2. The Invasion of the United States of America
The destruction of the American blockade squadron at Bermuda prompted two responses. The American response, given the lack of attention to the United States Navy in the 1950s, was to prepare a phased defense, with the first phase in the far-easternAtlantic and Mediterranean. The Reichsfuehrer's response was simpler: the troops which had been assembled in the Low Countries were embarked and launched westward with their goal as the seizure of the critical American watershed at Hampton Roads.
Langsdorff's far-west Bermuda squadron provided the main coverage for this move; however, most of the United States Navy was already concentrated in the eastern Atlantic, with the misguided belief that the Reich's main naval force was contained in the Mediterranean. This failure in intelligence was compounded by the difficulty of the American Commander-In-Chief, Atlantic Fleet maintaining contact with his forces; with Bermuda a British possession, the Azores on permanent lease to Germany, and the Canarias and North African Coast also in German hands, American communications were limited to tropospheric scatter radio communications, which Admiral Thomas Moorer correctly feared had been penetrated; while the Reich had no direct concept of the contents of Moorer's communications, their frequency and timing were easily understood . As a result, command of the United States Navy force in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean devolved on officers using overtaxed communication systems and outdated technology.
Because the Reich had complete control of the Mediterranean, the Mittelmeerflotte was, compared to the Hochseeflotte, greatly understrength. However, much of the Unterseeflotte was permanently stationed in the Mediterranean, and the reaction to the American move was thus to deploy the Luftwaffe to locate and harass the American fleet, then, once they were located, send in the U-boats to wreck them. As a final stage to the plan, and as a test of the vessels' combat-worthiness, the nuclear-powered Guderian battlecruisers were dispatched from Antwerp to consolidate the victory.
Grossadmiral Otto Kretschmer was the overall German submarine commander in the Mediterranean; both his official war records and his memoirs provide a fascinating description of the difference in capabilities between the United States Navy and the Kriegsmarine. Unhindered by the need to surface, Kretschmer's submarines shadowed the United States fleet from several hundred meters below the surface. They assumed that anything above a depth of four hundred meters was an American ship, and listened for the inevitable signals of air attack. When the Luftwaffe began its operations, they attacked. The Battle of the Mediterranean lasted three days, from the twelfth to the fourteenth of January, 1965; however, by sunset on the twelfth, it had obviously degenerated into a pursuit. The American fleet fled from just off Salerno to Gibraltar, a hopeless flight given that Gibraltar was German-held, but the only choice they had. At Gibraltar, under the threat of missile batteries ashore and the low gray shapes of the line of battlecruisers in the Atlantic, the United States Navy Atlantic Fleet surrendered, sending into captivity some eighty thousand American sailors, added to which were a similar number of dead. Kretschmer inspected the remains of the American fleet in disgust and ordered the entire lot scrapped.
News of the destruction of the Atlantic Fleet did not reach the United States in time to register significantly, though Admiral Moorer acknowledged the surrender in shock and transmitted it to President Kennedy. It meant the complete failure of the American defense-in-depth doctrine at sea, as there was no way that the few American ships remaining in the Atlantic could provide adequate reconnaissance, let alone gather to stop the Hochseeflotte. A handful of American pickets were watching Ireland and the Channel; these were swept away at the same time as events in the Mediterranean, and the invasion fleet crossed the Atlantic unmolested by storm or resistance.
They arrived off Hampton Roads on the day of the inauguration, 20 January 1965, where they were spotted by high-altitude patrol craft. The United States Army Air Corps made an effort to resist, but was held at bay by the fleet carriers, and the invasion of the United States began. The immediate operational commander was Generalfeldmarschall Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, selected because of his extremely wide variety of service, with the armored commander the son of Reichsmarschall Guderian, Generalleutnant Heinz-Guenther Guderian. The younger Guderian's Panzertruppen landed at Virginia Beach and, in two days of sharp house-to-house fighting, secured the vital American installations on the southeastern approach to Hampton Roads. This opened the way for a land assault on Norfolk. At the same time, an amphibious assault on the American Fortress Monroe resulted in the sealing of the York-James estuary and made American movement in Chesapeake Bay impossible.
The American reaction was slow; the Americans were in the midst of mobilizing their few in-country reserves and the National Guard, the American equivalent of the Landwehr. Much of the defense outside of the capital itself was provided by police and hastily-mobilized militia units with no formal organization or control. Within days of landing, organization began to stiffen, but by that point, Ramcke had landed a third force on the eastern Chesapeake shore, bringing the total number of men committed in North America to twelve divisions and approximately one hundred and fifty thousand men.
It would have been difficult for Guderian the elder to have picked a better invasion front for the armored forces; with the notable exceptions of heavily wooded and densely overgrown swamps and several large parks that were choked with brush, the so-called Tidewater region had excellent roads and large open spaces for maneuver. 16. Panzerdivision and its sister division, 16. Panzergrenadier, entered Norfolk on 24 January 1965, in the midst of the worst snow of the 1960s. Twenty-five centimeters of snow fell on them during the advance, but compared to maneuver in central Germany or Russia, it was easily manageable. The garrisons of the several naval facilities put up a stiff resistance, and for the first time in the campaign the Reich experienced significant losses, with seven hundred men dead or wounded in the capture of the Portsmouth Naval Yard. Ramcke himself ordered that the handful of surviving sailors, grease-streaked and shattered, be allowed to march into captivity with their colors after witnessing their fanatical defense of the facility. The yards themselves were completely ruined, however, and fall-back plans had to be realized to develop a series of artificial harbors.
On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, conditions were similar, but there was less room for maneuver. Nevertheless, by the time the snow crossed Chesapeake Bay, artillery rounds were falling on Annapolis, Maryland. The United States Army's 29th Division, of the collective National Guard of several states in the region, began to prepare a defense of the ring of cities around Washington, DC, as reinforcements began to stream in from across the country. At the same time, the second wave of soldiers began to arrive from Europe, including the elite airborne formations, and the Luftwaffe began to work to put the several military fields under Reich control back into full operation. A week and a half after the initial landings, the Reich controlled an area of the United States roughly the size of the Netherlands, and the battle for Washington, DC commenced in earnest.
Posting from tablet, graphics support difficult. Have battle for DC mapped out; honestly, invading up the Chesapeake reminds me of Market-Garden.