German naval commandoes?

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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RF
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German naval commandoes?

Post by RF » Wed May 29, 2013 9:45 am

One aspect of the history of the German Navy, even up to modern times, is the absence of any doctrine of attacking enemy naval infrastructure and land targets. Yes in WW1 there was the shelling of coastal towns on the east coast of England, and also the sinking of Royal Oak at the start of WW2.

Yet there is no evidence of anybody in Germany ever proposing a German version of the RN Royal Marines, or of carrying out similar operations that the British did with the raid on St Nazaire or the raid on the blockade runners in the Gironde. The Italians did pursue such activities on a small scale but never the Germans. One might have thought that such a force might have appealed to Hitler, who could have directed Raeder and Donitz to develop naval commandos - after all he certainly adopted the ideas of Guderian for blitzkrieg armoured warfare. But not blitzkrieg at sea. The long eastern coastline of Britain should have posed a tempting target for German naval commandoes, particulary as S-boats were in service.

Any comments, anybody?
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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by MikeBrough » Wed May 29, 2013 8:37 pm

RF wrote:One aspect of the history of the German Navy, even up to modern times, is the absence of any doctrine of attacking enemy naval infrastructure and land targets. Yes in WW1 there was the shelling of coastal towns on the east coast of England, and also the sinking of Royal Oak at the start of WW2.

Yet there is no evidence of anybody in Germany ever proposing a German version of the RN Royal Marines, or of carrying out similar operations that the British did with the raid on St Nazaire or the raid on the blockade runners in the Gironde. The Italians did pursue such activities on a small scale but never the Germans. One might have thought that such a force might have appealed to Hitler, who could have directed Raeder and Donitz to develop naval commandos - after all he certainly adopted the ideas of Guderian for blitzkrieg armoured warfare. But not blitzkrieg at sea. The long eastern coastline of Britain should have posed a tempting target for German naval commandoes, particulary as S-boats were in service.

Any comments, anybody?
I think the Germans did have some Navy frogmen/commandos later in the war. Didn't they try to destroy bridges during the Market-Garden operation?

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by ede144 » Wed May 29, 2013 8:51 pm

Res the Brandenburger. It was a Kommando unit

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by MikeBrough » Wed May 29, 2013 8:55 pm

Apologies for posting twice but here you go. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_com ... I_timeline

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by RF » Fri May 31, 2013 8:22 am

These were small forces set up towards the final years of WW2. i was thinking more of the pre and early war period, and the use of substantial numbers of naval troops (rather than frogmen) which could have had a significant impact if they had been available.

I'm not aware for example of the Z Plan saying anything about naval landing forces. Had such forces been developed they could have drastically altered the prospects for Operation Sea Lion, particulary if fast naval landing craft had been built.
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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by northcape » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:54 am

RF wrote: One might have thought that such a force might have appealed to Hitler, who could have directed Raeder and Donitz to develop naval commandos - after all he certainly adopted the ideas of Guderian for blitzkrieg armoured warfare. But not blitzkrieg at sea. The long eastern coastline of Britain should have posed a tempting target for German naval commandoes, particulary as S-boats were in service.

Any comments, anybody?
Hitler was narrow-minded and land-locked in every possible sense. The shear vastness of the ocean possibly made him very uncomfortable, so he never was interested in maritime matters. The exact opposite of Churchill, who loved to travel.

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by RF » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:32 pm

I agree with the comments about Hitler and Churchill, however we are looking at the German Navy as a military service from the time of Tirpitz onwards and the failure of that service to develop a doctrine of naval commando activity before Hitler came on to the scene as well as in the Third Riech period.
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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by northcape » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:38 pm

RF wrote:I agree with the comments about Hitler and Churchill, however we are looking at the German Navy as a military service from the time of Tirpitz onwards and the failure of that service to develop a doctrine of naval commando activity before Hitler came on to the scene as well as in the Third Riech period.
I'm not deep into the historical facts, but possibly this was due to a combination of two reasons: WW1 changed everything, including military doctrines; and until Hitler's rise in the early/mid thirties, german military was severely tied down by the Versailles treaty. I guess at that time they simply didn't have the capacities to even develop new, far-reaching and powerful doctrines. And later on, the "Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht, Herr Hitler" devoted all his interest and accordingly most of the industrial power to land-based warfare.
I'm actually really stunned how the german military commanders followed Hitler. They must have recognized at some point how outdated and utterly wrong his overall warfare concept was. I guess Hitler possibly had a really convincing personality, and otherwise rational people were carried away by that.
I read about this statement of Hitler to Raeder(?): "When I can build the Third Reich in 5 years, the Navy should likewise be able to build 5 battleships in 5 years".
Don't quote me on the exact numbers, but it was something like this. But somehow it shows how self-hallucinating and simply unrealistic Hitler was. Of course, he built the Third Reich - but as much as this was an "achievement", it is a construct of will and in some way exists only in the mind of people (like any societal order). On the contrary, to build battleships (or any other really expensive, big, complex machinery of war or infrastructure) requires not only the will, but also lot of real resources which Germany at that time simply didn't had access to.
This brings me back to Churchill, who's greatest strength (in my opinion) was his totally realistic view on both large-scale problems and thousands of tiny details, and their interdependencies. I'm not saying he was right all the time, but he definitely looked very clear and realistic at these things. As a result, he was not tied to any ideology, which in my opinion is wrong anyway, but which is in particularly wrong in times of crisis.

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:40 pm

The Germans did have a dedicated landing corps in the Baltic in WW1, planned for battalion strength. It was organized by the army for cooperation with the navy and it's equipment included specialized horse-landing boats not unlike WW2 landing craft. The force was never used for its intended purpose, and it was dissolved in 1915 when there were no opportunities for landings. The Equipment was later used in operation Albion, the landing on the Baltic islands in 1917.

German ships sent ad hoc landing forces ashore on multiple occasions in WW1, the Emden at Direction Island being a notable example, but also on a couple of occasions in the Baltic.

In WW2, German regular army units did rather well when employed in island hopping in the recapture of the Dodecanese in 1943.

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by RF » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:36 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:The Germans did have a dedicated landing corps in the Baltic in WW1.... The force was never used for its intended purpose, and it was dissolved in 1915 when there were no opportunities for landings. In WW2,


Here is the rub - there were plenty of potential targets available along the English and Scottish coastlines, but just out of reach in terms of the slow movements the Germans would operate under and the proximity of the Home Fleet. A more enterprising and open navy might have sought to make it work rather than scrap the force altogether.

German regular army units did rather well when employed in island hopping in the recapture of the Dodecanese in 1943.
Basically there was no serious opposition, as with the occupation of the Dutch offshore islands and also the Channel Islands in 1940. But the experience with Crete in May 1941 demonstrated that where there was naval opposition the German landing forces were sunk.
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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:54 am

German regular army units did rather well when employed in island hopping in the recapture of the Dodecanese in 1943.
Basically there was no serious opposition, as with the occupation of the Dutch offshore islands and also the Channel Islands in 1940. But the experience with Crete in May 1941 demonstrated that where there was naval opposition the German landing forces were sunk.
Eh... the opposition in the Dodecanese 1943 was extremely serious. The British basically had mastery of the sea and the Germans were sneaking about on motor minsesweepers and small craft. Though the Germans did have air superiority. The several thousand British prisoners captured in the operation attest to the strength of the opposition.
Last edited by Ersatz Yorck on Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:00 pm

RF wrote:
Ersatz Yorck wrote:The Germans did have a dedicated landing corps in the Baltic in WW1.... The force was never used for its intended purpose, and it was dissolved in 1915 when there were no opportunities for landings. In WW2,


Here is the rub - there were plenty of potential targets available along the English and Scottish coastlines, but just out of reach in terms of the slow movements the Germans would operate under and the proximity of the Home Fleet. A more enterprising and open navy might have sought to make it work rather than scrap the force altogether.


There were never any plans to use them outside the Baltic AFIAK, and perhaps there were missed opportunities there. I just mentioned it to answer the OP question if there were ever any kind of German forces like a "German version of the RN Royal Marines".

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Re: German naval commandoes?

Post by RF » Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:47 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote: Eh... the opposition in the Dodecanese 1943 was extremely serious. The British basically had mastery of the sea and the Germans were sneaking about on motor minsesweepers and small craft. Though the Germans did have air superiority. The several thousand British prisoners captured in the operation attest to the strength of the opposition.
Yes, you are right the Allied resistance was substantial - I have to backtrack on that one.
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