Reading about Naval Mines, I came across a curious claim:

for example, during World War II, Britain declared simply that it had mined the English Channel, North Sea, and French coast.

It's not cited, but there's a similar claim down a ways saying that Britain did the same thing during the first world war.

So the questions begin. Why did Britain mine their own channel during WW2?

Britain's navy was vastly superior to the Kriegsmarine, or so I've been told, so I don't see why they would want to cut off timely naval access between their east and west shores.

Could it actually be the case that Britain mined only the southern part of the Channel? Or maybe they used deep mines only triggerable by submarines?

  • 4
    When one puts mines there are usually passages which allow moving through them given a mine field map.
    – Anixx
    Aug 1, 2015 at 7:28
  • 1
    Additionally, British ships going through the channel would be too close to German shore artillery and airfields; I think that unless strictly necessary any sane captain would cross through the North Sea
    – SJuan76
    Aug 1, 2015 at 12:22
  • I think they placed minefields primarily against German submarines, which were so hindered to operate in British coastal waters where there was no protection of ships through convoys (single ship traffic).
    – jjack
    Aug 1, 2015 at 12:56
  • @SJuan76 the North Sea is actually east of Britain. Did you mean the ships would go around the north coast of Britain to get from east to west?
    – DrZ214
    Aug 1, 2015 at 20:13
  • Yes, that was what I meant
    – SJuan76
    Aug 1, 2015 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


The initial British/French mining in the channel was as an anti-submarine barrage. Later anti-invasion fields were laid.

Later in the war offensive fields were laid on the other side of the channel.

Details of RN mine laying in WW2 may be found here


In order for the Allies, specifically in this case England, to create a naval blockade against the Axis--Germany in the north--it was practical for England to cover as much area as possible without physically being present with warships.

During WWII Germany had solidified it's reach to the Netherlands, Poland, northern France, Belgium, Denmark, and Norway. All of these areas were potential ports for both German imports and exports. With that, it is necessary to cut off any potential traffic through that gigantic area of sea.

Of course, as it was implied above, England had its own interest to protect her own ports and ships against German submarines who were incredibly skilled and populous especially in the Atlantic seaboard and the areas identified above.

Nonetheless, this question is more complex than the answer above. There are many details involved. Rather, I have given a general answer.

  • England is not the country in question, the name of the country is the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) often abbreviated to the UK (or just Britain) and its navy is known as The Royal Navy, abbreviated to RN. Also your answer is unsourced (and superficial). The Channel was mined before the fall of France. Aug 2, 2015 at 21:21
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    I have a degree in European history-- more specifically, the Second Industrial Revolution, Weimar Republic, and until the end of World War II. Irrelevant qualification waving, I'm afraid on this matter I will judge you by the quality of your post. Aug 3, 2015 at 2:15
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    Wow. Complaining about England not being the UK is about as important as people complaining if someone calls the USA, America. ie: Not at all.
    – Shane
    Oct 7, 2015 at 19:42
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    It might be worth pointing out that the minefields didn't block the Channel entirely, and the British knew where the mines were. The mines were a trap for German vessels, but the British could still navigate the Channel.
    – Literalman
    Aug 9, 2018 at 17:34
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    @Shane No. Pointing out that England is not the UK is like pointing out that Texas isn't the USA. The key difference with "America" is that "America" is a commonly accepted term for the USA that is used by Americans themselves. Oct 29, 2018 at 13:41

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