GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day as it might have been

There have been lots of blogs and Facebook pages about the 67th anniversary of D-Day, the monumental invasion of Normandy that led to Allied victory in Europe.
However, as always, I believe it is important to remember that there was NOTHING inevitable about the success of D-Day. 

Prior amphibious operations were not overwhelming triumphs for the Allies.  The invasion of Salerno, Italy in Sept 1943, had nearly ended with the German Army pushing the invasion force back into the Mediterranean.  The invasion of Anzio just six months before had resulted in a stuck beachhead that was surrounded and besieged by the Germans and only relieved by the Allied offensive on Rome. 

Peter Tsouras makes a very compelling case in his counter factual history Disaster at D-Day, that just a couple of small changes to schedules, weather, and unit locations could have made all the difference in the world, literally, in how World War II ended.  The most compelling argument he makes is that one regiment, or even a panzer or panzergrenadier battalion located in a position to launch an immediate counterattack could have driven the Americans in Omaha Beach back into the Channel.  The Allies then would have been left with two separated and isolated beachheads instead of a continuous front, making the German defensive problem much easier.

In fact,  the German 21st Panzer Division did counterattack the British beachheads on the evening of the 6th, but the attacks were weak and uncoordinated and were defeated.  A full-fledged attack by multiple Panzer Divisions may have been a different story.

A chance intelligence windfall convinces Hitler the Normandy invasion is the real thing and you have a very different campaign when the Wehrmacht rushes reinforcements to the beachheads, in effect winning the crucial 'build-up' after the invasion.  The massive Channel storm of June 19th played a crucial role in the real-life Allied build-up and its effect could have been even worse if the Allied beachhead had been split.  Combine this with ineffective British generalship by Monty and his subordinates versus a rejuvenated Rommel who does NOT leave the front to visit his wife right before the invasion and you have the 'disaster' that Tsouras so vividly describes.

So, thanks be to those soldiers and sailors that prevailed on Omaha Beach, it was probably more important that they made it up those bluffs than we can possibly imagine today.



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