The Normandy "Masterplan"

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The_Enigma
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The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by The_Enigma » 12 Mar 2012 16:52

Hi all,

I am currently interested in the post-war controversy that is, what was the strategic plan was for the Allied campaign in Normandy. I recently scanned through two of the Green Books (Cross Channel Attack, and the one that deals with Ike … Supreme Command?) and have noted that they are in agreement with the British Official History as to what the plan was:

1) Americans move on Cherbourg while the Anglo-Canadians hold the left flank and attract attention.
2) The Americans launch the breakout, and then all allied forces would advance together on a broad front.

I am aware that Bradley wrote an acknowledgement in his book that the above was what the ‘master plan’ was for Normandy (although have seen on the net elsewhere a latter book by him refutes the whole idea, due to Bradley no longer being confined by immediate post-war politics etc. So that is something I am also interested in having a look at.).

Can anyone provide some good secondary source recommendations on the issue? I am aware that D’Este is a key player in this debate and I intend to re-read through his work Decision in Normandy, or at least the relevant sections, during the summer to get back up to speed with his arguments.

Regards

JonS
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by JonS » 12 Mar 2012 19:58

IIRC, the journal article "D+20,000 - Still fighting the Normandy Campaign" by Paul Johnston covers off a lot of the historiography of this. It was in 'The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin' Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2000.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 12 Mar 2012 20:53

Why limit yourself to secondary sources?
Can anyone provide some good secondary source recommendations on the issue?
Surely the truth lie in the primary sources! :D

Regards

Tom

Michael Kenny
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Michael Kenny » 12 Mar 2012 20:55

http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/docume ... 1_10_e.pdf

The article was written over a decade ago so be aware books have been published that overturn some of the 'accepted' conclusions in this paper.

RichTO90
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by RichTO90 » 12 Mar 2012 21:33

JonS wrote:IIRC, the journal article "D+20,000 - Still fighting the Normandy Campaign" by Paul Johnston covers off a lot of the historiography of this. It was in 'The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin' Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2000.
Hi Jon, and thanks to Michael for posting up the article to read. Unfortunately, my first impression of it is not good. Frankly, I think in his "overview" section Captain Johnston selects among his "most recent" "definitive works" some of the most eggregiously bad books on the campaign in general that it may be possible to read - Keegan, Hastings, and Ambrose and then adds in French's painfully off the mark volume on the Canadian Army. 8O At least he makes up for that by including Wilmot, Bennet, and Ryan (who despite selectively editing things and other faults still managed to cram most of the best first person accounts into his narrative).

For Monty I think he should have included Richard Lamb's Montgomery in Europe 1943-1945: Success or Failure? to balance out Monty's own hagiography and the tepid Victory in the West. Props though that he includes Stacey.

As far as background planning material goes, quite a bit is actually avaialbale online, albeit you have to search for the nuggets in a mass of PDFs. One of the better sites is the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command
http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq109-1.htm is their Normandy section (unfortunately the website is possibly the worst example of bad U.S. Government web design that I have encountered. Another is the Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) digital library http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ , which is also horribly designed and with a typical U.S. Government-designed search engine that seems intended to get 1,000+ hits for all search queries - it is worthwhile just browsing what they have. The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Donovan Research Libray online http://www.benning.army.mil/library/con ... irtual.htm contains a large selection of the Infantry School and Armor School papers written immediately postwar - often by the participants in the actions described. Finally, check out the Canadian Armed Forces Directorate of History and Heritage collection online http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp ... ex-eng.asp , which contains most of the original narratives written by Stacey and other historians in the field that recorded the Canadian military experience.

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Mar 2012 22:08

Gritting my teeth waiting for the illconcieved, ill supported, simplistic, and inappropriate personal opnion which does nothing to answer the question in the original post :roll:

Aber
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Aber » 12 Mar 2012 22:39

If you're interested in the controversy, then Ralph Ingersoll's Top Secret would be a good place to start as the book that lit the fuse.

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The_Enigma
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by The_Enigma » 12 Mar 2012 22:42

Tom from Cornwall wrote:Why limit yourself to secondary sources?
Can anyone provide some good secondary source recommendations on the issue?
Surely the truth lie in the primary sources! :D

Regards

Tom
Just time for a brief reply (I shall have a proper look at the thread and replies when i have some more time on my hands). The primary sources, as you say, are where the truth lays but for now i am wanting to gain a background on the situation, gain some context etc. :)

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by JonS » 13 Mar 2012 00:01

RichTO90 wrote:Unfortunately, my first impression of it is not good.
Sure. But what do you expect from a short summary of 55 years of writing that is itself over a decade old? Enig wanted a pointer to some secondary sources, and Johnston's article is, indeed, a pointer to some secondary sources. If you have a better summary of writing relating to the Normandy Campaign I'd love to read it.
French's painfully off the mark volume on the Canadian Army.
Interesting typo. Presumably you mean English?
One of the better sites is the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command
http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq109-1.htm
Thanks for that. Time to warm up the USB stick.

Edit: 55, not 45

RichTO90
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by RichTO90 » 13 Mar 2012 00:33

JonS wrote:Sure. But what do you expect from a short summary of 45 years of writing that is itself over a decade old? Enig wanted a pointer to some secondary sources, and Johnston's article is, indeed, a pointer to some secondary sources.


I'm always disappointed to see Hastings, Ambrose, and Keegan lauded as good secondary sources when they are not. :x Ten years ago or not, bad is bad. Given that Johnston also "pointed" to some very good secondary sources and given that the terrible trio's work wasn't good even then and was already being questioned before 2000, his inclusion of them appears to have been just a desire to include "recent" scholarship instead of good scholarship.
If you have a perfect summary of all writing relating to the Normandy Campaign I would love to read it.
Perfect? No, I've given up on perfection, but I've not given up on calling shit shit if it deserves it. Part of the problem is that so much either covers the entire campaign or covers just a bit of it. So, for example, I could give you an extended list of secondary sources for the American airborne landings, UTAH, and OMAHA, along with a "good start" for the Commonwealth beaches and airborne landings...but each works within its own frame of reference, which is sometimes unique - Michael Reynolds Eagles and Bulldogs for example. Enigma asked for secondary works covering the landing plans, which Johnston covered in a couple of paragraphs, the rest covered related subjects.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on my historiography. :lol:
Interesting typo. Presumably you mean English?
Ugh, as I said, I've given up on perfection...
Thanks for that. Time to warm up the USB stick.
Sadly that is the tip of the iceberg AFAIK given the records at Kew I saw the USN shared, but USN H&HC hasn't added much more than that over the years. Sadder still, I don't have the chance or time anymore to haunt NARA, so the holes in my historiography have to wait for a while to be filled.

And yes, I am feeling more than a little bit curmudgeonly because of that... :wink:
Last edited by RichTO90 on 13 Mar 2012 00:41, edited 1 time in total.
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
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RichTO90
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by RichTO90 » 13 Mar 2012 00:36

JonS wrote:Edit: 55, not 45
Yeah...that's the sad part, it keeps getting further away and yet our perspective regarding the planning for NEPTUNE hasn't really improved that much over Wilmot and Harrison. D'Este was a new perspective and was the first to go back to the original sources - especially the British sources, but I'm afraid he developed too big a bone to pick and so in a sense simply substituted new controversy for old.

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

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The_Enigma
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by The_Enigma » 14 Mar 2012 14:45

Hi Guys,

An amazing response to my request, thank you.

Jon and Mike thanks very much for that starting point! Rich, thank you for your critique, links and tips. Likewise to Aber for the tip on Ingersoll’s book.

Carl, so far good luck eh? : )

Cheeers :)

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Mar 2012 18:33

I guess another good place to look for an overview at a strategic level is the Army Records Society volume "Montgomery and the Battle of Normandy" which contains a large number of Montgomery's messages/letters/directives, etc.

For example, if you wanted a very high level idea of the basic strategy for Normandy you would be well advised to look at the outline discussed at a meeting between Montgomery and his Army Commanders and their Chiefs of Staff on 7 Jan 44:
Task of the American Army will be the clearing of the CHERBOURG peninsula and the capture of the port of CHERBOURG. They will subsequently develop their operations to the South and West.

Task of the British Army will be to operate to the South to prevent any interference with the American Army from the East.

It is hoped eventually to get a firm lodgement from CAEN to NANTES with the British Army being built up through CHERBOURG and the American Army through BRITTANY.
The document is noted as being signed by Lt.Col. H. Mainwaring, MA to C-in-C 21 Army Group, and dated 10 Jan 44.

Although subsequent operations obviously didn't develop exactly in this way, that this basic framework was consistently borne is mind by Montgomery and his army generals is evident from much of what actually took place and what was said at the time.

Regards

Tom

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by The_Enigma » 23 Mar 2012 19:46

Thanks very much Tom! :D

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Mar 2012 01:48

Ooooohh :D nothing like original sources to clarify the issue.

Thank you Tom

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