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?

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    When one puts mines there are usually passages which allow moving through them given a mine field map.
    – Anixx
    Aug 1 '15 at 7:28
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    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 '15 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 '15 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 '15 at 20:13
  • Yes, that was what I meant
    – SJuan76
    Aug 1 '15 at 21:20

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 '15 at 21:21
  • Conrad, please do not bore me with technicalities. I am well aware of what the the Royal Navy is, and England is an accepted extension of the usage of the U.K. in academia. Nonetheless, I cannot seem to find a bibliography for the aforementioned post that you have suggested about mined areas. If you can, please specify where navlhistory.net received their sources. I have a degree in European history-- more specifically, the Second Industrial Revolution, Weimar Republic, and until the end of World War II.
    – oswana21
    Aug 2 '15 at 23:39
  • oswana21: Try reading what the Naval History Net says about its sources: Further details are available in the Naval Staff History (Mining) copies of which are held in the National Archives at Kew and in the Naval Historical Branch, HM Dockyard Portsmouth. Reference can also be made to the individual Chronologies of War Service for the warships listed in this Digest. These contain the identity and dates of the individual Operations concerned. Aug 3 '15 at 2:11
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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 '15 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 '15 at 19:42

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