Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Normany Invasion earlier than June 1944?

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

  1. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    The luftwaffe would have been available and the Germans would not have suffered so much in trying to move.
     
  2. m kenny

    m kenny Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2003
    Messages:
    1,645
    Likes Received:
    224
    Whilst I have not the time nor inclination to part 'believers' from their irrational hatred of all things Monty I will correct errors of fact.
    Montgomery was a general who knew when the game was up. That is if he found he was wasting lives he called a halt, consolidated/retreated and prepared for his next push.
    He did it on D-Day with the push to Caen and he halted Epsom (and gave ground) when dealing with the SS counter-attack on Rauray. To claim he needlessly wasted lives in order to bolster his reputation is complete nonesense.
    Indeed some of the transatlantic venom directed his way relates to his orders for US forces (under his command) to retreat and consolidate during the Bulge fighting.
    Giving up ground voluntarialy is seen by some to be a stain on a nations character. Monty was not one of those blinkered souls.
     
    urqh likes this.
  3. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    I wouldn't bother MK...same old same old...Goes with one or two other threads at moment.
     
  4. phil5775

    phil5775 recruit

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    The simple answer to this whole question is that if Roosevelt had decided at the onset of the war that Europe was to be invaded no later than mid-1943, the Allies would have found the way to do it. FDR would have told Churchill at the Arcadia conference that that's how it would be, and then he (FDR) would have directed Marshall and King, Stimson and Knox, to prepare for it. Production for any necessary materiel would have become priority. All Army manpower would be sent to England to prepare, with just enough send to MacArthur to bolster his armies, and most of the Pacific would be in the hands of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Allies could have rounded up over 60 divisions at this point (US/British/Canadian).
     
    Carronade likes this.
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    The allies had 99 divisions in 1944, 60 would not be enough for a break through and would there be enough troops to take Marseilles, which handled over half of allied supplies.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    My 2p.

    The rationale for the 100 division US Army.US Army's war strategy was to fight and win a battle against the Germans in Europe. Delays in deploying the US Army raised all sorts of questions about conduct of the war and the relative priorities of the Army and Navy. Marshall wanted a Second Front as soon as possible, and were far more willing to take risks than their British Allies. US Military thinking drew on the experience of the US Civil War, and for the US Army this included an expectation of a costly learning curve as experienced by the Army of the Potomac and the eventual success of the US military machine. .

    The British were horrified at the risks the Americans were willing to run. While the Americans could afford to lose half a dozen divisions in a failed second front, it would cost Britain its last Army. Furthermore, the invasion made no sense in 1942 when the US Army were pushing for an operation to do something - anything. An invasion in 1942 would have been a disaster. Had Dieppe been replaced with a three division invasion of Normandy it would have been as disastrous. The only place where it made sense to use the US Army in 1942 was in North Africa.

    Counter-factual history is an amusing but unprovable. The Allies would have faced lots of problems launching an invasion in 1943.

    1. The battle of the Atlantic had not been won until May 1943. This delayed the build up of US Forces into the UK and forced shipyards that might have build landing craft to be used to build escorts.

    2. The air war over Europe had not been won. In 1943 US air fleets limped home.

    3. The transfer of Op Torch forces to the UK is unlikely to be accomplished without the Germans noticing. This could have led to the Germans switching to the defensive in 1943 and the armour assembled for Citadel would have outnumbered the US and British armies.
     
  7. massarosa

    massarosa New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    1
    Very interesting discussion and I would say my personal opinion. An earlier invasion of France meant invade that country in the previously spring or summer, in fact only in that seasons there were the best weather condition to permit that difficult operation. But in 1943 there were two big problem; a political one and military one.
    • Political problems: in 1943 the United Kingdom had a very important role in the Great Alliance and it was absolutely not convinced to carry out a direct invasion of European Continent. Maybe it feared – probably with some reasons – that Germany was too strong and that the allied forces were not to be able to achieve the operation. Secondly, the UK had traditions in “peripheral strategy” (for example during the Napoleonic Wars it carried out a long war in Portugal and Spain fought against many Napoleonic troops); we could see this strategy in the Second World War in the Mediterranean Theatre. In the first phase of the war British forces was employed in Mediterranean to prevent the fall of the Suez Canal and, afterwards, the oil fields in Middle East. That was a right commitment . Nevertheless, in the second phase of the war, the British – first of all Churchill – concentrated themselves to continue to push in the Mediterranean Theatre. There were many reasons: natural importance of the Mediterranean See for the British Empire; the awareness that Italy was the weak spot of the Axis (“the Soft Underbelly of the Axis) and, finally, the will to prevent the expansion of the Soviet influence sphere in that area.
    To conclude, the great influence of the United Kingdom at that time stopped the American intentions about a direct invasion of the European Continent (and the Americans wanted to try an operation in France in 1943). The British was not convinced at all to carry out an invasion during the next year, but at that time their influence inside the Great Alliance was smaller than earlier.

    • Military problems: there was some military problems in 1943. To carry out “Overlord” in 1944 the Allied needed thousand of ships, boats and landing crafts; all things that in 1943 were not available in large number. We must remember that the Americans were fought an hard clash in the Pacific against the Japanese Empire; a Theatre of war where landing crafts and support ships were essential. At the same time I think that in 1943 there were too few Allied divisions to carry out the operation successfully. In 1943 the German army was stronger, with less casualties in men and matériel and the allied bombing campaign was not powerful yet. The next year the Allied – with more infantry and armored divisions, more organization, ships and landing crafts, and with the Red Army nearest the Reich borders – worked hard to break through the German front in Normandy after the landings and paid a bloody price. Finally the battle of the Atlantic was definitively won in 1943, but at that time it was hard for the Allied understand that. Anyway it was too late to prepare an invasion for the year 1943, when the threat of the U-Boote was so great.
    In conclusion I think that in 1943, and even more the previously years, it was impossible for the West Allied to carry out a direct invasion of Europe.

    I’m Italian and I’m so sorry for my bad English. :rolleyes:
     
  8. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    13,564
    Likes Received:
    2,175
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    While ultimately unprovable, there is little doubt in my mind that a 1943 invasion of Europe could not have occurred. There was great difficulty in 1944, and there would have been more problems in 1943. The US was certainly not ready, as Operation Torch showed. The British could not have sustained the kind of losses inflicted in 1944 alone. The Canadians were certainly in no better shape in 1943. I think the post by massarosa has several good points that need to be considered.
     
    urqh likes this.
  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    There is another factor that needs to be considered. An invasion of France in 1943 means that there can be no invasion of Italy which remains in the war.

    1. The allies would need to maintain a force in North Africa and Malta to prevent Rommel from re-appearing. The Mediterranean would remain closed to merchant shipping and the shipping tied up in the cape route could not be released to support the build up of US Forces in Europe.

    2. There would be no "second front " in Italy absorbing German forces, which would otherwise be available as a strategic reserve. The German forces in Italy in August 1943 included six infantry divisions, two parachute Divisions, three panzer grenadier divisions and five panzer divisions. It is true that the Italian campaign also absorbed allied formations, but these would not be of any use to the allies in the lodgement phase of Op Overlord. The size of allied force ashore depended on the rate at which forces caould be landed and not the total size of the allied army. The Italian campaign meant that Overlord started with 20 Allied and 20 German formations already engaged, and thus 20 fewer German formations to react to D Day. This had no ultimate impact on the development of the main centre of allied effort as a substantial part of the forces deployed in Italy are switched to NW Europe from D+ 80, including the entire army sized French Expeditionary Force army, the 7th US Army and eventually a Canadian Corps.
     
    freebird likes this.
  10. massarosa

    massarosa New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    1
    I absolutely agree with you about your second point, but we must consider that in 1943 the Allied had the semi-total control of the Mediterranean Sea. With the liberation of North Africa from the axis troops, the Allied could have kept a number of air squadrons and warships to control the sea so as to take away the garrison troops from North Africa. The crucial problem is that the last axis divisions surrendered on May 1943 and, even without the invasion of Sicily and Italy, there was no time and no units available to organize and carry out an invasion of France that summer (and it was impossible to carry it out in autumn or winter).

    About your second point you're right. Germany sent relatively few division in Italy to hold the italian peninsula against the allied advance, but some of these units were very good (for example the 1° Fallschirmjaegerdivision, the Herman Goering Panzer Division and others). In Normandy, in summer 1944, the Allied met hard resistence from the German divisions and they break through the German line only with "Operation Cobra" at the end of July. The previously ambitious attempts (Operations "Epson", "Charnwood" and "Goodwood") ended in bloody faliures (even though these operations consumed slowly the strenght of the German Units, whom couldn't replace the losses in men and matériel). Without the southern front Germany could have send more units in France and the Allied forces would met a stronger resistence. Ok, also the Allied, without the Italy front, would have had more divisions to employ in Normandy, but that area - with "bocage" and a relatively small bridgehead - was absolutely inadequate for a maneuver war. It was also difficoult to deploy a large number of large infantry or armoured units (while, after the break through in July-August, the largest open spaces of the central and western France allowed fast advances).

    The southern front was important for the success of the battle of Normandy and in 1943 the only possibilitiy for the Allied to open a "Second Front" was to attack Italy. Maybe here the Allied made some mistakes, but this is another matter...
     
    Sheldrake likes this.
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    The Mediterranena would have stayed closed as long as Sicily was in axis hands. U boats and aircraft in Sicily and Sardinia could interdict any merchant shipping transiting the med. Without the Med open to allied convoys shipping cannot be freed up to help with Bolaro the US Build up in the UK. This factor alone drove Op Husky.

    There were limits on the number of troops the alies could hhave withdrawn from North Africa. I don't think the allies could ever have taken a risk that warships and aircraft alone would have kept the Germans and Italians out of an entire continent. Troops would have been needed - even if only to maintaion order among the population. As the British discovered in the Deodecanese,. it was dangerous to under estimate the Germans.
     
  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,039
    Likes Received:
    1,043
    While there would be advantages to shipping in the capture of Sicily/Sardinia, the argument that Bolero needed this route cannot be defended. The US build up was coming from America and any ship captain who felt he needed to transit the Suez Canal to reach England from a US East coast port would, or at least should, be forced to walk the plank by his crew.
     
  13. massarosa

    massarosa New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yes, sure. An aliquot of garrison troops was absolutely needed, but not dozen of divisions with first-line-troops. The North African Theatre was different from Dodecaneso and Germans (also with italian help) needed many thousand of men and ships (also warships) to counter-invade this area. With an efficient air reconnaissance and a big naval presence it was possible to prevent any substantial Axis attempt to return in North-Africa.
    Anyhow the North-Africa campaign ended on may 1943 and it was impossible to trasfer the units in Great Britain to use them in an hypothetical landing in France. Of course the are many other reasons - explained in other posts inside this topic - that didn't allow any landing attempt in 1943.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,348
    Likes Received:
    384
    If something seems absurd, it may be worth taking a moment to make sure one has understood it correctly. The point on shipping is that opening the Med reduced the number of ships tied up going the long way around Africa to Persia (Lend-Lease route to Russia) and CBI. It's a valid point, but it's not definitive, just something that has to be balanced against the benefits of the alternative. Stalin for example might have been willing to accept a bit less LL (about 1/4 used the Persian route) if it meant a cross-Channel landing in 1943.

    Reopening the 'lifeline of Empire' to India was a priority for the British, but again we might consider the relative priority of operations in Burma and LL to Chiang's regime over the Hump vs. an earlier major engagement in the decisive theater in Europe.

    There wasn't a chance of the Axis re-entering North Africa, but many of the Allied troops in theater might remain there in preparation for a landing in southern France in late 1943 or early 1944, after the cross-channel landing. The Channel was only crossable in summer, but Mediterranean landings were conducted in September, November, and January. Historically Anvil was considered a necessary complement to Overlord, mainly to open up Marseilles and other ports which carried much of the Allied logistic burden. In our scenario, this would have to be preceded by "Husky" invasions of Sardinia and Corsica, which would tip the Allies' hand, but any preparations the Germans made to defend southern France would be at the expense of the ongoing battle in Normandy.
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,348
    Likes Received:
    384
    1. The battle of the Atlantic had not been won until May 1943. This delayed the build up of US Forces into the UK and forced shipyards that might have build landing craft to be used to build escorts.

    2. The air war over Europe had not been won. In 1943 US air fleets limped home.

    Neither of which prevented the Allies from conducting amphibious operations in 1943, or opening and sustaining major land campaigns.

    For some reason, people carry on as if there were a whole different set of rules for Overlord. Granted, failure would have been a signficant setback, but again that's equally true of Husky or Avalanche or any other major operation. The prospects for total failure were minimal; the worst likely case was a more prolonged battle on the beaches or bocage.

    It's been pointed out several times that the decision for a cross-Channel landing in 1943 would have to have been made early on, probably at the Anglo-Americans' first conference as real allies in December 1941. One likely aspect of that would be to defer the buildup of an American strategic bomber force in England in favor of ground troops and tactical aviation; there would be no air fleets limping home from Schweinfurt or Munster. Historically the Luftwaffe was defeated when it had to engage Allied/American fighters rather than unescorted B-17s. In 1943 this would happen over the beachhead, again as it did in every other landing.
     
  16. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    314
    What other amphibious operation faced aerial opposition of the quantity and quality that the Luftwaffe could have mounted against a 1943 cross-channel attack?

    Historically the Luftwaffe was defeated when it had to engage Allied/American fighters because it had to defend against the heavy bombers. Both the RAF and the AAF had attempted all manner of fighter sweeps to engage the Luftwaffe, but the Luftwaffe chose to play only when odds were in their favor. Otherwise, they just avoided combat and waited until the Allied fighters had to turn back. Only when forced to defend their cities, industries and transportation from the heavy bombers was the Luftwaffe forced to fight and thus defeated.

    Perhaps, the Luftwaffe can be defeated over the beaches, but up to the point that they are defeated they are inflicting casualties on the beachhead. And how long does said defeat take?

    Trafford Leigh-Mallory thought that the Luftwaffe could be defeated over the beaches, but he was soundly overruled by the other Allied planners. The Point Blank Directive of June 1943 put the destruction of the Luftwaffe - with a priority second to none - as a prerequisite for the cross-channel attack.
     
    brndirt1 likes this.
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    Up to a point - and only until you put some numbers against your statements. The Allied did conduct amphibious campaigns and landings - but only against the outlying regions of Festung Europa where the Germans were are a logistic disadvantage against the allies and could not deploy the overwhelming forces they could do in Summer 1943.

    Tunisia Italy and Sicily were theatres where a limited number of Allies could engage a limited number of Germans and bring superior material to bear. The allies simply did not have the numbers of troops in Europe in 1943 that they had in 1944 nor did they have the shipping to build up a force ashore as fast as they did in 1944.

    The south of Italy is long way from the heart of the Reich and communications relied on railways with limited capacity. The Channel coast is a short way from Germany and is well served with rail and road communications. The 10-20 divisions available to the allies in 1943 were enough to achieve a material superiority in Sicily and Italy but would have been lost and outnumbered in France in 1942 or 1943. This is a point which Alanbrooke refers to in his diary as struggling to get across to his American opposite numbers.

    The cross channel invasion WAS different from the Mediteranean and a different set of rules did apply. The Mediterranean coastline was far too long for the Germans to be strong anywhere. The French coastline was much shorter, and for all its faults, the Atlantic wall did ensure that almost every possible invasion beach would be covered by fire. Dieppe demonstrated that it would not be possible to sneak ashore in the dark. This had been achieved in commando raids in North Norway and St Nazaire and would be achieved in almost every landing in the Mediterranean from Sicily to Anzio. Op Overlord was in a class of its own in terms of difficulty. It was the only time the allies would have to fight their way ashore relying on firepower rather than surprise
    .
    Furthermore, Op Overlord was the main deal. It wasn't a side bet. Failure in any of the Mediterranean landings might have been embarrassing but not fatal, see the Dodecanese fiasco. Failure of the Second Front was one of the few plausible scenarios for Hitler's Germany to survive. The 2nd British Army that landed on D Day was the last British army and could not be replaced. Nor could the 1st Canadian Army. It is true that the US Army was prepared to lose 20 divisions, but their allies could not. A failed D Day combined with a vigorous V weapon offensive might have forced Britain to accept an armistice and led the US to switch focus to the Pacific war allowing a resurgent Germany to defeat an exhausted Red Army.

    The British could not afford to take risks. One of the most remarkable achievements of a war waged by a committee the results worked out so well despite the different goals and circumstances of the allies.

    PS Montgomery was NOT involved in the planning for D day until January 1944 when he and Eisenhower intervened to insist on more landing craft and awider landing frontage. He had no say what so ever about whether D Day would be in 1943 or 1944. He was the Allied land force commander for the lodgement phase of Op Overlord.

    PPS Lots of people write about "Failures" in Normandy, and to be fair, Montgomery's post event claims of infallibility makes his claims an easy tartget. . However, the D+90 end of the lodgement phase line was reached ahead of schedule under Montgomery's management of the land battle. There are very few operations which achieve their objectives faster than expected or with lower cost. Not achieving a task faster than you agreed to is a curious definition of "failure" and not one that any of us might apply to our own CVs!.
     
    freebird and 4th wilts like this.
  18. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    A key factor in the victory at Normandy was the allied ability to delay movement by German forces. With out the absolute air superiority we had in 44 the Germans would have been able to move troops faster and possibly launch a coordinated counter attack. The P51 was not modified yet which means the allies did not have the fighter needed to cover the bombers and force the fighte to fighter battle.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,348
    Likes Received:
    384
    the Atlantic wall did ensure that almost every possible invasion beach would be covered by fire

    Not in 1943. Except for the ports designated as fortresses, defenses were almost nonexistent. Rommel reported as much after his first inspection of the beaches in fall 1943, after that year's invasion season. For the first few years of occupation, German construction concentrated on things like submarine pens and heavy gun batteries, especially at the Dover Straits; the Channel Islands and Norway, Hitler's "Zone of Destiny", also received high priority. Within France there was an early emphasis on the Pas de Calais.

    Through 1943, a cross-Channel invasion was one of multiple threats the Germans had to consider, but a landing in 1944 was a virtual certainty. This was reflected in Fuhrer Directive 51 and the massive expansion of defensive preparations. One-third of all Atlantic Wall structures were built in the five months of 1944 before D-Day, ergo only about half of them existed in summer 1943, and as noted they were mainly around the festungen. More than 3/4 of mines and almost all of "Rommel's Asparagus" and beach obstacles were installed after Rommel took command in November 1943. The Atlantic Wall is more of an argument for going ahead in 1943.

    The 2nd British Army that landed on D Day was the last British army and could not be replaced. Nor could the 1st Canadian Army.

    2d Army didn't land on D-Day; four of its divisions did, including one Canadian. By the time there were whole armies ashore, the landing would be a success and the Allies would be ashore to stay. For the initial landing force there would be the same risk the Allies accepted at Salerno or Anzio.
     
  20. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    Monty could increase the number of troops from the original plan because they were now available. The original plan was made for 3 divisions because that is what could be used.
     

Share This Page