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 (1939-1945) WWII
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john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
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TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/8/2021 10:57:47 AM
In early Nov. 1942 American troops stormed ashore at 3 landing point along the N Africa. For the first time in WWII American trroops had launched an offensive in the ETO. Was it worth it? Did the TORCH landings lengthen the war?

The TORCH landings delayed if not cancelled any cross Channel landings in France in 1943. Could ROUNDUP which was the code name for the 1943 landings succeeded? The German defenses were not as strong in 1943 as 1944. Allied air power was not as strong in 1943 as 1944 but much had been diverted to the Med to support operations there. The Germans did not reach full mobilization until 1944. The German Eastern Front was deeper into Russia making it more difficult to transfer troops from one front to the other. Rommel's Afrika Korps had been defeated at El Alamein before TORCH had been launched. Another goal was to drive Italy out of the war. Instead Germany occupied all of Italy. One if not two Lend-Lease convoys to Russia were cancelled to provide ships for TORCH.

TORCH delayed a cross-channel invasion in 1943 losing for the Allies any chance they had of ending the war earlier. The risks would have great but a successful invasion in 1943 may have led to a link up of the Western Allies with Russian forces near the old Polish-Russian frontier sometime in 1944. The implications of this speak for themselves.

Did the TORCH landings lenghten the war?
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/8/2021 11:55:51 AM
Massively controversial, John !

This is very much a " who knows" theme, isn't it ?

I'll opine that TORCH was an essential learning experience for the Allies : it also removed a huge slice of Axis manpower and vast material from the war, with "Tunisgrad" yielding one hundred thousand German prisoners and enhancing the prestige and morale of the Western Alliance.

Remember that Hitler diverted forces away from Operation Citadel in July 1943 when the Allies started Operation Husky.

The Mediterranean theatre of operations yielded a lot of bang for its buck.

I confess that I don't know enough to make an authoritative argument here ; but I reckon a convincing case can be made either way....so I'll pitch with TORCH and see if I can convince anyone.

Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/8/2021 12:09:24 PM
Phil
I think this hinges on two things...1) Could ROUNDUP and a cross-channel landing in 1943 succeeded? 2) Do you support the American idea that the Med was a side show that gave the British a better political position in the region after the war?

One thing about TORCH was it gave the American Army battle experience and provided Marshall and Eisenhower valuable insight as to which generals were going to be successful as combat commanders.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/8/2021 1:47:33 PM
Something quite important has occurred to me, John.

Just a few weeks before TORCH was launched, a major cross channel operation had come to grief at Dieppe.

This was enough of a horror story to endorse the arguments of those lobbying for a Mediterranean alternative.

Undoubtedly, the MTO pandered to British interests : US circumspection here was understandable, and, I daresay, justified.

Let the outcome of TORCH speak for itself. A massive Axis defeat which had profound geo strategic implications.

On the more technical and tactical level, an enormous dividend was earned thereby.

The coordination of the air arm with ground forces was of inestimable value. Was it that Kiwi airman who got things together here, with a supremely effective tactical desert Air Force ? Mary Cunningham, or was it Maori Cunningham/Conningham ? Whoever or whatever, it worked well and the lessons were bound to be useful in NW Europe.

There was also the coalition learning curve : here was where Anglo American forces could actually fight together and experience the baptism of their special relationship on the battlefield.

To acquire such vital skills, and, at the same time, demolish the Axis on the shores of North Africa was quite something.

It certainly turned Hitler’s head. Being an Austrian as opposed to a Prussian, he had been weaned on the Hapsburg phobia of the Balkans and Italy : even the potential of Kursk was compromised by the diversion of units to the Mediterranean flank.

In hindsight, it seems extraordinary that so much German resources were sent to that African bridgehead after the best Axis chances there had already been spent. Talk about putting your head into the lion’s jaws !


Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 10:40:48 AM
Assuming that a 1943 assault on France would have had to have taken place in the summer of that year, what was the state of training of US forces now based in the UK? British and Commonwealth troops were still in training as well. Were there sufficient numbers of divisions available to sustain a drive if the landing was made? Were the allies at peak strength in 1943?

Hobart's funnies were an important and influential asset to the invasion. Were these machines designed and ready in sufficient numbers to be employed in an invasion? I have the same question about the duplex drive amphibious tanks.

Were the Mulberry harbours complete and ready to be towed to France in the summer of 1943? The underwater pipelines?

What of Italy and the German forces in North Africa? Should the decision have been taken to leave them alone, how could these forces have impacted a landing in France in 1943?

Lastly, were Bomber Command and the USAF determined to continue with their strategic bombing campaign. Would those operations have to be cancelled in support of an invasion?

Cheers,

George



john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 2:50:15 PM
George

A lot of questions! One thing is pretty clear if the Western Allies landed in France in 1943 the US would have gone ashore with with 2 or 3 raw infantry and 1 or 2 armor divisions under untested leaders. N Africa did put the 1st and 34th Divisions and 1st Armor in combat, Patton Bradley and Harmon stepped up in command roles and perhaps more importantly Eisenhower grew into his role as Supreme Commander.

Many US officers felt that British forces in Africa could handle Rommel and Afrika Corps at this time. N Africa and Italy just diverted the main focus, of landing in France and driving on to Berlin. In some ways the Drive to Berlin in 1942-43 was an echo of Greeley's "On to Richmond" in 1862
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 4:41:14 PM
Thanks John. Sorry about all the questions. I don't have any of the answers. They were just rolling around in my head and I let my fingers do the talking. I could summarize by asking, "Were preparations sufficient to guarantee success in 1943?"

There certainly seems to be a difference of opinion in the way that the US and the British felt that a war should be run. I know that the US often thought that the British were overly cautious and certainly the British view that the allied approach should be to concentrate on peripheral operations until preparations for an assault on France were complete, would reflect that.

However, I cannot help but feel that the ghosts of the Somme were in the planning rooms of British headquarters. Certainly the politicians and the officers who had experienced the Great War would have a different perception of how to fight a war. They had witnessed the death of a generation of young men in that conflict. The US saw death in that war but not to the extent that the French, British and Commonwealth had.

And so there was a US and a British way of war.

For their part, I have read that the British criticism of the US plans to attack earlier was that the Americans were too impatient and ready to throw caution to the wind when the time for that was inappropriate.

So I still do not know whose approach was the correct one and whether Torch, Sicily and Italy were unimportant to the allied cause. Certainly it would bother me somewhat to know that, given that one family member is buried in Italy and my Dad spent a good portion of his war in Italy.

Cheers,

George
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 582
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 6:41:06 PM
Quote:
Assuming that a 1943 assault on France would have had to have taken place in the summer of that year, what was the state of training of US forces now based in the UK?


It depends on whether or not TORCH took place. If it did, there is a single U.S. division available in England, the 29th Inf Div. If not, then it is joined by potentially the 1st, 9th, 34th, and 45th Inf Div, 82d A/B Div, and the 1st and 2d Armd Div. They are all more or less trained, some better than others, but inexperienced.

Quote:
British and Commonwealth troops were still in training as well. Were there sufficient numbers of divisions available to sustain a drive if the landing was made? Were the allies at peak strength in 1943?


No and no.

Quote:
Hobart's funnies were an important and influential asset to the invasion. Were these machines designed and ready in sufficient numbers to be employed in an invasion? I have the same question about the duplex drive amphibious tanks.


They did not exist until December 1943 and were only in sufficient quantities to make an operational difference in late May 1944.

Quote:
Were the Mulberry harbours complete and ready to be towed to France in the summer of 1943? The underwater pipelines?


No and no. The MULBERRY design began in July 1943. PLUTO was tested by December 1942, but it was another year before construction of the landward pumping stations, the finished piping, conversion of the pipelaying vessels, and training of personnel was complete.

Quote:
What of Italy and the German forces in North Africa? Should the decision have been taken to leave them alone, how could these forces have impacted a landing in France in 1943?


They wouldn't have, but the German and Italian forces in France committed to Tunisia would be available. And I suspect Rommel would have been able to stop Montgomery well short of Tripoli.

Quote:
Lastly, were Bomber Command and the USAF determined to continue with their strategic bombing campaign. Would those operations have to be cancelled in support of an invasion?


The CBO would have gone on, but the strength employed to support NEPTUNE simply wasn't present. It is possible the Allies would have been unable to prevent strong German air attacks on the invasion fleet.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 8:38:55 PM
Thank you Rich. As mentioned, I was unaware of the extent of preparations for an invasion of France by 1943. I appreciate those answers.

George

RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 582
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/9/2021 10:26:07 PM
Quote:
Thank you Rich. As mentioned, I was unaware of the extent of preparations for an invasion of France by 1943. I appreciate those answers.

George



I suspect a lot of us, like me, who have spent the greater part of their adult lives speculating on these events, tend to lose track of just how constrained the historical timeline really was. Consider. Actual NEPTUNE planning began at the end of the first week of February 1944. In early April the planning was recast to account for the German beach obstacle program that was just detected. By 23 May (IIRC), the loading plan was fixed...but within a few days the detection of the movement of the 91. Luftland Division to the Cotentin meant the entire 82d Airborne plan was recast. All told, it was roughly 15 weeks from start to finish.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/10/2021 6:38:29 AM
George and others

Questions are what this is all about. Your questions lead to answers that lead to more questions...

Funny you should mention the British vs US way of war. In the events leading up to TORCH the US felt the Brits were too cautious about landings in 1943 SLEDGEHAMMER and they were coming up with all kinds of reasons against it. After TORCH was decided upon it was the British who became the active member and the US became cautious. The British wanted a deep landing in the Med, even as far as Algiers but the US worried about Franco's reaction, the Luftwaffe out Sicily and Italy, Vichy France's reaction, the surf at Casablanca, etc. The US had more questions than the British did during the TORCH planning.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/10/2021 7:29:44 AM
Quote:
George and others

Questions are what this is all about. Your questions lead to answers that lead to more questions...

Funny you should mention the British vs US way of war. In the events leading up to TORCH the US felt the Brits were too cautious about landings in 1943 SLEDGEHAMMER and they were coming up with all kinds of reasons against it. After TORCH was decided upon it was the British who became the active member and the US became cautious. The British wanted a deep landing in the Med, even as far as Algiers but the US worried about Franco's reaction, the Luftwaffe out Sicily and Italy, Vichy France's reaction, the surf at Casablanca, etc. The US had more questions than the British did during the TORCH planning.


Might it be that, after years of fighting to and fro across North Africa, the British felt more in their comfort zone in that theatre, and were subsequently more up beat about the prospects than US planners ?

Logistical and combat experience had been gained sufficiently to impart confidence.

As George emphasises, memories of the Somme and Ypres were all too much to the fore in British military planning. Anything that had a whiff of 1914-18 about it was a deterrence.

That said, I do feel that there was a US way of war that was more head on and all-out than the British counterpart. Not just confronting, but overwhelming, obstacles. I'm reluctant to describe it as greater ruthlessness, but there is something of that in my perception. I think of the approach of Grant in the Virginia campaign of 1864, and wonder if that imparted something more in favour of the direct approach to the US military tradition.

The British regarded France and Flanders 1914-18 as an aberration from their military tradition : not just an aberration, but an abomination.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/10/2021 5:44:19 PM
Phil
The next logical step became Sicily and again a difference between British and US ideas took front and center. Montgomery and the British HC wanted landings in force in SE Sicily while the US thought of 3 landing places with the goal of cutting off Axis troops south of Messina. The final invasion simply because an effort in pushing off the Germans from Sicily back into Italy. As the US grew in numbers and experience it became more difficult for the British to demand their way.
One fact I didn't realize was that during the Italy campaign (Oct 1943) the GB/US numbered 10 division while the Germans committed 25
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/10/2021 8:54:36 PM
Hello John,

I didn't understand this sentence in your last post. I think that you may have left out an important phrase.

Quote:
The final invasion simply because an effort in pushing off the Germans from Sicily back into Italy.


Cheers,

George

john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 7:30:19 AM
George

If you change "because" to "became" it sounds better and clearer.

Starting with TORCH the US became concerned that the Western Allies were in danger of losing focus on a cross-channel invasion. On one hand they knew they had to do something to get the US troops in action and get combat experience but not get tied down in the Med. When the British mentioned invading Rhodes and Churchill talked about getting Turkey to join with the Allies it raised concerns about a drift into the Balkans and away from the main thrust into France/Germany. It continued on into the discussion of the invasion of Southern France (ANVIL) vs a continuing drive in Italy after the fall of Rome. The US wanted the landings in Southern France while the British argued that fighting in Italy would tie down just as many if not more German Divisions.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 7:53:48 AM
Quote:

One fact I didn't realize was that during the Italy campaign (Oct 1943) the GB/US numbered 10 division while the Germans committed 25


That says it all, doesn't it ?


This is so interesting !

I'll take a look at Alanbrooke's diary.


Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 8:56:10 AM
Some of the objectives of the Italian campaign were:

1. Remove the Italians as a threat
2. Secure the Mediterranean
3. Divert German resources to Italy from France and the Soviet Union.
4. Seize or establish air fields in the north of Italy.

There are probably other objectives that I have missed. Was seizing oil fields in Romania one of the objectives too?


Was the campaign successful in meeting those objectives? I would say yes. I do not know how many German divisions were diverted from the Soviet campaign or whether that campaign was effected by the invasion of Italy? Was that objective met?

I suppose the question is whether those objectives were even necessary to pursue and whether the Italian campaign helped to facilitate the Normandy landings?

Eventually the US pushed for the landings in southern France (Dragoon). That may have stymied the efforts of the remaining American, British and Commonwealth troops left in Italy. When GB and the US were debating whether to use their vast resources available in North Africa to attack Sicily, was an operation like Dragoon also proposed at the same time?

I'm curious about the discussions that took place that led to Operation Husky.

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 2:46:14 PM
Seventy eight years ago next week, the Germans launched a major counter offensive against US forces in the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia , inflicting six thousand American casualties , while German casualties were fewer than one thousand. It was a terrible setback for US arms, and elicited a sense of schadenfreude from the British, who had themselves suffered their share of humiliation at the hands of Rommel and his Germans. This episode stands as a good example of how skilful and dangerous the Germans were in reflexive and ferocious counter attack, and, I reckon, might serve to remind us how unwise a cross channel invasion might have been in 1943.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 7:58:11 PM
Quote:
George

If you change "because" to "became" it sounds better and clearer.

Starting with TORCH the US became concerned that the Western Allies were in danger of losing focus on a cross-channel invasion. On one hand they knew they had to do something to get the US troops in action and get combat experience but not get tied down in the Med. When the British mentioned invading Rhodes and Churchill talked about getting Turkey to join with the Allies it raised concerns about a drift into the Balkans and away from the main thrust into France/Germany. It continued on into the discussion of the invasion of Southern France (ANVIL) vs a continuing drive in Italy after the fall of Rome. The US wanted the landings in Southern France while the British argued that fighting in Italy would tie down just as many if not more German Divisions.


A major goal of the Southern France invasion was capturing the ports of Marseille and getting them in to operation. The port of Marseille supplied a large amount of the supplies to Allied Forces in France.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/11/2021 7:59:50 PM
Quote:
Seventy eight years ago next week, the Germans launched a major counter offensive against US forces in the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia , inflicting six thousand American casualties , while German casualties were fewer than one thousand. It was a terrible setback for US arms, and elicited a sense of schadenfreude from the British, who had themselves suffered their share of humiliation at the hands of Rommel and his Germans. .

Regards, Phil


Schadenfreude doesn't seem very British. I'm sure they had a much more polite term.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/12/2021 12:11:58 PM
Having stated that I would look through Alanbrooke's diary, I duly browsed through it, and decided thatr this entry on page 348 is a pithy and informative summary of British strategy :

....he [ Marshall] considers that we should close down operations in the Mediterranean once we have pushed Germans out, and then concentrate for preparing for re-entry into France, combined with a move through Turkey. I think that he is wrong and that the Mediterranean gives us far better facilities for wearing out German forces, both land and air, and of withdrawing strength from Russia.

This was written on 11 December 1942.

Apparently, the arguments between Marshall and Alanbrooke, his British counterpart, were heated and prolonged, but they held each other in high personal esteem.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/12/2021 1:01:31 PM
What was the effect of Operation Dragoon on the Italian campaign?

Cheers,

George
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/12/2021 5:55:24 PM
George
Operation ANVIL was designed to tie down German forces in S France and open up another port Marseilles to be used by the Allies after D-Day. The name was changed to DRAGOON by Churchill because he felt he had been "dragooned" into agreeing to it. The main effect DRAGOON had on Italy was the removal of LSTs so no more "cat's paws" up the coast. SHAEF believed Italy was a deadend and even the capture of Rome led nowhere. Eisenhower felt that the way to defeat Germany was a powerful thrust to the German homeland...OVERLORD and every thing most be geared to that. To supply that force he needed ports. Marseilles from Sept thru Dec 1944 unloaded more tonnage than any other port under Allied control. It was not until Jan 1945 that Antwerp surpassed it.
Some argued that Italy tied down German forces and it did. The counter was that German troops in S. France were closer and could reinforce the Normandy front faster. Plus an Allied Army moving up the Rhone valley would protect the AEF's right flank and link up with it for the final drive.
Churchill proposed at the last minute to divert the DRAGOON forces to Brittany to open up Brest and Lorient if it was ports the Allies needed.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/12/2021 9:32:54 PM
Thanks John. I was surprised to learn just how many troops and matériel entered France through those ports.

There are two schools of thought on Anvil/Dragoon I think. One is the British view and supported by US Gen. Mark Clark that Dragoon was unnecessary and that the allies would have been better to have concentrated on Italy and then attacked through the Ljubljana Gap and hence toward Hungary and Austria. I realize that Gen. Clark's views may be dismissed by some because he was considered to be a glory hound and as troops were stripped from his command in Italy, he would have it confirmed that he was engaged in peripheral operations and not a major operation.

According to the Maurice Matloff, Chief historian of the US Army, the British view was based upon its desire to maintain the balances of power in Europe. Instability was to be avoided and so Churchill preferred to attack any power that would upset that balance on the continent. Matloff also said that the Mediterranean and the Middle East were the British Empire's, "lifeline to its empire in the Orient", hence Churchill wanted to maintain their position in those areas.

Not as concerned about European alliances and the balance of power was the more impatient US which favoured a concentrated attack as quickly as possible. The US also had another war to worry about and it certainly did not have the restoration of the British Empire on its mind.

According to Matloff, Churchill felt that the best way to support the USSR was by attacking on the edges of the continent. The US felt that support for the USSR was through a concentrated attack in Normandy. Churchill felt that the attack in Normandy should come after Germany had been reduced on other fronts like the USSR and Italy. Matloff called this British policy, "attritional opportunism" in contrast to US, "principle of concentration".

The meeting at Tehran between Churchill, FDR and Stalin sealed the deal as Stalin approved the US approach and Anvil/Dragoon would do more to support the Normandy invasion than would the Italian campaign. British influence was on the wane. But it is interesting that the debate over whether to land troops in southern France or whether to concentrate on Italy and the seizure of Istria and Trieste and then heading into Hungary and Austria was still active even as the allies seized Rome.

There were US supporters of the Italian model like Gen. Wilson, the commander in the Mediterranean. I don't have his official title at hand.

In the end, Gen. Eisenhower was able to convince his government of the necessity to open up ports in southern France.

The British criticism was that by concentrating only on the victory in Normandy, the US had forgotten the political implications of a failure to check the Soviets which the British felt would have been a benefit to attacking Germany through Hungary and Austria. The counter point is that extra allied assets in Italy may have permitted the USSR to press even farther west than it eventually did.

I enjoyed the Maurice Matloff analysis in this essay titled, "The ANVIL Decision: Crossroads of Strategy".

[Read More]

Lastly, I have always wondered what those allied soldiers who were left in Italy felt when divisions were stripped to support Dragoon. As well, how were the objectives to be met if assets were diverted to southern France? Operations in Italy must have been compromised. I know that the claim is that the military assets and manpower required to complete operations in Italy were not compromised.




Question: Churchill suggested that rather than landing in southern France that the US need to land all those divisions waiting in the US could have been effected by using the Brittany ports. Why was that rejected by Eisenhower?

Cheers,

George



john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/13/2021 8:43:20 AM
George
According to the OVERLORD plan the capture of the Brittany ports was assigned to Patton's Third Army. After COBRA Eisenhower was faced with a new problem. Let Patton exploit the the breakout with his full force or keep to the plan and send the Third Army into Brittany. He decided to do both.He sent Troy Middleton's VIII Corps towards Brest while Patton's other 3 Corps broke out. Middleton overran the peninsular in 4 days but didn't have enough strength to take both Brest and Lorient. Brest fell in mid Sept. and Lorient held out to the end of the war. Neither port then contributed to the Allied port capacity.

Eisenhower had numerous options
1. Do what he did
2. Strengthen Middleton's drive. Brest and Lorient may have fell sooner but it would have weakened Patton in the Falaise area.
3. Ignore Brittany, add Middleton to Patton's drive which may have led to greater results at Falaise

It came down to this, if Eisenhower needed the Brittany ports then he did not need Marseilles. If he needed Marsailles then he needed DRAGOON.

There was no plan for landing in Brittany so when Churchill suggested landing there, it was a last minute plea to halt DRAGOON which would have delayed a second landing even longer

The original ANVIL plan was for the landing in S France to occur within days of D-Day. Eisenhower gave into Wilson, giving him some more time with the needed LSTs, delaying but never cancelled the operation.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/13/2021 12:13:55 PM
Quote:

It came down to this, if Eisenhower needed the Brittany ports then he did not need Marseilles. If he needed Marsailles then he needed DRAGOON.

.


An added consideration would be what was the capacity of the Brittany ports?
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/13/2021 2:23:49 PM
Quote:
Quote:

It came down to this, if Eisenhower needed the Brittany ports then he did not need Marseilles. If he needed Marsailles then he needed DRAGOON.

.


An added consideration would be what was the capacity of the Brittany ports?



I was reading a rather lengthy piece in Hyperwar on the Brittany ports. It sounds as though there was a lot of discussion about making use of the larger Brittany ports and also many of the smaller ones. There were problems at Cherbourg of course. Not sure about Brest.

But it seems that several smaller Brittany ports were refurbished and activated. These helped to alleviate shortages until Antwerp could be opened and that couldn't happen until the Battle of the Scheldt was over in early November.

The Hyperwar article print the discharge performances of four of the Brittany ports

Granville Sept. 15/44 to April 21/45 272,562 long tons
St. Michel. Aug. 12/44 to Sept. 30/44 60,344. long tons
St. Brieuc 16 September 1944 15 October 1944. 9,521. long tons
Morlaix-Roscoff 5 September 1944 14 December 1944 212,636 long tons

We would have to compare this to the tons used by the allies and whether these deliveries put a dint into those requirements. Hyperwar did say that the Brittany ports were important as a stop gap until Antwerp came on stream. But it was also mentioned that if the need had not been so great that the Brittany ports likely would not have been opened at all.

The original plan was to see the Brittany ports collectively discharge 30,000 long tons by early November. In fact, they only were able to discharge 10% of that goal.

Once Antwerp opened, did that reduce the need for the delivery of people and matériel to the ports of southern France? The distance to deliver goods from Antwerp to the front was much shorter than from southern France. Antwerp was the largest port that was closest to Germany.

Operation Dragoon was completed over a month before Antwerp was opened and that could obviate the need to open these southern ports in France. But was Anvil/Dragoon propose solely to alleviate a transportation issue? What were there strategic objectives that made Dragoon important? Politically, it did placate Stalin.

I am not knowledgable enough to say whether the British view of peripheral action in Italy made more sense but perhaps someone out there will weigh in.







The article is long and detailed but some may find it interesting.

[Read More]

Here is the Hyperwar article, "The Port Discharge and Shipping Problems".

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/13/2021 5:22:42 PM
George,

Before I try and weigh in regarding the strategic rationale behind Dragoon/Anvil, I would comment in a very general sense.

When you think of how the US and British strategies diverged, and how different were the British and American approaches , isn't it remarkable how great their combined achievement was ?

All those prima donnas : Patton, Montgomery, Clarke etc., conjure up a nightmare of clashing and egotistical personalities. Marshall and Alanbrooke argued vehemently against each other, but behaved with great discipline and mutual respect. Might it be said that the subordinate commanders got better chiefs of staff than they deserved ? A reversal of the usual popular perception of modern war.

No wonder Stalin preferred the prospect of an Allied onslaught across the Channel in 1943 ! The idea of a successful North African campaign providing the jumping off point for an advance through Italy was bound to threaten his designs on the Balkans and the soviet consolidation of the great part of Central Europe.

Regards, Phil



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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/14/2021 11:24:55 AM
Phil

In one word...Eisenhower. I think he did a masterful job of pulling and holding the Western Allies together. He handled both Monty and Patton and like two bulking horses got them to pull together. Both wanted a single thrust into Germany and no matter your feelings on whether it was right or wrong, Ike knew he could not sideline one and let the other get the limelight. Neither countries' people would allow that
Eisenhower claimed he did everything from a military view but right off the bat in N Africa he had to deal with Darlan and later with DeGaulle. He was given conflicting info from the GB and US gov't on how to proceed. The same thing happened in Italy. Dragoon was also a part of getting French troops ashore and into the fight.
He handled Churchill well too and addressed every problem as an Allied one not a British or American one.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/14/2021 4:06:50 PM
In heated agreement with you, John.

An array of subordinates lined up to disparage him. As so often is the case, that's a sign that he was doing the right thing.


Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 7:17:21 AM
This is what Alanbrooke wrote in his diary after a meeting with Eisenhower at the end of 1942 :

I am afraid that Eisenhower as a general is hopeless ! He submerges himself in politics and neglects his military duties, partly, I am afraid, because he knows little if anything about military matters. I don't like the situation in Tunisia at all !

Surveying his original diary entries later, this is how he commented on what he'd written :

These remarks about Eisenhower are pretty drastic ! My opinion, however, never changed much as regards his tactical ability or his powers of command. In these early days he literally knew nothing of the requirements of a commander in action.....Where he shone was his ability to handle allied forces, to treat them all with strict impartiality, and to get the very best out of an inter-allied force.......as Supreme Commander, what he may have lacked in military ability he greatly made up for by the charm of his personality.

It's encouraging to see that, even in the foul game of war, there is still room for the importance of sensitive and sympathetic conduct.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 7:40:00 AM
Phil, if Brooke's assessment of Eisenhower's knowledge of matters military was one of deficient, then how did DDE come to the conclusion that Operation Dragoon was important? Some of his advisors favoured the approach touted by the British. Many did not.

So in matters military, which US officers had the ear of Eisenhower?

Perhaps someone will tell us whether the decision to go with Dragoon was made for military reasons or for political ones, or a combination of the two.

As well, were there British officers who felt that the Italian campaign should have been curtailed and who favoured the Anvil/Dragoon approach?

I'm afraid that I do not have those answers but I am aware that historians still speculate on which approach to defeating Germany was best.

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4968
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 11:56:20 AM
George,

From what I've just gleaned by referring to a dated but convincing history by Chester Wilmot, the superb organisational and administrative prowess of Marshall was such as to hold FDR and Ike in its thrall. Marshall was absolutely determined to follow a fixed strategic principle of overwhelming German forces in France, and in this he did not allow for the strategic opportunism that the British discerned to be developing in Italy. Anvil was homage to Marshall's fixation. Mark Clark was dismayed by this, because he saw the chance for exploitation in Italy that was thrown away by diversion to the South of France.

So I would deem the Anvil/Dragoon enterprise as principally inspired by military reasons as far as the Americans were concerned, although there was a political dimension to it in so far as FDR was keen to appease Stalin who was emphatic that the main Allied effort must be focused in France. I think that Churchill was more aware of the desirability of rescuing huge swathes of south eastern Europe from Soviet domination. In this sense, it might be that the British were significantly swayed by political considerations, although they discerned a military advantage too.


This is how I feel about it at the moment, but I'm all too susceptible to a change of mind when a persuasive and readable alternative view is presented !

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 1:08:34 PM
Thanks Phil. Those thoughts were helpful in giving me greater understanding of Churchill/Britain's objectives in a post war Europe.

We have seen some spirited defences of the Anvil/Dragoon plan at other times on this forum. I think that we should spend some time on the military advantage that the British perceived in pursuing the Italian campaign and then passing through the Lljubljana Pass to Austria and then on to Germany.

The New Zealanders didn't arrive at Trieste until May of 1945 of course but had assets not been reduced in Italy and instead increased, perhaps the allies could have been there earlier and headed into Slovenia and the gap. Of course, the NZ's did encounter Tito's troops at Trieste and I don't know how that would have impacted the race through Slovenia to the Pass and into Austria. Tito may not have wanted allied troops to interfere in Yugoslavia. I don't know that for sure but he didn't want the New Zealanders to remain in Trieste.

But it is interesting to contemplate whether an attack into Austria and then Germany through the Lljubljana gap would have aided the Normandy invasion more than did the Dragoon landings.

Cheers,

George

17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 1:32:05 PM
The Northern France campaign would obviously get first priority.

Many put the question as no Southern France campaign and put those resources into Italy, or follow the historic path with the Dragoon landings.

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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 1:32:08 PM
The Northern France campaign would obviously get first priority.

Many put the question as no Southern France campaign and put those resources into Italy, or follow the historic path with the Dragoon landings.

But there was another option. No operation Dragoon. Draw down Allied forces in Italy to a bare minimum to hold onto territory that has been gained already. And put those forces into the Northern France campaign.

Even with a rapid capture and rehabilitation of the Normandy ports could Allied logistics support having all the additional forces that would be coming out of Normandy?

Much is made of how long it took to have the ports in operation. Did the USN and Royal Navy have portable dock equipment such as heavy duty cranes mounted on a barge? I understand there is much more to getting a port in operation than the cranes just a random thought.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 1:38:37 PM
Quote:
The Northern France campaign would obviously get first priority.

Many put the question as no Southern France campaign and put those resources into Italy, or follow the historic path with the Dragoon landings.




Yes indeed. But both the southern France landings and the Italian campaign were touted by proponents as the best way to support the Normandy landings and subsequent battles. I don't have enough knowledge to declare for one or the other.

Cheers,

George
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 1:53:56 PM
George Phil

Sometimes it was difficult for the Americans to determine whether the British were advocating a course of action becaused they believed it was a right military move or because it would serve British interest; hence questions on Italy. When the British pushed for the invasion of Rhodes many Americans felt it was a move to support British influence in the Middle East.

Hindsight may be 20/20 and we now know the results of the lack of an Allied presence in the Balkans and Central Europe. Eisenhower was accused by Brooke and others of not wanting or caring if the war ended by 1944. Both he and Monty believed a single thrust into Germany would end the war sooner. They felt each day the war continued meant other day England would have to struggle to recover from the war. Eisenhower's plan could only delay the end.

Eisenhower felt that by closing on the Rhine all along the front and crossing it north of the Ruhr would allow the Allies to destroy the German Army west of the river. Then they could walk across the rest of Germany
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11640
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 2:20:29 PM
This is a modern photo of one part of the Lljubljana Pass leading to Austria



I did read that while Alan Brooke initially supported this route into Germany, he finally decided that this was a most difficult route that would allow the German forces to cover a much narrower front than they were covering in Italy.

It looks like an extremely difficult place in which to fight a war. However, the allies had been fighting in similar geography in northern Italy.

EDIT: France to the south and east is mountainous as well. How did that affect the route taken by the US and French troops during Dragoon? Was the rejection of the British plan because of the mountainous terrain in Slovenia? How much different was the topography in southern France?





Cheers,

George
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 582
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 2:43:19 PM
Quote:
This is what Alanbrooke wrote in his diary after a meeting with Eisenhower at the end of 1942 :

I am afraid that Eisenhower as a general is hopeless ! He submerges himself in politics and neglects his military duties, partly, I am afraid, because he knows little if anything about military matters. I don't like the situation in Tunisia at all !

Surveying his original diary entries later, this is how he commented on what he'd written :

These remarks about Eisenhower are pretty drastic ! My opinion, however, never changed much as regards his tactical ability or his powers of command. In these early days he literally knew nothing of the requirements of a commander in action.....Where he shone was his ability to handle allied forces, to treat them all with strict impartiality, and to get the very best out of an inter-allied force.......as Supreme Commander, what he may have lacked in military ability he greatly made up for by the charm of his personality.

It's encouraging to see that, even in the foul game of war, there is still room for the importance of sensitive and sympathetic conduct.


A full reading of Brooke's diaries, the unexpurgated versions, also encourages the notion that the only Allied general who was not hopeless was Brooke himself. Well, at least according to Brooke. Insofar as I can tell from his diaries, Brooke was a certified military genius whose potential was only thwarted by all the time he spent keeping idiot colonials, stuporous Royal Navy admirals, inane Royal Air Force commanders, and drunken politicians toeing his line.

It must have been exhausting.

I think Brooke's genius was best exhibited by his repeated hopes that his various maneuvers in the Mediterranean would induce the Germans to attack Turkey, which would immediately result in the Germans losing the war.

In many ways, at least in his professional life, one of the least attractive personalities of the war. I tend to view him similarly to Clarke, Harris, King, and Montgomery in that respect.
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