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The Invasion of Normandy, 1943

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by LouisXIV, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    This comes back to the sucessfull Allied deception efforts. The Axis are going to be scanning the Med & seeing a fleet waiting to pounce on Italys coast. As miserable & economicaly failing Italy was in mid 1943 it is probable Mussolini will lose power before the end of 1943.

    With France the priority the Tunisia bridgehead may not be eradicated as per Our Time Line. The Allies may as well run that campaign as a economy of Force operation and allow the Axis to think they are winning. Even let them reinforce the Tunisian front. In march 1943 there were what, six Axis armored divisions in Tunisia? Let them remain there until after France is invaded.

    Once the Allied lodgment in France is secure a amphibious fleet is not required there. In the autum of 1943 amphibious transport can return to the Med and run further operations there.
     
  2. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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  3. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    90% of Griggs book concerns the Allied debate over strategy for 1943. His own arguments for attacking France are largely confined to the last chapter. Ignore or dont read the section with Griggs opinions and focus on the analysis of the Allied discussions. it is a good companion to similar material in books like Pogue's bio of Marshall, Atkisons 'Day of Battle', Churchill's description in his history & memiors, ect...
     
  4. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Something i think not yet touched on

    The Battle of the Atlantic had still not been 'won' adequately until after May of 1943, for either transfer of the resources needed for a 1943 France invasion or resupply once the troops got ashore. The situation became bad again briefly in September. Could any transfer of forces from the Pacific have made a difference - probably - but not by enough months to make a summer 1943 invasion of France practical.
     
  5. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    That's one of the things you have to understand about "What If's"; you can't just interject reality and common sense no matter how infeasible the scenario.

    Logistics have absolutly no place in the "What If" sub forum. :D

    sarcasm
     
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  6. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Statistics of Italian Campaign

    hope this helps :)
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Operation Anvil was originally scheduled for April 1944. Thanks, Carl, didn't know that.

    Dragoon was a corps-scale operations, three divisions, commandos etc. by sea and a divisional-sized airborne task force; and a few months earlier there had been sufficient amphibious shipping on hand for eight divisions to land in Sicily. As for follow-on forces, the Allies deployed around twenty divisions in Italy, many of which could be withdrawn if they stood on the defensive there; the five French divisions to start with. There were three French armored divisions in North Africa. Eight British and American divisions were shifted from the Med to England for Overlord; not only could they be retained in theater, the ships concerned could be used to bring a couple more divisions from the US to either Britain or southern France.

    The ongoing Battle of the Atlantic did not prevent the Allies from supporting twenty divisions and their supporting air forces in combat in Italy or conducting a massive bombing campaign. Troops in Britain were fed and supported, as were forty million civilians. Granted there would be an increase in consumption if more troops were in action, but how much of an increment of the total shipping requirement would that really be?
     
  8. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Thanks. Google searches are one thing, but referals from someone knowledgeable can save a immense ammount of time.
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Good point. Costello & Huges 'The Battle of the Atlantic' detail quarterly statistics on Allied cargo ships production, cargo ships lost, submarines built/and lost. From those it is clear the Allies were winning the battle in late 1942. The trick is the leaders did not have our advantage of hind sight and carefully vetted statistics. Reading through the documents written by the British leaders in early 1943 its clear there were extremely concerned in January & February of 1943. What they did not realize at the moment was the number of German submarines lost each month had had more than doubled in the last six months, the overall Allied cargo ship losses had dropped globally, by a huge portion. John Ellis in 'Brute Force' identifies between 10% & 11% of the cargo embarked for the UK in 1942 as sunk by all types of German weapons; submarines, aircraft, mines. In 1943 the cargo sunk dropped to slightly over 5%. The decline in cargo to the UK lost dropped dramatically in early 1943.

    True there were some spectacular convoy battles in the mid Atlantic, but in retrospect its clear this was due to the concentration of wolf packs in the mid Atlantic Air Gap. Elsewhere the cargo ships lost dropped by a wide margin. In March the wolf packs could not be sustained there & were withdrawn. In May 1943 a effort to concentrate the wolf packs in the central Atlantic against the US to Mediterrainian convoys resulted in severe submarine losses and was abandoned.

    The build up in the Med. for completion of the Tunisian campaign, & then the Italian campaign probablly had more to do with the lack of combat power in the UK for a 1943 invasion of France. This was not just on the ground but in the air as well. In mid 1943 the offensive bomber force in the Med rivaled that in the UK. ie: After Corsica was secured in October a large complex of airbases were developed there, by January of 1944 six wings of US & French medium bombers were operating out of Corsica alone.

    From July to October 1943 the Allies had the ships to put a army group ashore on Sicilly, a army of two corps ashore at Salerno, simultaneously transport the Eighth Army to souther Italy, and execute Brimstone in October with a corps & its large scale base building effort. Meanwhile MacAurthur had the amphibious shipping available to conduct multiple corps size amphibious ops. in the South Pacifc, the Alteutians campaign was conducted, and the USN kicked off its Central Pacific campaign at Tarawa Atoll in early November.
     
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  10. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Those are very good points - HUSKY was larger in that sense than NORMANDY (though don't neglect the airborne divisions - they were landed in larger numbers on NEPTUNE's D-Day than on HUSKY's).

    The bigger problem, from a planning standpoint, was having enough craft to follow-up the invasion with sufficient supplies and men to win the "battle of the buildup." OVERLORD's premise was they could win if Rommel didn't hit them with 13 divisions during the first three days of the invasion (ref: Betts interview, Eisenhower Library). But that presumed they could make a rapid build-up, capture Cherbourg, then funnel reinforcements, replacements and supplies through Normandy and Brittany in quantities to push back the 55 divisions the Wehrmacht fielded in the West (plus reinforcements from the East). That was a tall order.

    Also, air supremacy was a condition of victory (in addition to the Transportation Plan's success).

    Finally, recall that nearly all veteran troops (including the 1st Infantry Division, which attacked Omaha) were in Tunisia until May 8. That would require D-Day to be pushed back until July, most likely, which didn't leave for a very long campaign before autumn rains began.

    Cheers,
    Jon
     
  11. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Great synopsis!

    After the war, Bradley admitted the British were right to veto an invasion of France in 1942. Roosevelt wanted something done in 1942, as the US public was madder at Japan (which bombed US soil) than Germany (which hadn't). Germany was the bigger threat, but not recognized as such by much of the public after Pearl Harbor.

    With a need to do something in 1942, the question became "What?" Of the potential areas, the easiest was probably Vichy France's North African colonies, which would reduce the Luftwaffe's range and threaten Italy more. There was an even chance that with diplomacy and covert deals, they could win North Africa without spilling much blood, as all it required, post-Alamein, was to race to Tunis and Bizerte, capture the ports there, and wait for Rommel to surrender. At that time, it was not a crazy thing to hope for.
     
  12. SMAJ Boehm

    SMAJ Boehm Member

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    Minor note: the US 4th Inf Div landed on Utah beach on D-day, not D+1; the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 359th Inf Regt, 90th Div and the 327th GIR, 101 Abn Div also crossed Utah on D-day.

    The 90th US Infantry Division "Tough Ombres"

    The 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) during WW II
     
  13. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    All that sums up the argument for the 'Torch' - 'Roundup' sequence of offensives. The last possible decision point for executing this sequence would be the Symbol Confrence at Casablanca in January 1943. Had Churchill/Roosevelt directed the French vs the Italian objective then a invasion of western Europe could have still been executed in 1943.

    With this strategy decided on the Allies can halt the build up in Tunisia & even reverse part of it. Eisenhowers responsibility can be reduced to a holding action designed to keep the German/Italian armored divisions there . The Allied deception efforts in the Med. can be aimed at objectives like letting the German think they are winning in Tunisia. That the Allies will attempt to invade Sardinia, or Greece, or Sicilly, ect... For Western Europe the deception operations can be aimed at Norway, or Bourdeaux, & even Spain.


    Precisely. Husky established one army group of a dozen divisions or equivalent & aimed for no more than that. Neptune aimed at having two army groups of approx 30 divisions ashore in a little over six weeks. Four robust armys by August, with a fifth army (the 9th US Army) by September. that required a amphibious transport fleet more than double that used in Husky. What this means is any 1943 operation will have less ambitious near term objectives that Overlord the following year. having a army group of 20 divisions ashore by autum is realistic & places the Allies in a good position for a winter offensive when the ground is frozen & weather drier in January/Febuary. By the end of April the Allies can be in a similar position they were in August 1944 with 30+ divisions ashore& in position attack into the interior of France, but four month earlier that historically.

    That assumes Hitler does not do anything stupid. It is not impossible he would commit his ground forces in France to something as bad as the Mortain attack or the Stalingrad cauldron.

    Air supremacy was won in the Med despite several notional Axis advantages. If I recall correctly 40% of the German Air Forces losses in 1943 occured in the Med. A Allied beachhead in France give the GAF a choice. hang back far out of range, in Germany, Norway, South France, Italy as it did historically. or rebase its reserves forward to make a fight of it. Twice the Germans tried this in the Med. First over Tunisia with Italian help & then over Sicilly & south Italy. In both cases the Axis air forces were shot out of the sky & twice driven back from their forward bases. In those cases the Allies had the burden of building up their own airbase infrastructure. Unlike the UK where there was a robust complex of airbases & fully operational ports suitable for operations over the french coastal provinces.

    Were the decision made there would be a minimum of five months to get any units required from Africa back to the UK. Depending on circumstances it took six to eight weeks to move a division size unit from NW Africa to the UK and return it to combat ready status. Tho some may have done this in as little as four to five weeks. By January 1943 only the 1st Armored of the US Arm had more than a few days combat experince vs the Germans. From november to January the two US corps in Africa had just a few days of fighting the French. it was not until Febuary that the other US units begain accumulating serious experience vs Axis ground forces.

    Starting from January 1943 the Allies can draw from the 8th Army & to a lesser extent the 1st Army for combat experienced units. If they want them badly enough a half dozen Brit & one or two veteran US divisions could be in the UK in time for a May invasion & certainly for a July attack. In any case any green US or Brit units sent to France will be veteran in a few short weeks.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Finally, recall that nearly all veteran troops (including the 1st Infantry Division, which attacked Omaha) were in Tunisia until May 8.

    If you assume that those particular units have to be used. Even in 1944, most of the Normandy invasion forces inevitably were going into action for the first time - five of nine divisions (plus British 3 Div had not been in action since 1940) and nearly all engineers and supporting units - and followon forces were almost entirely "green". A 1943 invasion strategy basically would be to let the forces in Tunisia hold the Germans' attention and to launch the invasion with troops massed in England and trained for the task. US 29th Division for example was one of the first deployed overseas and conducted many of the exercises which developed and tested amphibious techniques.

    Like most aspects of this question, this coin has two sides. The decision to add a second division for Omaha and to make it the veteran Big Red One was driven by an appreciation of the formidable German defenses, which were largely constructed in the intervening year. Holding off until 1944 in many cases allowed the Germans to create the problems the extra time allowed us to solve......

    SMAJ Boehm, thanks for the catch on 4th Div. I was thinking of 2d which landed on Omaha on D+1.
     

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