SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

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Tom from Cornwall
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SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 29 Dec 2021 15:54

Hi,

I came across this memorandum in the UK National Archives (WO219/27 - SHAEF COS Summary of Decisions) and thought it might be of interest for those wondering how confident SHAEF were in mid-September 1944 that the end of the war might be in sight:
WO219-27 - 12 Sep 44.JPG
It would be interesting to see the cable referred to in the first line setting out the required flow of US divisions from November 1944 to March 1945.

Regards

Tom
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EwenS
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by EwenS » 31 Dec 2021 08:57

I note the date on this of 12 Sept 1944.

The Octagon Conference in Quebec took place from 12-16 Sept at which various papers are available related to NWE on the attached link. Of direct relevance are (page numbers are those of the .pdf file for simplicity)

Eisenhower’s report dated 9 Sept p18 (note the para on p21 about future intentions where he acknowledges risk inherent in the strategy incl what became Op Market Garden v securing his logistics routes from Channel Ports. NB Antwerp fell on 4th. A “....gamble which I am prepared to take....”)

Discussions about Allocation of Zones of Occupation with Combined Chiefs Memo of 16th Sept p45-47

Combined Intelligence Committee report dated 8th Sept p98

Combined Personnel Movement Problem in the First Year after the Defeat of Germany p112


It is well worth taking the time to peruse all 301 pages. Quite a few nuggets in there showing the mindset of the Allied leadership at the time.

https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Document ... tagon3.pdf

EwenS
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by EwenS » 31 Dec 2021 09:47

In terms of the divisions expected, it would have to include the last 3 US Armoured divisions formed in WW2.

13th - landed at Le Havre direct from USA Jan 1945
16th - arrived Feb 1945
20th - arrived Le Havre Feb 1945

Prior to that the 10th & 12th had landed in in France in Sept and the 14th in Oct with the 11th being in Britain between Oct & Dec before moving to France.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 31 Dec 2021 11:16

EwenS wrote:
31 Dec 2021 08:57
It is well worth taking the time to peruse all 301 pages. Quite a few nuggets in there showing the mindset of the Allied leadership at the time.
Many thanks for providing the link to that document - I also note that records of all the great staff conferences are there. That should keep me busy during the cold winter evenings!

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 Jan 2022 19:31

Wasn't sure where to post this as I thought we already had a thread about SHAEF's planning for the advance into Germany in autumn 1944 so I'll pop it up here as it is from the same source as the OP:

Date: 2 October 1944
Time: 1200
Subject: The Chief of Staff forwarded for information of Army Group Commanders and the Commanding General, First Allied Airborne Army, a Planning Staff Paper outlining possible methods of conducting an advance into GERMANY after the occupation of the RUHR and FRANKFURT areas.

I thought it serves as a useful counter to all those overly focused on "MARKET GARDEN". Clearly SHAEF weren't thinking that the failure to snatch a bridge over the Rhine at ARNHEM had stymied Allied advances into Germany.

Regards

Tom

Aber
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Aber » 02 Jan 2022 14:06

Key to the situation was the Army Group commanders conference on 5 October (attended by Brooke) which triggered Montgomery focussing on opening Antwerp.

The key attack under preparation was at Aachen, but Dempsey reported on 6 October after visiting Hodges:
"First US Army is apparently unable to develop its operations properly because it has not got the necessary ammunition".

Ruppenthal volume 2 Chapter 9 on supply of ammunition has extensive details on "The October Crisis".
The crisis in ammunition supply left its mark on the fighting in October. The shortage of ammunition, more than any other factor, determined the character of tactical operations that month. General Bradley had immediately recognized that major offensive operations were out of the question until minimum reserves were reconstituted and a steady flow of ammunition was assured. Except for the action leading to the capture of Aachen
by the First Army, therefore, and minor probing attacks, activity was relatively light along the entire front occupied by U.S. forces.
There was a conflict in landing troops and ammunition:
COMZ officials had recognized the seriousness of the unloading situation earlier, and in the last days of September the G-4 and ordnance officials had worked out a plan calling for the unloading of eight Liberties at a time, six of them at Cherbourg and the remainder at the beaches. The Communications Zone had obviously counted on this program in presenting its availability figures on 1 October. But circumstances beyond its control intervened to upset its schedule and discredit its predictions. First, higher authority (presumably SHAEF) ordered berths at Cherbourg freed to give priority to troop debarkations. Then storms virtually stopped operations at the beaches, with the result that an average of only two ships had been worked at a time and barely a thousand tons of ammunition per day had been discharged in the first week of October.

EwenS
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by EwenS » 04 Jan 2022 10:26

I wouldn’t call the Army Commanders Conference on 5th Oct “key”.

In his report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for the Quadrant Conference on 8/9 Sept, Eisenhower recognised the importance of Antwerp and the risk involved his strategy as he then laid it out. So did the Combined Chiefs in their orders to him around 12 Sept. Both recognised the importance of Antwerp to Allied logistics if Germany did not collapse as was then thought possible.

On 13 Sept Montgomery had issued orders to Crerar (1st Canadian Army) about the importance of opening Antwerp port ASAP. But various redispositions of troops needed to be made before that could occur. A lot of 1st Canadian Army’s troops and supplies were still in France due to the rapid Sept advance.
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Can ... ry-15.html

On 2nd Oct the 2nd Canadian Inf Div began its push north from Antwerp towards Woensdrecht with a view to cutting off the Germans in South Beveland. This faced increasing opposition over the next 5 days as the Germans fought to keep their escape route open, before being halted.

South of the Scheldt the 3rd Canadian Inf Div restarted its campaign to cross the Leopold Canal and clear the Breskens Pocket on 6th Oct which it had been planning since its advance was halted by that obstacle in mid-Sept. That was followed by an amphibious Operation Switchback on the 9th (the first offensive use of LVTs in Europe).
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Can ... ry-16.html

No campaign like this gets planned and organised overnight. Arrangements were in place for the Scheldt campaign well before that Army Commanders meeting on the 5th Oct. So the message from the conference on the 5th served more of a hurry up call rather than something that “triggered Montgomery focussing on Antwerp”.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Jan 2022 18:23

EwenS wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:26
... No campaign like this gets planned and organised overnight. Arrangements were in place for the Scheldt campaign well before that Army Commanders meeting on the 5th Oct. So the message from the conference on the 5th served more of a hurry up call rather than something that “triggered Montgomery focussing on Antwerp”.
A critical point. I've been over this autumn campaign (The entire front) frequently on the game board, and getting the combat power together to get Antwerp 'open' is tough. If it is to be done sooner rather than later it inevitably requires forgoing any simultaneous operations further east along the Mass/Rhine area. In the long run it seems worth that cost, even if Antwerp is held by the Germans a few extra weeks and damaged by their demolitions. Having just a reduced capacity port open in late October vs late November makes a large difference in the west wall battles for the remainder of the year.

Having said all that I also feel there was a 'invisible' opportunity the first & second week of September to open the Scheldt relatively easily. The German 15th Army was relatively disorganized & the bulk of it still retreating across Flanders. The north shore was held by some heavy artillery and FLAK crews, service troops and some left behind components of a infantry division. A narrow attack by 40th Corps and airborne attacks to seize the crossings on both banks of the Scheldt has the ability to interdict the retreat of the 15th Army and secure the ferry crossings. Unfortunately the conditions appear opaque at the time. I doubt I'd have seen it from Montys PoV 18 August or 2 September.

Aber
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Aber » 04 Jan 2022 20:04

EwenS wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:26
No campaign like this gets planned and organised overnight. Arrangements were in place for the Scheldt campaign well before that Army Commanders meeting on the 5th Oct. So the message from the conference on the 5th served more of a hurry up call rather than something that “triggered Montgomery focussing on Antwerp”.
Agreed, the attack to open up Antwerp was already being planned, but they were administratively second priority to the plans for attacking south-east from Nijmegen with 8 Corps in co-ordination with the First US Army attack- see Hamilton Monty Field Marshall p103.

The 8 Corps plans were shelved due to the need to clear the area west of the Maas which had previously been given to US 7th Armored Division.
Last edited by Aber on 04 Jan 2022 20:31, edited 1 time in total.

Aber
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Aber » 04 Jan 2022 20:25

EwenS wrote:
31 Dec 2021 08:57
Combined Intelligence Committee report dated 8th Sept p98
Conclusion
We consider that organized resistance under the effective control of the German High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) is unlikely to continue beyond 1 December 1944, and that it may end even sooner.

Gooner1
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by Gooner1 » 05 Jan 2022 15:34

Possibly the best way of opening up Antwerp earlier would have been by temporarily attaching US VIII Corps to 1st Canadian Army, after Brest had fallen.
Or, possibly even better, attaching them to 1st Canadian Army instead of besieging Brest.

EwenS
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Re: SHAEF and BERLIN - September 1944

Post by EwenS » 05 Jan 2022 21:40

One problem with that is the logistics of physically moving them from Brest / Brittany area across France and Belgium and then keeping them supplied in the field with US ammunition for example. ISTR reading somewhere that there was something like 6 US divisions grounded in France through lack of logistics capacity in early/mid Sept. The speed ofvthe Allied advance in Sept caught both the Allies and the Germans hy surprise.

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