D-Day 1943?

Oct 2015
764
Virginia
#1
On this 75th anniversary of D-Day...what if General Marshall had gotten his way, and instead of invading Sicily and Italy the Allies had carried out Operation ROUNDUP and invaded Northwest Europe in spring-summer 1943?

The "Atlantic Wall" was not built in 1943, there were about 40 German divisions in the west in '43 compared to 60 or so in '44, 8 allied divisions landed in Sicily in '43, couldn't those troops, transports and landing craft have been used in Normandy, Pas de Calais or Brittany that same summer? Could the Allies have been in Berlin in the fall-winter of '44?
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,818
Dispargum
#2
Those eight divisions in Sicily (and I think you're under counting. There must have been more than eight - maybe 12?) could not have accomplished very much against 40 German divisions in France. The US Army was still expanding in '43 and '44. Many of the US divisions were still in the US awaiting their turn to cross the Atlantic. The reason the Western Allies invaded Sicily and Italy in '43 is because the size and shape of the land was small enough that the small Allied armies could operate without exposing an open flank. France was much larger. There would have been an exposed flank for the Germans to circle around and exploit. The best the Allies could do in France in '43 was hold a peninsula like Cherbourg or Brittany. They did not have enough troops in '43 to advance on Paris, never mind the Rhine.

In '43 the Luftwaffe was not yet defeated.

In early '43 the U-boats were still a threat, complicating the flow of reinforcements and supplies from America.
 
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Mar 2019
885
Kansas
#3
Those eight divisions in Sicily (and I think you're under counting. There must have been more than eight - maybe 12?) could not have accomplished very much against 40 German divisions in France. The US Army was still expanding in '43 and '44. Many of the US divisions were still in the US awaiting their turn to cross the Atlantic. The reason the Western Allies invaded Sicily and Italy in '43 is because the size and shape of the land was small enough that the small Allied armies could operate without exposing an open flank. France was much larger. There would have been an exposed flank for the Germans to circle around and exploit. The best the Allies could do in France in '43 was hold a peninsula like Cherbourg or Brittany. They did not have enough troops in '43 to advance on Paris, never mind the Rhine.

In '43 the Luftwaffe was not yet defeated.

In early '43 the U-boats were still a threat, complicating the flow of reinforcements and supplies from America.
Also it has to be remembered the Italian campaign was expected to be a lot more dynamic than it was. I recall a German propaganda poster that compared the allied progress to a snail. The had covered twice the distance that the troops had.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jul 2016
8,992
USA
#4
Those eight divisions in Sicily (and I think you're under counting. There must have been more than eight - maybe 12?) could not have accomplished very much against 40 German divisions in France. The US Army was still expanding in '43 and '44. Many of the US divisions were still in the US awaiting their turn to cross the Atlantic. The reason the Western Allies invaded Sicily and Italy in '43 is because the size and shape of the land was small enough that the small Allied armies could operate without exposing an open flank. France was much larger. There would have been an exposed flank for the Germans to circle around and exploit. The best the Allies could do in France in '43 was hold a peninsula like Cherbourg or Brittany. They did not have enough troops in '43 to advance on Paris, never mind the Rhine.

In '43 the Luftwaffe was not yet defeated.

In early '43 the U-boats were still a threat, complicating the flow of reinforcements and supplies from America.
There were not 40 divisions in France, I don't have the number but they were in OB West, which included all Axis occupied continental Europe. That's a HUGE amount of territory, considering divisional frontage on defense is about 10 miles.

Further, most of those were static divisions with almost no mobility, crap heavy weapons, poor troops. Now those troops are technically capable of occasionally holding their own when fighting from intact and well designed and constructed defenses, but those didn't really exist in mid 1943.
The Atlantic Wall was a propaganda saying at that point, it wasn't really built until late '43.

The rest of German divisions were there for R&R and rebuilding after being mauled in the Eastern Front, or being built from scratch. And as soon those divisions were remotely ready they were sent east again. They'd already moved the entire bulk of their reserve to support Citadel, the only three divisions that were of any importance were those of II SS Panzer Corps, which didn't leave France until late '43, which means they wouldn't have been ready to properly resist a landing in spring/summer '43.

We could have had 3-4 corps, American, British, Canadian ready for the assault, and could likely have fed a new corps in every month, on top of casualty replacements.

Then let us consider OB West commander, Rundstedt. I cannot picture a worse choice for a senior commander to fight the western Allies. Spoiled, in that he never fought without HEAVY air superiority, he was obsessed with maneuver without realizing the Western Allies had the ability to massively hinder him. He was not in the least committed, he was not a fan of Hitler or the Nazi govt, nor happy with the war, so he'd not have tried very hard. And he was third string for 1943, so he'd have started the campaign with the dregs of the Heer and it would have been weeks or even months before panzer or panzer grenadier divisions on the east could be sent west to beef up OB West (which would have included most of those that were used in Italy).

France was much better terrain for the US and British, at least outside bocage country, which meant they'd have performed much more effectively than italy where Allied advance was split by a major mountain range, making mutual support near impossible, with numerous mountainous areas and major river crossings that were a defender's wet dream in terms of terrain.

Invading Sicily was stupid, invading Italy was even stupider. Appeasing Churchill was simply not worth placating his whacko Mediterranean obsessions. And that's the ONLY reason D-Day 1943 didn't happen.
 
Jul 2016
8,992
USA
#6
I think the allies were not up for it again after the failed Operation Jubilee of August of 1942.
That operation had no real bearing on actual amphibious operations.

The HQ controlling it was amateur in comparison to the staff that were used to plan Overlord. The Dieppe Raid was a poorly planned operation, with not enough support, especially in execution, with almost no training or rehearsals, where fleet was compromised just beforw landing, causing chaos and mayhem.

All done for the actual purpose of taking and holding a hotel in the harbor area, and the docks long enough to pinch a four rotar enigma device and crypto code books. The rest was to either support them or conduct supporting operations at other objectives (like the radar station).
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,818
Dispargum
#7
... long enough to pinch a four rotar enigma device and crypto code books.
I never understood this part. Wouldn't the Germans realize they were missing an Enigma and a code book and switch to other codes and cyphers? All of the work on Ultra would have been lost. You can't really steal an Enigma unless you can convince the Germans that you don't have it - like steal it off a sinking U-boat or something.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jul 2016
8,992
USA
#8
There were not 40 divisions in France, I don't have the number but they were in OB West, which included all Axis occupied continental Europe. That's a HUGE amount of territory, considering divisional frontage on defense is about 10 miles.

Further, most of those were static divisions with almost no mobility, crap heavy weapons, poor troops. Now those troops are technically capable of occasionally holding their own when fighting from intact and well designed and constructed defenses, but those didn't really exist in mid 1943.
The Atlantic Wall was a propaganda saying at that point, it wasn't really built until late '43.

The rest of German divisions were there for R&R and rebuilding after being mauled in the Eastern Front, or being built from scratch. And as soon those divisions were remotely ready they were sent east again. They'd already moved the entire bulk of their reserve to support Citadel, the only three divisions that were of any importance were those of II SS Panzer Corps, which didn't leave France until late '43, which means they wouldn't have been ready to properly resist a landing in spring/summer '43.

We could have had 3-4 corps, American, British, Canadian ready for the assault, and could likely have fed a new corps in every month, on top of casualty replacements.

Then let us consider OB West commander, Rundstedt. I cannot picture a worse choice for a senior commander to fight the western Allies. Spoiled, in that he never fought without HEAVY air superiority, he was obsessed with maneuver without realizing the Western Allies had the ability to massively hinder him. He was not in the least committed, he was not a fan of Hitler or the Nazi govt, nor happy with the war, so he'd not have tried very hard. And he was third string for 1943, so he'd have started the campaign with the dregs of the Heer and it would have been weeks or even months before panzer or panzer grenadier divisions on the east could be sent west to beef up OB West (which would have included most of those that were used in Italy).

France was much better terrain for the US and British, at least outside bocage country, which meant they'd have performed much more effectively than italy where Allied advance was split by a major mountain range, making mutual support near impossible, with numerous mountainous areas and major river crossings that were a defender's wet dream in terms of terrain.

Invading Sicily was stupid, invading Italy was even stupider. Appeasing Churchill was simply not worth placating his whacko Mediterranean obsessions. And that's the ONLY reason D-Day 1943 didn't happen.
Correction. II SS Panzer Corps left France in early 43.
 
Likes: Futurist

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,818
Dispargum
#9
There were not 40 divisions in France, I don't have the number but they were in OB West, which included all Axis occupied continental Europe. That's a HUGE amount of territory, considering divisional frontage on defense is about 10 miles.

Further, most of those were static divisions with almost no mobility, crap heavy weapons, poor troops. Now those troops are technically capable of occasionally holding their own when fighting from intact and well designed and constructed defenses, but those didn't really exist in mid 1943.
The Atlantic Wall was a propaganda saying at that point, it wasn't really built until late '43.

The rest of German divisions were there for R&R and rebuilding after being mauled in the Eastern Front, or being built from scratch. And as soon those divisions were remotely ready they were sent east again. They'd already moved the entire bulk of their reserve to support Citadel, the only three divisions that were of any importance were those of II SS Panzer Corps, which didn't leave France until late '43, which means they wouldn't have been ready to properly resist a landing in spring/summer '43.

We could have had 3-4 corps, American, British, Canadian ready for the assault, and could likely have fed a new corps in every month, on top of casualty replacements.

Then let us consider OB West commander, Rundstedt. I cannot picture a worse choice for a senior commander to fight the western Allies. Spoiled, in that he never fought without HEAVY air superiority, he was obsessed with maneuver without realizing the Western Allies had the ability to massively hinder him. He was not in the least committed, he was not a fan of Hitler or the Nazi govt, nor happy with the war, so he'd not have tried very hard. And he was third string for 1943, so he'd have started the campaign with the dregs of the Heer and it would have been weeks or even months before panzer or panzer grenadier divisions on the east could be sent west to beef up OB West (which would have included most of those that were used in Italy).

France was much better terrain for the US and British, at least outside bocage country, which meant they'd have performed much more effectively than italy where Allied advance was split by a major mountain range, making mutual support near impossible, with numerous mountainous areas and major river crossings that were a defender's wet dream in terms of terrain.

Invading Sicily was stupid, invading Italy was even stupider. Appeasing Churchill was simply not worth placating his whacko Mediterranean obsessions. And that's the ONLY reason D-Day 1943 didn't happen.
Invading Sicily and Italy was necessary to force Italy's surrender. I agree once Italy surrendered, continuing the Italian campaign was a waste of resources. But the OP envisions the Allies redeploying eight (or 12) divisions from the Mediterranean to France. If the Allies do that, the Germans can also redeploy forces from Italy to France. I don't see an advantage to the Allies fighting in France instead of Italy in '43 but there's a real risk they could find themselves in France attacking a superior force.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jul 2016
8,992
USA
#10
I never understood this part. Wouldn't the Germans realize they were missing an Enigma and a code book and switch to other codes and cyphers? All of the work on Ultra would have been lost. You can't really steal an Enigma unless you can convince the Germans that you don't have it - like steal it off a sinking U-boat or something.
They were going to blow up the hotel afterwards. Burn down the docks and all ships. Kill everyone in area. Destroy all evidence. Every naval unit had an enigma machine and crypto station. Dieppe was HQ for regional Kriegsmarine command so it would have been seen as a tempting target for a raid. Unless they screwed up badly and left obvious evidence for Germans to find, they'd get away with it.

Look at it this way. After previous pinch raid, the Germans weren't any wiser. And even if enigma machines and code books were captured, that wouldn't mean much. New code books would be issued, and from the German view the encryption was unbreakable.

Ultra only broke the code by having a computer. While that could crack the code by brute force, it took time, and the German code changed daily. It was only after finding daily similarities in specific regular communications that finally additional variables could be added to break the code in a faster manner. But for the to work, they needed more intel. And then qhen the four rotar machine came out, they lost that ability until they got ahold of one from a u-boat.
 

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