OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

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OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Juan G. C. » 03 Apr 2021 08:43

It is known that operation ANVIL was cancelled (or postponed) in early 1944 because of the lack of enough landing craft for both ANVIL and a five-beaches OVERLORD, as well as the need for the troops earmarked for ANVIL in Italy due to the situation there. But it is less known that in February 1944 Eisenhower proposed a compromise that would have allowed, in his view, to launch both a five-beaches OVERLORD and ANVIL with the available landing craft. According to United States Army in World War II.: Cross-channel attack (pages 170-172):
As the result of conferences at Norfolk House (SHEAF headquarters) during the week of 13 February, a compromise shipping plan was worked out. SHAEF first proposed to reduce the current planning allocation by one LSI(H), 48 LST's, and 51 LCI(L)'s with a resulting loss of lift for 21,560 men and 2,520 vehicles. This loss would then be made up by overloading transports (APA's), carrying vehicles in the APA's, using AKA's (cargo ships) in the initial lift, and finding (presumably from new production) an additional 27 LCT's. This plan was subsequently revised to exchange the 6 AKA's with the Mediterranean theater for 20 LST's and 21 LCI (L)'s, on the grounds that the large cargo vessels could more easily be used in the calmer southern waters. The exchange would still leave an estimated two-division lift for ANVIL although it was doubtful whether Gen. Sir Henry Maitland Wilson (Commander-in- Chief Mediterranean) would accept the loss of tactical flexibility which use of the AKA's involved.41 The SHAEF compromise still left a shortage of about fifteen LST's. General Eisenhower requested allocation of at least seven more LST's from U.S. production. The remainder of the deficit would have to be made up by increased loading of LST's on the third tide (morning of D plus 1) and increased serviceability.

The serviceability rate of landing craft-or, in other words, the percentage of craft on hand which at any given date would be operationally available-was always a planning figure to conjure with. So narrow were the planning margins that a difference of 5 percent in the estimates of serviceability might mean the difference between adequate and inadequate lift for the assault. The serviceability rate was contingent chiefly on repair facilities and the stock of spare parts-both of which were critically limited in the United Kingdom.42 COSSAC in Outline OVERLORD had planned on an average serviceability rate of 85 percent for all craft and 90 percent for ships.43 These figures were substantially approved at the Quebec Conference. On advice of U.S. naval planners, however, the rate for U.S. craft was raised in January to 9 percent for LST's and 90 percent for LCT's. The British insisted on retention of the lower COSSAC figures. SHAEF accepted both estimates and distinguished in planning between U.S. and British craft, allowing the serviceability rate set by each country.44

The SHAEF shipping compromise was severely criticized by planners of 21 Army Group, mainly on the grounds that SHAEF considered the problem of providing lift only from a logistical and not from a tactical point of view. For example, they pointed out that SHAEF had not shown separately the Commando-Ranger lift for special assault missions against fortified positions. This separation was important, the army group planners argued, because there could be no question of loading to full capacity the LSI's carrying Commandos, and of course the excess capacity could not be used for lift of other assault troops. The SHAEF proposals, by pushing the loading of shipping toward the full theoretical capacity of the vessels, sacrificed flexibility, particularly in that they prevented the preloading in craft of adequate reserves. Army group thought it extremely important that reserve units for the assault waves be tactically loaded in craft so that their employment would not be affected by losses or time delays of the LCA (ship-to-shore) craft used in the initial assault. By increasing the personnel lift on the first tide of the assault without any corresponding vehicle increase, the SHAEF proposal either would land men who could not proceed with their task until their vehicles arrived, thus causing congestion on the beaches, or would compel half-loaded personnel ships to wait offshore, thus exposing both ships and men to unjustifiable risks.45

The validity of these objections was fully conceded by General Eisenhower, but he considered the sacrifices and risks worth accepting in order to permit the simultaneous diversionary attack on southern France. Although at first strongly opposed, General Montgomery at last agreed and the proposals were submitted to the British Chiefs of Staff.46 The Chiefs of Staff disapproved the compromise on the grounds, first, that it skimped both ANVIL and OVERLORD and, second, that the slow progress of the Italian campaign made the possibility of providing the necessary build-up forces for ANVIL "So remote as to be negligible."47 Employment, as planned, of ten divisions in southern France, General Brooke pointed out, would leave only twenty divisions to fight the critical battle of Italy and to meet "other commitments which might arise in the Mediterranean."48
There are more details about this compromise in here (pages 333-336): https://books.google.es/books?id=Tu5mAA ... &q&f=false

According to these sources, it was ultimately the situation in Italy what doomed an ANVIL simultaneous with OVERLORD. But what if the Wallies had reached their goals in Italy by February and OVERLORD and ANVIL had been launched simultaneously and with the allocation of landing craft of the February compromise? How would this allocation have affected both operations?

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Juan G. C.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by maltesefalcon » 03 Apr 2021 15:25

Do you think that the later date of Anvil (Now Dragoon) worked for or against the Allied plans?

i.e. would both Northern and Southern France have been liberated any faster, had the Allied forces been divided during the critical weeks of June and July 1944?

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Juan G. C. » 03 Apr 2021 15:38

maltesefalcon wrote:
03 Apr 2021 15:25
Do you think that the later date of Anvil (Now Dragoon) worked for or against the Allied plans?

i.e. would both Northern and Southern France have been liberated any faster, had the Allied forces been divided during the critical weeks of June and July 1944?
I confess I do not know.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Sheldrake » 03 Apr 2021 16:42

The problem with what-ifs concerning the cross channel Assault is that it is hard to see how the operational or strategic results could have been improved in the allies favour. Op Overlord, the lodgment phase of the Allies operations in NW Europe achieved its territorial goal's ahead of schedule and a defeated enemy abandoning France and Belgium. What would an even more successful Op Overlord have looked like?

About the only strategic change might have been if the Germans were so stunned that they surrendered in 1944. That is a very different discussion about German resistance removing Hitler. I am skeptical that fiddling with the timing of Op Anvil would have had any effect.

There were somethings that were not going to change. The rate of the Allied build up would depend on shipping space. The break out from Normandy or Province would not happen until the German defenders had been burned up in attritional battle.

There is a real possibility that a simultaneous Overlord and Anvil and no Op Diadem would result in a worse outcome.

Early capture of major ports and undamaged French railway infrastructure would speed up the deployment of troops direct to Europe. In the event the port of Marseille fell into allied hands relatively undamaged, as did the railway system. But by August 1944 the defenders had been thinned out from Southern France. Maybe if there had been a tougher battle in Province the Germans would have had the time to destroy the port facilities ion Marseille and Toulon. Had there been a tough attritional battle it is likely that the allied air forces would have targeted the rail system.

I can understand why Brooke opposed a simultaneous Overlord and Anvil/Dragoon. The allies did not have a massive advantage over the Germans in numbers. Brooke saw Italy as a useful diversion - as demonstrated by the attrition imposed by the battle for Anzio and how the successful break through in May 1944 brought German reserves from France to Italy on the eve of D Day. Until May 1944 the Allied conduct of the Italian campaign had been slowed by trying to do too much with too little. At no point had the allies concentrated their power in one place with enough reserves to overpower the German defenders - true of 5th Army at Cassino and 8th Army on the Adriatic and especially at Anzio.

Dividing up the allied forces between the south of France and Italy risked dispersing the concentration of forces the allies needed to achieve local superiority. The operations in Italy had been bedeviled by the lack of concentration There was a real risk that Op Anvil looked like Op Shingle...

Had the allies captured Rome by Jan 1944 it is possible that this might have resulted in the release of more German troops to defend France. Maybe the Germans abandoned Italy all together. If it became obvious that the Italian operations were being closed down, who would the Germans keep good formations there ( 2-3 x Panzer divisions 4 x Panzer Grenadier and 2 x parachute. 2 x Panzer Korps HQ. That is the basis of a Panzer arm.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by maltesefalcon » 03 Apr 2021 18:21

A good analysis above. Both Overlord and Anvil/Dragoon achieved their primary objectives. That is to say the liberation occurred somewhat ahead of schedule, despite early setbacks in bocage country.

But one area could perhaps have improved? On both campaigns, enough German troops managed to retreat back into the Reich to stabilize the front, as the Allies began to outrun their supply system.

IMHO this was somewhat due to tactical errors, inexperience and the desire for the Western armies to do the job; while keeping both their own casualties and civilian collateral casualties to a minimum.

Not sure that doing both campaigns at the same time would have fared any better in this regard.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Sheldrake » 03 Apr 2021 19:03

maltesefalcon wrote:
03 Apr 2021 18:21
A good analysis above. Both Overlord and Anvil/Dragoon achieved their primary objectives. That is to say the liberation occurred somewhat ahead of schedule, despite early setbacks in bocage country.

But one area could perhaps have improved? On both campaigns, enough German troops managed to retreat back into the Reich to stabilize the front, as the Allies began to outrun their supply system.

IMHO this was somewhat due to tactical errors, inexperience and the desire for the Western armies to do the job; while keeping both their own casualties and civilian collateral casualties to a minimum.

Not sure that doing both campaigns at the same time would have fared any better in this regard.
I can recommend Rueckzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944 (Foreign Military Studies) Paperback – June 27, 2017 by Ludwicg trans Zabecki. Ludwig's argues that the Allies lost sight of the Clauswitzian objective of destroying the enemy army in favour of geographical objectives - whether narrow front argued by Montgomery or the broad front pursued by Eisenhower. In his opinion the Germans could not have created a defensive front on the West Wall without the successful withdrawal of the Fifteenth Army along the coast and Army Group G from the south of France. Montgomery's objective should have been to pin Antwerp and North while Patton should have been aiming for the Swiss Border not the moselle route to the Rhine.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Apr 2021 20:58

Sheldrake wrote:
03 Apr 2021 19:03
...

I can recommend Rueckzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944 (Foreign Military Studies) Paperback – June 27, 2017 by Ludwicg trans Zabecki. Ludwig's argues that the Allies lost sight of the Clauswitzian objective of destroying the enemy army in favour of geographical objectives - whether narrow front argued by Montgomery or the broad front pursued by Eisenhower. In his opinion the Germans could not have created a defensive front on the West Wall without the successful withdrawal of the Fifteenth Army along the coast and Army Group G from the south of France. Montgomery's objective should have been to pin Antwerp and North while Patton should have been aiming for the Swiss Border not the moselle route to the Rhine.
On the game board the Antwerp goal is practical. But I can never get the second objective, connecting 12 Army Group to the Swiss border to work. Obviously the board games are flawed :wink:

In testing early dates for ANVIL operations I've found anytime from April or earlier it presents the defender with a difficult choice. How much of Rundsteads reserves to send south to stuff the invasion there. Too much and you weaken the response to any norther invasion, too little & Devers literally has a bayonet in your...

In understanding the defenders situation here you have to make a sincere effort to strip hindsight away from Rundsteadt & Co PoV that spring. Two of many impriotant points are: They had no clear idea where the Allies might invade in the North. They thought multiple points. & they grossly overestimated the strength of the Allied ground forces. On the game board this created a lot of tension trying to decide where the defenders reserve should go or sit.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Apr 2021 00:14

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Apr 2021 20:58
Sheldrake wrote:
03 Apr 2021 19:03
...

I can recommend Rueckzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944 (Foreign Military Studies) Paperback – June 27, 2017 by Ludwicg trans Zabecki. Ludwig's argues that the Allies lost sight of the Clauswitzian objective of destroying the enemy army in favour of geographical objectives - whether narrow front argued by Montgomery or the broad front pursued by Eisenhower. In his opinion the Germans could not have created a defensive front on the West Wall without the successful withdrawal of the Fifteenth Army along the coast and Army Group G from the south of France. Montgomery's objective should have been to pin Antwerp and North while Patton should have been aiming for the Swiss Border not the moselle route to the Rhine.
On the game board the Antwerp goal is practical. But I can never get the second objective, connecting 12 Army Group to the Swiss border to work. Obviously the board games are flawed :wink:

In testing early dates for ANVIL operations I've found anytime from April or earlier it presents the defender with a difficult choice. How much of Rundsteads reserves to send south to stuff the invasion there. Too much and you weaken the response to any norther invasion, too little & Devers literally has a bayonet in your...

In understanding the defenders situation here you have to make a sincere effort to strip hindsight away from Rundsteadt & Co PoV that spring. Two of many impriotant points are: They had no clear idea where the Allies might invade in the North. They thought multiple points. & they grossly overestimated the strength of the Allied ground forces. On the game board this created a lot of tension trying to decide where the defenders reserve should go or sit.
Interesting. Have you ever tried it in a "1944" where SHINGLE did not occur and the Allied forces in Italy essentially remain "threatening" to the Winter Line, but don't go over to the offensive? Essentially, forcing the Germans to remain on the defensive south of Rome, thus lengthening their supply lines and forcing them to defend the Italian coastline?

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Apr 2021 03:46

daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Apr 2021 00:14
... Interesting. Have you ever tried it in a "1944" where SHINGLE did not occur and the Allied forces in Italy essentially remain "threatening" to the Winter Line, but don't go over to the offensive? Essentially, forcing the Germans to remain on the defensive south of Rome, thus lengthening their supply lines and forcing them to defend the Italian coastline?
Not that specifically. I originally pursued the early ANVIL Op question when someone on a discussion board asked about substituting a January ANVIL for the SHINGLE Op. The short answer is the withdrawal of the amphib fleet that crippled SHINGLE would do the same to ANVIL. So the question become what does shorting OVERLORD for amphib lift for a early ANVIL do overall.

I don't think Alexanders Army Group could revert completely to the defense. Its still necessary to make attacks in Italy as diversion & attempt to pin Kesselrings reserves. With hindsight its easy to think that bloody & unproductive. But, in December 1943 the Fifth & Eighth Armies thought they could still break the GUSTAV line that winter. Kesselrings extended supply to south of Rome is a liability only if the Allied air forces can attack that, and adequately support the enclave in S France simultaneously.

When I ran through the tests of the early ANVIL reinforcements from Italy to France were variable. I did not set up a Italian campaign map, but simply drew varying numbers of divisions from the Kesselring pool each game iteration.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Juan G. C. » 04 Apr 2021 07:44

An important question here is how would the proposed allocation of landing craft and the measures to obviate the shortage (overloading the APAs, carrying vehicles in the APAs, the use of AKAs in the initial lift in ANVIL, relying in increased serviceability, etc.) have affected OVERLORD and ANVIL? As the sources I quoted above say, the compromise was criticized by planners of 21 Army Group and the British Chiefs of Staff. They said that "both OVERLORD and ANVIL are skimped".

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Apr 2021 18:53

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Apr 2021 03:46
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Apr 2021 00:14
... Interesting. Have you ever tried it in a "1944" where SHINGLE did not occur and the Allied forces in Italy essentially remain "threatening" to the Winter Line, but don't go over to the offensive? Essentially, forcing the Germans to remain on the defensive south of Rome, thus lengthening their supply lines and forcing them to defend the Italian coastline?
Not that specifically. I originally pursued the early ANVIL Op question when someone on a discussion board asked about substituting a January ANVIL for the SHINGLE Op. The short answer is the withdrawal of the amphib fleet that crippled SHINGLE would do the same to ANVIL. So the question become what does shorting OVERLORD for amphib lift for a early ANVIL do overall.

I don't think Alexanders Army Group could revert completely to the defense. Its still necessary to make attacks in Italy as diversion & attempt to pin Kesselrings reserves. With hindsight its easy to think that bloody & unproductive. But, in December 1943 the Fifth & Eighth Armies thought they could still break the GUSTAV line that winter. Kesselrings extended supply to south of Rome is a liability only if the Allied air forces can attack that, and adequately support the enclave in S France simultaneously.

When I ran through the tests of the early ANVIL reinforcements from Italy to France were variable. I did not set up a Italian campaign map, but simply drew varying numbers of divisions from the Kesselring pool each game iteration.
An interesting conops for the Allies after HUSKY would have been to exploit the Italian surrender where practical, but overall, remain on the strategic defensive in the theater in anticipation of the 1944 campaign season. So a reinforced BAYTOWN, rather than BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE; SLAPSTICK but not the Dodecanese; Sardinia and Corsica as "follow them out" types of operations, etc. Presumably that gets the Allies to the Winter Line more or less on schedule, which gains the Naples and Bari port complexes and the Foggia air field area, and then call a halt.

Kesselring digs in south of Rome and waits...

All hands spend the winter in (relative) comfort.

In the spring, something akin to BRASSARD is launched, which presumably keeps the Germans' attention ...

Then, OVERLORD-NEPTUNE in June and DRAGOON in August, on (historical) schedule. Fifth Army follows French 1st and US 7th to Provence and the 6th Army Group, which is helpful for the winter (1944-45).

That still leaves the 8th Army with (at least) three British corps after GOLDFLAKE and the Polish II Corps, with the British 1st and 6th armoured, SA 6th Armoured; British 1st, 4th, 46th, 56th, and 78th divisions, the 4th, 8th, and 10th Indian divisions, and the Polish 3rd and 5th divisions, plus from 1-3 Italian division equivalents, which should be enough to keep the Germans occupied, and ready to follow up on any German withdrawal northwards...

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Apr 2021 20:18

Juan G. C. wrote:
04 Apr 2021 07:44
An important question here is how would the proposed allocation of landing craft and the measures to obviate the shortage (overloading the APAs, carrying vehicles in the APAs, the use of AKAs in the initial lift in ANVIL, relying in increased serviceability, etc.) have affected OVERLORD and ANVIL? As the sources I quoted above say, the compromise was criticized by planners of 21 Army Group and the British Chiefs of Staff. They said that "both OVERLORD and ANVIL are skimped".
Ive never dug into this and taken a detailed look at the actual numbers, locations, and readiness of the apmphib fleet. I keep seeing these sweeping statements from CIGS Brooke down to the present, but its not very practical to sort out what could actually be done from statements like "There were not enough." Looking at what was actually done &when gives some clues, but thats not quite enough.

In my board game tests of ANVIL type ops in January - April I skimmped some in the south and a lot on the north. A April/May Combination for ANVIL/NEPTUNE reduced the latter by 40% in initial lift. That placed it close to the older COSSAC plan. Spreading them out 2-3 months & executing NEPTUNE in June allowed it to be 70-80 % of the OTL lift. For a January - June spread I allowed 80% or better for Op NEPTUNE. One point here. I came to consider the full use of the Marseilles port group to be the start of the clock for transfer of the Amphib fleet from the ANVIL to the NEPTUNE op. So, if Marseilles, Toulon, & the Riviera ports are discharging at full peace time capacity 28 Feb you have 14 weeks to redeploy & prepare the remaining amphibs for a 1 June NEPTUNE op, if its March 30th its eight weeks. But like I wrote, a close exam of the numbers, locations, and serviceability is needed to get to a really useful guess.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Apr 2021 20:33

daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Apr 2021 18:53
An interesting conops for the Allies after HUSKY would have been to exploit the Italian surrender where practical, but overall, remain on the strategic defensive in the theater in anticipation of the 1944 campaign season. So a reinforced BAYTOWN, rather than BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE; SLAPSTICK but not the Dodecanese; Sardinia and Corsica as "follow them out" types of operations, etc. Presumably that gets the Allies to the Winter Line more or less on schedule, which gains the Naples and Bari port complexes and the Foggia air field area, and then call a halt.
If one is to execute Op ANVIL robust airfields on Sardinia/Corsica are essential. I'd put priority on them & ops against the Italian mainland second. This also puts the shorter ranged B25 & B26 bombers & the P47s in range of the industrial north Italy. So, sooner rather than later for Sardinia. Third it complicates Kesselrings and Rundsteadts calculations since robust air bases there creates the threat of landing ops against a very long littoral. We may see those as impractical, but that pair, and Hitler did not have our perspective, and were deeply influenced by the deception Ops.

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Richard Anderson » 04 Apr 2021 21:16

Juan G. C. wrote:
04 Apr 2021 07:44
An important question here is how would the proposed allocation of landing craft and the measures to obviate the shortage (overloading the APAs, carrying vehicles in the APAs, the use of AKAs in the initial lift in ANVIL, relying in increased serviceability, etc.) have affected OVERLORD and ANVIL? As the sources I quoted above say, the compromise was criticized by planners of 21 Army Group and the British Chiefs of Staff. They said that "both OVERLORD and ANVIL are skimped".
The most interesting aspect of all this is that the NEPTUNE landing ships and craft serviceability estimates were actually much lower than what was experienced. In fact, overall serviceability was around 98%, rather than the 80%-90% ranges COSSAC and later planning used. In the end, many of the assault convoys, especially on the British beaches, were able to take advantage of additional LCT loading, without having to overload the LCT. They may be found with LTIN where an "a" is appended.

So if the planners in February were perfectly prescient - I know, its a "what if", so of course they were - and had known what the actual serviceability rates and production and deployments of new ships and craft would be, then of course NEPTUNE and ANVIL probably could have been executed simultaneously.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: OVERLORD and ANVIL with the February 1944 compromise on landing craft allocation

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Apr 2021 21:48

So far I have yet to see an answer to the question I posed in post #4
The problem with what-ifs concerning the cross channel Assault is that it is hard to see how the operational or strategic results could have been improved in the allies favour. Op Overlord, the lodgment phase of the Allies operations in NW Europe achieved its territorial goal's ahead of schedule and a defeated enemy abandoning France and Belgium. What would an even more successful Op Overlord have looked like?
Any answers?

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