The British had conducted littoral operations for centuries, but the techniques had not been brought up to date - hence the lessons from the 1938 exercise.Carl Schwamberger wrote: ↑26 Feb 2021 14:43There was a cross beach operation intended to depart of one of the Ypres attacks. Cant recall the name right now. The operation was canceled due to the failure of the attack near Ypres, but it was prepared & rehearsed.
For centuries the English were doing littoral warfare as common operations and did it well. Then in the early 20th Century that ability evaporates. 300+ years of tradition forgotten. We see them painfully relearning even the basics. We see the US Army in similar neglect, forgetting their 19th Century experiences. Fortunately the USN kept its eye on that ball, despite negligible funds for development.
There had been an planned operation called Operation Hush to outflank the Western Front with a division sized landing at Ostend supported by tanks. This was intended to be timed to coincide with the anticipated breakthrough at Ypres in Summer 1917. A bit like the end runs in Italy. As a co-incidence the formation picked for operation hush was the 1st Infantry Division who were spared from Op Hush but did land in Op Shingle at Anzio generation later. This was an imaginative operation and lots of thought had been give to tackling the problems of transporting a modern force and overcoming the obstacles exiting the beach. However, Anzio offers an example of what can go wrong...
There is a description of the preparations on the wikipedia article on the topic
The 1st Division Orbat is on this discussion board https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/246 ... nt-2875824
and more discussion here
https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/208 ... nt-2051807
One reason for the neglect of littoral operations between the wars was that after 1918 British Defence policy did not envisage Britain ever needing to mount an expeditionary force. There was no commitment to form a BEF until February 1939. As late as 1st November 1938, after Munich, Chamberlain announced that Britain would not introduce conscription in peacetime and were not going to equip and army on a continental scale. Neither the public and politicians wished to risk the losses of the Great War and decided that Britain would never again participate in a large scale land campaign in Europe. The army was to be professional, highly mechanized - and small. Many placed their faith in the indirect approach and proto-blitzkrieg championed by Liddell Hart. Others placed their faith in the deterrent value of strategic bombing. The air force and navy were given priority for funding, especially after the politicians became obsessed with the air threat to the UK.
The soldiers planned and organised the 1939 amphibious exercise were very aware that the army was likely to be drawn into any continental war, which is perhaps why they wanted to practice the operation.