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D-Day


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6th June 1944; and the victory that signaled the end of WW2. But what is amazing is how the Germans fell for the deception plans of the Allies; which were extremely complex, detailed and contrived, and included two false Armies, one in Scotland threatening an invasion of Norway and one in E/Anglia threatening the Pas de Calais. Logically, there were only two possible invasion routes within the range of the majority of Allied air cover - the nearest and most obvious one being the Pas de Calais and the other being Normandy. Rommel wanted to move his Panzer Units right up to the beaches, to defeat any landings on the first day, but Hitler wanted them kept in reserve only to be released on his authority, and the rest is history as they say. Perhaps another example of how Hitler was the author of his own downfall. The Germans still believed as late as September 1944, that Normandy was a diversion! :roll::wink:

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The Germans were completely unable to conceive of a sea bourne invasion which did not entail taking immediate control of a major harbour.

 

They KNEW that without control of somewhere like Calais or Cherbourg there was no chance of the Allies being able to sufficiently reinforce and resupply their initial waves of troops on the beaches. In fact, the Axis military planners placed far greater importance on destroying the Cherbourg harbour facilities if they were threatened than they did on defending them. The Allies also KNEW that the could certainly not land enough men and materiel via the beaches to make them strong enough to break out of the bridgeheads that the element of surprise had enabled them to establish.

 

So the Allies took their own majour harbours with them. It was the awesome engineering feat of the Mulberry Harbours http://www.combinedops.com/Mulberry%20Harbours.htm built and transported across the Channel in complete secrecy, combined with the air superiority achieved by the RAF keeping German reconnaisance aircraft away from the harbours once they were in situ, which enabled the D-Day landings to lead to the liberation of Western Europe.

 

Had the Germans known that the Allies would indeed have access to a major harbour within days of the landings, then they would have realised that this was no diversionery attack and commited everything they had into the counter attack. Quite probably throwing the landings back into the sea.

 

It was only really after Cherbourg and Le Havre fell in the August and September that the Germans believed that the Allies would be able to resupply, hold onto their gains, and break out. Up until then, the German High Command simply had no idea how the Allies were keeping up the flow of fresh men and materiel.

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Whilst accepting your point; it still doesn't rule out the fact that there were only two practical landing points, due to the air cover requirement. Rommel wanted to locate his armour as close to the beaches as possible, which would have permitted a counter-attack within hours of the landing (prior to the positioning of mullberry); which would probably have doomed the invasion. Even with half or even a quarter of the available 11 Panzer Divs in the West, and the redeployment of excess Inf Divs from Brittany, D-Day would probably have failed. That isn't to say that we wouldn't have won the war: perhaps it would have meant that the Russians would have reached Normandy before we did?! :wink:

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The problems that Rommel was risking with his plan of locating his armour and reserve formations close to the beaches was that they would be spread too thin to guarantee to repel an invasion in force, and there was also a possibility that they could become cut off by allied airstrikes on the road, rail and communications infrastructure. Even today, if you take a look at Google Earth, the Normandy penninsula has relatively little in the way of main roads and rail lines.

 

Heavy armour is almost always moved from one location to another by rail since driving the tanks cross country is relatively slow, uses huge amounts of fuel and results in them being separated from their infantry and logistics support. The terrain of the Normandy penninsula, which is known as "bocage" is hilly and made up of small fields divided by dense hedgerows and ditches, and is a major problem to armoured mobility. This sort of terrain greatly favours static defenders and small infantry units equipped with anti-tank weapons over tank operations.

 

Any armoured units Rommel had placed on the penninsula itself would have been almost impossible to resupply once the Allies had achieved total air superiority, and Rommel knew that the Allied air forces were more than capable of doing just that. Attempts to move fuel and ammunition trains along the single rail line into and out of Cherbourg would have been suicidal. Rommel had bitter experience in North Africa that even the best armoured formations in the world soon grind to a halt without secure supply lines.

 

Given the inability of ANYONE pre-Mulberry to conceive of a purely beach based invasion, the German plan of heavily garrisoning Le Havre (11,000 men), Cherbourg (21,000 men), Caen (25,000 men) and Calais (20,000 men), and of having a strong and mobile armoured reserve, was a reasonable one. This plan denied the allies a usable major port for several months, any other invasion without Mulberry would have run out of steam and failed long before then.

 

Had D Day failed, I don't think there would have been a second chance for several years at least. And given the pace of German development in their V-weapon, jet fighter and atomic bomb programmes, who knows what the outcome would have been.

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Interesting analysis Pete; however I would dispute the arguement your putting in favour of a Panzer Reserve; it's precisely because of Allied air supremecy that movement from reserve locations to the front was virtually impossible, plus French Resistance activity. The location of armour close to the beaches would have been an all or nothing gamble, with the intentionof denying the Allies a lodgement on the first day, thus re-supply wasn't a primary consideration. Tanks can be effective in a defencive role (hull down), even in the bocage, and Pz Divs were supported by their Pz Grenadiers and 88mm ATGs; which did in fact delay the British advance on Cannes for quite some time. However, the point and purpose of close contact by the Armour, would have been to annialate the bridgehead within hours, rather than days. Given there were only the two logical landing areas; the Normandy defence could have been at least doubled in terms of both Pz and Inf Divs; by transfering units (including high quality Parachute Divs) from the Brittany Area and assigning at least two more Pz Divs to reinforce XXI and XIISS Pz. Still, that's yet another "what if", and history is full of them! :wink:

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The Germans always did expect the main part of the invasion to take place around Calais. The sea crossing for heavily laden landing craft is much shorter, there is a major port there, it's easier to provide air cover from airfields in the South of England, and it would be an easier location to break out from. So the bulk of the defencive effort naturally went towards Calais.

 

Landings in Normandy involved a much bigger logistics problem, and the sea crossing was far more dangerous. The Germans also thought that they had more E-boats and U-boats available to intercept cross channel convoys on this longer route than was actually the case, Admiral Doenitz had been underplaying the full extent of his loses both in the Battle of the Atlantic and in the Channel itself for some time.

 

Hence, Normandy was always considered to be of considerably lower likelihood as an invasion point, and the Germans recognised the potential danger of commiting large scale reserves to counter a diversionary attack in the area and then being unable to extricate them to meet a main invasion around Calais. Without knowledge of Mulberry, the Germans thought that they could afford to allow the Allies to take the whole of the Normandy penninsula whilst keeping the ports out of our hands. A classic example of trading territory for the time to get organised. There was a very short window of opportunity in both the tides and the weather for the Allies to get ashore at all, and once this window closed it would have been virtually impossible to re-supply the Allies using U- and E- boat harrassed convoys landing via the beaches. The Germans envisioned an inadequately supplied invasion force bottled up on the penninsula without the means to break out - once their Panzers had "dealt" with our main invasion force around Calais, the penninsula would have been like Gallipoli all over again.

 

The fact that Caen WAS strongly re-inforced with Panzers and fanatical Hitler Youth regiments to deny the Allies access to the east coastal routes off the penninsula supports this strategy.

 

Landing in Normandy on D Day was an all or nothing gamble on the part of the Allies - it could have failed, it nearly did fail, and failure would have extended the war by at least one year, more likely two. I don't think that the German High Command believed that the Allies would take such an all or nothing gamble at a time when the UK wasn't actually under direct threat of invasion itself. I think they probably expected more in the way of commando raids such as the failed one on Dieppe in 1942, further attacks by the RAF on the U-boat pens at Brest, and probing attacks right along the northern coasts of France, Belgium and Holland, and in Norway, as a pre-cursor to a full invasion. The deception plans run by the Allies with their two phantom armies and their "man who never was" were master strokes in convincing your enemy of something he already believes.

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I'm with you on the Pas de Calais scenario, that was the most obvious and clear route of attack, and would naturally receive the bulk of defensive forces. However, the only other possible route (within a viable distance) was Normandy and the Cherbourg Penninsular - an area within which they had only 6 Inf Divs and 3 Pz Divs. In the Brittany Penninsular they had 6 Inf and 2 Para Divs, and between the Loire and Spain - 4 Inf Divs and 2 Pz Divs; and in the South of France - 8 Inf and 2 Pz Divs: some of which would have meant a major difference to actual events, had they been re-deployed to Normandy. :wink:

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  • 9 months later...

That?s a pretty negative question to raise at this time Observer

 

However bad the world may seem today, we have to believe that it?s preferable to what might have resulted and that the outcome, even though we can?t see or measure it, justified the tremendous loss of life.

 

Bill

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However bad the world may seem today, we have to believe that it?s preferable to what might have resulted and that the outcome,

 

And there in lies the big question that can never be answered!!

 

A bit like God, most have to believe that he exists because the possibility of him not existing doesn't bear thinking about!

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Ask lots of them then, :wink: you know what the answer will be though. The fact that the Allies won means there's stioll some around to ask.

 

I wonder as you are doing so much to defend the BNP do you support Mr Griiffins views on the Jews. If you do some digging he is quite well published on the subject :!::!::!::wink:

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Well we know the "views" of 90% of the mainstream MPs - it's about ripping off the tax-payer by guzzling all they can from the trough - stones and glass houses methinks. :roll: Perhaps you can actually get round to addressing their actual policies in relation to the issues of the day?! :roll:

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