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No Dieppe, No Normandy?

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by Mussolini, May 17, 2018.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand, Dieppe was more a political operation rather than a strategic one. The Western Allies wanted to Prove to Russia they were willing to harass the Germans on the Western Front to lighten the Soviets load in the East. What confuses me, is that the Western Allies were holding down about 1 million Axis combatants in North Africa, and the Western Allies still feel they need to show the Russians they were serious about opening a second Front, when they already were engaged in one!!
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I don't know enough about Dieppe to comment, but I don't believe that the Soviets considered North Africa a "real" second front. To them only an invasion of France would be enough. They referred too it any number of times. I agree however with your comment that this was more a political operation than a military one.
     
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  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    The real question to come out of Dieppe is this, why did the Western Allies feel they had to answer to the Soviets in some way when they were already doing the best they could, not to mention supplying the Soviets with millions worth of War materials? The Western Allies IMO didn't owe the Soviets any sort of act like Dieppe to prove their willingness to open a second front, they could have provided more tanks, planes, weapons, and food, rather than wasting men's lives and machines to satisfy Stalin's wishes. The Western Allies I believe were trying to show Stalin, "this is the best we can do, and we'll go through with Dieppe to show our commitment" was it worth the destroyer, 33 landing craft, and 100 aircraft, or the 4,356 men who were killed, wounded, or captured? I Sure as heck don't think so, and I'm sure the families of those who died feel the same way...........
     
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  4. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Dieppe was on oddity, a defeat with a thousand fathers. It was (in no particular order):

    A raid to test the mettle of the Canadians chaffing away in idleness in Britain.
    A pinch operation to seize a 4-rotor Enigma.
    A sop to the Soviets who were in desperate straits and demanding something more than what they saw as desultory operations on the fringes of the Mediterranean.
    A military inevitability, i.e., a plan that would not die, resurrected in order to inflate the glory of Combined Ops and Mountbatten, which aside from publicity had accomplished pretty much squat all for the resources invested into it.
    A test of modern military amphibious techniques.
    A test of the German coastal defenses.

    With a bit of effort I could probably think of a few more.
     
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  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Despite the added reasons, which I'm glad you brought up Rich, I think most of us would still agree the operation was a waste of time, materials, and men's lives. Going back to the root of this thread, I still don't think Dieppe was essential to planning for Normandy, but I do think it helped steer the Western Allies away from more unique and risky landings and targets.
     
  6. green slime

    green slime Member

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    "The best they could?"

    Because honestly, when compared to the momentous effort on the Eastern front, "the best they could" looks very pathetic. And by 1942, they knew it, they knew it well.

    In August 1942, they were failing to keep Malta supplied, the Battle of the Atlantic was ongoing (June '42 was the worst month in the War), the fighting of the First Battle of El Alamein was done (100,000 Axis vs 150,000 Allied troops), and fending off independence riots in India, meanwhile 2,7 million Soviet soldiers were pedaling backwards to Stalingrad, and the Germans had captured Maykop. Soviet casualties in Case Blue alone vastly exceeded the size of the North African commitment in 1942. You have to be extremely cynical to say the Russians should be happy with what they're getting.
     
  7. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Also to draw the Luftwaffe into battle with the RAF which was considered to be in an advantageous position.
     
  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Please tell me if I'm wrong, but were the Western Allies in any position to make the "Second Front" in 1942, I don't think so. They were having a hard enough time making things work in Africa and the Mediterranean. The Soviets had good reason to be upset, but I think they failed to see just how much the fighting in the MTO and North African theaters, along with the German forces tied down across Europe waiting for the Invasion or fighting off Partisan activities, kept German reinforcements to the East smaller in number. The Soviets were lucky to have survived Barbarossa, and the reason why they faced such massive casualties was because of the lack of good leadership and communication between Stalin and his Generals. So much of the Soviet Unions struggles were self-inflicted, and the Western Allies gave Millions of dollars worth of Weapons and food that significantly helped the Struggling Soviet Army. Should Stalin and the Soviet union be happy with the situation? No. But they should've been grateful for whatever help they were receiving from the West, because without it, the war in the East could have been lost, or at the very least, millions of more Russians and Germans have would to die for nothing....
     
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  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Stalin's definition of "Second Front" solely as "invasion of France" was facetious, as if there was no second front at all until June 6, 1944, when Eisenhower flipped a switch and the Second Front popped into existence. In fact there was a second (or third, or fourth) front all along. Indeed, there was a "Second Front" before there was Stalin's "First Front"; the British were fighting the Axis and depleting their combat power while Stalin was still shipping them supplies.

    Overlord was the culmination of a western Allied war effort that had been steadily increasing since 1939. At the time of Barbarossa, the British were tying down 1/10 of Germany's panzer force and a larger proportion of the Luftwaffe - certainly not equal to what the Red Army was facing, but a substantial contribution nonetheless. The battle of Crete essentially eliminated Germany's airborne capability, and the Ju-52s lost there would have been valuable for sustaining offensive operations or the Stalingrad airlift. Thousands of 88mm and larger guns were devoted to air defense, most sitting idle on any given day or night, but still unavailable to the front-line armies.
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    This might help you visualize the problem from the Soviet perspective.
    Number of German divisions by front in World War II
    The Germans, for the most part, retained more German Divisions in Finland & Norway, then they did in North Africa & Italy. This would not change until late-1943, when the war in Italy started to heat up.

    Unfortunately, North Africa & Italy were a sideshow, but a sideshow that was in line with Churchill's aims WRT the Balkans & Poland. Invading France would not further those aims.
     
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  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    In terms of the Luftwaffe, the diversion was one-third of German combat aircraft strength as of 22 June 1941, 33% of German strength was in the West and Mediterranean and only 67% on the Eastern Front...and the German air commitment to the Eastern Front shrank steadily from then (% in the East combat strength/total strength):

    8 November 1941 - 63%/52%
    27 December 1941 - 53%/41%
    10 December 1942 - 50%/43%
    10 February 1943 - 52%/41%
    20 December 1943 - 42%/35%
    10 February 1944 - 40%/34%

    Furthermore, between 22 June 1941 and 1 January 1944, 42% of all aircrew and 52% of all aircraft lost to operational causes were in the West, including 66% of all single-engine fighter aircrew and 65% of all single-engine fighters lost.

    As Takao noted, the diversion of ground manpower was also significant. While France became an excellent training ground and much of the garrison strength 1941-1943 was comprised of limited-duty personnel and recruits, they were still occupation personnel better used to support operations in the East.
     
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  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Very interesting! I've always had a fondness for LSTs, although they seem to have gone out of style.... Do you have any comparable information about the Newport class of the 1970s? Seems to me that we went to a lot of trouble to increase speed from 17-18 to 20 knots; in two years in the Gator Navy I never saw or heard of one needing to go more than 16. As I recall the design actually reduced their flexibility for beaching operations, not to mention the extra complication of deploying the bow ramp and causeway sections.
     
  13. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    A lot of that has to do with the well deck on the Newport class. You could pre-load your tanks on "mike" boats or LCU's for delivery across the beach (did a float on the Newport's sister ship LST-1180 USS Manitowoc). I too, never saw them use the causeway sections, but that was probably due to the fact that it was never required. AAV's for the infantry and LCM/LCU's for the tanks and trucks. It seemed to get the job done. IIRC, they also had bow thrusters for helping to keep the ship stationary. Currently, the well deck is more useful than being able to beach and unload via a bow ramp. The LCAC can deliver large, heavy loads at high speed across many types of terrain.
    I've also seen many instances of WWII LST's that were not able to beach near enough to shore and troops built causeways for unloading using sand bags, sunken lighters, logs, and/or bulldozers pushing dirt/sand out to the boat. In that instance the Newport's causeway have would have been an asset.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    LST's are such cool looking ships aren't they?! I'm sorry I just had to say it....
     
  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, the design data is cribbed from Allied Landing Craft of World War II (originally published in 1944 with a subsequent supplement as ON1226-Allied Landing Craft and Ships), Naval Institute Press, reprint 1985 and from Friedman's U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft, Naval Institute Press, 2002, neither of which are still in my library. I didn't really look closely at the postwar designs for the LST and LCT. (BTW, I got both books through ILL when I was doing Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall...as much as I love Freidman's volumes I won't pay that kind of money for them).
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I refer you to my reply in#39

    A plan is just hot air and wasted paper without the technology, procedures and training to deliver. Imagine training a sports team to play a competitive high stakes match without playing a match, or playing poker for high stakes without playing for small ones first. It cost lives to learn lessons in war.

    The men who planned and executed Op Overlord acknowledged the debt they owed to Dieppe. There is a clear trail between the lessons of Dieppe and the procedures, technology and training for Op Overrlord. It stretches from the lessons learned reports through the ETOUSA planninmg conferences of May-June 1943 to the Combined Operations courses for Op Overlord planners.

    Who are you to claim that the casualties lost at Dieppe were wasted? Or that their loss was not as important as those who died in Normandy? You might think it might have been otherwise , but its a speculative counter factual. You have not introduced any evidence that goes anywhere near the root of this thread.
     
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  17. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Sheldrake, I must reassure you that I do not see the men's lives lost at Dieppe was a waste, they fulfilled their duty, and gave the ultimate sacrifice in an operation I'm sure many of them knew was incredibly risky. Just because a lesson is learned, does not provide an excuse for lives to be risked and ultimately lost, to learn a damn lesson. I am not saying that these men died for nothing, absolutely not. What I am saying is that there was no need for Dieppe at all, Dieppe was not D-Day, it was a test as Rich pointed out,
    "A raid to test the mettle of the Canadians chaffing away in idleness in Britain.
    A pinch operation to seize a 4-rotor Enigma.
    A sop to the Soviets who were in desperate straits and demanding something more than what they saw as desultory operations on the fringes of the Mediterranean.
    A military inevitability, i.e., a plan that would not die, resurrected in order to inflate the glory of Combined Ops and Mountbatten, which aside from publicity had accomplished pretty much squat all for the resources invested into it.
    A test of modern military amphibious techniques.
    A test of the German coastal defenses.-RichTO90"

    Those men fought for their respective nations, and they did so with courage and bravery, those brave and courageous men were used for a F*****G TEST!! If my Father, Brother, Uncle, Husband, Grandfather, or Friend died so the Allies could wright a report saying, "The Canadians fought better than expected.....We have shown the Soviets we give a damn.........We tested amphibious landings and it didn't go to well.........and the German coastal defense is much tougher than we thought." I would be furious as hell. This is another reason why it's important to look at history folks, so that when the military starts pulling crap like this we can take a stand and say, "Our soldiers lives aren't expendable, and they are better used and sacrificed in a useful and meaningful way." There are plenty of other incidents like this on both sides during the war, relatively unimportant or incredibly risky operations and missions take the lives of men that should have lived, or at least could have died in a more meaningful and important operation or mission.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    A good many of the mistakes at Dieppe were repeated in Operation Torch...Yet I cannot recall anyone going on about the lessons we learned from Torch. Perhaps this is because Torch was a "victory" and Dieppe was a "defeat.", and defeats need justification.
     
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  19. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Agree completely.

    Not very explicitly, unless you have some primary sources where those planners did so?

    Most of the lessons were of what not do to. For example, in Cross-Channel Attack (page 55), the praise of what lessons were learned is somewhat muted.

    "Although the cost was severe, the Dieppe raid provided some valuable experience both for the tactics of amphibious operations and specifically for the planning for OVERLORD. As concerned the latter, Dieppe seems in general to have impressed planners with the hardness of the enemy's fortified shell and the consequent need for concentrating the greatest possible weight in the initial assault in order to crack it."

    That of course reflects the "lessons learned" as expounded on by Hughes-Hallett and Hamilton Roberts at the Conference on Landing Assaults, which was held at the ETOUSA Assault Training Center, 24 May-23 June 1943. That was not a "planning conference", but its purpose was declared to be the "collection, the evaluation and the assembly of as much as possible of the different uncorrelated factual data on assault landings; from experiments,records of actual experiences, studies of landing operations and other sources."

    The Combined Operations course at Largs 30 July 1943-18 March 1944 may well have been valuable, but the existing reports of its contents only mentions the use of smoke in reference to Dieppe. Unfortunately, while planners did diligently attempt to use extensive smoke operation on D-Day they were almost uniformly ineffective.

    I perhaps shouldn't say it, but so far neither have you. The "clear trail" between "lessons learned" at Dieppe and implementations of solutions for NEPTUNE is still quite a bit murkier than your evidence so far indicates.

    Perhaps the most important lesson learned was don't throw the organization together at the last moment, especially with regards to the assault forces...oh, wait, they ignored that in TORCH, HUSKY, AVALANCHE, SHINGLE, and NEPTUNE...but got it right for DRAGOON. :D
     
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  20. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    All very true, but the use of AAVs, landing craft, LCACs, etc. would seem to be an argument against building LSTs at all - which seems to be the way the world's navies are going today.

    One useful feature of the Newport design was the full-length vehicle deck and stern ramp, but that could also be included in conventional LSTs like the British Sir Lancelot class (which they called LSLs, Landing Ship Logistic). The turntables fore and aft were another interesting idea.

    Apparently someone in the Pentagon thought that every ship in the amphibious force, from beaching craft to helicopter carriers, should have the same top speed, a nice round 20 knots, even though ships rarely cruise at full speed. This led to excessively complicated LSTs at one end of the spectrum and short, slow, mediocre LPHs at the other.

    One thing I like about LSTs is the efficient use of space compared to well-deck ships. For example, an M-60 tank is about 23' long and 11' wide. An LCM-8 is 73x21', six times the footprint of the tank. The well deck of the Austin-class LPD (showing my age again) was sized for four LCM-8s, 168x50' - eight times the size of the four tanks they could carry. Moving ahead, an LCAC has 13 times the footprint of an M-1 and 6 times that of four LAV-25s. Well decks are also three decks high, whereas vehicle decks only need to be two. The interior volume devoted to well decks is largely at the expense of useful cargo.

    Manitowoc - so you would have been in Little Creek? I spent time there all three summers of NROTC. I think I've mentioned my first class cruise was on the Lamoure County, which ended her career some years later by running aground off Chile. Second class year we got to play Marines, including a ride off an LST in an AAV - although it was long enough ago that they were still calling them LVTP-7s!
     

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