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Normany Invasion earlier than June 1944?

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

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I knew I should have gone with Boxing day instead!
     
  2. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Supply over the beaches for a whole Winter might be stretching it. Certainly they could be supplied for weeks or even a month until a nearby port is captured. Capturing one quickly would be of the highest priority. The more the capture is delayed then the more time the Germans have of using demolitions to further delay our use of the port. This might be where airborne forces could play a strategic part.
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Are we forgeting Mulbury and Pluto? Are they ready for fall of 1943? Can a lodgement by adequately supply without them?

    Every other amphibious operation in history managed without them. This illustrates one of the great fallacies about Overlord, that it was somehow different from any other operation of war. No other landing "required" artificial harbors, and as it turned out, neither did Overlord; the American Mulberry was essentially wrecked in the Jun19?? storm and the British one badly damaged. Except in the immediate aftermath of the storm, there was no interruption in the landing of supplies; the supply crisis of fall 1944 concerned moving supplies to the front.

    Here's the question - if everything else was ready to go in summer 1943, would someone say "Wait! We must hold off another year so we can build massive artificial harbors"?
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    There's no need for a "it's 1943, let's invade France tomorrow" attitude, that won't work, we can all ackowledge that can't we?

    I don't think anyone's saying that, but I agree it would be unrealistic. The time to establish an Anglo-American strategy was the Arcadia conference in December 1941, the first time the two nations met as co-belligerents. The fundamental change from America entering the war was that an invasion of western Europe, which had been essentially impossible, was now not only possible but virtually inevitable. Peripheral operations like North Africa should have been made to support that ultimate goal.

    I basically agree with the decision to invade French North Africa in 1942. The cross-Channel operation was possible only in summer, summer 1942 was not possible, and United States troops could hardly just sit out the war until summer 1943. We could bring substantial French forces back into the war and start carrying our share of the load against the Axis. Resolving the North African campaign would compel the enemy to focus attention on their southern flank. However North Africa should have been kept clearly in the context of setting the scene for the main event. Concluding Arcadia without this commitment allowed events to drift into precisely what the American leadership was afraid might happen, an ongoing momentum in a peripheral theater.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Skipper makes a good point about the landing in southern France and the necessity for Sardinia and Corsica to be secured first (I would say that Sicily is of less relevance). However I'm not so sure it's something that could have factored into Anglo-American planning. Historically the islands fell into Allied hands incidentally to the capitulation of Italy, the Germans withdrew on their own, so the Allied occupation did not telegraph our intention to invade France almost a year later. Planners in 1942 could not anticipate this. I'm not sure if southern France entered into the decision for Torch or not - anyone? - but if it did, the expectation would be that securing French North Africa would be followed by invasion of Sardinia, then Corsica, which would make the next step fairly obvious.

    Although the Med can whip up impressive winter storms, operations are basically feasible year-round; Anzio was done in January on an exposed beach. A move towards southern France might be feasible after a summer 1943 Channel landing, much as was done historically in 1944. Once the beachhead was secure, assault shipping and gunfire support ships could be redeployed, in this case to launch the invasion of Sardinia and Corsica with the Allied troops remaining in North Africa and with Free French forces. As I noted earlier, the Germans could anticipate the next move, but at that point any troops deployed to southern France would be unavailable for the fighting front in the north.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I generally agree with you Carronade. However, the taking of Sicily and southern Italy had some strategic benefits. Besides giving us more experience in amphibious warfare, the surrender of Italy, the capturing of the Foggia airfields and the tying down of German troops all worked in our favor. After that, no offensive action in Italy made much sense. Perhaps some local offensives with the objective of keeping German troops in Italy would be be okay, but nothing else. All the eventual capture of Rome and beyond did was to boost a certain general's ego and result in more useless casualties.

    I also agree that for a '43 invasion of France to succeed, planning would have to have been started early on. However, the internal Allied conflict of where to fight, the Med./Balkans vs. Northern Europe was the big controversy of the war. Unfortunately, the USA allowed the British to convince us that we didn't know what we were talking about. Certainly, the bickering and politicing between the USA and Britain did neither country any good. It certainly wasn't our "Finest Hour" by any means.
     
  7. lost knight

    lost knight Member

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    Just look at TORCH. The disorganized French forces tore apart the direct attack on the port at Oran, (Operation Villain) was every bit as bad as Dieppe. The logistics were awful with key equipment loaded under frills. The great American equipment were Lee/Grant/Stuart tanks with only a few (and late Shermans). The American and British staffs failed to properly work together; Allied Generals Fredendall (US) and Anderson (UK) had to be promoted and removed from combat. British and American troops had little faith in each other yet.

    TORCH was a success, not because the allies beat the axis down in battle, but for other reasons. First, the operation was a suprise. Second, the Med. Sea was controlled by allied sea/air power. The Italian Navy could not keep the sea lanes open and the axis troops lost supply. Third, the axis forces were caught between two allied armies, Montgomery's being battle hardened. Under supplied and out numbered the axis troops were lost, despite the stubborn defense.

    True FDR and the American staff wanted to go at France right away, but thank God the British view prevailed. If the attack took place in '42 across the Channel (given that it even could have) it would have been a disaster. Without the problems being shaken out of a raw army that lacked enough professional experience it could never have been successful.

    Also- in '42 the German air power hadn't been weakened by fighting constant bombing raids. In North Africa B17s had, at one point, to be re-based to the rear to escape German attacks on their fields. In '42 France the allies would be flying from Britain while the Germans flew from French airfields. Air superiority is another question.
     
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  8. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Not that bloody Monty again!!! :D
    Actually the cheif planner for Overlord was Frederick E. Morgan, not Monty
     
    No, your pronouncing it so does not make it a fact. It's up to you to demonstrate that it is so.
    The long peninsula of Italy is much better suited to trap & isolate German armies with amphibious landings, provided that you are bold enough and willing to do so, and provided that the general in charge makes trapping the retreating Germans his priority, rather than planning a grand entrance into Rome.

    However, did you ever stop to consider that perhaps Churchill was referring to politically soft, as opposed to militarily soft?
     
    It wasn't an "obsession", it was simply the best strategy available using the resources that we had at the time.


    Incorrect. The Germans were weaker (vs their enemies) in 1943 than they were in 1942, and they were weaker in 1944 than in '43.
    The string of defeats on the Eastern front from mid-43' until Overlord drained Germany's reserves and the ability to repulse the Normandy landings

    Again incorrect, the French (North African) and Italian ports were captured easily because the defenders surrendered or signed an armictice very quickly. None of the French Atlantic ports were taken "easily". By Sept 1944, (3 months after the landing) the Germans still held out in Brest, St. Naziere, Lorient & Le Havre. Cherbourg was captured fairly quickly (although still 2 weeks behind schedule), but the damage done to the port facilities took about 2 months to repair.
     
    The Anzio landings were made during the winter, (Jan 44) when winter storms in the English Channel make a major landing almost impossible.
    The Anzio operation only landed two divisions, and the Axis defence of Italy was badly hampered by the Italian surrender. A two division landing in France in 1943 would be quickly wiped out by the Germans.
     
    Nope, again incorrect
    The Luftwaffe was much stronger in '43 than it was in '44, as it was Operation Pointblank & the CBO (Combined Bomber Offensive) in the Fall/Winter of 1943 that began the collapse of the LW strength.
    One full year of pounding the LW (July '43 - June '44) until the point that it could only offer limited resistance was a critical factor in the success of Operation Overlord

    US Strategic Bombing Survey has a good amount of information about the decline of the LW, and the effect of Pointblank and the CBO.
    You'll notice that it's not until Oct-Nov 1943 that the Allied Air Forces make a massive increase, and the LW fighter intercepts take a major drop, after this point they won't be able to stand up to the Allies again, on anything near parity.


    View attachment 15647
     

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  9. freebird

    freebird Member

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    They weren't vulnerable in the summer of 1943, and they wouldn't be shipped across France, only to Aachen or Antwerp, and then overland to the front line.
    Interdiction requires daylight operations, and the Allies didn't have the long range escorts to do this in the summer of '43, the P-47's had only just arrived, there were only about a hundred available.
    Read up on the mission to Regensburg in Aug 1943 for an idea on how it might go. Schweinfurt Regensburg raid
    120 - 150 Allied aircraft shot down or written off, vs about 26 LW fighters lost.

    Why exactly? They could put two or three times what the Allies had, and have a much better balance of power in the air war than would be in mid 1944. The lodgement would be more than likely eliminated before 1944.

    There simply wasn't enough troops, supplies, landing craft or shipping to do the landing in 1943, unless you scrapped Husky & Avalance to do so, and even then it's doubtful whether it could have been pulled off.

    The planning for Husky (or alternately Roundup) would need to be done Mar-May 1943, so Kassarine is exactly ONE battle in the past.

    Can you explain why this would be more easily done in 1943 with about 1/3 of the forces against a stronger German force with better air cover?

    In 1943 the Germans are able to reinforce 2 or 3 times as fast, and will have veteran divisions, as opposed to green US divisions arriving.
     
  10. lost knight

    lost knight Member

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    I'm not sure when the disaster would have been greater, '42 or '43 ... but suspect the earlier the worst.
    Again, look at TORCH to see all the errors that had to be addressed.
     
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    There simply wasn't enough troops, supplies, landing craft or shipping to do the landing in 1943, unless you scrapped Husky & Avalance to do so.

    uh.......that's exactly what's being discussed here, an earlier cross-Channel invasion as an alternative to the Mediterranean strategy. I don't see anyone suggesting doing both simultaneously.
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Well it seems from harolds's post that he's contemplating a 1943 Normandy landing in addition to Sicily & Southern Italy.

    I should also have added the qualifier "and even then it's doubtful that it could be done in 1943"


    What advantages could the Allies expect from a 1943 Normandy landing vs the British Med strategy in 1943?
    Let's consider the results:

    The Allies landed on Sicily in July, and Mussolini was removed from power that same month. Five days after the landings on the Italian mainland, the Italian surrender was announced.
    With the Italian surrender, some one million troops are removed from the Axis side in Operation Achse, the Germans are then forced to commit some 40 - 45 divisions to Italy and the Balkans, these divisions are then not available to defend France against the Allies, or to be sent to the Eastern Front. In addition, all of the Italian air forces are dissolved, and the Luftwaffe is forced to make up the difference.

    Hitler is unable to remove large numbers of troops from France in 1943, as he doesn't know exactly how many Allied troops are in the UK, and whether ot not they could land in France in 1943 in addition to Husky & Avalanche. (He doesn't know that they couldn't do both).
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Member

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    On the other hand, had the Allies tried "Roundup" in 1943 instead of the Med landing the Germans can transfer some 25, 30 or more divisions to France, as they arn't needed to plug holes in the south, while they still have 30 - 40 Italian divisions in action.
     
    The earlier post on this thread have badly underestimated the German forces available to defend France in 1943, it's hardly insignificant, and is stronger than it would be in 1944, while facing perhaps 16 - 18 Allied divisions. (Not the 45 that are in France in Sept 1944,

    "Negligible" opposition? Who do you think is defending France - a few battalions of the Kaiser's WWI veterans in wheelchairs? :D
     
    Hitler had about 45 divisions left in the West when he invaded the USSR, and it remained that way throughout the war, increasing to 60 after Overlord.
    They could easily concentrated 75 or 80 divisions to expel the Allies from France in 1943

    Absolute bunk!. ;)
     
    Let's take a look at the available German forces shall we - say in June-August 1943?
     
    1st Panzer division is in France until June 1943, sent to Italy in July, then to Greece after the Italian surrender.
    1st Fallschirmjäger is in France
    9th SS Panzer division was formed in France in the Spring of 1943
    10th SS Panzer division was formed in France in the Spring of 1943
    14th Panzer is stationed in Brittany, France in the Summer/Autumn 1943
    14th SS mountain division trained in France in the Spring/Summer 1943, sent to Italy following Italian surrender
    21st Panzer division was reformed in France in June of 1943 from Schnelle Brigade West and Pz regt 100
    24th Panzer was reformed in France in Mar 1943, then sent to Italy in September following the Italian surrender
    25th Panzer is transferred from Norway to Denmark in Aug 1943, then to France in Sept 1943
    26th Panzer was formed in 1942, in Amiens France from Oct 1942, then withdrawn and sent to Italy after "Avalanche"
    29th Panzergrenadier is in France inFrance
    179th Panzer (re-named 116th Panzer in 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    155 Panzer (used to rebuild 9th Panzer in Mar 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    233 Panzer (used to rebuild 11th Panzer in Jun 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    36th & 37th SS Panzergrenadier regiments in France, they will be combined with other elements to form the 17th SS Panzergrenadier division in the Autumn of 1943
    SS brigade Nederland (2 x Panzergrenadier regiments) is in Holland
     
    In addition, the following units were in reserve in the summer of 1943, they were all sent to Italy or the Balkans following Italian surrender, but would likely be sent to France if the landing were made there.

    1st SS Panzer division "Liebstandarte" was in Austria
    1st Gebirgs (mountain) division was sent to the Balkans following the Italian surrender
    III SS Corps (5th SS Panzer "Wiking" & 11th SS Panzergrenadier Nordland) were sent to the Balkans following the Italian surrender
    4th SS Panzergrenadier division was in Czechoslovakia, then sent to the Balkans
    16th Panzer division was in France until June 1943, then transferred to Italy where it defended against the Allied advance.
     
    That's at least 18 Panzer or motorized divisions against the Allies, vs about a dozen at the time of Overlord.
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Dont forget that the Luftwaffe was still a viable force in 1943. THere would have been no massive interdiction of German forces and allied forces would have been subject to air attack. Another factor is that the Germans still had not launched citadel and the transfer of significant tank forces could be conducted with out interference.
     
  15. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    With the seasonal weather conditions normally found in the Channel, any attack would have to be before the end of September, though with the amount of material the Allies intended to transport over the beaches and Mulberries, even that is probably too late in the year.
     
  16. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Don't forget aerial superiority over France and most of Germany was not achieved until late 1943 and it took six more months for the allies to isolate northern France.
     
  17. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Freebird:

    Now remember, the time frame we're talking here is around September of '43. The list of divisions you provide needs to be explained a bit. Panzer divisions were indeed sent to France for reconstruction after being destroyed or badly mauled in Russia. Many of the divisions you named were either on their way back to Russia, or weren't battle-ready/operational yet. They didn't have a full compliment of tanks or other vital equiptment and their personnel weren't trained. The units in Italy were not immediately available since they were needed there and moving them to northern France would have been hard given Allied air interdiction. Germany couldn't afford to leave perfectly good panzer divisions idle at this point in the war.
     
  18. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Interesting discusssion. I’ve seen it hashed over many times before. Here are a few points I’ve gleaned from the others plus a few of the new items surface here. In no particular order...

    ** “1. The US had never made an opposed amphibious landing until 1943 “
    Or.. lack of experience at amphibious operations

    In 1942 the US had executed two, or three depending on how you count, combat amphibious ops. Guadalcanal in the South Pacific and two seperate corps size landings in Op Torch. In early 1943 there were a series of amphibious ops in the South Paciic following up the US and Australian victories in Guadacanal & New Guinea. Beyond that corps size training exercises had become routine for the US Army in 1942 and the problems of sustaining a army size amphibious op were had been tested as far back as 1940. It was not as if the US Army was wholly without experience. The converse of this is the Germans were not experts at reppeling amphibious attacks in 1942. They had a ‘learning curve’ as well and many of their aussumptions, their doctrines, and measures taken to defend the coasts were ‘inadaquate’. If the Allies are any less skilled in 1942 or 1943 the Germans certainly are as well.

    **“Dieppe”

    This was a abberation in the usually better British plannning. Since at least Roman times and probablly Sumerian times it has been understood one does not try to capture a fortified port by direct assualt. Sometimes a suprise raid by daring commando style force can do this, but the usual attempt ends in tears. Note that the portion of the Canadians who landed adjacent to the port, away from the main fortified zone had less trouble untill they withdrew. Had both brigades landed there the losses would have been significantly less. Beyond that the usual Brit skill at planning is not evident. Coordination with the RAF and Navy was piss poor, far worse than any operation previous or subsequent. With proper naval gunfire support the German counter attacks would have been far less and the withdrawl properly covered. The commonly sucessfull method for capturing a port is to land adjacent, encircle it, and assualt from the landward side. What the Brit leaders were thinking here I still cant fathom, assualting the fortifications directly from the sea????

    **“US ground troops in Britain:
    july 1942:39.386
    january 1943:19431
    july 1943:24.283”

    This had to do with the postphonment of large parts of Op Bolero. As of October 1942 there were two Inf Div and one Armored Div in the UK, one Inf Div in Iceland, and one Inf Div enroute. Five others were standing by in the US for embarkation overseas. If my estimate is correct a minimum of 12 others were ready & could have been sent in the next six months. Possiblly more had the South Pacific offensive of 1943 been rejected and MacAurthur not reinforced.

    Between the execution of Op Torch and MacAurthurs attacks in the Solomons & westward nine to twelve US divisions were diverted from Bolero. Along with that went the comparable airpower, cargo transport, antisubmarine escorts and everything else.

    **“US need years to build up its weapon inventory. More tanks, planes, heavy guns, battle ships, etc Our Navy took a big hit.”

    The US started mobilization in mid 1940 after the passing of the War Powers Acts by Congress. The call up of the reserve officers and induction of the National Guard into active Federal service, and conscription all followed in a few months. The US was organizing a wartime economy before December 1941. On the declaration of war against Germany some twenty infantry and armored divisions were equipped and fully trained. For the USN the construction program started in 1940 was providing combat ready ships enmass by mid 1943. The big Essex class carriers were arriving in the fleet, the new battleships like the Indiana, & Washington had been in combat in 1942. As of January the US had some 10,000 late model combat aircraft actually operating, and the British about 6,000, vs 5,000 German combat ready machines.

    **“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.”

    Yes & no. After the Pacific crisis was resolved in 1942 the US did underwrite MacAurthurs South Pacific offensive across the Solomons, New Guinea & westwards. Nimitz was also allowed to kick off his Central Pacific offensive in the second half of 1943. Those two offensives tied up a enourmous ammount of cargo shipping, plus the expansion of the US 5th & 15th Air Force and the addition of half dozen Army and Marine divisions to the Pacific. Whatever the agreement the equivalent of two corps and proportionate airpower and naval power went to the Pacific in 1943 out of the US inventory. Because of the long distances and operating conditions the actual drain on cargo ships and logistics was closer to the loss of three additional corps, or a Allied army. Had Mac & Nimitz been told to stuff it for 1943 a lot of Allied problems in logisitcs and combat strengh could have been solved.

    ** “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”

    From the ‘Symbol’ confrence (at Casablanca) in January 1943 the Brit argued for reopening the Mediterrainian sea route and defeating the Italians. Roosevelt after listening to several days of discussion went for the British short term strategy ammounting to Italy first.

    **“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.”

    Folks arguing against the Sledgehammer or Roundup plans seem to ignore how Operation Husky was both large, difficult, and sucessfull.

    **“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, “ As i noted above many of the delays in building strength in the UK were directly due to the Mediterranian campaign. Even cutting thing short there after Op Torch creates a lot more for use elsewhere.

    **“..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”

    **“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.”

    Well written. Thank you

    **“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:”

    Hstorical schedules are a starting point and not written in stone. Those had to do with decisions for strategy and less with what was actually available. Even the numbers for trained units are variable becuase the US Army schedule for drawing cadres from trained divisions (hence rendering them unready) for new divisions was matched to projected requirements. Neither does that list reflect much of anything about what the British had in the UK after the Torch convoys departed and what ther training programs produced.

    **"On the other hand, their would have been negligible opposition to a landing in the fall of 1943.”

    In raw numbers roughly a third less than in 1944. In real combat power perhaps half. All the field or mobile divisions in the west were recovering from combat in the east, some were cadres of veterans and untrained conscripts, other partially trained, some completely. All were fitted with training weapons, that is the tanks were older worn out models, or French tanks, the artillery was mostly the lighter calibers from the Austrian, French or Cezch armys. Only a few were of the same caliber that gave the Allies trouble in Africa or Italy. Certainly they would have been motivated and the veterans among them skilled enough but the broad mass were half trained and had second rate equipment.

    **“BAD SUMMER WEATHER.”

    That is a risk year round. The US Western Task Force landings for Torch (Pattons command) suffered severely from high winds, waves, and surf. Op Shingle (Anzio) was executed in January. The Op. Neptune assualt was executed with a thick overcast, threat of rain, and surface haze, plus fairly high winds and waves. Perfect optimal weather could never be expected and both US & Brit armys trained for amphibious ops in second rate weather.

    **“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 “

    Op Rankin was one of several operations covered under the umbrella names of Sledgehammer and Roundup. I’ve estimated at least six invasion plans under those two names, but have not found a definative list in one location. Usually the names are confused even by professional historians. In 1943 COSSAC possesed several current and older plans from pre COSSAC days in 1942. Those ran the scale from preliminary staff studies to full blown attack plans for sites ranging from the Netherlands to Biscay. The most complete plans focused on the Calais and Calvados coasts. One very complete plan from 1942 aimed at the same sector as designated Utah Beach in the Neptune plan in 1944.

    **“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)”

    In fact the majority of the Allied ground units in Neptune and Overlord were ‘green’. Of the five US Army divsions attacking on 6th June two were veteran and ultimately only three in the entire US Overlord contingent, out of over 40 were veteran. Of those three the 2d Armored Div had a couple days combat in Morroco and a few weeks in Sicilly. The Brits were slightly better, but the majority of their veterans were elsewhere on other battlefields. At the upper levels it was not much better. Bradley commanding the US 1st Army had less than two months time against the Germans in Africa and Sicilly.

    **“Anglo-American forces probably wouldn't have been able to reach the German border, or even the Meuse in '43, but we could have had a very large lodgement area complete with at least one major port. In fact, it would have probably been quite possible to take both Cherborg AND Antwerp (along with the Scheldt Estuary) As new divisions became ready they would have been shipped to France. Our side could have built up at least as fast, if not faster than Germany could and our divisions were better. I should also point out that then the British and Americans would have been able to fight the major battles on terrain that was much more advantagous to us than the coastal area of Normandy.”

    Excellent point. To say that the Allies could not reproduce Overlord in 1943 is to miss the point. Simply establishing a enclave on the French coast and expanding it as the material arrives places them in a far better postion than historically. Imagine the forces avaialble for Overlord in 1944, but already ashore in France in April when the weather starts to improve? That is a giant step towards creating the conditions for a breakout and advance to the Rhine months earlier in 1944.

    **“Some of the boring logistics details that try and explain why it was not possible to launch an invasion in 1943. Most people just count troops and units without actually considering the logistics of doing anything with them. “

    Much of this is valid for arguing against a Overlord size operation in 1943. A operation of that scope is not required. Just getting a single Allied army ashore is a adaquate start, and expanding that to a army group in a few months accomplsihes much. Being able to send material directly to French ports creates larger effciencies and obviates some of the problems in the UK.

    **“The landing craft program did not get started in earnest until 1943 due to the more urgent need for escorts for convoys,”

    Still Op Husky involved a eight division assualt in July 1943.

    **“The proposed landing in Southern France due to be done at the same time as Overlord was postponed due to a lack of craft.”

    Specifically because the Overlord/Neptune operations were expaded several times over. Originally Op. Anvil was to ben executed in April, but was delayed from that date for reasons urelated to neptune requrements. It was delayed again for the expansion of Neptune from three to four, and then to five beachheads.

    **“Let's remember who the chief planner of Overlord was: Montgomery. His legacy is one of never taking a risk and fighting battles designed to make him look like a winner even if it cost more men in the process. What makes us think that they way things were done was the only way, or even the best way, of doing something?”

    Post war Monty also said or wrote that waiting until 1944 was a mistake. I need to look up exactly were he wrote that.

    **“Grigg....
    In the event, there was a landing-craft crisis even in 1944, partly because there was a muddle about moving some from the Mediterranean-this was why D-Day had to be postponed from May to June-but above all because there were too few in Europe as a whole. It was not that the Allies suffered from any general shortage of these vessels, but that a disproportionate number of them were in the Pacific theatre.”

    As I pointed out before, by mid 1943 the US had the material and men for two extra amphibious corps in the Pacific, executing offensives that had been planned for 1944. After Husky the Allies executed in September: Operations Baytown (Messina, Eight Army) Avalanche (Salerno 2 corps), Buttress & Goblet (Calabria, two corps). In October: Brimstone (Sardinia, one Corps), Firebrand (Corsica, one corps). If I remember correctly MacAurthur executed two corps size amphibious ops in those same months and the USN had a corps in final preperation for a assualt in the Gilbert Islands, executed in early November. Thats a lot of amphibious ops, little wonder there was not enough to invade France.

    **“These are some of the major operations that were planned in 1942-1943

    Bolero - Operational name for the buildup of US forces in Britain, 1942 - 1944

    Sledgehammer - The plan for a summer 1942 invasion of France, advocated by Stimson, Marshall & the JCS

    Imperator - A desparation plan to invade France with 6 divisions and drive towards Pais, supposed to aid the Soviets.
    Supported by the US command and rejected by the British, all but 1 division would have been British/CW

    Roundup - Plan for a 1943 invasion, to be made by April 1943

    Torch - Nov 1942 invasion of Algeria & Morocco

    Husky - July 1943 invasion of Sicily”
    A start for a list. I’d not read much from Wiki on those, the errors jump out at me. I’d recommedn canvassing Hyperwar or Combined Arms Research Library for the background material.

    But add to the above list Op Rankin - A B & C, Anvil, Dragoon, to name a few.

    **“Are we forgeting Mulbury and Pluto? Are they ready for fall of 1943? Can a lodgement by adequately supply without them? Capturing a port is one thing, making it function for supply puposes are another. Can a allied landing be supplied for months over a beach from landing craft during a winter in the channel?”

    Here is a quick overview of the development of the Mulberry harbors.

    COMBINEDOPS MULBERRY HARBOURS

    The salient facts for this question are two. First the critical components had been designed in 1941-42 and the last tests made in January 1943. Second development ceased until late 1943, over ten months, when the construction of the components was ordered. That was accomplished in haste in five months. Most or the parts for two, not one, harbors were ready by early May 1944.

    A second excellent question there is the ability to restore sabatoged ports. The Germans learned something about this along the way. Their efforts in 1943 at Bizerte, Tunis, Palermo, Messina, Naples, ect.. were haphazard. In some specifics they got it right, in many others they did not yet understand what was usefull and what was a waste of effort. The Allies and especially the USN salavage organization already had some practical experince at restoring and expand port capacity in the Pacific, the UK, Africa, and the US. Clearing Pearl Harbor was a ready made test case. Many other smaller examples like clearing the Normandie wreck from New York harbor served well as hands on expereince. Generally in the Med the US & Brit naval salvage & port operations units had capture ports opened in a couple weeks and near full capacity in a month or two. The variables being the German sabatoge effort, and the Allied priority for the port.

    Returning to the Mulberrys. Much of what made those work had little to do with the floating docks and prefab breakwaters. Cross beach supply had been well developed by the Allied navys. Beach operations battalions, using the DUKWS for high speed lighterage, ect were all developed before or shortly after the Op Torch invasion. Cross beach logistics for Op Husky went on for weeks and a significant part of the entire campaign was supplied outside of the ports. On Guadalcanal the entire campaign was supplied across the beach for five months. At peak strength a corps of three divisions equivalent and a airbase were supplied this way on Guadacanal. another example is Utah beach in 1944. Without a Mulberry harbor Utah beach had a average intake of 5,770 tons per day for July 1944, enough for two corps of six divsions plus army support units and a small airbase.

    **“The US forces thought they were much better than the Germans in Tunisia as well in 1943 and look what happened in their first real encounter, this showed they needed more training of troops and command staff. Shipping divisions is not enough, you need the support to back them up and in 1943 there was a shortage of it.”

    Yeah, the Allies were thrown out of Tunisia, Sicilly, Italy, Sardinia....I see your point.

    **“Every other amphibious operation in history managed without them. This illustrates one of the great fallacies about Overlord, that it was somehow different from any other operation of war. No other landing "required" artificial harbors, and as it turned out, neither did Overlord; the American Mulberry was essentially wrecked in the Jun19?? storm and the British one badly damaged. Except in the immediate aftermath of the storm, there was no interruption in the landing of supplies; the supply crisis of fall 1944 concerned moving supplies to the front.”

    Actually they did make a difference. Utah beach averaged 5,770 tons per day from 1 to 25 July, Omaha beach, which still had functional breakwaters, and a intact Mulberry shore establishment averaged 10,150 tons per day. The breakwaters were actually very usefull making beaching easier for the landing craft and lightering operations. The Brit Mulberry with its salvaged docks averaged somewhere north of 13,000 tons daily in July. By contrast the partially salavaged port of Cherbourg totaled only 17,000 tons for the same days in July, or 680 ton avg daily. Thats vs its peacetime average of 8,000 tons per day. In September Cherbourgs actual intake was boosted to over 20,000 tons per day through adding railroad spurs, dredging more channels, beaching ramps for landing craft lighterage, warehouse construction, improving the rebuilt docks, additional cranes, ect...

    All told the US Army brought 446,852 tons ashore 1-25 July. Vs a planned take of 725,000 tons for the same days. The largest deficiency was Cherbourg which fell about 88% short of expectations. That was due to the German demolitions being far more effective/professional than what we had encountered anywhere in 1943. Despite the lack of floating docks (wrecked in the June storm) the Omaha beach intake was only 10% short of expectations.

    (These numbers are from ‘Logistics Support of the Amries’ by R Ruppenthal. This is one of the US Army Histoical series, specifically the Green Books.)

    **“The time to establish an Anglo-American strategy was the Arcadia conference in December 1941,”

    That would be ideal. I consider the last possible chance for the decision to be the Symbol conf in January 43. A lot less time for preperation, but still doable with less ambitious objectives for the year. Better and most realistic would be the Second Washington Conf in June 1942 with Roosevelt & Co wringing a absolute commitment to a 1943 invasion in excange for executing Operations Gymnast or Torch. That would allow nearly a year for preperation, and allow the option of a summer operation.

    **“The cross-Channel operation was possible only in summer,”

    One of the several 1942 Bitish plans was schduled for October and aimed at the area later designated Utah Beach. The advantage being the west coast of the Cotentin is sheltered from the Atlantic storms, unlike the Calvados coast, where the Mulberrys were situated.

    **“(the Germans would have had to ship reinforcements across France on lines that were vulnerable to interdiction.)"
    **"They weren't vulnerable in the summer of 1943, and they wouldn't be shipped across France, only to Aachen or Antwerp, and then overland to the front line.
    Interdiction requires daylight operations, and the Allies didn't have the long range escorts to do this in the summer of '43, the P-47's had only just arrived, there were only about a hundred available.
    Read up on the mission to Regensburg in Aug 1943 for an idea on how it might go. Schweinfurt Regensburg raid
    120 - 150 Allied aircraft shot down or written off, vs about 26 LW fighters lost.”

    One hardly knows where to begain here. The Germans had to transport their combat divsions those distances by rail. Cross country they could expect a daily breakdown rate in tanks of around 3% with a accumulative long term loss of over 30% by two weeks of continued movement. Thats based on the breakdown rates of 1940 -41 when they were at the top of their game logistically. In 1944 or 1943 with all the accumulating problems of declining factory quality, over strained supply depots, dwindling repair resources it was worse. I just dont know which set of statistics to use. For moving the entirety of a armored division one had a choice, expend a huge ammount of precious petrol, which may not have even been avaialble, or load up on the railroads for which there was at east sufficient coal. Shall we discuss vehical tires and the rubber shortages in German transportation?

    Second, the Allies were busy interdiccting the French and Belgian transportation in 1943. My father was the ordnance officer of one of the squadrons doing that & he left us adaquate documentation of that effort. Comparing the losses of the US 8th AF to the 9th AF in 1943 is a bit iggnorant. The latter suffered far less over France & frequently flew missions without any losses. For that matter the 8th AF missions over France were low loss affairs as well.

    *”Can you explain why this would be more easily done in 1943 with about 1/3 of the forces against a stronger German force with better air cover?”

    Stronger??? With better aircover???? The German ground forces in France in 1943 were approx a third less than in 1943, and as I pointed out earlier less well trained and less well equipped? In both years the total German air strength in France was barely 300 operational aircraft, and the total availalble in the west, including Germany actually more in 1944 - over 2,000 operatonal aircraft in Norway, Germany France & the low countries in 1944 vs some 1400 in 1943.

    ** “The Allies landed on Sicily in July, and Mussolini was removed from power that same month. Five days after the landings on the Italian mainland, the Italian surrender was announced.”

    It might be to the Allies advantage to keep Mussolini in power. By this time Italy was a drain on German resources.

    ** “.....
    With the Italian surrender, some one million troops are removed from the Axis side in Operation Achse, the Germans are then forced to commit some 40 - 45 divisions to Italy and the Balkans, these divisions are then not available to defend France against the Allies, or to be sent to the Eastern Front. In addition, all of the Italian air forces are dissolved, and the Luftwaffe is forced to make up the difference.”

    The Italian AF was insignificant in number by this time. Actual combat ready strength was perhaps 1200 aircraft, of mostly obsolete models. Very little of that could be logistically supported outside the Med, so if the Allies are only fighting a diversion there the Italian AF strength is nearly irrelevant.

    ** “.....

    Hitler is unable to remove large numbers of troops from France in 1943, as he doesn't know exactly how many Allied troops are in the UK, and whether ot not they could land in France in 1943 in addition to Husky & Avalanche. (He doesn't know that they couldn't do both).”

    Here is a unstudied point in this discussion. Even in 1942 Allied deception efforts had Hitler & his Marshalls leaping after shadows. The Soviet military had already got a grip on ‘masking operations’, the British Double Cross system was in full bloom, and the Brits had got the US on board in a fully coordinated master deception strategy. ie: The convoys loading in the Uk were represented to the Germans as a invasion of France, then as a reinforcement for Egypt. Both of which Hitler & Co reacted to in October 1942. When the Torch fleets passed into the Med. Hitler was considering them landing in Sardinia, Sicilly, France, or even heading on to Egypt. Algeria was considered a low possibility. All thos choices were due to bad information being fed to the Germans I’d recommed Thaddeus Holts ‘The Deceivers’ for a through account of West Allied deception ops.

    Point here is the Allies were very busy making fake demonstrations, planting documents, airing false radio messages, and entertaining Hitler with tales from his spies in London. Any 1943 invasion of France will have that same bodyguard of lies. “He doesn't know that they couldn't do both.” Accurately describes things. As in 1944 the Allies could represent their invasion of France as a secondary operation to something much more terrible, just as Op. Fortitude kept German eyes on Calais and Norway. Fake fleets can be conjured up aimed at southern France, Italy, the Balkans, or Norway.

    **"Let's take a look at the available German forces shall we - say in June-August 1943?
     
    “1st Panzer division is in France until June 1943, sent to Italy in July, then to Greece after the Italian surrender.
    1st Fallschirmjäger is in France
    9th SS Panzer division was formed in France in the Spring of 1943
    10th SS Panzer division was formed in France in the Spring of 1943
    14th Panzer is stationed in Brittany, France in the Summer/Autumn 1943
    14th SS mountain division trained in France in the Spring/Summer 1943, sent to Italy following Italian surrender
    21st Panzer division was reformed in France in June of 1943 from Schnelle Brigade West and Pz regt 100
    24th Panzer was reformed in France in Mar 1943, then sent to Italy in September following the Italian surrender
    25th Panzer is transferred from Norway to Denmark in Aug 1943, then to France in Sept 1943
    26th Panzer was formed in 1942, in Amiens France from Oct 1942, then withdrawn and sent to Italy after "Avalanche"
    29th Panzergrenadier is in France inFrance
    179th Panzer (re-named 116th Panzer in 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    155 Panzer (used to rebuild 9th Panzer in Mar 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    233 Panzer (used to rebuild 11th Panzer in Jun 1944) is on garrison duty in France
    36th & 37th SS Panzergrenadier regiments in France, they will be combined with other elements to form the 17th SS Panzergrenadier division in the Autumn of 1943
    SS brigade Nederland (2 x Panzergrenadier regiments) is in Holland “

    All of these were less than full effectivness, second rate training equipment fresh conscripts, incomplete training were among their various disadvantages. Fuel supplies were limited ammunition not at hand for a sustained campaign (unless it was for old French weapons). In any case the idea that eighty, or even fifty divisions are going to fall on to the Allied beachead does not reflect actual German operations in 1943. Hitlers interferance kept them scattered about shortchanging local commanders with occasional concentrations for defending stratiigc dead ends like Tunis, or attacking the main strength of the Red Army as at Kursk.

    One cant conjure up a rational German leadership with clear vision and decisive insight. Confused flailing about was the historical norm.

    ** “Dont forget that the Luftwaffe was still a viable force in 1943. THere would have been no massive interdiction of German forces and allied forces would have been subject to air attack.”

    German total operational air strength at the start of 1943 was 3600-3800, Soviet & Brit totaled over 8,000 then. I dont have numbers for the USAAF in Europe of Africa then. In June 1943 German front line air strength rose to a bit over 5000 & Allied to over 12000 Again I dont have numbers for USAAF in Europe/Africa. At the end of 1943 Total Allied operational strength approached 20,000 in Europe & the Med, including the USAAF. German strength remained level at some 5000 aircraft.

    The trick for the Germans is that their pilot training started declining in latter 1942 & became a problem in 1943. The burden fell on a shrinking number of veteran pilots while the rookies died in growing numbers. This was reflected in abysmal accident rates and and nearly as many pilots killed in accidents as combat in 1944. Shortages of instructors, fuel, and poor attention to the problem caused the quantity of training to fall off. By the end of 1943 German pilots had a little over half the flight hours a Brit or US pilot had when reporting to a combat unit.

    In 1943 the German fought the Allied air forces many times over Africa & the Med. They did win many tactical engagements, but in every operational or stratigic sense they were shot out of the sky. This led to such ridiculous events as twin engine Allied bombers shooting down transports while their fighter escorts were overwhelmed by Allied fighters. By October 1943 the GAF could do little more than token raids which despite any individual effect had no operation or stratigic import. All this was with a air force based in Italy/Balkans that was far stronger than that in the west. Between France, the Netherlands, & Norway Hardly 500 operational planes could be collected on a average day. The GAF strength in the Med averaged well over 500 and approached 1000 aircraft as the sumer came. That on top of Italys shrinking contribution.

    ** “Another factor is that the Germans still had not launched citadel and the transfer of significant tank forces could be conducted with out interference.”

    Hmmm The massive showdown with the Red Army in the east, or a handfull of Allied divisions huddled around a French port. Your call. My take is it would require about a month to move the full strength of a corps from the east front to France, assuming minimal railroad interdiction in France. In any case the west Allies understood the timing of Op Citadele as well as anyone & could adjust the final date for their little invasion to match the big event.

    ** “Don't forget aerial superiority over France and most of Germany was not achieved until late 1943 and it took six more months for the allies to isolate northern France.”

    Air superiority over France was achived in 1942. The Brits took the lessons of the Circus & Rodeo operations to heart. When my father bomber group went after targets in France in 1943 they took few losses. Their efforts against the German transportation in France were underway in 1943, and were interrupted in December by British concerns avout the V1. They saw the launch sites being built in hundreds and the US 9th AF had to quit dropping bridges & pounding railroad yards to bomb construction sites of the launchers. That went on to March 1944 when they were allowed to go back to hammering bridges & marshalling yards or locomotive repair shops. In simple terms they had to bomb the same targets twice as they had
     
  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    While the Germans were suffering in bombers numbers, the Luftwaffe still was a potent force in 1943 and I question how much interdiction would be carried out. Another major question is with out the Mulberrrys how would supplies be landed with out a port. Finally could the allies have been able to exploit a breakthrough the way they did in 1944?
     
  20. arthur45

    arthur45 Member

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    It is an incontrovertible fact that Britain (actually Churchill) did not want to invade Western Europe,
    at least not as soon as the Americans did. Torch was undertaken to appease Stalin's continual
    griping. But Germany was far stronger in the summer of 43 than a year later, while the US was far
    stronger in 44 than in 43, when all the American troops were raw recruits. American performance
    in Torch was not anything that would impress a veteran German army. Considering the almost total
    ineptitude exhibited in Neptune planning and execution, I would shudder to think how bad it could
    have been a year earlier, with no experience whatsoever to guide those in charge. And even if the
    implausible did happen, and a successful invasion were launched in 43, I deem it impossible
    to believe that we could have wrapped things up in 11 months after landing. Just consider the
    damage that the additional year had accomplished as a result of our air force bombing and destruction
    of the German air force. Or the attrition of the German army as a result of that year's worth of fighting
    on the Eastern front. I consider any claim that the war would have ended a year earlier to be shallow
    thinking and without any logical basis.
     

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