Operation Sea Lion: The Eagle Has Landed
If a wargame has ever truly entered the history books then it has to be the 1974 Operation Sea Lion game at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where a glittering array of top brass from both the German and British military assembled under the watchful eye of umpire Paddy Griffith to test the German invasion plans against the British defences.
Adolf Galland headed the German team, one of Germany’s leading Luftwaffe Aces and a man intimately involved with the planning of air resources for Sea Lion. General Heinz Trettner who had been Chief of Operations on the Staff of 7th Fliegerdivision in 1940 and had planned the airborne landings in Kent was there to supervise that aspect of the game, whilst for the Kriegsmarine Admiral Freidrich Ruge had spent that summer of 1940 heading the flotilla of minesweepers in the channel and had responsibility for getting the invasion fleet ashore. On the British side Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris had flown Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, being shot down twice in the process, whilst Rear Admiral Teddy Gueritz had been a Royal Navy beachmaster on Sword beach on D-Day and understood implicitly the issues involved in amphibious landings from a naval perspective. Major General Glyn Gilbert had been defending the beaches of West Sussex in 1940 and went on to win the MC whilst crossing the Escaut Canal in September of 1944 in another amphibious assault. The supporting cast is too numerous to mention, but included Admiral Schunemann, the German Naval Attaché, and Oberst Wachsmutt the Bundeswehr liaison officer at the Staff College.
What resulted was an intriguing game with over fifty players fulfilling a wide variety of roles in order to see if Britain could withstand the onslaught of the all-conquering Wehrmacht. The results make interesting reading, and in 2004 they were sufficiently intriguing to make Operation Sea Lion the first scenario supplement published for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum company level rules, with a selection of ten scenarios based on the results from that 1974 game.
In 2008 we withdrew Sea Lion from our web site as, frankly, our publishing skills had moved on apace and the original supplement with its hand drawn maps was looking more than a bit scruffy. My plan was to re-release it after a bit of a tidy up, however events dictated that I took a different course.
A year later Paddy Griffith contacted us about assisting him as an umpire on a re-run of the 1974 Sea Lion game, this time at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Naturally Nick and I were not going to miss that particular gig, and the resulting game saw a somewhat less glittering assortment of players but equally enthusiastic playing through the invasion again.
Paddy had been supportive when the original version of Operation Sea Lion had been published in 2004, but the opportunity to talk through with him exactly how events had gone did present us with several more scenarios that we have been able to add to this edition. In addition some of the background history set us off on a paper chase seeking out snippets of information to piece together the British defensive plans.
As a result this version of Operation Sea Lion is 74 pages long (the original was only 43 pages) and contains 14 scenarios that stretch across the southern counties of England. Additionally there is an historical section that introduces the German invasion plans and the British defensive arrangements. There is also an account of the results of the 1974 game presented on a day by day basis for those wishing to find out what happened in that classic wargame.
Operation Sea Lion is available as a pdf download, designed for minimum ink usage, with each scenario ready to be printed out and played, all for just £8.