Why no D day in 1943?

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Zinegata
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Zinegata » 06 Jan 2016 02:59

Sid Guttridge wrote:Because the British were reluctant and the US Army wasn't ready for full scale continental warfare.

As the landing itself was to be more British than American, the British had an effective veto,

A successful invasion required a lot of divisions, most of which would have to be American, as the British had relatively few.

As at January 1943, only a handful of US divisions had any combat experience and this amounted to about two months in French North Africa, not all of it happy. Practical experience was still at a premium.

After Overlord in mid 1944, most of the follow-up divisions needed to form a long battlefront were American and brought in directly from the US. These were simply not battle ready in 1943.

I would suggest that the Tunisian, Sicilian and Italian Campaign of 1943 provided valuable practical experience for the British, US and Canadians that would otherwise have been lacking had an invasion of France been attempted in mid 1943.

Cheers,

Sid.
The Brits were certainly unwilling but experience was less of an advantage than commonly cited because so few of the units involved in North Africa and Italy actually went to Normandy. They had more training time to be sure, but the majority of troops that landed in Normandy were in fact seeing combat for the first time.

Richard Anderson
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Jan 2016 04:29

Zinegata wrote:The Normandy peninsula includes Cherbourg and other small ports.

And quite frankly it turned out they didn't really need the ports or the Mullberries as much as Churchill kept claiming - the USN way back in 1943 was in fact correct that the vast majority of supplies could simply be landed on the beaches and the focus should have been on opening more beaches rather than capturing more ports; as the majority of supplies were beach-landed in the historical '44 invasion.
They would, eventually, UTAH was closed on 13 November, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and the MULBERRY on 19 November. Furthermore, opening more beaches didn't solve the problem of clearing cargoes from the beaches inland or operating the existing beaches. The 1st, 5th, and 6th ESB were occupied operating UTAH and OMAHA far longer than planned, which meant they were unable to participate in other amphibious landings anywhere. And it was a bare "majority" of supplies "beach-landed".

From D-Day to 31 August, Commonwealth forces landed 1,245,625 long tons of stores including 181,000 tons of POL. Half the supplies were landed across the beaches, 35% Via the Mulberry and 15% via small ports. The US landed 1,852,634 long tons of stores, virtually all across the beaches.

From 1 September to 30 November, after the beaches were closed, cargo landed excluding bulk POL and vehicles in Long Tons was:

Omaha 377,761, Utah 235,771, Cherbourg 1,113,335 Minor Ports in Normandy 207,649, Brittany Ports 217,011, total 2,151,527

So of 5,249,786 tons of stores landed, at least 2,160,808 Long Tons was via the MULBERRY and ports, 41% of the total...ignoring Southern France.
"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

Zinegata
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Zinegata » 06 Jan 2016 04:47

Richard Anderson wrote:So of 5,249,786 tons of stores landed, at least 2,160,808 Long Tons was via the MULBERRY and ports, 41% of the total...ignoring Southern France.
Two things: First, this is why I pointed to Cherbourg being inside the peninsula. There was a port for long-term shipping within Normandy.

Second, note this bit:
The US landed 1,852,634 long tons of stores, virtually all across the beaches.
And as I was saying:

"they didn't really need the ports or the Mullberries as much as Churchill kept claiming - the USN way back in 1943 was in fact correct that the vast majority of supplies could simply be landed on the beaches"

The point is that the US Mullberry was wrecked and yet still managed to land 1.8 million tons of supplies via beach, or more than the 1.2+ million tons of supplies via a combination of beach and Mullberries on the British sector.

I'm not saying they didn't need ports - else why would I mention Cherbourg. I said it was less vital than what Churchill kept making it out to be; which is that no ports/Mullberries = instant death. Most of the supplies could in fact have been beach-landed if there were big issues with capturing Cherbourg (which should have been less of a problem in '43, but who knows), and a bare majority in practice were beach-landed anyway in '44 after the US mullberry was wrecked.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Jan 2016 04:55

Zinegata wrote: I'm not saying they didn't need ports - else why would I mention Cherbourg. I said it was less vital than what Churchill kept making it out to be; which is that no ports/Mullberries = instant death. Most of the supplies could in fact have been beach-landed if there were big issues with capturing Cherbourg (which should have been less of a problem in '43, but who knows), and a bare majority in practice were beach-landed anyway in '44 after the US mullberry was wrecked.
Thanks for clarifying. The problem remains the beaches were only viable short-term, so opening more beaches wasn't really an option. In either case, it wasn't the problem, port/beach clearance and long-haul to the front was.
"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: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Jan 2016 10:41

Zinegata wrote:
Richard Anderson wrote:So of 5,249,786 tons of stores landed, at least 2,160,808 Long Tons was via the MULBERRY and ports, 41% of the total...ignoring Southern France.
Two things: First, this is why I pointed to Cherbourg being inside the peninsula. There was a port for long-term shipping within Normandy.

Second, note this bit:
The US landed 1,852,634 long tons of stores, virtually all across the beaches.
And as I was saying:

"they didn't really need the ports or the Mullberries as much as Churchill kept claiming - the USN way back in 1943 was in fact correct that the vast majority of supplies could simply be landed on the beaches"

The point is that the US Mullberry was wrecked and yet still managed to land 1.8 million tons of supplies via beach, or more than the 1.2+ million tons of supplies via a combination of beach and Mullberries on the British sector.

I'm not saying they didn't need ports - else why would I mention Cherbourg. I said it was less vital than what Churchill kept making it out to be; which is that no ports/Mullberries = instant death. Most of the supplies could in fact have been beach-landed if there were big issues with capturing Cherbourg (which should have been less of a problem in '43, but who knows), and a bare majority in practice were beach-landed anyway in '44 after the US mullberry was wrecked.
The aim of Op Overlord was not to establish a small defensible enclave on the French coast, but to land an army of C 100 divisions necessary to defeat the Germans in Western Europe. In order to sustain an army needed to beat the Wehrmacht in the West the allies needed at least Cherbourg and Brest and, or St Nazaire, or Rouen and Le Havre, or Antwerp. Historically the Allies ran into severe logistics problems in the autumn of 1944, despite opening Marseille.

The Americans put forward the Cherbourg idea largely because it would satisfy the demand that the American army should be seen to be doing something. Alanbrooke was scathing in his diary about the paucity of strategic thought offered by Marshall in April 1942. Marshall wanted to land ten divisions on the French coast. Brooke wrote that he felt he did not get an answer to the question "what next after the landing." Marshall had no plan beyond making a landing.

Brooke championed Italy as a worthwhile diversion, with a logic similar to that of Grant in 1864. "those that arn't skinning grab a leg"
The Brits were certainly unwilling but experience was less of an advantage than commonly cited because so few of the units involved in North Africa and Italy actually went to Normandy. They had more training time to be sure, but the majority of troops that landed in Normandy were in fact seeing combat for the first time.
This misses two points.

#1 Mediterranean veterans were called on to add expereince to the D Day assault. 1st US Infantry Division was responsible for the assult at Omaha Beach and the experience of their troops helped to overcome the difficulties of that assault. XXX British Corps were responsible for the assault on Gold beach.

#2 The key experience was at command rather than individual soldier level. All of the key commanders in Op Overlord had served together in the North Africa and the Mediterranean.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Gooner1 » 06 Jan 2016 11:51

Zinegata wrote: The Normandy peninsula includes Cherbourg and other small ports.
Of which the Germans are well aware. A '43 landing sees no Utah or two airborne divisions landing in the Cotentin. So when does Cherbourg get liberated?
And quite frankly it turned out they didn't really need the ports or the Mullberries as much as Churchill kept claiming the USN way back in 1943 was in fact correct that the vast majority of supplies could simply be landed on the beaches"
Over the winter months? Was that great storm in June which wrecked so many hundreds of landing craft a rare event or only rare for the summer. I suspect the latter.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Jan 2016 19:24

Hi Zinegata,

You are presuming that the need for experience was restricted to specific formations.

The British, US and Canadian leadership and subordinate hierarchies also had much to learn by employing some formations in the Mediterranean on secondary operations prior to D-Day in France.

As I see it, the real problem is that most US Army divisions were not fully ready for operations in mid 1943.

As the British lacked the army manpower, it was vital that the large number of US divisions still training in the US be available if successful continental-scale warfare was to be pursued after any lodgement. How fit they would have been in mid 1943 is problematical, but one thing is sure, they were a lot fitter in mid 1944.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Zinegata » 11 Jan 2016 10:07

Sheldrake wrote: The aim of Op Overlord was not to establish a small defensible enclave on the French coast, but to land an army of C 100 divisions necessary to defeat the Germans in Western Europe. In order to sustain an army needed to beat the Wehrmacht in the West the allies needed at least Cherbourg and Brest and, or St Nazaire, or Rouen and Le Havre, or Antwerp. Historically the Allies ran into severe logistics problems in the autumn of 1944, despite opening Marseille.

The Americans put forward the Cherbourg idea largely because it would satisfy the demand that the American army should be seen to be doing something. Alanbrooke was scathing in his diary about the paucity of strategic thought offered by Marshall in April 1942. Marshall wanted to land ten divisions on the French coast. Brooke wrote that he felt he did not get an answer to the question "what next after the landing." Marshall had no plan beyond making a landing.

Brooke championed Italy as a worthwhile diversion, with a logic similar to that of Grant in 1864. "those that arn't skinning grab a leg"
First of all, we're not talking about the Marshall version of the plan.

The Normandy 1943 I'm talking about was not merely to create a small defensible enclave - but to establish a beachhead through which future Divisions could be landed. It simply was not feasible to land 100 Divisions in August 1943 because they didn't exist yet; but these could be added directly to Normandy later as they become available.

The problem however as already discussed previously was less the ports and more the trucking from the ports to the front. Fortunately this is much less an issue if you limit yourself only in Normandy; and historically this long-term supply issue was resolved by the capture of Antwerp.

Moreover I'm not convinced that Alanbrooke is right just because Marshall wasn't able to answer him. Italy wasn't exactly a genius move either if you're going to be strategic - it's a dead end to the Alps. Ultimately Sicily was chosen for want of something to do because the British opposed Normandy; and the later Italian landings were an opportunistic move in the face of Mussolini being ousted.

Without British concerns (which was in large part motivated by Churchill) a feasible 1943 Normandy was possible - just don't expect an August breakout and there will be vagueries in the chances of success. That said it's not going to be an exercise in mass suicide as it's normally thought to be either - otherwise the Western Allies should have been driven back to the sea at Salerno.
#1 Mediterranean veterans were called on to add expereince to the D Day assault. 1st US Infantry Division was responsible for the assult at Omaha Beach and the experience of their troops helped to overcome the difficulties of that assault. XXX British Corps were responsible for the assault on Gold beach.
1st Infantry was by this point so diluted by replacements it was sometimes outperformed by the completely green 29th, which landed alongside it.
#2 The key experience was at command rather than individual soldier level. All of the key commanders in Op Overlord had served together in the North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Yes, which is why I said the experience issue was "less of an advantage", but not completely irrelevant. That said see my note on Husky below.
Of which the Germans are well aware. A '43 landing sees no Utah or two airborne divisions landing in the Cotentin. So when does Cherbourg get liberated?
It's impossible to say but do note that German defenses in '43 were considerably weaker and the projected landing timetable of July coincides with Kursk.

Also, there would be no second American landing, but they actually landed about as many Divisions on the first day of Husky as they did in Normandy. There might be no American "Utah" but having British Divisions in their place was possible.
Over the winter months? Was that great storm in June which wrecked so many hundreds of landing craft a rare event or only rare for the summer. I suspect the latter.
Cherbourg was captured well before the winter months in the historical '44 invasion. The question is whether the pocket could weather a big storm before that - which they did in the historical version by landing craft alone.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Jan 2016 22:56

Zinegata wrote: First of all, we're not talking about the Marshall version of the plan.

The Normandy 1943 I'm talking about was not merely to create a small defensible enclave - but to establish a beachhead through which future Divisions could be landed. It simply was not feasible to land 100 Divisions in August 1943 because they didn't exist yet; but these could be added directly to Normandy later as they become available.
This is the nub of the issue.

It would have been incredibly risky to establish a bridge head in the hope that future, currently available, divisions could deploy. Anzio demonstrate that the Germans had the capability to seal off a landing by an inadequate force.

It would also have been rather stupid to tell the Germans that we were definitely going to invade France through Cherbourg, but could only land ten divisions for now!

Perhaps I have misunderstood, but I am feeling weary. Can you explain how occupying a small patch of France before ready to exploit with full forces would deliver a better result than the historical. After all Eisenhower's men did something rare in military history. They did what they said they were going to do ahead of time.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Jan 2016 13:37

Zinegata wrote:

Moreover I'm not convinced that Alanbrooke is right just because Marshall wasn't able to answer him. Italy wasn't exactly a genius move either if you're going to be strategic - it's a dead end to the Alps. Ultimately Sicily was chosen for want of something to do because the British opposed Normandy; and the later Italian landings were an opportunistic move in the face of Mussolini being ousted.
As of May 1944 the Germans had 961,000 troops in Italy and 826,000 in the Balkans ..
It's impossible to say but do note that German defenses in '43 were considerably weaker and the projected landing timetable of July coincides with Kursk.

Also, there would be no second American landing, but they actually landed about as many Divisions on the first day of Husky as they did in Normandy. There might be no American "Utah" but having British Divisions in their place was possible.
German defences in Normandy were weaker in '43 than in '44 but without a Transportation Plan they can move more reinforcements there faster.
Husky landed 80,000 men in the first two days, half as many as were landed on 6th June '44.
Having British divisions land at a Utah would only be possible if there are enough landing craft for them.

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by KDF33 » 12 Jan 2016 15:01

Gooner1 wrote:As of May 1944 the Germans had 961,000 troops in Italy and 826,000 in the Balkans ..
I'm afraid this is erroneous. As of 1.5.44, the Heer and W-SS had 428,000 men in Italy and 440,000 in the Balkans.
German defences in Normandy were weaker in '43 than in '44 but without a Transportation Plan they can move more reinforcements there faster.
Husky landed 80,000 men in the first two days, half as many as were landed on 6th June '44.
At the time of the Normandy landings, the Germans had the following forces in OB West:

886,000 men and 1,811 AFVs

Absent the Mediterranean diversion, the Germans would have the following forces at their disposal:

About 1,150,000 men and 1,205 AFVs (1.7.43)

They also would have a far easier time moving additional forces and supplies toward the front.

Regards,

KDF

Gooner1
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Jan 2016 16:36

KDF33 wrote:
Gooner1 wrote:As of May 1944 the Germans had 961,000 troops in Italy and 826,000 in the Balkans ..
I'm afraid this is erroneous. As of 1.5.44, the Heer and W-SS had 428,000 men in Italy and 440,000 in the Balkans.
What about the Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Wehrmachtgefolge, HiWis etc? :milwink:

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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by KDF33 » 12 Jan 2016 16:47

Well, for the Luftwaffe, including attached civilian personnel, it amounted to:

Italy: 70,328
Balkans: 78,368

These figures are for December 1943.

In any event, even including KM and HiWis, I don't see how we can get to your figures. Where did you get those numbers from?

Regards,

KDF

Gooner1
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Jan 2016 17:00

"Strategische Lage im Frühjahr 1944", Jodl, Vortrag 5.5.1944

KDF33
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Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by KDF33 » 12 Jan 2016 18:06

I found the document. It also gives a figure of 3,878,000 men for the Eastern Front, as well as 1,873,000 for OB West. I have to say I'm utterly baffled by the numbers for Italy and the Balkans. Given known strength figures for Heer, W-SS and LW, it would imply that at the time of Overlord there were about 450,000 KM and civilian auxiliaries in Italy, as well as a further 300,000 in the Balkans. Which I find incredible. Do you have a precise breakdown for Jodl's figures?

Looking at OB West's strength breakdown for comparison's sake, we have on 1.3.44:

1. 806,927 men in the Heer (52%)
2. 337,140 men in the Luftwaffe (22%)
3. 96,084 men in the Kriegsmarine (6%)
4. 85,230 men in the SS and police (6%)
5. 145,611 auxiliaries (9%)

Regards,

KDF

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