Why no D day in 1943?

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5112
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 12 Jan 2016 19:44

Zinegata wrote:First of all, we're not talking about the Marshall version of the plan.
So not SLEDGEHAMMER. Check.
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.
So not ROUNDUP. Check...oh, wait, then what are you talking about? :D
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.
Antwerp did not solve "long-term supply issue". It solved the port unloading issue, but did not solve the port clearance or long-haul issue.
1st Infantry was by this point so diluted by replacements it was sometimes outperformed by the completely green 29th, which landed alongside it.
Zero evidence for that I'm afraid. The only replacements were for the 267 KIA and the proportion of the 1,184 WIA and and 337 MIA lost in Italy not RTD. Overall, it is unlikely more than about 500 replacements were required. Then the nice thing about being out of combat for ten months meant those replacements could be trained and integrated into the division. Meanwhile, the experienced junior ranks were promoted, keeping leadership strong. Meanwhile, the 29th ID was inexperienced in terms of combat, but it certainly wasn't "green" since it had an intact personnel structure training in England for the better part of 21 months. Furthermore, about one in ten of its infantry rifle strength were Ranger-trained, by virtue of the abortive set-up of the "29th Ranger Battalion". In any case, the 29th Division on D-Day had its success by pushing a mass of strength -nearly two battalions worth - over the gap in the German lines along the bluffs. The 1st Division OTOH pushed broken bits of companies through the German positions by fire and movement.
"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

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9961
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Jan 2016 14:00

Thinks......

If combat experience is of no differential value, why don't armies just employ raw troops with raw commanders?

A contemplative Sid.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5112
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Jan 2016 14:50

Sid Guttridge wrote:Thinks......

If combat experience is of no differential value, why don't armies just employ raw troops with raw commanders?

A contemplative Sid.
I'm mildly curious Sid, who said "combat experience is of no differential value"? Or are you just musing?
"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

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9961
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Jan 2016 14:58

Hi Richard,

Yes.

Some posters seem to think that, for example, the assorted Mediterranean Campaigns gained the Western Allies forces no dividend as a result of the experience that was useful in Normandy.

Cheers,

Sid.

User avatar
doogal
Member
Posts: 657
Joined: 06 Aug 2007 11:37
Location: scotland

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by doogal » 14 Jan 2016 20:58

in sure there are differing schools of thoughts. none of them include Raw troops......... lol
Not Raw but inexperienced troops who have never carried out a seaborne assault may have less immediate fear having never experienced what is to follow...(but that should be counteracted by fear of the unknown etc)....
Some posters seem to think that, for example, the assorted Mediterranean Campaigns gained the Western Allies forces no dividend as a result of the experience that was useful in Normandy.

sure the combat experience was priceless for those who actually learnt...
Units did struggle to get to grips with the changing nature of the battlefield and they certainly were not always prepared tactically for Normandy...

totally agree....

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 15 Jan 2016 03:24

As to Normandy, even the Germans were not ready for the hedgerow battles. As to combat, studies have been done and we have discussed them here. IIRC, Optimally there is a window of between 30 and 120 days , where units are "at their best" in combat. After 180 days efficiency starts to fall. Now what armies were studied and where and when, I do not recall.

Also everyone needs to keep in mind we are talking "conscript" armies. A lot of the troop base might have been "unwilling" or at least not motivated.

Michate
Member
Posts: 1430
Joined: 02 Feb 2004 10:50
Location: Germany

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Michate » 15 Jan 2016 11:47

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?
Hello KDF,

I republished the figures here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... he#p684160

No precise breakdown of Jodl's figures exists.

It is however clear from comparison with other figures, that the figures in these documents include not only all kinds of troops and paramilitary personnel (like "Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Wehrmachtgefolge, HiWis etc."), but also civilians of many kinds, for example (mostly non-German) Organisation Todt workers employed in the construction of fortress buidings, or repairing roads and railways, or transporting raw materials from the Balkan mines, or Italy, to Germany, and so on. IOW, a lot of personnel connected only in the loosest form to actual military activity.

For example, for Italy, you mare compare the figures given by Jodl to the detailed figures provided here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... ly#p956318

For the West, here are detailed strength breakdowns:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=76052

some additional data here: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... e#p1643594

Zinegata
Member
Posts: 40
Joined: 04 Jan 2016 07:42
Location: Manila

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Zinegata » 18 Jan 2016 11:41

Richard Anderson wrote:So not ROUNDUP. Check...oh, wait, then what are you talking about? :D
A theoretical and serious attempt to do it in 1943 with the British onboard. Without the Brits it's a completely hopeless case in 1943.

In short more of a question of *how* it can be done with the best chance of not being mass suicide in 1943.
Zero evidence for that I'm afraid. The only replacements were for the 267 KIA and the proportion of the 1,184 WIA and and 337 MIA lost in Italy not RTD. Overall, it is unlikely more than about 500 replacements were required. Then the nice thing about being out of combat for ten months meant those replacements could be trained and integrated into the division. Meanwhile, the experienced junior ranks were promoted, keeping leadership strong. Meanwhile, the 29th ID was inexperienced in terms of combat, but it certainly wasn't "green" since it had an intact personnel structure training in England for the better part of 21 months. Furthermore, about one in ten of its infantry rifle strength were Ranger-trained, by virtue of the abortive set-up of the "29th Ranger Battalion". In any case, the 29th Division on D-Day had its success by pushing a mass of strength -nearly two battalions worth - over the gap in the German lines along the bluffs. The 1st Division OTOH pushed broken bits of companies through the German positions by fire and movement.
Well, the claim that the 29th did better than the diluted remants of the 1st is from Balkoski's Divisional history of the 29th so I'm not going to argue he may have had a bit of a bias in favor of the 29th when he claims they sometimes did better than the 1st. :D

(Or upon checking Balkoski's excerpt again he was quoting 29th Division officers who were making observation about the 1st and 29th in maneuvers)
Last edited by Zinegata on 18 Jan 2016 12:08, edited 2 times in total.

Zinegata
Member
Posts: 40
Joined: 04 Jan 2016 07:42
Location: Manila

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Zinegata » 18 Jan 2016 11:56

Sheldrake wrote: 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.
Except the force to be landed is the same size as Husky, which was too big to be sealed off in the same way as Anzio. Anzio was a very bad idea to begin with because of tiny size of the force landed.
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.
It's not about landing ten Divisions. It's about landing the force earmarked for Husky to Normandy instead, along with all the follow-on forces that were sent to Italy.

It's better than the historical in two main ways. First of all, the beach defenses were still considerably weaker in 1943 than in 1944. Secondly, no real breakout was possible in Italy that would threaten the German heartland. Even if the Germans completely collapse any Italian campaign cannot ultimately win the war because the Alps are in the way. As it stood the campaign predictably bogged down because of the terrain.

Landing in France by contrast would provoke a much more extensive reaction and hence likely lessen pressure on the Eastern Front; while creating a reasonably safe zone for build-up for an eventual breakout in late '43 or early '44. Even if the Germans deploy extensive forces the Allies would be able to use the bocage to their advantage to defend against it; and it's not as though the Allies were always restricted to just one big landing even if Normandy bogs down. People forget that while defending Pas-de-Calais was seen as a mistake in 1944 the Germans would have been in deep trouble had the Allies been able to do a second landing and take them as flank just as they imagined in their worst-case scenarios.

The risk of course is less experienced troops and that the Allies might be driven to the sea immediately after the initial landing because of this; or they may get "Kasserine"'d sometime after the landing that would result in panic and withdrawal.

The main point however is not whether a 1943 landing is necessarily wiser than a '44 one - history has moved past the date where we could have changed it to know for sure. My point is that it's more possible and doable than often given credit for; and that the diversion to Italy had always been more political for want of doing something than a serious way to end the war and get into Germany. If you really wanted to bulk up on the chances of success of Normandy '44 then all of the resources spent in Italy probably should have gone to Normandy instead.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5112
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Jan 2016 16:03

Zinegata wrote:A theoretical and serious attempt to do it in 1943 with the British onboard. Without the Brits it's a completely hopeless case in 1943.

In short more of a question of *how* it can be done with the best chance of not being mass suicide in 1943.
Fair that and now understandable.
Well, the claim that the 29th did better than the diluted remants of the 1st is from Balkoski's Divisional history of the 29th so I'm not going to argue he may have had a bit of a bias in favor of the 29th when he claims they sometimes did better than the 1st. :D

(Or upon checking Balkoski's excerpt again he was quoting 29th Division officers who were making observation about the 1st and 29th in maneuvers)
Er, yeah, just a bit. The 29th ID has always gotten the lion's share of the attention on D-Day, mostly I think because of what happened to the 1st Battalion in front of Vierville. Zaloga's account is mostly German-centric, but covers the 1st ID more thoroughly. The best treatment though is McManus's The Dead and Those About to Die, which focuses on the grunt tactics employed by Dawson, Spaulding, Lanham, and others in what is truly a little-know fight.
"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

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5112
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Jan 2016 16:31

Zinegata wrote:Except the force to be landed is the same size as Husky, which was too big to be sealed off in the same way as Anzio. Anzio was a very bad idea to begin with because of tiny size of the force landed.
The potential problem with the HUSKY force is it was an infantry-heavy assault. The initial armored force consisted of just five tank and armor battalions. Most of that was the small number of LCT and LST available, plus the turnaround times. It would be quicker at Normandy, but overall the number of LCT and LST available is problematic.
It's not about landing ten Divisions. It's about landing the force earmarked for Husky to Normandy instead, along with all the follow-on forces that were sent to Italy.
The problem there is to accomplish that means no TORCH...or at best probably a September 1943 time frame for the landing in Normandy. That is problematic given the assumption has to be support over the beaches ends in mid-October, so seizing an intact port becomes vital.
It's better than the historical in two main ways. First of all, the beach defenses were still considerably weaker in 1943 than in 1944. Secondly, no real breakout was possible in Italy that would threaten the German heartland. Even if the Germans completely collapse any Italian campaign cannot ultimately win the war because the Alps are in the way. As it stood the campaign predictably bogged down because of the terrain.

Landing in France by contrast would provoke a much more extensive reaction and hence likely lessen pressure on the Eastern Front; while creating a reasonably safe zone for build-up for an eventual breakout in late '43 or early '44. Even if the Germans deploy extensive forces the Allies would be able to use the bocage to their advantage to defend against it; and it's not as though the Allies were always restricted to just one big landing even if Normandy bogs down. People forget that while defending Pas-de-Calais was seen as a mistake in 1944 the Germans would have been in deep trouble had the Allies been able to do a second landing and take them as flank just as they imagined in their worst-case scenarios.

The risk of course is less experienced troops and that the Allies might be driven to the sea immediately after the initial landing because of this; or they may get "Kasserine"'d sometime after the landing that would result in panic and withdrawal.

The main point however is not whether a 1943 landing is necessarily wiser than a '44 one - history has moved past the date where we could have changed it to know for sure. My point is that it's more possible and doable than often given credit for; and that the diversion to Italy had always been more political for want of doing something than a serious way to end the war and get into Germany. If you really wanted to bulk up on the chances of success of Normandy '44 then all of the resources spent in Italy probably should have gone to Normandy instead.
All very true. Other things to be considered though is no transportation plan and no experience with air interdiction to indicate how that is best accomplished, along with air forces much weaker vis a vis the German than historically. It is unlikely such a complete isolation of the battlefield as occurred in the summer of 1944 would occur in the fall of 1943.
"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

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2460
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Delta Tank » 18 Jan 2016 19:21

Rich,

The invasion was delayed from May 1944 to June in order to get more landing craft, or at least that is what I read. So, two questions how much more landing craft did we get from that one month delay and was it worth losing one month of good weather?

Mike

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3438
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Jan 2016 23:11

Zinegata wrote:
Sheldrake wrote: 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.
Except the force to be landed is the same size as Husky, which was too big to be sealed off in the same way as Anzio. Anzio was a very bad idea to begin with because of tiny size of the force landed.
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.
It's not about landing ten Divisions. It's about landing the force earmarked for Husky to Normandy instead, along with all the follow-on forces that were sent to Italy.

It's better than the historical in two main ways. First of all, the beach defenses were still considerably weaker in 1943 than in 1944. Secondly, no real breakout was possible in Italy that would threaten the German heartland. Even if the Germans completely collapse any Italian campaign cannot ultimately win the war because the Alps are in the way. As it stood the campaign predictably bogged down because of the terrain.

Landing in France by contrast would provoke a much more extensive reaction and hence likely lessen pressure on the Eastern Front; while creating a reasonably safe zone for build-up for an eventual breakout in late '43 or early '44. Even if the Germans deploy extensive forces the Allies would be able to use the bocage to their advantage to defend against it; and it's not as though the Allies were always restricted to just one big landing even if Normandy bogs down. People forget that while defending Pas-de-Calais was seen as a mistake in 1944 the Germans would have been in deep trouble had the Allies been able to do a second landing and take them as flank just as they imagined in their worst-case scenarios.

The risk of course is less experienced troops and that the Allies might be driven to the sea immediately after the initial landing because of this; or they may get "Kasserine"'d sometime after the landing that would result in panic and withdrawal.

The main point however is not whether a 1943 landing is necessarily wiser than a '44 one - history has moved past the date where we could have changed it to know for sure. My point is that it's more possible and doable than often given credit for; and that the diversion to Italy had always been more political for want of doing something than a serious way to end the war and get into Germany. If you really wanted to bulk up on the chances of success of Normandy '44 then all of the resources spent in Italy probably should have gone to Normandy instead.
A 1943 Op Overlord may have been successful - but only with a lot of woishful thin king and gambling that led to the failure of military operations based on "suck it and see" or "rush and hope" mentality. Gallipoli, the opening day of the Somme, and Barbarossa come to mind.

Just because it was possible to land ten or even fifteen divisions in France in 1943 did not make it a good idea. A second front needed to be launched drawing on the superiority of force that the US had assembled, otherwise it was giving the Germans the best chance they had of defeating a significant portion of the western allies in detail. The biggest single constraint on the allies was shipping. Capacity tied up in the Cape route. Hundreds of thousands of lost to enemy action every month until May 1943, ship building capacity tied up building escorts rather than assault shipping.

2. Just because five assault divisions could be landed at night on the Sicilian coast in Op Husky did not make that possible on the French coast in 1943. One of the main lessons from Dieppe was that it would not be possible to simply sneak ashore under cover of darkness which was the landing technique employed in Op Husky, and other landings in the Mediterranean. Much of the lift used to carry troops would need to be used as platforms for the fire support for the assault troops. There was enough lift for three divisions to be landed in an assault.

3. The purpose of the Italian campaign was not to invade Europe from Italy. It was to tie down Germans away from the main action. We had a lot more soldiers than the Germans, but could not deploy them all at the same time. Not dissimilar to the winning Union strategy for the civil war. It was good strategy - and worked. Fortunately the 1943 Op Overlord operation was never put to the test.

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 19 Jan 2016 01:16

AFAIAC , the Dieppe raid was a planned abortion to discourage any further continental landings(i.e Round-Up) as suggested by American commanders. Those Canadians were sacrificed just to ensure a focus on the Med in 42-43 , and to discourage a "Continental" landing in that same time frame. Don't think Churchill and the British high command were beyond getting a few thousand "colonials", or even English commoners, killed to create an example. Witness the example of the Coventry Raids to give lie to how far British High Command would go.

Dieppe , IMO, was never meant to succeed , even beyond the "temporary" nature of the actual plan.. I have no sources that prove this , but it makes more sense than the "reality" as presented in history. Maybe one day something will surface to confirm it, that is not the case today.
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 19 Jan 2016 01:26, edited 1 time in total.

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Why no D day in 1943?

Post by MarkN » 19 Jan 2016 01:26

ChristopherPerrien wrote:AFAIAC , the Dieppe raid was a planned abortion to discourage any further continental landings(i.e Round-Up) as suggested by American commanders. Those Canadians were sacrificed just to ensure a focus on the Med in 42-43 , and to discourage a "Continental" landing in that same time frame. Don't think Churchill and the British high command were beyond getting a few thousand "colonials", or even English commoners, killed to create an example. Witness the example of the Coventry Raids to give lie to how far British High Command would go.

Dieppe , IMO, was never meant to succeed. I have no sources that prove this , but it makes more sense than the "reality" as presented in history. Maybe one day something will surface to confirm it, that is not the case today.
Wow! Unbelievable!!!!!!
Last edited by MarkN on 19 Jan 2016 01:29, edited 1 time in total.

Return to “WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic”