History shows that a Nazi Invasion of Britain would have been horrific. German invaders would have destroyed most of Britain’s cities and killed millions of Britons.
Obviously we can not know the outcome of a Nazi invasion of Britain with certainty. However, the history of the other Nazi invasions and occupations shows us that a German ground war war in Great Britain would have been horrific.
Fortunately, Adolph Hitler was not serious about invading the United Kingdom. I make this observation because the Nazis took none of the steps necessary for a successful invasion.
For instance, the Germans did not manufacture enormous numbers of landing craft to carry troops, supplies, and tanks to Britain, nor organize a large Marine Corps to lead the invasion. Germany had the industrial capacity to take these steps but Hitler did not follow through. Instead, the Fuhrer and the the German generals were obsessed with their insane invasion of the Soviet Union.
However, we can surmise some horrors the British could have experienced at Nazi hands. Those horrors include:
1. Churchill’s strategy could have turned Britain into a slaughterhouse
Strangely Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill’s strategy to resist invasion made the German slaughter of enormous numbers of British civilians inevitable.
Churchill’s plans for resisting a German invasion included the Scallywags units of guerrillas that included hunters, poachers, game wardens, and other skilled woodsmen. The purpose of the Scallywags was to harass, distract, and ambush German troops with guerrilla warfare.
Standard German anti-guerrilla practice; going back to the Herero and Namaqua genocides in the early 20th Century Africa, was to kill any civilians suspected of helping guerrillas. This strategy was barbaric but effective. The Germans used it in Belgium during World War I and in many places during World War II.
Had Scallywags shot a single German soldier. The Germans would have retaliated by wiping out the nearest British village or town. For example, on 10 June 1944 an SS unit killed 652 inhabitants of the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane in retaliation for resistance attacks on German troops. After killing the residents, the SS burned the town.
Similarly, on 10 June 1942, German forces liquidated the entire Czech village of Lidice. The Germans killed all 172 male residents of Lidice and deported all the women to the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Only 90 Lidice children whom German families adopted, survived. After the massacre and deportations, the Germans burned and dynamited all the buildings in Lidice. The Germans destroyed Lidice because they thought its residents harbored British agents who assassinated SS deputy leader Reinhard “Heydrich the Hangman” Heydrich.
Consequently, Scallywag attacks on German invasion forces would have led to many massacres of British civilians. Additionally, the SS could have shipped tens of thousands of Britons to concentration camps in retaliation for Scallywag activities.
Moreover, there is a strong possibility that German soldiers could have simply shot the members of Home Guard, or Dad’s Army. The Home Guard was a militia of armed civilians, mostly World War I veterans, that secured Britain’s home front.
The Home Guard’s orders were to resist an invasion until it ran out of ammo, if it had any, then surrender to the Germans. I think that order could have led to the deaths of most of Dad’s Army.
Remember, the Germans hated guerrillas and had a policy of shooting them. I suspect many German soldiers would have regarded the Home Guard as guerrillas and shot its members as soon as they surrendered.
Thus, Churchill’s strategy could have turned Britain into a slaughterhouse even before Heinrich Himmler’s henchmen arrived to implement the Final Solution. The slaughter of civilians would have been in addition to all the people killed in the crossfire between German and British troops.
An interesting point is that Churchill histories often omit the Scallywags; like the Bengal Famine. I think storytellers make the omissions because callous disregard for human life is not a trait people want in national heroes.
Besides all the British civilians shot out of hand, the Nazis would have killed Britain’s 300,000 Jews. The Germans could have deported the Jews to Poland or built a death camp somewhere in the British aisles.
My guess is that Britain would have suffered casualties similar to those in the Soviet Union, from a Nazi invasion. World War III killed around 27 million people in the Soviet Union. Obviously the British population was smaller, but the slaughter could have been just as great.
2. Tens of thousands of Germans could have drowned trying to reach British shores
During World War II, the Germans had few landing craft and no experience with seaborne invasions.
The preparations German forces made for a theoretical invasion of England Operation Sea Lion in 1940 were amateur and haphazard. For example, the Germans rounded up civilian craft not designed for warfare to use as troop carriers. Those craft included car ferries, fishing boats, ocean liners, and canal barges (craft not designed for use on the sea).
I think many of those craft would have floundered in the English Channel even before the British could sink them. British artillery, aircraft, warships, and mines could have easily sunk much of the German invasion force.
Consequently, tens of thousands of German soldiers could have drowned in the sea as clumsy craft were sunk. To safely invade England, the Germans would have had to spend two or three years building large numbers of landing craft. Remember, it took the British Empire and the United States three years to build the landing craft used in the 1944 D-Day landings.
Once the landing craft were ready, the Nazis needed to neutralize the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and British shore artillery. Germany had the technology and industry to achieve those goals but Hitler did not use those resources.
3. Hitler would have needed Japanese help to invade England
Even if the Germans had concentrated their Navy, the Italian Navy, and captured French and other ships. They would have had a hard time accumulating enough firepower to sink the Royal Navy and blast their way through British defenses. The Germans did not even have torpedo bombers, the primary anti-ship weapon used in World War II.
My personal suspicion is that Hitler would have needed Japanese help to invade England. The Japanese had the world’s second most powerful Navy, His Imperial Majesty’s fleet included aircraft carriers, the world’s biggest battleships, and landing craft.
Without the Imperial Japanese Navy, I don’t think the Germans could have crossed the Channel. However, the Japanese would have had to fight their way through the United States Navy, the world’s largest and most powerful, to get to the English Channel. I think that would have been difficult.
Therefore, any hopes Hitler had of invading England ended at the Battle of Midway in the Pacific in 1942. Midway was a naval engagement in which no British or German forces participated. At Midway, the US Navy inflicted a decisive defeat on the Imperial Japanese Navy.
4. The Royal Family could have moved to British Columbia
A Nazi invasion of Britain would have sent the Royal Family to Canada almost 80 years before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex took up residence in British Columbia.
Unlike most Britons, the Royal Family had an excellent chance of survival because there was a special British Army task force devoted to their protection. That task force, the Coats Mission, included members of the Military Police, the Royal Army Service Corps, the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry, the 12th Lancers, and the Coldstream Guards.
Had the Germans invaded, the Coats Mission would have taken the Royal Family to Liverpool or Holyhead for evacuation to Canada. In Canada, a private house on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, Hatley Castle, was ready for the Royals.
Ironically, Vancouver Island was where Harry and Meghan settled 79 years later. However, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were fleeing Fleet Street tabloids and paparazzi, instead of Nazi paratroopers.
Strangely, Vancouver Island; the Royal Family’s planned refuge, was on the Pacific and vulnerable to Japanese attack. I have to wonder if the people in charge of the Royal Family’s World War II security ever examined an atlas.
5. India could have been part of the Axis
Bizarrely, some of the “German troops” invading England could have been veterans of His Majesty’s India Army.
Around 3,500 Indian prisoners of war joined the Free Indian Legion to fight with the German Army, during World War II. German and Italian forces captured those Indians in North Africa. Had the Axis won in North Africa and Asia, the Free Indian Legion could have had tens of thousands of additional recruits. Many of those recruits would have been eager to invade England.
Moreover, Nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose; ironically a former protégé of Gandhi, could have become India’s dictator. Bose escaped from detention in 1941 and fled to Berlin, where he sought Hitler’s help.
In Berlin, Bose organized a “Free Indian government” and the Free Indian Legion with the help of SS Leader Heinrich Himmler. Had the Nazis won, Bose’s regime would have been in power in New Delhi and a loyal member of the Axis.
Consequently, a World War II German invasion of Britain would have had many strange and catastrophic effects. Thankfully, Hitler was not serious about invading the United Kingdom.