Differing views of Overlord

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Tim Smith
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tim Smith » 23 Aug 2011 01:55

The Americans had enough 'toys' to fight Japan and Germany simultaneously. For the US Navy and Marine Corps, the policy was 'Japan First'. For the US Army, the policy was 'Germany First'. Even with a 'Japan First' strategy for the US Army as well in 1942-44, it is unlikely the Americans could have been in a position to invade the Japanese Home Islands in mid-1944. Without an invasion of Japan itself, the ground fighting in the Pacific remains relatively small-scale. There is no need for the bulk of the US Army to go to the Pacific unless and until the decision is made to invade the Japanese Home Islands, which can't be done before 1945 anyway. Until then, the US Marine Corps is enough for the island-hopping campaign, and a relatively small US Army contingent to help the Australians and New Zealanders in New Guinea and retake the Philippines.

So I don't see Roosevelt abandoning the entire idea of invading Europe even if he didn't get British agreement to launch Overlord in 1944. America has invested too many dollars in the war in Europe to just abandon the entire theater.

As for Stalin, he might agree to a negotiated peace with Hitler in early 1944 based on a return to the pre-Barbarossa border - but would Hitler agree to that? I think Hitler wanted at least a border based on the Dneiper, meaning that Germany would keep some Soviet territory. Otherwise Hitler can't claim even a limited victory, which was politically important to him. If Hitler admits defeat on the Eastern Front, he might lose power in Germany as a result - and for Hitler, any outcome to the war is preferable to that. It would be difficult for Hitler to make peace with Stalin until the Germans are being pushed right back to their own border - and by that time, with total victory within his grasp, would Stalin still want a negotiated peace?

In summary, I think there would be a mismatch of expectations and timescales. In 1943-44, when Stalin wants peace, Hitler would still be too unreasonable in his demands for negotiations to succeed. In 1944-45, when Germany's position is so bad that Hitler finally becomes willing to compromise, Stalin has total victory in sight, and has more to gain from fighting on and so the offer of a negotiated peace is no longer on the table.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Delta Tank » 23 Aug 2011 02:12

Tim,

The problem with what ifs is all the what ifs! Which is why I stay out of the what if section.

1944 was an election year, don't know if that would of influenced FDR, but it might, he was a political animal. Never underestimate public opinion and as far as I know, the public was really mad at Japan.

The Philippines invasion required 15 US Army Divisions, not an insignificant amount. The divisions were: 11th Abn, 1st Cav, Americal Division, 6th, 24th, 25th 31st, 32d, 33d, 37th, 38th, 40th, 41st,43d,77th, and the 93d who were used primarily as service troops. You should check this, but I am close. The USMC at this time had 6 divisions. Now if we shipped more out to the Pacific, I don't know if we could of gone any faster than we did, logistics again. I read somewhere, but I can not remember where that one cargo ship in the Atlantic was the equivalent to three in the Pacific. Reason, distance and lack of ports to off load the ships and then to return.

Mike

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Tim Smith
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tim Smith » 23 Aug 2011 12:59

Logistics is indeed the problem in the Pacific. Making more resources available to the Pacific will speed things up, but only to a certain degree. Invading the Philippines 6 months earlier than historically? Sounds entirely feasible with a lot more resources. Invading the Philippines a whole year earlier than historically? Less plausible.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Kingfish » 23 Aug 2011 13:11

Tim Smith wrote: There is no need for the bulk of the US Army to go to the Pacific unless and until the decision is made to invade the Japanese Home Islands, which can't be done before 1945 anyway. Until then, the US Marine Corps is enough for the island-hopping campaign, and a relatively small US Army contingent to help the Australians and New Zealanders in New Guinea and retake the Philippines.
Unfortunately, there would be very little Island hopping and even less action in PNG, let alone the Philippines, without a sizable US effort. Bear in mind that the 6-month campaign in Guadacanal alone called for the use of 4 US divisions, one of which (1st Marine) required extensive rest/recuperation afterwards.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Delta Tank » 23 Aug 2011 13:23

Tim Smith wrote:Logistics is indeed the problem in the Pacific. Making more resources available to the Pacific will speed things up, but only to a certain degree. Invading the Philippines 6 months earlier than historically? Sounds entirely feasible with a lot more resources. Invading the Philippines a whole year earlier than historically? Less plausible.
Tim,

And another thought, once a ground unit is deployed to the Pacific or to the MTO/ETO it is very difficult to move them to another distant theater because of shipping. I think the big change would of been in the number of combat aircraft available earlier in the Pacific Theater, that would of been the big game changer in my opinion. But, once again, logistics and space (airfield space), but when you read about some of the bomber missions in the South West Pacific Theater, they were really small in comparison to the same time period to the much larger missions being flown in the ETO.

Mike

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by piggychops » 03 Sep 2011 16:29

Hi

The reason for Sicily and then Italy was to get the Italiens to caputaliate, this reduced the number of axis divisions, and exposed the adratic, sucking in further divisions, both sides of Adratic. Sicily came in the middle of Zitidelle and unnerved Adolph, it might have been better if he had let the Panzer force grind itself down more completely.

The pull out of Zitidelle signaled total strategic defeat in the East. And allowed the allies to relax about their soviet ally, unlikely to agree to terms short of unconditional surrender, unlikely to need further diversions of Ge to support.
Indeed Stalin agreeded to follow up the 2nd front whenever it occured with an attack to stop any switch of Ge forces to the West.

The reason they continued with Italy was they needed e.g. Froggia as air base (II) to bomb the refineries/Synthetics/and Benzol, i.e. especially the ones out of reach from E England (air base I), like the Poletsi refineries. Probably Froggia was enough. The logistics for strategic bombing from Froggia used up a lot of sea transport capacity.

The refined oil bombing had an immediate effect on Ge manouverability, the Soviet spring offensive before it had taken effect, had limited success, the summer offensive rolled back the Germans as fast as the ''41 Blitzkrieg. Supporting petrol on two active fronts, had a 2x rate of use and a 2x distribution premium. Normandy (and Anvil) altered both 2x to 3x, the East front consumed more than Italien front or Normandy, in rate and distrubution, especially when a rail hub like Smolensk was lost. Having to use substancially more petrol than you were producing dried up any strategic reserves. The allies mined the Danube on occassions to make logistics (including petrol) even more difficult.

The senior generals have to write something in their memoires to make an extra penny or two, sexing up dossiers is pretty normal, intelligence people and politicians do that too, who can you believe.

Normandy was put back a month, and increased in size, probably both good for their own reasons, & petrol was even more difficult in June.

Noel

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by HMan » 07 Jan 2018 01:47

Tim Smith wrote:Has no-one considered that maybe Churchill and Brooke were correct to argue for delay, and Roosevelt and Marshall were wrong?

Would not an Allied invasion of France have been much easier and less bloody if conducted in May 1945, against a Wehrmacht fatally weakened from another year of terrible attrition on the Eastern Front? In summer 1944 the Wehrmacht was still a formidable fighting force, but a year later nearly everything battleworthy would have been used up to stop the Soviet juggernaut from rolling into Germany, and the Wehrmacht would also be crippled from lack of fuel from strategic bombing of the oil industry.

The first day of the invasion, D-Day itself, might have been just as difficult, but the breakout and exploitation might be easier against a worn-down, weaker Wehrmacht. Instead of a hard slogging match through the Bocage in 1944, the Allies might have enjoyed a comparative walkover in 1945. The ground that it took the Allies six months to take in 1944 might have been taken in only two months in 1945, at far lesser cost, if the emaciated German forces in the West had been as weak and starved of fuel and manpower as the Italian armed forces had been in summer 1943, just before Italy surrendered. Market Garden (if needed at all) would have been successful, and it's very unlikely Germany would be in any condition to launch the Battle of the Bulge, with the Soviets nearing Berlin.

Basically, Stalin was right in his suspicions - Churchill wanted the Soviets to suffer nearly all the casualties involved in fighting Germany on her front porch, while the British casually strolled in the unlocked back door at the last moment and took the pick of the European loot for very little effort. From the British point of view, that's not a bad strategy. Especially since the Soviets were unlikely to remain friends after the war, so it's good to let them be worn down too.

Yes, the war in Europe would have been prolonged maybe an extra four months, maybe six months, but so what? As long as it's the Soviets and Germans that suffer the worst consequences of the extension, and not the British and Americans.

Stalin would be really pissed off at the British, but the presence of our loyal American allies and their huge, well-equipped army would deter him from getting feisty and trying to take all of Germany for himself. (The fact that the Soviets would have earned such a reward by defeating the German Army nearly single-handed is, of course, entirely beside the point.)
A 1945 D-Day would mean the Soviets would be much further W. than historically.

In addition, there is the possibility of a German A-bomb, if there were not forced to
expend resources on the W. front. I read somewhere, don't have reference that
Ike fought the Battle of Hürtgen Forest because he feared a German A-bomb unless
continuous pressure was put on the Germans.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by jesk » 08 Jan 2018 09:34

HMan wrote:
A 1945 D-Day would mean the Soviets would be much further W. than historically.
The Germans could have killed more Russians with more divisions. This is your opinion is unreasonable in any way.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Delta Tank » 15 Feb 2020 14:21

To all,

I am almost done reading Nigel Hamilton’s trilogy “FDR At War”. Hamilton states clearly that Winston Churchill did not want to do Operation Overlord, and the evidence that he presents is very convincing.

Mike

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Feb 2020 17:38

After reading several versions of the November 1943 Terhan Conference its clear to me Churchill was still seriously arguing for a delay of OVERLORD in favor of operations in Italy, & Balkans. Brooke I think had seen the writing on the was by this time, but seems to have been loyaly supporting the PM. It was easy for Churchill to write postwar, or during the war that he favored invasion of Western Europe all along, but the man has a clear reputation for saying anything to win a argument. He'd been at home here on these discussion boards.

Later in 1944 Churchills communications to Eisenhower arguing for the cancellation of the DRAGOON plan were clear & unequivocal.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Delta Tank » 15 Feb 2020 21:16

Carl,

I get the feeling that FM Brooke was being loyal and maybe exhausted from arguing the same point or points over and over again with PM Churchill. FM Brooke was a soldier, not a member of a political debating society.

Mike

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Feb 2020 01:47

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Feb 2020 17:38
After reading several versions of the November 1943 Terhan Conference its clear to me Churchill was still seriously arguing for a delay of OVERLORD in favor of operations in Italy, & Balkans. Brooke I think had seen the writing on the was by this time, but seems to have been loyaly supporting the PM. It was easy for Churchill to write postwar, or during the war that he favored invasion of Western Europe all along, but the man has a clear reputation for saying anything to win a argument. He'd been at home here on these discussion boards.

Later in 1944 Churchills communications to Eisenhower arguing for the cancellation of the DRAGOON plan were clear & unequivocal.
Churchill was a politician. He was also a man who had serious mood swings and enthusiasms for all manner of projects. This infuriated and frustrated Brooke. However, Churchill was also the leader of a coalition government which had agreed various policies and generally stuck to them. British foreign policy was not a matter of Churchill's whim. When Churchill escaped from his cabinet and the Chiefs of staff committee, he could be a menace - see Op Shingle, concocted while he was convalescing in North Africa.

It is a mistake to see governments or nations as if they were a single rational person.

Delta Tank,

Back in post#2-3 ish you posted quotes from a partisan secondary source with arguments of how the British were not committed to Op Overlord.

Here are some quotes from Brooke's diary.

14 April 1942.
....A momentous meeting at which we accepted their proposals for offensive action in 1942 perhaps and 1943 for certain. They have not begun to realize all the implications of this plan and the difficulties that lie ahead of us! The fear I have is that they should concentrate on this at the expense of ll else!....

Brooke's Post war comment
With the situation prevailing it was not possible to take Marshal's castles in the air too seriously..... We were desperately short of shipping and could stage no large scale operation without additional shipping. This shipping could only be obtained by opening the Mediterranean and saving a million tons of shipping through the elimination of the cape route.... We might certainly start preparing plans for the European offensive but such plans must not be allowed to interfere with the successive stages of operations essential to the success of the plan.

15 April
After lunch I had Marshall for nearly two hours in my office explaining to him our dispositions..... He is I think a good general for raising armies and providing the necessary links between the military and political worlds. But his strategic ability does not impress me.....He is a very dangerous man whilst being very charming...He has found that King, the American Admiral is proving a drain on his resources.... On the other hand MacArthur constitute another threat by asking for forces....To counter these moves Marshall has started the European offensive plan and is going all out on it. It is a clever move.....But, and this is a very large 'but', his plan does not go beyond just landing on the coast!

Post war comment.
...that afternoon was an eye opener! I discovered that he had not studied any of the strategic implications of a cross channel operation..... I asked him to imagine that his landing had been safely carried and asked hims what his plans would be then..... I found he had not begun to form any plan of action, and not even begun to visualize the problems that would face an army after landing.... A great man, a great gentleman and a great organizer, but definitely not a strategist...

Brooke was wrong. Marshall was a great strategist, in the political strategic sphere - that of Washington politics. By advocating a second front as soon as possible he trumped the big beasts King and MacArthur, while being able to blame the British for delays to its accomplishment. I don't believe that Marshall, exemplary staff officer of the AEF and student of the civil war was ignorant of Brooke's elementary strategy lessons. He juts didn't need or want to know about the problems.

This nonsense about British reluctance to end the war in the only way it could be ended is a continuation of WW2 era US political spin.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 16 Feb 2020 13:05

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Feb 2020 17:38
It was easy for Churchill to write postwar, or during the war that he favored invasion of Western Europe all along, but the man has a clear reputation for saying anything to win a argument. He'd been at home here on these discussion boards.
Alongside FDR! 8O

Regards

Tom

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by OpanaPointer » 16 Feb 2020 13:34

Come visit our sites:
hyperwarHyperwar
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Feb 2020 01:46

A useful item. Hated by a personage I used to discuss with.

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