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Walcheren, the most decisive operation of the ETO?

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by JimboHarrigan2010, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. JimboHarrigan2010

    JimboHarrigan2010 Member

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    In September 1944, Antwerp fell intact to the Allies. Rather than concentrate on clearing the Schelde, the Allies launched Market-Garden which turned out to be a tragic blunder on Monty's part. In October, Monty finally autherised the clearing of the Schelde to open Antwerp. The Storming of Walcheren in November 1944 re-opened Antwerp just in time for the Battle of the Bulge. Without Antwerp being operational, the Allied supply situation would have severly handicapped, especially on fuel, ammunition and supplys. The re-opening of Antwerp solved these problems by removing 300 miles off the Allied supply lines. In my opinion, the storming of Walcheren would prove decisive in the Allied victory at the Bulge.
     
  2. Richie B

    Richie B Member

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    I think the opening up of Antwerp following the clearing of the Scheldt estuary including the capture of Walcheren was certainly a very important phase of the war in Europe.

    The Germans were aware of the strategic significance of the port as it shortened the existing Allied supply routes hence the German Ardennes offensive and the bombardment of the port by V1s and V2s.

    However the German offensive, was I think, never destined to succeed as it was far too ambitious based on the resources available to them especially fuel.

    Allied airpower, once the weather cleared, and increasingly stubborn resistance meant the German operation was doomed to fail with or without Allied possession of Antwerp.
     
  3. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Battle of the Bulge was partly aimed to attempt to recapture Antwerp. When Hitler realised he could not do so, he tried to destroy it with V1 s. As long as Rotterdam was in German hands, Antwerp was the best go for the allies. The battle of Walcheren secured the entrance of this harbour and the many islands and polders were natural defenses to secure a solid front in the back of allied supplies that could now drive further east. (thus leaving the north of Holland under German control while preventing them from coming back .
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I'd say the Mortain breakout and resulting Falaise pocket was the most important operation of the ETO. It resulted in the complete overrunning of France, Belgium and took the Allies to the borders of Germany. That placed them about 90 to 120 days ahead of scheduled advance and resulted in the need to open Antwerp. No breakout from Normandy, no rapid advance across France and Belgium, no need for Antwerp.
     
  5. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Instead of launching Market-Garden, it would have been far more effective if the Allied command had focused on clearing the Scheldt Estuary in early September. By clearing the Scheldt Estuary and so opening the approaches to the vital port of Antwerp, they not only would have solved the logistical problems, but also might have trapped and eliminate a substantial part of the German 15th Army. If anything, this would probably have shortened the war. IMO this was the lost opportunity of the campaign in late summer of 1944.
     
  6. JimboHarrigan2010

    JimboHarrigan2010 Member

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    pistol, you make a good point, in my assesment the fall of Walcheren shortened the war dramically. Who knows without the fall of walcheren,maybe the Soviets may have reached the rhine before the Allies?
     
  7. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    I think operation overlord was the most decisive operation of the E.T.O..This led to the battle of Normandy,which was also decisive.Once these Operations were a success,then the war in the E.T.O.was never in doubt imo,cheers.
     
  8. Jumpmastereast

    Jumpmastereast Member

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    I have to agree with 4th wilts, Operation Overload was the key successful operation for the E.T.O. If it wasn't for the start we would never had Operation Market Garden nor Battle of Bulge.
     
  9. RD3

    RD3 Member

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    I don't think Antwerp played a major role during the Battle of the Bulge. At that time, the Schelde wasn't fully cleared of mines and the first supply ship entered the harbour on november 28th. So in december Antwerpen was not yet fully operational. However this harbour did play a role and became more and more important.
     
  10. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Does anyone know when Cherbourg was cleared and in use.?cheers.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well according to: Battle of Cherbourg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I think I've seen a more detailed write up somewhere on the web.
    Looked a bit more and found:
    Battle of Cherbourg, 22-29 June 1944
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-E-Logistics1/USA-E-Logistics1-7.html
    contains a lot of related data - more than I want to parse through in a short period of time.
     
    4th wilts likes this.
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I disagree,because,you have to prove that MG was delaying the clearing of the Scheldt Estuary,and IMHO,you will not be able to do this .
    If in september Zeeland and Walcheren were liberated (what is questionable),the Allies still had to clear the Scheldt from mines,and Antwerp would be operational only in november,and,at that date,there was no possibility for entering Berlin before Christmas .
     
  13. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Unfortunatly i don't have churchill's,eisenhowers,alanbrooke or montgomerys memoirs to hand,but i think that S.H.A.E.F.and montgomery were under huge political pressure to reach the mainly V2 launch sites in Holland.England again,was under attack,and imo this should never be overlooked when discussing OMG,or the clearing of the schelt estuary,cheers.
     
  14. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Lwd,thanks for the heads up on the port of Cherbourg,but does anyone know when the expected amount of supplies did begin to flow through Cherbourg.?I understand that Cherbourg was one of the Priorities,after the initial overlord success.The link says that ships were unloading in mid July,but the port was not in proper use for months,that seems rather vague,cheers.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The Hyperwar site does have some more detailed info on what was expected of Cherbourg. The problem is comparing what was expected when with what was achieved. Note that the following page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Swivel_(ARS-36)
    states:
    Which indicates they were still working on the port after the war in Europe was over but presumably Cherbourg was no longer on the critical path by that point.
    These sources might provide an answer for you:
    Cherbourg port reconstruction - Google Books
    Post-Overlord operations, D+91 to ... - Google Books
    If those links don't work try this one:
    inauthor:"United States. Army. European Theater of Operations. Office of the Chief Engineer" - Google Search
    Here's an Amazon page although it might be available on an army page somewhere:
    Amazon.com: Cherbourg port reconstruction: Joseph A Crist: Books
    United States Army in World War 2 ... - Google Books
    Has some interesting info as well. It states for instance that duringe peace time Cherbourg could handle 900 tons a day but they expected it to handle almost 18,000 after reconstruction. It also notes that railroad construction was a key and limiting factor in reaching the higher numbers.
    HyperWar: Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. II
    also makes that point stateing:
    and goes on to say:
    It looks to me like your question was a lot more complex than it seamed.
     
  16. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    Antwerp was an important tactical advantage, but not the most effective overall strategic mission. That designation would go to operation pointblank, the aerial bombing of German factories and overall destruction of the luftwaffes fighter force between 1943-1944, ending prior to the d day landings. With complete air superiority, the ground forces of the allies, sorely lacking in quality and leadership (unlike the Germans), were compensated by continuous harassment of German armaments production and armor/ troop movements at deceive points in battle. Without the focus of operation pointblank, the European theatre would have ultimately been more deadly and prolonged.
     
  17. greglewis

    greglewis Member

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    Hi all
    Does anyone know good sources of documents/info regarding the activities of B Troop, 41 Commando on Walcheren?
    I am working with a veteran to retrace his steps.

    Also, does anyone know any Dutch historians of WW2?
    Thanks
    Greg
     
  18. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    I do not want the belittle the brilliant feat of arms at Walcheren and Zeeland, nor do I wantz to minimize it's importance for the last few onths of fighting in the ETO. But the actions at Walcheren and the subsequent reopening of the port of Antwerps had no influence whatsoever on the Battle of the Bulge. The Algonquin, the first ship to dock in Antwerps did so on november 28th. The allied supplies during the Bulge came from huge Depots around Liége, with huge stockpiles of POL ammunition and food. These stocks had been built up since september in order to support the planned thrust into Germany and over the Rhine.
     
  19. Richard.Z

    Richard.Z Member

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    U brought up the questions I couldn't understand: Why Allied troops NOT clean up Walcheren at the first time? Even worse they let 15th Army ran away from that place and fight back to the Allied during the operation market garden.
     
  20. arthur45

    arthur45 Member

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    Actually, Germany had plenty of fuel for the Ardennes offensive - it was an inability to get it to the forewardmost units that was the problem.
    Keitel had managed to accumulate 4.6 million gallons of gasoline for the operation, which was more than enough had things gone according to plan.
    But even if the fuel could have been delivered to Peiper's leading task force, that hardly would have enabled a decisive breakthru - for the main German
    armies blocked at St Vith and later the Elsenborn ridge and Bastogne, a lack of fuel wasn't their problem.
    Antwerp seemd to be the goal of the offensive, not because they thought it intrinsically importance for the Allies, but
    because it was at the seam between the Americans and British. Remember, Hitler wanted to divide the Allies and cause them to quarrel and
    split apart.
     

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