Never-before-seen pictures show German forces training with armoured landing craft as they prepared to conquer Britain in 1940

Chilling photographs showing the Germans preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War have emerged for the first time. The black and white images show the fleet of armoured landing craft Adolf Hitler had prepared in readiness for a seaborne invasion in 1940. Taken in the English Channel during sea trials, one snap clearly shows the White Cliffs of Dover and its radar stations behind. The never-before-seen photos were taken during the darkest days of the war and are a stark reminder of how close Germany came to invading. The remarkable images were taken by German army soldier Ernst Grossmann who took part in the exercises off the Belgian coast.

Chilling photographs showing the Germans preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War have emerged for the first time. Pictured: Officers watching the sea trials

Chilling photographs showing the Germans preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War have emerged for the first time. Pictured: Officers watching the sea trials

Taken in the English Channel during sea trials, one snap clearly shows the White Cliffs of Dover (pictured) and its radar stations behind

Taken in the English Channel during sea trials, one snap clearly shows the White Cliffs of Dover (pictured) and its radar stations behind

One black and white picture shows a senior navy officer, right, talking to Luftwaffe officers on board a Siebel Ferry during the operational trials in 1940

One black and white picture shows a senior navy officer, right, talking to Luftwaffe officers on board a Siebel Ferry during the operational trials in 1940

The never-before-seen photos were taken during the darkest days of the war and are a stark reminder of how close Germany came to invading. Pictured is the Nazi flag on the rear of a craft during testing in the English Channel

The never-before-seen photos were taken during the darkest days of the war and are a stark reminder of how close Germany came to invading. Pictured is the Nazi flag on the rear of a craft during testing in the English Channel

A view over the 88mm guns fitted to the crafts that were being used by the Germans as they planned to invade Britain in 1940

A view over the 88mm guns fitted to the crafts that were being used by the Germans as they planned to invade Britain in 1940

The remarkable images were taken by German army soldier Ernst Grossmann (pictured and colourised by Johnny Sirlande) who took part in the exercises off the Belgian coast

The remarkable images were taken by German army soldier Ernst Grossmann (pictured and colourised by Johnny Sirlande) who took part in the exercises off the Belgian coast

One of the heavily armed invasion crafts powers out to sea from Antwerp in 1940. The craft were designed to run onto the beaches and were capable to transporting hundreds of troops, tanks and heavy artillery

One of the heavily armed invasion crafts powers out to sea from Antwerp in 1940. The craft were designed to run onto the beaches and were capable to transporting hundreds of troops, tanks and heavy artilleryThe 80ft long catamarans were made using heavy bridge pontoons that formed the two hulls 40ft apart and a superstructure built on top. Pictured: Crew on a landing craft as it leaves harbour

The 80ft long catamarans were made using heavy bridge pontoons that formed the two hulls 40ft apart and a superstructure built on top. Pictured: Crew on a landing craft as it leaves harbour

Many of them show some of the 150 flat-bottomed landing craft Germany designed and built ahead of the invasion, codenamed Operation Sealion. The 80ft-long catamarans were made using heavy bridge pontoons that formed the two hulls 40ft apart and a superstructure built on top. The craft were designed to run onto the beaches and were capable to transporting hundreds of troops, tanks and heavy artillery. Other landing craft were modified to be used as floating gun batteries to protect the invading army.

Crew smile and stand around the 88mm guns onboard one of the landing crafts. The black and white images show the fleet of armoured landing craft Adolf Hitler had made in readiness for a seaborne invasion in 1940

Crew smile and stand around the 88mm guns onboard one of the landing crafts. The black and white images show the fleet of armoured landing craft Adolf Hitler had made in readiness for a seaborne invasion in 1940

Nazi commander Generfeldmarshcall Albert Kesselring, right, inspecting the trials with Major Friedirch Siebel on board one of the ships

Nazi commander Generfeldmarshcall Albert Kesselring, right, inspecting the trials with Major Friedirch Siebel on board one of the shipsCrew around one of the 88mm heavy guns during testing. The photos have been supplied by Ernst Grossmann's family for publication in Iron Cross magazine

Crew around one of the 88mm heavy guns during testing. The photos have been supplied by Ernst Grossmann’s family for publication in Iron Cross magazine

They were called the Siebel Ferry, named after Major Friedrich Siebel who was tasked with designing them. He appears in some of the photos alongside the Nazi commander Generfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring who was later tried for war crimes. Luckily the Siebel Ferries were never put to use in the English Channel as Hitler called off Operation Sealion following the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain. The photos have been supplied by Ernst Grossmann’s family for publication in Iron Cross magazine. Robin Schaefer, who is the historical editor for the British publication, said: ‘These are exceedingly scarce photographs and they offer a glimpse into what it would have looked like if Germany had invaded Britain. ‘One astonishing image shows the radar masts behind Dover photographed through a German artillery gunsight. This shows just how close they were, it doesn’t get more threatening than that. ‘They include images of senior German officers inspecting preparations, in particular one of the craft to be used for the crossing called a Siebel Ferry.’

Many of them show some of the 150 flat-bottomed landing craft Germany designed and built ahead of the invasion, codenamed Operation Sealion

Many of them show some of the 150 flat-bottomed landing craft Germany designed and built ahead of the invasion, codenamed Operation Sealion

The photos have been supplied by Ernst Grossmann’s family for publication in Iron Cross magazine (pictured is the cover of the magazine) German crew braced for the harsh weather conditions of the English Channel. Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war

German crew braced for the harsh weather conditions of the English Channel. Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war

Craft tied up in the harbour at Antwerp. The chilling photographs show the Germans preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War

Craft tied up in the harbour at Antwerp. The chilling photographs show the Germans preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War

The chilling site Brits would have seen if the invasion had taken place with landing craft powering toward the beaches of England

The chilling site Brits would have seen if the invasion had taken place with landing craft powering toward the beaches of England

Waves break over the craft at sea. Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war

Waves break over the craft at sea. Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war

German crew stand below the heavy guns fitted to one of the landing craft that Adolf Hitler had made in readiness for a seaborne invasion in 1940

German crew stand below the heavy guns fitted to one of the landing craft that Adolf Hitler had made in readiness for a seaborne invasion in 1940

Andy Saunders, the editor of Iron Cross, added: ‘The Germans had a real challenge on their hands if they were to attempt a cross-Channel invasion because they didn’t have the landing craft to get across the sea. ‘This invention was the key to achieving that. It is an astonishing invention considering how quickly they solved that problem. ‘The only trouble was by the time they went into production it was too late.. By that time the Allies had air superiority after the Battle of Britain which meant Germany couldn’t invade. ‘These pictures offer a bit of a ‘what if?’ What if they had produced these a lot sooner would they have tried to invade?’ Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war.

Meal time aboard one of the landing crafts where the Germans were preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War in 1940

Meal time aboard one of the landing crafts where the Germans were preparing to invade Britain during the Second World War in 1940

One of the heavy guns overhangs the wake of the powerful craft. The Siebel Ferries that were built were later used by the Germans in other theatres of war, such as in the Norwegian fjords

One of the heavy guns overhangs the wake of the powerful craft. The Siebel Ferries that were built were later used by the Germans in other theatres of war, such as in the Norwegian fjords

A landing craft passing a ship at anchor. Chilling photographs show the Germans preparing to invade Britain during WW2 in 1940

A landing craft passing a ship at anchor. Chilling photographs show the Germans preparing to invade Britain during WW2 in 1940

The Zeiss Ikon camera used by Ernst Großmann to photograph the landing craft tests that were happening off the coast in 1940

The Zeiss Ikon camera used by Ernst Großmann to photograph the landing craft tests that were happening off the coast in 1940

German crew cleaning hardware onboard one of the landing crafts. The black and white images highlight the fleet of armoured landing craft

German crew cleaning hardware onboard one of the landing crafts. The black and white images highlight the fleet of armoured landing craft

Plans involved tug boats (pictured) towing the craft across the channel, the landing craft would then use their own engines to make the final beach assault

Plans involved tug boats (pictured) towing the craft across the channel, the landing craft would then use their own engines to make the final beach assault

Troops on the deck of one the invasion crafts making its way through broken ice in freezing conditions as they prepared for a possible invasion

Troops on the deck of one the invasion crafts making its way through broken ice in freezing conditions as they prepared for a possible invasion

A Sibel Ferry tied up at Antwerp Haven. They were called the Siebel Ferry, named after Major Friedrich Siebel who was tasked with designing them

A Sibel Ferry tied up at Antwerp Haven. They were called the Siebel Ferry, named after Major Friedrich Siebel who was tasked with designing them

Plans involved tug boats (pictured) towing the craft across the channel, the landing craft would then use their own engines to make the final beach assault

Plans involved tug boats (pictured) towing the craft across the channel, the landing craft would then use their own engines to make the final beach assault

Operation Sealion was presented to Hitler in June 1940 and after that Maj Siebel designed the Siebel Ferry landing craft. Successful tests were carried out on a lake near Berlin in July 1940 and the sea exercises took place off the Belgian coast in autumn that year. The Siebel Ferries that were built were later used by the Germans in other theatres of war, such as in the Norwegian fjords. Maj Siebel rose to the rank of colonel and was captured by the British in 1945. He died in April 1954. Ernst Grossman, a dentist before the war, surrendered to Polish forces in 1945. He died in 1998. The latest edition of Iron Cross magazine is out now.

What was Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion and why do many historians think it could have been a disaster?

Operation Sea Lion was Hitler’s code name for an invasion of the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. It was planned for September 1940, when Hitler hoped to land 100,000 troops at five points on the English coast between Ramsgate, Kent, and Selsey Bill, West Sussex. He prefaced the order by stating: ‘As England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, still shows no signs of willingness to come to terms, I have decided to prepare, and if necessary to carry out, a landing operation against her.’

Operation Sea Lion was Hitler's code name for an invasion of the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War

Operation Sea Lion was Hitler’s code name for an invasion of the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War

The first wave of the ‘exceptionally bold and daring attack’ would also feature 650 tanks and 4,500 horses. He would then deploy another 500,000 soldiers to fight inland once the Nazis had a foothold. The Germans were confident that such an onslaught would have led to the ‘rapid abandonment’ of the British defences south of London. Their first operational objective was to occupy a huge swath of south east England – from the mouth of the River Thames down to Southampton – 14 days after the invasion. Brighton was earmarked to be the main landing area for transport ships bringing in more troops, armour and supplies during the occupation.

And just like the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Germans would have attempted to fool the British into believing the main landings were to take place elsewhere. A diversionary attack was planned between Aberdeen and Newcastle on the North East coast. Hitler believed Operation Sea Lion would have led to a ‘rapid conclusion’ of the war. But crucially the invasion was entirely dependent on the Luftwaffe gaining air superiority over the British by the middle of September. The RAF won the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940, scuppering Operation Sea Lion. Modern historians have since suggested that plans for Sea Lion were fatally flawed and would have failed spectacularly, possibly hastening the end of the war. The Nazis were planning to use river barges which would be towed over the Channel in tugboats, despite these being unseaworthy. Furthermore, the crossing would have taken hours, during which time the powerful Royal Navy could have destroyed the armada.

By montrealexblog

Baratineur est une trouvaille pour un espion

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