to him James II went to Ireland and took Berwick with him, arriving in Kinsale on 17 March 1689. One of his first actions was to participate in the blockade of Londonderry. During this siege Berwick would receive his only wound. Because he did not like the affair of Londonderry Berwick asked to take command of a detachment against Enniskillen in July. Shortly afterwards he was made Lieutenant General. Still in July Berwick was ordered back to Londonderry to reinforce the siege. When this siege had been lifted Berwick returned to Dublin and next faced Schomberg for a while. In 1690 Berwick commanded part of King James’ army in the battle of the Boyne. After this defeat Berwick successfully defended Limerick.
Berwick in French service
In January 1691 Berwick was ordered back to France. Here he accompanied Louis XIV as volunteer to the siege of Mons. He next participated in the battle of Leuze. After Ireland had been lost by the capitulation of Limerick the Irish troops had been transported to Brest, and reformed into 18 infantry battalions, 2 dragoon battalions and 2 Guard companies of which Berwick got one. In 1692 these marched to La Hogue in order to prepare for an invasion of England. Berwick had the chagrin to see the French fleet return to La Hogue after it had been beaten and saw the vessels burning in the Bay of La Hogue. For him there was nothing more to do then marching to Flanders in June.
In Flanders Berwick was present at the battle of Steenkerken in August 1692. In 1693 Berwick was appointed as a French Lieutenant General. He fought in that capacity in the battle of Neerwinden of July 1693. While fighting in the village he was cut off and taken prisoner by brigadier Churchill. He was however soon exchanged for the Duke of Ormond. Berwick’s last action of this campaign was commanding a large detachment that was sent to Mons. In the 1694 campaign Berwick also served in Flanders but nothing special happened. In the 1695 campaign Berwick served under Villeroy. While not enjoying any success in lifting the siege of Namur Berwick saw the bombardment of Brussel. In 1696 Berwick went to London in disguise in an attempt to organize an uprising and another invasion attempt. The whole affair came to nothing and Berwick went back to Calais. In 1697 Berwick fought the last campaign of this war that ended with the peace of Rijswijk and its recognition of William III as king of England.
During the Spanish Succession
In the beginning of the Spanish Succession War Berwick was sent to Rome where it was hoped he could command a papal army against the Austrians. However, the affair came to nothing and so Berwick went to Flanders where he participated in the preparations for war. In 1702 Berwick was in Boufflers’ army that lost Keyserswerth and the lower Meuse. Berwick himself got command of some detachments, but also did not achieve anything noteworthy. In 1703 Berwick served under Villeroy and was present when the armies of Vileroy and Ouwerkerk faced each other at Maastricht. At the end of this campaign Berwick had himself naturalized as a Frenchman.
In 1704 Berwick entered high command by getting appointed as commander of 18 battalions and 19 Squadrons that were sent as an expeditionary force to Spain. With these he successfully invaded part of Portugal but saw himself forced to retreat at the end of the campaign. In 1705 Berwick commanded in the Cévennes where he had some Huguenots burned alive. In October 1705 he was ordered to besiege Nice, of which the fortress capitulated on 4 January 1706. In February Berwick became Marshal of France and was ordered to Spain. Here he again commanded on the Portuguese border while Felipe besieged Barcelona. The campaign did not go well for Berwick because Madrid was lost to the Alliance troops. A general uprising would however enable the Bourbon troops to regain Madrid and prompted the alliance to retreat to Valencia with heavy losses.
In 1707 Berwick fought the decisive victory of Almanza. Apart from spreading his fame it made him duke of Lerida and Grandee of Spain. He was however ordered back to France, and destined to command under max Emanuel on the Rhine. On learning that Eugen marched to Flanders Berwick took a considerable detachment and went to Flanders by the Ardennes. After the defeat of Oudenaarde and the subsequent retreat to the north it fell on Berwick to organize the defense of the French borders. During the siege of Lille Berwick did not succeed in taking command and played only a minor role. In 1709 he was destined for the defense of the frontiers with Italy from whence he came back to Flanders on 18 October 1709. In the winter of 1709 he was made Duke of Warthi (renamed to Fitz-James) and pair of France, the title and possessions to be inherited by the children of his second marriage. In 1710 Berwick was to command the Flanders army till Villars had been cured from his wounds of Malplaguet. He did so for a while and next moved to Chambéry to take up his post of commander of the south east frontier. This was the position were Berwick stayed till the armistice that preceded the peace of Utrecht. In the last act of the war Berwick was in Spain taking Barcelona.
In 1695 Berwick married the daughter of the Irish count of Clanricard. From this marriage he had a son to whom he later ceded the Duchy of Liria in Spain. In April 1700 he married Miss Bulkeley. Their children would inherit Berwick’s French possessions.
Berwick as a general
Berwick became one of France’s greatest commanders and enjoys a great reputation. If one wants to determine the quality of his generalship one should however come up with facts. It is easy to ascertain that Berwick did not suffer any big defeats apart from losing Madrid in 1706 while strongly outnumbered. So this at least makes Berwick a capable general. One could then ask if Berwick was a great general. He was responsible for the decisive victory of Almanza that crippled Charles’s cause in Spain. At Almanza he however enjoyed a very strong numerical superiority, and I suppose that many other generals would have been able to win this battle. For claiming that Berwick was a great general one should point to him winning at least one large engagement fought on equal terms. Failing to do so means one cannot claim him to be the equal of Eugen and Marlborough. I would therefore say that Berwick was a very capable general, but did not prove himself to be a great general.
1686: Enters the imperial service
1687: Duke of Berwick
1687: Colonel Commandant of a cavalry regiment in Austrian Service
1687: Major general in Austrian Service
1687: English colonel of infantry and the Horse Guards
1690: Lieutenant General
1690: September Supreme commander of James army in Ireland
1693: Lieutenant general in French service
1695: Captain General of the Jacobite army (for what it’s worth)
1695: Goes to London undercover to arrange an uprising but fails
1703: Naturalized as a Frenchman
1703: Dec appointed commander of an army into Spain
1704: Captain General of Spain
1704: November knight of the Golden Fleece
1706: February Maréchal de France
1707: Grande (pair) of Spain
1709: Duke of Fitz-James and Pair of France
1720: Member of the Regency Council
1686: Fighting in Hungary
1687: Again in Hungary
1687: Present at Mohacs
1689: Flees to France in January
1689: March arrives in Ireland
1690: Commanding at Newry and Dundalk
1690: July battle of the Boyne Commanding the cavalry of the right wing
1690: August Defending Limerick
1691: February leaves for France
1691: present at siege of Mons
1691: present at battle of Leuze
1692: August present at battle of Steenkerken
1693: Taken prisoner at Neerwinden, exchanged for the duke of Ormonde
1695: Present at the bombardment of Brussel
1702: Commanding part of Boufflers forces that marched to Nijmegen
1704: February Arrives in Madrid commanding an army of 18 Battalions and 19 Squadrons to support Philip
1705: Commander of Languedoc to quell the uprising of the Cevennes
1706: March in Madrid again does not succeed in preventing Galway from entering Madrid
1706: August retakes Madrid
1706: 18 Nov retakes Carthagena
1707: 25 April achieves a decisive victory at Almansa, leading to the occupation of Valencia and Arragon
1707: 6 May Takes city of Valencia
1707: 11 Nov takes Lerida
1709-1712 Commanding in the Dauphiné against Savoy and the empire
1714: September takes Barcelona
1719: June-Oct commanding the French he takes Fontarabia, St Sebastian and Urgel from Spain
1733: Commanding on the Rhine against Austria
1734: Killed by artillery in the battle of Philipsbourg
Battle of Balaclava. Ryzhov‘s cavalry attacks over the Causeway Heights at approximately 09:15. Both branches of the attack happened almost simultaneously.
The Ottoman guns from No.1 redoubt on Canrobert’s hill fired on the Russians at around 06:00 – the Battle of Balaclava had begun. Lucan despatched Captain Charteris to inform Raglan that the redoubts were under attack. Charteris arrived at around 07:00, but those at the British headquarters had already heard the sound of the guns. Lucan himself rode quickly back towards Kadikoi to confer with Colin Campbell, commander of the Balaclava defences. The two men agreed that this was not another Russian feint, but an attack in force with the intention of taking the British base. Campbell prepared his 93rd Highlanders to meet the enemy, whilst Lucan returned to the cavalry. Leaving the Light Brigade where it stood, Lucan led the Heavy Brigade towards the redoubts, hoping his presence might discourage any further Russian advance on Balaclava. Realizing his show of strength had little impact, however, Lucan led the Heavies back to their original position alongside the Light Brigade. The Ottoman forces were left to face the full force of the Russian assault almost alone.
Whilst Gribbe’s artillery continued to shell No.1 redoubt, the Russian columns under Levutsky, Semyakin, and Skyuderi began to move into the North Valley. Although the Heavy Brigade had pulled back, the British did send forward their available artillery to assist the Ottoman forces on the Causeway Heights. Captain George Maude’s troop of horse artillery, I Troop, unlimbered its four 6-pounder and two 12-pounder guns between redoubts 2 and 3, whilst Captain Barker’s battery, W Battery, of the Royal Artillery, moved out of Balaclava and took its position on Maude’s left. However, the artillery duel was a very one sided affair. The heavier Russian guns (some 18-pounders), particularly No.4 battery under Lieutenant Postikov, together with the riflemen of the Ukraine regiment, took their toll on both men and ordinance. Running short of ammunition and taking hits, Maude’s troop was forced to retire, their place taken by two guns from Barker’s battery (Maude himself was severely wounded). As the British artillery fire slackened, Semyakin prepared to storm No. 1 redoubt, personally leading the assault together with three battalions of the Azovsky Regiment under Colonel Krudener. “I waved my hat on both sides.”
Recalled Semyakin, “Everybody rushed after me and I was protected by the stern Azovs.” The Ottoman forces on Canrobert’s Hill resisted stubbornly. Although the attack had begun at 06:00, it was not until 07:30 when No.1 redoubt fell. During that time the 600 Ottoman defenders had suffered from the heavy artillery bombardment; in the ensuing fight in the redoubt and subsequent pursuit by the Cossacks, an estimated 170 Ottomans were killed. In his first report of the action for The Times, William Russell wrote that the Turks ‘received a few shots and then bolted’, but afterwards admitted that he had not been a witness to the start of the battle, confessing, ‘Our treatment of the Turks was unfair … ignorant as we were that the Turkish in No.1 redoubt lost more than a fourth of their number ere they abandoned it to the enemy’. Later Lucan and Campbell too acknowledged the firmness with which the assault on No 1 redoubt, which was not visible from their vantage point, had been resisted; it was not until this had been overwhelmed did the defenders abandon redoubts 2, 3 and 4. Of the estimated 2,500 Russians who took part in the assault the Azovsky Regiment lost two officers and 149 men killed.
The remaining redoubts were now in danger of falling into the hands of the oncoming Russians. The battalions of the Ukraine Regiment under Colonel Dudnitsky-Lishin, attacked redoubts Nos.2 and 3, whilst the Odessa Regiment under Skyuderi, advanced on redoubt No.4. The Ottoman forces in these positions, having already watched their compatriots flee the first redoubt and realizing that the British were not coming to their aid, retreated back towards Balaclava, pursued by the Cossacks who had little trouble dispatching any stray or isolated men; the few British NCOs could do nothing but spike the guns, rendering them unusable. The Ottoman forces had gained some time for the Allies. Nevertheless, by 08:00 the Russians were occupying redoubts 1, 2 and 3, and, considering it too close to the enemy, had razed redoubt No.4.
The role of the Ottoman division during the initial stage of the siege is not clear. Most probably it also took part in the costly French attack. Additionally, thanks to the miscalculation and neglect of allied quartermasters, it suffered further casualties because of poor diet and lack of provisions. But, its role in the Balaclava (Balýklýova) battle is well known, albeit not with glory. The Russian main army group attacked the relatively weakly defended allied security perimeter around Voronzov Ridge. At least four Ottoman battalions reinforced with artillery gunners, some 2,000 men (more or less) manned five poorly fortified redoubts that established the forward defensive line. What happened at these redoubts during the early morning of October 25 is still shrouded in mystery. According to the commonly accepted version, the Ottoman soldiers cowardly fled when the first Russian shells began to land, leaving their cannons behind. The day was saved thanks to the British Heavy Cavalry Brigade and the famous ‘‘thin red line’’ of the 93rd Highlander Regiment. The alleged cowardly behavior then became so established in the minds of the allied commanders that Lord Raglan refused to assign Ottoman troops to reinforce his weak defensive forces at Inkerman Ridge just before the battle of the same name.
Recent research, however, including battlefield archeology, provides a completely different story and corresponds to the version of events contained in the modern official Turkish military history.
According to these recent findings, the Ottoman battalions in the redoubts, especially the ones in Redoubt One, defended their positions and stopped the massive Russian assault for more than two hours with only their rifles; the British 12 pounder iron cannons located there could not be used without help. Their efforts gained valuable time for the British to react effectively. The battalion in Redoubt One was literally annihilated and the others, after suffering heavy casualties, were forced to retreat. They did not flee, because we know that some of them regrouped with the 93rd Highland Regiment and manned the famous ‘‘thin red line.’’ It is evident that Ottoman soldiers were also heroes at Balaclava. However, because of factors including racial xenophobia, language barriers, and lack of representation at the war council in Crimea, their valor was tarnished, and they were chosen as scapegoats and blamed for many of the blunders that occurred during the battle.
A fictitious newsreel about the occupation of England by the Wehrmacht. From the movie “It happened here”
The Norwegian campaign was a critical turning point in the Second World War, for with the conquest of western Scandinavia and the subsequent seizure of France and the Low Countries, Hitler’s writ ran from Cape Finisterre to the Arctic Circle. The Baltic supply line from Sweden was now secure, and the great landlocked sea could be used as a training and staging area for the Kriegsmarine without any fear of enemy disruption. But of far greater importance was the fact that the German navy had suddenly acquired the most immediate and broadest access to the North Atlantic. No longer would German U-boat or surface sailors have to face the daunting prospect of forcing Channel minefields or sailing the long miles around the northern tip of Scotland to escape home waters. Within a matter of a few breathless weeks the world ocean was suddenly lapping at their feet as they stood on the shores of Norway and France. One of the great ironies of history had come to pass: what had eluded a kaiser obsessed with a global vision had fallen into the lap of a führer preoccupied with a continental strategy. One hundred and thirty-five years before, another potential conqueror had stood on the shores of France and gazed across the twenty-mile Strait of Dover at England sleeping in the sun. “Let us be masters of the Strait for six hours,” Napoléon had said, “and we shall be masters of the world.” Now it was Hitler’s turn to try.
Popular belief has long held that the invasion of England never went anywhere because the German air force lost the struggle to command the skies over Kent and Sussex to the RAF the following August and September. As is so often the case, popular belief is at best half right.
Hitler’s heart was never behind the invasion of England, no matter what the circumstances; neither were most of those in the German armed services. Invading unsuspecting Norway with its two million widely scattered people possessed of no significant military force, while brilliantly conceived and executed, was a far easier prospect than trying to force a lodgment on isles harboring forty-five million aroused and determined antagonists. Moreover, Hitler’s foreign policy centered about wooing England, not conquering it, which is undoubtedly why he ordered his commanders to stop and let the Franco-British armies escape from Dunkirk. Even before he became Reichschancellor, Hitler hoped to come to some sort of grandiose world-sharing agreement with the British, and from 1938 on to the fall of France two years later this was a central theme in his policy. By early July 1940, when the führer at last (and reluctantly) ordered the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine to begin planning for an amphibious and airborne assault, time was running out. Churchill had rallied his forces and people for a prolonged and desperate struggle. Of almost equal importance, the Royal Navy had laid extensive minefields off the northern French and Dutch coasts that would force the Kriegsmarine to engage in at least limited sweeping operations before any invasion fleet could reach the Channel.
The prospective German operation was code-named Seelöwe (Sealion). On August 1 the führer issued his first general directive on the subject that emphasized the need to obtain aerial superiority over the Channel and southern England and discouraged Luftwaffe attacks against the Royal Navy as diversions from the main objective. In fact, Germany’s inability to mount a serious amphibious operation, together with a gross exaggeration of the size and effectiveness of the British army awaiting the Wehrmacht in England, proved to be the decisive factors in discouraging Hitler from implementing Sealion, whose basic “problem was purely that of transport across the sea.” Colonel General Franz Halder, the army chief of staff, recalled that from July to late September 1940, most of the German navy and much of the army worked intensively in the estuaries of the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt, hastily constructing or converting other vessels to transport and landing craft. Armored forces trained for a cross- Channel assault in the Frisian Islands, while on the French and Dutch coasts the Ninth and Sixth Armies were engaged in “special courses for . . . assault troops.” But these activities were surrounded by an air of unreality and profound confusion. “Even at the time,” Halder later admitted, “it was hardly possible to form a clear picture of all these preparations.” The confusion was compounded by a constant alteration in details so that in the end, “plans only remained consistent in their broad outlines.”
General Gerd von Rundstedt, the acerbic army commander who was picked to lead Sealion, was even more caustic and precise in his criticism. His two-paragraph dismissal of Sealion is devastating:
The proposed invasion of England was nonsense because adequate ships were not available. They were chiefly barges which had to be brought from Germany and the Netherlands. Then they had to be reconstructed so that tanks and other equipment could be driven out of the bows. Then the troops had to learn how to embark and disembark. We looked upon the whole thing as a sort of game, because it was obvious that no invasion was possible when our navy was not in a position to cover a crossing of the Channel or carry reinforcements. Nor was the German air force capable of taking on these functions if the navy failed.
As finally conceived, Sealion would require three phases. According to Halder, Phase I, the landing on beaches between Dover and Plymouth, was to take place in several waves that would ultimately place twenty-six infantry and armored divisions on British soil.
The first wave was to be formed of fast landing craft, some crossing under their own power, others lowered from sea-going ships outside the coast defense zone. The second wave was to consist of the main body of landing craft some of which could move slowly under their own power, some of which had to be towed. The third wave was to consist of large sea-going vessels which would carry the bulk of the troops as well as their supporting tanks, engineers, signal unit, etc. Phase II provided for the crossing of the panzer and motorized divisions from Holland and of further infantry divisions from the French coast. Phase III provided for the crossing of further infantry divisions and of large supplies to form a supply base. The details of Phase II and Phase III could be worked out only after it had become clear to what extent sea-going vessels would be available after the completion of the initial phases.
In other words, Sealion would be mounted on a shoestring by a comparative few very slowly moving and thus highly vulnerable landing craft, with the prospect that an adequate supply base could not be accumulated for at least several days and possibly several weeks. Given its terms and conditions, it is doubtful that Sealion would have been mounted even if Göring’s flyers had seized control of the skies over Britain. Not only was complete air superiority essential, but so was control of the flanks of the amphibious assault, and that would have required both extensive countermining and employment of every warship that Raeder could muster. Had such control been attempted from the air alone, it would have required the Luftwaffe to destroy virtually every ship in the British fleet either before or during amphibious operations. Although it may be fairly stated on the basis of air-sea battles off Norway and later Crete that the German air force was capable of inflicting great damage on the Royal Navy, it is also true that the German flyers did not come away from their battles with the enemy unscathed. Nor, of course, did they face the entire Royal Navy, as it was assumed they would have had Sealion been attempted. A successful invasion of England would have required the entire German navy and air force, plus a large portion of the German army. This was simply too big an enterprise and too costly a gamble for a führer and his generals fixated on control of continental Europe.
Or so it seemed. In fact, British power was more fragile and German prospects consequently more promising than the führer and his commanders realized. In 1914 the Hochseeflotte had refused to immolate itself in the Channel in order to seal off the western front from British reinforcements. Twenty-six years later, according to one naval veteran of the time, the British fleet suffered the same lack of nerve. The whole system of British home defense from the time of the Armada through the Great War of 1914–1918 had “depended ultimately on a battle-fleet even though it might not be used to defeat [an] invasion directly. The British naval dispositions to oppose invasion in 1940 were initially in accordance with these principles. A flotilla of some forty destroyers and over a thousand auxiliary patrol vessels was available to patrol the Channel and the southern North Sea,” while the Home Fleet remained stationed at Scapa Flow “with six cruisers further south ready to support the flotilla.”
But “the new factor of airpower altered this concept fundamentally.” Beginning in July 1940, the Luftwaffe, newly established on frontline French and Dutch airfields, began assaulting English Channel shipping in the Strait of Dover. While the Ju.87 dive-bombers suffered heavily from the Hurricanes and Spitfires of RAF Fighter Command, “even with fighter protection, it was soon found too expensive to operate ships in the Channel by day and [the flotilla] patrols were confined to the hours of darkness.” As the Battle of Britain reached a climax in the skies over southern England in August and early September, “no one now seriously believed that if the Royal Air Force was defeated by the Luftwaffe the [naval] flotilla would be able to operate for long in the Narrow Seas. After its experience in Norway it was clear that the Home Fleet could not help either. It had been reluctant to face a single Fliegerkorps in that campaign and would have still less chance against the five Fliegerkorps now in France.” Admiral Forbes obviously believed this to be the case and opposed stationing any of his battleships or cruisers near or in the Channel. “He even went so far as to say that whilst the R.A.F. was undefeated he believed that defence against invasion should be left to them and the Army.” This shocking conclusion “could only be taken as an abdication from the Navy’s traditional role and a belief that the fleet was only of use against an invasion as a last ditch suicide force.”
In fact, there was something rather peculiar about the Royal Navy in the early war years. On the big ships, at least, it was as if there was no war. Late in 1940 Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Wellings, the assistant U.S. naval attaché in London, joined the Home Fleet for a time. His first service was aboard a destroyer, HMS Eskimo, whose ship’s company he found both keen and agreeable. The battle cruiser Hood that he joined near the end of the year was filled with the same pleasant chaps, but it was as if they were members of a yacht club. At a time of steadily growing stringencies in the civilian sector, the food aboard ship was nothing short of sumptuous, with huge, well-cooked breakfasts including fruit, cereals, fish, eggs, kidneys, mushrooms, and so on, goods that the civilian sector would hardly see again until 1949 or ’50. Lunch was the same: at least seven kinds of cold meats, vegetables, sweet butter . . . There was both dinner and supper, plus tea. And there were drinks—pink gins or excellent martinis before both lunch and dinner. Wellings wrote his wife on several occasions that he really had to watch his weight.
For all its flaws, John Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet had been a hardworking outfit. But in 1939–1941 there were no repeated sweeps by the heavy ships of the upper North Sea. When intelligence was received that one or more of Raeder’s handful of big surface ships, a cruiser, pocket battleship, or even Scharnhorst or Gneisenau, might be preparing to sail against the Atlantic convoys, one of the Home Fleet’s World War I–era battleships or battle cruisers, Ramilles or Repulse, for example, would leave Scapa Flow to serve as escort over to Halifax and back. But, presumably, the German menace from above and below the waters was too pronounced for extended fleet operations under any conditions short of extreme emergency such as the Norwegian campaign when, in fact, the fleet remained largely out of action. So the massive forty-two thousand–ton Hood, the largest warship in the world at that moment, spent quite a bit of time swinging around its anchor chain. On New Year’s Eve 1940, everyone remained in the wardroom after dinner for drinks—even the youngest “snotties”—and near midnight the captain appeared together with the admiral and his entire staff. One of the younger officers drew out his bagpipes, and as the gin continued to go down, men and boys began to dance. Five months later everybody in that compartment with the exception of Wellings and all but three of Hood’s thirteen hundred–plus company would be vaporized together with their ship under the guns of Germany’s newest and most powerful warships, battleship Bismarck and cruiser Prinz Eugen.
Had the Germans but known or suspected the indolence of their enemy’s heavy units, then two compelling invasion scenarios might well have come into play. John Lukacs’s research suggests that the best time for Hitler to have conquered Britain was during or immediately following Dunkirk. In the desperate ninety-six hours following the evacuation, Churchill, knowing full well the defeatism that now gripped his beloved fleet, feared that Hitler might be able to put several thousand superbly trained and disciplined shock troops ashore in Kent or East Anglia from small, fast motorboats (presumably at night) together with several regiments of paratroops who might even descend on London itself, thus creating a major disruption as several hundred thousand demoralized and largely disarmed Allied troops sorted themselves out amid no little chaos after returning to England. Had the führer abandoned his not implausible policy of seeking a general peace with His Majesty’s government during the earliest stages of the French campaign and ordered emergency planning for an immediate, dramatic coup de main against England as soon as the British and French armies were neutralized in Belgium, the operation might have permitted a much larger follow-up effort to succeed in the coming weeks.
Military analyst Hanson W. Baldwin has argued that Sealion itself could have worked as late as August or September 1940 if the plan had been revised and prosecuted under precisely the right circumstances. “At night a large airborne and amphibious force might have spanned the Strait of Dover and the Channel and probably could have forced a landing on British soil despite the intervention of the British Navy and the RAF. . . . It is entirely conceivable, too, that the Germans could have won a localized air superiority over the invasion area—the only kind that mattered.” Certainly, the Germans’ need to sweep at least a narrow corridor through the British minefields off the northwest European coast would have given London some warning that an invasion was imminent. But we now know from Admiral Arthur Hezlet that had the Luftwaffe defeated the RAF’s Fighter Command, the Royal Navy probably would not have moved from Scapa Flow to the Kent and East Anglian invasion beaches until too late. Indeed, once Hitler forced a major lodgment in England, his soldiers and sailors might well have been spared any intervention by the Home Fleet. Churchill’s repeated assurances to FDR and others that should Britain go down the navy would sail to the New World suddenly take on portentous meaning. The prime minister clearly assumed that his ships and sailors would not immolate themselves seeking to forestall a Nazi invasion, but would sail away to fight another day. Baldwin’s compelling scenario of a sudden, violent blow against England of the sort that had been embraced as truth by a hysterical public in the months and years immediately preceding 1914 just might have worked a quarter century later in the face of the Royal Navy’s almost flagrant defeatism.
The Blohm & Voss Bv 155 was a high altitude interceptor aircraft intended to be used by the Luftwaffe against raids by the USAF when the performance estimates of the B-29 Superfortress first started reaching German command in early 1942. The B29 had a maximum speed of around 563 km/h (350 mph) and would attack in a cruise at about 362 km/h (225 mph) at 8,000 to 10,000 m (27,000 to 32,000 ft), an altitude that no German plane could operate at effectively. In the hope of countering attacks by this formidable bomber, the Luftwaffe would need new fighters and new destroyers as soon as possible.
Work on a special high-altitude fighter was started by Messerschmitt, but in 1943 the project was passed to Blohm & Voss. The result was the Bv 155 prototype that made its first test flight in September 1944. The aircraft had a crew of one, a length of 11.9 m (39 ft 4 in), a span of 20.3 m (67 ft), with large radiators mounted in the wings, a wing area of 39 square m (384 square ft), and an empty weight of 4,868 kg (10,734 lbs). Powerplant was one 1,610-hp turbocharged Daimler-Benz DB 603. Maximum speed was 690 km/h (429 mph) at an altitude of 16,000 m (52,493 ft), and range was to be 1,440 km (895 miles). Armament would have included one 30-mm MK 108 cannon and two 20-mm MG 151/20 cannons. The project was interrupted by the capture of the Blohm & Voss factory in Hamburg at the end of World War II, and no Boeing B-29 craft were ever used in Europe, anyway, as the type was concentrated on air attacks on Japan.
By the end of 1942, the increasing number of USAAF bombing raids and intelligence coming in about the new American B-29 bomber led the Luftwaffe to envisage a pressing need for an effective high-altitude interceptor. Messerschmitt adapted its design to this requirement under the designation Me 155B. The engine was to be the DB 628, which was basically a DB 605A with a two-stage mechanical supercharger with an induction cooler. A pressurized cabin was to be provided. It was estimated that a service ceiling of 14,097 m (46,250 ft) could be attained.
A converted Bf 109G adapted to take the DB 628 engine flew in May 1942 and attained an altitude of 15,500 m (50,850 ft). However, the Technische Amt concluded that a DB 603A engine with an exhaust-driven turbosupercharger was more promising. The DB 603A provided 1,201 kW (1,610 hp) for takeoff and 1,081 kW (1,450 hp) at 15,000 m (49,210 ft). This engine change required that the fuselage be elongated in order to house the turbosupercharger aft of the pressure cabin. Exhaust gases were carried to the turbosupercharger via external ducts. Air was drawn in through via a ventral trough aft of the wing. Standard Bf 109G wings were to be fitted outboard of a new, long-span, untapered wing center section. Other parts were scavenged from existing Messerschmitt designs – the vertical tail was from the Me 209, and the horizontal tail and the undercarriage were taken from the Bf 109G.
In August 1943, the Technische Amt decided that Messerschmitt was over-committed, and they decided to transfer the work on the design to Blohm & Voss. After some initial study, the Blohm & Voss design team deemed that the existing Messerschmitt design had too many weaknesses. Several months of argument and finger-pointing between the Messerschmitt transition team and the Blohm & Voss designers followed. Friction between the two teams got steadily worse. In the event, no meeting of the minds was possible, and the Technische Amt eventually decided to throw Messerschmitt off the project entirely, and turn it entirely over to Blohm & Voss.
In September 1943, an order for five prototypes was placed. Blohm & Voss decided that the design problems still needed fixing, but by late 1943 they still hadn’t been addressed. A meeting was called to finally address these problems, but the Messerschmitt people didn’t bother to show up. As late as November 1943 changes were still being made, and Blohm & Voss decided to remove the complex underwing radiators favoured by Messerschmitt for two large scoop-type units mounted above the wings. B&V built a mock-up and had it tested in the LFA wind tunnel, but Messerschmitt refused to help. Late in 1943, Blohm & Voss formally advised the RLM of their problems with Messerschmitt and implored them to intervene. By this point, the T-Amt was just as fed up, and removed Messerschmitt from the project entirely.
The design, now named the BV 155A, was finally completely in the hands of one design team. B&V modified the design with a completely new laminar flow wing in place of the original “extended” one from the Me 155. They also changed details of many other parts of the plane, including new landing gear (from the Ju 87) and a new tail unit. Further wind tunnel testing showed that there was a serious problem with the overwing radiators, at high angles of attack the wing “blanked” them from the airflow and cooling would suffer. The decision was made to abandon the A model completely and move on.
The Blohm & Voss team elected to adopt a laminar-flow airfoil section, and abandoned the idea of using standard Bf 109G wings for the outer panels. The wing center section was redesigned. Two large radiators were mounted over the wing trailing edges at the extremities of the center section. Ju 87D-6 undercarriage legs and wheels used instead of the Bf 109G units. The Bf 109G horizontal tail surfaces were replaced with larger area freshly designed units, and the vertical tail surface was increased in size.
The first prototype was designated BV 155 V1, and flew for the first time on September 1, 1944. Tests with the V1 showed that the outboard radiators were not sufficiently effective in providing cooling, especially at high angles of attack. The intakes on the next prototype were enlarged and underslung beneath the wing rather than placed over it. However, the enlarged radiators caused a CoG problem, which required moving the pressurized cockpit forward. The Blohm & Voss team took this opportunity to replace the original Bf 109G canopy with an aft-sliding all-round vision canopy, and the rear fuselage decking was cut down. This in turn required that a larger rudder be fitted. The ventral radiator bath was also enlarged.
All these changes were incorporated into the BV 155 V2, which flew for the first time on February 8, 1945 which was the first genuine B series aircraft. The Blohm & Voss team was still not satisfied with the design, and before the V2 began its flight trials they proposed that the engine be switched to the DB 603U having the larger mechanically driven supercharger of the DB 603E. The DB 603U promised a power of 1,238 kW (1,660 hp) for takeoff and 1,066 kW (1,430 hp) at 14,935 m (49,000 ft). The ventral turbosupercharger was retained. The Technische Amt decided to accept this proposal, and abandoned all work on the BV 155B in favor of the revised design, which was designated BV 155C.
While all of this was going on, Blohm & Voss designers had been working on additional changes under Projekt 205. P.205 replaced the underwing radiators with an annular one around the front of the engine, a design feature commonly found on a number of German designs. With the wings now free of clutter, they were considerably simpler and were reduced in span. This also had the side effect of reducing the track, which would later prove to be a welcome change. The new design would be simpler, lighter and faster, and plans were made to make it the standard version of the aircraft. During the October re-evaluation, it was agreed that V1 through V3 would be completed as B models, while a new series of five would be completed to the new standard as the BV 155C.
The BV 155C was quite different in appearance from the BV 155B. The clumsy wing-mounted radiators of the BV 155B were eliminated, and the main landing gear leg attachment points were moved inboard to retract inwards. The cooling was provided by an annular frontal radiator à la Ta 152. Large circular intakes were attached to the fuselage sides above the wing roots.
In the meantime, the BV 155 V2 was damaged beyond repair during a bad landing. It was to be replaced in the test program by the BV 155V3. The BV 155V3 differed from the V2 in having the DB 603U intended for the BV 155C. However, the engine cowling and turbosupercharger were unchanged.
Various armament schemes for the BV 155B were proposed. One proposal had an engine-mounted (or Motorkanone) 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons. Another had a Motorkanone-mount 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 cannon and two wing-mounted 20 mm MG 151 cannons. Estimated maximum speed was 650 km/h (400 mph) at 12,000 m (39,370 ft) and 690 km/h (430 mph) at 15,999 m (52,490 ft). Service ceiling was to be 16,950 m (55,610 ft). Empty weight was 4,869 kg (10,734 lb). Normal loaded weight ranged from 5,126-5,488 kg (11,300-12,100 lb), depending on the armament provided.
Specifications (BV 155 V2)
Crew: one, pilot
Length: 11.9 m (39 ft 4 in)
Wingspan: 20.3 m (67 ft)
Wing area: 39 m² (384 ft²)
Empty weight: 4,868 kg (10,734 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 5,500 kg (12,100 lb)
Powerplant: 1× Daimler-Benz DB 603 turbocharged piston engine, 1,180 kW (1,610 hp)
Maximum speed: 690 km/h (429 mph)
Service ceiling: 16,950 m (55,610 ft)
1 × 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon as Motorkanone
2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons
|Tomesen for the Bataviawerf in the Netherlands|
|Career (Dutch Republic)|
|Name:||De Zeven Provinciën|
|Builder:||Jan Salomonszoon van den Tempel, Rotterdam|
|Fate:||Broken up in 1694|
|Class and type:||57-gun ship of the line|
|Length:||151 ft (46 m) (gundeck)|
|Beam:||40 ft 6 in (12.34 m)|
|Depth of hold:||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full rigged ship|
|Armament:||80 guns (later 76 guns):
De Zeven Provinciën was a Dutch ship of the line, originally armed with 80 guns. The name of the ship was also written as De 7 Provinciën. The literal translation is “The Seven Provinces”, the name referring to the fact that the Dutch Republic in the 17th century was a confederation of seven autonomous provinces. The vessel was originally built in 1664-65 for the Admiralty of de Maeze in Rotterdam, by Master Shipbuilder Salomon Jansz van den Tempel.
The ship served as Admiral Michiel de Ruyter’s flagship during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, taking part in the hard fought Dutch victory in the Four Days Fight, the bitter defeat at the St. James’s Day Battle, and acting as a command post as well as blockading the Thames during the Raid on the Medway. The vessel gave a good account of itself throughout the war, although it was partially dismasted during the Four Day’s Fight.
De Ruyter used De Zeven Provinciën as his flagship during the Third Anglo-Dutch War of 1672-1673. The ship served in all four major battles against the combined English and French fleet, fighting in the Battle of Solebay, the first and second Battle of Schooneveld and, in possibly its greatest moment, at the Battle of the Texel.
In 1692, the ship, now armed with only 76 guns, fought at the Battles of Barfleur and La Hogue during the War of the Grand Alliance. The vessel was severely damaged during the fight and, in 1694, De Zeven Provinciën had to be broken up.
De Zeven Provinciën measured, in English Feet, approximately 151 ft long by about 40 ft (12 m) wide by a little over 15 ft (4.6 m) deep. It was originally armed with 12 36-pdrs and 16 24-pdrs on the lower deck (although this had been changed to an all 36-pdr battery by the time of the Third Anglo-Dutch War), 14 18-pdrs and 12 12-pdrs on the upper deck, and 26 6-pdrs on the forecastle, quarterdeck, and poop deck.
In 1995 a full-size replica of the ship was started at the Batavia-werf (docks) in Lelystad; but due to heavy technical problems that work was completely wrecked. As of 2008, a new replica is being constructed.