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"D-Day, A Year Too Late?" Topic

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889 hits since 14 May 2024
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian14 May 2024 6:08 p.m. PST

In the face of British opposition, a U.S. bid for the Allies to launch an invasion across the English Channel in 1943 failed. But would they have had the troops and landing vessels to pull it off?

Naval History Magazine: link

Korvessa14 May 2024 6:39 p.m. PST

Couple of big "What ifs" you got there

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2024 8:04 p.m. PST

Another consequence of delaying the cross-channel invasion until after 1943 was the significant impact on the Pacific Campaign. The absence of a 1943 invasion allowed Admiral King to reallocate substantial naval resources to the Pacific. Similarly, General Marshall redirected divisions initially intended for Europe to the Pacific theater. Without a cross-channel invasion in 1943, these critical assets would have been sent to England instead. The resources redirected to the Pacific were essential for the successful operations in 1943 and 1944.

Skarper14 May 2024 11:29 p.m. PST

Without the damage done to the Wehrmacht in 1943-4 on the Eastern front I suspect any invasion would have failed to break out and become another meatgrinder.

I doubt the UK/US public would have been OK with the costs of such a scenario.

Martin Rapier14 May 2024 11:53 p.m. PST

Salerno showed very adequately what a 1943 invasion would look like. Not much fun.

If people really think it was viable, pick up a strategic boardgame like AHGCs Third Reich, and see how it goes.

14Bore15 May 2024 1:33 a.m. PST

A learning curve had to happen for success to be assured

Nine pound round15 May 2024 5:16 a.m. PST

All of the major powers started rearming in the 1930s, and all of their plans shared one point of commonality: they expected war to start in the 1942-43 timeframe. That includes Germany; once everyone's favorite vegetarian animal-loving bohemian tyrant decided to advance that timeline, a lot of scrambling went on. Battleships that were slated for launch in 1943-4 got cancelled in favor of more immediate needs, and everyone scrambled to adjust.

The delay in Overlord probably improved the chances of success significantly; it may have lengthened the European war, but the progress against Japan probably meant the overall war was shorter than it might otherwise have been.

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2024 6:35 a.m. PST

Interesting piece. I do enjoy the writing by USNI.

rmaker15 May 2024 11:43 a.m. PST

No matter what Mr. O'Hara thinks, the Allies could NOT have established aerial supremacy over the beaches in 1943. And that is only the first problem.

How was the terribly understrength (three beaches, not five and only four divisions – none of them airborne) invasion force to be supported and supplied? The crucial Mulberries would not have been available and the thoughts of capturing Cherbourg and Le Havre intact were nothing more than fantasies.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2024 12:34 p.m. PST

Other than;

The experience of Dieppe and disaster
The lack of transports and landing craft
The Atlantic battle not yet done
Aerial supremacy not yet assured
The shortage of airborne divisions
The Mulberries are just a fantasy
The experience of Allied landings in Salerno and Anzio (almost miracle survivals against tactically superior Axis forces)
Above all, the USSR has not yet inflicted massive losses on the Germans (actually I admit it already had through Stalingrad and by 1943 Kursk) and could reasonably claim to be winning the war almost single handed.

Why not try a 1943 landing in Northern France?

Just pray that Oppenheimer's lads speed up a bit in New Mexico and free all the POWs from Dynamo and Roundup.

Then, to be fair, the article's analysis does tell us that 1943 was just not possible.Not remotely actually. Just for once, British caution, passivity, inertia and reserve vs US "Go for them" and self-confidence proved wiser. Hard on the USSR back then mind you, but these days the successors get less sympathy.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2024 12:50 p.m. PST

Let us recall, though, the the German beach defenses were almost non-existent in 1943, and the main strength of German forces that would be present in the west in 1944 were still in the east in 1943.

My own very basic assessment is that the landings themselves would have been notably easier. The probability of picking up a port was higher, but still not assured. And if a port was not obtained, the results would be far worse for the Allies in 1943 than they were in 1944. Once ashore, it would be notably easier for the Germans to limit the bridgehead -- their rail lines were still very much intact, and the Allies did not have any measure of control over the air.

So they get ashore, push in a few km, and within a few weeks the front goes static. Ugly follows. Lots of ugly.

(aka: Mk 1)

Fred Cartwright15 May 2024 4:08 p.m. PST

Hmmm! Not convinced. The German day fighter force was in a lot better shape in the 1943 than it was in 1944, so hand waving away gaining air superiority as a foregone conclusion is stretching it a bit. It would have been harder and maintaining it to the extent it was in 1944 a lot harder.
Going summer 43 means likely no Op Citadel and potentially forces to be transferred west once the Germans detect the buildup. Allied airborne forces still forming. What would that have had ready for summer 43? Tanks would be Valentines, Grants and Shermans and a few Churchills and 6pdr Cromwell. Very few, if any DD tanks. How many Shermans could the US supply by then? Enough to equip 3 3 British, 1 Canadian and 1 Polish AD's?

Marcus Brutus15 May 2024 7:34 p.m. PST

I think deadhead nailed it when he mentioned the fact that the Battle for the Atlantic was still undecided in 43. I can't imagine the Allies landing in France before the Atlantic was secured.

TimePortal15 May 2024 9:02 p.m. PST

Personal opinion but I feel that an invasion of France in 1943 would have been a slugfast. The Allied armor relied on numbers and upgrades which they did not have in 1943. Look at Anzio and Italy in 1943. A slugfesr. Allies would have won but with higher casualties.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2024 11:35 a.m. PST

I think deadhead nailed it when he mentioned the fact that the Battle for the Atlantic was still undecided in 43.

The Battle of the Atlantic turned decisively in favor of the Allies in May 1943, but of course no one realized this at the time. This date might have been moved up a bit if the USN had committed more resources to the Atlantic, but this is just hindsight talking.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2024 1:12 p.m. PST

To expand on rmaker's point about the lack of Mulberries, I think we can also look at the larger logistical issues that would have hamstrung a 1943 operation. Many of the delivery systems were either still in development or in the process of being built at this time (e.g., PLUTO) while others (LSTs, LSIs, APAs, Rhino ferries) were far too few in number. Just as importantly, the necessary stockpiles in the UK needed to be built up. To accelerate this for a 1943 invasion would have meant risking a lot of that tonnage while the Battle of the Atlantic was still very precarious.

I would also point out that the Allies would have been operating at a major disadvantage in experience, not so much for the troops but for the command and staff, particularly at the division level and up. No matter how thorough and realistic the training and maneuvers are, coordinating and maintaining a formation in combat is its own schooling.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2024 9:34 a.m. PST

Just a point about beach defenses in 1944. They held for what? 45 minutes?

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2024 12:33 p.m. PST

A lot of reasons not to try it in 1943, but you must also consider that during 1943 the German Army was at its weakest as at any point of the war except for the very start and the very end. In the Fall of 1943 there was like one panzer division in France and very little of the Atlantic Wall had been constructed. The Normandy area had virtually nothing except at the ports. It would have been a big risk, but it was certainly not impossible.

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