PADDY GRIFFITH’S WARGAMING OPERATION SEALION
◗ John Curry & Paddy Griffith
◗ The History of Wargaming Project (2021)
◗ £13.19 (Kindle edition £9.99) from Amazon UK
◗ 144 pages (softback)
Subtitled The Game that Launched Academic Wargaming, this large format book is a comprehensive account of a wargame of Operation Sealion, the planned German invasion of Britain, at the British Army Staff College, Camberley, in 1974 by Dr. Paddy Griffith, who was then a member of the teaching staff of the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. It was intended to be a serious piece of academic historical research and was groundbreaking in its use of a wargame to explore a contested area of military history.
Paddy assembled a team of subject matter experts from Britain and Germany to run a wargame to explore what would have happened if the Germans had launched their planned invasion of Britain. To umpire and play in the game, he used combat veterans with senior command experience, some of whom had been involved in the events of 1940.
The German experts included Adolf Galland, the Luftwaffe ace, who had commanded a wing of Me 109 fighters on the French coast; Admiral Friedrich Ruge, in 1940 Commodore of the Kriegsmarine’s minesweeping flotilla in the Channel; Admiral Dr. Schunemann, the German Defence Attache in London, and General Heinz Trettner, who had been a member of General Student’s staff in 1940.
The British experts were Air-Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxeley Norris (OC 2AT AF) who had been shot down twice in the Battle of Britain; Rear Admiral Edward Gueritz (OC Amphib. Ops. School) and Major General Glyn Gilbert (OC Joint Warfare Establishment). Churchill was played by Brigadier Page, Assistant Commandant of RMA, Sandhurst. Dr. David Chandler was responsible for the War Diary. Several civilian wargamers, including Donald Featherstone and Andy Callan also assisted with the umpiring.
The game was run as an umpirecontrolled kriegsspiel, as used by the Germans to help plan their successful invasion of France in 1940 but not used to wargame Operation Sealion in its entirety. The umpires’ conclusions about the outcome of the game, and hence the likelihood that the projected German invasion would have succeeded, were unanimous.
This is the story of that game, assembled from scattered material on old computer hard drives, hand-written notes (some in German), correspondence at the time and the archives held by the History of Wargaming Project. It includes previously unpublished material such as briefings, analysis, guidance for umpires and postgame reflections. Richard Cox’s account of the game – published in the Daily Telegraph Magazine No. 497 in May 1974 – is also reproduced with footnotes added by Paddy in 2009.
The Wargame Developments Game at the Conference of Wargamers in 2008, designed by John Curry, is also included. Its Guidelines for Umpires will be of great assistance to readers wishing to stage this wargame, or any other recreation of Operation Sealion, for themselves. The one-page Selected Bibliography lists ‘some of the most significant primary and secondary sources as a guide to further reading.’ There is no index however an appendix contains Paddy’s Debrief Notes on his later Sealion Game at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, in April 2009.
In the opinion of Peter Perla: “The resulting analysis of the Sealion Wargame is the most authoritative assessment yet produced of the prospects for this titanic and consequential hypothetical struggle.”
Wargamers with any interest in Operation Sealion or in wargaming as a tool for research will definitely want to purchase this book!