The Normandy "Masterplan"

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Sheldrake
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Mar 2019 21:12

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
09 Mar 2019 16:50
I thought that this diagram from SHAEF QM Records (WO219/3002) might be of interest for this debate and for those who are interested in Allied logistics difficulties during the advance across France and Belgium to the frontier of Germany:

Capture.JPG

I'm currently transcribing the Staff Study to which this was attached, if anyone is interested I'll post up here as well.

Regards

Tom
This picture illustrates the tension between G (operations) and Q (logistic) branches. The G side can make a plan, but whatever plans they make will not survive contact with the enemy. War is a kind of democracy - the enemy gets a say. Where the front line would be on what particular date is a function of enemy operations as much as own forces. Q side need to make assumptions about where people might be in order to have the right mix of stuff.

One of the best insights to me is the account recorded in Nicholson by the officer who filled in the phase lines for the infamous April (?) briefing map. The key lines were D +90 - that was where Montgomery through we would be at the end of the campaign. The staff officer asked where the intermediate lines should be. Montgomery's reply was make them roughly evenly spaced. They aren't important.

Anyone claiming that the delay in capturing Caen or any other piece of terrain was critical clearly does not understand what "critical " means. The constricted beachhead was an inconvenience but far from critical, as the end result demonstrated.

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 10 Mar 2019 13:20

Sheldrake,

Indeed, an admirable summary.

But Nicholson? Who him!

Regards

Tom

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 26 Apr 2019 16:59

I thought these extracts from General Dempsey's diary entry of 25-26 Jul 44 would be of interest for any discussions about Montgomery's "masterplan" or general policy for the battle of Normandy:
TUESDAY - 25 JUL 44

1730
Flew to Headquarters 21 Army Group and saw C-in-C. In order to give even more help to the First Army operation, he wishes Second Army to carry out an operation at the beginning of August, either EAST or WEST of R ORNE. It will have no geographical objective, but will be a continuation of the policy which has held good the whole time - that Second Army shall deal with the main enemy force while First Army swings forward with its RIGHT.
Interestingly, Dempsey then goes next day to look at the ground South-West from RAURAY and CHRISTOT with the commander of 30 Corps (Lt. Gen. Bucknall) and then, that evening, again met Montgomery:
WEDNESDAY - 26 JUL 44

1730
C-in-C came to my Headquarters. I told him that I would do the attack at the beginning of August in the CAUMONT - VILLERS BOCAGE sector, with the main objective of getting BENY-BOCAGE. I want heavy air support for this operation, which will be in difficult country and will not have very heavy artillery support. I will put 8 Corps in on the RIGHT of the Army, and 8, 30 and 12 Corps will be involved.
Regards

Tom

Aber
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Aber » 28 Apr 2019 08:51

Just to add:

"even more help" refers to Operation Spring launched on 25th July as a diversion for Operation Cobra.

"beginning of August" became 30th July, with the start of Operation Bluecoat.

BENY-BOCAGE was liberated on 1st August.

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 28 Apr 2019 16:38

Aber wrote:
28 Apr 2019 08:51
"even more help" refers to Operation Spring launched on 25th July as a diversion for Operation Cobra.
Yes, thanks for the reminder - I'd forgotten that the Canadians were still under Dempsey for Operation "Spring".
Aber wrote:
28 Apr 2019 08:51
"beginning of August" became 30th July, with the start of Operation Bluecoat.
True, and perhaps something that critics of the British performance during "Bluecoat" should bear in mind.

I'd be interested to see how much help General Gerow of US V Corps thought that "Bluecoat" gave him in freeing up the German defence on his front - there seems plenty of evidence from a German perspective that being outflanked by the British unnerved General Meindl.

Regards

Tom

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Sheldrake
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Apr 2019 23:48

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
10 Mar 2019 13:20
Sheldrake,

Indeed, an admirable summary.

But Nicholson? Who him!

Regards

Tom
Oops my bad. Nigel Hamilton: Montgomery's Biographer - I know several Nigel Nicholson's .
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Master-Battlef ... 0070258066

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Apr 2019 23:57

Aber wrote:
28 Apr 2019 08:51
Just to add:

"even more help" refers to Operation Spring launched on 25th July as a diversion for Operation Cobra.
It may also refer to the adjustment of the army boundary to allow 30 Corps to take over a section of the Vth US Corps front by 15th Scottish Division, and the deployment of 3 AGRA to support V Corps on the Op Cobra Fireplan.

Op Spring was launched as a full blooded attack. The Germans were faced by two attacks and chose to put the main effort in defending the attack south from Caen.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 30 Apr 2019 23:09, edited 1 time in total.

Aber
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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Aber » 30 Apr 2019 12:20

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Apr 2019 23:57
Op Spring was launched as a full blooded attack. The Germans were faced by two attacks and chose to put the main effort in defending the attack south from Caen.
Indeed, it held German reserves for more than a day.
only on the morning of the 27th did von Kluge authorize a movement of troops from the adjacent front of the Second British Army. He then directed that the 2nd Panzer Division, and the headquarters of the 47th Panzer Corps, should move to the area south of St. Lo with all speed. Later in the day the 116th Panzer Division was also ordered west. But it was then too late to prevent an American break-through.

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 May 2019 21:40

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Apr 2019 23:57
Op Spring was launched as a full blooded attack.
I know that this might seem to be pedantic, but Dempsey did call Op "SPRING" a "limited attack" in his diary.
SUNDAY – 23 JUL 44

1600 Saw C-in-C at my Headquarters. First Army attack, which has been delayed for some days by the weather, will probably start at 1300 hrs tomorrow. C-in-C wishes Second Army to keep up the maximum activity during the next few days.

TUESDAY - 25 JUL 44

2130 Saw Commander Cdn Corps at my Headquarters. He has carried out a limited attack EAST of R ORNE today will only partial success. The enemy is very strong here now. I told him to halt where he is, to hold all ground gained, and to carry out no further attack without reference to me.

It seems likely that this conversation persuaded Dempsey to recommend the next major attack by the British/Canadians to be launched on the West of his front - hence Op "BLUECOAT".

Regards

Tom

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Aber » 06 May 2019 10:45

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 May 2019 21:40

I know that this might seem to be pedantic, but Dempsey did call Op "SPRING" a "limited attack" in his diary.

It seems likely that this conversation persuaded Dempsey to recommend the next major attack by the British/Canadians to be launched on the West of his front - hence Op "BLUECOAT".
The German dispositions made location of Bluecoat fairly obvious:

Image

2nd Canadian Corps faced 1st SS Pz Corps with roughly 1 infantry division and 3 SS Pz Divisions, backed up by 2 more Pz Divisions

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 May 2019 19:55

Aber wrote:
06 May 2019 10:45
The German dispositions made location of Bluecoat fairly obvious:
I agree, although Terry Copp argues that:
Montgomery's directive of 27 July was a major strategic blunders, perhaps the worst of his career. It does not require hindsight, or foreknowledge of Hitler's decision to stage a major counterattack at Mortain, to recognize that Montgomery was shifting ground away from the decisive ground south of Caen at precisely the moment when the enemy was thinning out his defences.
I don't follow Copp's argument here though, as the decisive ground in Montgomery's mind was the ports of Brittany and another Op "Spring" would have hardly helped the Americans. Of course, in addition, Copp's argument also relies heavily on his hindsight! :roll:

Regards

Tom

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Aber » 08 May 2019 23:05

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
06 May 2019 19:55
Montgomery's directive of 27 July was a major strategic blunders, perhaps the worst of his career. It does not require hindsight, or foreknowledge of Hitler's decision to stage a major counterattack at Mortain, to recognize that Montgomery was shifting ground away from the decisive ground south of Caen at precisely the moment when the enemy was thinning out his defences.
I don't follow Copp's argument here though, as the decisive ground in Montgomery's mind was the ports of Brittany and another Op "Spring" would have hardly helped the Americans. Of course, in addition, Copp's argument also relies heavily on his hindsight! :roll:
Montgomery's overall plan always included swinging the right flank round so the front became a north-south one. It is obvious that is also the sensible German defensive plan as part of a withdrawal to the Seine.

"Not repeating the painful and expensive attacks of Goodwood and Spring was a blunder" - a decidedly odd view.

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 May 2019 12:23

Hi Guys,

It is worth pointing out that it was Churchill who insisted that the British landed on the left and, by default, the US on the right.

His thinking was that if the British landed on the left they would end up controlling the German ports at the end of the war. This would give the UK control of German overseas trade and make supporting what became the British Army of occupation much easier.

The US agreed because their follow-up divisions were landing direct from the USA and it made more sense to bring them in directly through French Atlantic ports.

After the war the US came to appreciate Churchill's farsightedness on Britain's behalf and were given the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven in 1947 so they could supply their own occupation zone in southern Germany without being beholden to the French.

How far this informed the operational "Masterplan" under discussion here is unclear to me, but it certainly decided which army was on which flank.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Sheldrake » 09 May 2019 16:48

Sid Guttridge wrote:
09 May 2019 12:23
Hi Guys,

It is worth pointing out that it was Churchill who insisted that the British landed on the left and, by default, the US on the right.

His thinking was that if the British landed on the left they would end up controlling the German ports at the end of the war. This would give the UK control of German overseas trade and make supporting what became the British Army of occupation much easier.

The US agreed because their follow-up divisions were landing direct from the USA and it made more sense to bring them in directly through French Atlantic ports.

After the war the US came to appreciate Churchill's farsightedness on Britain's behalf and were given the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven in 1947 so they could supply their own occupation zone in southern Germany without being beholden to the French.

How far this informed the operational "Masterplan" under discussion here is unclear to me, but it certainly decided which army was on which flank.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hmm, I don't think that incident is documented - or the real reason, which was purely logistic.

It made sense for the Americans to concentrate on the West side of the UK. The Americans landed at ports on the West coast of the UK, as did their supplies. At the height of Op Bolero the movement of U.S. Army cargo necessitated running a minimum of 100 special freight trains with 18,000-20,000 loaded cars weekly, many of them using routes already overburdened with traffic. The British were still fighting a war from the south east corner of the country.

Logistics also dictated that Op Overlord would land the British on the east and the Americans on the west. The alternative would have been a nautical roundabout in the middle of the channel on the eve of D day. This particular naval manouevre was probably an innovation too far, even for D Day!

Source Frederick Morgan Prelude to Overlord

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Re: The Normandy "Masterplan"

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 27 May 2019 16:18

Dempsey recorded in his diary (WO285/9) for Tuesday 27 June 1944 (the second day of Op EPSOM) that:
111. 1600 – 1830
Flew to and from HQ 21 Army Group at BLAY. Bradley was there and we discussed present and future operations. First Army will be ready to strike Southwards on the axis LA HAYE DU PUITS – LESSAY – COUTANCES on 1 July.


Did Bradley leave a description of this meeting with Montgomery and Dempsey?

Regards

Tom

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