Invading Britain

Operation Sealion: The Invasion of England 1940

By Peter Schenk

Foreword by Sonke Nietzel

Published by Greenhill Books

By 1940, German forces controlled France’s Channel coast. Hitler’s next step would logically seem to have been an amphibious invasion of Britain (in the manner of D-Day, four years later).

The proposed German invasion of Britain was called Operation Sealion. Planning from scratch and developing new techniques for amphibious assault, in the space of two months, they assembled an invasion force of 4,000 vessels.

Of course, the invasion never took place but Peter Schenk’s remarkable book explores every aspect of the plan in meticulous detail.

Most importantly, Schenk attempts to answer the question of whether Operation Sealion would have succeeded.

Hitler was at the height of his power by 1940. Britain was not his top priority (that lay in the East), but he knew from Germany’s experience in World War One, that a two-front war would be a disaster. So, an air war (which became known as the Battle of Britain) was waged instead. England merged victorious from this and Operation Sealion was abandoned.

I feel Operation Sealion would not have succeeded in any case. In 1940 Britain possessed an effective Navy and unless Germany could have neutralised this, an invasion would have been difficult.

Overall, a well-written, well-researched, and important book.

Britain’s Last Invasion: The Battle of Fishguard 1797

By Phil Carradice

Published by Pen & Sword

It is well known that the Vikings, Romans, and Normans invaded Britain; they left their mark in the culture and landscape of Britain.

But a lesser known invasion, indeed the last invasion of Britain, was in February 1797 when 1,400 drunk French sailors from the Legion Noire landed on the north coast of Pembrokeshire near Fishguard.

It’s a pity more people don’t known the story but this fine book will help set that right. For three days the inebriated French invaders rampaged through the area, terrorising the local and looting.

In a lot of respects this is a feminist tale, to their eternal shame the men of Fishguard fled but the women stood fast! For instance, the town cobbler Jemima Nicholas, armed with just a pitchfork, captured twelve Frenchmen.

While this entertaining story has shades of Monty Python about it, it had a more serious outcome. Following the Fishguard Invasion, the British Government greatly strengthened the British Navy, an action that almost certainly prevented Napoleon’s future invasion plans.

Excellently written, by a talented writer, with some great illustration, this informative and entertaining deserves a wide audience.

The Roman Invasion of Britain: Archaeology Versus History

By Birgitta Hoffman

Published by Pen and Sword Military

This is a genius idea for a book on Roman Britain: comparing the written sources for the Roman Invasion and occupation of Britain with the actual archaeological evidence.

As you can imagine, this book challenges many of the accepted beliefs about Roman Britain. This can only be a good thing as it will spark further debate and investigation.

This book also highlights the importance of archaeologists and historians working together rather than in isolation from each other.

The author, Birgitta Hoffman, is the co-director of the Roman Gask Project (which excavates the Gask Ridge frontier system in Perthshire). She has also taught archaeology at University College Dublin and University of Liverpool, and currently teaches Archaeology and Roman History in Manchester. So, the author knows her subject extremely well.

She covers Caesar’s incursions, Boudicca’s revolt, and Claudius’ invasion by comparing the historical sources with the archaeological evidence and the results are thought-provoking and fascinating.

The photos and illustrations are excellent and the text is well-written and accessible.

Overall, a must have for anyone interested in Roman Britain.

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (