Germany Could Have Successfully Invaded Britain
Britain was not as vulnerable to German invasion as is commonly thought. After the humiliating evacuation from Dunkirk and the collapse of Britain’s main ally in 1940, the British stood alone against the German juggernaut. Things were grim, and to their credit, the British, led by their indomitable prime minister, soldiered on and fought the good fight when the easier course would have been a negotiated peace that left Hitler Europe’s hegemon.
Propaganda painted Britain as a plucky and stolid underdog, gritting its teeth and girding its loins to repel an invasion that could come at any day. However, Churchill and Britain’s higher-ups were aware that a German invasion, had it been attempted, would have stood no chance of success. Their main concern was not to repel an invasion but to maintain public morale to continue what they knew would be a long and costly war, despite a dismal start.
Churchill’s confidence came down to one word: logistics. The Germans simply lacked the landing craft and shipping capacity to transport and supply an invasion force large enough to subdue Britain. The main reason why the D-Day landings occurred in 1944, instead of 1943 as US commanders wanted, was the lack of sufficient landing craft in 1943. That problem was even worse for the Germans in 1940-1941.
Even as the aerial Battle of Britain raged in the summer of 1940, Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering did not believe that winning would pave the way for an invasion. When the German effort shifted from attacking the RAF to bombing British cities, it was not a prelude to invasion – it had already been canceled by the time the Blitz began – but to break British morale and pressure Britain’s leaders into negotiating for peace.
While Britain’s leadership did not fear invasion, they wisely kept it to themselves: public morale and spirit of defiance were high in the face of an “imminent invasion”, and there was no reason to tamper with that and risk complacency. Moreover, the image of an endangered Britain played well across the Atlantic, enhanced American public and governmental sympathy for Britain, and solidified US willingness to support the British.