WWII: Allied and Axis strategy in Western Europe

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,584
Sydney
#21
The broad front strategy was a nice one to contemplate but it was impossible due to a severe logistical bottleneck
only one offensive operation could be mounted ,
Patton had struggled quite a lot in Lorraine and hated the place
while Monty had stuffed up badly ( and wasted the good effort of the Belgian resistance ) by not freeing the Scheldt estuary to free for shipping the intact port of Antwerp .
tough choice , I'm still not sure why the harebrained Market Garden was given the green light
it needed so many things to go right and so few thing to go wrong ,
any sound military mind would have had some serious reservation

for my money a straight charge to the Saar made more sense ,
easier to keep a grip on the events too
 
Jan 2015
3,175
Rupert's Land ;)
#22
And thank you to everyone for their responses. But could someone address the 2nd part of the OP?

"Rundstedt wanted to hold back the tanks from Normandy and other possible landing areas. Rommel thought all tanks should be pretty much on or very near the beaches. Hitler agreed with von Rundstedt and the tanks were held back. And we all know what happens then. But, had Rommel had his way, would the tanks have actually defeated the Allies on the beaches? Or would the Allies overwhelming air and naval support have simply destroyed the panzers sooner rather than later?"
IMO Rundstedt was correct, however as it happened the chain of command was too convoluted and the opportunity was lost. Had OB West been in command, not Hitler, the situation might have been better. There should have been a couple of Panzer corps in reserve in Northern France/Belgium ready to intervene after a landing.

Rommel's idea could have resulted in most of the Panzers in the wrong place, with likely only one Panzer division in Normandy, and probably pinned down by Allied air power
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,584
Sydney
#24
Anzio demonstrated that the best answers was to fight the invasion straight up on the beach ,at it's most vulnerable
the Russian front had the same lesson for large river crossing ,
letting the enemy get a strong beachhead was making things way more difficult later

there is a good case to hold the panzers a few hours drive back ,let say 50 km inland
if only to be able to employ them in more concentrated form .
by the end of the first day , 21th panzer had blunted the British attack and denied Caen to Montgomery
one single division !
if more had been at hand , the landings could have been contained within heavy artillery range which is what mattered
once the Allied had a solid footage , it became an unequal attrition battle
 
Apr 2014
337
Istanbul Turkey
#25
Anzio demonstrated that the best answers was to fight the invasion straight up on the beach ,at it's most vulnerable
the Russian front had the same lesson for large river crossing ,
letting the enemy get a strong beachhead was making things way more difficult later

there is a good case to hold the panzers a few hours drive back ,let say 50 km inland
if only to be able to employ them in more concentrated form .
by the end of the first day , 21th panzer had blunted the British attack and denied Caen to Montgomery
one single division !
if more had been at hand , the landings could have been contained within heavy artillery range which is what mattered
once the Allied had a solid footage , it became an unequal attrition battle


First of all Caen flank was problematic and 21st Panzer barely hold on (and its units had adventage of being defensive on familiar ground) on 6th June 1944 before arrival on 12nd SS Hitlerjugend Panzer Division on 8th June 1944. All of 21st Panzer Divisions counter attacks either to Sword Beach or airhead of 6th Airborne Division failed miserably on 6th June (they lost %25 of their tanks during D-Day according to divisional commander on D-Day) Considering that German anti tank gunnery and anti tank capabilities were way better than Allies , it is not suprising that British/Canadians couldn't get into Caen (main communication intersection , transport hub that led to Seine and Great Paris Area and high priorty objective to be hold with Hitler orders to the last man) on D-Day. That one single division! emphasis is way overrated. And if there had been more than one panzer division in Normandy , there would not be a landing to contain the bridgehead in first place. Eisenhower would cancel the landings in that case before launching the operation.

And "unequal" attrition battle term really gives meaning that this was not a war but 1935 Munich Olympics instead. What were Allies supposed to do when they launch biggest amphibious /airborne operation in modern history when they would be vulnerable on beaches for 48 hours and when their operational methods were not as advanced as Germans (Allied armies were somewhat green compared to Germans) and when enemy had interior line of communications transportation network interior of France. Should they land one to one soldier/gun/tank/firepower ratio because it was sportsmanship ?

As for Single Narrow Thrust / Wide Front discussion. As actual events proved out , Eisenhower's decision of Wide Front was the correct one. Initially (especially after battle of memoirs of Allied generals after the war) it seemed that wide front strategy extended the war. BUT here the facts : Allied armies operational and tactical method of warfare were not same with Germans (Allies preferred methodical way , meticilous preperation than launch operation and their order based of operational approach couldn't be rectified in a few months or years. German Army was an improvising force on field based on mission oriented approach in operations , it was organisationally more flexible and they exploited tactical oppurtunities on battlefield much better) Besides Allies were not fighting Wilhelminate Germany of 1918 that would seek armistice once Ruhr and Saar is threatened or invaded. Nazi Germany and Hitler's mentality was to fight on , counter attack no matter what or what territory lost and never repreat November 1918 surrender. Saar was not that strategically vital compared to Ruhr (so giving piriorty to Patton would not give Allies decisive result they seeked and Patton had just only one army under his command. And exploitation of any breakthrough to Saar to Rhine/Central Germany would not yield anything for allies expect a huge bulge made by one US Army that could be contained and cut off) ) and German High Command could also read a map and recognise Ruhr basin in north was the key (%60 of coal production and heavy German industry was there) and key defending western frontiers of Reich was barring any northern thrust by Montgomery's 21st Army Group (an army group required for such an advance not a single army) and holding Antwerp. Some journalistic speculation by Cornelius Ryan (writer of a Bridge Too Far) led to official history conclusion (according to NATO based mission oriented operational thinking which was copied from Germans after the war since they were supoosed to be great fighting Russian hordes !) that if only Scheldt had been cut off and captured by 30th Corps (with only one division in Antwerp , 11th Armored Div.) in first week of September ....!" Guess what ? Entire 15th German Army was in Scheldt by then (80.000 troops) and why everyone's assumption is they could not breakthrough just one British divisions hold on Scheldt causeway (Germans did that multiple times to breakthrough Russian encirclements in Russia) is beyond me ! Or they would not leave a substasntial garrison to ghold Scheldt or Walcharen island till they were overwhelmed! (as they actually did in October/November 1944) and afterwards a long mine clearing in Scheldt approaches would not happen before opeining the port

Antwerp couldn't be opened sooner no matter what and war would extend to 1945 no matter narrow thrust/wide front contreversy. Eisenhower opted to play safe. I do not think anyone can fault him for that. Everyone in Allied side looked to situation in September 1944 with rose tinted glasses and over optimism. They have not planned ahead of liberation of France and sudden/unexpected collapse of German Armies in Normandy and swift advance into France and Low Countries. They have no plans afterwards of that , tried rto improvise strategically instead but Germans with their mission oriented approach in tactics , operations and organization were better improvisers. Allies (no fault of Eisenhower , Montgomery , Bradley , Patton etc) were still acting in methodic order based operational style. You can not change operational thinking (army's culture basically) in one day , one week , or one year. German own mission based operational thinking evolved for almost 75 years since 1870-71 Franco-Prussia War.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,584
Sydney
#26
"German Army was an improvising force on field based on mission oriented approach in operations ,
it was organisationally more flexible and they exploited tactical opportunities on battlefield much better

agree ! the German valued local initiative highly which shortened their reaction time from command to field
at all levels , the local commander was supposed to know its objective and was largely free to achieve it as they judged apropriate

I still believe than some more panzer divisions on D-day would have constrained the Allied in a logistically problematic pocket

holding them around Paris when the French rail network was totally disrupted by the very organized resistance was a silly concept
it kept the option of moving them North of the seine or south , thus sitting on the fence for two days

the 12th SS Hitlerjugend and Panzer Lehr, came first and assembled on the 7th
but their lead elements would not arrive until the following day.

Other formations also soon on the way -
By 9 June Panzer Lehr Division had also arrived.
17th SS would be in place at Carentan on 11 June.
2nd Panzer Division would enter the battle on 12 June.
1st SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler arrived a few days later
das Reich moved from montauban and was delayed by partisants
it deployed in Normandy by the 21th

it tok more than a week to get enough force to counter allied efforts
even a few days less would have been critical
 
Jan 2019
3
GRAVESEND, UK
#27
Tell me if I have this right:

Eisenhower wanted a broad-front strategy: He wanted to keep pushing the German line evenly at all points. Monty and Patton both favored going with a single thrust: Monty wanted to do it in the North, thru the Rhine and into the Ruhr and Patton wanted to head into the Saar.

Monty criticized Ike for being too cautious. Ike thought the single thrust idea too risky. Well, was it too risky? Could a single thrust strategy have ended the war in 1944? What were the risks? what was Ike afraid of?

On to the Germans. Rundstedt wanted to hold back the tanks from Normandy and other possible landing areas. Rommel thought all tanks should be pretty much on or very near the beaches. Hitler agreed with von Rundstedt and the tanks were held back. And we all know what happens then. But, had Rommel had his way, would the tanks have actually defeated the Allies on the beaches? Or would the Allies overwhelming air and naval support have simply destroyed the panzers sooner rather than later?



Germans .... had Rommel had his way they would have been destroyed by Navy power and the Allied air might directed against these units a lot sooner and a breakout late June into July instead of August with a much clearer run to the Rhine. Had the Germans had parity in the air and Allied navy firepower not available then Rommels idea would have worked.
 
Apr 2014
337
Istanbul Turkey
#28
"German Army was an improvising force on field based on mission oriented approach in operations ,
it was organisationally more flexible and they exploited tactical opportunities on battlefield much better

agree ! the German valued local initiative highly which shortened their reaction time from command to field
at all levels , the local commander was supposed to know its objective and was largely free to achieve it as they judged apropriate

I still believe than some more panzer divisions on D-day would have constrained the Allied in a logistically problematic pocket

holding them around Paris when the French rail network was totally disrupted by the very organized resistance was a silly concept
it kept the option of moving them North of the seine or south , thus sitting on the fence for two days

the 12th SS Hitlerjugend and Panzer Lehr, came first and assembled on the 7th
but their lead elements would not arrive until the following day.


it tok more than a week to get enough force to counter allied efforts
even a few days less would have been critical
If there had been more than one panzer division deployed in Normandy prior to 6th June 1944 , there would be no D-Day , no beachead to be contained. Eisenhower would camcel entire Neptune/Overlorsd scheme or postpone it to a later date. One panzer division was the limit for Allies to land and hold a 65 mile long landing zone from Orne to south of Cherbourg. Existrence of two panzer divisions would be problematic at least. Allies would still land , consalidate beacheads and repulse German counter attacks but expanding beachheads to a nominal depth (what General Montgomery later called "dogfighting") in face of hardening German resistance would be much more delayed and bloody affair.
 
Jan 2015
3,175
Rupert's Land ;)
#29
If there had been more than one panzer division deployed in Normandy prior to 6th June 1944 , there would be no D-Day , no beachead to be contained. Eisenhower would camcel entire Neptune/Overlorsd scheme or postpone it to a later date. One panzer division was the limit for Allies to land and hold a 65 mile long landing zone from Orne to south of Cherbourg..
Do you have a reference for that or just your opiniin?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,584
Sydney
#30
Sound like an opinion ,
but certainly a couple of Panzer divisions close to the beaches would have given Eisenhower a serious headache
three waffen SS assembled there meant the landing would be a disaster

the iffy weather made him hesitate , if it wasn't the 6th , the whole enterprise would have been compromised for months
a single landing in the South of France was possible but far from desirable , the Germans could reinforce there faster than he could

should the landing be a failure he would have borne the blame , of course , but this was the least of his problem
the pressure to land was immense but the vision of blood in the water with bodies floating face down could not have been far from his mind
 

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