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"Drawing the Right Lessons From D-Day" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2019 3:50 p.m. PST

"This week marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, rightly commemorated as the largest seaborne invasion and most expansive combined sea-air-land operation in the history of kinetic conflict. Given advancements in the technology of combat and evolving geopolitical developments, it is likely that the magnitude and complexity of this invasion will never be equaled in the annals of human warfare, though it will forever be studied for its lessons in military and naval logistics and strategy.

The memorialization of D-Day has conferred upon June 6th a special place in American history and even pop culture and has generated a veritable cottage industry of books, articles and films. Little wonder then that this week the chattering class hordes from big U.S. media outlets descended upon France, joining the politicians to offer their fevered intonations of what the day was all about and, more importantly to them, what it means now. Self-anointed experts from Hollywood and the Beltway/Manhattan ruling class such as Joe Scarborough of MSNBC have filed reports all week as to how we should think of D-Day while echoing the pronouncement of historian Stephen Ambrose that D-Day was the climactic battle of World War II…"
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Lee49412 Jun 2019 1:20 a.m. PST

IMHO another Trash Talk attempt at revisionist history. Wrong facts, ex there were 3 airborne divisions not 2 at Normandy, and inaccurate "what if" alternatives. Even if Normandy wasn't needed to finish off the Germans did we really want France and Western Europe occupied by Stalin instead of Hitler? Which is exactly what would have happened had we stayed focused on Italy. It was Italy not Normandy that was the side show.

Not worthy of further response. And no I didn't like it my friend. 😏

Uncle Goblin12 Jun 2019 2:13 a.m. PST

Agree completely with Lee. Author is not even an historian, it's an amateur (and a rather poor one) with many assumptions and factual mistakes. In the comments he also makes the revisionist claim that Japan was bullied by US into the war and forgets intentionally about China being the reason of the US embargo.

Torquemada12 Jun 2019 5:52 a.m. PST

Guy doesn't have an agenda at all …

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2019 9:20 a.m. PST

"Given advancements in the technology of combat and evolving geopolitical developments, it is likely that the magnitude and complexity of this invasion will never be equaled in the annals of human warfare…"

Somebody's REALLY optimistic about humanity's next few thousand years.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2019 9:28 a.m. PST

I continue to be surprised by the number of people who look at the coming of WWII and seem to miss Hitler tearing up the Munich Agreement, telling me that if the British and French had not drawn the line with Poland, Hitler would not have done what he had in fact already done--continue to make territorial demands and annex non-Germanic people. I know the author is an economist, but surely even they can figure out that there's no point in making deals with people whose word is no good?

Oh. And the lesson of D-Day is to keep your reserves close to the coast and guess right about where the landings will be.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2019 9:47 a.m. PST

The problem is that given the average persons knowledge of WWII this may come across as a reasonable, well constructed and logical argument.

Ghostrunner12 Jun 2019 11:42 a.m. PST

The lesson I've got from what I read about D-Day is that the naval fire support was completely inadequate, and not nearly effective enough.

(Didn't help that almost all the big guns were being sent to the Pacific Theater.)

Not bashing the Navy heritage or the vets, but it looks like they just seriously underestimated what it would take to neutralize all the dug-in German defenses.

[Edit: Just skimmed the article… yeah, he's a loon. At best he's trying to use praise of D-Day to say we need to cut our modern military.]

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2019 12:04 p.m. PST



Mark 112 Jun 2019 12:51 p.m. PST

(Didn't help that almost all the big guns were being sent to the Pacific Theater.)


D-Day bombardment groups included 8 battleships, 1 monitor (with 15-inch guns!), and 20 cruisers.

Seems to me that is a reasonably large quantity of big guns, hardly indicating that "almost all big guns" were going elsewhere.

The lesson I've got from what I read about D-Day is that the naval fire support was completely inadequate, and not nearly effective enough.

I think the issue was repeated in many assault landings. NGS is very effective when it is controlled by observers who have eyes on the target. Very effective.

But not so much when you just throw lots of HE at map coordinates.

The Germans came to recognize that it was pointless to concentrate major forces (including armor) within range of Naval gunfire support. Whole units could be erased from the OOB within minutes if they were spotted and targeted.

In this it was not too different from Corps level artillery concentrations. They could be VERY effective when called onto target by an observer with eyes on target. But not so much when fired a map coordinates.

(aka: Mk 1)

14Bore12 Jun 2019 1:31 p.m. PST

My opinion was it was a rush job to squeeze everything into one day, pre air support was shortened, the naval bombardment was short compared to many Pacific operations, support troops were rushed in on first couple waves to clear beaches but often fought for their lives barely carrying out their prime mission. And troops poured in as fast as they almost could.

Lion in the Stars12 Jun 2019 2:16 p.m. PST

The newest US battleships were all in the Pacific, true, but it's not like we didn't provide a hell of a lot of fire support for the landings.

The most impressive naval fire support was when the destroyers got within 1000yds of the coast and were risking grounding, so that they could direct 5" gunfire at the same places the tanks were shooting. Once the tanks figured out that the Navy was shooting the same places they were, it was game on for the bunkers.

Mark 112 Jun 2019 2:26 p.m. PST

My opinion was it was a rush job to squeeze everything into one day … compared to many Pacific operations…

True that the whole landing was constructed to appear on the horizon at dawn and be ashore shortly after, and ashore with exploitation forces by the end of the day.

But not because it was a "rush job". Because that's what was required by the characteristics of the operation.

In the Pacific the Navy could isolate the battle zone by controlling the seas around the battle zone. This was not true of the Normandy beaches.

In the Pacific, once air power had been suppressed (in the pre-prep), it stayed suppressed. Spend a couple days mashing the enemy air forces in the target atoll, and they stayed down. In France two years were spent whittling German air power down to the level they were at when D-Day came. There was no path to preventing air forces from flowing in to the theater, so it took an attack on the entire Luftwaffe infrastructure. Hardly a "rush" job, that.

In the Pacific it was never particularly likely that a Japanese tank division or two might start towards the invasion beach the moment the invasion force was sighted. This was a major threat to the Normandy invasion.

In fact, the entire operational challenge was the rush to re-enforce. Getting ashore meant NOTHING if the allies could not amass forces ashore faster than the Germans could re-enforce their own forces surrounding the bridgehead.

And … very few of the atolls in the Pacific housed significant civilian populations that the Allies were seeking to liberate. Let us not forget that there was a terrible price to pay for laying waste to France. Even with the "rush job" of the D-Day bombings and bombardments, more French civilians were killed on D-Day than German soldiers!

I don't see it as a "rush job" at all. I see it as a specific set of challenges, based on the operation at hand. We don't typically call the Indy 500 is a "rush job". But it is very much a race, and if you don't treat it as a race, you can't win.

(aka: Mk 1)

Lee49412 Jun 2019 4:27 p.m. PST

Amazing the misconceptions among even such an informed group as those here on TMP.

Re Naval Fire Support. As mentioned above it was largely the Navy that sprung the Army from being stalled on Omaha. Naval gunfire was much more effective than air support and even Bradley in his Bio mentioned how he'd gladly trade a bomber squadron for a 12" gun.

Re Rush Job. The Allies painstakingly made sure that other areas were also softened up in the weeks prior to D-Day so as not to tip off the intended landing area. Had we spent all our resources softening up Normandy then on D-Day the first wave may well have been wiped our by pre positioned German troops.

I think while not perfect, D-Day was an Allied masterpiece of planning and execution that was both pivotal and absolutely necessary to win the war.


Skarper13 Jun 2019 1:10 a.m. PST

It's certainly unreasonable to suggest D-Day was unnecessary. I'm not sure of the context for the Churchill quote. I know he was haunted by the Gallipoli debacle and was searching for a way to avoid the invasion but I think it was emotional not rational opposition.

The landings themselves were highly successful. I know initial objectives were not achieved but I suspect they were deliberately overambitious.

The breakout was far harder than anticipated of course, but the Germans threw everything into roping off the landings. It was the right strategy but they lacked the forces and supplies to make it work.

It's a very poor article. Sensationalist with nothing new to offer in the way of evidence. I skimmed it.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2019 1:42 a.m. PST

I'll translate the article.

"D-Day was kinda great, but the effort should not have been necessary if we find a way to get somebody to stand on the throat of Europe somewhere around 1915 and keep it controlled, preferably Germany because while they would not be nazis, they would still behave like a very appealing and sexy civilized version because the alternatives, the stubborn Brits or the French joke would be unthinkable …"

Because Germany dictating the rest of Europe for the better part of a century will really go smoothly and effortlessly and never generate any ill will and never result in political mistakes, never ever …

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Jun 2019 4:27 a.m. PST

Lots of good points here. On the topic of naval bombardments I've often wondered about the feasibility of the Allied navies starting in early 1944 of periodically bombarding sections of the French coast. As with their air campaign, they'd have to bombard the Pas de Calais more frequently than Normandy. The bombardments would be designed to damage the coastal defenses and interfere with construction of more, but would also get the Germans used to being bombarded from the sea, so that when the invasion actually started, they wouldn't immediately know that this was IT, rather than just another bombardment. Naturally, the navies would lose some ships, but honestly they had ships to spare at this point.

Uncle Goblin13 Jun 2019 5:55 a.m. PST

Hi Scott. Personally I don'tt think it would be worth the effort.

First that would nullify several parts of fortitude: Norway, south of France and the Balkans.

Second it would be too expensive for small results. Not only you have to spend a lot of very expensive ammo, you have to move the ships and protect the big ones from enemy subs, aircraft, small boats and mines which requires more ships and airplanes. Also the firing would not benefit from land observers to correct the fire, just the aerial ones so it would not be as accurate as it would be needed to justify the cost. Also the effect of stopping construction would be small, you cannot keep a continued naval bombardment to stop the works.

And if you start losing the big ships you have a problem from the government, losing a big ship always had an impact on the public, and these were democracies.

I'd see more efficient mounting long range batteries on England, big berta style. But for good reasons that wasn't done.

I might be wrong, of course. :)

14Bore13 Jun 2019 3:49 p.m. PST

Mark – I agree, a rush job to me doesn't me slapped together, just lots to do in a short space allowed.

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