So a what if thread: What if the Allies had not attacked Sicily and instead maintained their forces for Normandy

Nov 2019
199
United States
I hate defending Hitler but even a broken clock is right occasionally. While many of his no retreat orders in 44-45 were ludicrous, they were based on political and strategic decisions, which unfortunately trump operational. He couldn't give up terrain needed for resources (like Romanian oil) just because a nervous, defeatist general wanted to retreat. Nor could he retreat too much without freaking out other Axis allied countries, who Germany depended on for various things (more natural resources, manpower, some production and trade, etc).

Lastly, while many crap on Festung Platz, Fortress Cities, concept of purposely allowing entire divisions or corps to be encircled, it worked to a charm in France in 44, when the Allies had three army groups crowded on the border of germany banging on their door but were only supplied by the single artificial pier at Normandy, the small port of Orne, the slightly larger port of Cherbourg, Marsailles allllllllll the way in Southern France, and that's about it, all because Festung Platz were holding out.

Maybe that only worked against the Western Allies because the Germans knew that if they surrendered months after fighting tenaciously they'd still be treated well, versus the Red Army notoriously treating any Axis POWs badly but ever so much worse if they were hold outs. That's my pet belief anyway.

But anyway, Hitler was right in a way to not give up ground. What other choice did he have? An elastic defense doesn't work if the enemy has air dominance. WW2 had already proven no defensive line on a river or anywhere was incapable of being breached if the enemy was willing to pay the price. So any retreat was defeat.
But the invasion of Anvil didn't accomplish it's real goal in the actual war because it wasn't viewed as the goal of wincing off all those forces in the pincer that I am imaginied could have occurred. Instead we visualized what; marching across Belgium and the Netherlands through an easily defended region with one highway to support or invasion plan of Germany? The game is instead to capture the forces to the South and any forces we can draw into Normandy, Then swing through the Saar Valley and take as, was ultimately accomplished the Ruhr. The forces to the North are now moot, Hitler has to move them to fight off the real battle that would win the war.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Ultimately the answer is Churchill, and perhaps Brooke. Both feared a Dieppe. I understand that, but the reality is that Churchill failed to comprehend the real situation that the Germans were in despite having the Ultra information that advised him of the status of the Germans forces post Kursk. Not that any one who looked at the situation rationally would not have realized that Hitler, and OKW's continued delay of Citadel made Kursk all but a foregone conclusion.

The Russians had set the ultimate trap for Hitler's foolish ideas, they had set an amazing trap, and kept forces that exceeded the overall strength of the German attack in wait for the failed breech. They had the information from "Lucy", in reality Ultra, which for all intent told them exactly what was coming. Churchill and those in the loop knew this, but Churchill wanted the small ball, not the prize ring, frightened as he was by the toll of WW1 in France, the same factor that had led him to the same strategic error that was Gallipoli in WW1.
I really don't like an comparison between Dieppe and anything else.

1. it was a pinch raid, to snag crypto signals intel from a Kriegsmarine HQ and radar complex that got blown out of proportion because politicians wanted their troops to see some action.

2. They barely planned it. Like really spent bare minimum learning anything about the objective

3. They didn't train for it. No practice landings, nothing.

4. They didn't get air support, in the sense it was only fighters to target Germans (which was a draw at best), no ground attack, CAS, air interdiction, etc.

5. They barely got any naval gunfire.

6. The invasion fleet was compromised before landing, in the dark and fog, fired on by torpedo boats, and it became sheer chaos after that, with some ships aborting and others pressing on.

Etc.

It was a complete cluster of an operation but it was never a test run for invading France, which was just one of numerous lies told during and after the war because the truth, done to snag a four rotor Enigma to help them break the Ultra code, wasnt declassified until the late 60s.
 
Nov 2019
199
United States
Normandy loses none of it's importance, but forces are now concentrated on a specific goal rather than wasted on a series of poorly conceived tangential battlezones.
 
Nov 2019
199
United States
I really don't like an comparison between Dieppe and anything else.

1. it was a pinch raid, to snag crypto signals intel from a Kriegsmarine HQ and radar complex that got blown out of proportion because politicians wanted their troops to see some action.

2. They barely planned it. Like really spent bare minimum learning anything about the objective

3. They didn't train for it. No practice landings, nothing.

4. They didn't get air support, in the sense it was only fighters to target Germans (which was a draw at best), no ground attack, CAS, air interdiction, etc.

5. They barely got any naval gunfire.

6. The invasion fleet was compromised before landing, in the dark and fog, fired on by torpedo boats, and it became sheer chaos after that, with some ships aborting and others pressing on.

Etc.

It was a complete cluster of an operation but it was never a test run for invading France, which was just one of numerous lies told during and after the war because the truth, done to snag a four rotor Enigma to help them break the Ultra code, wasnt declassified until the late 60s.
Fine, be that as it may, but it influenced the psyche of invasion plans afterwards according to the diaries of those who were involved in the actual invasion of Normandy.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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It doesn't matter, because the losses at Salerno and Anzio and Cassino, which were for less in value, would have more than made up for whatever losses were made in the South of France, but for a much much more valuable strategic gain than Salerno or any other machinations of an Italian advance could possibly have gained. With the extra value of trapping those forces in Southern France while trapping them against Sledgehammer.
Except between the hammer and anvil is this thing called a mountain range.

Without Nineteenth Army seriously depleted in combat power because its best units were previously sent elsewhere, whatever Allied unit invading southern france IS NOT GETTING THROUGH THE RHONE VALLEY WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT CASUALTIES AND TIME.

They did it quick in real life because 48 hours after the landing the entire army group G was ordered to retreat, because Army Group B, which had possessed all the essential combat power in western Europe, wasn't in retreat it was ROUTED.

But that wouldn't be the case for an early landing. Different time, different situation.

In real life a single panzer division stopped three really good veteran US Army divisions from encircling a disorganized mob of retreating soldiers (that's how the retreat was described by both the Army Group G and the Nineteenth Army generals). But we're supposed to imagine that three panzer divisions plus seven other infantry divisions, a hell of a lot more artillery pieces, way more ammo and supplies and even replacements for casualties, higher morale and confidence, and not two months of partisans going nuts in rear areas, couldnt significantly delay a hundred mile long narrow valley?
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Fine, be that as it may, but it influenced the psyche of invasion plans afterwards according to the diaries of those who were involved in the actual invasion of Normandy.
So? Those are the same people that thought every German artillery piece was an "88". People make stupid conclusions that end up wrong, but that doesn't mean its not founded on nonsense.
 
Nov 2019
199
United States
Truth might hurt here, but the Americans had far more experience in landing an invasion by sea than the British by 1944, having launched invasions of the Marshalls, Gilberts, and Solomon Islands, plus the invasions of Northern Africa and Sicily. They had some better concepts from the Navy at least (not so much from the Army admittedly, who could have learned a great deal from the US Marines).

Again the goal is to draw these forces, not to make them run away. Trap them in their raw attempt to defeat the invasion, and them starve them into submission.

Get them into the mountains? Good this is where the Goumiers who might have been the most valuable asset France ever provided, do their best dirty work.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Truth might hurt here, but the Americans had far more experience in landing an invasion by sea than the British by 1944, having launched invasions of the Marshalls, Gilberts, and Solomon Islands, plus the invasions of Northern Africa and Sicily. They had some better concepts from the Navy at least (not so much from the Army admittedly, who could have learned a great deal from the US Marines).
The US Army had two corps commanders available for Normandy who had ample experience planning and conducting amphibious operations, both stated emphatically postwar that nobody asked for their advice or opinions.

Again the goal is to draw these forces, not to make them run away. Trap them in their raw attempt to defeat the invasion, and them starve them into submission.
Draw what? Sixth Army initually landed three divisions but would then land two armies in a sector, the Med coast, defended by a single weak army. Done earlier it would have been stronger, and had 300% more mobile units for counterattacking.

So who is OB West going to need to send to contain whatever Allies land in Southern France <May 1944?

Nobody. Army Group G can handle them.

So Panzer Group West remains uncommitted and now knows wherever the next landing happens is the real one, and then a dozen panzer divisions descend on it within a week...
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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It doesn't matter, because the losses at Salerno and Anzio and Cassino, which were for less in value, would have more than made up for whatever losses were made in the South of France, but for a much much more valuable strategic gain than Salerno or any other machinations of an Italian advance could possibly have gained. With the extra value of trapping those forces in Southern France while trapping them against Sledgehammer.
The early Roundup/Sledgehammer plan was to only invade France with minimal forces, a couple armies, gain a lodgement, then force the Germans to attack to try to drive them out. Meanwhile, as they became ready we'd continuously feed new divisions into what would be purposely designed as a campaign of attrition. When we were at or near full strength of available divisions, a large scale breakout would be orchestrated.

However, to do that means needing room. It also needs a target (close route to Germany, important ports, V wrapon firing positions, etc) important enough to draw and commit the German operational reserve. Then it needs to be able to allow the Germans to mass EVERYTHING and then break through it.

That means Brittany at the most south. Nothing past that is close enough, and everything off the southern coast has to content with the daunting Massif Central and Alps terrain features, plus a hell of a lot of rivers.