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Normany Invasion earlier than June 1944?

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by Pawnjuice, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Pawnjuice

    Pawnjuice Member

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    Given that WWII started September 1939 and that Germany declared war against the United Stated in December 1941, I wonder if anyone could explain to me why the Normandy Invasion took place in June 1944, so long after the previous critical dates.

    I understand that the Allies were engaged in Africa and the push north in Italy. However, given the industrial might of the United States and that supplies and material were convoyed to England early on the in the war, I wonder if the Normandy Invasion could have taken place much earlier. What prevented this?

    I guess I could understand Stalin's frustration with the Western Allies up to 1944?

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I'm not sure I can answer this, but there are many reasons why 1944 became the year.
    1. The US had never made an opposed amphibious landing until 1943 (I believe)
    2. Churchill was convinced that the best route into Germany was through the "soft underbelly" of the Mediterranean.
    3. The Canadians were mauled at Dieppe.

    I'm sure others will weigh in with better, more complete answers..
     
  3. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

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    Great question. I'm sure there are books upon books writen about this. Cant wait to see statistical info provided by others here.
    I guess that US was more focused on the Pacific, as far as sending 100's of thousands of men to battle. Plus I'm not sure that US was not ready. After Pearl US suffered many defeats by the Japanese. Just about got our asses wooped. US need years to build up its weapon inventory. More tanks, planes, heavy guns, battle ships, etc Our Navy took a big hit. Also, new strategies were needed in the Pacific. We never send 100's of thousands of men, weapons, food, hospitals, etc, so far away to fight. Then I believe that Africa and Italy was critical to weaken first. Once that was done, we needed to get rid off the dreadfull Wolf Packs. Just imagine how many would have drowned if US rushed into sending men to Britian too early. I truely believe that Normandy was the last chapter in beating Germany.
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    US ground troops in Britain:
    july 1942:39.386
    january 1943:19431
    july 1943:24.283
    january 1944:343.972
    Thus the possibility of Overlord in 1942/1943 was very low
     
  5. RD3

    RD3 Member

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    I agree with you, tomflorida. Just one thing isn't wright, I think. The US was not focused on Japan, because there was an agreement to take on Germany first. This was decided not only within the American government, but also with the British.
    The question is not easy to answer in a few words. Like you said, many books are written about this and even historians have their disagreements about it.
     
  6. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Logistics...Just look at your SOS setup in early days in UK, especially around Cheltenham with your quarter master stores units...No where to put em...Living on top of previously evacuated war office staff...Limited storage and living space never mind plans of attack...First you have to get here..Your guys were planning the move long before you entered...It was not an easy task..from boat to beach. It took logistics unheard of in any previous war. Or situation. Britain nearly sank with the weight.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I seem to recall that the US did push for an invasion in 43. The British argued that North Africa was a better choice than Europe in that time frame.
    Well the landings at Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo were contested I believe. Whether or not the main landing on Gaudalcanal was contested depends a bit on how you define it. All in 42. But Marines rather than army.
     
  8. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Actually there was some support for a 1942 landing by the US, but of course impossable. The push for 1943 was real on the US side, but also unrealistic beyond a lodgement that had no chance to breakout. urqh is correct, the simple answer is logistics.
     
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  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    I guess I could understand Stalin's frustration with the Western Allies up to 1944?

    Stalin, and a lot of other people at the time and since, speak as if there was no second front at all until June 6, 1944, when Eisenhower pushed a button and a full-blown battle front sprung instantly into existence. It would be better to say the the Axis had a steadily escalating commitment in western and southern Europe which started before the USSR was in the war at all and consumed a growing proportion of German troops and resources throughout the war. The initial Barbarossa assault was weaker than it might have been by virtue of armored and air forces fighting the British. Stalin was never fighting alone, though it's understandable he wished his allies might do more.

    For that matter, D-Day only added nine western Allied divisions to the twenty-some already in combat with the Germans - although the numbers quickly escalated thereafter!

    Our landings in North Africa were also opposed, although we reached an armistice with the French within a few days. It could be argued that Husky in July 1943 was the first "Overlord-like" operation, including the first use of the new LSTs, LCTs, LCIs, and DUKWs. Husky also means that an eight-division, shore-to-shore operation was executed in 1943, using ports, bases, and infrastructure which had only recently been captured and were vastly inferior to those of England.
     
  10. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    ... a book by author John Grigg which outlines Allied strategic errors and makes a very strong case that victory in France could have occurred one year earlier. Gregg examines major Allied miscalculations in prosecuting the war, contending that the most important military decision of the war in Europe, the timing of the Allied invasion of France was a major blunder. The final chapter speculates that invading a year earlier would have given a postwar advantage to the West.

    A plan for an invasion of France existed long before D-Day and remains largely unknown – Operation Rankin. Rankin involved an unopposed landing in the event of a German collapse before Overlord could take place. The British hoped that given the Bomber offencive, the Soviet victories, and peripheral campaigns in the Med. and possibly Norway, Overlord would be unnecessary, and Rankin would be all that was required.


    Even Max Hastings concurs with Grigg in one regard, in that on paper, the logistic difficulties of mounting D-Day a year earlier could have been conquered, and that the forces deployed to fight the Germans in Italy could have been used to better advantage in north-west Europe. He goes on to state however that there was a great deal of doubt regarding allied will and psychology. At that time i.e. 1943, British planning was extremely cautious. The high losses of WW1 and previous defeats had left a great respect for the German Army. There was no doubt in senior Allied Commanders minds about the inevitability of final victory in the Second World War but the British feared a campaign of attrition in Western Europe. They wanted victory, but victory on the best available terms for their own country, which included the smallest possible further effusion of British blood - Operation Rankin or something very much like it after Germany collapses in the middle after victory on the periphery. It’s Hasting’s contention that, but for the determination of the U.S. to land in France at the earliest possible date, there would have been no D-Day before 1945.

    An invasion of Europe in 1943 by the Western Allies is an attractive proposition when properly considered ...
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    No:it is very simple :Overlord in 1943 was impossible :the war in NA only finished on 15 may 1943,at that date,it was to late to transport every one and everything to Britain and start Overlord .
     
  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    the war in NA only finished on 15 may 1943,at that date,it was to late to transport every one and everything to Britain and start Overlord .

    Why in the world would you do that?

    There are arguments on both sides, but let's at least be sensible. If the Allies were going to conduct a cross-Channel landing in 1943, they'd do it with forces built up in England, including those which historically were shipped to North Africa for the conclusion of that campaign and for Husky. The armies in North Africa would carry on that campaign, in part to keep Axis attention focussed on the Med and the obvious next move.

    1 and 4 British Divisions were shipped to NA just in time for the last month or so of fighting; they would remain in Britain, and if their absence caused the Tunisian campaign to drag on a little longer, so much the better from the deception point of view. 5 Div, 1 Canadian, and US 45th which were trained for amphibious operations and sent to NA for Husky would remain in/go to England, as would 1 British and 82nd US Airborne. The shipping which moved five divisions from England to NA could bring two more from the US. There were further 15 British, Canadian, and Polish divisions in Britain in 1943 which fought in NW Europe in 1944-45. I actually don't have much information about the US Army - anyone? - but divisions were being shipped to Britain; we could add the 36th which historically went to NA in early 1943 but did not see action until Salerno.
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The question is:how many of these divisions were operational in may 1943 ?
    A lot of the British divisions n Italy were transferred to Britain,in the winter of 1943_1944,because of Overlord .
    About the Americans,I have ONE division in Britain in june 1943 :the 29 ID.
    One arrived in august :5 ID
    2 in september :3 AR and 101 AB
    2 in october :28 and 2 ID
    3 in november :2 AR,9 and 1 ID
    2 in december:82 AB and 8 ID
    That gives us on 31 december 11(of which 2 AB)
    Of course,this was not enough:in 1944,9 others arrived before DDay,11 after DDay.A lot of these divisions still were training in the US in june 1943.
    And,there were the problems of shortages of LST,etc
     
  14. harolds

    harolds Member

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    On the other hand, their would have been negligible opposition to a landing in the fall of 1943. Many of the great German units that made life hell, especially for the British, were either being chewed up in Russia or hadn't been formed yet. About this time, Rommel's tour of inspection basically said the "Atlantic Wall" was a farce. There were some low-grade fortress and occupation units around the main ports but that was it. SO...why not take the units and amphibious assets used for the Anzio landings, (plus the British Divisions that had been stationed there for years and were getting stale) and hit Normandy with them in the Fall of 1943. This would have been before the Germans had time to bring in all the reinforcements that they eventually did. Any German reinforcements sent to the invasion area would have been sent piecemeal and been reasonably easy to deal with. Also, by the time they got there we would have had a deep bridgehead and at least one port (Cherborg). We would have been able to cover the landings with both the 8th AF and the RAF. Germany was defending against deep penetration raids (barely) by retreating to Germany out of range of Allied fighters. Bringing the fighters back to Western France would have hastened the defeat of the Luftwaffe. While we weren't ready to make the huge landing that we eventually made, the Germans were much worse off than we were vis a vis our forces. The timing would have been perfect since the Heer was being chewed up by Citadel and the following Soviet counter attacks.
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Objection:in the fall of 1943 =autumn weather=big risk of failure of Overlord/build-up after Overlord .
    Remember :Overlord was scheduled for 5 june,but was delayed ,because of the BAD SUMMER WEATHER.
     
  16. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    I have not got the reports to hand but there is a document that was published by the UK Government which references the problems they had accepting the US divisions into the UK for Overlord.

    There was a shortage of transportation and railways along with track limitations to transport the equipment, stores and manpower from the ports to the dispersal areas. Juggling had to be done with some US Divisions being delayed in embarking for the UK due to lack of port space, shipping, dispersal areas, camps etc.

    It took time to build up the equipment for use on D Day, some was still in short supply when the units left (79th Armd Div was still recieving its initial allocation of AVRE's in the week before D Day so giving the crews little time to familiarise themselves properly with them as an example). Even with the huge Build up for D Day in 1944 there was a severe problem getting resources across the channel to supply the troops. With less landing craft, DUKW, LST/LSL, no Mulberrys it would have been near impossible. Relatively little port capacity was taken and what was could do little, Dieppe showed how difficult it would be to take a major port.

    It was easier to practice and try out landing operations in the Med than in the Channel due to the lack of a large tide.
    It took along time to get the units trained into Divisional level operations, it was not enough to just train the troops and send them to a newly forming Div then expect that Division to fight.

    If I remember correctly Op Rankin was not so much an invasion as a 'move everything that can be moved across the channel right away, across it'. It was not envisaged to fight through Europe as much as to just drive though occupying it and disarming the German troops as they went. It was, as said, to take advantage of a total German collapse. (the description may be simplified but I believe that was the basic contingency plan).
     
  17. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Not to mention the Big Storm that hit shortly after D-Day, but we got through it without too much of a hitch. However, I agree that the weather would be the riskiest factor in a Fall of '43 attack. That's where a quick seizure of a port, such as Cherborg, would have to be a number one priority. Calculated risks are part of the military game and well-calculated ones save lives and shorten wars. Personally, I feel that the Western Allies played it much to safe and took higher casualties as a result.
     
  18. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The following British divisions were formed in 1941 or earlier, remained in the UK until Overlord, and served on the continent thereafter:
    3 (BEF 1940), 15, 43, 49, 52, 53, 59, 11 Armoured, Guards Armoured
    2 and 3 Canadian and 4 Armoured were also in the UK from 1941
    1 Polish Armoured Div also formed in 1941
    If divisions which had been training for two or more years were not ready for action, it would be a grave indictment of the British military.
    However I do have to correct myself in that 6 Airbourne Div only formed in 1943 and would not have been immediately ready.

    Three British divisions which had fought in North Africa and Italy were transferred to NW Europe: 50, 51, 7 Armoured. In addition 1 Airbourne Div which had been shipped to North Africa prior to Husky was returned.

    Similarly the US 1st, 9th, and 2nd Armored which had been in Torch and Husky were transferred to England. 82nd Airborne was shipped to North Africa for Husky and could just as easily have gone direct to Britain if the plan for 1943 required it.

    The ability to use at least a few combat experienced units in Overlord is one argument for waiting until 1944, but the British and Americans would inevitably be fielding mainly green units (or ones which had last fought in 1940). For example the landing in Sicily was the first combat experience for 45th and 1 Canadian. Ditto for the 36th at Salerno and the 4th, 29th, and 3 Canadian in Normandy. British 50 and 51 Divs, which had been in combat in Tunisia until April 1943, were able to train and prepare for an amphibious landing by July.

    One other key factor is that everyone on both sides anticipated a cross-Channel landing in 1944. The Germans intensified their preparations over the intervening year. As harolds pointed out, that was when most of the fortifications other than around ports were constructed. Over 3/4 of mines and nearly all beach obstacles and "Rommel's asparagus" were installed after Rommel took command. They made an effort to have combat-ready troops available, whereas in 1943 the west had been largely a rest area for units recovering from Russia; several of the panzer and panzergrenadier divisions were resurrections of those lost at Stalingrad or in Tunisia. The collapse in Tunisia compelled the Axis to prepare for the next Allied moves in the Mediterrean; the timing for a landing in France could hardly have been better if the Allies planned it that way.
     
  19. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Unfortunately I can't use 'we' because I wasn't there....but I can quote from someone who was...

    '...exactly how were we to visualise the mechanics of liberation of France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway, not to mention Luxembourg and the Channel Islands ? In early 1943 it was difficult to find anyone either in Great Britain or the United States who had begun to think realistically on any of these subjects...'
    (Lt Gen Sir Frederick Morgan, Overture To Overlord, pp 114-115).

    Reading some of the above, it's hard not to think of Gene Hackman as Sosabowski....but what about the Germans ? It wasn'y just a case of flinging men ashore and 'the whole rotten structure would come crashing down'. Logistics may be very boring, but they had to carry the Allies all the way to Berlin, not just to Normandy. Recent history has shown that invading countries without having clear-cut objectives fully thought through can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.

    Sure, invasion was possible in 1943, just as Gallipoli was possible in 1915. But successful invasion....?
     
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  20. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Martin strikes again....Gotta love that guy....
     

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