“Stay behind” units in 1940: an historical note
The Second World War, with its complexities, nuances, twists and turns, and ideological subtleties, is endlessly fascinating. I happened to see a local newspaper story about part of Churchill’s idea of how to “fight on the beaches, fight on the landing-grounds” etc.
Churchill, though a genuinely world-historical figure, unlike Boris Johnson (who tries to ape his style and manner), does have a few characteristics in common with his latter-day copier. One is that he was largely ineffective as head of government when given his head; also, he was a person with, often, very silly ideas. Churchill was no good as a strategist; as for tactics, his ideas were really straight out of boys’ comic books.
The Norway operation in 1940; the British Expeditionary Force in France, also in 1940 (my own grandfather was on the Dunkirk beaches), the idea of invading France via the Cote-d’Azur in 1944, the Fall of France, the Fall of Greece (including Crete), and so on, give some idea of Churchill’s lack of strategic nous.
Now, more information has come to light about the “stay behind” units secretly organized in case of German invasion in 1940: https://www.dorset.live/news/history/nazi-invasion-dorset-auxillary-units-5621886.
Stay-behind units were organized, with the idea that they might not last more than 12 days after any German “reverse D-Day”.
It was presumed that German invasion forces would strike initially at the London area:
“Operation Sealion, Hitler’s plan to invade across the Channel, almost saw the German 6th Army land at Lyme Regis in 1940 and push inland to Bristol and Gloucester.
Meanwhile the 9th and 16th Armies were to attack from Portsmouth to Dover, sweeping northwards to capture London and East Anglia, Britain’s breadbasket.” [DorsetLive].
Despite the chilling ruthlessness of their remit, the “Auxiliary Units” had a delightfully Wodehousian aspect:
“Grouped into “operational patrols” of four to eight men, AU members needed excellent local knowledge – making gamekeepers and poachers ideal candidates.
But known members of local patrols include bakers, carpenters, car salesmen, dairy farmers, electricians, fishmongers, miners and train drivers.
“The staff of Charborough Park – a country house estate now belonging to South Dorset MP Richard Drax – were also formed into an AU patrol.
The chauffeurs, foresters, gamekeeper and gardener of Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, Mr Drax’s grandfather, moonlighted as would-be saboteurs and assassins.” [DorsetLive].
One almost expects Sir Roderick Spode (a parody of Sir Oswald Mosley) to make an appearance, with a slight ideological twist, perhaps. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderick_Spode.
There were, it seems, about 6,500 volunteers in such “stay behind” units, most of whom were organized around the southern and eastern coasts of England.
Had “Operation Sealion” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sea_Lion] ever been launched into action, the defending forces, including the 6,500 Auxiliary Unit fighters, would have faced an onslaught by 600,000 German troops (100,000 on the first day), backed by 650 tanks and 4,500 horses: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/17353462.nazi-d-day-made-south-coast-target/. The Auxiliary Units would have been mosquitos biting elephants.
As for the conventional forces defending, “The Germans put the British defences at 320,000 men, with machine gun nests positioned 300 yards from the coastline, artillery guns 1,000 yards inland and another line of artillery and machine gun nests 3,000 yards back.
A line of more than 600 armoured cars and tanks were said to have been positioned two miles inland and a reserve of 50,000 men a further two miles back.” [The Argus].
In fact, Operation Sealion was not a ready to roll plan such as had been Fall Gelb, “Case Yellow” (or “Operation Yellow”), the plan for the invasion of France [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manstein_Plan]. Sealion was called Unternehmen Seelöwe, not “Fall Seelöwe“.
My German is poorer than it should be (bearing in mind that I did take German at school, and I did also have a couple of crash courses later, when I was in my twenties), but the difference in designation seems to be that one plan was ready-to-go, while the other was somewhere between that and a contingency plan.
It is known that Hitler wanted Britain, and the British Empire, as an ally against the expansionism of both the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. His preference in 1940 was for an armistice, not for conquest by invasion.
Apart from Hitler’s preference for alliance, there were operational reasons why Sealion never proceeded: lack of total air superiority was one, but another perhaps more important was the lack of carrying capacity by sea of the German navy. There were not enough barges to carry the armies required, and not enough defence for those barges.
If, however, the invasion had happened, “[the Auxiliary Units]…would disappear to their OB, wait for the Germans to go over the top of them and attack the rear...”
“Patrols would attack bridges, convoys, fuel dumps and so on, breaking the supply chain and holding up the advance of the blitzkrieg, giving the regular army time to regroup and counterattack.”
“Equipped with suppressed sniper’s rifles, the fighters would also be expected to assassinate anyone who might expose their underground operations.
“Patrols would take out collaborators as well as local policemen and intelligence officers – innocent men, killed just for knowing their identities…”
“Anyone who stumbled across their OB would also be killed. And if a patrol member was injured and couldn’t get back the OB, they were obligated to shoot him...”
“Their life expectancy was just 12 short days – with orders to kill each other and themselves if capture by the enemy seemed imminent.” [DorsetLive]
There were, then, two underlying assumptions or, better said, hopes, on the part of the Auxiliary Units: the first was that the units would survive for 12-14 days; the second was that the main British forces would be able to mount a successful counterattack.
As to whether the stay-behind fighters could survive for 14 days, my assessment is that they could do so easily if they did nothing or very little; once they started to shoot people and blow things up, it would be a different story.
The Germans might not have been able to do much to repress any stay-behind activity in the first confused days following invasion, but once those early days had passed, the Feldgendarmerie and SS would rather rapidly have started to arrest or kill suspects.
It is remarkable that the British plans included the assassination, on a default basis, of British police and Army personnel, or local residents, who knew of their existence! That might soon have backfired, with other such people helping the Germans to eliminate such ruthless persons hiding in their neighbourhoods. We shall never know. What we can be fairly sure about is that the Auxiliary Units would have had little impact on the eventual result, in big-picture terms.
As for the Auxiliary Units as the basis for a possible “British Resistance, impossible. Limited stocks of weaponry and ammunition, no help from external sources, and the German security grip tightening steadily.
Could British home forces have defeated a German invasion force, had it landed in the numbers suggested? Doubtful. For one thing, the projected German force was to have been 600,000 after a few days; the defending forces would have numbered under 400,000.
Secondly, the quality of German tanks, light weapons etc outmatched the British; the same was true of the fitness of German troops. Red Cross reports of the period (from France) noted that British soldiers captured were often undernourished, stunted, with poor teeth and poor fitness, a result of the social conditions prevalent in the UK in the 1920s and 1930s. The German prisoners taken by the British were found to be, almost universally, in a good state of health and fitness, the result of, mainly, 7 years of National Socialist government.
Another point is that the German forces will mostly have seen action in Poland or France, whereas the British home forces were mostly without recent battle experience.
It is true that large wargames (a major one took place at Sandhurst in 1974) have generally resulted in German defeat following a 1940 invasion of Britain, but those results were based on destruction of much of the invasion force at sea, and failure to execute the invasion plan with sufficient boldness. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sea_Lion_(wargame).
History is full of examples of invasions that should have failed, but did not. Alexander’s invasion of the Persian Empire, and William of Normandy’s 1066 invasion of England, are but two. Indeed, Hitler’s own experiences in 1939-41 (Norway, France, Poland, the Soviet Union, Greece, Yugoslavia etc show that boldness can bring victory even in unlikely circumstances. Rommel’s victories in North Africa were usually achieved against the odds.
It can certainly be argued that Hitler should have pressed on in 1940, even in circumstances of high risk. Britain would have quickly folded, and then, under new political leadership, found a new role, with the Empire, as a “dual-rulership” of much of the Earth, in collaboration with the German Reich.
On those premises, huge destruction and misery would have been avoided, both in the 1940s and thereafter. The world would have been a far better place now, had that happened.
As to the results further down the line, had a German invasion succeeded, one has to say that, in some ways, perhaps most ways, Britain itself might have been —80 years on— better for it. There would have been no migration-invasion by blacks and browns, and no Jewish-Zionist exploitation. Services such as the NHS would have been available earlier and better.
Incidentally, a German victory in 1940 would not have meant long-term German occupation, certainly not after a few years, and not necessarily a harsh one. The main aim, for Hitler, would have been disarmament or control of the British Army, navy and air force.
Hitler’s preferred ruler of Britain, we now know, was none other than Lloyd George! The Security Service, MI5, was well aware of this, and monitored him closely.
“Lloyd George was consistently pro-German after 1923, in part due to his growing conviction that Germany had been treated unfairly at Versailles. He supported German demands for territorial concessions and recognition of its “great power” status; he paid much less attention to the security concerns of France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Belgium.
 In a speech in 1933, he warned that if Adolf Hitler were overthrown Communism would replace him in Germany. In August 1934, he insisted Germany could not wage war, and assured European nations that there would be no risk of war during the next ten years.
In September 1936, he visited Germany to talk with Hitler. Hitler said he was pleased to have met “the man who won the war”; Lloyd George was moved, and called Hitler “the greatest living German”.: 247 Lloyd George also visited Germany’s public works programmes and was impressed. On his return to Britain, he wrote an article for the Daily Express praising Hitler and stating: “The Germans have definitely made up their minds never to quarrel with us again.“: 248
He believed Hitler was “the George Washington of Germany”; that he was rearming Germany for defence and not for offensive war; that a war between Germany and the Soviet Union would not happen for at least ten years; that Hitler admired the British and wanted their friendship but that there was no British leadership to exploit this.” [Wikipedia].
Well, in the trite but true expression, “man proposes but God disposes”…
Strange. My memory tells me precisely the reverse, as far as the years up to 2010 are concerned. It is a complex picture, but I recall a country where things were OK (speaking very very generally) until 1997 (I was mostly out of the UK that exact year, though), one where a gradual “communitarian” police statism started to develop under Blair and Brown, and one in which (and here I do agree with the tweeter) there was a catastrophic decline in standards from…well, the tweeter says 2010 (i.e. when Cameron-Levita and his clique became the Government), but I think earlier, maybe from 2005 or so (under Gordon Brown).
I recall returning to the UK from France in 2009, having not been here for a year (I had been spending half my time in France since 2005, and was also in a number of other countries during 2005-2010), and noticing the social darkness that had already descended, a year before David Cameron-Levita became Prime Minister.
The (Pakistani?) tweeter is obviously a simplistic Labour Party partisan, who thinks in unsophisticated ways: Labour government 1997— good, Conservative government 2010— bad. If only life were that simple.
Ah. Just looked him up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahir_Shah. Not Pakistani, but Indian Muslim (born in the UK), and a comedian. Britain may be short of housing, energy, water, good jobs, a decent and working society generally, and good government, but we shall never, it seems, run out of comedians. Sometimes there seem to be thousands of them, though few I have seen or heard (on TV or radio) are actually very comic.
Other tweets seen
£50,000 p.a. for being “office manager” of an office with few if any other employees? Bob Blackman is the Jewish-lobby puppet always acting as mouthpiece for Israel. One of such puppets, anyway.
I would suggest a solution for this, but prefer not to mention it…
“…championed the importance of freedom of speech“? Not one word from Young about how I was disbarred (wrongfully and actually unlawfully) at the instigation of a certain pack of Jews, some of whom still try (though vainly) to persecute me. Not a word about the persecution and prosecution, by the same pack of Jews, of the singer-satirist Alison Chabloz, who has now actually done time in prison for mocking “holocaust” fakery and hoaxes (fakery almost all done by Jews). Not a word about the fact that Jez Turner, of the now-defunct London Forum, was imprisoned for simply making a speech in Whitehall urging the removal of Jews from the UK.
Now I wonder whether there is a common theme about those cases when Toby Young and the “Free Speech Union” stayed guiltily silent?…
More controlled opposition.
Other tweets seen
In 2004-2005, for nearly two years, I lived in a farmhouse in the constituency, near Milton Abbot (6 miles NW of Tavistock), having moved out of Polapit Tamar House, 8 miles away across the Tamar in Cornwall (a lovely place then, though since I lived there split up into numerous dwelling units, and currently on sale for £7M).
Geoffrey Cox became MP for Torridge and West Devon in 2005, but at that time I was too busy trying to make a living at the Bar to take any notice of System politics, certainly did not vote, and was unaware, I think, even of the bastard’s name.
The constituency is hard-core Conservative Party territory, though. All the farmers and landowners vote Conservative (despite being a “subsidized industry” by any other name). Cox received 60.1% in 2019 (LibDems 18.3%, Labour only 17.2%): see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torridge_and_West_Devon_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s.
The fallibility of human memory
We do not have to consider the almost-ubiquitous “holocaust” fakery, hoaxes, or “memories” which simply could not have happened, to understand that human memory often cannot be relied upon. Ignorance of fact can also play a role.
I have just seen a tweet in which the tweeter reminisces about his school trip to the Soviet Union in 1984 or 1985. The trip apparently consisted of a week in Leningrad and a week in Moscow.
Inter alia, the tweeter concerned tweets that he visited the Hermitage (in Leningrad), and walked on the surface of the frozen Volga…
Well, I suppose that the above memory could be accurate, but probably is not. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) is on the river Neva; Moscow is on the Moscow river or Moskva.
The Volga has a quite convoluted course, and at its nearest to Moscow is only about 85 miles away, at the meeting-place of the Volga with the Moskva-Volga Canal (aka Moscow Canal): https://factsanddetails.com/russia/Places/sub9_9a/entry-7029.html. It goes nowhere very near St. Petersburg.
The Moscow river is a tributary of the river Oka, which is in turn a tributary of the river Volga.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neva; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moskva_(river); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Canal; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volga; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oka_(river).
The upshot of the above is that the tweet I saw could be accurate but quite likely is not. The tweeter probably walked on the frozen Neva, or perhaps the Moskva, or the Moskva-Volga Canal.
Memory cannot always be relied upon. My own memory is (I have found) better than that of almost anyone else I have ever met, but is still occasionally inaccurate.
Talking of memories of Russia, I saw another tweet today, which contained a picture of the interior of the GUM complex near Red Square. Marble floors, clean, redolent of luxury.
I first saw GUM in 1993, when most of the shop units were empty, the (then white) marble floors containing wide cracks in places, and a snack bar in the area on the ground floor was doing a good trade in open sandwiches (red caviar on buttered white bread); I had one myself, I think.
When I returned to Moscow in 2007, all changed. Tan marble, everything clean and tidy, and the shops were all occupied; they included Thomas Pink, Armani etc. Not very busy, perhaps because it was a weekday and early evening, or perhaps because of the high prices. In 1993, it was also not busy, though then because there was rather little to buy. I believe that, in Soviet days, GUM was always packed, as was the toy shop Detsky Mir (“Children’s World”) next door (with access then from GUM as well as from the street). In 1993, I wandered in from GUM, out of curiosity. The few outsized soft toys were charged at extortionate prices. Oddly, or perhaps not, no children and few adults there.
For a moment, I thought that he must have done something really bad, like identifying a Jew as Jewish, but on reflection, that would have required the participation of the “Anti-Terrorist Command”, I suppose…