French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

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paul.mercer
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French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:35 am

Gentlemen,
what would have been the outcome if the French navy had joined or been taken over by the German navy -would the Royal navy have been able to cope with it?

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Dave Saxton
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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:58 pm

In my opinion, it would have allowed the Germans to take a more direct hand on the course of the naval situations in the Med. This by extension may have changed the dynamics of the N. African theater. If the Afrika Korps and the Italians succeeds in N. Africa, and the Germans neutralize Malta, then the Axis control access to the Middle East, which gives them a secure source for resources and secures their southern flank. More importantly it changes the strategic situation concerning the USSR and its southern flank. Additionally, how the Western Allies approach to the war changes as well, making Operation Torch a completely different dynamic. How does this affect the perspective of Franco? Churchill was wise to take the unpleasant course he was forced to take regarding the French Fleet.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by wadinga » Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:14 pm

Fellow Contributors,

Whilst I agree pretty much 100% with Dave, there remains the knotty problem of fuel supplies, even assuming the Germans could either man the ships themselves or find enough Fascist-leaning French sailors to do their bidding. Perhaps sticking the relatives of less-enthusiastic potential collaborators as hostages in a concentration camp and shooting a few would work. These were the grim considerations Winston had to ponder. He also had to wonder why Richelieu and Jean Bart were put out of British reach, whilst the new French government came to a settlement with the Nazis.

Whatever your opinions of the Italian Fleet's innate level of aggression, it was always undoubtedly strapped by lack of fuel, and when Adolf cut off the useful supplies from Russia, things got even worse. Hitler has to win the fight for Suez and the Canal and then he can consider Iranian and Iraqi oil to feed his enhanced naval war machine. Since his other early-war allies, the USSR, also fancy at the least Iran, he may have to do a deal, and thus put Barbarossa on ice (joke) until after he has beaten the UK or at least forced peace through enhanced naval blockade.

Hitler was disappointed that Franco was greedy, ungrateful and uncooperative after the German Condor Legion put him in power.
He said of his meeting with Franco in Hendaye that “rather than go through that again, I would prefer to have three or four teeth taken out.”
Spain was in a parlous state after its destructive civil war, invading it and replacing a faulty Fascist puppet with a better one, should have been an attractive and relatively cheap option. With the Atlantic seaboard from the Canaries to North Cape, (Gibraltar having fallen) in his hands, the Battle of the Atlantic has a very different complexion.

Operation Torch? What Operation Torch? American public opinion had let France go under with minimal assistance, despite Reynaud's desperate personal appeals, and Lend-Lease only made sense if the UK had a chance of winning. Roosevelt had no chance of entangling the USA in "European matters" otherwise. Even his toehold in occupying Iceland might look like a bad idea and be withdrawn. With the above scenario, the Axis can strangle the UK into submission, cutting off the resources of the Empire, despite any heroic defence by the RN and dissuading US business from exporting goods to the Atlantic seabed. Admiral King would have been even less enthusiastic about helping with convoy escort "short of war".

Adolf doesn't control the Japanese actions, or the Soviets, and they might get twitchy about all the above coming to pass. The "Day of Infamy" might still occur, especially with the British Empire weakened or dissolved by defeat by Germany. If the Japanese attack, Adolf might take his time about coming to their aid against the USA. What's in it for him? Very different situation to our world on Pearl Harbor day.

Does Stalin still sit in his dacha and wait for the hammer to fall? Does Adolf even hate communism that much? If he gets the energy resources he wants for a thousand-year Reich from the Middle East, he could even consider Glasnost for a bit, and see how he feels later.

Thank goodness all we have to worry about is Coronavirus.

All the best

wadinga
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hans zurbriggen
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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by hans zurbriggen » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:10 am

Hello,
I agree with both Mr. Wadinga and Mr. Saxton analysis.
I think Hitler should have forced Franco to war before or instead of attacking USSR. He really did not understand sea power importance. Gibraltar and Malta should have been neutralized immediately. This would have made position of Alexandria and Suez almost untenable.
Oil from Middle East should have been Hitler's primary target.

hans
Last edited by hans zurbriggen on Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

paul.mercer
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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:23 am

Gentlemen,
Thanks for your replies.
If Germany had taken over the French fleet itwould have been interesting to see how many of the Vichy French would have manned the ships or whether the Kreigsmarine would have had enough experienced crew to man them on their own.
I also wonder if Germany would have sent their fleet out into the Atlantic either to do direct battle with the RN or just to attack the convoys which would probably be the case so the RN would have to have a heavy (battleship or cruiser) support for every convoy which brings me back to my original question, would the RN been able to cope ?
What i have never quite understood is why the Vichy French decided to side with the Germans, I realise that Franck and England had been traditional enemies for centuries, but they did fight along side each other in several wars, including WW1; was it pride or just traditional hatred for the British?

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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by wadinga » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:45 am

Fellow Contributors,

Hello Paul,

French politics before, during and after The Collapse were extremely complicated, and there was a tussle for power in Vichy administration. See book Reluctant Enemies by Warren Tute. One of the things affecting many countries in the 30s, UK included ,was an absolute terror of Communism and some thought anything, even fascist domination, was preferable. Pierre Laval, amongst others, was enthusiastic for France to join Germany against Britain and fought with Petain for control of Vichy.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Laval

Britain attacked Vichy French possessions at Oran, Dakar and Syria in support of general De Gaulle who was considered a traitor and attempted usurper by Vichy. Gensoul's ships at Alexandria were menaced by the guns and torpedoes of the Mediterranean Fleet.

It is endlessly quoted that nice Admiral Darlan kept his promise not to let the Germans have his ships, but the scuttling happened only after Germany was fighting both the USA and USSR and was thus likely to lose. Hitler's lack of understanding of seapower made absorbing the French Navy of little real interest. If he had wanted to, he could have got some or all of their ships by one route or another. He held on to thousands of French POWs as hostages after the Armistice and also demanded forced labour to go to German factories.

Churchill's merciless actions came about because he could not be sure the French would be true to their word. Richelieu and Jean Bart were supposed to sail to Britain to be completed and fight on under the French Flag. Instead they sailed south to be used as bargaining pieces.

Fuel and crews remain the problem. In May 1941 the German army tried to invade Crete in sailing caiques with a couple of Italian destroyers because the Italian Navy would not/could not come out with full fleet support for an invasion. Would similar fuel shortages have hamstrung combined German/Italian/French operations?

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

paul.mercer
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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by paul.mercer » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:14 am

Thanks Wadinga,
it seems that the French and Admiral Darlan in particular were hedging their bets on who was going to win and it was only after the US joined in that they decided the UK was that best bet!

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Re: French navy taken over by the kreigsmarine

Post by Francis Marliere » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:00 am

Gents,

I do not have time to elaborate, so I just make two quick comments.

1 - If French Navy is seized by force, neither Germany nor Italy have the trained crewsz to operate French ships. Even if French government decides to join the Axis, it is probable that French armed forces suffer from a lot of desertions.

2 - Not all French ships are usefull. The old battleships (Bretagne and Courbet class) are obsolet and of little use. Dunkerque & Strasbourg battlecruisers are fine ships but are a bit short on firepower and armor for fleet action, and lack range for commerce raiding. Richelieu is a nice design but suffers, at this time, from excessive dispersion. Bearn is not operationnal. Most heavy cruisers lack armor. Destroyers are very good for surface combat but poor for ASW. Most submarines are too big and dive too slowly. Moreover, all ships have weak AAA.
Some ships, such as Algérie or La Galissonnière CL are very fine, but would not change the face of war. In the Mediterranean, the Axis did not lack ships, but oil to operate the existing ships. In the Atlantic, French ships would be a welcome reinforcement but not a game changer. Commerce raiding, which anyway is not an effective strategy, requires a network of supply ships that the Brits destroy in May 41.

Strictly my humble opinion of course.

Best regards,

Francis

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