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

Nov 2019
241
United States
I can't quite tell for sure if you are being obtuse here or not. The plan is to hit Anvil in early Spring (Feb/March 44), then Normandy/Sledghammer in (May/June of 44). German allocation of forces are going to be approximately what we see when the battle unfolds in the original Normandy invasion, with one riposte, the Germans will already have invested more forces to the South than they actually did in June of 44. the forces to the north around Palais, are probably still there as that was what the German's expected, any movement, as the battle ultimately proved that attempted to move to the Normandy site would still be heavily interdicted by superior airpower. As it turned out, the greatest percentile of German losses in equipment and manpower to the Normandy front occured while in transit than in battle.

The forces are still the same forces, greatly influenced by Ostlegion, and older and much younger soldiers, with poorer training than most forces in German theaters.

Would there be grave losses, of course, there were grave losses in Italy and in the Normandy Invasion, but often for far less gain. In the long run, was the gain of the losses at Monte Cassino? At Anzio? At Salerno?

Did you know that the SS 12th losses in June to September, amounted to 80% of its troops, over 80% of its tanks, 70% of its armored vehicles, 60% of its artillery and 50% of its motor vehicles. The average age of this unit was 17. What was debilitating for the allies was not taking advantage of the losses they inflicted. I think that the Soviets were profligate in their acceptance of losses, but the key point they observed was that at least you had to take advantage of those losses, and not go whimpering off into the background after expending them. The British especially, as well as the Americans had a hard time accepting that reality.
 
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Nov 2019
241
United States
Truthfully the difference is that though the Soviets were woefully incompetent in real strategy, they were relentless in their tactics, something the Western Allies were wont to do or be. You can see that plainly when you look at how slovenly we handled the non-combatant troops under our command. I am not suggesting that we needed anything like an NKVD force that would enforce discipline, but certainly we allowed too many to shelter themselves behind desks. This same sense of irrational sangfroid, permeated our command staff as well.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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I can't quite tell for sure if you are being obtuse here or not. The plan is to hit Anvil in early Spring (Feb/March 44), then Normandy/Sledghammer in (May/June of 44).
No, the plan to invade Southern France was NEVER to hit it before Normandy. It was supposed to happen before, and when that couldn't happen they did it afterwards.

German allocation of forces are going to be approximately what we see when the battle unfolds in the original Normandy invasion
Wrong. We know what the German allocation of force would be like if the invasion happened before Overlord. It would be the Nineteenth Army at its full strength, with more artillery, more infantry divisions rated higher than Kampfwert IV (only rated for limited defensive operations), and more panzer divisions.

with one riposte, the Germans will already have invested more forces to the South than they actually did in June of 44.
Wrong wrong wrong wrong.

In Normandy there was the Seventh Army defending the coastline. Weaker than the Fifteenth Army defending Calais it was still stronger than the Nineteenth at its height, plus got more combat power added just before the invasion when Hitler got a hunch that the Allies were going to land in Normandy (yep, it actually was one of the few Germans that correctly guessed where the landing was going to occur). Most of the panzer divisions, whose participation is mandatory for any sort of successful operation, were in Panzer Group West (later renamed Fifth Panzer Army) and were not allowed to be committed without Hitler/OKW permission (this is where the "hitler overslept" nonsense comes from). On top of that, each field army had a few panzer divisions, with Fifteenth getting the most, then Seventh, then Nineteenth, and then First with the least.

There was no one riposte. Hitler, the OKW, OB West, and Army Group B were all doubtful for weeks after Overlord that it would be the sole landing. They believed it was a feint, a few armies that would be sent there to draw the panzer divisions while the main attack happened at Calais. It took weeks before they finally made up their mind it wasn't going to happen, at which point the panzer divisions of Panzer Group West, then those pulled from Fifteenth Army (along with regular infantry divisions, until Fifteenth like the Nineteenth would be a shadow of its former self as their units were shifted to the Seventh and Fifth Panzer to reinforce and contain the Allies).

And then, after the cupboard of OB West was bare, they pulled more panzer divisions from the Eastern Front (I believe 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, but I might be wrong on numbers).

It was only after all of them were committed over the period of about a two months in Normandy, mostly done piecemeal and not at once, when Nineteenth Army was basically a joke, that Devers landed in the Riviera.

But had he done so in Jan-May 1944, the situation would have been completely different.

The forces are still the same forces, greatly influenced by Ostlegion, and older and much younger soldiers, with poorer training than most forces in German theaters.
No, the forces aren't the same forces. The Ostbattalions were sent often one battalion per regiment primarily to static divisions. Those were the ones on the coast, with almost no horses or trucks, poor training, old men, sick men, former wounded men, with entire "weak stomach" battalions of German soldiers who were already classified limited status because of health issues.

Would there be grave losses, of course, there were grave losses in Italy and in the Normandy Invasion, but often for far less gain. In the long run, was the gain of the losses at Monte Cassino? At Anzio? At Salerno?
Hedgerow Country, which was unexpected and not considered, amounted to a distance of about 38 km/23 miles from Omaha Beach, it took the entirety of a reinforced army (First) and tens of thousands of casualties and numerous "broken" divisions to get through it to eventually reach St Lo, and that was after a whole lot of ingenuity like the Hedgerow Buster addition to tanks.

The Rhone Valley is 450 km/280 miles long, it contained by treacherous mountainous terrain defended by infantry divisions that weren't there in August 1944 (the 36th ID only made the eastern drive through the Alps because the infantry division that was supposed to be guarding it had been sent to Italy in July 1944). Inside the valley are these things called rivers, most run east to west, and every one of them has bridges that need to be used to cross it, that can be defended.



Did you know that the SS 12th losses in June to September, amounted to 80% of its troops, over 80% of its tanks, 70% of its armored vehicles, 60% of its artillery and 50% of its motor vehicles. The average age of this unit was 17. What was debilitating for the allies was not taking advantage of the losses they inflicted.
How did the Allies not take advantage of the losses they inflicted?

They routed an entire army group, captured or killed half a million German troops, and chased the Germans so hard that they ended up outrunning their supply lines. At D+90, the Allies were at the German border. This is what Monty thought D+90 would look like before the invasion:




I think that the Soviets were profligate in their acceptance of losses, but the key point they observed was that at least you had to take advantage of those losses, and not go whimpering off into the background after expending them. The British especially, as well as the Americans had a hard time accepting that reality.
Nonsense. I have no idea what you're talking about. Every major Red Army offensive did the same thing every US and British offensive did too. It reached its culmination point, nearly always determined by weakening combat strength at the front, outrunning supplies, outrunning air cover, while the enemy supply lines shorten and they are able to finally piece together a coherent scratch reserve to stop the last of the offensive to the point it peters out.

The only difference is the Red Army went further before they petered out, because Stalin accepted nothing less and would have his generals killed if they didn't stop without his permission, who in turn would shoot their troops if they tried to stop without permission.

And even then, when the US and British hit their point of culmination after Normandy it was early September when supplies dried up as the Germans started manning the WestStellung/"Siegfried Line". And what happened next? The British then launched Market Garden, which cost them nearly an entire division, plus lots of other casualties, while the US Army ground itself against the Metz fortresses, against Aachen, against the Huertgen, with those US Army battles suffering some horrific casualties in the process, worse than any point of the war up to that point.

Does that really sound like they weren't trying to follow up success?
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
Truthfully the difference is that though the Soviets were woefully incompetent in real strategy, they were relentless in their tactics, something the Western Allies were wont to do or be.
No, the Red Army was actually quite good at strategy. They sucked at the tactical level, because small unit leaders were never given the initiative/leeway to think for themselves, with front level staff dictating where individual companies would attack and how, they weren't allowed to deviate from the plan, even when the plan fell in its face because it was done poorly, resistance was steeper, etc.

You can see that plainly when you look at how slovenly we handled the non-combatant troops under our command.
The Red Army rear echelon troops were notorious for looting and raping. The Germans weren't much different. The US Army and British rear echelon troops at least didn't try to win a national raping contest...

I am not suggesting that we needed anything like an NKVD force that would enforce discipline, but certainly we allowed too many to shelter themselves behind desks. This same sense of irrational sangfroid, permeated our command staff as well.
The US Army's tooth to tail ration was lopsided compared to other countries, but it had the greatest support for a reason, because it didn't place all its emphasis on operational units while only sticking the dregs in supply like most other nations did. In the US Army, the Services of Supply had a higher testing intelligence level than the infantry, meaning the infantry got the dummies. That sucked when a lot of the GIs on the front were dumb as door knobs, but it was a ruthless decision that guaranteed the people running the logistical side of the house knew what they were doing.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,401
Sydney
the whole point of an early anvil is to suck German forces South , not to charge toward Alsace
Overlord proceed exactly the same
the difference is by August when the Germans are skedaddling toward the Rhine the Allies have a fully functional port and a large quantity of supplies

Italy is a dead end and can be left alone , most troops transferred to Provence , the British left to their beloved grind up the Apennines and god luck to them with that

I believe aggienation is channeling the dead spirit of Churchill in being obtuse when it suit his argument
..........In the great man own words defending the indefensible against the American enemy

 
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Nov 2019
11
The Arctic
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In a defence of Commonwealth 'Yeah everyone was proved incorrect, Italy was a waste of resources that never tied down anything' At least they got me on my best angle though.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
the whole point of an early anvil is to suck German forces South , not to charge toward Alsace
Overlord proceed exactly the same
the difference is by August when the Germans are skedaddling toward the Rhine the Allies have a fully functional port and a large quantity of supplies

Italy is a dead end and can be left alone , most troops transferred to Provence , the British left to their beloved grind up the Apennines and god luck to them with that

I believe aggienation is channeling the dead spirit of Churchill in being obtuse when it suit his argument
..........In the great man own words defending the indefensible against the American enemy

Bunch of strategists here as competent ad Churchill.

If want to draw an enemy to you,do so from a place that actually threatens them. Invading France from the South worked for Caesar because the Gauls didn't have the means to easily block the Rhone Valley, like the Nineteenth Army woukd have done before June 1944.

If you want to avoid Italy, just do Calais, Normandy, or Brittany in 43.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,401
Sydney
1943 is to early ,that's one of the good reasons for landing in Italy
why do you keep saying that Provence would not threaten the German army ,
it certainly would and they would have to send troops to Block the Rhone valley
......and block the central Massif ........and to block the western way toward Bordeaux
they just cannot leave a five hundred kilometers perimeter undefended
with partisans running wild over southern France supported by US raiders

I hope you have read the Churchill papers , his intent to keep have the British fighting alone in Italy toward the alps smack of delusion
 
Apr 2014
411
Istanbul Turkey
1943 is to early ,that's one of the good reasons for landing in Italy
why do you keep saying that Provence would not threaten the German army ,
it certainly would and they would have to send troops to Block the Rhone valley
......and block the central Massif ........and to block the western way toward Bordeaux
they just cannot leave a five hundred kilometers perimeter undefended
with partisans running wild over southern France supported by US raiders

I hope you have read the Churchill papers , his intent to keep have the British fighting alone in Italy toward the alps smack of delusion
Provence , Southern France and Rhone Valley were too far away from main strategic , industrial and political objectives (Channel-North Sea ports , Benelux countries , V1 and V2 launchers in Northern France , main transport road and rail way links hubs of Northwest Europe-Amiens , Paris , Brussels , North Germany port cities like Hamburg ,Wilhelmshaven , Kiel and and Bremen and Ruhr industrial basin where %60 of German coal and steel production was concentrated , as General Gunther Blummeritt accurately put it "He who controls Northern Germany , controls Germany") than North west Europe shores. Germans could not only trade territory for time in Southern France (if not throw half baked and ill planned prared invasion of any part of Southern France back to see just like most of the time when Allies to take head on German Army on equal terms without proper preperation trying to exploit oppurtutism and acting impulsevely like in Salerno , Anzio and Arnhem) and Allies would extend the distance to cover to reach these objectives , there were several rivers from Provence to Central France , they already had a strong mobile Fuhrer reserve at south on Rhone and Southern France including one or two elite fallschrimjager divisions , three armored divisions and one panzergranedier division aside from regular infantry divisions and garrisons in between June 1943 June 1944 and most importantly , Provance was out of allied air cover in 1943 , trying to build airbases and logistical infrastructure to cover that in Sardinia or Corsica would reveal shape of Allied advance to Southern France as light of the day and would cause further German reinforcement of the region. And necessary concentration of transport vessels , LSTs and landing crafts can only be gathered for one massive landing at one sector (Normandy at north) then few months later on another. (south at Provance coast) and only 1944 summer. There were not enough ships to do both of them simultaniously at the same time and SHEAF and Combined Chiefs of Staff could never give up prioty objectives on north to try landing on Southern France at first.

Operation Anvil-Dragoon was important even vital for Allied strategy no dounbt , it sealed off and secured southern flank of Allied advance till Vosges , Alsace ansd Swiss border , created a continious solid front , captured crucial port cities and intact harbours at Marseilles and Toulon (nobody expected that a supriser boon for Allies since they expected Germans to demolish these harbour facilities) with vital French railway network from them to south was captured mostly undamaged which provided a huge logistial relief for SHEAF. Logistics are everything in modern war. But just like Italian Campaign turned out to be after January 1944 (whch again vital to divert German reserves from France-at least 30 German divisions and more towards Italy to fight and Balkans to occupy and garrison former Italian territories. A lot of these divisions like 15th and 25th Panzergranadier Divisions , 26th Panzer Division and 1st Fallschrmjager Division were first class elite units whose presence in Normandy might derail Allied sucess there on D-Day) Southern France was secondary priorty in Allied strategy. Important no doubt , but secondary. Main marching advance and action would always be at Northern Europe.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,401
Sydney
" they already had a strong mobile Fuhrer reserve at south on Rhone and Southern France including one or two elite fallschrimjager divisions , three armored divisions and one panzergranedier division aside from regular infantry divisions and garrisons in between June 1943 June 1944 "

Nope there was nothing like that , the 19th Army was the poor child of Army group "G"
it had a new commander during the first half of 44 , Horst Grossmann was a thoroughly undistinguished general just promoted from division command
it had very mediocre equipment and was under-strength two of them classified as "static"..IE no transport , not even horses
the best soldiers were constantly siphoned to other units and the refill were mostly Hiwis

this is the order of battle for the 19th Army

148 th ID.... the only "regular" division
242 nd ID ....composed of convalescents
338 th ID ... a fortress division made of elderly and unfit men
198 th ID .... a reserve division , static
716th ID .... reserve division , static filled with Ukrainians

in the alps , the 157th ID had operated against the partisans ,
it would have its hand full fighting against them later and would retire toward Italy through the high passes
harassed by french partisans and a small mobile US battle group who had a whale of a time using the local knowledge to turn them constantly

the 242nd was , tasked with defending Toulon with it's very impressive pre-war fortifications , they held for ten days before throwing the towel
the rest was dispersed like chaff

Dragoon was the brainchild of General Marshall and strongly advocated by Eisenhower ,
approved at the Tehran conference , Stalin and Roosevelt though it was a great idea , Churchill grumbled but was ignored
it was delayed due to the Italian troubles and the difficulties at Anzio
the alternate proposed is to have Anzio cancelled , Anvil/Dragoon taking place in March /April 44
plenty of landing craft , plenty of time to move them for the main act , Normandy

the purpose is to have a safe lodgement , a major functioning port and sucking as many German as possible
any further exploitation would be dependent on Overlord

of the ports, Marseilles was the great prize with Sete an acceptable primary supply point
Toulon was unusable for a long time ,
the French fleet had scuttled itself rather than falling in German hands and the sunken battleships were an impediment
a very nice surprise was Port-de-Bouc , at the mouth of the Rhone it was a petrochemical facility with ample storage
it was perfect for fuel movement and made operations much easier
Dragoon never had fuel problem

on air support , from September 8th to 4th October 1943 operation Vesuvius freed Corsica which was used by the US air force from then on

As has been stated above the German were in a critical situation in early 44 , they had no reserve left
their panzer divisions had been bled white during the second half of 43 and the first two months of 44

they would need months of weapon production to fill the units who had lost so much men and material