The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day

Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit.jpg

US Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944

The most important weather forecast in history

In memory of my father Hans who, in 1944, took part in the liberation of Europe with the Royal Engineers in the Italian Campaign. –Benny Peiser

 

1) The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day
History, 4 June 2014
Christopher Klein

Years of detailed planning went into the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, but success hinged on one element that no military commander could control—the weather. In the days leading up to the invasion, Allied meteorologists delivered the most important weather forecast in history. If they got it wrong the Allies might have lost tens of thousands of men and World War II might have been lost forever.

In contrast to the bright morning about to dawn over Portsmouth, England, on June 4, 1944, gloom settled over the Allied commanders gathered inside Southwick House at 4:15 a.m. Years of preparation had been invested in the invasion of Normandy, but now, just hours before the launch of D-Day operations, came the voice of Group Captain James Stagg urging a last-minute delay. As Operation Overlord’s chief meteorological officer, the lanky Brit was hardly a battlefield commander, but the ultimate fate of D-Day now rested in his decision-making.

The disappointed commanders knew that the list of potential invasion dates were only a precious few because of the need for a full moon to illuminate obstacles and landing places for gliders and for a low tide at dawn to expose the elaborate underwater defenses installed by the Germans. June 5, chosen by Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower to be D-Day, was the first date in a narrow three-day window with the necessary astronomical conditions. The massive Normandy landings, however, also required optimal weather conditions. High winds and rough seas could capsize landing craft and sabotage the amphibious assault; wet weather could bog down the army and thick cloud cover could obscure the necessary air support.

The critical, but unenviable task of predicting the English Channel’s notoriously fickle weather fell to a team of forecasters from the Royal Navy, British Meteorological Office and U.S. Strategic and Tactical Air Force, and as D-Day approached, storm clouds brewed inside the meteorological office. Observations from Newfoundland taken on May 29 reported changing conditions that might arrive by the proposed invasion date. Based on their knowledge of English Channel weather and observations, the British forecasters predicted the stormy weather would indeed arrive on June 5. The American meteorologists, relying on a differing forecasting method based on historic weather maps, instead believed that a wedge of high pressure would deflect the advancing storm front and provide clear, sunny skies over the English Channel.

Stagg, the only meteorologist allowed direct contact with Eisenhower, had to make the final call. Although the sky was clear and wind negligible in the early hours of June 4, Stagg believed foul weather was only hours away. He sided with his fellow British colleagues and recommended a postponement. Knowing that the weather held the potential to be an even fiercer foe than the Nazis, a reluctant Eisenhower agreed in the early hours of June 4 to delay D-Day by 24 hours.

On the other side of the English Channel, German forecasters also predicted the stormy conditions that indeed rolled in as Stagg and his fellow Brits had feared. The Luftwaffe’s chief meteorologist, however, went further in reporting that rough seas and gale-force winds were unlikely to weaken until mid-June. Armed with that forecast, Nazi commanders thought it impossible that an Allied invasion was imminent, and many left their coastal defenses to participate in nearby war games. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel even returned home to personally present a pair of Parisian shoes to his wife as a birthday present.

German Luftwaffe meteorologists, however, relied on less sophisticated data and models than their Allied counterparts, says John Ross, author of “The Forecast for D-Day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble.” “The Allies had a much more robust network of weather stations in Canada, Greenland and Iceland; of weather ships and weather flights over the North Atlantic and observations by secret agreement from weather stations in the neutral Republic of Ireland,” he says. Those weather stations, in particular one at a post office at Blacksod Point in the far west of Ireland, proved crucial in detecting the arrival of a lull in the storms that Stagg and his colleagues believed would allow for an invasion on June 6. As rain and high winds lashed Portsmouth on the night of June 4, Stagg informed Eisenhower of the forecast for a temporary break. With the next available date for an invasion nearly two weeks away, the Allies risked losing the element of surprise if they waited. In spite of the pelting rain and howling winds outside, Eisenhower placed his faith in his forecasters and gave the go-ahead for D-Day.

The weather during the initial hours of D-Day was still not ideal. Thick clouds resulted in Allied bombs and paratroopers landing miles off target. Rough seas caused landing craft to capsize and mortar shells to land off the mark. By noon, however, the weather had cleared and Stagg’s forecast had been validated. The Germans had been caught by surprise, and the tide of World War II began to turn.

Weeks later, Stagg sent Eisenhower a memo noting that had D-Day been pushed to later in June, the Allies would have encountered the worst weather in the English Channel in two decades. “I thank the Gods of War we went when we did,” Eisenhower scribbled on the report.

He could also have been thankful for Stagg overruling the advice of the American meteorologists who wanted to go on June 5 as planned, which Ross says would have been a disaster. “The weather over Normandy contained too much cloud cover for Ike’s greatest strategic asset, the Allied air forces, to effectively protect the landings from German armor, artillery and infantry reserves. Winds were too strong for the deployment of paratroopers to secure bridges and crossroads inland from the beaches thus preventing German reinforcement of coastal positions. Waves were too high for landing craft to put soldiers and supplies ashore. The key element of surprise—location and time—would have been lost, and the conquest of western Europe could well have taken another year.”

2) D-Day: The Sceptical Meteorologists Who Surprised The Nazis By Saying ‘Yes’ To June 6
The Times, 2 June 2014
Simon Pearson
The outcome of D-Day was decided not on the beaches of Normandy, but by weather systems in the mid-Atlantic and the ability of rival teams of meteorologists to interpret the forces of nature. The Americans were confident in long-range five-day forecasts. The British were sceptical, believing they could forecast only two days ahead at best. The teams clashed repeatedly.

The outcome of D-Day was decided not on the beaches of Normandy, but by weather systems in the mid-Atlantic and the ability of rival teams of meteorologists to interpret the forces of nature.

As unfavourable conditions developed during that early summer 70 years ago, three teams of meteorologists produced reports for the Allied commander, General Dwight D Eisenhower, who laid down the conditions necessary for invasion — and his preferred date: June 5. Across the Channel, a single team of Germans watched the weather.

One of the men who took part in this great drama was Lawrence Hogben, a New Zealand naval officer, who, as a Rhodes Scholar, studied mathematics at New College, Oxford and trained as a meteorologist with the Royal Navy. Today, he lives in a care home in southern France, the country he helped to liberate and, even at the age of 98, retains vivid memories of events in June 1944.

Hogben had already distinguished himself as a naval officer before he was asked to work with Geoffrey Wolfe, a Cambridge-educated engineer, in the Admiralty team forecasting the D-Day weather.

As an instructor lieutenant, responsible for training, intelligence and meteorology on HMS Sheffield, he had witnessed several major naval actions: the sinking of the German battleship Bismark in May 1941; the Battle of the Barents Sea — when Sheffield engaged the German pocket battleships Admiral Hipper  and Lutzow in the Arctic in December 1942; and Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa a year later.

Decorated for bravery and promoted instructor lieutenant-commander, he had also developed his skills as a weatherman. “OnSheffield, I was making forecasts every day from the data coming in and from the state of the sea,” he says.

Hogben and Wolfe were one of two British teams. The second, put forward by the Met Office, consisted of Charles Douglas, the chief forecaster who was known for his photographic memory of meteorological events, and Sverre Pettersen, a Norwegian. The third team was American, with Irving Krick and Benny Holzman, two well-known weathermen from the California Institute of Technology. Each day, the three teams reported their findings to Group Captain James Stagg, a Scot who had been superintendent of the Kew Gardens observatory in 1939. He briefed Eisenhower.

For operational reasons, the American commander needed a full moon, a low tide, little cloud cover and light winds so that troops in landing craft could get ashore quickly, the gliders and parachutists could operate efficiently, and the Allied fighters and bombers could find their targets.

The forecast was not good. Indeed, climatic data suggested the odds against the forecasters finding the right conditions was 13-1 in June 1944. The Americans were confident in long-range five-day forecasts. The British were sceptical, believing they could forecast only two days ahead at best. The teams clashed repeatedly.

According to William Bryant Logan, author of Air: The Restless Shaper, they succeeded, “not because of the brilliant work of any solitary forecaster, but because a group of forecasters imitated the weather. They jostled, yelled, scribbled, and cast malevolent looks at one another. They fought it out and voted. And in the end, they were just right enough.”
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200 thoughts on “The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day

  1. Thanks for posting this, Anthony. I noted with interest the presence of Sverre Pettersen on the second British meteorological team. I had to Google this, but was not surprised to learn he had been a student of Vilhelm Bjerknes, who founded the Bergen School of Meteorology which gave the mathematical foundations of modern weather forecasting based on his work on hydrodynamics and thermodynamics.

  2. If they got it wrong the Allies might have lost tens of thousands of men and World War II might have been lost forever.

    The first statement is true, but the second is highly implausible. The Germans had already been driven out of Russia on D-day and were retreating along the entire eastern front. Between the heavy damages to its cities and industries inflicted by the allied bombings and the overwhelming force of the Red Army, there was only one possible outcome.

    Had D-day failed, the one real difference in outcome would have been that most of continental Europe would have come under Russian control. D-day was mostly about reigning in Russia, not about defeating Germany.

  3. I remember where I was. (no I wasn’t there, I was well out of it.)

    Let’s not do this again .

    To all of you veterans out there. Thank you for what you did.

  4. “””””…..Michael Palmer says:

    June 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

    If they got it wrong the Allies might have lost tens of thousands of men and World War II might have been lost forever……”””””

    Actually, the allies DID lose tens of thousands of men on this day. This was NOT a video game.

  5. They never get it right. It was 70 years ago; not 65 as their little weather maps say.

  6. George – I’m aware of that. I was just quoting from the article, and I assume that the author is aware of the losses, too. He probably meant to say that tens of thousands more would have died.

  7. Forecasting weather forward accurately for 2-5 days seems about right.

    On the other hand, forecasting climate forward accurately for 30-70 years obviously has to be in the realms of pure fantasy, or possibly in the minds of computer analysts fed biased GIGO by those who are not even a pale shadow of those wonderful meteorologists just prior to D Day.

  8. First off, the idea that a failure on D–Day would have led to a loss in WWII is about as nutty a claim as I’ve ever heard. With or without a D-Day in Normndy, we were clobbering the Germans with our air forces, able at the time of the D-Day invasion of having practically total control of Europen skies. And the Russians had not only stopped the Germans but had pushed them back – it was only a matter of time before the Russians would defeat Nazi Germany.
    Nor would a D-Day failure in any way prevent us from future attempts. In point of fact, Gen Marshall had already been chosen as the commander of any follow on attempts, had the first attempt failed. Time was on the Western Allies side, not Germany’s. We were getting stronger and they were getting weaker, guaranteeing a sucessfull invasion.
    Point number two : While it is true that the bad weather fooled the Germans as to the timing
    of the invasion, the location of the invasion was still a mystery to the Germans and that had nothing to do with the weather. The poor reactions of the German commander at Omaha Beach
    was the main reason the assault there succeeded, and that had nothing to do with the weather
    either.
    Point number 3: the weather forecast that Stagg provided led the Allies to proceed when they should not have. Just because the invasion eventually proved a success does not imply that
    going on June the 6th was the best (or even a satisfactory) choice. In fact, the main reason for the near failure at Omaha Beach was because of the unexpected bad weather conditions. The low ceiling forced the heavy bombers (who had a real aversion to AA fire) to rely on a poorly developed radar bombsite, which resulted in zero bombs falling on German defensive positions at Omaha. The bad weather also destroyed the ability of the floating rocket platforms to hit the German positions as well. It also inhibited ship bombardments early on. It also led to the loss of the majority of supporting armor, swimmable Sherman tanks that mostly sank in the high seas of that morning, as well as the total loss of all artillery being brought ashore in landing craft,which all sank during the morning landings. The high winds also virtually destroyed the effectiveness of the airborne landings after midnight of the 6th. It was a disaster.
    While some might say that the forecast allowed for the Allies to go under their required conditions of moon (for the airborne) and tides, which would not be available again for another month, one can challenge that by saying that it was, after all, only another month (which actually would have vastly alleviated the landing craft deficiencies ,and allowed further isolation of the battlefield using the air force). And one can easily challenge their dependence upon the moon
    by showing the vast advantages of a early morning twilight airborne drop, which didn’t depend upon moonlight.
    In sum, I would estimate that the Allies would have been far better off had Stagg given
    a weather forecast that eliminated any possibility of a June 6th invasion. There is also the factor of the horrible weather that followed on the heels of the invasion, which destroyed the Mulberries,
    and wrought all kinds of problems on the troops ashore.
    And when one looks at the British beaches, one can easily show that weather and any surprise
    that weather may have provided had little to nothing to do with success over there – the defensive troops were few, poorly armed , and often foreigners who had been captured and then become soldiers in the German army, guaranteed to not fight to the last round, or even the next to last round, etc. Many surrendered without firing a shot.

  9. What is nice is they got to use some of the German data too.
    The End of German Presence in Greenland

    During 1943 and 1944, there were reports that German forces were constructing a base on the island. These came to nothing, thanks to action by U.S. forces; similarly, a weather station on the northeast coast was bombed by U.S. Air Force planes based in Iceland. Data from several captured German weather stations was used by the Allies in the run-up to D-Day in June, 1944. The final Germans to be stationed in Greenland were technicians manning the weather station Edelweiss II. This base was captured on October 4, 1944, with all the staff being taken prisoner. Denmark itself was liberated in May 1945.

  10. Michael Palmer says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

    While I agree that the Allies could still have won had D-Day failed, the consequences would have been dire for the USSR. The Red Army had, as you say, cleared most of Russia of the enemy by June 6, 1944, but eastern Ukraine, Belorussia & the Baltics remained in German hands. The Belorussian campaign, Operation Bagration, launched on June 22, was designed to take advantage of D-Day, the “Second Front” so long called for by Stalin (who had already been helped by Allied operations in North Africa, Sicily & Italy).

    Besides holding so many German forces in the West, D-Day also improved the odds for convoys carrying to Russia the supplies, war materiel & vehicles without which the Red Army could not have driven the invaders out of the USSR. In particular, Bagration benefited from American trucks, so many of which were sent East that the western Allies suffered from a shortage of them in their drive across France. Khrushchev rightly observed that the advance from Stalingrad to Berlin would have been impossible without them, & other Allied aid.

    Had D-Day failed in Normandy, the Operation Dragoon landings in the South of France might still have gone ahead in August.

    D-Day was not about containing Communism but winning the war. Had dominating the post-war situation been the US goal, Ike would have been ordered to encircle, pocket & besiege Berlin, if not take it by storm at great cost, when he could have. The West would not have made the concessions to Stalin we did at Yalta in February, 1945. American & Soviet troops would have met not on the Elbe, but the Oder, if not farther east.

    Stalin feared that the West would cut a separate deal for less than unconditional surrender with Germany, as Lenin had abandoned the West in WWI.

  11. george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

    We did not lose tens of thousands on D-Day itself. Ground forces casualties were around 9000, of whom about a third were killed or “missing”, as in direct hit from artillery projectiles. Precise figures aren’t available.

    Of course tens of thousands died in the campaign.

  12. The storms that DID come from the west-northwest just a few days later DID destroy one of the two temporary harbors (bridges, sunken ships, concrete breakwaters, oil-pipes under the sea, and stations that were constructed.

    But, there were enough supplies and oil landed before the mid-June storms broke these up that the troops ashore managed without formal ports and classic harbors. Again, the Germans could not foresee the technology to make an effective artificial harbor and oil terminal on a flat beach, so their beach defenses were “first wave” defenses, with the Channel “port defenses” very, very strong. Cherburg, Caliase, Brussels, Antwerp, etc were very, very difficult battles.

    We are again reminded that DISAGREEMENT between weather forecasters and climatologists is a GOOD THING! Competing ideas and methodologies ARE ESSENTIAL in a checks and balance system where the future is unknown and uncontrollable.

    But today? “Consensus” is essential to control by a single national government running under the larger control of a single international system of UN-elected, UN-accountable Brussels-spouting bureaucrats.

  13. @ milodonharlani

    “D-Day was not about containing Communism but winning the war. Had dominating the post-war situation been the US goal, Ike would have been ordered to encircle, pocket & besiege Berlin, if not take it by storm at great cost, when he could have. The West would not have made the concessions to Stalin we did at Yalta in February, 1945. American & Soviet troops would have met not on the Elbe, but the Oder, if not farther east.”

    Now you are underestimating the role of the remaining German forces. There is very little either the Russians or the Americans could have done to change the ultimate point of their encounter. As the Germans were retreating towards Germany on both fronts, they committed their forces so as to keep both fronts roughly at equal distance. The use of greater forces by the Americans would have accelerated the German collapse, but not changed the final post-war map very much at all.

  14. DD More says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

    The weather war in the North Atlantic was important. One of the main reasons for invading Iceland & the Faroes & occupying Greenland was to control WX forecasting.

  15. Michael Palmer says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Without US trucks, tanks, aircraft, munitions, steel, food, boots & other supplies, the Red Army would not have gotten out of Russia, so I have to disagree. Besides which, the Germans kept units in the West which could have been used to stop the Red Army in the East. Stalin was afraid & indeed suspected that the Allies weren’t fighting hard enough to keep German armored formations especially in the West. He sent observers to Italy to check on this suspicion, who reported back that in fact the fighting was ferocious.

    The Germans were not falling back at the same rate both East & West. The fact is that the Germans transferred elite units from the East to stop the onslaught in France & the Low Countries (to cite but one example, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich), besides of course having to maintain armor & mobile infantry in the West before June that could have been used on the Eastern Front. Had Hitler been killed in the July plot, the German army would have moved everything East, letting the Western Allies overrun France without opposition or with token forces, even if the US & UK were unwilling to make a separate peace.

  16. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    It turned out that the Americans were able to land supplies & equipment directly across the beaches after the Mulberry harbors were destroyed in the storms.

  17. This was perhaps the last time the Met was right about the weather. Which was around the last time BBC reported the truthful news.

  18. Having been to Omaha Beach, it is easy to see why so many casualties were inflicted on the lead battalions. What was a bit surprising was to learn that heights were manned by fewer than a 100 defenders, at least at the sector I visited. I want to say it was well under a 100, but can no longer recall the exact figure.

  19. And speaking of D-Day…
    The articles just keep on coming:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-06/world-war-ii-skeletons-washed-from-graves-by-rising-seas.html

    From the Marshall Islands:
    “There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves; it’s that serious,” Tony de Brum, minister of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, said today. Tides “have caused not just inundation and flooding of communities where people live but have also done severe damage in undermining regular land so that even the dead are affected.”
    “The minister’s comments bring home the stark future for low-lying island nations as the planet warms, causing sea levels to rise. The Marshall Islands, a string of more than 1,000 such isles with a population of about 70,000, is about 2 meters (7 feet) at its highest point, according to de Brum.”

    For some reason, Globull Warming is causing sea level to rise much more rapidly than anywhere else…

    Maybe they should move.

    Jim

  20. I am surprised at some of the comments here, which seem to be reinterpreting history.

    I live on the South West of England coast close to some of the major embarkation points for the D-Day convoy.

    The Germans retained a capability to strike at the very heart of the allies as can be seen in this loss of 800 US forces in the training for the invasion in April 1944, which took place close by

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_Tiger

    At the time of the invasion there were 4000 ships in the convoy, thousands of planes and hundreds of thousands of men stationed in tents. I can see the site where 5000 men were billeted from my window,

    Do people think this vast force could have been hidden for several more weeks from the Germans? It only needed one spy to report on the proceedings and there would have been a wholesale disaster a Exercise Tiger illustrates.

    It is incorrect to believe the Germans were already defeated. Attacking the Russians entrenched in Stalingrad during one of the most bitter winters of the century and retreating is one thing. Defending German positions within reach of their own supply lines in good weather is a different matter.

    There is a display showing the fateful forecast in the library of the Met office. It was a good and brave forecast and if the allies had not gone when they did the result of the war was not a foregone conclusion.
    tonyb

  21. I am very pleased to see comments that reflect reality, not the Western History of WWII.

    Michael Palmer says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Quite right, sir.

    In December of 1944, Eisenhower was in charge of 69 divisions in western Europe. The Soviets had over 500 fighting the Germans. That’s Germans, not Nazis, as so many are fond of saying. Soviet divisions (why don’t you call them Communists?) outnumbered Western Allies by 7 to 1, yet we claim to have won the war.

  22. The last thing anyone wanted was to give the German engineers any more time to work on their “secret weapons.” Do not forget they had already invented the jet fighter and the V-2 missile. A German A-bomb was possible, if only because the Allies were working on one of their own. Closing down the V-2 launch points was one objective of the invasion.

    In a battle to the death you do not want to give your enemy any breathing room. June 6 was a heroic blow to a horrific evil, delivered by men so young that it is incredible they found the courage to go on. Hundreds upon hundreds were mowed down on the beaches, but they kept coming. The water was red and corpses were moved by the waves.

    “Only” 9000 died on D-day? What disrespect is casual in such words. Those young men gave their lives for you and me. They certainly were not “saving the world” for big grants and trips to Bali. They stood up to evil even though they knew the only payment they received might be their own death. Thank God for courage like that.

  23. IMHO
    If the 6/6/1944 D-Day had not succeeded, the “Iron Curtain” would have been on the Eastern Atlantic coastline. The Allied push westward was to stake a claim on the Continent. D-Day may have been the first foray of the Cold War.
    The Germans were already fading. With the USSR, they had bitten off more than they could chew.

  24. “The outcome of D-Day was decided not on the beaches of Normandy, but by weather systems in the mid-Atlantic and the ability of rival teams of meteorologists to interpret the forces of nature.”

    wait … we didn’t send men with guns ashore then ?

  25. “””””…..Michael Palmer says:

    June 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

    George – I’m aware of that. I was just quoting from the article, and I assume that the author is aware of the losses, too. He probably meant to say that tens of thousands more would have died……”””””

    Well Michael, I wasn’t being critical.

    You say you are aware of that, and you opine that the author of that line also is.

    But HE did not mention it; and neither did you.

    So I DID

    I suspect a consensus of about 97% is in fact NOT aware of that fact.. I’m thinking that some 2,500 US soldiers died on Omaha Beach on just that first day. And historians think that was remarkably low.

    How many GI s died on Iwo-Jima ?

  26. timg56 says:
    June 6, 2014 at 10:36 am

    German manpower above Omaha averaged about 1000 troops per mile, but of course they were concentrated in strong points.

    German strength in the Omaha sector was much stronger than Allied intel had estimated, because, among other reasons, Rommel had moved a German mobile field division into the forward defenses instead of holding it in reserve. The Allies expected only a static division manned mainly by Russian & Polish former PoWs. Besides which, the defenses & additional offensive weaponry available to these men greatly multiplied their combat power.

    Besides which the air bombardment that was supposed to soften up the defenses didn’t, but did kill a lot of Norman cows inland. And the swimming tanks thought essential for success sank at great loss, depriving the poor bloody infantry of armored protection & firepower.

    Approximate German defensive power:

    7,800 infantry
    8 artillery bunkers
    35 pillboxes
    4 artillery pieces
    6 mortar pits
    18 anti-tank guns
    45 rocket launcher sites
    85 machine gun sites
    6 tank turrets.

    climatereason says:
    June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

    The US 4th Division lost over four times as many men at Slapton Sands as on Utah Beach & the drive inland on June 6. The official death total for all servicemen in the fiasco is 946.

    You’re right. There was a number of ways in which D-Day could have failed, despite Allied numerical superiority on the invasion beaches, as the breakout operation, which lasted much longer than expected, shows. High on the list is, as you note, the risk of German discovery of Overlord’s objective.

  27. “””””…..milodonharlani says:

    June 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

    george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

    We did not lose tens of thousands on D-Day itself. Ground forces casualties were around 9000, of whom about a third were killed or “missing”, as in direct hit from artillery projectiles. Precise figures aren’t available……”””””

    Well it depends on how you view it. Maybe they didn’t all die that day. But that day, they were committed to that specific operation, that resulted in those numbers. Somewhere I saw Omaha first day was about 2500, and total for allies first day around 4,000, and I think that was just for the beach landings. But the cemeteries record the real numbers (on both sides).

    Today, we are not willing to tolerate such losses; yet we do. 9/11 gave us such numbers; yet some are still upset at our response.

  28. george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

    We suffered over 2000 casualties on Omaha Beach, not fatalities. Besides our heavy losses on Omaha, casualties were also high among the two US airborne divisions, over 2000 casualities, IIRC. Utah, as noted, got off easy on June 6, with fewer than 200 dead (but dozens missing). However, it suffered disastrously in training.

    Iwo was Marines, not GIs. Marines don’t like to be lumped in with “doggies”, although they sometimes are.

    But to answer your question, the 36-day assault on Iwo-Jima cost more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead, of whom a few hundred were sailors on the ships sunk or damaged (not counting Navy medical corpsmen ashore). Don’t know about casualties among the Coast Guard coxswains of the landing craft.

  29. My father was one of the first off the landing craft. (Fortunately for him, that was on Jun 7th!)

  30. Mr. Palmer, I do take exception to the first part of this:

    “Between the heavy damages to its cities and industries inflicted by the allied bombings and the overwhelming force of the Red Army, there was only one possible outcome.”

    Allied bombing did little damage to industries. The strategic bombing campaign was a dismal failure in its primary objective. Because only 20% of the bombs aimed at precision targets fell within 1000 feet of their intended target. The bombing campaign did have other very important results, but damaging industry wasn’t one of them.

  31. I’m aware of that. I was just quoting from the article, and I assume that the author is aware of the losses, too. He probably meant to say that tens of thousands more would have died.

    Tens of thousand did not die that day. By far the greatest loss of life (~5000) fell upon French civilians.

  32. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Had VE Day been postponed into summer ’45, we’d have nuked Germany into submission.

    Good for your dad on D+1.

  33. German Luftwaffe meteorologists, however, relied on less sophisticated data and models than their Allied counterparts, says John Ross, author of “The Forecast for D-Day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble.”

    The Met Office now relies more on models and less on data.

  34. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Again, good figures are hard to come by, but probably the number of civilians & soldiers killed that day were about equal, ie ~3000:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/10877137/D-Day-French-torn-over-criminal-British-and-American-D-Day-bombings-of-Caen.html

    War is atrocious. Caen probably didn’t need to be destroyed, but mistakes in war cost lives. It’s impossible to fight even on the right side without making horrible errors.

  35. Jimbo says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Plus they get to make up their own data to support the models.

  36. On this day all I can say is I have the greatest respect for the allied troops involved and sadness for all those who suffered throughout the war.

  37. Had VE Day been postponed into summer ’45, we’d have nuked Germany into submission.

    I doubt it. By August 1945, the beastly Sovs would have been in Bordeaux. The Destruction of Army Group Center followed on by “Second Stalingrad” (in Rumania) made rapid German defeat inevitable (if it wasn’t already — which it was, really). The Germans were toast after Kursk at the latest. Not even Heinrici, Manstein, Kleist, or the other “Lions of Defense” could have saved them after that point.

    The only real question is what the postwar map was going to look like. In that regard, though, the result of Op. Overlord was critical.

  38. Hot under the collar says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I wish that Sgt. Slaughter could have lived two years and weeks longer to have attended the 70th anniversary:

    http://www.examiner.com/article/john-robert-slaughter-d-day-survivor-dies-at-the-age-of-87

    He was among the handful of enlisted men, some who died before their deeds could be recorded, who picked themselves up off the beach, found paths up the cliffs, led their comrades under murderous fire to the top & assaulted the formidable, much stronger than expected German defenses, taking them by storm without the bombardment & armored support which planners felt would be needed.

  39. One important factor that is apparent here is the military significance of atmospheric data, and hence its secrecy aspects. Be extremely wary of any publicly published data from theaters of military or naval operations. This has been impressed on me by a U.S. Army meteorologist who was present on D-Day, a metaorologist with the Soviet Army, and one with the Wehrmacht (he was lucky enough to have been stationed in southern France!). This whole question of the validity of atmospheric data from the many war zones of the twentieth century demands a thorough investigation and careful reconsideration.

  40. One of the more interesting events of D-Day was the Dambuster squadron, who spent all morning in their Lancaster Bombers, going round and round in circles over the Channel.

    What they were doing, is dropping chaff, at a groundspeed of 10 knots, that looked like a huge invasion force of ships heading for Calais. And so even up to the last minute, the Germans thought the primary landings would be at Calais (the nearest port).

    R

  41. Directive issued February 12, 1944 by the Anglo-American Combined Chiefs of Staff to General Eisenhower: “You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces. The date for entering the Continent is the month of May, 1944”.

    Easy to be wise with hindsight but this involved huge risk: first as inherent in any seaborne landing, second in breaching and overcoming the Atlantic Wall fortifications and third in opening the new front in France which could so easily have become bogged down into static warfare with huge loss of life, as 30 years earlier.

    Eisenhower judged it right, including the vagaries of the British weather (which still confounds us natives to the point there are days we often talk of little else). From one born 4 years after the landing and (due to previous generations’ sacrifices) always having lived at peace, I can only say a sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who fought in that campaign, which liberated and has achieved peace in Europe throughout my lifetime.

  42. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    It took the Red Army from June 1944 to May 1945 to get from the Dnieper to the Elbe, across flat terrain ideal for armored warfare. Without continued American aid, the Soviet offensive would have ground to a halt, especially with having to reduce Berlin. (Truman would have been less likely to keep supporting Stalin than FDR, dead in April.) The Red Army also would have run into the Luftwaffe, which had been stripped from the East to defend the homeland, along with the ten thousand 88mm AAA/AT guns used against the British & American air forces over Germany instead of against Russian tanks.

    If the western Allies were advancing from the South of France, IMO we’d have shaken hands on the Rhine, at best, but even that’s dubious. With Hitler gone, the Germans would have let western forces in & concentrated everything against the Soviets.

    We tested the Pu implosion device in July, but the gun-assembly U bomb could have been ready sooner, since it wasn’t felt to need testing (& there was not then enough U available for both a test & a bomb).

    But who knows?

  43. Michael Palmer says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

    George – I’m aware of that. I was just quoting from the article, and I assume that the author is aware of the losses, too. He probably meant to say that tens of thousands more would have died.

    =======================================================================
    Or tens of thousands of the Allies lost at sea for zero gain.

  44. climatereason says:

    It is incorrect to believe the Germans were already defeated.

    Gen. George Patton wrote in his autobiography War As I Knew It: “We could still lose this war.” Patton wrote that in his daily diary while commanding the 3rd Army in Europe, so he would know.

    [There is a p.s. to history: Patton was murdered with the connivance of Eisenhower and the Russians.]

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Eliza says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/jun/06/97-consensus-global-warming
    Wow the guardian published THIS???

    Amazing. Another crack in the consensus.

  45. The Belorussian campaign, Operation Bagration, launched on June 22, was designed to take advantage of D-Day, the “Second Front” so long called for by Stalin (who had already been helped by Allied operations in North Africa, Sicily & Italy).

    Bagration (aka the Destruction of Army Group Center) didn’t need D-Day to succeed. It was a set-piece inevitability following on from the Ukraine battles that exposed the southern flank. No other result was plausible at the time. Even had LIII Corps made it out of Vitebsk, it would have been rounded up with the rest of 4th and 9th Army in the pocket around Minsk.

    With Vasilevsky and Zhukov on the job, given the depolyments and doctrines in place, the writing was on the wall for Army group Center months before D-Day. The only thing that might have prevented it would have been the evacuation of Army Group North from the Baltic and a flatfront withdrawal to the Berezina. And that simply wasn’t in the operational cards.

  46. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    You’re right that Hitler made it impossible for AG Center to mount a sane defense, but it’s also true that the Wehrmacht lacked the armored forces it needed for counter-attack because they were being held in the West to oppose the invasion of France, & had been moved there in expectation of the landings.

    As you know, the Red Army paused on the Vistula to let the Germans destroy the Polish Home Army in its Warsaw Uprising, in August to October.

  47. milodonharlani says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm (Edit)

    Only if doctine had been handed over to the Wehrmacht. Which was not a happening thing. Even if they had defeated the initial invasion, Heersgruppen B & D would have had to remain largely intact in France. Besides, thanks the the NRO, the Germans had lost all operational initiative.

    The overall strategic situation of HG North and Center was hopeless to the point where no number of reinforcements would have turned the tide — there would have just been that many more prisoners in the Bagration op.

    Yes, there would have been more for the Russian front had there been no WAllied presence on the ground. But I don’t think it would have made any material difference. Not in light of German doctrine at the time. And the Luftwaffe had been badly flattened in the month before D-Day. And if the invasion had failed, the bombing campaign would still have continued, so there would have been no significant diversion to the east.

    And it’s a lot further from Minsk to Berlin than from Berlin to Paris.

  48. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    About 50 miles as the crow flies, but the terrain is less favorable to the offense, unless you detour over the North German Plain, lengthening your route & making river crossings tougher. On a more direct route, you have the Fulda Gap, river valleys, hills & forests with which to deal.

    Patton might not have been able to resist hitting the Russians in their vulnerable flank to cut off their advanced formations.

    Just kidding. Sort of.

  49. You’re right that Hitler made it impossible for AG Center to mount a sane defense, but it’s also true that the Wehrmacht lacked the armored forces it needed for counter-attack because they were being held in the West to oppose the invasion of France, & had been moved there in expectation of the landings.

    Yes, like the IPCC, Hitler was relying far to much on Model output . . .

    But what good would a counterattack have been? 3Pz, 4th, and the better half of 9th Army were beyond rescue barely a week after the operation began. And when Model did manage to crack open a corridor between HG Center and HG North, rather than extricate HG North OUT, Hitler sent two divisions IN.

    As you know, the Red Army paused on the Vistula to let the Germans destroy the Polish Home Army in its Warsaw Uprising, in August to October.

    That’s still somewhat controversial. But, yes, I think that is the truth of it. They followed up around Lvov, and then dealt the death blow in Rumania. Between July and September of 1944, the Germans lost as many men on the eastern front as they had during the entire war up to that point. The true crash came abruptly and quickly.

    Vasilevsky was the true hero. But Vasily never gets the cred that Zuk gets, even today when we know better. Zuk even gets primary credit for Stalingrad, when in reality he was getting the snot kicked out of him around Rzev (Op. Mars). But for Vasily, who co-planned — and carried out — the battle of Stalingrad? Nothing. (And don’t be telling me Mars was a “diversion”. That’s commie propaganda. Mars was supposed to be the main event — with Stalingrad as the diversion.)

  50. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Model was if anything even less useful than the models.

    Staff weenies only get credit if they carry out the plan as well as make it, like Manstein. Or maybe Wedemeyer, although his plan for cross-Channel invasion in ’43 was given the kibosh.

    Thank God we had the Germans on our side, like Ike, Wedemeyer & Nimitz. Not to mention Oppenheimer & Einstein.

  51. About 50 miles as the crow flies, but the terrain is less favorable to the offense,

    One has to consider that once Berlin is taken out, the rest of the way to Paris will no longer be seriously contested.

    As much as I admire Patton, if he had been as injudicious as to take on the Sovs, there would likely have been a second Dunkirk. The beastly Sovs outnumbered us 5 to 1 on the ground. They did not have to supply by sea. They were (by that time) better than we were man-far-man, had vastly superior tanks (and many more of them deployed), and a tactical airforce to match the WAllies (our huge strat air being near-useless for purposes of fighting Russia at the time).

  52. Model was if anything even less useful than the models.

    He is a bit overrated, I agree. They say he used to love visiting the front, schmoozing with the frontline troops — and leaving organizational disaster in his wake. And he certainly got nowhere at Kursk (not that he really could have). But he did (arguably) almost singlehandedly save 4th and 9th Armies from encirclement and destruction during the battle of Moscow.

    Thank God we had the Germans on our side, like Ike, Wedemeyer & Nimitz. Not to mention Oppenheimer & Einstein.

    And von Braun, afterwards. (Not that he was a particularly nice person, or anything.)

  53. I confess I have a wargamer’s tendency to view WII as a titanic 4-year struggle between Germany and the Soviets with a bit of unimportant stuff going on around the edges.

    Not that I haven’t studied the rest, or anything.

    But when I was teaching “my Russians” English as a second language, they would ask me about WWII because they knew their history was one Big Lie. I was in the fortunate position to tell them that the one thing their history did get straight was the scope of their contribution to WWII. And not to let one undereducated American lout dare to take away one iota of the glory they deserved.

  54. Keep up the good work, I’m here in Normandy and it was cool clear and sunny.
    Just packing my 92 year old father/d-day vet around to see the sights.

  55. What they were doing, is dropping chaff, at a groundspeed of 10 knots, that looked like a huge invasion force of ships heading for Calais.

    As Hitler was prone to that prejudice, this was highly effective. 15th Army (twice as large as 7th) did not get into the game for weeks as a result. This led directly to the Falaise disaster, and even the Germans had to admit the jig was up. Interestingly, it is said Patton wanted to invade at Calais, which would, in my view, have been a very serious mistake.

  56. milodonharlani says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm (Edit)

    You mentioned Fulda. That is telling. (It betrays postwar knowledge at the mudslogger-level.)

  57. If they got it wrong the Allies might have lost tens of thousands of men and World War II might have been lost forever.

    Had D-Day failed, the casualties could have been catastrophic, but the war has already been lost by the Germans on the Eastern front, on the seas, and in the skies. Meanwhile, American development of the A-bomb continued. If D-Day had failed, the first use of the bomb may have been against Berlin and not Hiroshima.

  58. Evanmjones

    Were ‘your Russians’ aware that they were allied to the Germans in the first years of the war and exchanged supplies with them?This was as a result of a non aggression pact signed in August 1939 by Stalin when they carved up Europe between the two countries. It was hitlers treachery against russia in june 1941 that caused russia to come over to the allies when they then fought with great courage and sacrifice. The numbers of Russians killed was far in excess of the rest of the allies.

    Are they also aware of the tremendous allied effort to keep them supplied via the northern sea route in 1941 and 1942? My neighbour was on the convoys which he says was terrifying as regards german attacks on them, but fortunately the arctic had melted since the 1920′s which allowed the northern route to become an effective supply route. He says the Russians were extremely unfriendly and after delivery of their goods they were not allowed to stay in the city but encouraged to leave as soon as possible.Ironically years later the Russians recognised the bravery of those manning the convoys long before the British govt which took until the last year before awarding the convoy troops medals.

    Tonyb

  59. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    IMO Germany west of Berlin would have been ferociously contested, if by some miracle Germany had stayed in the war, fighting the Russians while letting the British & US advance at will.

    The Red Army did not outnumber the western Allies 5-1 on the ground in Europe. Ike commanded 90 US, UK & other Allied divisions. I don’t know off the top of my head how many Red Army divisions were in Europe in May 1945, but I suppose around 400 rifle & 40 tank. Each Allied division at full strength was over half again as large as a Soviet rifle division, most if not all of which were under-manned. Corps & Army level strengths were also in favor of the West. I’d like to see the actual figures, if available, but IMO ground forces would have been closer than five to one.

    Correct me if wrong, but I’m going to guess some two million Western Allied ground forces in Italy & NW Europe in May 1945 to maybe five to six million Soviet effectives there, including allies, many of whom would be needed to occupy Eastern Europe.

    Terrain in western Germany south of the NGP favors the defense. Without US vehicles, the Red Army would have been practically immobile, especially given a severe shortage of horses.

    T-34 was overall better than but not vastly superior to Sherman (especially Firefly), not that I’m a big fan of M4 (Patton’s mistake not to recommend cutting back on production in favor of Pershing). Russians liked Sherman’s radios, for instance, which Soviet tanks lacked. And we had Pershings in the pipeline. The Red Army was down to fewer than 10,000 tanks on VE Day, about equal to the number of diesel Shermans we sent them.

    Soviet tactical aviation was pretty good, but IMO would have been rapidly destroyed by ours. It wasn’t used to operating against vast air fleets of fighters & fighter-bombers, let alone medium bombers. Individual a/c were good, but lacking in important ways compared to Western equivalents, where they existed. Pe-2 & Il-2, much as I admire them, among best of class in the war, would have been sitting ducks, & Yaks & La-5/7s just would not have cut it against Western in-line & round engine fighters. General standard of aircrew & maintenance was also in WAllies’ favor.

    Our strategic air force would have been far from useless. Indeed, it would have been highly useful for cutting off the Red Army in Germany from its supplies, & could be deployed against mass formations of ground troops. Our navy could have entered the Baltic & Black Seas. American artillery fuses & fire control were from another planet compared to the Russians’.

    The Red Army was infinitely more dependent on supplies from us than we were from them.

    The approximately two million German PoWs in Western custody would have been more eager to fight for us than those still alive in Russian hands.

    Besides which, by July ’45 we had the Bomb & the means to deliver it long distances, & they didn’t.

  60. Michael Palmer on June 6, 2014 at 9:03 am


    Had D-day failed, the one real difference in outcome would have been that most of continental Europe would have come under Russian control. D-day was mostly about reigning in Russia, not about defeating Germany.

    That made it even more important for civilization and democracy that DDay did not fail, and makes its heros doubly so.

  61. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    In another life, I was a Cold War Soviet Army analyst. My buddies were the boots & tracks on the ground covering the Gap & driving over German flower gardens on maneuvers.

    I know what our battle plans, tactical, operational & strategic, were & am confident they would have worked at every level. We knew the enemy & knew ourselves. Not that I don’t have the greatest respect for Russian & Ukrainian fighting men & their leaders’ military doctrine, from which I learned much.

  62. “””””….milodonharlani says:

    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    IMO Germany west of Berlin would have been ferociously contested, if by some miracle Germany had stayed in the war, fighting the Russians while letting the British & US advance at will.

    The Red Army did not outnumber the western Allies 5-1 on the ground in Europe. …..”””””

    Well the Russians were not exactly lacking in some equipment.

    The Sturmovik, was produced in greater numbers, than any other aircraft in aviation history.

    Not such a bad machine for the time either.

  63. george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Il-2 flew low & slow. Although armored against ground fire, it would have been dead meat for US & UK fighters. Without fighter cover, it was practically defenseless, despite rear gunner, who was often a condemned man from a penal battalion. For most of the war, the Luftwaffe never had enough fighters in the East.

  64. PS: In those instances in which US fighters accidentally attacked Russian a/c or ground forces or were attacked by the Red Air Force in 1945, the Soviets lost. Badly. The best known incidents involved P-38s over Romania. You’d think that Yaks would have an advantage in a dogfight with twin-engined, high altitude interceptor/escort fighters, but they lost, anyway, despite superior numbers.

  65. In regard to the second half of WW2 there was no need for either the Allied leaders then, or commenters now, to have the slightest shame in admitting that it was a sensible and moral choice to deliberately let Hitler and Stalin fight it out. Shyness in the face of Russian evil was and is not needed. Stalin’s regime was the most ugly evil and viscious tyranny to ever curse humankind – far worse than Hitler. It was a towering edifice of sadistic brutality built on a towering edifice of lies and self-deceit. That the twin fascist regimes of communist Russia and nazi Germany did such damage to each other was the best possible outcome of WW2.

  66. The Met Office’s own account can be found here http://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/hist03.pdf
    and a more personal account of some of the travails involved in getting the meteorological data can be found here http://www.oldnautibits.com/features/aerofeature5.php .
    My own father was forecasting for Bomber Command’s Path Finder Force in East Anglia at the time, and he admitted that he was glad he didn’t have to do the Met Flights for D-Day, as they were arduous and dangerous.

  67. The “model” I played (Pacific General with user-made European add-ons) proves that whatever side I was on would have won….provided reality provided a save game and redo.

  68. Don’t forget the Man Who Saved D-Day:

    His name was Juan Pujol Garcia, a failed chicken farmer from Barcelona who became — with his MI5 case officer, Tommy Harris — the perpetrator of a massive ruse against the Nazis. J.C. Masterman, who ran Britain’s Twenty Committee (as in XX, for double cross) during the war, remarked that what Pujol achieved was “for connoisseurs of the double cross … The most highly developed example of their art.” Pujol’s greatest success was persuading the German High Command that the invasion of Normandy was essentially a feint, the prelude to a major attack on Calais to the northeast. This caused them to withhold troops from the battle, a mistake that both Erwin Rommel and Dwight D. Eisenhower regarded as decisive to the Allies’ success.

  69. A shedload of “What ifs” here.
    My father was in uniform then – indeed, my mother was, too!
    What if – well maybe,
    but history happened.

    There were some very brave individuals – on each side.

    I favour leaving this at this.

    Auto.

  70. “””””…..milodonharlani says:

    June 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

    george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

    We suffered over 2000 casualties on Omaha Beach, not fatalities. Besides our heavy losses on Omaha, casualties were also high among the two US airborne divisions, over 2000 casualities, IIRC. Utah, as noted, got off easy on June 6, with fewer than 200 dead (but dozens missing). However, it suffered disastrously in training.

    Iwo was Marines, not GIs. Marines don’t like to be lumped in with “doggies”, although they sometimes are……”””””

    Well, as I said at the outset, I wasn’t there. So I can only report what I can read. And at no time did I intentionally post anything about “casualties.”

    The source I most recall, said 2500 US at Omaha and 4,000 total allied , and that report was fatalities.

    As for Army, Marines, Airmen, US Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, I can’t say it ever occurred to me to ask one of them what they were.

    Playing baseball on our school footie field, or sitting on the lap of one of them in a tent watching Errol Flynn swashbuckling movies, it really didn’t seem important to me at the time. I can’t even tell you the name of the chap whose lap I sat on. Well his last name was Jim, but I’m not allowed to tell you what I called him; they said that was his name.

    Didn’t really matter to me, whether he came by helicopter or shanks’ pony; just glad he was there, and hoped he made it home.

  71. “””””…..milodonharlani says:

    June 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Il-2 flew low & slow. Although armored against ground fire, it would have been dead meat for US & UK fighters. Without fighter cover, it was practically defenseless, despite rear gunner, …..”””””

    Thought you were talking about a B-17.

    Stuka was low and slow too.

    I didn’t say it was any air superiority machine; just that they could build a lot of them.

    RAF also had plenty of low and slows too; and tailgunners. Fairey Aviation Works comes to mind.

    And the Bismark never succeeded in downing even one Fairey Swordfish, with all their fire power.

    I guess you use what you’ve got.

  72. Actually, that weather forecast almost proved to be the doom of D-Day. Had D-Day not gone that day, the next possible favorable date would have been in early July. On D-Day, bombers could not see the coastal defenses due to cloud cover, their bombs overshot the German defenses and landed well beyond them leaving them mostly unscathed. Shortly after the invasion, Normandy experienced one of its wettest spells in modern history. The hedgerows were turned into quagmires. On June 19th, one of the worst storms in living memory struck the beachhead and nearly completely wiped out logistics operations setting operations back for weeks.

    Had the invasion been delayed a month, they would have landed in calm sunny weather with effective air support with a long sunny dry spell before them. Overall, they would have likely defeated the Germans quicker and sustained fewer casualties had the operation been delayed until July 7-9 which was the next “window” for an invasion if they didn’t go on June 6. They would not have lost gear swamped in heavy surf, pre-invasion bombardment would have been more effective, and there would not have been the massive losses of ammunition, supplies, and the loss of an entire debarkation port as happened on June 19.

    That “good” weather forecast for June 6 was very nearly the doom of the invasion.

  73. george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Estimates of Allied dead on D-Day range from 2500 to 4000 (as per your recollection), with casualties from under 9000 to 10,000 (until recently usual figure was 9000 casualties & 3000 killed). But fewer than 2500 were KIA on Omaha, although that bloody beach did suffer a high killed to wounded ratio. That’s close to the number of casualties suffered by the two US airborne divisions & the total US KIA or died of wounds.

    A buddy of mine works at the US D-Day Memorial & participated in the study cited below, from the British D-Day Museum. The US Memorial however cites a different number, however:

    http://www.dday.org/

    “The D-Day cost was high with more than 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded as the march across Europe to defeat Hitler began.”

    The British D-Day Musuem says this:

    “The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2,500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2,700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6,603 Americans. However recent painstaking research by the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation has achieved a more accurate – and much higher – figure for the Allied personnel who were killed on D-Day. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2,499 American D-Day fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2,500 dead). Further research may mean that these numbers will increase slightly in future. The details of this research will in due course be available on the Foundation’s website at http://www.dday.org. This new research means that the casualty figures given for individual units in the next few paragraphs are no doubt inaccurate, and hopefully more accurate figures will one day be calculated.

    “Casualties on the British beaches were roughly 1,000 on Gold Beach and the same number on Sword Beach. The remainder of the British losses were amongst the airborne troops: some 600 were killed or wounded, and 600 more were missing; 100 glider pilots also became casualties. The losses of 3rd Canadian Division at Juno Beach have been given as 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner.

    “The breakdown of US casualties was 1,465 dead, 3,184 wounded, 1,928 missing and 26 captured. Of the total US figure, 2,499 casualties were from the US airborne troops (238 of them being deaths). The casualties at Utah Beach were relatively light: 197, including 60 missing. However, the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2,000 casualties at Omaha Beach.”

    Working backwards: 1465 – (238 AB + 197 Utah) = 1030 for Omaha, without the missing (some of whom were killed). I’ll grant that sounds too few. But as a portion of total dead of 2500 to 4000, maybe not.

    In any case, glad you have fond memories of GIs in England.

    [And add the associated air campaigns above Normandy and its deception areas, and all of the merchant sailors lost getting the material to England ... .mod]

  74. phlogiston says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Michael Palmer on June 6, 2014 at 9:03 am


    Had D-day failed, the one real difference in outcome would have been that most of continental Europe would have come under Russian control. D-day was mostly about reigning in Russia, not about defeating Germany.

    That made it even more important for civilization and democracy that DDay did not fail, and makes its heros doubly so.

    ==========================

    I reacted to statements in the original post and in comments.

    But I didn’t intend to distract from the valor of all involved with D-Day, nor the importance of their mission. As you guys said, the invasion of western Europe limited the territorial gains of the Soviets. In addition, our making significant penetration into western Germany enabled us to capture rocketeers and nuclear physicists, which limited the Soviets gain of knowledge, knowledge that was critical in the Cold War.

    When I was young, I often heard that we won the space race because our Germans were better than the Soviets’ Germans.

  75. george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Yes, echoing Rumsfeld.

    Stuka continued to be used in the East after it became obsolete in the West. See Hans-Ulrich Rudel.

    Sadly, many British a/c were, as you note, also archaic at the start of the war, & others designed too vulnerable for their mission later in it, witness the Typhoon. Swordfish is a wonderful, loveable a/c, even if it did give the IJN the idea for Pearl Harbor. But the Lanc, Mosquie & Spit make up for a multitude of sins.

  76. “””””……milodonharlani says:

    June 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    george e. smith says:
    June 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Yes, echoing Rumsfeld……”””””

    Well the definitive book on the sinking of Bismark, shows that the success of the Swordfish, from Ark Royal, was almost entirely due to their low and slow weakness.

    The Bismark fire control people completely misread how damned slow the Fairey Swordfish was, as they came in for their apparently suicidal torpedo attacks, and as the planes approached, they closed down their timed fuze ranges too quickly, with the result that their shells went off well in front of the approaching planes, so not a one got hit. I believe at least one got lost and didn’t find its way back to Ark Royal, so it went in the drink.

    The bad part of the Bismark story, was that Sheffield had to interrupt its rescue of the Bismark crew, and take off to avoid a U-boat, that got called into the area, by another U-boat that had already spent its last torpedo sinking some convoy ship, so just had to sit and watch Bismark go down, and eventually most of her crew, left in the water, when Sheffield left.

    As they say, war is hell.

    And by the way, part of my E-mail handle, is Seafang. Typhoons were pretty rough on tanks. Still love that Napier Sabre sleeve valve engine.

  77. As for the “What if Ike Told Patton to Take Berlin” Game:

    Hmm. I have my prejudices about all this. The reason I say 5-1 is that is closer to what I think actual fighting strength was. US was extremely heavy on staff and a division was a burnt-out shell with 20% losses. The Soviets were “not so heavy” on staff. High on the combat side. Even the commissars led a rough life. Both sides very scrappy. But they have (much) experience on us and a much greater tolerance for losses. And fives times as many actual men in the actual field holding actual guns instead of pencils.

    Speaking of tanks, we shipped them a number of Shermans, and yes, what they liked about them the most was the radios. Some of them made fine command tanks and at least one division was all-Sherman. Only one in ten Soviet medium tanks had radios. The Germans had them in optics, too, but the Germans were better at that than we were, as well.

    At the end, they were heavy in T34/85s, which will eat any model Sherman for lunch. Not even to mention the KV and JS series. Ironically, the Sovs became better in their tactical deployment than the Germans who, for all their radios, had a bewildering tendency to lead with their tanks, even as late as Kursk.

    I don’t think the Soviets would have had to win in the air, just defend adequately. I think they could have done it easily enough. They had been destroyed in 1941 and had been built up from scratch and had to survive at the wrong end of bad odds for over two long years. They damnwell knew how not to get wiped out, which is something we would have to do in order to have even a chance at winning. It’s very bad on the loss ratio, when your guys are mostly bailing out over enemy-held territory.

    Besides, the Sovs had just beat a German Army that was much bigger (not to say better) than we were. What makes you think we could have taken on an opponent anywhere near that size? One which is far more okay with taking losses than we ever were. Vasily had been sent out east by then, but you still have the other three outstanding commanders (Zuk, Kon, and Rok) on hand. Matched up against Brad and Devers. And yes, I know about the terrain.

  78. I don’t believe the idea was to actually fight the soviets at that point as much as Patton was complaining about stopping at the Elbe and not advancing farther even though the Russians had not yet reached Berlin. Eisenhower ordered a halt at the Elbe River on April 12, nearly a month before the Russians got to Berlin.

  79. Were ‘your Russians’ aware that they were allied to the Germans in the first years of the war and exchanged supplies with them?

    Come to think of it, the Russians and the Germans were in bed from 1922. Beautiful friendship. They invented the Blitzkrieg together. But there is no love without betrayal. For that matter, Stalin would have sold them out in 1935 if the British had been willing to play ball.

    There was at least one Estonian. Couple of Ukrainians, one of whom was a child in Kiev during the war. Her comment was, “German soldiers gave candy,” and I was forcibly reminded of von Kleist and his fate. So, yeah, that and worse. This was just before the breakup.

    And one old staunch babushka, about 70 at the time, and Georgian, too, the de facto matriarch of the lot, came out with. “Stalin I miss. He give us order.” There was an outbreak of shocked whispering all around the room, as she stared them down defiantly.

    Another old soldier, also a veteran of the Great War, told about how he was asleep in the desert and woke up to find a huge black snake curled up on his chest. He said he didn’t move a muscle for two hours. Then the sun came out and the snake slooooowly uncurled and went away. I asked him when this was. He said 1954. I asked where. He said Iran. (Iran?, Yes, Iran.) So I said weren’t you guys supposed to be out of there by that time? He just smiled.

  80. I don’t believe the idea was to actually fight the soviets at that point as much as Patton was complaining about stopping at the Elbe and not advancing farther even though the Russians had not yet reached Berlin. Eisenhower ordered a halt at the Elbe River on April 12, nearly a month before the Russians got to Berlin.

    Yes (in public), but he would have been just fine with a war. (His autobio is terribly frustrating — freakin’ travelogue, mostly.) And he was the best we had for what we needed to fight the Germans. Of all of them, even better than Brad, Patton understood that once you have gone to all the trouble to knock a foe down you must not on any account let him back on his feet. Zhukov operated much in the same fashion. But first you have to knock him down, and that’s what cost Zuk his greatest defeats (Mars and Seelowe).

    But against the Russians, after day 3, I’ll put my chips on Brad.

  81. When I was young, I often heard that we won the space race because our Germans were better than the Soviets’ Germans.

    Von Braun was “helpful”.

  82. milodonharlani says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm (Edit)

    In another life, I was a Cold War Soviet Army analyst. My buddies were the boots & tracks on the ground covering the Gap & driving over German flower gardens on maneuvers.

    I thought I caught a whif of postwar. And there you were, right at the schwerpunkt, at that. (Thank you for my freedom.)

  83. That “good” weather forecast for June 6 was very nearly the doom of the invasion.

    Hard to say. The Falaise encirclement was a huge windfall that would likely not have occurred had the situation been altered.

  84. He says the Russians were extremely unfriendly and after delivery of their goods they were not allowed to stay in the city but encouraged to leave as soon as possible.

    They were lucky. The Russians made not of few of them disappear. Murmansk was a hellish trip, and it was within air interdiction of Norway (shades of convoy PQ17, which ended the effort). Not to mention Tirpitz and Scharnhorst. In the end, the bulk of lend lease did not make it through until July 1943 when the Tehran route was opened. In a few months, a large portion of Soviet infantry became motorized.

  85. “In the end, the bulk of lend lease did not make it through until July 1943 when the Tehran route was opened.”

    The path through Iran is one of the most underrated factors in WWII in most of the common histories taught to the masses. With the Caucuses in flames, Iran turned out to be the source of oil that Russia needed to wage war. Now had we gone to war with Russia, that oil would have likely been cut off. But for what strategic reason would we want to conquer Russia? At most we would have likely just wanted them back to their pre-war border and out of eastern Europe but there would probably be no limiting it once it started. I believe we would have won a military confrontation eventually but I am not sure we would win the peace that followed. Things turned out ok, it just too another 50 years.

  86. All in all a fine post and a fine series of comments and conjectures.

    We have so many reasons to be thankful for all those who strove during the Second WW.

    But isn’t it a pitiful commentary on humanity, or the lack thereof, that 100 million (in all of WWII) or so souls lost their life because of political and/or religious beliefs, or ethnic descent?

    One wonders if we, as a species have really learned much from the history of such sacrifice.

  87. Well, Maikop was toast. But they never made it to Baku (or even Grozny). I just think that by 1945 the Russian army was too big and too good for us to beat. I think they would have hit us for six if we’d tried.

  88. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    My son is in Russia currently. He works for an auxiliary of the American Embassy in the commissary. The fifth generation of our family in the grocery business for at least part of his life. The first of those generations were butchers in Russia. Part of our family did really well as butchers in America. Omaha Steaks. I’m just a poor relation though.

    My son teaches Russians English in his spare time.

  89. M Simon says:
    June 7, 2014 at 12:15 am

    My sincere thanks for you, your family, and your son’s service in getting me (yes, ME personally!) the daily food we need.
    But, I must confess, I really hate eating and the energy and bother and effort it causes each day. 8<)

    If I had my preference, I'd be able to eat once, and be done with it for the rest for the day/week/year/lifetime. Why waste time and effort doing something over and over again, only to need to eat again the next day? For no real gain! There has GOT to be a better way to do things. 8<)

  90. When I was young, I often heard that we won the space race because our Germans were better than the Soviets’ Germans.

    I recall hearing that as well. A LOT. I was just short of 18 when Kennedy made his “go to the moon” speech.

  91. I just think that by 1945 the Russian army was too big and too good for us to beat. I think they would have hit us for six if we’d tried.

    Maybe. But they were tired. As were the Western Allies. And we Americans and Brits and Aussies and the NZ boys had a war in the Pacific to deal with that was estimated to last another year. The Jews (mostly) of los Alamos probably shortened the war by 9 months and a million (estimated) casualties.

    My dad was in that war. On a gasoline taker. The battle of Okinawa. Kamikazes. Fortunately Japanese strategy was to fight warships and not logistics. His ship AOG-27 Escatawpa.

  92. “evanmjones says:

    June 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I just think that by 1945 the Russian army was too big and too good for us to beat. I think they would have hit us for six if we’d tried.”

    Size of the force was not the determining factor. Supplies and an army not prepared for ~40 below ZERO CENTIGRADE temperatures. Diesel froze in tanks and injectors. The Germans did not understand that, to “save” a vehicle, you needed to run the engine 24×7. The Germans, with Hitler commited beyond capacity, could not supply suitable material on the Eastern front, the African front etc. And failed as we know.

    Stalin killed more people than in both world wars. Even more than ‘Flu after WW1. Lets not talk about Mao, 50mil (est).

  93. I am not sure D-day was such a success. Landing was forced, to be sure, with overwhelming superiority and light losses, but allied troops were bottled up in Normandy for 2 critical months. That’s when Central Europe went to hell for 5 decades.

    It was only General Patton who had proper fighting spirit, but he was kept out of battle for too long.

    So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
    Let’s take a chance now that we have the ball.
    Let’s forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces,
    Let’s shoot the works and win! Yes, win it all!

  94. ” The Germans had been caught by surprise, and the tide of World War II began to turn.”

    The tide in the European theatre had turned in 1942, when the Germans were defeated at El Alamein and (more importantly) Stalingrad.

  95. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Von Braun was “helpful”.

    ==========

    It was more than von Braun, though he gets the credit. Our Goddard, the “Father of Modern Rocketry,” was playing with toys while the Germans were weaponizing rockets. The difference was in the Germans’ team approach. Their rocketeers had worked together as hobbyists, then as professionals, learning together and working out problems together. Our Goddard was a loner, and wouldn’t even listen to his assistant’s suggestions. Bankrolled by Lindbergh, our government stayed out of it, as they thought rocket development was in good hands, and it wasn’t costing them anything – critical during the First Great Depression. The U.S. was absolutely shocked by the V-2. In a different set of circumstances, such as Germany developing an atomic bomb, Goddard could have lost us the war. Yet we name our Space Flight Center for him. I would rather it be named for Capt. Robert Truax.

  96. I think the most important weather forecast in history was the one that the Nazi Meteorological Office issued in 1942 which said. ‘Go for it Adolf, we’ve had a succession of very mild winters recently, you’ll be in Moscow by Christmas’!

  97. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    You are welcome. Hope Europe makes better use of its freedom in future than so far. Same goes for us since fall of the USSR. Having been in Afghanistan in 2005, I’m not as optimistic as I was in the 1980s about the odds for freedom.

  98. My son teaches Russians English in his spare time.

    I never spoke a word. They didn’t want their advanced students nattering away in Russian as the teach showed off his Russian. They wanted to force them to communicate in English. They wanted someone who knew English backward and forward (and it didn’t hurt that I knew the hot WWII Eastern cities, I think).

    They were good times. I brought in Monopoly sets and we had “Capitalism Day”. (Fines for speaking in anything but English strictly enforced.) They also play-acted “Twelve Angry Men” (original TV-script version) — and they all voted “guilty” . . .

  99. Hope Europe makes better use of its freedom in future than so far.

    Yet they’ve done worse.

    Same goes for us since fall of the USSR. Having been in Afghanistan in 2005, I’m not as optimistic as I was in the 1980s about the odds for freedom.

    There will be ups and downs. It’s a work in progress.

  100. Our first thoughts should be of thanks to the men you served in that fight for freedom and especially to those who lost their life or were maimed, physically or mentally.

    A few thoughts on the ‘what-if’ questions.
    As a reader of history, but by no means an expert, my understanding is that D-Day was a very close run things and that quite late on the day Eisenhower prepared two statements for the press, one for success (which was issued) and one for failure.
    So I am far from sure that a month’s delay would have beneficial. If the Germans had got any sort of idea of where the invasion was actually to take place and moved extra troops there, then it could have been a failure.

    If the invasion had failed then maybe the invasion of southern France would have gone ahead but whether it would have been as successful (with troops available to be transferred there) is unlikely.

    And the ability of the Allies to mount another invasion of northern France must also be questionable. Churchill’s work in getting the US to agree to the the invasions of North Africa, Sicily & Italy are, I believe, to be generally accepted as being largely because he knew how weak Britain was and that it could only commit a large army to the invasion of France once. On D-Day, the British Army was at its peak size but reducing quite rapidly thereafter, there were nowhere near enough new men available to replace those that were lost.

    Britain supplied roughly half of the troops for D-Day. If Britain lost (dead, wounded & captured) another 60,000+ men in a failed D-Day (as it did in the Battle of France) plus a huge amount of equipment, it is questionable how much she would have been able to contribute to a second invasion. Would the US have staged another invasion if Britain could only supply, say, 10% of the troops?

    On the matter of effectiveness of the, primarily, US/UK forces compares to the Soviet forces. In Six Armies in Normandy John Keegan looks at the numbers and concludes that the US/UK forces were more effective, as in 1,000s of Germans defeated per 10,000 of Allied troops deployed.

    IIRC some of that is because of the quality of weapons available (some Soviet ones were excellent but a lot were poor) and the some because of the physical abilities of the troops. Central planning in the Soviet Union had created numerous shortages in the 20s & 30s and so lots of the troops had poor physique from childhood malnutrition. Hence the Soviets had to have a huge numerical advantage in order to defeat the Germans.

  101. James Bolivar DiGriz says:
    June 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Our first thoughts should be of thanks to the men you served in that fight for freedom and especially to those who lost their life or were maimed, physically or mentally.

    ====================================================================
    Amen to that.
    Whatever might have been going on behind the scenes, those guys weren’t concerned with the “what-ifs”. They were concerned with the “what-nows”.
    What are we going to do with our “what now”?

  102. James Bolivar DiGriz says:
    June 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Thanks for sharing your intriguing ideas, James. It has been said that Churchill intended to fight to the last American (!).

    “Hence the Soviets had to have a huge numerical advantage in order to defeat the Germans.”

    Which they did. The Battle of the Kursk Salient in summer, 1943, found the Soviets toying with the Germans. They knew of Operation Citadel, and had prepared intricate defenses, yet the Germans still killed Soviets 5 to 1. The Soviets had them to lose; the Germans didn’t.

    The Soviets had 3 armies standing by while the Germans slugged it out against the entrenched defenders. It was not until the Great Tank Battle at Prokhorovka had swung the tide of battle that the Soviets cut lose the 3 armies.

    Germany was too small a country to get involved in a war of attrition with the Soviets.

  103. Some of the comments are a little silly. Of course if D-Day would have failed he would still have won the war. He had – or were soon to have – the A bomb. Most of our Jewish nuclear physicists at Los Alamos wanted to drop it on Germany not Japan. If the invasion had floundered, the war would have continued long enough for them to get their wish.

    We were sending daylight bombers to Berlin by this time. The raids of 1944 were much less opposed than those of 1943. Germany was losing the war of attrition. They couldn’t stop an A Bomb on Berlin or any other place we might choose.

    The principal point of the bombings was in fact D-Day. The explicit goal of Operation Point Blank was to clear the skies of German planes by D-Day. And that goal was met. There were almost no Nazi aircraft overhead on D-Day.

    But D-0day was very, very important. The Germans had run the Brits out of France. The Brits had tried a sort of practice invasion at Dieppe and again been run off the continent. Our side needed a victory badly.

  104. evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    When I was young, I often heard that we won the space race because our Germans were better than the Soviets’ Germans.

    Von Braun was “helpful”.
    I’m sure Werner thought Robert Goddard a big help.
    The German’s started with Goddard’s liquid fueled rocket patents.

  105. “””””…..Patrick L. Boyle says:

    June 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Some of the comments are a little silly. Of course if D-Day would have failed he would still have won the war. He had – or were soon to have – the A bomb. Most of our Jewish nuclear physicists at Los Alamos wanted to drop it on Germany not Japan. If the invasion had floundered, the war would have continued long enough for them to get their wish. …..”””””

    Not sure just who YOUR “our side”, was.

    Do YOU have any authenticated statement by any named one of “Most of our Jewish nuclear physicists”, to support your assertion.? What makes you think they were all nuclear physicists.? You don’t really need a nuclear physicist to build an A-bomb. Some very good technologists; but the nuclear physics part of the puzzle was well understood, ahead of time.

    As I recall, it was Japan, that attacked the USA; not Germany.

    And after the desert test, there were precisely two atom bombs. Had Japan known there was NO third bomb; they simply would not have surrendered either.

    I know exactly where I was when “””…The Germans had run the Brits out of France. The Brits had tried a sort of practice invasion at Dieppe and again been run off the continent. …””””

    I also remember what “your side” was doing, at the time of Dunkirk, and also of their early successes in North Africa.

    The “trial run” for D-Day I believe resulted in more than twice the total casualties that actually occurred on Utah beach on D-Day.

    That tragic trial run, also resulted in changes of plans for the real thing.

    Nobody knows, how many lives were saved on D-Day, as a result of what was learned on that trial run.

    As they say, the best of Military plans work well; right up to the moment, that you first make contact with the enemy.

    In the end, the whole world (both sides) won.

  106. James Bolivar DiGriz says:
    June 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    German defensive specialist Heinrici figured that he could handle ten to one odds, but 11 to one became problematical.

  107. “””””…..evanmjones says:

    June 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t believe the idea was to actually fight the soviets at that point as much as Patton was complaining about stopping at the Elbe and not advancing farther even though the Russians had not yet reached Berlin. Eisenhower ordered a halt at the Elbe River on April 12, nearly a month before the Russians got to Berlin…….”””””

    If I’m not mistaken, Eisenhower simply stuck to the plan that was established by the politicians at Yalta. It was Roosevelt who went along with Stalin. Churchill had to bite his tongue; America was paying the bills.

    Churchill’s subsequent “Iron Curtain” speech made it clear he knew Yalta was a big misteak.

    And Eastern Europe could have been freed as early as 1956, when Soviet tanks waited outside Budapest for ten days, to see what the West would do. The west did nothing, and the Hungarian uprising was crushed.

    Obama is just repeating what he read in the history books.

  108. “””””…..milodonharlani says:

    June 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    george e. smith says:
    June 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    The Manhattan Project A-bomb program was begun specifically with the German threat in mind……”””””

    Well I read the Einstein letter of August 1939. Doesn’t really describe any German A-bomb program; just Uranium.

    Neither Great Britain, nor the USA, was engaged in a war at the time with Germany; and Pearl Harbor had not yet been attacked.

    Military plans change with combat experience.

    In light of Goddard’s experiments, wouldn’t rockets (which existed for a thousand years already), have seemed more plausible than A-bombs. Chadwick only discovered the neutron in 1932.

    So why didn’t US do massive research on rockets ?

  109. george e. smith says:
    June 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Patton continued into Czechoslovakia after Ike decided not to go for Berlin. Yalta didn’t decide who would take Berlin.

    As president, Ike felt NATO lacked sufficient power in theater to come to the aid of the Hungarians.

  110. george e. smith says:
    June 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Britain & France were at war with Germany in Oct 1939.

    It took only six years after Chadwick discovered the neutron for Frisch, Hahn, Strassmann & Meitner to achieve fission. In fact, they only started work on the problem in 1935.

    Szilard had the idea for a nuclear chain reaction while waiting for a street light in Bloomsbury in 1933.

    Based upon the evidence cited in the letter, Sachs specifically warned FDR that the Germans were working on an A-bomb, which in fact they were. That’s why he ordered the army, navy & other departments to investigate the issue, which led to the Manhattan Project, relying heavily on European immigrants. Unfortunately, at least one of them was a Soviet spy, but then so were some of the Americans.

  111. And Eastern Europe could have been freed as early as 1956, when Soviet tanks waited outside Budapest for ten days, to see what the West would do. The west did nothing, and the Hungarian uprising was crushed.

    The west was deeply divided over the Suez Crisis at that time, with no chance of action whatsoever in Europe, even if the Soviet army had no right to stay in Hungary any longer after the Austrian State Treaty, not to mention waging war on the country. See an American perspective on that.

    However, the real message was already delivered in 1945, when the US failed to take Prague which could have been done with no fight at all and the western allies miserably abandoned a true ally, Poland, the original casus belli altogether to one of the aggressors.

  112. Patrick L. Boyle says:
    June 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    You are correct. By June, 1944, the Luftwaffe was out of the war. Except for the massive Krupp/Goering AAA effort. My father was a B-24 pilot, deployed to England in early 1945. He said he never saw a German plane in the air. But he saw lots of flak. He feared it terribly.
    The Germans did not run out of planes; they ran out of pilots.

  113. The postponement of the invasion was one of two 11th hour decisions that Ike had to make. The other, less well known, had to do with the deployment of the Airborne troops behind Utah and Omaha beaches.

    As time for the invasion drew close Ike’s chief Air Commander, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, became ever more pessimistic about the chances for success of the planned airborne operations in the American sectors. He had protested the plan for the use of the airborne troops back in April and with the invasion looming his doubts and fears for their fate became even more pronounced. So on May 30th, he approached Ike and let his fears be known once again. He feared that the two fine American Airborne division were to be sacrificed in a “fatal slaughter” He believed the combination of unsuitable landing grounds and the anticipated resistance would be just too much for the troops to overcome. He was thinking that casualties could run over 70%. Ike wrote later that “… Mallory was, of course earnestly sincere. He was noted for his personal courage and was merely giving me, as was his duty, his frank convictions”.

    Everyone in high command knew the airborne operations, and in particular those in the American sector were very hazardous operations. The aircraft, some with gliders in tow, would have to avoid the invasion fleet in order to prevent a possible repeat of what had happened in Sicily.

    Their routes would take them by the channel islands where they would first be exposed to antiaircraft fire. Then they would have to fly across the Cherbourg Peninsula at less that 1,000 feet in full moon light over country where the German anti aircraft fire was normally heavy and put the troops where German units were known to be concentrated.

    The transport aircraft, C-47s and C-46s, were not armored in any way and didn’t even have self sealing fuel tanks. The British made Horsa gliders that many American units were to use were made primarily of wood and aluminum tube and the US made WACO CG-4 gliders were made of plywood, aluminum tube and canvas. Neither offered any protection. (The only glider armored for D-day was the CG-4 that carried Brig. General Pratt, Artillery commander of the 101st Abn. Div. That armored plate on the bottom of his gilder probably cost him his life as it greatly altered the flight characteristics of the glider and probably resulted in the subsequent crash in which he was killed instantly and all others in the craft killed or seriously wounded. Pratt was the highest ranking allied Casualty on D-day.)

    Ike was worried. His expert on the subject was telling him not to do it. He talked to Lt. Gen. Omar Bradly about it. Bradly told Ike “It’s [the airborne operations] risky, of course, but not half as risky as landing on Utah Beach without it….”. And that was really the bottom line. Ike thought about it overnight but it always came back to that.

    He later wrote “It would be difficult to conceive of a more soul-racking problem….. If I deliberately disregarded the advice of my technical expert on the subject, and his predictions should prove accurate, then I would carry to my grave the unbearable burden of a conscience justly accusing me of the stupid, blind sacrifice of thousands of the flower of our youth.” But in the end he agreed with Bradly that without the Airborne troops the landings on the American beaches would most likely fail. So he had to say the airborne operations go on because risking 17,000 American airborne troops lives was the only way he felt the invasion had a chance of succeeding. The next morning he picked up the telephone and rang up Chief Air Marshal Mallory, and thanking him for his concern told him the invasion would proceed as planned.

  114. “george e. smith says:

    June 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    The “trial run” for D-Day I believe resulted in more than twice the total casualties that actually occurred on Utah beach on D-Day.”

    That would have been Slapton Sands, Devon, UK, where the entire town was evacuated 6 months or so before the exercise. There is an official death count of about 1000 US army troops (This figure apparently excludes Royal/US naval personnel etc. that were involved) but the real count is still “unknown”, or still secret, as it was a monumental disaster largely due to communications issues such as transmitter frequencies and hardware breakdowns (Escort and transport ships). The transport ships had a shollow draft and were thought to be safe from German topedo boats. The Germans soon learned to tune their topedos to get around that problem and the transport ships were picked off one by one. One of the transport ships apparently was in dock for repairs and all materiel was loaded onto another transport ship, though there is no offician evidence of that however, there is no official account of the troops that were on the manifest of the docked ship that went “missing”. Another issue, or rather poor decision/communication, was the bombardment of the beach by the Royal Navy was supposed to occur 1 hour before the troops landed. Unfortunately, the beach was bombarded at the same time the troops landed. The exercise, along with US troops playing the enemy on the beach, used live ammunition. Soon after D-Day, the exercise was “forgotten”.

  115. Patrick

    I mentioned Slapton sands was above;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/06/the-weather-forecast-that-saved-d-day/#comment-1655829

    My point was that the Germans still had the capability to strike right at the heart of our military efforts. Any delay through waiting for better weather a few weeks later would certainly have resulted in the Germans becoming aware of the huge forces that had been assembled and its purpose. With such a massing of Allied troops and equipment in highly vulnerable location it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel had the attack not taken place when it did.

    tonyb

  116. “tonybclimatereason says:

    June 7, 2014 at 11:58 pm”

    Could not agree more. I am not in favour of Wiki links for an account of war events, they usually leave out some facts. I know this from accounts from mates who fought in the Falklands war.

    It was very fortunate that the Germans didn’t, seem to at least, “twig” with what was going on. It seems, from the accounts I have read, that a small group of E-boats left their base in France on a “patrol” of the English channel and “stumbled” across the activities in and arround Lyme Bay. But yes, I agree, the forecast wasn’t that good, the previous few days were horrendous weather wise in the channel, and the Allies had very little room to give the “Go” order. I don’t recall the name of the forecaster, but I’d imagine they would have been chomping at the bit all day and night before that morning.

  117. Whether D-Day weather forecaster had any serious competence to make reliable prediction prior the landing in the Normandy should be evaluated by the severe summer storm that swept the English Channel only two weeks later, which the forecaster did not expected, reckon, or are able to explain! Details: http://climate-ocean.com/2013/7_4.html

    Soon after landing troops on the shores in Normandy since 06 June 1944, an unexpected storm lashed across the English Channel on 19 June 1944 lasting three days. From Britain to France the operation and supply area for the invasion was severely affected. 800 ships and floating units were beached or lost, more than the German army managed to take out during the entire campaign. It was claimed that this was the most severe storm in June for 40 years.

    If the Met Office is so proud on its service with regard to D-Day weather forecast, it should be ashamed that the most severe storm for 40 years in the English Channel, from June 19-21, is still not fully assessed, investigated, and thoroughly explained.

  118. milodonharlani says:
    June 6, 2014 at 10:23 am
    RACookPE1978 says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    It turned out that the Americans were able to land supplies & equipment directly across the beaches after the Mulberry harbors were destroyed in the storms.

    Only one Mulberry was destroyed. The Mulberry harbour was a British invention that was developed at Churchill’s request because the failure of the Dieppe Raid by predominantly Canadian forces in 1942 showed just how difficult the D-Day landings would have been if they had taken place near any of the French ports, all of which were heavily defended. Two were built; one to supply the two British and the Canadian beach, and the other to supply the two American beaches.

    The British/Canadian Mulberry survived the storms (I think I read somewhere that the British engineers constructing it used more anchors that the American engineer did) and for a while heavy equipment for the US troops had to be landed on the British Mulberry.

  119. DD More says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

    What is nice is they got to use some of the German data too.
    The End of German Presence in Greenland

    During 1943 and 1944, there were reports that German forces were constructing a base on the island. These came to nothing, thanks to action by U.S. forces; similarly, a weather station on the northeast coast was bombed by U.S. Air Force planes based in Iceland.

    You did not mention the role played by people in Greenland in discovering the German meteorological station on Greenland. After the German invasion of Denmark in 1940 the Danish governor of Greenland realised that it would be easy for the Germans to land anywhere along the vast and virtually unpopulated coast of east Greenland without detection. Therefore a dog sledge patrol manned by a small group Danish, Greenlandic and Norwegian volunteers was established and during their patrol of the east Greenland coast they discovered that the Germans had established a weather station. If it were not for that discovery the Germans might have had more reliable weather forecasts.

    The story of the discovery and destruction of the German weather station in Greenland has been told in the book by David Howarth.

    The Sledge Patrol: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Victory

    Early on in the Cold War the Danes set up the Sirius Patrol of eastern Greenland using dogs as in the WWII patrol. The Sirius Patrol continues to this day.

    Greenland by dog sledge: The Sirius Patrol in numbers

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15940985

  120. DD More says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

    What is nice is they got to use some of the German data too.
    The End of German Presence in Greenland

    During 1943 and 1944, there were reports that German forces were constructing a base on the island. These came to nothing, thanks to action by U.S. forces; similarly, a weather station on the northeast coast was bombed by U.S. Air Force planes based in Iceland.

    You did not mention the role played by people in Greenland in discovering the German meteorological station on Greenland. After the German invasion of Denmark in 1940 the Danish governor of Greenland realised that it would be easy for the Germans to land anywhere along the vast and virtually unpopulated coast of east Greenland without detection. Therefore a dog sledge patrol manned by a small group Danish, Greenlandic and Norwegian volunteers was established and during their patrol of the east Greenland coast they discovered that the Germans had established a weather station. If it were not for that discovery the Germans might have had more reliable weather forecasts.

    The story of the discovery and destruction of the German weather station in Greenland has been told in the book by David Howarth.

    The Sledge Patrol: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Victory

    Early on in the Cold War the Danes set up the Sirius Patrol of eastern Greenland using dogs as in the WWII patrol. The Sirius Patrol continues to this day.

    Greenland by dog sledge: The Sirius Patrol in numbers

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15940985

  121. @milodonharlani June 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm
    “German defensive specialist Heinrici figured that he could handle ten to one odds, but 11 to one became problematical.”

    That was basically the point I was making. Both the German and Soviet commanders knew that Soviet forcers needed overwhelming odds (typically better thab 5:1) in order to be confident of winning.

    As a detail, I am not sure how often, if ever, German forces actually overcame 10:1 odds, but it is possible in smaller conflicts.

  122. @Gamecock June 7, 2014 at 11:31 am
    “It has been said that Churchill intended to fight to the last American (!)”

    There is probably some truth in that, at least to the extent that Churchill was very, very careful. The US started WWII with more resources (at least potentially) than Britain and by the time the US took an active part Britain had already expended a huge amount of men and materiel.

    As I said above Britain lost about the same number of troops (killed, wounded & captured) in the Battle of France as the US committed on D-Day itself. Add in all the other calls on British manpower from then onwards (the Far East, the Middle East, North Africa & the Med, at sea & in the air, on the home front) and you can see that Churchill’s ‘cupboard’ was rather bare.

  123. “RACookPE1978 says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    It turned out that the Americans were able to land supplies & equipment directly across the beaches after the Mulberry harbors were destroyed in the storms.”

    Concerning the Mulberry’s. The British one was severely damaged in the storm and parts from the American one were salvaged to repair it.

    As for getting supplies across the beach? The Landing Ship Tank (LST) was the largest of the vessels that could land and was critical in this task. Without the LSTs the invasion may well have failed. Ike one credited the M-1 Garand and Jeep as two of the most essential weapons the allies had. I think the LST should have been on that short list. Most of the LSTs were built inland in the US and transited the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf. The largest builder of LSTs was in Evansville, IN.

    The other project that was critical for the early success despite the loss of one Mulberry and the damaging of the other was Operation Pluto. That underwater pipe line delivered 1 million gallons a fuel across the channel thus freeing up 1,000s of tons of shipping and landing craft for ferrying other supplies.

  124. Yes. The LST, jeep, C-47, radio, radars and many other inventions were all part of the far larger technology and industry “safe” back from enemy attacks. Even the long-lasting English bombing campaign by Germany was less-effective (hit far fewer areas) than the “controversial” wide-spread American and British area bombing. But, bombing the Ruhr 9explosives, power, artificial gasoline, armor and armaments) did its part. Just wish the bombers were more accurate though.

    My dad drove LST’s a bit later after the war (not in Normandy) and my grandfather escorted LST’s and merchants against the battleships outside Leyte. in the Pacific.

  125. It was only General Patton who had proper fighting spirit, but he was kept out of battle for too long.

    Patton was used as a decoy to keep the Germans in Calais. He probably was worth it. An once the required resources were built up and Monty had tied down the Germans on the direct route to Paris, Patton was assigned the mobile elements and did his thing.

    The crime was not giving him all the supplies needed for mobility and keeping him moving. But that was later.

  126. Do YOU have any authenticated statement by any named one of “Most of our Jewish nuclear physicists”, to support your assertion.?

    I have read it in histories of Los Alamos. Likely true.

  127. “PS: In those instances in which US fighters accidentally attacked Russian a/c or ground forces or were attacked by the Red Air Force in 1945, the Soviets lost. Badly. The best known incidents involved P-38s over Romania. You’d think that Yaks would have an advantage in a dogfight with twin-engined, high altitude interceptor/escort fighters, but they lost, anyway, despite superior numbers.”

    The P-38 was absolutely deadly at lower altitudes. In fact during the North Africa campaign that is where they operated more often than not because of the crappy turbos and duct system they had in the earlier models. Despite the slow roll rate the P-38 made up for that with excellent wing loading and the ability to use variable power in the engines to turn more quickly than one would think. And in those days they still hadn’t solved the compressibility problem and fighting at lower altitudes eliminated that. The Luftwaffe actually tried to avoid tangling with them in N. Africa.

    The P-38 was the only US fighter aircraft that was in front line service before the war and still in front line US service at the end of the war. This is why in the end It P-38s had shot down more enemy aircraft than any other US aircraft.

    Though after 1943 the P-38 had only a limited role in the European theater with the Merlin powered P-51 taking over the high altitude escort role. In the Pacific the Japanese simply had no answer for the big two engine fighter. It chewed through Japanese aircraft and pilots at a frightening rate in the SW Pacific. Having two engines was a great boon in the Pacific theater where operations spanned vast areas of open water.

  128. “The tide in the European theatre had turned in 1942, when the Germans were defeated at El Alamein and (more importantly) Stalingrad.”

    The tide of the war in the European theater could not turn for good on either front until the Battle of the Atlantic was won and that did not really happen until May of 1943 as signified by Black May. Never forget that in the end the outcomes of large wars are always dependent upon logistics.

    That being said, I look at the turning point on the ground in both theaters are coming in August of 1943. Husky proved the Allied ability to amphibiously invade well defended enemy land that was within range of the best the Luftwaffe could offer having bases supplied internally. More troops were put ashore the first day of Husky than in Overlord. At the same time Husky was going on the Russians were winning at Kursk. From that time on Hitler was on the defensive on both fronts.

  129. –Heavy HTML formatting; apologies for any glitches–
    TimC says:
    June 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Directive issued February 12, 1944 by the Anglo-American Combined Chiefs of Staff to General Eisenhower: “You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces. The date for entering the Continent is the month of May, 1944

    Note (in my bold) the use of the capitalized term “United Nations” even though this body was not officially promulgated until 24 October 1945, after the conclusion of the war.

    arthur4563 says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:18 am
    Yes, good comments.
    Germany was doomed from the moment Hitler launched Barbarossa, which attack was undertaken either to pre-empt an impending attack by the Red Army (see: Victor Suvorov), or as victim of clever provocations by Stalin meant to convince Hitler that an attack was imminent. FDR (paraphrasing): the enemy must be seen to have struck the first blow…
    The only possible route to success for Barbarossa was a direct attack on Moscow by all available forces of the Wehrmacht,with good flanki protection, of course, but with no costly, time/force-consuming secondary attacks on Leningrad, nor to the south of the Pripet Marches.
    If this had been done, and Moscow had fallen before the rasputitsa, there is an outside chance Barbarossa may have had a least limited success in taking control of the Bolshevik capital. Whether or not Moscow could have been held is another matter, but the commies were all too ready to flee before the Germans, as the Big Skidaddle of the following October illustrates.
    But it should be remembered that, at the time of Barbarossa, the Germans had neither heavy tanks, nor long-range bombers. Nor did they have even winter gear/coats for their soldiers.

    milodonharlani says:

    Thank God we had the Germans on our side, like Ike…

    At WP, Ike was known as that “terrible Swedish Jew”

    milodonharlani also says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    T-34 was overall better than but not vastly superior to Sherman.

    No, the T-34/85 was vastly superior to the Sherman, aka “Ronson” (burned like a cigarette lighter), and even the earlier T-34s – armed with the excellent 76mm gun and just entering service in the early days of Barbarossa – made mincemeat of the Wehrmacht’s PzKpfw IIs, IIIs, IVs, as accounts of German generals at the time show.

    The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank which had a profound and permanent effect on the fields of tank tactics and design. First deployed in 1940, it has often been described as the most effective, efficient, and influential design of World War II.[5][6] At its introduction, the T-34 possessed the best balance of firepower, mobility, protection, and ruggedness of any tank (though its initial battlefield effectiveness suffered due to a variety of factors). Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity gun was the best tank gun in the world at that time; its heavy sloped armour was impenetrable by standard anti-tank weapons; and it was very agile. Though its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, when they first encountered it in battle in 1941 German tank generals von Kleist and Guderian called it “the deadliest tank in the world.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-34

    The T-34 featured a suspension designed by the American engineer Walter Christie.
    evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Ironically, the Sovs became better in their tactical deployment than the Germans who, for all their radios, had a bewildering tendency to lead with their tanks, even as late as Kursk.

    The worm in the apple? This referes to the quote by Churchill, referring to the 10% of Germans who opposed Hitler, and who were doing all in their power to ensure that Hitler was deposed, even if that meant traitorous actions underming the German fighting forces.
    (my bold)

    ~
    And speaking of treachery, let us also not forget an infamous day in American military history:
    June 8, 1967
    Remember the Liberty!
    –sp (Cold War AF analyst on duty 6/8/1967)

  130. Most of those familiar with WW II history berate the M4 as compared to the T-34 and PzKpfw 5 (Panther). And in a head to head battle tank on tank they are correct. The M4 was typical product of US industry mass production. It’s greatest assets were range, speed, and reliability. No tank of it’s class or higher beat the M4 in these characteristics. In fact it was so reliable that it was American made M4s and not the T-34s that Russians relied on to make the long march south through the mountains to gain the Slovakian countries.

    But I do not damn the allies or the US for not introducing the M-26 Pershing sooner as they could have. What people fail to do is look at the whole history. Far too many concentrate exclusively on the fun stuff of weapons and tactics and virtually ignore what seems to the much more mundane history of the logistics battles. But logistics explains why the Sherman remained the front line tank for the allies until the end of the war with only a few of the Pershings making it into battle.

    The fact is that the Sherman and any heavy weapon or equipment made in the US bound for a theater of war, unlike the Russian and German tanks, had to transit an ocean to get to where they were needed. Every tank, every spare part, and most of the ammunition and guns got to the theater via ship across an ocean. Then those same tanks were used for amphibious landings against contested beachheads. None of the other tanks used in WW II in ANY theater can claim such a distinction with a exception of the relatively few and poor Japanese tanks. None of the opposing countries could even do such a thing on significant scale without ports.

    And there is part of the key. The allies in Europe lacked ports that could deal with large amounts of such heavy equipment such as tanks. This is why the invasion taking in place in Normandy was considered by most of the German high command to be a diversion for a couple weeks after the invasion. They considered it folly for the main thrust of the campaign to launched from an area were the port facilities were so limited (initially non existent).

    Well as history shows the allies did it. But the cost later was enormous. The initial breakout was delayed more because of the excellent defensive nature of the bocage country’s hedgerows and the Germans extensive training and preparations for just such a battle not because of logistics.

    But then came the breakout and the logistics headaches really began until the lack of fuel and supplies stopped the allied Armies fantastic advances. Who would have introduced the relatively large, heavy, gas thirsty Pershings in that situation?

    Fact is that until the allies took the ports in the Neatherlands at Antwerp they would be at a significant logistical disadvantage. And it was not until those logistical difficulties were worked about by taking the ports in the Neatherlands that the Pershing was deployed.
    So while I will not argue against the fact that the T-34 and Panther were more battle-worthy tanks than the M-4 in head to head situations; I will argue until blue in the face against the notion that the Pershing was not introduced sooner because of some disregard for allied casualties or because of some scandalous screw up.

  131. RAH says:
    June 8, 2014 at 7:59 am

    The P-38 was the only US fighter aircraft that was in front line service before the war and still in front line US service at the end of the war. This is why in the end It P-38s had shot down more enemy aircraft than any other US aircraft.

    ==========================

    Not even close. The F6F was the big killer.

    “U.S. Navy and Marine F6F pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills”

  132. RAH says:
    June 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Fact is that until the allies took the ports in the Neatherlands at Antwerp they would be at a significant logistical disadvantage. And it was not until those logistical difficulties were worked about by taking the ports in the Neatherlands that the Pershing was deployed.

    “Neatherlands”? Freudian slip?

  133. Steve P says:
    June 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

    milodonharlani also says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    T-34 was overall better than but not vastly superior to Sherman.

    No, the T-34/85 was vastly superior to the Sherman, aka “Ronson” (burned like a cigarette lighter), and even the earlier T-34s – armed with the excellent 76mm gun and just entering service in the early days of Barbarossa – made mincemeat of the Wehrmacht’s PzKpfw IIs, IIIs, IVs, as accounts of German generals at the time show.

    If the gun of the T34 was so good, then why at Prokhorovka did the T34s have to drive straight at the German panthers and engage them in the famous point-blank melee in order for their guns to be effective against the German tanks? The soviet tank crews themselves spoke of how their T34 shells, when fired at distance, bounced off the panzers “like candles”.

  134. milodonharlani says:
    June 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Besides holding so many German forces in the West, D-Day also improved the odds for convoys carrying to Russia the supplies, war materiel & vehicles without which the Red Army could not have driven the invaders out of the USSR. In particular, Bagration benefited from American trucks, so many of which were sent East that the western Allies suffered from a shortage of them in their drive across France. Khrushchev rightly observed that the advance from Stalingrad to Berlin would have been impossible without them, & other Allied aid.

    evanmjones says:
    June 6, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    He says the Russians were extremely unfriendly and after delivery of their goods they were not allowed to stay in the city but encouraged to leave as soon as possible.

    They were lucky. The Russians made not of few of them disappear. Murmansk was a hellish trip, and it was within air interdiction of Norway (shades of convoy PQ17, which ended the effort). Not to mention Tirpitz and Scharnhorst. In the end, the bulk of lend lease did not make it through until July 1943 when the Tehran route was opened. In a few months, a large portion of Soviet infantry became motorized.

    On the subject of motorization – yes the Soviet army was motorized largely thanks to the American trucks delivered via Persia.

    Its also worth remembering that the German Barbarossa rode into Russia largely in French trucks. During the Blitzkrieg in France it is a paradoxical fact that the German army was significantly less motorized than the French and British – unlike either still making large scale use of horse carriages for guns etc. This remained the case throughout the war (note how many horses were killed in the allied bombing of the Germans in the Falaise pocket). As described in Anthony Beevor’s excellent history of WW2, the colossal French capitulation handed the wemracht an almost pristine French military inventory, including thousands of trucks. These formed the majority of the transport for Barbarossa, a foretaste of Franco-German EU partnership.

  135. “phlogiston says:

    June 9, 2014 at 12:08 am

    The soviet tank crews themselves spoke of how their T34 shells, when fired at distance, bounced off the panzers “like candles”.

    I can believe that for the Panzer IV Tigers, but nothing else the Germans had.

  136. Its also worth remembering that the German Barbarossa rode into Russia largely in French trucks.

    And horses, as you mentioned. (400,000 trucks, 600,000 horses, at least according to the older scholarship.)

  137. T-34 was overall better than but not vastly superior to Sherman.

    Depends on the model. A T43/85, which was standard towards the end, could pick off a Sherman easily.

    Fact is that until the allies took the ports in the Neatherlands at Antwerp they would be at a significant logistical disadvantage.

    Monty rolled into Antwerp intact in September. And then stopped. Maddeningly. Without clearing the Schelde estuary. By the time he got around to that, the Germans had hugely reinforced, and it took until November before Antwerp could be used.

  138. If the gun of the T34 was so good, then why at Prokhorovka did the T34s have to drive straight at the German panthers and engage them in the famous point-blank melee in order for their guns to be effective against the German tanks?

    Those were mostly Mark 76s. The 85s were much better. But the Germans never really made the best use of their heavy tanks. And at short range even a T34/76 can easily hole a Panther or Porsche Tiger.

    The M4 was typical product of US industry mass production. It’s greatest assets were range, speed, and reliability. No tank of it’s class or higher beat the M4 in these characteristics.

    And numbers. (And, yes, its mechanical reliability is often undervalued.) But it was always and remained essentially an infantry support vehicle. It was just as good as any other tanks when firing mere HE. But as a tank killer, it didn’t really make it.

  139. I find it strange that, in all that has been written on this site about D-day, no mention has been made of General Frederick Morgan who chose the sites and drew up the plans for Operation Overlord, Admiral Ramsay who was in overall command of the more than 5,000 ships that took part in the invasion, Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory who was in overall command of the Allied air forces or General Montgomery who was in overall command of the of the Allied ground forces.
    Incidentally, shortly after the war, I attended a lecture by Montgomery who complained that he had pleaded with Eisenhower that, once the bridgehead had broken out, rather than attack on a broad front Ike should allocate all the fuel and equipment to him (Monty) so that he could spearhead an attack into Northern Germany. When Ike refused he (Monty) had suggested hat Ike allocate all the fuel and equipment to Patton so that he could to spearhead an attack into the Rhineland but again Ike refused and insisted on spreading the fuel and equipment evenly between the three commanders. IN Monty’s view this added months to the war. But hindsight always plays a part.

  140. Solomon Green,

    Thank you for showing that Eisenhower did not like America’s best fighting general. Patton was a superior general in every way but rank.

    Eisenhower was intensely jealous of Patton’s ability. So Eisenhower had Patton murdered.

  141. Patrick says:
    June 9, 2014 at 12:43 am
    “phlogiston says:
    June 9, 2014 at 12:08 am

    The soviet tank crews themselves spoke of how their T34 shells, when fired at distance, bounced off the panzers “like candles”.

    I can believe that for the Panzer IV Tigers, but nothing else the Germans had.

    Yes I believe it was the Panzer IV Tigers about which this was said at Prokhorovka.

  142. dbstealey says:
    June 9, 2014 at 6:02 am
    Gen. Eisenhower may well have been intensely jealous of Gen Patton, but Patton was murdered for other reasons:

    The newly unearthed diaries of a colourful assassin for the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, reveal that American spy chiefs wanted Patton dead because he was threatening to expose allied collusion with the Russians that cost American lives.
    [...]
    Mr Wilcox also tracked down and interviewed Stephen Skubik, an officer in the Counter-Intelligence Corps of the US Army, who said he learnt that Patton was on Stalin’s death list. Skubik repeatedly alerted Donovan, who simply had him sent back to the US.
    [...]
    Patton, who distrusted the Russians, believed Eisenhower wrongly prevented him closing the so-called Falaise Gap in the autumn of 1944, allowing hundreds of thousands of German troops to escape to fight again,. This led to the deaths of thousands of Americans during their winter counter-offensive that became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

    In order to placate Stalin, the 3rd Army was also ordered to a halt as it reached the German border and was prevented from seizing either Berlin or Prague, moves that could have prevented Soviet domination of Eastern Europe after the war.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/3869117/General-George-S.-Patton-was-assassinated-to-silence-his-criticism-of-allied-war-leaders-claims-new-book.html

    Patton wrote his wife on July 21, 1945:

    Berlin gave me the blues. We have destroyed what could have been a good race, and we are about to replace them with Mongolian savages. And all Europe will be communist. It’s said that for the first week after they took it (Berlin), all women who ran were shot and those who did not were raped. I could have taken it (instead of the Soviets) had I been allowed.

    (my bold)

    ~
    Despite accounts in the popular press glamorizing blitzkrieg and the “Nazi war machine,” the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 with forces entirely inadequate for the task before them, and then compounded their mistake by dividing these meager, relatively light forces into three widely separated Army Groups with divergent objectives, none of which was ever realized.

    In my opinion, the only chance for German success in operations Barbarossa & Typhoon was a direct, drive on Moscow with all available forces in the first weeks and months of the war. In addition to being the major rail junction of the Soviet Union (booty: rolling stock), Moscow was the administrative center of the entire USSR, and also the seat of Bolshevik power.

    The Wehrmacht’s attack on the well-prepared Red Army tank traps in the Kursk salient (Citadel) has to rank as one of the worst military decisions of all time, after Barbarossa itself.

    A little Hollywood what-if:

    Imagine Hitler, sword in hand, addressing the assembled multitudes at Nuremberg, raising the sword high, and issuing this simple, direct order to his generals and soldiers:

    Bring me the head of Josef Stalin!

    Anything less wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t.

  143. Steve P,

    I agree with everything you wrote. But I’ve read other accounts that said Eisenhower was envious of Patton. Several times when Eisenhower was in the area, Patton would be driving by his 3rd Army soldiers, who burst out in spontaneous cheers when they saw him. That didn’t happen with Eisenhower, who was more of an administrator than a fighting general.

    Eisenhower also dissed Patton when Patton got his 4th star. The promotion was sent to him. No ceremony. Really, Eisenhower was very petty and jealous.

    The Russians and Americans colluded to murder Patton. Eisenhower was a key player in that plot. He got the killer and assigned him the job. Today, the world is paying a terrible price for Eisenhower’s treachery.

    If you haven’t yet read it, I recommend War As I Knew It, Patton’s autobiography. Used copies are about a dollar. It is excellent; I’ve read it several times. A general like Patton comes along only once a century or less.

  144. evanmjones says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:00 am

    T-34/85 was good, but still mechanically unreliable. Whenever possible, they carried spare transmissions with them. Sherman was vulnerable (“Ronsons”) & armed with less powerful main armament (even Firefly with high velocity 76.2mm 17-pounder, except with advanced armor-piercing ammo), but also the most mechanically reliable tank of the war. As noted, it had a radio, too. Soviet Shermans “liberated” Vienna. The 10,000 Shermans we sent the USSR made the difference, since that’s about how many tanks the Red Army had left at the end of the war.

  145. Steve P says:
    June 9, 2014 at 8:33 am

    A single thrust toward Moscow would have left vulnerable flanks exposed both north & south. However what might have worked would have been driving toward Moscow, then turning south. Instead, Guderian was diverted south in August ’41 instead of maintaining the drive east after taking Smolensk. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops were captured in the subsequent Ukrainian encirclement, but at the cost of not taking Moscow.

    In August, the Siberian Red Army formations which saved Moscow were still in the Far East. He might have been slowed by autumnal rains & mud, but Guderian felt an armored surge toward Moscow could capture the communications & transport center of the USSR & possibly net Stalin as a prisoner, or lead to the dictator’s death. Stalin was prepared to flee, however.

    In any case, the marching & horse-drawn German infantry could not have kept up. For them to do so would have required stripping Western Europe of automobiles, which would have broken down in the East, but not before speeding the Wehrmacht advance to a pace faster than Napoleon’s or Charles XII’s.

  146. dbstealey says:
    June 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

    The Russians and Americans colluded to murder Patton. Eisenhower was a key player in that plot. He got the killer and assigned him the job. Today, the world is paying a terrible price for Eisenhower’s treachery.

    That about sums it up.

    milodonharlani says:
    June 9, 2014 at 9:37 am

    A single thrust toward Moscow would have left vulnerable flanks exposed both north & south

    Agreed, but with Army Groups North & South acting as flank guards for Army Group Center – rather than being 100s of miles away – as well as providing vital mobile reserves, there is at least the theoretical possibility that Moscow might have been captured before the rasputitsa, and that is the only possible way I can see that the Germans might have prevailed on the Eastern Front

    On 15 October, Stalin ordered the evacuation of the Communist Party, the General Staff and various civil government offices from Moscow to Kuibyshev (now Samara), leaving only a limited number of officials behind. The evacuation caused panic among Muscovites. On 16–17 October, much of the civilian population tried to flee, mobbing the available trains and jamming the roads from the city. Despite all this, Stalin publicly remained in the Soviet capital, somewhat calming the fear and pandemonium.
    –Wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Moscow

    Even as it was, the tattered, battered Wehrmacht had arrived in the suburbs of Moscow by late November 1941, but by then it was already too late, and Zhukov’s devastating counterattack was imminent.

  147. Steve P says:
    June 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

    The flanks would necessarily have been vulnerable if limited to infantry, with all armor concentrated against the center.

    IMO the way for Germany to occupy & hold all of the USSR west of Moscow would have been for Hitler to have asked for Japan to attack Siberia rather than the USA, which he didn’t feel necessary. But even then, the USSR might not have surrendered, but hunkered down in the Urals & western Siberia, supplied by the US via Iran, with the South Pacific & Indian Ocean free of the IJN.

    Also, treating Soviet PoWs better & not oppressing the Ukraine & Belorussia would have helped in a protracted war. German supply situation may have dictated criminal treatment of surrender Red Army troops however, even if insane racial doctrine had not called for it.

  148. What a lot of you clowns don’t seem to realise is that if Germany had won The Battle of Britain there never would have been a Western front needing to be defended.

  149. Gamecock on June 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Trivia question: In what WWII battle did the Allies lose the most tanks?

    One of the Normandy battles I would guess.

  150. I thought RAH would get it, as he said, “Never forget that in the end the outcomes of large wars are always dependent upon logistics.”

    The Allies lost thousands of tanks in the Battle of the Atlantic.

  151. RAH says:
    June 8, 2014 at 7:59 am

    The P-38 was the only US fighter aircraft that was in front line service before the war and still in front line US service at the end of the war. This is why in the end It P-38s had shot down more enemy aircraft than any other US aircraft.

    ==========================
    Gamecock says:
    Not even close. The F6F was the big killer.

    “U.S. Navy and Marine F6F pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills”
    =====================================================================
    According to the original count your right with the F6F having 5,168 kills in the Pacific and the P-51 Mustang with 4,950 kills in the European Theater of Operations and the P-38 having 3,785 total. Some revised counts now have the P-51 on top for all theaters combined. All numbers are air to air victories.

    So your right and I was wrong.

  152. “Gamecock says:

    June 10, 2014 at 3:11 am

    The Allies lost thousands of tanks in the Battle of the Atlantic.”

    And many of the “floating Shermans” are still at the bottom of the English channel.

  153. dbstealey says:
    June 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Steve P,

    I agree with everything you wrote. But I’ve read other accounts that said Eisenhower was envious of Patton. Several times when Eisenhower was in the area, Patton would be driving by his 3rd Army soldiers, who burst out in spontaneous cheers when they saw him. That didn’t happen with Eisenhower, who was more of an administrator than a fighting general.

    Eisenhower also dissed Patton when Patton got his 4th star. The promotion was sent to him. No ceremony. Really, Eisenhower was very petty and jealous.

    The Russians and Americans colluded to murder Patton. Eisenhower was a key player in that plot. He got the killer and assigned him the job. Today, the world is paying a terrible price for Eisenhower’s treachery.

    If you haven’t yet read it, I recommend War As I Knew It, Patton’s autobiography. Used copies are about a dollar. It is excellent; I’ve read it several times. A general like Patton comes along only once a century or less.
    =====================================================================
    There was no reason to kill Patton and I believe that conspiracy theory to be bunk.
    1. Patton at the time of his death did not command a single combat troop. At the time of his death he was in command of the 15th Army which consisted of nothing more than a staff charged with compiling information and reports for the US Army’s official history of WW II in Europe. He was in no position to have any substantial effect on what was going on in the world or even in Europe.
    2. Before his death Patton had already stated his intention to retire and had inquired about it officially. He was old even for an Army Commander and his war was over.
    3. Patton had repeatedly denied any interest in politics though he would comment on it.

    As for Ike and Patton? Why would Ike be jealous of Patton? Ike was his superior and had political ambitions while Patton only wanted to command troops in combat. Ike was Patton’s superior from the first time Patton went into combat in WW II in Africa. As Patton was working on putting the US portion of Torch together he was privately warned by his friend Ike to tone down his criticism of the Navy or risk Marshal relieving him.

    Patton and Ike’s conflicts throughout the war had everything to do with strategy, tactics, and supply and had nothing of a personal nature about them. Ike and Patton had been friends long before WW II when they lived near each other at Ft. Myer and spent a great deal of time together. Ike certainly showed a lot of forbearance for Patton’s bombastic outbursts during the war. Certainly Ike understood Patton’s talents and were part of the reason for keeping him but at the same time I can’t think of another Army commander that Ike took so much guff from or caused Ike so many problems as Patton did. Can you or anyone else?

    It was Ike relieving Patton of command of the 3rd Army that ended that decades long friendship and again it was not personal but merely Ike making a political decision. It should be noted that Ike approved of Patton’s 4th star in April before he relieved him in Sept of 1945. Ike could have easily gotten rid of Patton after the slapping incidents in Sicily or even for the Knutsford affair but he didn’t. He gave him command of an excellent Army designed for a role suited perfectly for Patton’s talents and desires over the objections of Omar Bradly that would be Patton’s direct commander. But by the time of the occupation many of Patton’s friends in high places he had in the Roosevelt administration, and in particular Sec. War Henry L. Stimson, that had helped provide political cover before had moved on after Truman took over. Besides Patton’s talents were simply no longer needed.

    I think I have read every Patton biography that has been published in the English language. There is much to admire. But Patton was not above abusing his position and power for personal reasons. The prime example being the raid on the prison camp at Hammelburg by the understrength Task Force Baum. The prison camp wasn’t even in the 3rd Army’s area of responsibility! And the only reason why Patton put that raid together and kept it hush hush without it even allowing to be shown on the map in the 3rd Army’s war room was to try and rescue his son in law. It was a disaster for everyone but the enemy. THAT is the biggest black mark in Patton’s entire career in my opinion.

    As for the Falaise Gap? It was Bradly that refused to ask Monty to move the line so that Patton could meet the Canadian further north and not Ike.

    And when it comes to the Battle of the Bulge? In terms of conservation of force it was the US losses in the poorly conceived meat grinder battle of the Hurtgen Forrest far more than what the Germans saved from France that helped the Germans carry off the Watch On the Rhine as well as they did initially.

  154. evanmjones says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:09 am

    I

    And numbers. (And, yes, its mechanical reliability is often undervalued.) But it was always and remained essentially an infantry support vehicle. It was just as good as any other tanks when firing mere HE. But as a tank killer, it didn’t really make it.
    ===============================================================
    And they could thank Lesly McNair for that. He was the main force behind the concept of tanks like the Sherman as infantry support while claiming that Tank Destroyers such as the M-10 should be the main weapon to defend against enemy tanks.

  155. dbstealey says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:18 am

    RAH,

    See here.
    Not a reasonable explanation in all of that of why Patton, a man who was on his way out and did not command a single combat troop was such a threat. No matter what Patton said or did he would not nor could change a thing. From the moment Truman took the reigns of power his over riding political consideration was ending the war. The American people wanted their boys home and that was IT! What other person of note having any power to effect events wanted to take on Stalin?

  156. Gamecock says:
    June 10, 2014 at 3:11 am

    I thought RAH would get it, as he said, “Never forget that in the end the outcomes of large wars are always dependent upon logistics.”

    The Allies lost thousands of tanks in the Battle of the Atlantic.
    ==============================================
    I got it but choose not to answer until others had taken their shots.

    Now here is one from me. What was the single deadliest and most destructive air raid of WW II?

  157. Another WW II trivia question. Who came up with the code name “Overlord” for the Normandy invasion?

  158. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Yes. The LST, jeep, C-47, radio, radars and many other inventions were all part of the far larger technology and industry “safe” back from enemy attacks. Even the long-lasting English bombing campaign by Germany was less-effective (hit far fewer areas) than the “controversial” wide-spread American and British area bombing. But, bombing the Ruhr 9explosives, power, artificial gasoline, armor and armaments) did its part. Just wish the bombers were more accurate though.
    =========================================================
    Concerning the use of the heavy bombers for the Normandy invasion. On the day of the invasion they were pretty much a bust. Because of the fear of hitting the fleet it was decided that the preparatory bombardment of the coast would be conducted with the bombers flying in perpendicular to the coast instead of parallel to it. The same cloud bank that caused the paratroop carrying transports so much trouble masked the targets of the coastal defenses from the higher flying heavies and so, releasing on the conservative side, most of the heavies bombs fell behind the coastal defenses. The Brits didn’t do much better. Missing their target the Brit heavies actually bombed the DZ the Canadians were about to land on causing their job to be dispersed.

    The real value of the heavies in the preparation for D-day Normandy came in the weeks before the invasion as part of the Transportation Plan.

  159. RAH says:
    June 10, 2014 at 8:20 am
    RACookPE1978 says:
    June 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Yes. The LST, jeep, C-47, radio, radars and many other inventions were all part of the far larger technology and industry “safe” back from enemy attacks. Even the long-lasting English bombing campaign by Germany was less-effective (hit far fewer areas) than the “controversial” wide-spread American and British area bombing. But, bombing the Ruhr 9explosives, power, artificial gasoline, armor and armaments) did its part. Just wish the bombers were more accurate though.

    On the subject of bombing accuracy – Germany during WW2 actually developed radio controlled flying bombs and used them in the Mediterranean to sink a couple of British ships. This technology was lost in the destruction of the Wemracht and it was to be three decades – the end of the Vietnam war – until it was re-invented.

  160. RAH asks, “Now here is one from me. What was the single deadliest and most destructive air raid of WW II?”

    Firebombing of Tokyo, 9-10, March, 1945. Killed more than the atomic bombs.

  161. Gamecock says:
    June 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

    RAH asks, “Now here is one from me. What was the single deadliest and most destructive air raid of WW II?”

    Firebombing of Tokyo, 9-10, March, 1945. Killed more than the atomic bombs.
    =====================================================
    Correct. Also burned out 16 square miles and about 1/4th of buildings/dwellings of Tokyo which at that time was the 3rd largest city in the world. Japans official estimate of those killed was 83,783 killed and 50,000 wounded but there is reason to believe that the death toll was actually somewhat higher and probably exceeded 100,000. Nearly one million Tokyo residents were left homeless. By any measure the destruction and death toll from this single firebomb raid exceeded that wrought by either atomic bomb, and thus it is the most destructive and deadly single air raid in history. And from that time until the end of the war Japan suffered the worst bombing blitz in history. Perhaps all those that today claim the atomic bombs should not have been used should reconsider?

    More along the regular subject of this website the one big reason why LeMay came in and started low level bombing by the B-29s was because high level bombing had not been successful primarily due to the poor weather information. The jet streams and weather generally came out of Manchuria and Russia. Unlike in in Europe the Allies simply did not have the data or the ability to get it to do nearly as good a job of forecasting in the north Pacfic. Witness the American fleet being blind sided by a massive typhoon during the war. Winds and weather don’t just effect the flight of aircraft they effect the fall of bombs and even the fall of the shells from long range guns.

    LeMay got away with it without prohibitive losses because Japans AA defenses, especially at night, just weren’t even close to what the Germans were capable of. Basically LeMay was sent to take over the bombing campaign against Japan because the US had much more invested in the development and production of the B-29 than it did in the atomic bombs. The whole concept of long range strategic bombing was being questioned because of the failure of the B-29s and Hap Arnold understood that unless the B-29s were successful odds were the Army Air Corp would be a much smaller outfit than it and later the USAF (Formed 1948) would have otherwise been in the post WW II Armed Forces. The success of both the B-29 and the bombs thus led to SAC.

  162. RAH says:
    June 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm (replying to)

    Gamecock says:
    June 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Weather reports mattered in the Pacific even more than in the Atlantic theater: there were four hurricanes/typhoons that blew through allied fleets, not just one.

    Even further back – as a cause for the ability for the B-29′s to fly low, is the Japanese very, very un-even and poor command-and-control administration and funding and manning for their homeland defenses. Poorly set up, poorly manned, and competition (not even apporaches to coorperation!) between Navy and Army air forces, anti-air cannon, anti-air radar systems, and local army and navy bases protection. Much less city-and area-wide anti-air coordination. That they had almost no effective long-range radar places to put radars on the coast lines did not help, but there was no system to use what little warning was available to the various local AA and aircraft commands in the various services and districts.

    Further back up the logistics string, the basic strategy of Roosevelt before the war was to cut off Japan’s gasoline, oil, and steel production by embargo by the US oil fields, the Malaysian oil fields, and the Iranian/Iraq oil fields. With the Russia oil fields out because of the 1903 Russo-Japanese war and the Japan invasion of Russian Manchuria in the late 1930′s, the Baka and Crimean oil fields were already isolated. (What???? Did you think today’s headlines about energy-oil-geopolitical-conflicts are any different now than in the 1930′s ????) .

    So Japan’s oil was cut off before the war (hence their first-months’ strategy of isolating the US fleet (Manila, Hawaii, Guam, Wake actions) and the simultaneous attacks south towards Malaysia.

    During the war, US subs (after fixing their torpedoes, torpedo guidance, torpedo fuzes, and submarine commanders) cut oil imports by mining and convoy attacks. So what little air raid warning did happen was given to air bases with not enough planes loaded with no fuel, carrying pilots with almost no training, and little bullets or no maintenance on what few planes could fly. Against those limits, the B-29′s could fly low enough that the engine fires and QA problems could be worked out.

    To illustrate: More than 25,000 B-29 crewmembers landed at Iwo Jima between the invasion start and the end of war just in emergency landings alone: Some were combat damage, but most were engine flameouts, engine oil fires, engine/propeller and structural damage, and wing damage. The first B-29 landed at Iwo before the shooting stopped.

  163. RAH says:
    June 10, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Another WW II trivia question. Who came up with the code name “Overlord” for the Normandy invasion?
    ================================================
    No takers on this one apparently so. The short answer is Winston Churchill. The story:
    From the begining when the US entered the war US Chief of Staff George Marshall had pushed for an invasion of France crossing the English Channel. As far as Marshall was concerned the invasion should take place in 1942. The British demurred. They rightfully pointed out that the allies would not have the men and materials to push such an invasion in 1942 or possibly even in 1943 but pointed out the US must enter the war in somewhere. And so in 1942 and 1943 we saw the invasions of N. Africa, Sicily, and finally Italy.

    Finally Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff had to agree to prepare for a cross channel invasion because President Roosevelt insisted on it and because Stalin was making noises about making a seperate peace unless his allies agreed to engage Hiter’s forces in the heart of Europe.

    So early in 1943 while Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley, Patton, and all of the big name players were still busy down in the Mediterainian a HQ was set up in London to begin planning for the cross channel invasion of France.

    The Americans always recognized the talent of the British for staff work and so this inital staff for making a plan of invasion was made up mostley of Brits and commanded by an Englishman. So under the able command of General Sir Fredrick Morgan the first draft of a plan for invasion into Normandy was created.

    Once the first draft was completed Morgan needed to present it to Churchill before it could then be presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff and others for approval and expected revisions. For this to happen the operational the plan needed an official code name.

    Now, code words and names were not just made up by those that needed them. Such names and codes were created and given out by the “Inter Services Security Bureau” (ISSB). Such names had to be picked carefully for various reasons and of course duplication was forbidden within a give theater.

    Morgan sent one of his deputies to get a code name and the deputy came back from the ISSB with “Mothball” as the code name of the operation.

    Morgan used the code name for his presentation to Churchill knowing very well that the Prime Minister would find the name unacceptable for the greatest endevor in the history of invasions.

    When he got back from his meeting with Churchill his staff asked what happened when the Prime Minister heard the code word. Morgan explained: “Just what I knew was going to happen. Winston went right through the roof”. Churchill said “If they can’t come up with a better code name for our landing than that, I’ll damned well pick the code name myself.” Morgan reported that Churchill “glowered for a moment, pointed his cigar up towards the ceiling then reared back and barked OVERLORD! We shall call it OVERLORD.

  164. clipe says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Not true.

    If Britain had been occupied by Germany, the US still could have landed in North Africa & invaded Italy & southern France. Even if Rommel had been able to drive across Egypt & into SW Asia, Germany, Italy & Vichy France could not have kept us out of North Africa.

  165. Roy says:
    June 8, 2014 at 2:43 am

    You are correct that I should have said only the US Mulberry was destroyed. As my comment shows, only the US had to bring in equipment over the beach, as the Canadian-British Mulberry survived.

  166. phlogiston says:
    June 10, 2014 at 11:05 am
    On the subject of bombing accuracy – Germany during WW2 actually developed radio controlled flying bombs and used them in the Mediterranean to sink a couple of British ships. This technology was lost in the destruction of the Wemracht and it was to be three decades – the end of the Vietnam war – until it was re-invented.

    Yes they were radio controlled glide bombs, one of my relatives was killed on the first ship to be sunk by a guided missile, the HMS Egret, it was in the Bay of Biscay though not the Med.

  167. RAH says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:21 am

    evanmjones says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Not just McNair, but Patton. The AUSA designed its armor based upon early WWII experience. The tank destroyer idea made sense in 1940, but not in 1944. Sherman with the low velocity 75mm main armament was primarily an infantry support tank, but Firefly with HV 76.2mm gun was a tank-killer. Russian designers understood in the late ’30s that a tank should have a gun capable of defeating its own & comparable tanks’ armor. They also saw the advantage of the American Christie suspension, which the AUSA didn’t.

    We could have given the 90mm tank destroyer a covered turret to field a Pershing-like tank sooner in the war, but at the cost of numbers produced. That was Patton’s call & he blew it.

  168. Phil. says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    First use of Fritz X guided anti-ship glide bomb was in the Med, ie July ’43 in a Sicilian harbor. HMS Egret was hit by Hs 293 radio-controlled glide bombs in August.

    Other guided air-to-surface conventional weapons were studied between the US AZON of WWII & Vietnam-era Bullpup (1960s), but development was retarded by concentration on nukes.

  169. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The slaughter of Marines on Iwo wasn’t justified by B-29 crews saved. Most could have made it back to the Marianas or ditched at sea to be picked up by subs or destroyers. P-51 escort fighter flights from Iwo became less important after Le May’s switch to low level attacks, once he realized the Japanese lack of AAA.

    FDR refused to use poison gas on Iwo, even though there were no civilians. Doing so would have saved the lives of around 7000 young American men. He may have worried about Japanese retaliation against our landings on Okinawa & the Home Islands, but as it turns out, such concern was ill-founded. Okinawa was in April ’45, but the attack on Kyushu in the fall would have benefited from the discovery of German nerve agents.

  170. True, but what was going to be used in 1936-39 (the design period for a tank that had to be built in 1941-42-43 from parts and foundries built in factories and equipment built in factories built in 1939-1940?

    The very early German designs were not exactly a “secret” in 1938-39, but we didn’t have them in the US to shoot at to figure out our actual designs (Grant, Lee, etc) were terrible. And outside of the early Panzer “armies” of very light tanks and armored personnel carriers, much of the Germans were significantly horse-drawn, with train & horse supplies and marching. “Good” panzers were late and mid-war items by the time they got to the front. Supplies in Europe in 1944 were shipped in 1943 from factories built 1942 using machines and parts built in factories built in 1941 and 42 using designs made in 1940 with ideas from 1938-39-40.

  171. milodonharlani says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    With 20/20 hindsight, the best stopgap, field expedient solution for 1943-44, after experience showed Sherman’s problems, would have been to produce a European & Asian variant. The Pacific version could have been the normal 75mm infantry support tank, while the ETO might have been a combo of the Russian Lend-Lease diesel with the Firefly’s 17 pounder gun. Plus more armor, possibly requiring an extra set of bogie wheels.

    That way production could have been maintained at close to the same levels, while fielding a more battle worthy AFV in the NW ETO, if not Italy as well.

  172. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    M4 Sherman tank was designed in 1940 & M36 tank destroyer with 90mm gun in 1942.

  173. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/iwojima_med.htm

    “Medical planning for the Iwo Jima campaign began in October 1944. In preparation for the operation, Medical Department representatives of the Navy, Marine Corps, and amphibious units that were to participate, held numerous conferences to discuss the tactical and logistic problems. The nature of the terrain on Iwo Jima was such that there could be no tactical surprise; the Marines had to land on the southeastern beaches, and make a frontal assault. Under the circumstances, heavy casualties were anticipated. For purposes of computing anticipated casualties, it was assumed that the period of active combat, from the beachhead landings to seizure of the objective, would be 14 days; that 5 percent of the entire attacking force would become casualties on the first and second days, 3 percent on the third and fourth days, and 1.5 percent on each of the remaining 10 days.”

    In fact, fighting lasted five weeks. Actual fatalities, not casualties, were close to 10%. An escort carrier was sunk & there were also loses among US Army Air Forces personnel.

  174. RACookPE1978 says:
    June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm
    …..”To illustrate: More than 25,000 B-29 crewmembers landed at Iwo Jima between the invasion start and the end of war just in emergency landings alone: Some were combat damage, but most were engine flameouts, engine oil fires, engine/propeller and structural damage, and wing damage. The first B-29 landed at Iwo before the shooting stopped.”

    Two points here: First off Iwo’s value was not just as an emergency landing field for the B-29s and others. The US crammed as many fighters, in particular P-51 Ds, on the island as they could to provide long range fighter escort for the B-29s. At the targets the fighters didn’t just protect the bombers from air attack they flew down onto the deck suppressing AA fire and attacking targets of opportunity. And that also had a significant effect in cutting the losses of the B-29s and crew members. Further the taking of Iwo denied the Japanese the early warning they could have otherwise provided for raids bound for the home Islands. There is no doubt in my mind that Iwo was worth it and the numbers you provided for emergency landings tell only the most noted part of the tale.

    The B-29 with it’s Wright Cyclone R-3350 engines was the most complicated machine ever truly mass produced up to that time. It was the first large aircraft mass produced with pressurized compartments. Over 6,600 revisions were made to the aircraft and it’s power plants from prototype to the end of the war. So of course it had a lot of teething problems. Overheating of the engines and multiple problems with the electrical systems seemed to be the most prevalent.

    Even the small specialized 509th Composite Group that carried the A-bombs having the very best equipment and maintenance and priority for support had problems. Sweeney and crew flying Bockscar had to nearly abort due to multiple electrical problems in the aircraft and one having directly to do with the fusing of the bomb on their way to drop Fat Man. Then of course the Primary target of Kokura was clouded over again demonstrating the lack of reliable forecasting so Nagasaki was finally hit after multiple passes. Dangerously low on fuel Sweeney opted for landing at Okinawa.

  175. milodonharlani says:
    June 10, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    The slaughter of Marines on Iwo wasn’t justified by B-29 crews saved. Most could have made it back to the Marianas or ditched at sea to be picked up by subs or destroyers. P-51 escort fighter flights from Iwo became less important after Le May’s switch to low level attacks, once he realized the Japanese lack of AAA.

    FDR refused to use poison gas on Iwo, even though there were no civilians. Doing so would have saved the lives of around 7000 young American men. He may have worried about Japanese retaliation against our landings on Okinawa & the Home Islands, but as it turns out, such concern was ill-founded. Okinawa was in April ’45, but the attack on Kyushu in the fall would have benefited from the discovery of German nerve agents.
    ====================================================
    Totally disagree here.

    For the invasion of Iwo Jima it was proposed in the Lethbridge Report to the allied high command that Iwo Jima be “drenched” with a Mustard gas like blister agent. Admiral Chester Nimitz along with most of the allied high command approved of this proposal thinking that the Japanese capabilities in chemical warfare were limited, but President Roosevelt vetoed the idea stating his fear of the use of such weapons against allied troops if and when an invasion of the home islands of Japan became necessary. However it was with these same fears in mind of the potentially tremendous casualties on both sides that LeMay was given approval for his fire bombing scheme.

    I believe FDR was right! The Japanese had some significant chemical warfare capability themselves and had already demonstrated some of that capability in China. They would have gone to any extent to stop the invasion of the home islands without regard for the lives of their own citizens.

    The problem really comes down to this. In the event that Downfall had been carried out the topography of the targets prohibited surprise and quick exploitation. There were very few beaches suitable for large scale amphibious operations and very limited LOCs to use in passing through the mountainous terrain. In short, the Japanese did not have that many beaches to defend and would know it was coming and in every case the allies attacking forces would be concentrated and perfect targets for chemical attack given the proper weather conditions.

    Secondly, many daylight bombing raids from medium altitudes were carried out by the B-29s even after the low level night fire bomb missions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAKhU8iQrZw

    In fact in the vast majority of raids had far more B-29 sorties carrying HE than the limited number of M-31 cluster bombs loaded with Henry Kaisers “Goop” which were available or other incendiaries. That “Goop” was an asphalt product filled with fine magnesium dust particles that was a by product from the production of Magnesium. It was the most effective incendiary weapon and the one used for the most destructive low level night raids. Many other B-29s carried out missions in day and night mining the coastal LOCs to try and stop even coastal shipping.

    And as I mentioned elsewhere the fighter escorts from Iwo Jima went down on the deck to suppress AAA and attack targets of opportunity. Iwo, as terrible as it was, was worth every life US life it cost. Great slide show showing Iwo and her fighter groups late in the war: http://picasaweb.google.com/7thfighter/IwoJima?authkey=Gv1sRgCIW06db_6oth&feat=email#slideshow/5299163150448181842

  176. BTW concerning Patton. I was an SF soldier with 8 1/2 years team time. All of that team time was served in 10th Special Forces Group. The 10th SFG(A) is the oldest of the Groups originating from a Special Forces Company made up primarily of displaced persons (DPs) from countries and then later a Battalion formed at Flint Kaserne in the ancient story book Bavarian town of Bad Tolz on the Isar river nestled in the foot hills of the Alps. Bad Tolz came into being as a stop on the Roman salt road and was and is known for it’s mineral water baths.

    During WW II Bad Tolz had 8 military hospitals in it. The only other military installation of note in the town was the Junkershule where SS Officers, mostly mostly non Germans were trained. Both the Hospital and the SS facility was serviced by slave labor dispersed from a couple of the satellite camps that were part of the system run from concentration camp at Dachau.

    The large quadrangle and the rest of the facility was miraculously spared from bombing by the weather. Eight times missions were run to bomb it and every time they were weathered out. And so the facility survived the war and as with every SS facility they wanted to use became a permanent possession of the allies as per the status of forces agreement. It was named Flint Kasserne for Patton’s good friend Colonel Harry Albert “Paddy” Flint who was KIA being mortally wounded along the Saint-Lô-Périers road in Normandy. Many a storied US Army unit were HQed or billeted there at one time or another during the occupation and subsequent cold war, including the Big Red One.

    The Kaserne served as Patton’s first HQ of occupation in Bavaria and his office complete with what was supposedly Rommel’s desk was maintained as a Museum there. It was a fantastic post and a wonderful facility and I served their for three years 1986-89.

    When I first arrived there was still an former German soldier that had been given the job of running the mess at the kaserne by Patton. He retired while I was there. He had been wounded in N. Africa and sent to Tolz for treatment. Too disabled to serve in combat again he was given the job of running the mess at one of the hospitals. Patton, being practical about such things, gave him a job working in the mess hall at the Kasserne.

    As far as I’m concerned Bad Tolz was the greatest post in Germany during the cold war and I saw about all of them at one time or another. Every step in the Kassern and around the town was pervaded with history. On my walk to my team room I stepped in or over the hob nail boot prints from the workers that poured the concrete. In the walls were the inset gun racks to hold the standard 8 mm Mausers. In the theater I sat in the same seat that Himmler sat in during the opening of the facility. We swam in the same pool they used. I sat on the same concrete bleachers they had as I watched my son play his home football games. We did our PT in the same gym and on the same ground that they had done their in or on. In the field across the road that served as our drop zone they had trained. The ranges were essentially the same they used. Our rigger shed had been their motor pool. The bar and restaurant we used were the same that they had used.

    The facility was turned back over to the Germans who promptly tore all of the queadrangle but the front gate with it’s flanking turrets down and adapted it for other less martial purposes.

  177. milodonharlani says:
    Not just McNair, but Patton. The AUSA designed its armor based upon early WWII experience. The tank destroyer idea made sense in 1940, but not in 1944. Sherman with the low velocity 75mm main armament was primarily an infantry support tank, but Firefly with HV 76.2mm gun was a tank-killer. Russian designers understood in the late ’30s that a tank should have a gun capable of defeating its own & comparable tanks’ armor. They also saw the advantage of the American Christie suspension, which the AUSA didn’t.

    We could have given the 90mm tank destroyer a covered turret to field a Pershing-like tank sooner in the war, but at the cost of numbers produced. That was Patton’s call & he blew it.
    ==========================================================
    Did you know that during his tough siege of Metz Patton had his staff take a survey of all the armored units under his command concerning the M4? Among other things Patton was asking his men if they wanted their M-4s guns upgraded to the new 76 mm long barreled rifle that was coming available to replace the current short barreled 75s.
    The answer from the troops was an overwhelming NO!

    This why when you see the picture of the M-4A3E2 Jumbo “Cobra King”, the first tank into to get into Bastogne and break the siege that came from Abrams CC of the 4th Armored, it has a short barreled 75. The story of the service, discovery, and restoration of Cobra King, the most famous Sherman of all time, is one you should check out if you aren’t familiar with it. Here is the story: http://armorfortheages.com/NACM/NACMmain/Projects/CobraKingProject/CobraKingProjectPage.htm you will notice that there is strong circumstantial evidence that Cobra King was abandoned when it was part of Task Force Baum by which time it had the long barreled 76 on it.

    And along those same lines I just never have gotten the decision to move the Armored and Calvary Museum to Ft. Benning, GA. Benning is the the home of the Infantry, the Airborne, and of course the Rangers. It was far less so for the Armor or the Calvary though the 2nd Armored Division did form there under Patton and though the 1st Calvary formed there in their air mobile version that was used in Vietnam. Ft. Knox seems a far more appropriate place for the Armored history to be.

  178. RAH says:
    June 11, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Or even Ft. Hood.

    Thanks for Cobra King link.

    It’s common among soldiers to like the equipment with which they’re familiar, unless it’s obviously inferior & unreliable. Also, by the time big tank on tank battles were over, the 75mm pop gun might have been good enough for most uses, with more ammo storage (90 rounds v. 77 in Firefly & 55 in US 76mm gun M1).

    McNair (with whom Patton agreed on Sherman over Pershing tank production) made a lot of costly mistakes before his friendly fire death, to include preferring towed AT guns over SP tank destroyers.

  179. RAH says:
    June 11, 2014 at 4:09 am

    IMO Iwo-based USAAF fighters didn’t add much capability beyond what USN & USMC carrier-based fighters, plus USAAF from Okinawa already provided.

    Had the Japanese mustard-gassed Downfall landing beaches, we’d have gassed their defensive positions with nerve agent. As I granted, FDR didn’t know about nerve gas when he overruled his theater COs. Had he & they known how heavy our losses would be, however, they might have decided otherwise.

  180. milodonharlani says:
    June 11, 2014 at 10:28 am

    RAH says:
    June 11, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Thanks very much for your time with the teams.
    ===================================
    No thanks necessary. I worked hard and during my time spent between 3 different ODAs I was gone somewhere an average of 8 months of every year but my experiences while serving more than paid off for the effort. How many people have Berg Heiled the three highest peaks in Europe? Had the satisfaction of successfully treating Malarial Babies in Africa ? Touched the Sleeve of one of Napoleons uniforms? Gotten to Blow things up that would make the Myth Busters jealous? Spend a morning in the demo ranges under a house at the H&K factory busting caps through about every small arm they made. Had an Opal Cadet and three weeks to tour the entire battlefield of the Battle of the Bulge? Gotten to drive Soviet made armored vehicles and tanks? Told a US Ambassador to “F*&@ off” and get away with it. Witness the longest 16″ barrage ever fired by an Iowa Class BB when the USS New Jersey fired into Lebanon? Take many a great ride in various aircraft from the US and other countries. And so many other things while working with some of the most quality people you would ever want to work and live with and while doing it all get PAID for it?

  181. milodonharlani says:
    June 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    RAH says:
    June 11, 2014 at 4:09 am

    IMO Iwo-based USAAF fighters didn’t add much capability beyond what USN & USMC carrier-based fighters, plus USAAF from Okinawa already provided.
    ===================================================
    Except NUMBERS! Yes the US had a lot of carriers but the unsinkable kinds like Iwo can operate a heck of a lot more aircraft.

  182. RAH says:
    June 11, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Well, thanks anyway. I feel that my tax dollars were well spent providing you & your comrades with those & other experiences.

    A buddy of mine in the Rangers during your time & AO now thinks he was dumb to get out before 20 years.

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