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British Reluctance, OVERLORD


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To all,

 

It is my contention that the British did not want to do Operation Overlord. I believe that we dragged them kicking and screaming to do this operation. I have assembled below some extracts from several books that helped me form this opinion. I have listed the books and all information needed for anyone to acquire the books. I did not type in footnotes, but if you want a footnote, please state so and I will type it in as soon as possible. I did not try to “Cherry pick”, but I have not gone through my entire library yet to look for more evidence to support or disprove my opinion. My opinion was formed by reading lots and lots of history books; I was not born with this opinion. As I find more evidence one way or the other I will post it for all to read.

Things to remember:

1. If I made a comment at the bottom of a passage I clearly state that it is my opinion.

2. To General Marshall OVERLORD and ANVIL were linked, to him they were part of the same operation, not two separate operations.

3. All spelling errors are mine and any British spellings have been changed to the American version.

4. If you read something and it does not make sense, it may be because I missed a line while typing it in, contact me and I will correct it.

5. If you disagree with my opinion, please list the books and passages that show that I should change my mind.

6. Arguing that “well the British did participate in Operation Overlord!’ Does not disprove my contention.

 

“Partners in Command”, by Mark Perry (ISBN 978-0-14-311385-0 (pbk))

Page 214

. . Then too, Franklin Roosevelt was now firmly on his side in arguing for the invasion of France. Overlord, the president had decided, should take precedence ovr any other campaign. 2 As Marshall knew, Great Britain’s opposition to Overlord now rested on shaky foundations-that Germany could somehow be defeated from the air, that its forces could be fatally degraded by attacks in the Mediterranean or the Balkans, that pinpricks at its periphery would spell and end to Hitler’s Reich.

. . Franklin Roosevelt’s commitment to confronting the British prime minister (if such a confrontation was necessary) with an American insistence that the time had come, finally, to fight the Germans in northwestern Europe. Marshall knew, of course, that the U.S. had made the arguments at Arcadia and Casablanca and again with Churchill in Algiers. And each time, he also knew the British had deftly sidestepped the issue, postponing the invasion to some uncertain future date. Now, with Roosevelt firmly on his side, Marshall believed the British would have to face the inevitable. Roosevelt’s willingness to finally confront Churchill was essential if Marshall was to win his battle against Brooke.

Page 215

. . . The stage was set for yet another confrontation between George Marshall and Sir Alan Brooke, a face-off that was now a traditional part of every Anglo-American meeting. Indeed, the battle lines of Quebec were drawn early in the conference when the two commanders engaged in a heated and painfully blunt discussion on the invasion of Europe. As always, Brooke’s soaring opinion of his own strategic (page 216) sense served to deepen Marshall’s suspicions, while the American chief’s continued intransigence on Overlord seemed (at least to Brooke) yet another sign of American strategic simplicity. When Marshall insisted that the Combined Chiefs specify a date for France’s invasion, Brooke fired a salvo at the American commander. This was the same old argument, he said, that was being put forward solely because of Marshall’ amateurish understanding of warfare. The chief of staff simply did not “begin to understand a strategic problem,”7 Marshall responded heatedly. The problem was not America’s, but Brooke’s and his inability to understand that diverting resources from a cross-Channel attack to conquer Italy would not defeat Germany, but only postpone the ending of the war. . .

Page 217

. . . So, for one last time, the British prime minister attempted to convince Roosevelt to postpone Overlord.12 But it was too late, and Churchill retreated for the first time since the beginning of the war. He was heartbroken: “Italy was now to pass through the most tragic time in her history and to become the battle-ground of some of the fiercest fighting of the war, “ he later wrote. 13

 

 

Page 236 (Tehran)

. . . In his first meeting with Roosevelt and Churchill, Stalin peremptorily dismissed Churchill’s talk of hitting Hitler’s “soft underbelly.” Overlord, he announced, was his priority. 79 The next day Stalin’s view were reinforced by Soviet marshal Kliment Voroshilov, who met privately with the American and British chiefs. An imposing man and veteran of the Soviet-German war on the eastern front, Voroshilov questioned Marshall and Brooke on the invasion of France. Brooke, as was his wont, was irritated by the questioning, thought that Voroshilov was being simplistic, and immediately dismissed him as a superficial thinker. 80 Voroshilov was not intimidated. Did Brooke support the cross-Channel invasion as much as Marshall or not? Brooke was silent, jaw set, clearly irritated by anyone who dared question his views-let alone a Russian. But he could no longer hedge. Yes, he said, he supported Overlord, but added, as if the question were of little moment, that the British had “always” considered Overlord essential. . .

. . . Marshall knew about Stalin and was blunt in speaking about his reputation (he was a “tough SOB who made his way by murder” and “not a Foreign Service officer”), but Marshall was tickled by Stalin’s continued needling of Churchill about Hitler’s soft underbelly. “He was turning the hose on Churchill all the time,” Marshall remembered, “and Mr. Roosevelt, in a sense, was helping him.”82 Inevitably, as the conference drew to a close, Stalin reiterated the importance of the cross-Channel operation. Overlord should be carried forward and not postponed, not for any reason, he emphasized. It should also be reinforced by landings in southern France, he said, and a supreme commander to head the operation should be named at once.83 (my comments: why would the soft underbelly be brought up at this time when the invasion of France had been decided on? Was Churchill fishing for support in order to out vote the Americans 2 to 1?)

Page 248

. . . The diversion of resources first to North Africa, then to Sicily, and finally to Italy sidetracked this initiative, frustrated Marshall, and threatened to institutionalize British thinking-to peel away German strength by attacks on its periphery. In the more than two years since, British insistence on invading Europe’s soft underbelly, had provided endless teeth-gnashing moments for the chief of staff, but Marshall had come to understand the constant British hesitations. While the Americans were still capable of getting there “the firstest with the mostest,” a methodical village-by-village war of attrition in France was a British nightmare. The British were scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel, and the effects of this were being felt on the field of battle. . .

. . . So who postpone the inevitable reckoning with Hitler’s legions? That question was finally answered to Marshall’s satisfaction when Churchill’s physician sidled up to him during a particularly contentious debate with the British Chiefs: “You are fighting the Battle of the Somme,” he said.27

Page 256

Eisenhower told Marshall that he had grave doubts about the Allied landing at Anzio, despite Churchill’s Italy obsession. At the same time, he supported plans to carry out landings in southern France, code-named Anvil, that would coincide with D-day. Marshall agreed strongly on both points and noted his concern that in the immediate aftermath of Overlord the Allied right flank would be “in the air,” unprotected and vulnerable to a German counterattack.54 Anvil, he said, must go forward. Marshall was also worried that Eisenhower would be forced to concede resources to other combat theaters, resources that would be needed on Normandy’s beaches. The Anzio landing presented a major obstacle. A continued stalemate in Italy would rob Overlord of badly needed landing craft. The landing-craft issue was particularly knotty, as continuing offensive operation in the Pacific demanded the constant deployment of newly produced LSTs . . .

Page 267

. . . Marshall had worked and fought with the British Chiefs of Staff for three years, and over those three years, he had learned a salient lesson. The British might retreat in the face of American political power, but they would never surrender. They had killed Sledgehammer and Roundup and had gotten their way in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. They might now claim that they supported Overlord, but Marshall was cautioning Eisenhower not to be fooled. They played the international political game well, because they had in large part invented it. Churchill and Brooke would do anything to impose their vision of the war on Americans, even if that meant hobbling or even killing Overlord. That Eisenhower was supreme Allied commander, that he was to head the largest military force in the world, meant nothing. Marshall girded himself for one final battle and signaled to his chief lieutenant that he expected and would demand his support. It is eminently clear from Marshall and Eisenhower’s exchanges in the wake of Montgomery’s Overlord briefing that while Eisenhower was the supreme Allied commander, George Marshall was still his commanding officer. And in the wake of that exchange, Eisenhower reasserted his control of the Overlord planning process and then quietly but firmly put Anvil, which the British were busy strangling, back on the table.

Page 269

 

. . . Marshall was not fooled and implied that British planner had purposely underestimated the number of soldiers who could be carried to the beaches in Overlord: “Combined planners in Washington figured a total personnel lift of 34,000,” he said and went on to note: “There was a further difference in bases of calculation regarding U.S. combat loaders. London planners calculated on a total of 960m men per vessel in order to permit unloading in two trips. U.S. calculations are based on 1400 and Navy advises that landing boats are sufficient for unloading in two trips.”2 Put simply, the British figures were wrong.

Marshall’s message to the Combined Chiefs of Staff might seem best consigned to a footnote in Overlord’s planning, but Marshall had correctly discovered a hidden political agenda in the landing craft figures put forward by the British. In scaling back the numbers of men and landing craft available for Overlord, the British hoped to pressure Marshall and Eisenhower to see the logic of canceling Anvil. But their second purpose was even more important. They wanted to make more landing craft available for Mediterranean operations, where, not incidentally, they were in command. In the Combined Chiefs’ figures Marshall sniffed the nearly expunged odor of Arcadia, Casablanca, Quadrant, Trident, and Cairo, where the British prime minister and his chief lieutenant, Sir Alan Brooke, had continually opposed a landing in France in favor of lopping off the Germans in Italy. Marshall suspected that after three years of debate, the British- and Winston Churchill in particular-were still attempting to make more resources available to Wilson and Alexander. The memory of the Somme and the Marne was ever present in these British calculations. But Marshall was having none of it. When Churchill insisted that the landing craft issue be discussed in person, Marshall snapped back. Having warned Eisenhower that the Sledgehammer and Roundup game was still on, and having been reassured by his chief lieutenant that he would not cave in to “localities,” Marshall was determined to leave the issue of Anvil in his hands. Marshall’s message to the British chiefs had its desired effect. By March 10 this last-gasp attempt to divert resources from Overlord was defeated and Anvil was reconfirmed. Churchill was disappointed, but Brooke, having already calculated that Marshall had won this round, was laconic. They would fight another day. Brooke went to Churchill to convince him to drop his Anvil objections.

Page 272

Having thus raised saying no to an art form and for once following his instincts, Eisenhower must have wished that he had done so back in November, when common sense told him that Shingle, the landing of the Allies at Anzio, would not work. By mid-February, just four months later, it was clear not only that his judgment had been correct; but that the British claim that the Germans could be bled down by snipping at their periphery was having precisely the opposite effect. Not only were thousands of American troops now penned in by the resourceful Albert Kesselring, but 263 landing craft that were suppose to come to Eisenhower in Shingle’s wake might now have to used to lift Allied troops off the Italian beaches. Anzio was a disaster.

Page 283

. . . But even with Anvil approved, Churchill turned maudlin, even tearful. “When I think of the beaches of Normandy choked with the flowers of American and British youth and when in my mind’s eye I see the tides running red with their blood I have my doubts-I have my doubts Ike, I have my doubts.”34

That is all from this book and hopefully I can put some more in from the next book. Any spelling errors are mine and my fat fingers!

 

Organizer of Victory 1943-1942, George C. Marshall, by Forrest C. Pogue (SBN 670-33694-7)

Page 31

Marshall got much less than he had wanted. However he had been fairly certain before he came to Casablanca that he must accept a campaign against Sardinia or Sicily. To a disappointed Stimson, positive that the cross-Channel operation was still in jeopardy, Marshall later explained that he had accepted the operation against Sicily because (1) there were sufficient troops in the Mediterranean for the attack, (2) British Intelligence believed that the Luftwaffe had been severly depleted and that this was the best way to prevent its recovery, and (3) the British refused to go along with the cross-Channel operation for the present. . .

Page 194

At the same time the Americans demanded a firm agreement on long-range strategy. They needed to set goals for the military production and allot men and supplies for the various theaters. Even now Marshall did not know how many divisions and air groups would be needed to finish the job. More to the point, he feared that lack of a firm commitment on a 1944 invasion of the Continent would mean its postponement until 1945. And long postponement might bring new diversions of operations.

In March 1943 the U.S. Chief of Staff for the first time spoke of the political importance of going across the Channel. He suggested that serious problems might arise if the Allied drive from the west into Germany fell behind Russian advances from the east. If the Allies “were involved at the last in Western France and the Russian Army was approaching German soil,” he warned, “there would be a most unfortunate diplomatic situation immediately involved with the possibility of a chaotic condition quickly following.”

Despite his fears over delays in the cross-Channel invasion, Marshall kept an open mind about the next phase of operations. He was willing to consider limited moves on the Italian mainland after attacks on Sicily or Sardinia. During the Casablanca meeting he had even suggested to Eisenhower that if they could advance into Sicily from Tunisia on the heels of withdrawing Axis forces, the might cash in on the resulting confusion to gain a great success very cheaply. He was equally receptive to exploiting a Sicilian victory. In his willingness to grasp a sudden advantage, the Chief of Staff showed that he was not wedded exclusively to an early cross-Channel attack.

Page 195

So far as future strategic planning was concerned, Marshal was firmly set on the cross-Channel attack. He told Roosevelt on May 2 that the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed following the invasion of Sicily with an attack on the Italian mainland. Marshall did not go into all the reasoning that lay behind this conclusion at his meeting with the President. But it was the consensus of Marshall and his colleagues that in all future operations in the Mediterranean they wanted to emphasize aid to Russian and, except for air attacks, exclude operations east of Sicily.

In talking with Stimson the day following his discussion with Marshall, the President said that the Allies should go to Sicily but not be drawn into Italy. To Stimson’s amusement the President added that he hoped that the Chief of Staff would go along with his views. . . .

Page 196

On May 9, while the British party was still at sea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff outlined their strategic views in greater detail for the President and won his agreement that their principal objective would be “to pin down the British to a cross-Channel invasion of Europe at the earliest practicable date and to make full preparations for such an operation by the spring of 1944.” Although pleased that the President accepted the proposals “in principle,” Marshall admitted to Stimson that he was not certain exactly what this entailed. The Secretary of War agreed that they might have a repetition of 1942, when the Prime Minister had managed to sell the President on Torch.9. . .

Page 216-217

Realizing that it was essential to win Marshall to his side, the Prime Minister made every effort to conciliate him and graciously included him in any honors intended for himself. He addressed his arguments principally to the American Chief at the meeting in Eisenhower’s villa the following afternoon, stressing the importance he attached to the build-up for the cross-Channel attack and emphasizing the desire of the British people and the British Army to fight across the Channel. General Marshall was guarded in his comment, neither rejecting nor accepting an operation on the mainland of Italy after the Sicilian invasion. He stuck to his suggestion of setting up two planning groups, one to study an operation against Corsica and Sardinia and the other to consider moves against the mainland of Italy. When it was clear which should be attempted, all resources would be shifted to that attack. The Prime Minister would have preferred a more specific commitment from the Americans but was satisfied when Eisenhower indicated that if Sicily were polished off easily, he would be willing to go straight into Italy proper.6

The Prime Minister next trained his heavy on Eisenhower. On the evening of the thirtieth, while General Marshall and Colonel McCarthy were visiting Eisenhower’s forward headquarters between Tunis and Bizerte, Churchill sought to allay American fears that the British were attempting to delay a cross-Channel attack. Sensing that Churchill’s real purpose was to press for further action against Italy, Eisenhower explained that his opportunity for exploitation was somewhat limited by the string the Chief of Staff had placed on seven divisions, which were to be shifted to Britain by November.7

Page 225-226

In an earlier conversation with Churchill, the Secretary of War stressed his and Marshall’s conviction that it was essential to launch a cross-Channel attack in 1944. Seizing on the Prime Minister’s interest in the 1944 presidential election and the change of administration that might result, Stimson said there was a danger that by getting United States involved in the eastern Mediterranean in which Americans were not interested Britain might raise an issue that “would be used against the Administration in the campaign.” Only by an intellectual effort had the Americans been convinced that Germany and not Japan was the most dangerous enemy that must be eliminated first: “. . . the enemy whom the American people really hated, if they hated anyone, was Japan which had dealt them a foul blow to the prestige of the President’s war policy.”32

The Prime Minister knew a telling political argument when he heard one, and he tried to offset it with an emotional reference to a Channel filled with corpses, an illusion he mad to Stimson several times. The Secretary went at him “hammer and tongs,” charging that he continued to oppose the cross-Channel venture and was “hitting us in the eye.” Churchill admitted that if he were Commander-in-Chief he “would not figure the [cross-Channel] operation,” yet having made his pledge he would go through with it loyally. He said he was not insisting on going farther than Rome “unless we should by good luck obtain a complete Italian capitulation throwing open the whole of Italy as far as the northern boundary.” Although he had no desire to send troops into the Balkans, he indicated that munitions and supplies would be sent to the foes of the Germans in that area. Stimson feared that Eden wanted to carry the war into Greece and the Balkans generally and that Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa and Empire elder statesman whose advice was often sought by the British leader and the War Cabinet, was encouraging Churchill against the cross-Channel operation. Stimson reminded Roosevelt and Marshall that the Prime Minister “was looking so constantly and vigorously for an easy way of ending the war without a trans-Channel assault, we must be constantly on the lookout against Mediterranean diversions.”

Page 227

Persuaded from his talks with Churchill and Eisenhower that the British were wavering in their commitment to OVERLORD, Secretary Stimson returned to the United States convinced that the operation would be carried out only if an American was named Supreme Commander and if that American was George Marshall. . .

Page 241-242

Since June, General Marshall had seen in every proposal from London the counsel of further delay. Even a plan for the peaceful occupation of the Azores, intended to protect the Portuguese islands from possible German attack, contained a whiff of diversionary tactics. The Chief of Staff strongly urged Roosevelt not to give the British an opportunity “to get out of doing OVERLORD.” OVERLORD was the latest designation for a cross-Channel attack, replacing earlier code names such as ROUNDUP, SLEDGEHAMMER, and ROUNDHAMMER. The build-up for cross-Channel activities continued under the name BOLERO.1

For at least six weeks before Roosevelt and Churchill and their staffs met at Quebec (the QUADRANT conference) in August 1943, General Marshall’s advisers searched for a formula that would-in General Wedemeyer’s words-“stir the imagination and win the support of the Prime Minister if not that of his recalcitrant planners and chiefs of staff.”2

In a memo to General Handy, Wedemeyer reviewed the three possible approaches: cross-Channel or Mediterranean operations or the use of air bombardment and blockade, “and of course there could be various combinations and permutations of these.” Marshall himself still strongly favored the cross-Channel approach as the one most likely to result in victory over Germany in 1944.

London had no monopoly on shifting views. As the Allies became deeply immersed in Mediterranean operations, even some of Marshall’s close advisers despaired of mounting a cross-Channel attack the following spring-among them Brigadier General John E. Hull, Chief of the Operations Division’s Theater Group. One of the original authors of the cross-Channel approach, Hull developed doubts as he saw the resources intended for the build-up in the United Kingdom drained away southward. He reluctantly concluded that the Allies must seek a final decision in the Mediterranean.3

Hull won some support for shelving OVERLORD from the Navy representative on the Joint Planners Staff, Admiral Cooke. Seeing an opportunity to push Pacific operations, Cooke, who never slept when there was a chance to aid that area, suggested that OVERLORD might be reduced to an emergency effort. The bulk of the remaining resources could then go to the Mediterranean and Pacific. His Army and Air Forces opposite numbers, Wedemeyer and Kuter, disagreed with Cooke; they insisted that conditions had not changed sufficiently to justify reversing the earlier concept.4

Consequently the move to downgrade OVERLORD gained little headway in Washington. Moreover, even faith in the operation seemed to flicker in certain American quarters, it flared up in London. Under General Morgan, the COSSAC staff at Norfolk House was now hard at work on plans for a cross-Channel invasion to be undertaken in the spring. After TRIDENT the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander had received a supplementary directive to prepare an operation with a target date of May 1, 1944, in order to secure a lodgment on the Continent from which the Allies could launch further operations against Germany. In addition Morgan was to plan on the assumption that he would have in the United Kingdom twenty-nine divisions, nine of them to be used in the assault. He was directed to start expansion of logistical facilities in the United Kingdom and have an outline plan ready for submission by August1.5

The presence in London of this active planning staff, strongly British in make-up, gave an OVERLORD operation for 1944 an immediacy that it had hitherto lacked. Although at times a frustrated General Morgan felt that his headquarters was being used by his own people as window dressing for an operation that they did not intend to carry out, he worked at his mission faithfully. He convinced Secretary Stimson of his sincerity during the latter’s visit to the United Kingdom in July and earned the warm approval of General Marshall, who considered making Morgan his Chief of Staff if he commanded the invasion forces.6

. . . At last it was possible for discussion to proceed on the basis of a specific plan for a specific invasion. Although lacking almost everything except the paper on which it was written, the plan had been made. General Marshall was encouraged to learn from Major General Ray W. Barker, Morgan’s American second in command, who came to brief the Chief of Staff before the Quebec meeting, that OVERLORD was strongly backed by the British planners, as well as by General Sir Bernard Paget, commander of 21 Army Group, whose force would furnish British troops for the operation. But Barker conveyed a word of caution: the Prime Minister was still keenly interested in further expansion in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, and when the British Chiefs of Staff came under his “sun lamp,” they were likely to warm to his designs.8

To counter the Prime Minister’s seductive fluency, Marshall since early July had been impressing his views on the President. On July 25 he explained to him that Churchill’s strategy was based on the belief that continued Allied pressure would be sufficient to force political and economic collapse of German rule in the occupied countries. If the Prim Minister’s analysis was wrong, his strategy led to a war of blockade and attrition that the American people would not support. Confronted with such a protracted struggle, they would prefer to seek a decision in the Pacific. . .

Page 245

But the New World could be stubborn about the redressing. Sir John Dill had warned the British Chiefs of Staff that Marshal and his colleagues were in a very positive mood about future strategy. At Hyde Park the Prime Minister discovers that the President, formerly receptive to alternative suggestions, was firmly set on OVERLORD.

Page 245-247

Actually the Americans wee less adamant than they appeared. Indeed Brooke indicated on August 15 that there appeared to be no fundamental divergence in their positions. He supported OVERLORD as the chief operation for 1944, suggesting that the Italian offensive be planned with this in mind. Thus far there was no wide disagreement. But in restating COSSAC’s requirements for a viable OVERLORD plan-(1) reducing enemy fighter strength, (2) holding down German Strength in France and the Low Countries to manageable proportions, and (3) solving the problem of maintenance over the beaches-Brooke seemed to list them in a way that led straight to the Mediterranean.17

Brooke habitually blamed Churchill for frightening the Americans by talking of greater commitments elsewhere, but in this instance, even before the Prime Minister appeared on the scene, it was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff who roused their fears. Brooke suggested that the offensive lines across the neck of Italy, currently considered the northern limit of Allied advance, be regarded merely as the first stage of future operation and that they should try to seize areas to the north as well. From this vantage point it might be possible to drive into southern France. (This route had been proposed earlier by Admiral Leahy in a meeting of the American Chiefs of Staff, but Marshall had ruled it out since the advance would be through extremely rough terrain.)18

The Americans had anticipated that the visitors might force a postponement of OVERLORD by continued expansion in Italy. To King it seemed that Brooke had confirmed that suspicion. Rejecting the assumption that only Italian operations could pave the way to cross-Channel success, the Admiral declared that the required preconditions could be met by gains on the Russian front or by the air offensive then in progress from the United Kingdom. A little less rigid, Marshall was willing to take as much of Italy as weak opposition permitted. He agreed with Portal that it would be better for the Allies if they, rather than the Germans, held the airfields in the north, but shared Arnold’s belief that the same aerial results could probably be gained from fields in the area of Florence. He was willing to capitalize on enemy weakness but not to build a major front on the Italian mainland.

Having conceded something to Brooke, Marshall insisted that if OVERLORD was not given overriding priority, the slippage already evident in planning would continue and the operation would not take place. His bite was in the conclusion: if OVERLORD was out for 1944, then the whole strategy might have to be recast and the United States effort in Great Britain reduced to providing a reinforced corps for a return to the Continent in case of German weakness or collapse.19

Predictably Marshall’s attitude irked Brooke. The morning had been a bitter one for the British Chief. Almost abruptly the Prime Minister had informed him that the Supreme Command, promised to him earlier, was not to be his; now a painful day became intolerable. Finding Marshall unyielding on OVERLORD, Brooke hastily assumed that the General had not even read Morgan’s plan and was unaware of the relation between cross-Channel and the Italian campaign. He apparently was unaware that Morgan’s American Deputy, General Barker, had earlier briefed Marshall and his colleagues on the plan and that they had carefully considered the part Italian operations might play in aiding landings in the north. He had heard from Dill that on this point the American Chief of Staff was adamant and had even threatened to resign if the British pressed for major operations in Italy.20 . . .

Amid this prevailing tension it was not surprising that the British and the Americans continued to strike sparks from each other. On the sixteenth, after chasing all planners and secretaries from their conference, the Combined Chiefs explored their differences with brutal frankness. Brooke pleaded with the Americans for a greater show of mutual confidence. The Americans thought the British were not wholehearted about the cross-Channel attack, he noted, while he and his colleagues feared that the Americans would demand that OVERLORD be carried out even if the strategic situation in Europe changed. He conceded that he and his colleagues had continued to withhold final acceptance for the cross Channel effort while the Americans, despite their strong arguments, had adjusted to every strategic change in the Mediterranean.21

Brooke laid the blame for the misunderstanding squarely on Churchill. With the Prime Minister constantly dredging up alternatives, Brooke complained, the Americans believed that he would continue to wonder far afield in the hope that the German question could somehow be settled without a direct confrontation on the Continent. This was indeed what they believed. It was not failure to understand the possible value to OVERLORD of victories in Italy that caused Marshall to question British aims, but the obvious ill effects on the build-up in the United Kingdom that would result from a long-drawn-out fight in the Mediterranean.

Page 248

. . . Consequently it was arguable that continuation of the advance up the boot hardly constituted the logical preparation for OVERLORD. Instead it appeared to be an attempt to avoid coming to grips with the main enemy in the spring of 1944.

Page 249-250

In the final dissection of OVERLORD the Prime Minister reiterated that the British would accept the operation only if certain conditions as to the limits of German strength had been met. If it appeared that the enemy’s ground or air strength was greater than the acceptable maximum, the launching of OVERLORD must be reviewed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Despite the opposition of his advisers he suggested that JUPITER, his perennial favorite, be developed as a second string to their bow. Brooke wince at the effect this alternative might have on the Americans. Churchill and his advisers stipulated that, as agreed at TRIDENT, seven divisions would be returned from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom unless the strategic situation required a review of that provision. In addition he insisted that the invasion force for OVERLORD be increased by 25 per cent. In this requirement, at least, Marshall and his colleagues were in accord with the British.

Page 250

On September 9, as Clark’s force landed at Salerno, the Prime Minister resumed his effort to win the Chief of Staff’s support. Churchill showed Marshall and the other Chiefs a paper he proposed to submit to the President at a White House conference later in the day in which he outlined action to follow the expected surrender of Italy. . . This limited objective was most acceptable to the Americans as was his assurance that “There can be no question of whittling down OVERLORD.”26

Page 311-312

Roosevelt and Churchill, the Admiral related, had each taken familiar stands in their play for Stalin’s approval-the President extolling cross-channel and the Pacific campaigns and the Prime Minister pointing out that the Mediterranean activities, though secondary, were vital to Russia. To the delighted surprise of the Americans, Stalin had made quick work of the Prime Minister’s arguments. He declared that the Western Allies must concentrate on OVERLORD and, as a diversionary action, make a landing in southern France, preferably well in advance of the landings in the north. He had disappointed Churchill by dismissing the likelihood of Turkey’s entrance into the war and ruling out proposed operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Nor had he been interested in further campaigns in Italy, citing Marshal Suvorov, who had fought French revolutionary armies there in 1799 and 1800, on the difficulties of fighting in the Alps. The British were appalled to find the Russians backing United States strategy for the future. . .

Brooke drew the Russian’s fire by arguments against landings in southern France prior to OVERLORD. Voroshilov observed that General Marshall’s remarks indicated that the United States considered OVERLORD of the first importance. “He wished to know if General Brooke also considered the operation of first importance. He wished to ask both Allies whether they think that OVERLORD must be carried out or whether they consider that it may be possible to replace it by some other suitable operation when Turkey has entered the war.”31 . . .

Brooke brusquely replied that the British had always considered OVERLORD an essential part of the fight against Germany but were determined that it should be launched when it had the best chance of success. He thought that these conditions existed for 1944. Forces were currently being brought back to mount the operation, but efforts to keep a May 1 date would bring operation to a halt in the Mediterranean.

Concluding that Brooke was stalling, Voroshilov cannily apologized for his failure to understand but persisted that “he was interested to know whether General Brooke. . . considered OVERLORD as important an operation as General Marshall had indicated that he did.” The British commander bristled at his pressure, replying that he deemed it of vital importance but that he was familiar with the defenses of northern France, and he did not wish to see the operation fail.

Voroshilov pursued his advantage. Agreeing that diversionary operations in the Mediterranean would be valuable, he insisted that the Allies should decide that OVERLORD was the key operation and that all the other operations “must be planned to secure OVERLORD . . . and not to hurt it.”

Page 314

Marshal, already on record against the proposed Rhodes operation, predicted that it would probably delay the landings in southern France until mid-July. The British countered with several suggestions. Brooke referred to Eisenhower’s message saying that an assault on northern Italy might be more valuable to OVERLORD than an attack in southern France and that the landings in the south of France should be considered as only one of several means of aiding OVERLORD. Air Marshal Portal proposed that lift for one division be left in Italy until Rome fell and lift for one division be left in the Middle East until mid-February, when it would be known if Turkey would come into the conflict. If she did not, the craft could be sent to OVERLORD. General Marshall disagreed. This arrangement, he feared would divide the reserve of landing craft so that there would be no real strength anywhere. In the end a new operation-outlined by Churchill-would delay the shift of landing craft beyond the point Cunningham had considered wise.

From landing craft the Chiefs turned to the question of a date for OVERLORD. General Brooke conceded that unless a firm answer was given to the Russians, there was no point in continuing with the conference. But some embarrassment arose because the Western Allies had just promised the Russians that the operation would take place in May-the tentative date having been set at TRIDENT by splitting the difference between April 1, suggested by the Americans, and June 1, proposed by the British. . .

Page 317

Churchill cleverly argued that the Tehran discussions had changed the conditions under which Roosevelt had promised Chiang Kai-shek to launch BUCCANEER. The Russians had now indicated their willingness to go to war against Japan as soon as Germany collapsed; the allies had told Stalin they would launch OVERLORD in May; and there was now a firm agreement to land in southern France. The President, chagrined at the prospect of hiving to disappoint the Generalissimo, urged that Mountbatten be instructed to stage the best operation he could with the resources he had at hand. Brooke tried to make the decision more palatable by arguing that it might be wise to diver the landing craft from BUCCANEER to provide a three-division lift for the operation in southern France. Before many months he and his colleagues would argue that a one division diversionary attack would be sufficient. This was an instance of the opportunism that made the Americans suspicious of Brooke.

Page 317-318

Although BUCCANEER was dropped, General Marshall could feel gratified that he had pinned down the British to a May date for the invasion of northern France and to an assault on southern France. He was not opposed to further advances in Italy or even in the eastern Mediterranean if they did not use resources earmarked for OVERLORD and ANVIL. But he wanted no further diversions from other theaters to Mediterranean “sideshows.”

 

 

Page 329-330

Montgomery had sensed his advantage on examining the COSSAC plan. If the Americans wanted to succeed in the operation for which they had argued so eloquently, they would have to give way on the landings in southern France or force King to disgorge part of his landing craft in the Pacific. Montgomery opened the game with a bid that ANVIL be dropped at once, and the southern operation reduced to a threat only. In transmitting this word to Eisenhower, still in Washington, General Smith strongly agreed.7

To General Marshall this argument was another British device aimed against cross-Channel itself. The attack in southern France was closely lined, he believed, to the success of OVERLORD. He was prepared to see the northern front broadened, but he wanted to be certain that everything had been done to find the landing craft elsewhere before abandoning the ANVIL assault.

The Chief of Staff’s view was reflected in Eisenhower’s reply from Washington on January 5, 1944. Although strongly favoring a broader based OVERLORD-a view he had expressed before leaving the Mediterranean- he agreed with Marshall that ANVIL could not be merely a threat. He left the door open to the acceptance of Montgomery’s proposal, however, by saying that only if OVERLORD could not be broadened without abandoning the landings in southern France would he consider it.8

The British Chiefs of Staff quickly sided with Montgomery; they notified the Prime Minister on January 14 that the proposed reduction of ANVIL to a one-division threat would not run counter to the Allied commitment at Tehran: “OVERLORD will be launched in May, in conjunction with a supporting operation against the south of France on the largest scale that is permitted by the landing carft available at that time.”9

It was this seemingly constant search by the British for a loophole that upset the Americans, who saw carefully wrought compromises dissolving into meaninglessness. Eisenhower was clear about Marshall’s viewpoint before he left for London on the evening of January 13. Four days later he assured the Chief of Staff that while most people there, including Montgomery and Smith, wanted a major reduction in ANVIL, he would not favor that except as a last resort. His resolve seemed fairly firm, but this last statement appeared to open the door to acceptance of London’s views. He conceded that the Allies must keep in mind the promise to the Russians and the Allied investment in the French army that was to be used in southern France. But he added, “It is with such reasons as these in mind that I am determined to uncover every single expedient for increasing the initial weight of the OVERLORD attack before I am willing to recommend any great weakening of the ANVIL project.” It was a dilemma that he could not resolve.10

The situation had been made worse by recent developments in Italy. While Eisenhower and Marshall talked of cross-Channel preparations, plans had been readied for an attack at Anzio that was to affect profoundly their ideas for landing in southern France simultaneously with OVERLORD. Churchill had set the Mediterranean pot to boiling again.

 

Page 333

Anzio’s delays added daily to the problem of OVERLORD and increased the likelihood of ANVIL’s postponement. Rather than speeding the larger operation, Churchill’s gamble, in which Marshall and Eisenhower had acquiesced, became a serious drain. The effect of the Italian battle was studied anxiously in London and Washington.

Pressure had continued to build up in the United Kingdom through January for a reduction in the size of ANVIL. Still struggling to preserve the operation as more than a threat, Eisenhower acknowledged that Montgomery was justified in demanding a broader invasion front and a five division assault loaded for the cross-Channel attack. Casting about means of salvaging the assault in southern France, he was prepared to delay the launch of OVERLORD and ANVIL until the end of May, thus benefiting from an extra month of British production of LSTs at the cost of a month of good campaigning weather.21 To this proposal the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed within the week.

On the broader issues Eisenhower outlined his views formally to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on January 23. “OVERLORD and ANVIL,” he insisted, “must be viewed as one whole,” and he described the ideal as being a five-division OVERLORD and a three-or, at worst, two-division ANVIL. It was becoming clear that if there were not enough resources or both, he was prepared to accept a one-division ANVIL-but not without a nervous glance in Marshall’s direction.

Page 334-335

Marshall did not know how completely Eisenhower was swinging to the London view, but he sensed that pressure was building up on the Supreme Commander and that Eisenhower was responding – as could be expected-to the situation closest at hand. In the past when Marshall had found commanders sore beset, he sought to bolster them by a firm statement of the American position. Now he did so by commenting dryly that the British and U.S. Chiefs of Staff seemed to have reversed themselves recently, with the Americans becoming Mediterraneanites and the British pro-cross Channel.

The U.S. Chiefs also believed that the British were exaggeration the alleged shortage of LST’s in Europe. They suspected that estimates on the serviceability of craft and the number of men that could be transported were far too low-a point on which the British agreed in later years. Acting for the Joint Chiefs, Marshall asked Eisenhower on what basis London planners were making their predictions.

Failing to get the information he desired, Marshall wrote Eisenhower unequivocally: “OVERLORD of course is paramount and it must be launched on a reasonably secure basis of which you are the best judge. Our difficulties in reaching a decision have been complicated by a battle of numbers, that is, a failure to reach a common ground as to what would be the actual facilities. As to this the British and American planners here yesterday afternoon agreed that there is sufficient lift to stage at least a 7 division OVERLORD and at the same time a 2-division ANVIL on the basis of May 31st.” But they found no such view in London where there “is an apparent disagreement with British planners . . . or Montgomery, I don’t know which.”

He added that if the Supreme Commander considered it “absolutely imperative” to send everything but one division lift to OVERLORD, “then it should be done that way.” He warned, however, that before the decision was finally made, eight to nine divisions in the Mediterranean that could have been brought in through southern France would not be on hand to assist Eisenhower’s main assault. Having dropped that shoe, he then asked, “Can you afford to lose this pressure, considering that we are almost certain to get an uprising in southern France to a far greater degree than in the north.”25

U. S. Army in World War II, The War in the Pacific, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years. By Louis Morton. Center of Military History, United States Army

Page 382

It was at the Casablanca Conference that the Americans first used the Pacific as a counterbalance to the Mediterranean. Both bore somewhat the same relationship to global strategy. The British considered the Pacific; the Americans the Mediterranean, as the theater that threatened to drain away from the area of primary interest the resources of both allies. General Marshall was weel aware of this and deliberately lined the two when he warned the British that the threat of “another Bataan” in the Pacific “would necessitate the United States regretfully withdrawing from the commitments in the European theater.” 16 In doing so he served notice on the British that proposals for further offensives in the Mediterranean would be met with similar proposals for the Pacific. Thus used,Pacific strategy became a lever by which the Americans could exert pressure on the British to bring them back to the cross-Channel assault.

Page 456

By taking this position at the start, the strategists pointed out, the U.S. Chiefs would be able to counter the anticipated insistence of the British on Mediterranean operations, and their reluctance to undertake the cross-Channel invasion, with the requirements of the Pacific theater.

Churchill As War Leader, by Richard Lamb. ISBN 0-88184-937-5

Page 177

Stalin and his advisers argued fiercely with the British delegation that Torch in 1942, instead of a cross-Channel invasion, breached the commitment given to Molotov by the President and the Prime Minister for a second front that year. Churchill replied that he had been careful not to make any promise to Molotov. This was correct, but of course Roosevelt had made a firm commitment without Churchill’s consent. Finally Stalin, on hearing from Churchill an inspired defense of Anglo-American strategy, accepted the decision after Churchill had rashly promised a full-scale cross-Channel invasion in 1943. Then the meeting ended with a banquet in an atmosphere of cordiality. 30

This marked the high point in Churchill-Stalin relations during the war, but the Russian leader never forgave Churchill for not honoring his pledge for 1943. Despite the arguments of the Chiefs of Staff to the contrary, in Moscow in August 1942 Churchill had persuaded himself that Sledgehammer in 1943 was still possible despite carrying out Torch in the latter part of 1942. Later he admitted that he was too optimistic, but that his conscience was clear because “he did not deceive or mislead Stalin”. But the consequences were that Stalin never again trusted Churchill fully. Probably the Soviet policy of acquiring Poland and eastern Europe sprang from Stalin’s disillusionment over the breach of promise over a second front in 1943.

Page 207

Churchill was overawed neither by his precarious political position at home nor by the daunting task ahead. He threw all his energies into organizing a confrontation with German armies as soon as possible so as to draw German strength off Russia. The alternative lay between waiting for roundup across the English Channel in 1943, or an attack in the autumn of 1942 on the French North African colonies. Churchill’s temperament was such that he could not bear the prospect of US and British armies staying idle until the spring of 1943, but he failed to realize that diverting resources to the Mediterranean must inevitably mean postponing Roundup until 1944 except for small-scale operations. He was deeply conscious of the promise he had made to Stalin, first for an attack in Europe in 1942, and then for a major cross-Channel assault in 1943. As the Russian military position became more and more precarious Churchill became more and more enthusiastic for the immediate combined British-American North African operation, Torch. As has been seen, both he and Roosevelt deluded themselves that Torch did not make a 1943 Roundup impossible.

Page 217

On the day when Churchill proposed the Casablanca meeting to Stalin and Roosevelt he harangued the Cabinet at length about “swinging back toward s a Western Front” in 1943, and said repeatedly that North Africa must act as a “springboard” and not a “sofa” for future action. Previously he had urged attacks on Sardinia and Sicily. Brooke was concerned, knowing it was impossible to attack in the Mediterranean and the Channel at the same time. 17 He argued that the best plan was to eliminate Italy, bring in Turkey and finally to liberate France. He emphasized that all this depended on Russian “holding out”, but by the end of 1943 this seemed a “safe bet” because she had beaten off the attacks on Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad.

Page 242

According to General Ismay, “the very word Balkan” was anathema to the Americans, and they were determined not to allow Churchill’s enthusiasm for the Aegean to “lead to our getting seriously involved in that part of the world and to a further postponement of Overlord.” During the Conference Eisenhower brushed aside the British commander’s arguments, but the British were lukewarm in their support of the Prime Minister.10

Page 245-246

In Cario the Prime Minister pleaded with Roosevelt that 68 landing craft, intended to depart on 15 December for Overlord, should remain in the Mediterranean, and that Wilson should be given the modest help he heeded to capture Rhodes. The Americans were up in arms at once. Ismay recorded that they were “haunted by the ghost of Gallipoli” and feared that Churchill, instead of backing Overlord to the hilt, wanted to get a footing in what they regarded as “his favorite hunting grounds, the Balkans. The Americans firmly ruled operations in the Aegean must be fitted in without any detriment to other operations.” Ismay commented: “that ruled them out altogether”. The Americans had valid reasons for their suspicions. Brooke wrote in his diary en route from Cairo to Teheran: “He [Churchill] is inclined to say to the Americans, “Alright, if you won’t play with us in the Mediterranean we won’t play with you in the English Channel.”17

When the Big Three met at Teheran . . Churchill told the Conference that the very large Anglo-American forces in the Mediterranean must not stay idle during the six months before Overlord began. He wanted them to advance to the Pisa-Rimini line in Italy, and to hold it with minimum forces while using their surplus troops to land either in the south of France or Istria in the northern Adriatic and advance t Vienna through the Ljubljana Gap. Churchill insisted that the immediate subsidiary objective should be to persuade Turkey to enter the war, to seize the Aegean islands and to open the Dardanelles for convoys to Russia.

Stalin did not agree. He was sure Turkey would not come into the war and did not much mind if they did not; he attached minor importance to opening the Dardanelles, pointing out that the last Arctic convoys had got through unscathed while the capture of Rome and northern Italy was desirable but not of great importance. Instead Stalin wanted Overlord to go ahead at the earliest possible moment, supported by as large an operation as possible in the south of France, compared to which taking Rome was “a mere diversion”. The Russian leader was keen to keep the Allies out of the Balkans and would not give any post-war promise to Turkey about the future of the Dardanelles.

 

Command Decisions, Office of the Chief of Military History United States Army

http://www.history.army.mil/books/70-7_10.htm

Chapter 10

OVERLORD Versus the Mediterranean at the Cairo-Tehran Conferences

by Richard M. Leighton

(See Chapter 8 for information on the author.)

The long debate between U.S. and British leaders over the strategy of the European war reached a climax and a turning point at the great mid-war conferences at Cairo and Tehran late in 1943. Since the decision to invade North Africa, a year and a half earlier, the debate had focused on the war in the Mediterranean, the British generally advocating a bold, opportunistic strategy, the Americans a more cautious one. On the surface, they had disagreed on specifics rather than fundamentals. Few on the American side advocated complete withdrawal from the Mediterranean, and U.S. leaders were as quick as the British to respond to the opportunity offered by the disintegration of Italian resistance in early summer of 1943. They opposed the British primarily on the choice of objectives, especially east of Italy. For their part, the British never questioned the principle that the main attack against Germany in the West, and the decisive one, must eventually be made from the northwest (OVERLORD) not the south. In the meantime, they argued, aggressive operations in the Mediterranean were not merely profitable but even essential in order to waste the enemy's strength and to contain and divert enemy forces that might otherwise concentrate on other fronts. But the debate was embittered by American suspicions that the British intended somehow to sidetrack, weaken, or indefinitely postpone the invasion from the northwest, subordinating it to peripheral and indecisive ventures in the Mediterranean that would serve their own long-range political ends. Since the British consistently disclaimed such intentions, the issue of OVERLORD versus the Mediterranean could not be debated as such-and, indeed, cannot now be proved even to have existed outside the minds of the Americans. For them, nevertheless, it was the real issue, and the question actually debated at Cairo and Tehran,

(emphasis added) My comments: Perception is reality in the absence of FACTs!

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While your contention is well put, it doesnt make it right. "My comments: Perception is reality in the absence of FACTs! :blink: "

I perceive you are biased towards denigrating the British, does that make it Fact?

 

If I dig up some quotes from a British point of view does that make them correct??

 

To get a balanced view, you have to dig out the rest of your books and take a balanced look at the situation, given that most writer write with a bias of some kind.

 

 

Chapter 10

OVERLORD Versus the Mediterranean at the Cairo-Tehran Conferences

by Richard M. Leighton

(See Chapter 8 for information on the author.)

The long debate between U.S. and British leaders over the strategy of the European war reached a climax and a turning point at the great mid-war conferences at Cairo and Tehran late in 1943. Since the decision to invade North Africa, a year and a half earlier, the debate had focused on the war in the Mediterranean, the British generally advocating a bold, opportunistic strategy, the Americans a more cautious one. On the surface, they had disagreed on specifics rather than fundamentals. Few on the American side advocated complete withdrawal from the Mediterranean, and U.S. leaders were as quick as the British to respond to the opportunity offered by the disintegration of Italian resistance in early summer of 1943. They opposed the British primarily on the choice of objectives, especially east of Italy. For their part, the British never questioned the principle that the main attack against Germany in the West, and the decisive one, must eventually be made from the northwest (OVERLORD) not the south. In the meantime, they argued, aggressive operations in the Mediterranean were not merely profitable but even essential in order to waste the enemy's strength and to contain and divert enemy forces that might otherwise concentrate on other fronts. But the debate was embittered by American suspicions that the British intended somehow to sidetrack, weaken, or indefinitely postpone the invasion from the northwest, subordinating it to peripheral and indecisive ventures in the Mediterranean that would serve their own long-range political ends. Since the British consistently disclaimed such intentions, the issue of OVERLORD versus the Mediterranean could not be debated as such-and, indeed, cannot now be proved even to have existed outside the minds of the Americans. For them, nevertheless, it was the real issue, and the question actually debated at Cairo and Tehran,

 

IMHO, The Americans pushed for unrealistic operations in 1942 & 1943 (and maybe mad the Brits think they were amatuers) and that the push into Sicily & Southern Italy were sound offensives. That the Italian campaign dragged on & on was not planned and did cause a drain on OVERLORD for 1944. Had the Italian campaign progressed more quickly (Or Rommell's plan gained supremacy), an Allied line could have been more aligned to the Gothic Line positions. This could have released the US, British & French troops for OVERLORD or DRAGOON.

 

As it was too late to Invade France in 1943, what could the British done to speed up the assault?

Edited by Jeffro
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While not trying to sway your contention, you have to realise its one sided.

 

The following from the Official Canadian History, maybe not totally neutral but a different point of view.

 

The BOLD comments are mine

 

From The Victory Campaign - The Official History of the Canadian Army

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/.../Victory-1.html

 

 

………From the time of the Dunkirk evacuation the political and military authorities in Britain looked forward to, and planned for, a return to the Continent. An appreciation on future strategy which the British Chiefs of Staff presented to United States officers in the late summer of 1940 said that it was not British policy to try to land on the Continent an army comparable in size with Germany's; nevertheless, when economic blockade and a mounting air offensive had done their work, a relatively small striking force might be sent across the Channel with good prospects of success. As early as 5 October 1940 the Joint Planning SubCommittee of the Chiefs of Staff, the principal planning organ, which had lately been brought under Mr. Churchill in his capacity of Minister of Defence, was giving consideration to the problems involved in the establishment of a bridgehead in France.

So British planning began in mid 1940.

 

………But as long as the Commonwealth stood alone against Hitler and his satellites invasion of the Continent remained a highly theoretical notion, and the combined operations planned by the Headquarters instituted for that purpose could be little more than pin-pricks.

 

……..This was done at the "Arcadia" Conference, the first of the important conferences held during the war by the British and American political leaders and their principal service advisers, which took place in Washington between 22 December 1941 and 14 January 1942.4 The conference agreed that "only the minimum of force necessary for the safeguarding of vital interests in other theatres should be diverted from operations against Germany".5 At this time, however, there seemed to be little possibility of launching a large-scale invasion of North-West Europe during 1942

 

So 1942 was crossed off the list early, even with the maximum US effort which didn’t happen IRL, Probably 2 Divisions plus air power went to the Pacific above a “minimum force” Weren’t the US committed to a Germany First plan?

 

…….The British Joint Planning Staff had outlined in December 1941 an operation ("ROUNDUP") to employ six armoured and six infantry divisions, with numerous supporting units, in an assault on the French coast between Dieppe and Deauville--but this assault was envisaged only for "the final phase", after a serious deterioration in German military power. Mr. Churchill was convinced that, in 1942, the "main offensive effort" in the war against Germany should be the occupation of the North African coastline throughout the Mediterranean.6 This strategic conception was destined to win the day, but only after many months of sharp international discussion.

 

…….At the beginning of 1942 American military strength was still potential rather than actual. The planners could not overlook the Allies' deficiencies in trained divisions and in shipping. If the problem had been simply one of gradual build-up, training and industrial expansion the solution would have been relatively simple. Unfortunately, time was of the essence; early in 1942 the British and American authorities became increasingly worried about the prospects of continued Russian resistance in the vast struggle being waged in the East.

 

…….Influenced by their grievous loss of manpower in the First World War, and the humiliating campaign on the Continent in 1940, the British authorities were reluctant to order an assault which might be premature and which might lead to disaster. Their caution was founded on bitter experience. They preferred an indirect strategy, exploiting superior naval power to attack the enemy at widely separated points on his extended perimeter, thus compelling him to disperse his resources and eventually to present an opportunity for a decisive offensive. On the other hand, the Americans showed great confidence and great impatience for results. They probably did not, as yet, fully appreciate the magnitude of the shipping problem and they would seem to have underestimated the tactical difficulties of an assault on Western Europe. They favoured a strategy of frontal attack-employing the maximum strength against the enemy over the shortest possible distance, and accepting the probability of severe losses in order to obtain decisive success.

 

Did the British have a more realistic attitude to the war which the US had yet to learn, or were Marshall et al happy to see a “Tarawa” on the beaches of France?

 

……It will be recalled that, at the beginning of April,[1942] General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, presented to the President a memorandum which recommended Western Europe as the scene of the "first great offensive" against Germany. Apart from immediate raids, two operations were considered: an assault in force which could not be delivered until the spring of 1943, and a limited operation in 1942 to be attempted only if the Russian situation became desperate or German strength in Western Europe seriously declined. The President at once dispatched General Marshall and Mr. Harry Hopkins to London to discuss this plan with the British authorities. The British Chiefs of Staff had been considering the possibility of emergency operations in the West in 1942, but had found no really satisfactory solution to the problem. In these circumstances the London discussions in April produced no final commitment on "SLEDGEHAMMER", the limited operation that year; but there was agreement on a major assault (to which the Joint Planners' name "ROUNDUP" was applied) for 1943, and on a programme of raids for 1942.

 

……Another meeting in Washington between Roosevelt and Churchill in June did not result in a definite decision; and when on 8 July the British Prime Minister finally stated frankly the dislike of the scheme for an emergency landing in 1942 which the British strategists had entertained from the beginning, there was some consternation in high staff circles in the United States. The President, who had always been interested in the possibility of action in North Africa, resisted the desire of his senior service advisers to turn away from Europe towards the Pacific. He now sent Mr. Hopkins, General Marshall and Admiral Ernest J. King to London for a decisive discussion. They were instructed to fight for "SLEDGEHAMMER", but if unable to convince the British they were to "determine upon another place for U.S. Troops to fight in 1942".7 The British remained adamant on the "SLEDGEHAMMER" issue (the War Cabinet discussed the matter on 22 July and "were unanimously against it"),8 and it soon became apparent that "another place" could only be North-West Africa. By. the end of July this orientation of strategy was firm and planning began for the landings in French North Africa which took place in November.

 

……By the summer of 1943 that great operation[OVERLORD] was beginning to take shape. The COSSAC staff (see below) was preparing a strategic plan, and it was evident that the Allies' ideas on tactics, equipment and training for the assault required to be reduced to definite form. After discussion with COSSAC, therefore, Lord Louis Mountbatten arranged for a conference (known as "RATTLE") to be held at the Combined Training Centre at Largs on 28 June-1 July. Among those attending, in addition to Admiral Mountbatten and Lieut.-General Morgan (COSSAC), were the C.-in-C. Home Forces (General Paget), the Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth (Admiral Sir Charles Little), the Commanding General European Theatre of Operations, U.S.A. (Lieut.-General J. L. Devers), Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory (C.-in-C. Fighter Command)

 

So by Mid 1943 the Allies had made major steps toward the OVERLORD planning, hardly a sign of being dragged kicking and screaming into the invasion.

 

…..Long before the Allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942, the British and American leaders had been discussing the next step. The Americans felt certain from the beginning that the African project meant that there could be no major attack in North-West Europe in 1943; Mr. Churchill, while loath to admit this, was considering exploitation operations in the Mediterranean as well as an enterprise in Norway.38 In January 1943 President Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister met with the Combined Chiefs of Staff in conference at Casablanca. The result, arrived at in the face of strong initial American military opposition, was a decision to exploit in the Mediterranean by invading Sicily that summer. Along with this, however, went the further decisions to conduct from the United Kingdom "The heaviest possible bomber offensive against the German war effort" as well as "Such limited offensive operations as may be practicable with the amphibious forces available", while at the same time assembling there the strongest possible force (subject to prior commitments elsewhere) "in constant readiness to re-enter the Continent as soon as German resistance is weakened to the required extent". The Combined Chiefs recognized that there was now no chance of being able to stage a large-scale invasion of the Continent against unbroken opposition during 1943. They proposed to prepare for the following possibilities: small-scale amphibious operations; re-entrance to the Continent in the event of a sudden collapse of German resistance; operations to seize a bridgehead late in 1943, in other words a form of "SLEDGEHAMMER"; and, finally, "an invasion in force in 1944".39

Just as well there was no Invasion in 43, the performance of both British & US forces in NW Africa showed they still had a long way to go.

So any delay helped to prepare NW Europe better for a 1944 invasion than a rushed assault in 1943?

 

To implement this programme the Combined Chiefs agreed to establish forthwith "a Combined Staff under a British Chief of Staff until such time as a Supreme Commander with an American Deputy Commander is appointed."40 The result was the appointment in March 1943 of Lieut.-General F. E. Morgan as "Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (designate)" (COSSAC). General Morgan set up his headquarters in London and began work under a directive, approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff on 5 March, which was superseded by an amended directive on 23 April. This latter paper instructed Morgan to prepare plans for three projects. First, he was to plan "an elaborate camouflage and deception scheme" extending over the whole summer of 1943 with the idea of "pinning the enemy in the West" and keeping alive the expectation of large-scale cross-Channel operations that year. There was to be "at least one amphibious feint" intended to bring on a large air battle. Secondly, he was to prepare a scheme for "a return to the Continent in the event of German disintegration" at any time, using such forces as might be available at the time. And thirdly, he was to plan "a full scale assault against the Continent in 1944 as early as possible".41 It will be noted that the idea of a 1943 "SLEDGEHAMMER" had been dropped.

 

On 25 May 1943, as the result of discussions at the "TRIDENT" conference then in progress in Washington, Morgan was given a supplementary directive. This fixed the "target date" for the full-scale assault at 1 May 1944. It also specified the forces whose presence in the United Kingdom might be taken as a basis for planning: for the assault, five infantry divisions "simultaneously loaded in landing craft", two infantry divisions "as follow up", and two airborne divisions; while 20 more divisions would be available for movement into the lodgement area as "buildup".42 It simultaneously emerged, however, that Morgan could not in fact count on using five seaborne divisions in the assault. There were simply not enough landing craft in prospect. The Combined Chiefs of Staff at this same conference adopted the assumption that the British (including presumably the Canadians) would provide "two assault divisions and one immediate follow-up division" and the United States "one assault division and one immediate follow-up division".43 The "RATTLE" conference in June was told, with reference to this assumption, "The two [immediate] Follow-up Divisions would be tactically organised and loaded in craft, but would not be provided with the right type of craft for an assault".44 General Morgan, in fact, was limited to an assault by three divisions.

 

Given the IRL situation above, there was insufficient lift available for a serious assault, would this be the end result of a rushed and incompletely planned assault or would more resources be “found” if it went more to the US schedule (which was what? Its actually hard to find any US plans outside of the COSSAC planning)

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IMHO, The Americans pushed for unrealistic operations in 1942 & 1943 (and maybe mad the Brits think they were amatuers) and that the push into Sicily & Southern Italy were sound offensives. That the Italian campaign dragged on & on was not planned and did cause a drain on OVERLORD for 1944. Had the Italian campaign progressed more quickly (Or Rommell's plan gained supremacy), an Allied line could have been more aligned to the Gothic Line positions. This could have released the US, British & French troops for OVERLORD or DRAGOON.

The British thought the Americans were amateurs from the word go. Of course AlanBrooke thought EVERYBODY except him was an amateur.

 

What made Sicily and South Italy sound objectives? Brookies' lies about "two million tons of shipping"?

 

If the Italian campaign dragging on was not planned by the Brits, the US sure knew it beforehand. The only people who saw any benefit to farting around in the Med. were the Brits. Apparently the UK feared to take on the Germans and preferred to go after the only people they had defeated all by themselves thus far. <That oughta stir the pot...>

 

As it was too late to Invade France in 1943, what could the British done to speed up the assault?

Not putting Anderson in charge in Tunisia would have worked wonders. Of course they really didn't have anybody better to send.

 

I don't think you have perceived the tenor of DTVI's argument. He is not talking about RODEO and ROUNDUP, he is talking about OVERLORD in 1944. The Brits were STILL trying to weasel out [let it be understood that my term 'Brits' in this context refers to the PM and CIGS and their toadies, not the population of the UK or those serving the Crown in combat].

 

RODEO in 1942 would probably have been premature, although not as premature as AB sniveled.

 

ROUNDUP in 1943, IMNSHO, would have been feasible except for the detours to Africa and the Med. IOW, had the troops and assets that wnt to Africa and Sicily in 1942-3 gone to France in 1943 instead, we could have made a secure lodgement. I do not say the war would end in 50 weeks after a 1943 landing, but we probably would not have been thrown off either.

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While not trying to sway your contention, you have to realise its one sided.

 

The following from the Official Canadian History, maybe not totally neutral but a different point of view.

 

The BOLD comments are mine Rebuts to rebuts are in RED.

 

From The Victory Campaign - The Official History of the Canadian Army

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/.../Victory-1.html

………From the time of the Dunkirk evacuation the political and military authorities in Britain looked forward to, and planned for, a return to the Continent. An appreciation on future strategy which the British Chiefs of Staff presented to United States officers in the late summer of 1940 said that it was not British policy to try to land on the Continent an army comparable in size with Germany's; nevertheless, when economic blockade and a mounting air offensive had done their work, a relatively small striking force might be sent across the Channel with good prospects of success. As early as 5 October 1940 the Joint Planning SubCommittee of the Chiefs of Staff, the principal planning organ, which had lately been brought under Mr. Churchill in his capacity of Minister of Defence, was giving consideration to the problems involved in the establishment of a bridgehead in France.

So British planning began in mid 1940. Excuse me, "giving consideration to the problems involved" is not the same as planning a return. British LOOKING FOR EXCUSES NOT TO GO (unless Germany collapsed somehow) began in mid-1940.

 

………But as long as the Commonwealth stood alone against Hitler and his satellites invasion of the Continent remained a highly theoretical notion, and the combined operations planned by the Headquarters instituted for that purpose could be little more than pin-pricks.

 

……..This was done at the "Arcadia" Conference, the first of the important conferences held during the war by the British and American political leaders and their principal service advisers, which took place in Washington between 22 December 1941 and 14 January 1942.4 The conference agreed that "only the minimum of force necessary for the safeguarding of vital interests in other theatres should be diverted from operations against Germany".5 At this time, however, there seemed to be little possibility of launching a large-scale invasion of North-West Europe during 1942

 

So 1942 was crossed off the list early, even with the maximum US effort which didn’t happen IRL, Probably 2 Divisions plus air power went to the Pacific above a “minimum force” Weren’t the US committed to a Germany First plan? Let me see, we sent 2 NG divisions to OZ to protect them while Churchill kept 9th Australian division in the Desert.Weren't the Brits committed to a "Protect the Empire" plan? They had to ask us?

The regiments that were scraped together to form AMERICAL were sent to garrison UK and US possessions in the Southeast Pacific. The Marines, being part of the USN, went to the USN's main theater. That is about all we sent BEFORE THE BRITISH MADE IT QUITE CLEAR AT CASABLANCA THAT THEY WANTED NO PART OF "GERMANY FIRST!

 

…….The British Joint Planning Staff had outlined in December 1941 an operation ("ROUNDUP") to employ six armoured and six infantry divisions, with numerous supporting units, in an assault on the French coast between Dieppe and Deauville--but this assault was envisaged only for "the final phase", after a serious deterioration in German military power. Mr. Churchill was convinced that, in 1942, the "main offensive effort" in the war against Germany should be the occupation of the North African coastline throughout the Mediterranean.6 This strategic conception was destined to win the day, but only after many months of sharp international discussion.

 

…….At the beginning of 1942 American military strength was still potential rather than actual. The planners could not overlook the Allies' deficiencies in trained divisions and in shipping. If the problem had been simply one of gradual build-up, training and industrial expansion the solution would have been relatively simple. Unfortunately, time was of the essence; early in 1942 the British and American authorities became increasingly worried about the prospects of continued Russian resistance in the vast struggle being waged in the East.

 

…….Influenced by their grievous loss of manpower in the First World War, and the humiliating campaign on the Continent in 1940, the British authorities were reluctant to order an assault which might be premature and which might lead to disaster. Their caution was founded on bitter experience. They preferred an indirect strategy, exploiting superior naval power to attack the enemy at widely separated points on his extended perimeter, thus compelling him to disperse his resources and eventually to present an opportunity for a decisive offensive. On the other hand, the Americans showed great confidence and great impatience for results. They probably did not, as yet, fully appreciate the magnitude of the shipping problem and they would seem to have underestimated the tactical difficulties of an assault on Western Europe. They favoured a strategy of frontal attack-employing the maximum strength against the enemy over the shortest possible distance, and accepting the probability of severe losses in order to obtain decisive success.

 

Did the British have a more realistic attitude to the war which the US had yet to learn, or were Marshall et al happy to see a “Tarawa” on the beaches of France? No. The British or at least their CIGS either did NOT have a realistic concept of war or lied through his teeth if he did.

What "realistic" experience in assault landings did the British bring? Gallipoli? At least the USMC won at Tarawa.

In what specific ways did British troops outperform US troops in Africa? 1st Br Army was as inexperienced as II Corps, just snottier.

And what opposition would they face? Not all the German divisions that AlanBrooke made up. The Atlantic Wall fortification were not even BEGUN until Oct 1943.

 

……It will be recalled that, at the beginning of April,[1942] General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, presented to the President a memorandum which recommended Western Europe as the scene of the "first great offensive" against Germany. Apart from immediate raids, two operations were considered: an assault in force which could not be delivered until the spring of 1943, and a limited operation in 1942 to be attempted only if the Russian situation became desperate or German strength in Western Europe seriously declined. The President at once dispatched General Marshall and Mr. Harry Hopkins to London to discuss this plan with the British authorities. The British Chiefs of Staff had been considering the possibility of emergency operations in the West in 1942, but had found no really satisfactory solution to the problem. In these circumstances the London discussions in April produced no final commitment on "SLEDGEHAMMER", the limited operation that year; but there was agreement on a major assault (to which the Joint Planners' name "ROUNDUP" was applied) for 1943, and on a programme of raids for 1942.

 

……Another meeting in Washington between Roosevelt and Churchill in June did not result in a definite decision; and when on 8 July the British Prime Minister finally stated frankly the dislike of the scheme for an emergency landing in 1942 which the British strategists had entertained from the beginning, there was some consternation in high staff circles in the United States. The President, who had always been interested in the possibility of action in North Africa, resisted the desire of his senior service advisers to turn away from Europe towards the Pacific. He now sent Mr. Hopkins, General Marshall and Admiral Ernest J. King to London for a decisive discussion. They were instructed to fight for "SLEDGEHAMMER", but if unable to convince the British they were to "determine upon another place for U.S. Troops to fight in 1942".7 The British remained adamant on the "SLEDGEHAMMER" issue (the War Cabinet discussed the matter on 22 July and "were unanimously against it"),8 and it soon became apparent that "another place" could only be North-West Africa. By. the end of July this orientation of strategy was firm and planning began for the landings in French North Africa which took place in November.

 

……By the summer of 1943 that great operation[OVERLORD] was beginning to take shape. The COSSAC staff (see below) was preparing a strategic plan, and it was evident that the Allies' ideas on tactics, equipment and training for the assault required to be reduced to definite form. After discussion with COSSAC, therefore, Lord Louis Mountbatten arranged for a conference (known as "RATTLE") to be held at the Combined Training Centre at Largs on 28 June-1 July. Among those attending, in addition to Admiral Mountbatten and Lieut.-General Morgan (COSSAC), were the C.-in-C. Home Forces (General Paget), the Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth (Admiral Sir Charles Little), the Commanding General European Theatre of Operations, U.S.A. (Lieut.-General J. L. Devers), Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory (C.-in-C. Fighter Command)

 

So by Mid 1943 the Allies had made major steps toward the OVERLORD planning, hardly a sign of being dragged kicking and screaming into the invasion. Mid 1943 was a year late at least to start planning to implement the Germany First policy set at ARCADIA.

…..Long before the Allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942, the British and American leaders had been discussing the next step. The Americans felt certain from the beginning that the African project meant that there could be no major attack in North-West Europe in 1943; Mr. Churchill, while loath to admit this, was considering exploitation operations in the Mediterranean as well as an enterprise in Norway.38 In January 1943 President Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister met with the Combined Chiefs of Staff in conference at Casablanca. The result, arrived at in the face of strong initial American military opposition, was a decision to exploit in the Mediterranean by invading Sicily that summer. Along with this, however, went the further decisions to conduct from the United Kingdom "The heaviest possible bomber offensive against the German war effort" as well as "Such limited offensive operations as may be practicable with the amphibious forces available", while at the same time assembling there the strongest possible force (subject to prior commitments elsewhere) "in constant readiness to re-enter the Continent as soon as German resistance is weakened to the required extent". The Combined Chiefs recognized that there was now no chance of being able to stage a large-scale invasion of the Continent against unbroken opposition during 1943. They proposed to prepare for the following possibilities: small-scale amphibious operations; re-entrance to the Continent in the event of a sudden collapse of German resistance; operations to seize a bridgehead late in 1943, in other words a form of "SLEDGEHAMMER"; and, finally, "an invasion in force in 1944".39

Just as well there was no Invasion in 43, the performance of both British & US forces in NW Africa showed they still had a long way to go. See my comments above on their probable opposition.

So any delay helped to prepare NW Europe better for a 1944 invasion than a rushed assault in 1943? The point of this thread is that WSC and AB were STILL weaseling about the 1944 invasion of France.

 

To implement this programme the Combined Chiefs agreed to establish forthwith "a Combined Staff under a British Chief of Staff until such time as a Supreme Commander with an American Deputy Commander is appointed."40 The result was the appointment in March 1943 of Lieut.-General F. E. Morgan as "Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (designate)" (COSSAC). General Morgan set up his headquarters in London and began work under a directive, approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff on 5 March, which was superseded by an amended directive on 23 April. This latter paper instructed Morgan to prepare plans for three projects. First, he was to plan "an elaborate camouflage and deception scheme" extending over the whole summer of 1943 with the idea of "pinning the enemy in the West" and keeping alive the expectation of large-scale cross-Channel operations that year. There was to be "at least one amphibious feint" intended to bring on a large air battle. Secondly, he was to prepare a scheme for "a return to the Continent in the event of German disintegration" at any time, using such forces as might be available at the time. And thirdly, he was to plan "a full scale assault against the Continent in 1944 as early as possible".41 It will be noted that the idea of a 1943 "SLEDGEHAMMER" had been dropped.

 

On 25 May 1943, as the result of discussions at the "TRIDENT" conference then in progress in Washington, Morgan was given a supplementary directive. This fixed the "target date" for the full-scale assault at 1 May 1944. It also specified the forces whose presence in the United Kingdom might be taken as a basis for planning: for the assault, five infantry divisions "simultaneously loaded in landing craft", two infantry divisions "as follow up", and two airborne divisions; while 20 more divisions would be available for movement into the lodgement area as "buildup".42 It simultaneously emerged, however, that Morgan could not in fact count on using five seaborne divisions in the assault. There were simply not enough landing craft in prospect. The Combined Chiefs of Staff at this same conference adopted the assumption that the British (including presumably the Canadians) would provide "two assault divisions and one immediate follow-up division" and the United States "one assault division and one immediate follow-up division".43 The "RATTLE" conference in June was told, with reference to this assumption, "The two [immediate] Follow-up Divisions would be tactically organised and loaded in craft, but would not be provided with the right type of craft for an assault".44 General Morgan, in fact, was limited to an assault by three divisions.

 

Given the IRL situation above, there was insufficient lift available for a serious assault, would this be the end result of a rushed and incompletely planned assault or would more resources be “found” if it went more to the US schedule (which was what? Its actually hard to find any US plans outside of the COSSAC planning) The US went to Casablanca with details of what they could provide, they expected the meeting to be "What is the best way to do this?" They got an orchestrated snow job about "Why we can't (and won't) do this."

Joint planning, you see, involves a joint commitment. The US was prepared with data concerning what they could do, in specifics. The US could hardly plan a Cross-Channel invasion with no knowledge of affairs in the UK (like how many US troops could the UK support?). The British did not bring data about what they had, and they would under no circumstances make any commitment to do anything except what they damned well pleased.

 

As stated above, there would have been more US assets sent to the ETO if the Brits hadn't played dog-in-the-manger at Casablanca. The US resources existed, they went to the Pacific after the UK scuttled "Germany First."

 

BTW, the Class Problem at AWC's abbreviated wartime course was something like: "You will invade the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. You have five infantry and two airborne divisions for the first wave. Plan the op." When the UK finally did get around to joint planning, US staffers dusted off their AWC homework.

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BTW, the Class Problem at AWC's abbreviated wartime course was something like: "You will invade the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. You have five infantry and two airborne divisions for the first wave. Plan the op." When the UK finally did get around to joint planning, US staffers dusted off their AWC homework.

 

Um, King, not to rain on your parade or anything, since I know this is a topic you so like to get torqued up about, but the US Army War College was closed for the duration in 1940 and did not reopen until 1950, so it would have been a bit difficult for them to undertake such a "Class Problem"... :rolleyes:

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I think much of the fuss over British reluctance to go for OVERLORD, was based on their reluctance to agree to SLEDGEHAMMER in 1942. Clearly they never had any intention of invading France in 1942, and quite rightly.

 

Having agreed in principle to BOLERO-SLEDGEHAMMER in April 1942, the British starting raising issues about SLEDGEHAMMER in May 1942 due to the uncertainty that sufficient landing craft would be available for an emergency landing in 1942. Both the US and British landing craft production was behind schedule at this point, probably the wrong sort of craft was being produced and the USN had revised upwards the amount of LC required in the Pacific.

 

The British then got their arses handed to them by Rommel in June 1942 and retreated back to Egypt. Any likelihood that they would proceed with SLEDGEHAMMER was therefore gone. The US continued to insist on it despite a lack of landing craft,

 

[q]

By the end of June, out of a total of 2,698 LCP's, LCV's, and LCM's estimated as likely to be available, only 238 were in the United Kingdom or on the way. By mid-July General Hull informed Eisenhower, who had gone to London, "that all the craft available and en route could land less than 16,000 troops and 1,100 tanks and vehicles." This was 5,000 troops and 2,200 tanks less than the estimates made in mid-May.

[/q]

 

The US insistance was not about SLEDGEHAMMER but in order to protect ROUNDUP, the invasion in 1943. Their contention being that if focus is shifted from the cross channel invasion to another European theatre, then ROUNDUP 1943 is in peril.

 

Roosevelt wanted to have the US forces engaged against Germany at the earliest possible time. If SLEDGEHAMMER is out, then GYMNAST, an invasion of North Africa is logical, particularly when at the time, the British position in North Africa is looking grim. He sent a message to Churchill saying "a Western front in 1942 was off" and that he was in favor of an invasion of North Africa and "was influencing his Chiefs in that direction."

 

The US Military then reluctantly accepted that SLEDGEHAMMER was off and started planning TORCH (the renamed GYMNAST) and:

 

[q]

On 24 July a carefully worded agreement, drawn up by Marshall and known as CCS 94, was accepted by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. It contained the important condition that the CCS would postpone until mid-September final decision on whether or not the North African operations should be undertaken.

[/q]

 

Subsequently:

 

[q]

 

The door to later reconsideration of the agreement, deliberately left open in CCS 94 by General Marshall in order to save the ROUNDUP concept, did not remain open long. In a message to the President on 25 July, Harry Hopkins urged an immediate decision on TORCH to avoid "procrastination and delays." [48] Without further consulting his military advisers, Roosevelt chose to assume that a North African campaign in 1942 had been definitely decided upon and at once cabled his emissaries that he was delighted with the "decision." At the same time he urged that a target date not later than 30 October be set for the invasion. [49] By ignoring the carefully framed conditions in CCS 94 and in suggesting a date for launching TORCH, the President actually made the decision. In so doing, he effectively jettisoned ROUNDUP for 1943, though he probably did not fully realize it at the time.

 

[\q]

 

The quotes are from The Decision To Invade North Africa (TORCH) by by Leo J. Meyer a Historian with OCMH. See online at http://www.history.army.mil/books/70-7_07.htm.

 

It didn't really matter what the British thought in 1943, or what the US thought the British thought. The decision not to invade in 1943 was made in 1942 by Roosivelt, likely by accident for what would have seemed the right reasons at the time. Much of US perception about OVERLORD I think comes from the British reluctance over SLEDGEHAMMER.

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BTW, the Class Problem at AWC's abbreviated wartime course was something like: "You will invade the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. You have five infantry and two airborne divisions for the first wave. Plan the op." When the UK finally did get around to joint planning, US staffers dusted off their AWC homework.

 

Curious about this. My understanding was that in November 1942, Maj. Gen. Ray Barker, (US Army) and Maj. Gen. J. A. Sinclair, chief British planner, pretty much abandoned a couple of the previous ROUNDUP concepts of many separate regimental and commando assaults in the Pas-de-Calais area, in favour of one main landing in an area close to Caen.

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*Rolls 44 Gallon drum of Red Bull into the study*

Lawn-chair? CHECK!

Smokes? CHECK!

Corn Chips? CHECK!

 

Yep, this'll be fun... B)

 

nah,

 

Delta Tank 6 has his views, I have mine (That if the British were slow, it MAY be because the US approach was foolhardy).

 

I'm just hoping any further comments take the posters biases out of the equation. (Got 2 chances of that havent I!)

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I recommend you read the essay by Brian Farrell on the historiography of the Second Front in this book and get back to us.

 

WW2 in Europe, Africa and the Americas

 

 

Colin,

 

Is this freely available or do you have to purchase it??

 

FOUND IT, hit enough buttons and the PC works better. :P

 

I read this as well

 

WINSTON CHURCHILL

 

and the SECOND FRONT

 

194O-194B

 

by Kmmbull Miggins

 

I dont know the authors name, so much for OCR :rolleyes:

Edited by Jeffro
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ROUNDUP in 1943, IMNSHO, would have been feasible except for the detours to Africa and the Med. IOW, had the troops and assets that wnt to Africa and Sicily in 1942-3 gone to France in 1943 instead, we could have made a secure lodgement. I do not say the war would end in 50 weeks after a 1943 landing, but we probably would not have been thrown off either.

 

IIRC the last round of debate you reckoned that there was no way to pull out Roundup with the shipping available, even without Sicily.

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Colin,

 

Is this freely available or do you have to purchase it??

 

FOUND IT, hit enough buttons and the PC works better. :P

Chapters 12 & 13 serve to make me distrust any Historian :rolleyes:

 

I read this as well

 

WINSTON CHURCHILL

 

and the SECOND FRONT

 

194O-194B

 

by Kmmbull Miggins

 

I dont know the authors name, so much for OCR :rolleyes:

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. . . Marshall was not fooled and implied that British planner had purposely underestimated the number of soldiers who could be carried to the beaches in Overlord: “Combined planners in Washington figured a total personnel lift of 34,000,” he said and went on to note: “There was a further difference in bases of calculation regarding U.S. combat loaders. London planners calculated on a total of 960m men per vessel in order to permit unloading in two trips. U.S. calculations are based on 1400 and Navy advises that landing boats are sufficient for unloading in two trips.”

 

2 Put simply, the British figures were wrong.

 

Your opinion stated here differs from a document also writen by one of the sources you quote:

 

By May [1943]the COSSAC naval staff had adopted a "Standard Method for Forecasting Landing Craft Requirements." But this was not used at the Washington Conference. The Washington estimates were based on quite different assumptions. For instance, while COSSAC allotted 3,000 vehicles to each assault division to be carried in major landing ships or craft, Washington planners figured 4,380.67

 

The Washington estimates of the average capacity of the various types of craft also differed significantly from COSSAC's reckoning.68 These discrepancies are understandable when the nature of the problem of estimating ship capacities is considered. In the first place a "vehicle" is a flexible term covering everything from a l/4-ton trailer to a tank retriever. In actual loading for the operation, for instance, VII Corps LCT's carried from three to twenty-eight vehicles, depending on the type. In striking an average for an assault force, much depended on the exact composition of the force. Furthermore the average was not likely to obtain when applied to smaller units of the assault which, for tactical reasons, might have to be loaded without regard to economy of space. Thus, the higher the average capacity for planning purposes, the more inflexible the tactical employment of the force. Until the tactical plan was known, planning estimates would naturally vary according to the planner's knowledge of, or feeling about, the difficulty of the actual operation contemplated. Throughout the planning period it was generally true that the Americans tended to be more optimistic than the British about the difficulties of the assault and hence more willing to push planning figures upward toward the theoretical maximum. The most optimistic Americans were those on this side of the water.

 

One of the greatest weaknesses of the Washington calculations which fixed COSSAC's resources was that they did not take into account possible loss or damage to craft in the assault or the time required for ships to turn around and come back for the build-up forces. As one of the chief COSSAC planners pointed out, the provision of sufficient landing craft for the assault and first twenty-four hours did not necessarily insure an adequate build-up.69 The buildup would depend in large part on what ships came back from the assault. How long would it take them to return, how many would be lost, how many damaged, how fast could the damaged craft be repaired? It would have been impossible for the Washington planners to have arrived at any firm estimates along these lines because the choice of an assault area had not then been settled and consequently the nature of enemy opposition could not even be guessed at nor the length of the sea voyage determined.70

 

Another important factor largely omitted from reckoning at Washington was the need for close-support craft. The principal types mounted guns, rockets, or mortars on LCT hulls or similar bottoms. They therefore had to be figured into the total production requirements for landing craft, even though they provided no assault lift. The failure to allot them in anything like adequate numbers, in fact, forced COSSAC to convert some LCT's and thus increased the shortage of landing craft.71

 

The net effect of the Washington Conference decisions was narrowly to restrict not only the size of the cross-Channel assault but the degree of flexibility with which tactical dispositions could be planned. As planning progressed it would become increasingly apparent that the allocations agreed to by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in May 1943 were wholly inadequate for the job. But for the moment the figures were accepted without serious demur from any quarter.

 

Note that the COSSAC planners in May 1943 are a combined US - British organisation. Are these the London Planners of which you speak? You've implied that they are solely British.

 

I also note the following from the same document"

 

At the Washington Conference the first British statement of requirements for a 1944 cross-Channel invasion included 8,500 landing ships and craft to provide a lift for ten divisions simultaneously loaded for the assault. American planners, comparing this figure with estimated production rates, came up with the conclusion that the demand was impossible of fulfillment. It was, in fact, so far out of line with reality that the U. S. Chiefs of Staff at once suspected the good faith of the British in proposing it. They wondered whether the impossible bill for shipping had not been presented to provide the British with an excuse for not doing the operation.60 They ignored the fact that the estimate of ten divisions for the assault had been arrived at by combined planners in London and had been specifically agreed to by ETOUSA

 

So an impression that the British are coming up with excuses, but these 'excuses' were the work of the Combined planners and agreed to by the US authority in Britain. Perceptions versus facts.

 

See Cross Channel Attack. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-4/7-4_2.htm#46

Edited by swiftsystems
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It seems as though we just went through this recently.

 

There's no question that "Invasion '42!" was a sure failure waiting to happen. The strength of the Luftwaffe at that time makes it a non-starter. Even forgoing all the U-Boat campaigns and the waiting for serious production to go on line.

 

The "Let's do it in '43!" gang needs to keep a few things in mind. I believe this has been said before. Can you imagine invading France in '43 with Fredenhall and Anderson?. Without Torch that's what you'd have. Maybe Mark Clark if you are lucky.

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Some other thoughts are:

 

The British were being quite realistic about the dangers on invading Europe before the Germans were beat down pretty good. Even in '44 the German Army held out better, longer than they really should have been able to. In '43 you run the risk of pre-empting Kurck which would save Germany a ton of manpower. More and better shipping was available in '44 and the air power sitrep was so much better too.

 

The Americans would have had their Kasserine on a much grander scale in continental Europe. That's just not good. If the Allies could have done '44 in '43 they would have but they couldn't.

 

I thought D. Porch's "Med" book was really good at explaining why '43 happened like it did.

Rich's figures seem to support the historical course of action VERY well.

The fact that the Brit's showed a little common sense shouldn't be held out as an example of poor performance. The Americans were over anxious.

The fact that the Alan-Brooke was unpleasant (and sort of mixed up) isn't relevant to the fact that the US Army just wasn't ready in '42 or '43 to do France.

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Gentlemen,

 

May I suggest reading Walter Dunn's book "Second Front Now!".

 

He theorized that:

1) The decision to invade France not in 1943, but in 1944 was of a political, not military nature.

2) That the Allies could have invaded NW France in 1943 with a greater force ratio and better equipment in the summer of 1943 than what the Germans had in France at that time, then to wait a year, when the force ratio was smaller and the German Army in France was better equipped.

 

konev

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Assuming you've read the book how do they square the full strength Luftwaffe in '43 against the substantially reduced Luftwaffe of '44

 

The force deployable to France would be similar. In '44 the Germans denuded the Mediterranean and the Eastern front but tried to shuttle as many aircraft as they could to France. Only the overwhelming air superiority left them impotent. An invasion in '43 need not be substantially different if the Med was left alone and resources shifted to France, but more German divisions could be shuttled to France in the intact rail net.

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Um, King, not to rain on your parade or anything, since I know this is a topic you so like to get torqued up about, but the US Army War College was closed for the duration in 1940 and did not reopen until 1950, so it would have been a bit difficult for them to undertake such a "Class Problem"... :rolleyes:

There was still an abbreviated course for training staff officers, especially those going to planning situations. You are correct, it was not held at the AWC, nor were students considered AWC graduates.

 

The AWC classes were broken down into teams and given several problems. The abbreviated course I mentioned had only one problem and the whole class worked on it. I am not sure, but I think the instructors were ex-AWC instructors, maybe those too old or unhealthy for overseas service.

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Curious about this. My understanding was that in November 1942, Maj. Gen. Ray Barker, (US Army) and Maj. Gen. J. A. Sinclair, chief British planner, pretty much abandoned a couple of the previous ROUNDUP concepts of many separate regimental and commando assaults in the Pas-de-Calais area, in favour of one main landing in an area close to Caen.

This class problem was hypothetical. Unless someone in the training organization was clairvoyant, it was a coincidence - possibly not all that much of one, since the Cotentin is about the only area to go to with the forces given.

 

The guys that "dusted off class notes" were junior staffers later in the war, not chief planners.

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IIRC the last round of debate you reckoned that there was no way to pull out Roundup with the shipping available, even without Sicily.

True, but in that instance we were assuming that TORCH had taken place, as indeed it had IRL. The problem was repositioning the ROUNDUP forces from the Med to Blighty, while sending more troops from CONUS to UK. I still have no idea how that could be done.

 

THIS time, I said that if we did NOT do TORCH/HUSKY, the forces could be in UK in time for good invading weather in 1943. I believe that to be the case, since IRL we DID maintain a buildup in the UK as well as doing Sicily and Italy (And the INITIAL lift in HUSKY was greater than the first wave in NEPTUNE).

 

The problem then becomes the political question. FDR needed a second Front for the 1942 POTUS election, and Africa was about all there was, so politically the idea of waiting to 1943 before committing any US troops is a no-go.

 

However I am not a political historian. I don't know what the political options were. I DO have some understanding of the military options, so that is why I said IF we did not do TORCH/HUSKY (IE, if we could get away with waiting until 1943) the chances for a cross-channel invasion in 1943 were pretty good.

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IF we did not do TORCH/HUSKY (IE, if we could get away with waiting until 1943) the chances for a cross-channel invasion in 1943 were pretty good.

 

Which gets us back to the old issues of 1) WTF is our army supposed to be doing in the meantime, and 2) do you really want a largely-draftee army to go up against the Germans in '43 without any practice?

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Actually the German Army in the West was in pretty bad shape in the late spring/early summer 1943.

 

Assuming TORCH did go off, but no HUSKY, the German 7th Army in Normandy and Brittany consisted of 14 Divisions:

LXXXIV Corps (319, 709, 716)

XXV Corps (94)

LXXXVII Corps (343, 346)

Reserve (1 Pz, 16 Pz, 7 Flieger, 2 Para, 76, 113, 371, 389)

 

As you can see, 5 were the "Stalingrad" divisions and 6 more were Fortress Divisions

 

Dunn, having compared all the Armies, stated not one of the Germans compared in size to a Western Allies Division and at most 9 Division compared in combat experience.

 

Also, with most of its strategic reserve on the Eastern Front, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Germans to rush a suffcient large enough force to stop the Alliese from securing a lodgement area.

 

konev

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