From the Archives: Operation ‘Hermetic’: countering the threat to D-Day from the German surface fleet

How many more sub-operations of Overlord were there? So far, I count maybe 20…

Defence-In-Depth

DR TIM BENBOW

It was a signal that Admiral Bertram Ramsay must have been longing to send, while being concerned at the potential consequences: ‘CARRY OUT OPERATION HERMETIC’. The issue of this simple order would have executed the contingency plan he had devised as Allied Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force to counter any attempt by the remaining major warships of the German Navy to attack the D-Day landings. It was one of the most interesting papers I discovered in the National Archives at Kew (in AIR 37/1453) while I was researching some primary material for the introduction of my forthcoming volume on Operation Neptune. Not least, it helps to counter the inaccurate but frequently held assumption that battleships were obsolete in the age of air power and were by this stage of the war entirely lacking a role in naval strategy.

Accounts of the D-Day landings all too often begin on…

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