Führer Directive 16
|The Führer and Supreme Commander|
of the Armed Forces
16th July 1940.
Since England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, shows no signs of being ready to come to an understanding, I have decided to prepare a landing operation against England and, if necessary, to carry it out.
The aim of this operation will be to eliminate the English homeland as a base for the prosecution of the war against Germany and, if necessary, to occupy it completely.
I therefore order as follows:
- The landing will be in the form of a surprise crossing on a wide front from about Ramsgate to the area west of the Isle of Wight. Units of the Air Force will act as artillery, and units of the Navy as engineers.
The possible advantages of limited operations before the general crossing (e.g. the occupation of the Isle of Wight or of the county of Cornwall) are to be considered from the point of view of each branch of the Armed Forces and the results reported to me. I reserve the decision to myself.
Preparations for the entire operation must be completed by the middle of August.
- These preparations must also create such conditions as will make a landing in England possible, viz:
- The English Air Force must be so reduced morally and physically that it is unable to deliver any significant attack against the German crossing.
- Mine-free channels must be cleared.
- The Straits of Dover must be closely sealed off with minefields on both flanks; also the Western entrance to the Channel approximately on the line Alderney-Poitland.
- Strong forces of coastal artillery must command and protect the forward coastal area.
- It is desirable that the English Navy be tied down shortly before the crossing, both in the North Sea and in the Mediterranean (by the Italians)1. For this purpose we must attempt even now to damage English home-based naval forces by air and torpedo attack as far as possible.
- Command organisation and preparations.
Under my overriding command and according to my general instructions, the Commanders-in-Chief will command the branches of the Armed Forces for which they are responsible.
From 1st August the operations staffs of Commander-in-Chief Army, Commander-in-Chief Navy, and Commander-in-Chief Air Force are to be located at a distance of not more than 50 kilometres from my Headquarters (Ziegenberg).
It seems to me useful that the inner operations staffs of Commander-in-Chief Army and Commander-in-Chief Navy should be placed together at Giessen.
Commander-in-Chief Army will detail one Army Group to carry out the invasion.
The invasion will bear the cover name 'Seelöwe'.
In the preparation and execution of this operation the following tasks are allotted to each Service:
The Army will draw up the operational and crossing plans for all formations of the first wave of the invasion. The anti-aircraft artillery which is to cross with the first wave will remain subordinate to the Army (to individual crossing units) until it is possible to allocate its responsibilities between the support and protection of troops on the ground, the protection of disembarkation points, and the protection of the airfields which are to be occupied.
The Army will, moreover, lay down the methods by which the invasion is to be carried out and the individual forces to be employed, and will determine points of embarkation and disembarkation in conjunction with the Navy.
The Navy will procure the means for invasion and will take them, in accordance with the wishes of the Army, but with due regard to navigational considerations, to the various embarkation points. Use will be made, as far as possible, of the shipping of defeated enemy countries.
The Navy will furnish each embarkation point with the staff necessary to give nautical advice, with escort vessels and guards. In conjunction with air forces assigned for protection, it will defend the crossing of the Channel on both flanks. Further orders will lay down the chain of command during the crossing. It is also the task of the Navy to co-ordinate the setting up of coastal artillery-i.e. all artillery, both naval and military, intended to engage targets at sea-and generally to direct its fire. The largest possible number of extra-heavy guns will be brought into position as soon as possible in order to cover the crossing and to shield the flanks against enemy action at sea. For this purpose railway guns will also be used (reinforced by all available captured weapons) and will be sited on railway turntables. Those batteries intended only to deal with targets on the English mainland (K5 and K12) will not be included. Apart from this the existing extra-heavy platform-gun batteries are to be enclosed in concrete opposite the Straits of Dover in such a manner that they can withstand the heaviest air attacks and will permanently, in all conditions, command the Straits of Dover within the limits of their range. The technical work will be the responsibility of the Organization Todt.
- The task of the Air Force will be:
To prevent interference by the enemy Air Force.
To destroy coastal fortresses which might operate against our disembarkation points, to break the first resistance of enemy land forces, and to disperse reserves on their way to the front. In carrying out this task the closest liaison is necessary between individual Air Force units and the Army invasion forces.
Also, to destroy important transport highways by which enemy reserves might be brought up, and to attack approaching enemy naval forces as far as possible from our disembarkation points. I request that suggestions be made to me regarding the employment of parachute and airborne troops. In this connection it should be considered, in conjunction with the Army, whether it would be useful at the beginning to hold parachute and airborne troops in readiness as a reserve, to be thrown in quickly in case of need.
- Preparations to ensure the necessary communications between France and the English mainland will be handled by the Chief, Armed Forces Signals.
The use of the remaining eighty kilometres of the East Prussia cable is to be examined in co-operation with the Navy.
- I request Commanders-in-Chief to submit to me as soon as possible-
- The plans of the Navy and Air Force to establish the necessary conditions for crossing the Channel (see paragraph 2).
- Details of the building of coastal batteries (Navy).
- A general survey of the shipping required and the methods by which it is proposed to prepare and procure it. Should civil authorities be involved? (Navy).
- The organisation of Air Defence in the assembly areas for invasion troops and ships (Air Force).
- The crossing and operation plan of the Army, the composition and equipment of the first wave of invasion.
- The organisation and plans of the Navy and Air Force for the execution of the actual crossing, for its protection, and for the support of the landing.
- Proposals for the use of parachute and airborne troops and also for the organisation and command of antiaircraft artillery as soon as sufficient English territory has been captured.
- Proposal for the location of Naval and Air Headquarters.
- Views of the Navy and Air Force whether limited operations are regarded as useful before a general landing and, if so, of what kind.
- Proposal from Army and Navy regarding command during the crossing.
[signed] ADOLF HITLER
Added By: C. Peter Chen
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939