Unknown to many, Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy actually had a huge dossier on a potential invasion of Ireland. The Third Reich believed the invasion would significantly increase the chances of Operation Sealion being a success as Britain would be forced to fight the Luftwaffe on two fronts and the German Messerschmitts and Junkers could refuel at will on the Emerald Isle. With transports ready and waiting to go from occupied France, the plan could have been reality. So why didn’t it happen?
Why was it not carried out?
A number of reasons with the most likely being these:
– The loss of the Battle of Britain and the failure of Operation Sealion
– The whole strategy was a feint and was designed to draw British forces away from their eastern coast.
– Hitler’s desire to invade the Soviet Union and achieve ‘Lebensraum’ was too great
-Besides strategic reasons, there was no real need for Germany to stretch its resources as far as Ireland.
What could or would have happened?
Ireland remained neutral throughout World War Two but a state of emergency was still called in 1939 by the government. Both Belfast and Dublin were bombed by the Luftwaffe but it remained pretty much unscathed. If a Nazi invasion did commence it is believed that Ireland didn’t stand much of a chance. The 4th Army Corps who served in Poland were originally earmarked for service in the country and if a blitzkrieg had hit Ireland, it would have been brutal and swept across the nation with relative ease.
50,000 troops were allocated for the invasion and would have departed from Lorient and Nantes for the Waterford and Wexford coastline. An initial 4,000 soldiers would be sent first to establish beachheads and air strips for the deployment of more troops. The second city, Cork would have been the first to go and after that the road would have been open to take Dublin.
For the next part of the story and a possible British invasion of Ireland, check out part 2 of our article on Wednesday 4 March.
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