45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

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Huszar666
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45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Huszar666 » 25 Dec 2021 12:17

Morning, Folks,

I thought about opening a new topic for the each of the divisions in the South-East. All the other Seelöwe-Threads contain a lot of interesting tidbits, but its torture to read through all those and find what you are searching for (or things, you didn't even realise, you are looking for). Yes, I read through a LOT of threads in the last couple of weeks. It hurts... It hurts soooo much...

So, 45th Division. (mostly thanks to Knouterer)

Frontage was from Dymchurch REdoubt to Rottingdean, as far as I can tell.

Divsion HQ in Hawkhurst

135th Bde
With 5 SLI, 6 SLI, 7 SLI, also in Sub-Area A were No 6 Commando, No 3 Independent Company and 18 (Pioneer) RF. Front from Dymchurch Redaoubt (excl) to Camber (excl)
HQ in Ham Street with Bde AT-Coy (without guns?)

In the North was 6 SLI with one Platoon on the far left,
B Coy in Dymchurch with the Mortar Platoon (probably 2 mortars), one Section 7 Dev (3 MG) and some Home Guard
A Coy in St. Mary's Bay
C Coy und HQ in Burmarsh with the Carrier Platoon, an MC Platoon and the AA Platoon
2/3 of D Coy in Court-at-Street (north of the RMC)

In the middle was 7 SLI,
D Coy in Littlestone (north)
B Coy in Littlestone (south)
A Coy in Greatstone with one Section 7 Dev (around 4 MG)
C Coy in St. Mary in the Marsh
HQ with something from 7 Dev and 373 Field Btry RA (4-8(?) 75mm, immobile), the MC Platoon and an "Assault Platoon" in New Romney

In the South was 5 SLI,
HQ probably in Lydd, probably one Coy on the west coast, no further info
273 AT Bty/69 AT Rgt should have 2-4x4" (probably static) around Lydd
374 Field Bty hat one 18pdr at Dungeness (old fort) and one at Greatstone Holiday Camp
one platoon HG around Lydd

No 3 Independent Coy was at Dungeness, No 6 Commando around Littlestone-Greatstone (interestingly, it arrived between 13-16th September, so if the landing happens on or before the 15th, maybe not yet there (completly))

18 RF was on the RMC, probably building fortifications. (a source I found quotes the 31 Bde, that the fortifications were poorly built and sighted)

The 55 Field Rgt should have had:
12x75mm in 373 Bty (without much in the way of vehicles)
2x18pdr, 6x4,5" and 4x25pdr in 374 Bty (could be considered "mobile")
Locations:
4x75mm at Lydd
4x75mm at Honeychild Manor (North of New Romney)
4x75mm at Honeychild School (I have no idea, where that was/is)
4x25pdr at Old Romney
2x4,5" at New Romney
2x4,5" at Burmarsh
2x4,5" at Lydd
1x18pdr each at Dungeness and Greatstone

There were probably some Mediums and Heavies also in this Sub-Area, but I have not found anything on those.

One platoon HG in "Brenzett", but since that village is just a smudge on the map, I would assume, "HQ" there, and the other troops scattered around the other smudges on the map. Is probably also true for the platoon in Dymchurch.

One Field Coy, RE should be also somewhere in Sub-Area A, but that is just my conjecture.

Coastal Artillery:
358 Bty with 2x6" at St. Mary's Bay
415 Bty with 2x6" at Greatstone
374 Bty with 2x4,7" at Dungeness (probably facing SW)
RMBDO Bty with 3x6" at Dungeness (probably facing SE). However, the guns were finished errecting only on the 15th September, fully operational only at the end of September

134 Bde
With 1. RUR, 6 Dev, 8 Dev with 23 Home Guard (Bexhill/Hastings) and 22 Home Guard (Battle) (the last one has probably the whole area south of the Rother under command, troops scattered around). From Camber (incl) to Pevensey Bay (excl) OR Norman's Bay (incl). (according to Knouterer's map it looks like Norman's Bay (excl) )

HQ somewhere around Mountfield, probably with Bde AT Coy (without guns?)

1 RUR was responsible for Rye area (Camber to Cliff's End)
The Defense Scheme was mentioned in the threads multiple times, and years ago I remember seeing it, but can not find it now.
If we go by other Btls and some logic, probably one Coy east of the Rother, one Coy+HQ in Rye, one Coy between the Rother and Winchelsea Beach, one Coy between Winchelsea Beach and Cliff's End.

Where to other two Btls were, I have no information about. Even if we discount the cliffs between Cliff's End and Hastings (at least some Coast Watchers should be there, however), we still have around 18km for those two.

No info about the attached Field Rgt RA.
The AT Bty/69 AT Rgt RA should probably be the 274, with 1 gun at Winchelsea, 2 "covering the approaches to Rye" and 1 at Camber Castle (which is, surprisingly to in Camber, but between Rye and Winchelsea Beach). This info is valid for End-of-September, when the 69th got 2pdr, but probably also ok for an earlier date, but with "other" calibers. 75mm and/or 6pdr. But no definitive Info.

On Field Coy, RE should be also somewhere in Sub-Area A, but that is just my conjecture.

Coatal Artillery:
??? Bty with 1-2x12pdrs at Rye Harbour
??? Bty with 2x6" at Winchelsea (Beach?)
??? Bty with 2x6" at Pett Level
Not sure, if all these were there in Mid- to End-September - a lot of Btys in Sub-Area A were built after September, after all...

As for the RADAR sites:
Station RYE: around a platoon 2/8 (HD) Royal Sussex with 70 men all ranks and something from 35 Lt AA Bty (the quoted 59 all ranks would mean a full troop of 4xBofors)
Station FAIRLIGHT: around a platoon 2/8 (HD) Royal Sussex with 51 men all ranks, but nothing further. I remember reading, that each site should have had at least one Bofors, so maybe the full troop at Rye has the guns distributed between the other sites?)
Station PEVENSEY: around a platoon 2/8 (HD) Royal Sussex with 73 men all ranks, and a section 136 Bde AT Coy (12 men all ranks).

136 Bde or Sub-Area C
With 4 DCLI, 5 DCLI, 9 Dev with 20 Home Guard (Eastbourne), 21 Home Guard (Hailsham) and 16 Home Guard (Lewes). Front from Norman's Bay (incl) to Rottingdean.

This is a somewhat strange Sub-Area. It should be defended by 136 Bde, however, I also saw the Bde also posted as division reserve somewhere around Tenterden - which would mean Sub-Area A and/or E - and this sub-area defended by odds and ends or even the 29 Bde. I downloaded some pdf-files years ago about the existing defenses from 1940 (English Heritage? Defense of Britain Project?), but the units mentioned in the "Pevensey Castle" and "Cuckmere Haven" issues are suspect at best, and utter garbage at worst.
For Pevensey it is stated, that 219 Bde defended the sub-area August-October, however, THAT Bde was raised only on 26th October... It is also stated there, that 11 East Surrey was defending around Pevensey. Could be right, for after 26th October. (there is also a nice map of the defences, including artillery positions for Pevensey in the pdf, unfortunately for "October". 225 Bty is written there, no clue, which Rgt and Div it belonged to.
For Cuckmere Haven it's even more questionable. It is implied, that in summer/autumn the Cuckere was the boundary between 135 and 136 Bde, and later between 219 and 136 Bde. In June two Platoons of 7 Dev defended the locality, in October 10 Royal Sussex with one platoon of 6 Ches, the troops haven two 7pdr (sic!) guns.
So, who defended what? 134 Bde to Cuckmare Haven (or just to Norman's Bay or Pevensey Bay) or 29 Bde or some Odds and Ends?

As for RADAR sites:
Station BEACHY HEAD: a section 70 (HD) Royal Sussex with 14 men all ranks. Nothing else. ("70" should mean Holding or Young Soldiers, no?)
Strangly, Newhaven fort had a stong company of 2/8 (HD) Royal Sussex with 223 men all ranks.

To make things even more interesting, Brocforce further to the West is mentioned having 8 (HD) Royal Sussex under command. Typo? Other Date? A third HD-Btl in the same general area?

Aaaand, to make it even more interesting, there was an Emergency Landing Field at Friston, so someone should also defend THAT.

As for Coastal Artillery:
??? Bty with 2x6" at Hastings
??? Bty with 2x4" OR 2x6in" at Bexhill
??? Bty with 2x6" at Cooden Beach
??? Bty with 2x4.7" at Normann's Bay
??? Bty with 2x6" at Eastbourne
??? Bty with 2x6" at Seaford
??? Bty with 2x12pdr + 2x6" at Newhaven
I have some suspicions, not all of these were there in September 1940, but who knows...

Div HQ and Reserves
Division HQ was at Hawkhurst

7 Dev:
A Coy with 134 Bde Camber, Rye and Bexhill mentioned
B Coy probably with 136 Bde, since positions west of Bexhill mentioned
C Coy with 136 Bde, two platoons at Newhaven, 1 platoon at Cuckmere Haven
D Coy with 135 Bde

5 Loyals (MC) at Wadhurst

Probably one AT Bty (with whatever guns) and X Coy with makeshift Armored Cars somewhere in the Mountfield-Mayfield area.

Anyone?

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Richard Anderson » 25 Dec 2021 18:21

Huszar666 wrote:
25 Dec 2021 12:17
[snip an excellent summary] (interestingly, it arrived between 13-16th September, so if the landing happens on or before the 15th, maybe not yet there (completly))
For analytical purposes, you need to understand that SEELÖWE could not be launched prior to 21 September due to weather and moonlight requirements, as well as availability of the required ships and craft. By 17 September, the following were assembled:

155 transports (700,000 GRT) (another 13 were on the way, but 10 had been sunk or damaged);
1,277 barges and lighters (another 698 were being prepared or were on the way, but 51 had been sunk);
471 tugs (another 49 were on the way, but 1 had been sunk);
1,161 motorboats (another 439 were on the way).

The timing would be interesting, since ten-days notice was required to begin the mine laying program, six days for beginning the loading program, and a one to two days for sortie and assembly outside the harbors, but the requirements for weather and moonlight were fixed and the end of the third quarter moon was 24 September, leaving a window for the first echelon of 21-24 September. However, squally weather 16-19 September forced cancellation of S-Boot operations off the coast, so the sortie and assembly of the convoys may have been problematic, leading to further delay. I suspect if the Germans had the fortitude to go through with the operation, S-Tag would have been 23 or 24 September.
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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Dec 2021 07:02

Rich.

Have you turned up any information on the navigation aids for getting said barges from point F (France to point B (Britain)? A couple years ago I thought Id take a serious look at all this & started with consideration for the tides, currents, and wind patterns. After looking over a chart or two and a description of how the channel currents may vary week to week or daily I did a quick review of the Allies effort forty one months later, and threw my study in the cognitive waste can. In 1944 the invasion fleet did everything but paint lane markings on the channel surface. They erected road signs in the form of bouys, set navigation boats everywhere, they even had a submarine displaying lamps, and radio beacons were in use. Did the Germans set all that and more out in their short weeks or preparation?

I strongly suspect random clusters of barges are going to ground on shoals, bump on rocks, fetch up against cliffs, & other wise be kilometers if not entire counties off course when they reach the far shore. Some after a hellish night crossing will wade ashore & be confused in that the locals are speaking Flemish or French.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 Dec 2021 07:42

Lighted buoys and station-keeping lights were about it, but otherwise it was follow-the-leader (yet another role of for the M-Boot, R-Boot, and V-Boot, since they supposedly had trained navigators), although many of the smaller motor launches were supposed to be guide boats, apparently under the assumptions that since they were so designated, they would know where to go, and could chivvy the convoys on like sheepdogs herding their sheep.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Huszar666 » 26 Dec 2021 09:18

Morning, folks,

Please don't degenerate this into another Seelöwe-thread. I have some strong opinions about Seelöwe ever being launched, but we could discuss somewhere else. This should be about 45th Division :D :D :D

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 Dec 2021 18:49

Huszar666 wrote:
26 Dec 2021 09:18
Morning, folks,

Please don't degenerate this into another Seelöwe-thread. I have some strong opinions about Seelöwe ever being launched, but we could discuss somewhere else. This should be about 45th Division :D :D :D
In case you haven't noticed, thread drift is the rule, rather than the exception around here. :lol: :welcome:

Perhaps then let's keep it on unit locations and equipment rather than adding in analysis of the pros and cons of why they were where they were and when?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Huszar666
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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Huszar666 » 27 Dec 2021 17:54

Morning, folks,
In case you haven't noticed, thread drift is the rule, rather than the exception around here.
Really? Haven't noticed it while reading through more than 200 pages of Seelöwe-stuff in two weeks :D I thought, all that bickering and sidetracking and whatelse were part of the original theme :D :D :D
Perhaps then let's keep it on unit locations and equipment rather than adding in analysis of the pros and cons of why they were where they were and when?
Sooo... I did some further reading (another Seelöwe-thread, and this and that), and found an "AT Training Center" at Eastbourne, supposedly with 6x6pdr. However, if I remember correctly, the date mentioned was October. Any clue, it was there also in September, and if yes, did it have the 6pdr? Since the 45th Div received 16x2pdr at the very end of September, could it be possible, that those 6x6pdr came from the Division?

I also found a Downsforce mentioned, which should patrol the Downs behind Beachy Head. Strength 120 riflemen and an "AT Gun Battery".

120 men with an AT Bty West of Eastbourne looks suspiciously like an AT Training Center in Eastbourne. Any clue, those two are the same, and if one or both existed in September?

To Artillery:
I did find this (for October!:
For support of 135th Bde:
Elements 3/56 & C/56 Hy. Regt with 2x6" guns, 1x9.2" Howitzer (unknown position)

For support of 134th Bde:
Elements 3/56 , C/56 and D/56 Hy. Regt with 2x6" guns, 3x9.2" Howitzer (unknown positons)

For support of 136th Bde (or Sub-area C, whoever was there in September)
Elements A/56, D/56 Hy. Regt. with 2x6" guns, 2x9.2" Howitzers, 2x8" Howitzers (unknown positions)

As for Railway Artillery, I found only the mention of 2x9,2" Guns north of Ham Street, BUT... manned by Canadians (X def). However, I do remember reading somewhere in the endless discussions (or even off-site), that the Canadians first went to Littlestone to man a few 4" Guns, left over by Marines or the Army (?), and only after an indetermined time went to collect the 9,2" Railway Guns. Maybe after September? I did not pay that particular info much thought, since I was trying to get the Infantry sorted first, so did not make any notes...

Continuing:
I did not find any mention of further railway guns west of Ham Street, and no mention of Medium Guns (6" Howitzers, and other stuff) whatsoever. A bit strange.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Dec 2021 13:59

Huszar666 wrote:
25 Dec 2021 12:17

134 Bde
With 1. RUR, 6 Dev, 8 Dev with 23 Home Guard (Bexhill/Hastings) and 22 Home Guard (Battle) (the last one has probably the whole area south of the Rother under command, troops scattered around). From Camber (incl) to Pevensey Bay (excl) OR Norman's Bay (incl). (according to Knouterer's map it looks like Norman's Bay (excl) )

HQ somewhere around Mountfield, probably with Bde AT Coy (without guns?)

1 RUR was responsible for Rye area (Camber to Cliff's End)
The Defense Scheme was mentioned in the threads multiple times, and years ago I remember seeing it, but can not find it now.
If we go by other Btls and some logic, probably one Coy east of the Rother, one Coy+HQ in Rye, one Coy between the Rother and Winchelsea Beach, one Coy between Winchelsea Beach and Cliff's End.

Where to other two Btls were, I have no information about. Even if we discount the cliffs between Cliff's End and Hastings (at least some Coast Watchers should be there, however), we still have around 18km for those two.
1st Royal Irish Fusiliers not 1st Royal Ulster Rifles in the Rye sector.

Long front but owing to the two populous towns of Hastings and Bexhill the two Home Guard battalions there can't help but having a large portion of their men in the front line.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Huszar666 » 28 Dec 2021 22:14

Morning,
1st Royal Irish Fusiliers not 1st Royal Ulster Rifles in the Rye sector.
Thx! I hope, the Conitental Scheme is as much confusing for the British, as their scheme is to us :D
Long front but owing to the two populous towns of Hastings and Bexhill the two Home Guard battalions there can't help but having a large portion of their men in the front line.
Not so overly long, if you compare it to 1st London up at Herne Bay. However, I do have some missgivings for HG serving as Front Troops on their own.
9km/Btl (excl the cliffs) would be around 2km for a Company in an non-threatened sector. Not that much worse than 135th Bde in the Romney Marsh.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Gooner1 » 29 Dec 2021 17:57

Huszar666 wrote:
28 Dec 2021 22:14
Not so overly long, if you compare it to 1st London up at Herne Bay. However, I do have some missgivings for HG serving as Front Troops on their own.
9km/Btl (excl the cliffs) would be around 2km for a Company in an non-threatened sector. Not that much worse than 135th Bde in the Romney Marsh.
Herne Bay is barely 20 nautical miles from the RN base at Sheerness though. I don't think any hostile power has considered attacking up the Thames since Admiral de Ruyter in the 17th Century.

45th Div. Defence Scheme says on the Home Guard:

"19. (f) Home Guard who live in the forward area may be incorporated in local defence schemes. It may not be possible for them to be in posn in time if little warning of enemy attack is received. They should, therefore, be allotted posts affording depth to the forward defences."

In the towns of Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings its possible that the number of Home Guard outnumbers that of the Army, the only places in the invasion plan where this is likely in the forward area.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Huszar666 » 29 Dec 2021 20:15

Morning,
I don't think any hostile power has considered attacking up the Thames since Admiral de Ruyter in the 17th Century.
Yeah, that was probably the last time a continental power bothered with landing in the UK. :)
In the towns of Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings its possible that the number of Home Guard outnumbers that of the Army, the only places in the invasion plan where this is likely in the forward area.
That would probably lead to some interesting power-relations.
However, I do feel a bit suspicios, since 1st London had a pletorha of training units, and even Brocforce had quite a few of them, but the only mention for the 45th Division I found was that strange "AT Training Center" at Eastbourne - which may or may not be the same as the equially strange "Downsforce". May I hazard the opinion that there were some (unrecorded and unknown) training units within 45th Div too, and in particular in the territory of 134th Bde?

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Dec 2021 22:30

Huszar666 wrote:
29 Dec 2021 20:15
Yeah, that was probably the last time a continental power bothered with landing in the UK. :)
Nope, that was June 1667, well predating the invasion during the Glorious Revolution in October 1688. :D
However, I do feel a bit suspicios, since 1st London had a pletorha of training units, and even Brocforce had quite a few of them, but the only mention for the 45th Division I found was that strange "AT Training Center" at Eastbourne - which may or may not be the same as the equially strange "Downsforce". May I hazard the opinion that there were some (unrecorded and unknown) training units within 45th Div too, and in particular in the territory of 134th Bde?
Possibly, but do not forget that Shorncliffe-Hythe were old traditional training areas, so it makes sense there were many training units there.

Also do not forget 31 Infantry Brigade Group, which is where you will find your 1 Royal Ulster Rifles, along with the 2 Souths Staffordshires, 2 Oxs and Bucks, 75 Field Regiment RA (24 25-pounder), and 223 AT Battery RA (12 2-pounder).

The other units under command were:

X Home Defence Regt. R.A. (recently reformed - under training) with 5 – 4-inch guns in Sub-Area A, 5 – 4-inch guns in Sub-Area B, and 5 – 4-inch guns in Sub-Area C. Note these were not the same as the 4-inch coast defense guns in the area, but were probably lorry-mounted mobile batteries similar to those found in1 London Division Area (cf. C5 Mobile Battery at Godinton East, with 4 4-inch guns).
1 C.W. Gp. R.E. (probably moving shortly).
18. R. Fus. (Pnr Bn) (placed under comd "A" Sub-area) as you noted they were busy constructing defenses along the RMC.
7 Devons (M.G. Bn), which was actually issued a double complement of Vickers MG, so was effectively two MG battalions.
Dets 2/8 Bn. R. Sussex (H.D. Bn.) (only under comd 45 Div. operationally), as noted previously, these were not LDV home Guards, but was a Regular Army battalion limited to Home Defence service due to the age of its veteran Service members (45 to 60).
6 "Commando" (placed under "A" Sub-area - moving shortly).
3 Independent Coy (ditto), which was a Commando in all respects except for name.
13 Motor Coach Coy, which would not doubt strike terror in the hearts of the Hun.

The Coast Defence batteries in the 45 Division area were:

Dymchurch Redoubt Battery – four Mk XII 6-inch
Dungeness
East Battery – three Mk VII 6-inch
West Battery – two Mk V 4.7-inch
Hastings Battery – two Mk XIII 4-inch
Bexhill-on-Sea Battery – two Mk XIII 4-inch, replaced by two 6-inch
Cooden Battery – one Mk I 5.5-inch replaced by two 6-inch
Normans Bay Battery – two Mk V 4.7-inch
Pevensey Battery – two 4.7-inch and two 75mm as AT defense
Eastbourne
Emergency Battery – two 6-inch unknown Mark
Langley Redoubt – one 12-pounder
Wish Tower – two Mk II 6-inch
Brighton Battery – two Mk II 6-inch
Cuckmere Haven Battery – four 6-pounder (Hotchkiss?)
Seaford Battery – two 6-inch unknown Mark
Newhaven Fort – two 4-inch and two 12-pounder 20 cwt
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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Leros87 » 29 Dec 2021 22:48

For those who aren’t aware I have published a book “We shall fight them” which details the British preparations, dispositions, equipment and plans to beat Sealion. I therefore studied the 45th Division’s war diaries in detail.
The Division produced a defence scheme, which ran to several pages and covered all aspects of its intended operations in accordance with Corps instructions.
The scheme noted the following:
1. It was responsible for over a thousand square miles but lacked strength so needed to concentrate to both prevent sea landings and depth to forward defences.
2. To avoid small detachments becoming isolated all available strength was to be concentrated in nodal points and stop lines.
3. It was accepted that there would be considerable gaps in some beach defences, so defence in depth was essential among forward companies. Beach mines would be placed above the high water mark.
4. All troops and commanders must be well versed in all possible operational options, especially counter attack. One degree of resistance: to the last man and last round.
5. It noted that German tactics would not differ from recent campaigns, so once landed they would push out in scattered columns without consideration of support or flank protection.
6. To counter penetrations the Divisional area was split in to a grid of stop lines, supplemented by nodal points, with the purpose of delaying and disorganise the enemy. The nodal points would have both an inner and outer line, with posts sited to cover all possible approaches and road blocks with an offensive point of view.
7. Civilians would stay put unless evacuation was possible. Local rail and transport companies were charged with removing vehicles and rolling stock to pre arranged locations.
8. Communication within the Division would be mainly handled through the post office.
9. The alert status was that during the night forward defences would be completely manned, with mobile reserves at 30 minutes notice to move; during the day forward defences manned at 30% strength, the remainder at an hour’s notice, while mobile reserves at two hours notice.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Leros87 » 29 Dec 2021 23:04

In addition XII Corps defence instructions also adopted a grid system, linked to but not necessarily part of its stop lines. It noted the German success on the continent was largely due to the absence of organised defence system in depth. The grid comprised fences which gave maximum protection against attack and crossings, defended by Home Guard detachments. Both would cover attack from front or rear. To aid quick and accurate reporting each crossing, fence and nodal point had a code letter.

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Re: 45th Division and Seelöwe/Sea Lion

Post by Leros87 » 29 Dec 2021 23:12

Also in the 45th Division’s papers was an intelligence report of two British officers recently home after escaping through France after Dunkirk. The scene was straight out of the British comedy farce ‘Allo Allo. The officers, dressed as Frenchmen, argued with a group of German soldiers in a bistro about the width of the English Channel, with the patron having the decisive voice.

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