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D Day in 1943.

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Croft, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. Croft

    Croft Member

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    I know this is a well known question but I wonder if an Allied invasion of Normandy in 1943 could have succeeded.

    The Allies put 150,000 men ashore on Sicily in July 1943 with massive air support. If the same forces had assaulted France instead more German divisions would have fought than were on Sicily but the Allies would still have been hard to stop.

    Anyone have an opinion on the chances of Allied success and the strength of German forces in France in May or June 1943?

    I expect an Allied build up in southern England would have been detected by the Germans and maybe they would have never attacked at Kursk in order to have more divisions in France.
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    You have to define success first. Is it solid lodgement, is it a breakout in 1943, is it a march to the German frontier?

    The issue was that the veteran assault troops were in theater (the Mediterranean) along with the shipping and airpower. To be redeployed in England this would take time and no small amount of logistic juggling to accomplish. Even if they make the July 1943 date, they have a full month less of good campaign weather to land and secure their position, let alone build up and try to break out.

    I think they probably could make the landing and secure a lodgement, but I suspect it would in the end look like a larger version of Anzio or Salonika from the Great War which would have to wait for events in 1944 (another landing either in southern or northern France) to be exploited fully. The debate then would be how great a failure to judge it.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    The USN built ~9,800 self-propelled vessels during the war. There were >4,000 self-propelled vessels used in the Normandy invasion. It took time to build all those hulls. Eighteen months after Pearl Harbor, we didn't have that many landing craft.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    We have discussed it a couple of times here. The general consensus seems to be that it was probably better to wait. Check the "What if" forums.
     
  5. Croft

    Croft Member

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    Thank you for the replies people.

    I've thought about the landing craft and I think that if there were enough for the Sicilian landings then there should have been enough for Normandy landings. Also the Allies organised the Operation Torch fleets sailing out of the US and UK. They could have organised landings in Normandy originating out of the Med and lesser out of the UK and US. If they could build up half a million troops in Sicily then they could put the same number into Normandy and turn it into a fortified zone. The Allies wouldn't have 10,000 planes in support like in 44 but 4,000 would still be many more than the Luftwaffe.

    I don't know if they would have liberated France and Belgium like in 1944 but the German Army in France in 44 was much more powerful than what they had there in 43. It had 2000 Panzers. In 43 it was probably a few hundred. So Hitler would have had to make massive transfers from Russia to contain the Allies in Normandy, much of the Kursk forces, and it would have sped up the Soviet 1943 advance considerably. Allied fighter planes flying out of Normandy could also have escorted B-17 bombers deeper into Germany much earlier.

    Altogether I think a Normandy rather than Italian campaign would have been a far worse problem for Germany as the power needed to bottle up Normandy, the Panzer forces needed, would have left German forces in the east desperately weak.
     
  6. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    Mid-1944 allowed for upgraded P-47s, P-51s, more numbers of medium tanks and tank destroyers to attack the enemy relentlessly, and more time for the bomber offensive. The Mediterranean strategy was practical because Hitler sent troops from the Eastern front which aided the Russians, as well as troops from other parts of Europe. It also knocked Italy out of the war, making Germany have to replace the Italian garrisons all over the Balkans and and Italy with German troops, and gave the Allies a toehold in Southern Europe.
     
  7. Croft

    Croft Member

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    The fact that the Germans had to replace Italian garrisons in the Balkans is a very good point that I had forgotten. And yes many German divisions that would have gone to Russia in the summer of 43, maybe as many as 15, went to Italy instead. However it's the number of German tanks that had to go to the Balkans and Italy compared to the number that would have had to go to Normandy that makes me think that Normandy would have been worse for the Germans. To keep the Allies contained in Normandy would have taken at least a thousand tanks, and continuous replacement of heavy tank losses. And the Allies had no shortage of medium tanks in 43, the Americans had built 25,000 in 1942.

    I remember reading about a German intelligence report from during the war that estimated Allied tank production for 1943 at 68,000, while German production was 12,000. The Allied figure sounds high but the point was the Germans survived because they only really had to build up large armored forces on one front and replace heavy armored losses on one front.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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  9. Croft

    Croft Member

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  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    This has been done to death in several threads.

    Here http://www.ww2f.com/topic/44051-normany-invasion-earlier-than-june-1944/?hl=%2Bdday+%2B1943#entry492534

    and here http://www.ww2f.com/topic/2750-d-day-1943/?hl=%2Bdday+%2B1943#entry34626

    and here http://www.ww2f.com/topic/47854-allied-strategy/?hl=%2Bcross+%2Bchannel+%2Battack+%2B1943#entry617448

    The short answer is possibly yes, but, a D day in 1943 also offered the Germans a far better chance of defeating a cross channel invasion than the historic operation in 1944, possibly the best chance for the Germans to win the war.

    A cross channel invasion was impractical before the battle of the Atlantic had been won. There were nowhere near enough troops in the UK in 1943 to fight a campaign on the scale of Normandy. If you assume that no one was diverted to the Mediterranean there is the added problem of a completely green US army getting its baptism of fire on the beaches.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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  12. Croft

    Croft Member

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    Sheldrake.

    Thank you for the links. Very interesting.
     
  13. Croft

    Croft Member

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    Does anyone know German mobile strength on the northern Eastern Front in mid 1943? I don't mean the Finnish front. I have seen documentation for AGS and for 2nd, 9th and 2nd Panzer Army of AGC. But 4th Army and 3rd Panzer Amy of AGC and 16th and 18th Armies of AGN seem to be unavailable.
    By mobile strength I mean Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions.I know most were concentrated for the battle of Kursk so maybe there were none left in those northern armies but does anyone have any information?
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    Croft, have you read Cross-channel Attack?
     
  15. Croft

    Croft Member

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    No I haven't. I just looked it up and it says it was a huge US historical study. Sounds very interesting.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    I digitized it for the Center of Military History back in the '90s. The sources cited are the place to look for hard numbers.
     
  17. Croft

    Croft Member

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    Right, thank you. I might check it out some time.
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's free online.
     
  19. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    The bomber offensive into early 1944/Spring was major in crushing certain French infrastructure that would have assisted the Germans with transport, logistics, etc. Also, "Big Week" where the more upgraded Allied fighters sought out and destroyed German fighters was a big contributor. I guess one could say that they could have done all of this after they gained a toehold in France, just "holding the line," and that Germany wasn't at its full potential in France in 1943 as it was in 1944, but I still think more time to build in England and gain battle experience and equipment/tactics experience in the Mediterranean were key in battle planning.
     
  20. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    We may have built a good amount of medium tanks in 1942/early 1943, but I'm sure many were the M3 Lee, and the standard 75mm Sherman. The experience in the Mediterranean theater made the US realize they need bigger guns on their tanks and Tank Destroyers, and better armor on the tanks. Also, there were many more M10 and M18 tank destroyers with better guns available in the Spring of 1944, and the US started to upgrade medium tanks to 76mm, as well as the British doing the same, and they would be in the theater in the summer of 1944. That couldn't have happened in 1943. Also, the fighter planes were much improved by the Spring/Summer of 1944 rather than early 1943 and that Spring.
     

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