D-Day 1943?

Oct 2015
838
Virginia
#11
Eisenhower's initial ROUNDUP plan called for 48 divisions. Probably 5 Canadian, 15-18 UK, a Free French, a Polish and (apparently) 23-26 American.

There were only 10 US divisions in Europe on 1 June 1943; but if a direct confrontation with the German army was in prospect (rather than nibbling at the MTO edges) shipments of US troops would undoubtedly have been sped up to the limits of available shipping (including some of the divisions actually sent to the Pacific in '43).

On the other hand, as Chlodio says, the U-Boats were not defeated until April-May, nor had the Luftwaffe been totally suppressed in mid '43.

Actually, after the disaster in Tunisia there were only 2-4 German divisions in Italy. And (surprisingly) the Italian surrender only induced the Germans to send 8-9 more divisions to the Balkans to replace the Italian occupation troops.

And there was the annoying question of landing craft. Many of the troops were landed on Sicily from large combat loaded transports (faster and better for use in initial assaults in the Med or Pacific), would they have been as efficient repeatedly crossing the Channel to build-up the invasion force as LSTs, LCTs etc?

And who would command? Would Ike have had enough prestige to be appointed Supreme Commander (commanding the "bomber barons" et al)?
 
Last edited:
Jul 2016
9,548
USA
#12
Eisenhower's initial ROUNDUP plan called for 48 divisions. Probably 5 Canadian, 15-18 UK, a Free French, a Polish and (apparently) 23-26 American.

There were only 10 US divisions in Europe on 1 June 1943; but if a direct confrontation with the German army was in prospect (rather than nibbling at the MTO edges) shipments of US troops would undoubtedly have been sped up to the limits of available shipping (including some of the divisions actually sent to the Pacific in '43).

On the other hand, as Chlodio says, the U-Boats were not defeated until April-May, nor had the Luftwaffe been totally suppressed in mid '43.

Actually, after the disaster in Tunisia there were only 2-4 German divisions in Italy. And (surprisingly) the Italian surrender only induced the Germans to send 8-9 more divisions to the Balkans to replace the Italian occupation troops.

And there was the annoying question of landing craft. Many of the troops were landed on Sicily from large combat loaded transports (faster and better for use in initial assaults in the Med or Pacific), would they have been as efficient repeatedly crossing the Channel to build-up the invasion force as LSTs, LCTs etc?

And who would command? Would Ike have had enough prestige to be appointed Supreme Commander (commanding the "bomber barons" et al)?
The u-boats are immaterial. All forces needed were all across the Atlantic, either staging and prepping in England, or in North Africa, Sicily or italy in 43.

The order of battle used for invasion of Sicily/Italy would simply have been shifted to France instead. It would have been far easier to supply them, far easier to provide air support.

The Luftwaffe is non issue. They didn't have fully capable air fleet in OB West since the Combined Bomber Offensive started in mid 43. The Allies already by then had the forces necessary to crush the squadrons in France and Germany couldn't replace them easily. Additionally to those forces already in England, those that were sidetracked to support Sicily/Italy could have been used too. It would meant a few months early launching major attacks in OB West to draw up their aircraft, shooting them down, or following them back to their airfields and strafing/bombing them.

There is absolutely no legit reason, beyong a specific type of landing craft, that the invasion couldn't have been done in 43. And even that excuse is not valid, as it hinges on the assumption that the landing would be contested at the beach, which was impossible in 43, and completely against Rundstedt's "plan" for defending France, which was to let them land, let them build up strength, and after schwerpunkt/main effort landing was definitely established, maneuver on them with panzer and infantry divisions and defeat through maneuver warfare. Something he was used to from 39-42, but that Germany was not capable of against western Allies because of loss of air superiority, superior Allied supplies, armament, training, organization, tactics, communication, etc. Not to mention, at the end of the day, we were still going to be reading their mail through Ultra code breaking.
 
Jul 2016
9,548
USA
#13
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.
Forcing Italy's surrender was not a priority for anyone. They weren't contributing enough to be of a help. Stalin wanted a major second front in France. Germany wasn't going to be invaded successfully from the south, no matter how much Churchill foolishly believed it was the soft underbelly.

Liberating France would not only act as a jump off point for invading Germany through a much more rational direction, it would also liberate tens of millions of angry frenchmen to serve in their army.

Hitler only sent forces to italy after invasion of Sicily. And I sure would rather fight them in the wide open interior of France, where supply line is better, where air support is better, where locals are much more helpful, than in the mountainous confines of the narrow boot of Italy, the defender's dream.

There would not even be a force in France worth being scared of until a month or longer, when new/rebuilt units can be sent, or units already on the Eastern Front could be redeployed.

When Germany gathered up a reserve in July 43 to send to Italy, it was a lot of really good divisions. But because of the terrain and conditions, they gave as good as they got in Italy. But France is a different story. Outside of constricting terrain, the Allies would maneuver circles around the Germans. Their only hope is fortifying the Siene, which Hitler wasn't keen on, and later fighting fortifying the Rhine, which they did anyway.

Invasion of France in '43 would have looked like Dragoon in '44. A cake walk.