German Gibraltar?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by comiso90, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Did the Germans ever develop operational plans to take Gibraltar?

    I cant imagine them attempting w/o holding onto N Africa and taking Malta but all sorts of crazy scenarios are hypothesized but never executed.


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  2. joy17782

    joy17782 Member

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    I do belive the german okw did have plans too invade gilraltar. with the help of the franco,s spainish troops help , but the germans never could get francos help in that area, and bye that time the troops and planes were needed else where, and crete air drop put hitler in a sour puss mood about airdrops, but i think that they could have done it ,if franco would have opened his borders for the german troops too attack the base
     
  3. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Any German invasion of Gibraltar would be impossible without Spain entering the war. Franco was not ready for that, so it never happened...
     
  4. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I agree but "impossible" doesnt keep the think tanks from developing plans..

    If you can think of a scenario, it's probably been studied and evaluated... I'd like to know if anythng was developed.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    It certainly has. The german codewaord for their plan was "Felix". "Felix" was the proposed name for a German/Spanish seizure of Gibraltar. It was scheduled for 10 January, 1941 but never executed. This plan was discussed at a meeting held between Franco and Adolf Hitler in late October 1940, in Hitler's railroad car at Hendaye, at the border of German-occupied France with Spain. Franco's material demands for joining the Axis powers included:

    400,000-700,000 tons of grain
    All the fuel required for the Spanish Army
    All lacking equipment for the Spanish Army
    Artillery, aircraft, and special troops for the conquest of Gibraltar
    In addition, Franco wanted Germany to hand over the French African territories of Morocco and Oran, and to help Spain get a border revision in the west of Río de Oro (in Spanish Sahara). Franco knew that these claims were impossible for hitler to meet.....the grain supplies would have left Germany hopelessly starving herself, and the te4rritoial claims on Vichy would have destroyed German credibility in the world, because it would destroy the recent terms of the peace treatry with France.

    Ciano's Diplomatic Papers report that Hitler later said he would rather have three teeth extracted than meet with Franco again. It is a subject of historical debate whether Franco overplayed his hand, demanding too much from Hitler for Spanish entry into the war, or whether he deliberately stymied the German dictator by setting the price unrealistically high. Also, Wilhelm Canaris, who secretly relayed information to Franco about the German plans, might have convinced Franco not to agree to Hitler's demands.

    In any case, the operation itself would not have been straightforward. German estimates were for as many as 30,000 troops to be involved in the assault. Use of airborne forces was not an option due to the small amount of level ground around the Rock and the perilous air currents. Supporting the assault with heavy siege artillery would have been difficult as the Spanish railway system would not support the movement of such large guns within range of Gibraltar. In addition the actual assault would have go across the exposed runway of the airfield, which runs parallel to the entire land border with Spain. Recognizing this fact, the British defenders had mounted rapid fire Bofors 40 mm guns in tunnel openings facing north and downwards onto the airfield to specifically deal with this threat.
     
  6. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Cool... Thanks!

    I was wondering if airborne troops were an option... that was my next question.
    If anything would motivate the Germans to use gas warfare.. it would have been Gibraltar.

    How self sustaining was Gibraltar? drinking water? Crops? farm animals?

    .
     
  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I have a friend who has been there. Considering that the british were fortifying it since before the napoleonic war, I would say it it was one of the most impreganable fortresses of Europe.

    I think either Glider or trackend were stationed there at some stage....maybe one of them can give a better answer
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    They also said the same thing about Fort Eben Emael and it was knocked it in less then an hour.

    If man can build it, he can also conquer it.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    True, but forts also have had their succeses. Brest Litovsk, Sevastopol, Hango, Corregidor, Maginot, Tobruk, all had some success. Eban Emmanuel was one case, a special case, and a rather thin case to make against a 300 year old fortress
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but everyone of the listed Forts/Fortifications fell in modern warfare.

    Eban Emmanuel demonstrated that innovative tactics could succeed quite well and IMHO age is totally irrelevant in how impregnable a fortress is.
     
  11. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Interesting side note... many researchers believe that Gibraltar was the last stand of the Neanderthals. I believe the most recent evidence of Neanderthals were found there:

    BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge'

    I doubt it was happenstance that they chose a defensible position... can you imagine cro-magnons assailing Gibraltar against Neanderthals?



    .


    .
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Most of the forts along the Atlantic Wall never surrendered, except after the surrender of their country. So too with the maginot Line, which did not surrender until either just before, or just after the surrender of France (I forget which.

    The fortress at Hango never surrendered, it was evacuated. The fortresses around Leningrad and Moscow never fell, and Stalingrad, which was effectively a fortress also never completely fell.

    Tobruk held out for over a year, and only fell because of mistakes by the defending garrison. If it was so easy to take fortresses, why didnt Rommel take Tobruk before 1942. I can tell you it wasnt for lack of trying, or for a lack of innovation, or for a lack of resources. On any of those criteria, the place should have fallen within days of its first encirclement. An assault of the fortress at Malta was never attempted, but would have been bloody.

    There is no gurantee in anything in life. Fortresses cannot gurantee a successful defence, but they can improve the chances of holding ground.

    Your logic is very akin to the attitude taken by the French in the opening days of WWI. They disdained the need to entrench, to dig in, preferring to rely on the elan of the troops to carry them forward and win the battle. The french army soon abandoned that disastrous policy and were digging in cowering in their increasingly sophisticated fortresses as the war progressed
     
  13. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Gibraltar is much more than a fortress...

    gibraltar - Google Maps

    It's difficult to imagine a geographical feature that's more defensible. I drove by it and was impressed at the size. I think only a 10 year blockade would defeat Gibraltar...
     
  14. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Cherburg , Saint-malo Dinad, Brest, Boulogne where major parts of the Atlantic Wal that did surrebder early



    QUOTE]So too with the maginot Line, which did not surrender until either just before, or just after the surrender of France (I forget which[/QUOTE]

    Some of the smaller forts fell and others were captured due to them haven been abandoned;


    The fortress at Hango never surrendered, it was evacuated. The fortresses around Leningrad and Moscow never fell, and Stalingrad, which was effectively a fortress also never completely fell.


    My logic? The only statements I made:

    They also said the same thing about Fort Eben Emael and it was knocked it in less then an hour. (in response to Gibralter being impossible to take.

    If man can build it, he can also conquer it. I never made a statement saying the are uesless.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Look at the reasons behind each case, rather than trying to generalize. And then from those specific cases, try and draw the parrallel with Gibraltar.

    Firstly, the example you cited originally. Facts are it fell easily, but for what reason. As you say, it fell to new techniques and weapons, specifically airborne troops and hollow charge explosives. Neither weapon had been anticipated in th original design, and the 1300 defenders were thoroughly demoralised from the very beginning

    Is there a parrallel that can be drawn for Gib. If there is, I cant see one. Airborne troops could not be used, and as far as I know ther were no new weapons in the closet. There was just one path of advance. The chances of taking Gibraltar by surpise , by coup de main are slim, particularly since the Germans would need to spend many weeks getting into position

    Maginot Line: You mentioned that some of the smaller forts fell, which may be true, but this only reinforces the fact that the main defences did hold, until completely surrounded and isolated.

    Is ther any lesson for Gibraltar, any methodology that could be used. Well, possibly that the Luftwaffe would need to maintain a total blockade of the place. But this would be very difficult given that the Brits would almost certainly take over Spanish Morocco, and have the Vichy on their side, due to the latter being betrayed by the Germans to get the Spanish into the war. They tried for more than two years to close communications to Malta, a far more isolated outpost than Gibaraltar, and failed ther. So ther is no reason to suggest that Gibraltar would ever be isolated as such

    Tobruk: Here the Germans have a situation similar to that which would face them in "Felix". And here the qualities of the British and Dominion troops showed that in defence they could not be beaten by anything the germans were able to throw at them. The defenders were often outnumbered 4 or 5 to 1; the germans (and yes the majority of the assaults were german, not Italian) were bloodily repulsed and got nowhere.

    At Gibraltar, the most that could be thrownat the fort was 30000 troops according to the german Intelligence estimates. Yet the Defenders numbered no less than 16000. 2:1 might sound like good odds, but they are not, when the defender is entrenched, and properly supported. The defenders could count on continuous shore based and naval gunfire support, at least air parity.

    Corregidor:

    The Japanese were only able to take this fortress after a protracted bombardment, and ground assault, which in total lasted more than four months. Moreover, the critical factor that led to the loss of this position was the isolation imposed by the IJN. I dont think this would occur with Gib. Re-supply and reinforcement would occur as required in Gib. The Allied heavy artillery would prevent any effective Axis artillery barrage, and the Infantry assaults would be subjected to constant and withering fire. I cannot draw any parrallels here.

    Sevastopol: This port was taken only after the Russian fleet was dealt with by the Luftwaffe (there being no effective Russian aerial presence at that time) and only after the heaviest artillery bombardment, using super heavy ordinance, was used to break open the Russian forts protecting the city. This bombardment lasted more than a month incidentally. A bomnbardment by heavy guns was not possible at Gib, for reasons relating to the Spanish railnet. .

    I could continue, but you get the drift I think The reasons for a probable defeat need to be examined and put forward, rather than just mouthing dogma that is essentially unsupported. Tell people why you think Gibraltar would fall, or why forts are not of any use to a defence, rather than making generalised statements about how all forts can be taken.

    I agree that given the right conditions, a fort can be taken, but can those conditions be realistically generated in 1941? I cant see how they could.
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Here is my take on Gibraltar. Was it unconquerable? Of course not. The Germans certainly could have taken it with the right strategy, attack, and support. Was it likely to happen? Not with out any support from Spain and the Med not being in their control.
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I agree...the right conditions will allow the Germans to take the place, but are those conditions achievable. What are the conditions.

    I see the necessary conditions as being a sustained artillery bombardment, and a total blockade, and interdiction strategy to prevent seaward interdiction and re-supply by the RN. To do this, I think the germans would need to occupy and hold both sides of the straits, and that probably means taking out the Vichy in North Africa.

    Once the geographical conditions have been achieved, the Germans would have to maintain a solid blockade for many months, whilst maintaining a continuous barrrage of the fortress.

    None of this was solvable in the terms available in 1940-41. The taking of this place would have been very difficult. This is why the French never attempted it 140 years before .
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I have seen mention of German artillery being used in a scenario (if the Spanish had allowed the Germans access), but what about a concerted attack using the Kreigsmarine and the Luftwaffe.

    I know this falls heavily along the lines of *what if*, but the American assault on Iwo Jima and Okinawa comes to mind when I look at the way Gibraltar was set up.

    Early in the war, the Germans did have the tools to mount such an attack. Although they lacked carriers, the Germans did have quite a bit of North African territory they could have used as staging bases for thier air support. As far as the naval aspect, just about all the battlehsips and cruisers Germany would build, were already in service and available.

    Think this would have been a possibility?
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Some images and comments about the place:

    Subterranean Exploration: Gibraltar WW2 Tunnels

    In detail the defences grew steadily, and included the following:


    This, may take a while to type up, but the below is a list of the Batteries (Excluding Bofars) on Gibraltar.

    PRINCESS CARLONINE'S BATTERY - One 6 inch Mk VIII
    TOVEY BATTERY - Two 6 inch Mk VIII
    WHITE ROCK AA - Two 3.7 Inch
    SIGNAL HILL AA - Two 3 inch 30 CWT
    GLACIS AA - Two 3,7 inch
    MONTAGUE BASTON AA - Two 3.7 inch
    DETATCHED MOLE AA - Two 30 inch 20 CWT
    RECLAMATION AA - Four 3,7 Inch
    DEVILS GAP BATTERY - Two 6 inch Mk VIII
    OIL TANKS - One 6 inch Mk VIII
    BREAKNECK BATTERY - One 9.2 inch Mk X on Mk V mounting
    LORD AIREY'S BATTERY - One 9.2 inch on Mk VII Mounting
    OIL TANKS AA - Two 3.7 inch
    MARTINS BATTERY - Two 4 inch QF
    O'HARA's BATTERY - One 9.2 Mk X on Mk VII mounting
    SPUR BATTERY - One 9.2 Mk X on Mk VII mounting
    LEVANT BATTERY - One 9.2 Mk X on Mk V mounting
    EUROPA ADVANCE BATTERY - Two 4 inch QF
    WINDMILL HILL AA - Four 3.7 inch
    BUFFADERO BATTERY - One 9.2 Mk X on Mk V mounting
    'P' EMPLACEMENT - Two 9.2 inch Howitzers
    SOUTH BATTERY AA - Four 3.7 inch
    LIGHTHOUSE AA - Four 3.7 inch
    WEST BATTERY - One 9.2 Mk X on Mk V mounting
    GENISTA BATTEY - Two 6 inch Mk VIII
    NAPIER BATTERY AA - Four 3.7 inch
    SOUTH MOLE BATTERY - One 4 inch QF

    In addition the following emplacements were placed on the Harbour walls

    T.1. - one 6pdr twin mounting (2pdrs I think in 1941)
    T.2. - one 6pdr twin mounting
    T.3. - one 6pdr twin mounting
    T.4. - one 6pdr twin mounting
    T.5. - one 6pdr twin mounting
    T.6. - one 6pdr twin mounting

    Also, a total of 34 Bofors sites existed.


    British Defenses
    Had Operation Felix taken place during January 1941 as planned, what opposition would the attackers have faced?
    In September 1939 the garrison comprised two British battalions: 2nd The Kings Regiment and 2nd Somerset Light Infantry. 4th Devonshire arrived in May 1940 and 4th Black Watch in July 1940, so by January 1941 four infantry battalions were in place.

    However the British were in the process of transferring or forming additional Infantry. These were the 1st and 2nd Gibraltar Brigades each with with reinforced and additional battalions.
    3rd Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery (previously "Gibraltar Coast Defenses" and later redesignated 3rd Coast Regiment) controlled 4th, 26th, and 27th Batteries with 8 x 9.2-inch guns, 7 x 6-inch guns, and 6 x twin 6-pounders. (Artillery strength also grew considerably later in the war.)
    In September 1939 two AA batteries, the 9th and 19th, defended Gibraltar from air attack with 4 x 3-inch, 4 x 3.7-inch, and 2 x 40mm guns. HQ 10th AA Regiment was later formed to control the two batteries. The 82nd Heavy AA Regiment arrived in July 1940 with three batteries (156th, 193rd, and 256th) including 16 3.7-inch guns, 8 x 40mm Bofors guns, and the first radar sets. 3rd Searchlight Battery also arrived in July. Some shuffling of assets and re-numbering of units followed (including departure of HQ 10th AA Regiment, but no batteries); however, this AA strength was further reinforced in March 1941 by approximately a further 6 batteries . If the airfield was not protected by an advance into Spain before the arival of the Germans, there would be no direct air support, since the airfield was forward of the defensive positions. However airfields were close by in Spanish Morocco. The British planned to capture these in the event of any aggressive moves by the Germans

    The approach peninsula to the fortress was less than two miles wide, and had been deliberately cleared of all cover and obstacles. The german assault forces amounted to one Corps, and would advance across many thousands of yards of cleared terrain. It was heavily mined as I recall
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The Germans had nothing to match the US Pacific Fleet. Iwo was defended by 220 guns of 75mm or larger, and by an Infantry force of 18000 men. It was attacked by an Infantry force in excess of 110000 men, and bombarded for over 3 days by over 1000 guns. This was considered insufficient by the MAF commanders, they had wanted 10 days.

    It was bombed over that same period by over 1000 aircraft. It still took 25 days to secure, and cost over 27000 American casualties. If the Japanese had possessed even naval parity, it would never have fallen.

    Against Gibraltar, it is likley that the Allies would enjoy naval supremacy. If the Germans moved through Vichy France, they would have had to fight the remains of the french a well as the British, and a two front war, with resources not even adequate for one front.

    The only feasible method to approach the isue would be to advance from Spain, and doing it that way limits the frontage you can adopt, which in turn limits the size of your assault forces. In this case the limited front restricts your assault forces to no more than 30000 compared to the 110000 available to the Americans. The Germans could adopt a wave assault tactic, but that means and assumes that the initial wave can get out of the way once they run out of steam. And with the british having the ability to feed in reinforcements, as required, the battle becomes well nigh hopeless for the Germans
     
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