Part of Western Front of the Second World War

Operation Sea Lion was the German plan to invade Great Britain in 1940 following the Fall of France earlier that year.


Following Germany's defeat and occupation of Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France, Adolf Hitler spent a month waiting for Great Britain to sue for peace. Finally realising that Britain fully intended to fight on, Hitler issued Directive No 16 on 16th July 1940, calling for preparations to be made for a German invasion of Britain, under the code-name 'Operation Sea-Lion'.[1] This was a personal directive, and followed one confirming the possibility of an invasion of Britain, which Hitler had issued on 2nd July, after discussions with the German High Command.[2]

According to directive 16, the operation was dictated by the need to eliminate Britain as a base for attacks against Germany, if necessary by occupation. To this end, Hitler issued orders for a surprise crossing and landing on a broad front between Ramsgate and a point to the west of the Isle of Wight, with the preparations for this being completed by the middle of August. In addition, Hitler's orders called for the Royal Air Force to be rendered incapable of providing meaningful opposition to any invasion.[3]

On 31st July, The German Navy convinced Hitler that their preparations could not be completed before 15th September. However, the Luftwaffe plan to eliminate the RAF was ready to be issued on 2nd August. Due to start on 5th August, this was delayed to 10 August because of bad weather.[4]

On 9th September, the date for the invasion was fixed for 20th September, with the executive order for the invasion needing to be issued as early as the 11th.[5]

After the defeat of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, Operation Sea Lion was suspended "until further notice" by Adolf Hitler on 17th September 1940,[6] with the invasion fleet being withdrawn from the Channel ports on Hitler's orders.[7] The invasion plan was formally postponed on 12 October, and finally abandoned by Germany in February 1942.[8]


  1. Townsend Bickers, Richard. The Battle of Britain - 50th Anniversary. Salamander Books. 1990. CN 1338 Page 171
  2. Odhams History of World War Two. 1951. Page 121
  3. Townsend Bickers, Richard. Page 162
  4. Odhams WW2 History Page 122
  5. Townsend Bickers, Richard. Page 134
  6. Roberts, Andrew. The Storm of War - A new history of the Second World War. Penguin Books. ISBN 978 0 141 02928 3. (2010). Page 108
  7. Townsend Bickers, Richard. Page 106
  8. Townsend Bickers, Richard. Page 167

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