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Thread: Could D-Day have been in 1943?

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Could D-Day have been in 1943?

    A friend passed along a link yesterday to an article in the Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal by Cornell University history professor John H. Weiss. [LINK]

    Among the points outlined by Weiss:

    • That it should be said that it was Soviet and not American military action which was responsible for the defeat of the Germans.
      • Weiss gives the surrender of the German forces at the Battle of Stalingrad as the politically decisive event of the war and the Battle of Kursk as “the militarily decisive engagement.”
      • Weiss does go to pains to point out the importance of the American Lend-Lease program to Soviet war efforts, especially after the Battle of Stalingrad.

    • That many historians are now of a mind that Operation Overlord could have been undertaken in 1943.

    I would be interested in hearing from members of the forum as to whether this is pure hindsight or if any of the Allied generals and admirals were also advocating for the same at the time. Weiss states that the resources used in the Italian Campaign and the strategic bombing of German cities could have been put to better use.


    Again, pure hindsight?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-07-2014 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Moved here with author's OK and edited slightly.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Could D-Day have been in 1943?

    Ganulv raises a question about strategy in WW2, prompted by his reading, so this new thread has been started. His post will appear 1st in a moment.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Long ago the late British historian / writer John Grigg published a book asking this question, without apparently using official archives. It was called '1943: The Victory That Never Was', published in 1980 and here is a very short review:http://www.historytoday.com/paul-add...tory-never-was

    The book appears to be still available and six reviews are here:http://www.amazon.com/1943-victory-t.../dp/0809073773 In the UK it available too:http://www.amazon.co.uk/1943-The-Vic.../dp/041339610X
    davidbfpo

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    considering that decisive air superiority was NOT established until 1944 (and even the battle of the Atlantic was in doubt till 1943) this sounds like so much revisionist nonsense. EVEN in 1944 it was touch and go for a while. Without absolutely decisive air superiority, even 1944 would have failed.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Kursk was when the Germans lost the strategic initiative, but arguably Stalingrad was the strategic culmination of German fighting power on the Eastern front. The loss of their strongest Army was catastrophic and never made good.

    On the Western front I have not seen any scholarly work that suggests an invasion of NW Europe in 1943 was possible, mostly because the logistics would tend to say it wasn't. If the Mediterranean & N Africa theatre offences (Operations Torch, Husky and Avalanche) had not taken place than materiel for an invasion on a reduced scale would have been available, but Torch & Husky are also where the Allies learnt to conduct joint ops & the US Army learnt to fight & blooded its senior command element. Without this experience D-Day is likely to have been a very different tale.
    Last edited by Red Rat; 06-08-2014 at 08:39 AM. Reason: Typo
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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    On the Western front I have not seen any scholarly work that suggests an invasion of NW Europe in 1943 was possible, mostly because the logistics would tend to say it wasn't. If the Mediterranean & N Africa theatre offences (Operations Torch, Husky and Avalanche) had not taken place than materiel for an invasion on a reduced scale would have been available, but Torch & Husky are also where the Allies learnt to conduct joint ops & the US Army learnt to fight & blooded its senior command element. Without this experience D-Day is likely to have been a very different tale.
    Did experiences in the South Pacific campaigns contribute to the planning for the Normandy invasion in any significant way?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Kursk was when the Germans lost the strategic initiative, but arguably Stalingrad was the strategic culmination of German fighting power on the Eastern front. The loss of their strongest Army was catastrophic and never made good.
    In series "Germany and the Second World War" the authors come to the conclusion that Stalingrad was the point of no return for the German forces in the east and was the battle in which Germany lost the strategic initiative.

    However, they clearly doubt that after December 1941 there was a realistic chance for Germany to win the war against the Soviet Union. Therefore, it was a horrible battle but not an decisive one.

    For me it is hard to imagine how the 250000 men of the 6th Army would have made a difference when the Red Army would have had additional 700000 men more at Kurks, for example.

    Germany had in 1942 simply not enough motorized units to achieve something similar to the results of summer and autum 1941.
    Last edited by Ulenspiegel; 06-08-2014 at 10:22 PM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From Italy to Germany another way

    ganulv posted (cited in part) earlier:
    Weiss states that the resources used in the Italian Campaign and the strategic bombing of German cities could have been put to better use.
    Having just read a book that covered the Italian campaign it is worth mentioning several times major components were removed to fight elsewhere, the French (North African) Corps to southern France (after D-Day) and the Canadian Corps to the UK to participate in the D-Day landings.

    So in some respects Italy enabled Allied formation to learn how to fight against a respected, capable enemy and the move on to fight another day. I would expect individuals were moved too, way below Eisenhower and Montgomery's level.
    davidbfpo

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    To add to the discussion:

    The successful 70-year campaign to convince people the USA and not the USSR beat Hitler

    As historian Richard Overy explains in his book Why the Allies Won:

    If the defeat of the German army was the central strategic task, the main theatre for it was the conflict on the eastern front. The German army was first weakened there, and then driven back, before the main weight of Allied ground and air forces was brought to bear in 1944. Over four hundred German and Soviet divisions fought along a front of more than 1,000 miles. Soviet forces destroyed or disabled an estimated 607 Axis divisions between 1941 and 1945. The scale and geographical extent of the eastern front dwarfed all earlier warfare. Losses on both sides far exceeded losses anywhere else in the military contest. The war in the east was fought with a ferocity almost unknown on the western fronts. The battles at Stalingrad and Kursk, which broke the back of the German army, drew from the soldiers of both sides the last ounces of physical and moral energy.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    Did experiences in the South Pacific campaigns contribute to the planning for the Normandy invasion in any significant way?
    Not that I'm aware of, honestly. Quite a bit of the landing bombardment doctrine had been worked out (or at least drafted) before the war.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I'd have to go back and re-read the history, but it's been my understanding that part of the delay for Western intervention was political. Was British strategic culture at the time opposed to direct confrontation with a contintental power (I'm thinking of the Napoleonic experience as well)?

    Also - I think something like 80% of German casualties were suffered on the Eastern Front. That's a major indicator of who bears the most responsibility for defeating Germany (assuming the Clausewitzian desire of destroying the enemy's capability to fight holds true as the central purpose of military action). Looking at German losses in Barbarossa in 1941 alone, and Soviet mass mobilization, I think Germany lost that winter. Germany was not fully mobilized until late in the war, and while it had the personnel to cover its 1941 losses, even after fully mobilization they never quite reached the replacement rate they had in the early years.

    What opportunity did Germany have in 1942 to press for Soviet capitulation that it did not have in 1941? It was the series of defeats in 1942-1943 that finally made the German leadership recognize the trap they were now in.
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    @JMA

    If you checked the losses during Kurks, you would find, that with 10.000 KIA and 40.000 WIA the German losses were not high for east front, the next months without any special operations showed even higher losses per month. Kursk showed that Germany had lost the ability to launch a meaningful operation in summer, however, it does not break the backbone of the German forces.

    The real change between Kursk in 1943 and the destrcution of the Herresgruppe Mitte one year later was, that the Red Army fought at Kursk "only" with a 3 times higher number of armoured formations (2700 German tanks vs. 8000 Soviet tanks) while this ratio increased to 10 times at the beginning of Bagration (600 German tanks vs. 6000 Soviet tanks).

    The east front was characterized by the fact that most formations on both sides were slow infantry divisions with soldiers who did not see a car/truck in years. The side which could launch an successful offensive had the chance to capture huge numbers of enemies that had no possibility to retreat.

    On the operational level 1942 the Germans had the initiative, 1943 was more or less a draw, 1944 a clear defeat for the Germans. But not even in 1942 there was a real chance to achieve strategically decisive results.

    The high attrition rate for tanks and trucks and the unability to maintain a useful motorization ratio compared to the Red Army were the strategic problem of the German Wehrmacht after December 1941.
    Last edited by Ulenspiegel; 06-17-2014 at 07:40 PM.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    The ratios mentioned by Ulenspiegel were indeed to a very large degree due to overall German inferiority in ressources and the diversion of arguably most of the technology- and capitalintensive to the 'Western' and Homefront. Very simplified the SU payed the price to defeat Nazi Germany mostly in blood and the Western allies mostly in industrial output and technology.

    As Red Rat pointed out there is little to suggest that a D-Day, certainly not on it's 1944 scale would have been possible in 1943.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-17-2014 at 07:55 PM. Reason: correct last date
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