Cross Channel Invasion 1943??

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Pteranadon, Feb 25, 2006.

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  1. Just re reading the AlanBrooke Diaries. One theme is the American insistance on a cross channel invasion as early as possible and closing down operatrions in the Mediterranean. Could a 1943 cross channel invasion have succeeded?
     
  2. Not after the debacle at Dieppe in '42 , and we didn't have the materiel on hand. Also North African campaign was just about wound-down and the troops needed to be brought home and re-trained.
    Virtually no American ground troops in the U.K. until mid 1943 either, plenty of USAAF and USN though.
     
  3. Nope Germans wern't heavily engaged enough on the eastern front also as seen they were preparing the largest armoured strike force ever fielded by a German army for the attack on the Kursk sailent. So in the unlikly event of a beach head being established the likely result would of it being hammered to destruction by Panzer's.
    Also : -
    U boats would have played a bigger part.
    The allies didn't have total air superiority.
    Lack of trained assualt troops.
    Lack of landing craft most commited to the Med and Op. Torch
     
  4. There are some things in favour of a 1943 second front.

    1. The defences of France are much weaker. The Normandy invasion coast has only two divisions to defend it -with a third in the Channel islands. In July 1943 there is only 1 formed and five reforming panzer divisions in France. Unlike in 1944 where there were nine formations of which six were specifically assigned for any invasion.

    2. The German military production hasn't geared up. In 1943 the Germans built 8.7 k tanks and Sp guns, compared to 15.6k in 1944, and only 10k fiughter aircraft compared to 25k in 1944. The German army in 1943 would have run out of weapons and ammunition earlier.

    3. The V Weapons campaign was less well advanced, which would have freed up many mor airrcfat and AA guns.

    4. The German qualitative superiority in tanks would have been less marked. In mid 1943 the Germans had only a handfull of Panthers and Tigers. A year later half their armoured fleet was Panthers or Tigers.

    If the Invasion was timed to land two weeks after the start of the German Summer offensive in the east there would be serious limits on the German capability to disengage. If the Germans had disengaed large panzer forces the east front would have collapsed even more disasterously than it did after the Soviet Orel operation.

    Could the Germasns really have "Thrown the allies into the sea"? They couldn't in Sicily, or at Salerno or Anzio. Dieppe was always planned as a raid -and no guide to an invasion. Why wouldn't allied air superiroity and naval gunpower could have stopped the Germans.
     
  5. Don't think we had air superiorty then. Interesting story about Churchill broadcasting bomber targets in late 43 / early 44. The quote from bomber crew was that he was a very foolish man. The quote from fighter command was that it got the luftwaffe into the air where it could be taken on and it had all but ceased to exist by June 44. D day was a close run thing.

    C
     
  6. Pteranadon, If you are reading Arthur Bryant's books you would be in no doubt that the CIGS's assessment was a pretty clear and unequivocal no. There were many reasons for this but he seemed to dwell longer than usual upon the issue of landing craft and viewed Admiral King (USN) as the chief obstacle to success in a cross-channel venture which both the US and USSR demanded.

    In spite of repeated requests from the President, King continued to feed the Pacific theatre with as much materiel as he could get his hands on. The net result was that we did not have enough landing craft in either the Mediterranean or European theatres to effect an invasion on the scale (five divisions landed simultaneously) that the COSSAC planners had realised was going to be necessary until 1944. Even with the loss of the 66 Italian divisions, the Axis could still field around 300 divisions so they were still a force to be reckoned with.

    Another factor was air power. With 7,000 first line aircraft, the Luftwaffe was far from a defeated force in 1943 and although the annual output of aircraft (22,000) was lower than the Allied effort, Speer was making more fighters than the Allies. An American raid on Stuttgart was so soundly repulsed that not one of the 400 Flying Fortresses reached the target and one tenth of the USAF aircraft failed to reach home again. The battle over Schweinfurt a month later saw 68 of the 228 USAF bombers shot down and 138 damaged. In 1943, the Luftwaffe still packed a significant punch and without air superiority, D-Day would have been dead in the water.

    At sea, the Battle of the Atlantic had barely been won and at a huge cost to Allied shipping. Any invasion of Europe had to rely on a secure Atlantic bridge and that had only just been achieved.

    He went on to assert that the US Chiefs of Staff never understood the importance of the Mediterranean strategy of drawing Hitler into Italy. Alanbrooke knew that the excellent east-west rail links meant that German units could be moved relatively easily between Russia and northern France; a division sent south, however, was more difficult to extract in a hurry. This incomprehension was, in part, due to the fact that the US knew itself to be a logistic and military giant and thus defeating Hitler was only a question of throwing resources at him in a slugging match.

    The UK viewpoint was one of a militarily experienced but small nation; we were trying to achieve victory by reaching Berlin without having to fight every German soldier on the way. If we could remove formations from our path by tying them to other theatres they could not block a swift strike at the German capital.

    Strangely, even Stalin acknowledged the strategical importance of the war in North Africa and Italy even though the US didn't. The latter were deeply suspicious of the British staff and the PM in particular; the former had completely outclassed them at the Cairo conference and the latter had a reputation for becoming obsessed with sideshows like Scandinavia and the Balkans. With this mindset, the US tried to make sure that the Med operation could not develop into a fully-fledged Balkan campaign and sought to achieve this by demanding that the landing craft in Italy were sent directly to the UK before the British could wriggle out of another cross-channel invasion (as they seemed to have done with 'Sledgehammer' and 'Roundup'). In the event this demand critically hampered the Italian campaign and cost the Allies more lives than was necessary. Had we been able to land sufficient troops further up the Italian peninsula at the point of the Italian capitulation, we would have been in a position to seize hundreds of miles of territory without much of a fight but as it was, the Germans overpowered the Italian forces and went on the offensive.

    Sorry, long rambling answer, but I think Alanbrooke's assessment has stood the test of time; a landing in 1943 might have been technically possible but not on the scale of Overlord and with a much reduced chance of success.