Will there always be an England? Operation Sea Lion for Bolt Action!

At least for this project all my VBCW stuff carries over, very, very well.

There is, to put it bluntly, a lot going on in Canada at the moment. In the confusion going at present, I needed some sort of project to really dive into. A distraction, so to speak.

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a huge fan of Very British Civil War, a setting by Solway Crafts and Games about the Abdication Crisis of 1936 breaking out into civil war in 1938. A very interesting, but very niche setting, especially in rural Canada!

However, I did pick up both the Sea Lion and Gigant supplements for Bolt Action, in the hopes to make that collection a little bit more multi-purpose.

A little background is needed here, especially if your more of a Late War fan of WW2 then its earlier stages. After the fall of France, the United Kingdom found itself under the threat of invasion. People far more knowledgeable than I have written entire books based on this potential invasion, called Operation Sea Lion, or in German, Unternehmen Seelöwe.

Hitler honestly thought that the UK would surrender after France fell, and when they didn’t, it really messed up his plans. He would call on his general staff to draw up plans to invade, and these plans involved landing Fallschirmjager landings along the southern English coast, just in-land enough to hold-off any British forces responding to the second wave, a beach landing by several divisions across a wide front.

File:British beach defence 1940.jpg
A British soldier stands sentry.

However, Germany was hurting, badly, after their successful invasion of France. They had lost lots of materiel and men in the effort. Any invasion would have to be quick, and decisive, as simply they had no deep reserves to call on quickly. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force would make such a channel crossing exceedingly dangerous, and only the defeat of the RAF would ensure a safe crossing. The Royal Navy could be held off by the Luftwaffe if there was good weather, but poor weather would allow the British to really hamper the crossing.

File:Posed portrait of a soldier with rifle and bayonet standing watch behind beach defences 'somewhere in Southern England', 15 October 1940. H4733.jpg
A posed photo from a propaganda blitz shows a British soldier guarding a section of Southern England coastline. Many sections of the coast were poorly defended.

If the crossing was successful, however, the British were poorly equipped, initially, to deal with it. The British had lost a lot of equipment at Dunkirk, not to mention casualties taken in the defense of France. They rapidly brought out a lot of equipment from storage, but even then…

The Local Defense Volunteers were formed on the 14th of May, 1940, and Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden called for men 17-65 who could not serve in the military but wanted to serve in the defense of England. They expected 500,000…they would eventually get 1.5 Million!

On the 22nd of July, these LDV units would be renamed the Home Guard, and would receive over time uniforms, and more up-to-date weapons.

These civilian defenders, combined with a badly mauled British Army, would defend the UK from invasion, and really, would play for time. The Germans had a slim window to succeed, as supply needs mounted and attrition took its toll. If the UK didn’t surrender, would Germany have the means to prosecute an extremely bloody war to take the British Isles?

In effect, this is what many Sea Lion books tend to ask, and what many wargamers over the years have attempted to try. Warlord takes an alternate history approach, by taking some historical events and altering them to make the invasion far more plausible. Some others work with what they are given, which is probably going to be my approach.

One thing often forgotten by Sea Lion “fans”, is the fact that Britain didn’t truly stand alone.

The Empire, as it was, arrived to help defend it.

Canadian troops had arrived in the UK, with the 1st Canadian Division landing in February 1940. Fresh, and mostly unbloodied(a few had gone to France as part of the Second BEF, but had returned after not doing too much and the French surrender leading to their withdrawal). They were a strong contingent in terms of manpower, and were held in England on coastal defense. They were, by some accounts, the only full-strength division available to the UK, and were to be held as a reserve to counter-attack once the Germans had landed.

Canadian troops training in England in 1940. Given the poor state of the Canadian Militia pre-war, this training was invaluable.

The New Zealanders had also diverted their 2nd Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force(the 1st Echelon and 3rd Echelon went to Egypt) to the UK to help in its defense. Among these troops were the 28th Maori Battalion, an almost completely Maori force. One can only imagine what effect they might have had on German invaders!

Men of the 28th Maori arriving in England. Their distinctive headgear will make them stand out on the table, even if the historical record shows they were far more sensible and would wear tin-hats in combat!

Australians, Polish and the Free French also had troops in the UK around the time of the potential invasion. While the Polish and French unlike the Commonwealth had no imperial ties to the UK, they had many reasons to hate the Germans and they would have also been a force to be reckoned with in the defense of the UK.

From a wargaming perspective, there is a lot of cool stuff to take away from all this. Most of the time, those playing Operation Sea Lion on the tabletop focus on the British units, but because I’m that weirdo, I’ve decided instead to focus on VII Corp, a formation that included the 1st Canadian Division, 1st Armoured Division(UK), and depending on the date, either the 1st Armoured Brigade and 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. A lot of really cool units to pull from, and definitely really interesting!

The four sections of infantry! These will be split into two halves, half Kiwi half Canuck. The New Zealander troops will get a mix of Brodie helmets and Lemon Squeezers, to make them stand out. The Canadians are less distinctive at this stage, but will have their darker green fatigues when painted.
These models will be given over to the New Zealand contingent. They also need heads!
These will be the Canadian support units. These came with integral heads, and since the Canadian troops don’t have a lot of different headgear, it works.
A close up of the one completed Kiwi officer. I swapped out his miscast pistol with a plastic Webley.
The same base model changes quite a bit because of its integral head(the newer BEF sets don’t have separate heads). This Canadian is carrying a privately purchased 1911 handgun and a pair of binoculars.

From my VBCW collection comes my collection of British militia. These models were not going to have painted armbands, and will easily fit in as Local Defense Volunteers or un-uniformed Home Guard. I have several more on the way! They have loads of character, and I’m very keen to have them painted up and fighting Jerry!

My more well-dressed section of LDV, probably clerks and bankers.
My middle-class or servant section of LDV. These fellows look like “middle England” to me.
My “lower class” section, a band of ruffians and suspected Communists. Armed with non-standard gear, these guys may not be entirely loyal, or could prove to be solid defenders of Britain.
The support weapons, a Boys AT Rifle and Vickers Machine Gun.
My Royal Mail rocket team. Apparently…this was actually tried. As a way to deliver mail. Truth is stranger then fiction.
A roller-skate-equipped runner, and a Local Defense Volunteer with a gas-mask and some dodgy weapons.
Finally, my officers. The Bank Manager model from Footsore will either make an excellent NCO or Junior Officer, while the man with a pistol carries himself like a Great War veteran, and can make for a great Senior Officer.

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do! The LDV need a lot of painting, and will be vital for anti-parachutist duties or last ditch defenses of their homes. The Canadians and New Zealanders require both heads and paint, and the Canadians can start up a lot sooner as I can use the BEF heads that the kits came with on them. I need to, finally, address the fact that Canadian Battledress is a different colour. I have Vallejo on the mind for that, and I’ve heard that Russian Uniform and US Olive Drab both work well in that regard.

Of course, the elephant in the room here is I need appropriate scenery to play on! I have finally found a Canadian supplier of MDF buildings that will do very nicely, and I’m keen to finally start on that English village I need for both VBCW and now Sea Lion. Such terrain is therefore quite versatile!

I realize I start a lot of projects, and don’t finish them. However, since this project has so many uses outside of its limited scope that I can see myself actually completing this. I’m giving myself a year to do this. I also need to get the German invaders, and while the plastic Warlord German Blitzkrieg infantry will do nicely, the Fallschirmjager kit they do doesn’t work as its too late war. Perry Miniatures does a nice line of those. A friend of mine has offered to commission paint the Germans, which will seriously cut down on the time needed to get this project done!

In other news, I was granted permission to open a Discord channel for Very British Civil War! While I won’t put the link here, in order to prevent spam, I encourage anyone interested to go either to the https://www.facebook.com/groups/1938VBCW/ Facebook page, or to the https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vbcf/1938-a-very-british-civil-war-f53/ VBCW forum. You’ll find the link there! I can easily chat there, if you ever wish to pick my brain or someone else’s, about Very British Civil War.

But that is all I have for today! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and remember to fight them on the beaches!

10 thoughts on “Will there always be an England? Operation Sea Lion for Bolt Action!

    1. Yep! Right now all I can think of is historical orders of battle and organization, troop movements etc. Even what kind of hats troops would wear.

      I’d rather that then dwell too much on current events. It’s either this or a stiff drink!

      I hope it calms down soon too!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. That’s looking like an interesting project with a lot happening so hope it goes well. I’ve read that one old WW1 Mark IV tank was reactivated and used for local defence somewhere in England and many towns had redundant WW1 tanks as memorials so they’d make good Home Guard strongpoints maybe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a guy on the VBCW Discord, a couple guys actually, who use WW1 tanks that have been repaired haphazardly and pushed into service.

      Lots of rules for faulty ammo, faulty transmission…faulty everything! But as a pillbox it would still give Jerry trouble!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great project doing the same myself. Combining sea lion with German paras and gliders, combined with home guard and assorted militia and regular units.

    It is an ideal scenario to use both sets of figures with BUF assisting the Germans and other factions fighting them. The Eagle has Landed and Went the Day well are excellent “primary source material” movies for this!

    I am building a small seaside hamlet that will be attacked by a pre-invasion force from sea and air.

    Loved the post and will do one soon on the subject myself to let you know what my plans are.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent I eagerly await your post! I am also building a small seaside village for VBCW(I’ve done a post on it if your curious, it’s in my archive here) and I just ordered the buildings to start on it.

      It’s definitely a good use of what I already own, although I’m going to need a lot of Germans!

      Both of those movies are on my watch list. Getting a copy of Went The Day Well in Canada is very expensive, and no streaming service carries it here. But it IS essential viewing so the search continues!

      Warlord via Sarissa Precision do excellent German gliders that I really want to get. Really it comes down to if I want to do the beach landings or the parachute attack first to decide what I buy first!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a great collection of figures you are building up. should make for a very impressive project.

    Have you read Seelowe Nord? It is a piece of alt history about the Germans attacking Northern England- well written and as it was based in the area wer used to go on holidays to as a child I could picture the geography well. Also there is a new book published on the seminal 1974 Sealion gamew that is worth picking up if you haven’t already.



    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard of the latter book but not about Seelowe Nord; that sounds absolutely fascinating! I’ll definitely look that up!

      Yeah this will be a fun project and unlike many I’ve started I’ve already broken a lot of ground on this. I have just ordered the village to fight in. Will the plucky Brit’s and Commonwealth troops hold out against Jerry parachutists? That’s the question!

      Liked by 2 people

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