Spain Joins the Axis: Where do D-Day and Dragoon Happen?

This was one of the major lessons of Dieppe, trying to take a port intact on D-Day would be almost impossible,

Hardly a relevation. The Romans fully understood trying to take a port by direct assault was a high risk venture. Actually it was probably understood in Sumerian times. Brit standard doctrine through the 19th Century was to land near the port & assault or besiege it from the landward side. Op RUTTER, a much more robust plan was canceled precisely because the military commanders saw it as pointless. The revival as Op JUBILEE had more to do with internal British politics than proving anything of military value.

Spain entering the war probably means an invasion of Spain vs the OTL Italian Campaign, to clear up LOC to the Central Mediterranean. Germany's really stretched thin here trying to garrison Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, and Greece.

But Spain entering the war requires a pretty radical turn of events, as IOTL Franco's asking price was simply too high. Goering was of the opinion in Fall 1940 that Spain should simply be invaded, and Ribbentrop openly threatened to march troops through Spanish territory to Gibraltar in March 1941 whether Franco liked it or not, which Franco promised to resist militarily. The most likely occurrence is a Nazi invasion of Spain in Fall-Winter 1940, after negotiations with Franco fail to yield immediate dividends and Hitler becomes increasingly angry with his flip-flopping.

The only way I can see Spain joining the Axis at war is if Franco is sidelined & the anticommunist & others place a leader in power.

1. Spain wouldn't join in 1942 after the US has entered the war and the Soviets survived Barbarossa. Maybe 1940 or 1941.
2. Hitler didn't have anything to spare to 'help rebuild Spain'. What are you proposing the Germans sacrifice to assist Spain and how is that going to impact Germany, occupied European countries, and other Axis countries?
3. Why would the WAllies want to invade Spain with its limited port facilities, heavily damaged infrastructure after the SCW, and the distance involved to get from Spain to Germany? Nationalist Spain has no real force projection capabilities and could be left to wither. The WAllies might make a limited invasion in Andalusia to recapture Gibraltar and to secure the approaches to it. But there's nothing else of importance in Spain after that.

Agree. It would be more economical to send SOE & OSS agents to stir up the residual Republicans & scare the Spanish government into concentrating on internal security. The Wolfram mines would be of great value to the Axis, but that can be interdicted by Allied bombers and SOE agents on Spains weak railways

So as many as 21 additional Allied combat divisions could be available if the Iberian Peninsula were an active combat theater in 1942. The training level, quality of equipment, tactical doctrine, leadership, etc. of the American troops may be less, but the lessons learned are on a much broader scale.

Indeed. People like to talk about the US Army needing 'safe' battles off in periprial campaigns to learn about combat. So what was the historical situation? 6th June 1944 there were in the ETO four or five with 90 days of more of combat, all but one still in the MTO, two others in Italy with less than 30 days combat experience. For OVERLORD you had the 1st & 9th ID, with several months each, the 2d Armored with a couple days experience vs the French and a couple more weeks in Sicilly, and the 82d AB with a few weeks in Sicilly and Italy. The fact is Eisenhowers Crusade in Europe was largely fought with a 'green' army that had zero combat experience until after the battalions stepped ashore in France. The only way you get a combat experienced army is get it into combat. 20 or ten US Army divisions fighting in France is better than what we had for combat experience OTL. Since the build up over the winter of 1943-44 is like to be more than ten or 20 divisions its improved even more.

They where only impossible in 1943 because too many divisions/aircraft/shipping had been committed to the south. Germany wasn't going to be defeated in Italy

The German occupation army of 1943 in France, even augmented by most of the divisions they committed to Italy would never have held the allied armies.

Agree. They failed to hold the Allied Armies in Tunisia and Sicilly where the terrain and flying weather were favorable. The Allied campaign in Italy 1943-44 was hindered by bad winter flying weather, and trying frontal assaults against defense positions in mountains.

IIRC they were impossible in 1943 because of a critical shortage of LSTs, which were needed by the hundreds. Don't forget that the U-Boats aren't defeated until May 1943 and up until then the US and British shipyards were concentrating on Liberty Ships mostly from the former and escorts from the latter.
Torch was just possible in November 1942, Husky was just about possible in July 1943, Baytown and Avalanche were again just about possible in September 1943.
Overlord in 1943 would have been risky at best - and a disaster if it had been defeated.
This makes sense if one is trying to reproduce the historical results of Op OVERLORD. If you are simply trying to establish a second front and a robust Army Group ashore then it becomes practical. Op HUSKY, which had as large a amphibious assault force as Op NEPTUNE. succeeded with fewer LST. In the Pacific the amphibious ops of 1942 & 1943 were executed with only a token number of LST. LST are great to have, but they are not the Alpha & Omega of amphibious Ops.

IIRC they were impossible in 1943 because of a critical shortage of LSTs, which were needed by the hundreds. Don't forget that the U-Boats aren't defeated until May 1943 and up until then the US and British shipyards were concentrating on Liberty Ships mostly from the former and escorts from the latter.
Torch was just possible in November 1942, Husky was just about possible in July 1943, Baytown and Avalanche were again just about possible in September 1943.
Overlord in 1943 would have been risky at best - and a disaster if it had been defeated.
This makes sense if one is trying to reproduce the historical results of Op OVERLORD. If you are simply trying to establish a second front and a robust Army Group ashore then it becomes practical. Op HUSKY, which had as large a amphibious assault force as Op NEPTUNE. succeeded with fewer LST. In the Pacific the amphibious ops of 1942 & 1943 were executed with only a token number of LST. LST are great to have, but they are not the Alpha & Omega of amphibious Ops.
Portugal
A hostile Invasion might not even be necessary Portugal would join the Allies for self preservation

The Axis have several incentives to occupy Portugal:

1. They get all the Wolfram, the Tungsten Ore. OTL Britain, & then the US used their cash and healthy credit to out bid the Germans and Italians for the Portuguese & Spanish Wolfram. If Spain is a Axis ally seizing the Portuguese mines is a rather obvious move.

2. More submarine bases. More air bases.

3. Within Spain there was a faction, or group of factions who desired to occupy & annex Portugal. They would be adding their voice to this.

The Salazar governments plan was to evacuate to the Azores & join the Allies. Salazar & his ministers had no illusions about trusting Hitler & took the Spanish threat seriously. From late 1940 the US up dated its old war plans & centered them on the occupation of the Atlantic islands, including the Azores. Amphibious Forces Atlantic Fleet were ordered to stand up at the end of 1940 & during 1941-42 the 1st Marine Division, the 1st Infantry, 3rd Infantry, & 9th Infantry Divisions all trained for a variety pf amphib ops including seizing the Azores, the Canaries, Iceland, ect... Any Axis occupation of Portugal would have seen the US Navy landing the first ground forces on the Portuguese islands within the week.

So as many as 21 additional Allied combat divisions could be available if the Iberian Peninsula were an active combat theater in 1942. The training level, quality of equipment, tactical doctrine, leadership, etc. of the American troops may be less, but the lessons learned are on a much broader scale.

Indeed. People like to talk about the US Army needing 'safe' battles off in periprial campaigns to learn about combat. So what was the historical situation? 6th June 1944 there were in the ETO four or five with 90 days of more of combat, all but one still in the MTO, two others in Italy with less than 30 days combat experience. For OVERLORD you had the 1st & 9th ID, with several months each, the 2d Armored with a couple days experience vs the French and a couple more weeks in Sicilly, and the 82d AB with a few weeks in Sicilly and Italy. The fact is Eisenhowers Crusade in Europe was largely fought with a 'green' army that had zero combat experience until after the battalions stepped ashore in France. The only way you get a combat experienced army is get it into combat. 20 or ten US Army divisions fighting in France is better than what we had for combat experience OTL. Since the build up over the winter of 1943-44 is like to be more than ten or 20 divisions its improved even more.

That 12 US divisions across the Atlantic is only achieved in Aug 1943.

German divisions in Western Europe in April 1943 total 55, which includes a mixture of occupation, reforming and training divisions. Plus with no US troops in the Mediterranean there is unlikely to be an invasion of Sicily or Italian surrender, freeing up German troops from there to be used in France. A successful campaign in France in 1943 requires a bigger sustained commitment from the US starting from mid 1942.
This assumes the US schedules deployments as per OTL, which makes no sense given a radically different strategy & objective. Marshal sent additional units to the PTO after he saw there would be no invasion of France in 1943. If the agreement is other wise the deployment of battalions, divisions, corps, air forces, and service forces will be different.

In 1943 the Luftwaffe is far stronger than 1944 and not pinned down defending the Reich. The means to mount a beach landing were inadequate for a landing in 1943, maybe it could have worked but Eisenhower and co. had a duty to their countries and the hundreds of thousands of troops they were going to have to commit to prepare a landing that stood a higher chance than maybe. This is an ongoing issue with proposing 'daring' plans with 20-20 hindsight, the Generals at the time couldn't simply decide to roll the dice because the troops were real and the consequences of failure were real.

Not really. In operational squadron strength the German air forces fluctuated at similar levels in 1943-1944. Some months they fell as low as 4,500 aircraft, at other points they went a bit over 5,500, but never exceeded 6,000. John Ellis in 'Brute Force' presents biannual front line operating strengths of the GAF for 1943-1945. In terms of veteran & reasonably well trained air crew the Germans are better off in 1943. They were declining in this respect, but had not fallen to the abysmal levels of 1944. Their aircraft were in better shape in 1943. A high portion of the operational strength being actually fit to fly. In 1943 the average non combat losses were still down around 35% of all losses. In 1944 they had initially risen to 40% & as the year progressed & and came close to 50% as the year ran out. The Allies non combat losses also started 1943 between 30 & 35%, but steady improvements in maintenance & pilot training/experience caused that to fall below 30% through 1943-1944.

In raw number the Allied squadron operating strength in the ETO/MTO rivaled the German average in early 1943. Mid year it was rising to 7,000 & then on to close to 10,000 by the end of 1943. What was the result in the air battles? Even before early 1943 the Germans were abandoning airfields in western France & that trend accelerated. The Allies were able to dominate west of Paris & the Germans pulled back to eastern France to reduce a unfavorable loss to replacement rate.

The same occurred on a larger scale in the Mediterranean in 1943. Initially the Axis possessed the all weather airfields at Tunisia & Bizerte, plus the good network of auxiliary airfields in Tunisia. This allowed air superiority over the Allied aircraft flying from Algeria. By late February Allied engineers had established a robust network of all weather airfields in Tunisia, and they out numbered the Axis. As March spun out the Axis air commanders found they had to avoid air battles other than on the most favorable terms. Their losses were exceeding the ability of the Reich to replace aircraft and air crew lost. In April the air battle was clearly lost & support for the Axis ground forces was effectively abandoned but for token attacks. The same thing happened over Sicilly June-July. The Axis was abandoning airfields & conceding the air battle. When the invasion of Scilly came they surged forward and imeadiatly were taking unsustainable losses. The loss of the Italian air force in September 1943 made situation impossible. The German AF made a third effort to oppose the Allied invasion of Italy & again took losses exceeding replacements. After a few weeks the air battle was broken off & the Germans returned to a air strategy of surprise raid and ambush.

The Axis airfares won some credible tactical victories in 1943. The early success over Tunisia, blowing up a US ammunition ship on the first day of Op Husky got everyones attention, the raid on Baris port & sinking near a dozen ships, the massacre of the 8th AF bomber groups on the Schweinfurt raids. But, operational it was not enough & at the strategic level it was insignificant. The Big Week of January 1944 is often claimed as the defeat of the Luftwaffe. The foundation for that defeat was laid from early 1943 & the repeated severe losses the German AF took over western France, Tunisia, and Italy during 1943. A invasion of France i 1943 leaves the Luftwaffe with a choice. Give every possible support to the ground forces & take losses the same or higher than OTL, or back off and leave the ground forces unsupported.
 
Last edited:
This thread has moved sufficiently towards the possibility of Allied landings in Northwestern France in 1943 that I venture this post. In January 2007, an article was published that argued forcefully that no invasion was possible prior to 1944; to which I wrote a lengthy (too lengthy for posting here) rebuttal. I do wish to provide excerpts that indicate the OTL decisions in World War II were not the only viable options. The reader is at a disadvantage unless the original article is found and read online, but please bear with that,

Background and assumptions.
Any devotee of Alternative History, especially readers of John Grigg’s 1943, The Victory That Never Was or What If? compiled by Dennis Showalter and Harold C Deutsch or the many facets of wargaming has thought seriously of the prospects of a Cross-Channel invasion occurring prior to 1944. Consequently, I thoroughly enjoyed LTC John Frenzel’s article in the January 2007 issue of WWII History. I read it, reread it, debated it out loud with others, and could not disagree more on several key points with this excellent author. Frenzel’s core statement, that “[o]nly in 1944 had three fundamental objectives for cross-Channel been achieved” correctly identifies three essential preconditions; but the article begs the question “Could these fundamental objectives have been achieved in 1943 instead of 1944?” The answer to each is conditionally affirmative.

1. “The Allies had agreed upon a coherent, viable strategy.” Arguably this statement could apply as much to the two Washington Conferences in December 1941 and June 1942 that planned a 1943 cross-Channel assault as to the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 that postponed it until 1944. Compelling strategic reasons existed for a 1943 assault, especially when viewed from the long-term strategic interests of preserving the British Empire. First and foremost was the necessity of eliminating operational U-boat bases on the French Atlantic Coasts. Allied merchant losses totaled 7,250,090 gross tons between January 1942 and May 1943. With 636,907 tons the month of November 1942 was typical of unsustainable losses for the British Red Ensign, if not for the flood of Liberty ships pouring out of American shipyards. The Atlantic lifeline to the Western Hemisphere and the Cape of Good Hope was of far greater importance to the political, economic and military survival of the British Isles than lines of communications through the Mediterranean. Even if an invasion became stalemated in Central or Eastern France, the breaking of the U-boat menace would pay off in the savings of merchant cargoes and in the lives of their crews. (1)

A second, critical strategic advantage would be shifting manpower resources in favor of the Allies. An invasion would result in the immediate reduction of Germany’s ability to concentrate her own manpower resources. After tremendous losses at Stalingrad and El Alamein, Germany spent much of 1943 expanding the Wehrmacht, conscripting native Germans (including the "politically unreliable") and Volksdeutsch previously exempted, and recruiting French, Belgian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish and Ukrainian Waffen SS, filling Wehrmacht second-line units, and as auxiliary troops. The Italian campaign of 1943 had an unintended effect of allowing Occupied France to be a secure training ground for new or reconstituted units; and the expanded training of junior leaders to replace combat losses. An invasion in 1943 not only greatly diminishes this advantage, but also increases the combat frontage the weakened German Wehrmacht must cover while still deep inside of Russia. A liberated France and the Lowlands could be reintegrated into the Allied war effort, providing additional manpower reserves, and local industrial and agricultural products.

In the final analysis, postponing the cross-Channel assault actually reduced rather than increased the American troops available for combat operations in Europe. After the 1942 landings were cancelled, U.S. Army Chief of Staff GEN George C Marshall sent two divisions, the 40th and 43rd U.S. Infantry Divisions to the Southwest Pacific, and ordered the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Division broken up to form the 9th U.S. Armored Division. After the Casablanca Conference delayed the assault until 1944, Marshall released the 1st U.S. Cavalry and 6th, 7th, 31st, 33rd and 38th U.S. Infantry Divisions to the Pacific. Thus, four of 15 precious pre-Pearl Harbor Regular Army divisions were among nine total U.S. Army divisions lost to employment at all in the European Theater, although six of them underwent specialized training for combat in Europe during 1942. Moreover, to avoid overburdening transatlantic maritime supply lines, Marshall kept all combat-ready divisions in the United States except the 82nd and 101st U.S. Airborne and the 36th and 45th U.S. Infantry Divisions until actually required in Great Britain for Operation Overlord. Consequently, the British Mediterranean Strategy in 1943 had the effect of draining British manpower in Europe while keeping American manpower uncommitted. (2)

Third, a cross-Channel invasion by forces based in the British Isles would still leave well over a quarter of a million British and Commonwealth troops in the Middle East. If the British were acquiescing to an American sponsored front in Western Europe, the Americans would surely permit U.S. supplied and manned amphibious forces to be shifted to the Mediterranean later in 1943. With Italy and the Balkans stripped of German troops to man the Russian and Channel fronts, the Mediterranean may in fact become the soft underbelly of Europe. More favorable weather in the Mediterranean meant amphibious landings are feasible year-round, and the British have excellent chances of placing significant forces in Bulgaria and Romania ahead of the Russians

Fourth, elimination of Luftwaffe bases on French and Dutch soil would simplify Air Defence of the British Isles, releasing manpower from anti-aircraft units, freeing up fighter squadrons for offensive duties, and increasing productivity and output of British manufacturing. Moreover, the possession of French bases greatly complicates German air defences, and allows damaged Allied bombers and their crews a greater chance of returning safely.

Finally, if successful, a cross-Channel invasion was expected to open the way to victory in the European Theater within a year. The effects of a return of peacetime conditions a year earlier would be of incalculable value to British political and economic recovery. (3) Although the Southeast Asia Command and Eastern Fleet would be denied reinforcements in 1943, and ill-advised operations such as the Chindits and the Arakan would be greatly scaled back, this would be offset by full British attention in 1944-45. A successful military defeat of the Japanese in the East Indies prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs would greatly restore British colonial and military prestige. As a completely unforeseeable side effect, the causes and results of the 1943-44 Bengal famine would be mitigated, avoiding a catastrophic blow to the prestige of the Raj.

LTC Frenzel does an excellent job of illustrating the crisis of confidence that the British were under in 1942-43. However, with all considerations taken account, if the British Imperial Defence Staff had been able to distance themselves from the emotions of the Somme losses, and to perceive that any invasion of France would be too great of a commitment of American prestige to permit failure; then the advantages of Operation Roundup in 1943 would have been realized and aggressively embraced. The most critical component of this thesis remains that of timing. A cross-Channel invasion decision had to be made no later than June 1942, and then strictly adhered to. Otherwise, logistics and troop commitments will not fall into place. (4)

2. They had achieved peak strength in terms of combat experience, naval and air supremacy, military intelligence and logistical readiness. Again, a close analysis finds this claim unimpressive. The majority of forces employed by the U.S. Army in 1944 had never seen combat, only the 2nd U.S. Armored, 82nd U.S. Airborne, 1st and 9th U.S. Infantry Divisions had seen combat in North Africa or Sicily. For the British, only 7 Armoured, 1 Airborne, 50 (Northumberland) and 51 (Highland) Divisions had seen combat in the Desert or Sicily. Other formations learned lessons in Norway or Dunkirk that were undesirable. While the British did have a system of rotating personnel from overseas that leavened some units in Great Britain, for most U.S. troops it was a one-way street – the most recently formed divisions were robbed of personnel to fill combat losses. (5) The great strength of U.S. formations lay in the high education level, intelligence, resourcefulness and physical stamina required for successful completion of combat training, not a steady stream of blooded leaders from Europe to newly formed units. The peak of combat experience required for an invasion of France was demonstrated at Sicily and Salerno, and existed already in 1943.

For the British, a dozen divisions, including the 1, 8, 9, 10, 42 (East Lancashire) Armoured, and 38 (Welsh), 44 (Home Counties), 45 (Wessex), 47 (2nd London), 48 (South Midland), 59 (Staffordshire) and 61 (South Midland) Divisions were combat ready in 1943, but broken up or gutted to provide replacements for combat losses in Italy (1943-4), India (1943) or early on after the Normandy landings (mid-1944). Additionally, a plan to form 2 Guards Armoured Division from 6 Guards Armoured and 24 Guards Brigades was abandoned in late 1942 because the prospect for its employment in France was not pressing. Finally, the American disbelief of the existence of a soft underbelly in Europe quickly spread to the Commonwealth. The Australians disbanded all three of their armoured divisions rather than send any more troops to the Mediterranean and withdrew 9 Australian Division after Libya was secured in January 1943.

If Australian Prime Minister John Curtin were confronted with the blunt fact that U.S. troops to fight the Japanese were contingent on the speed with which the Allies entered Berlin, then 9 Australian Division would still have returned home, but 1 Australian Armoured Division would have replaced it in North Africa. Once a 1943 cross-Channel invasion was postponed, Canada dedicated the U.S. equipped 6 Canadian Division to the Pacific, although only 13 Canadian Brigade was actually sent to the invasion of Kiska. South Africa also insisted that 1 South African Division be withdrawn before 6 South African Armoured Division was committed to Italy. Moreover, the concentration of German troops in the Balkans forced the British to maintain 31 Indian Armoured and 6 Indian Divisions in Iraq and Syria in the event of an attack through Turkey until it was too late to employ either in Europe. The potential addition of nine American and perhaps as many as 17 Commonwealth divisions for combat in 1943 would more than compensate for any additional combat experience in the remaining units in 1944. (6)

Naval supremacy was also assured. Although it could not be forecast in June 1942, the U-boat Wolf packs were decisively defeated in March 1943. A combination of long-range patrol bombers and escort carriers providing convoy air cover, improved sonar, sensors, ASW weapons and crew training combined to decimate Grandadmiral Karl Doenitz’s underwater hunters. For operations in the narrow confines of the English Channel, naval supremacy was assured. Air mastery was also achievable. In the spring of 1943, France was fifth on the Luftwaffe’s priority list, after a steadily deteriorating Eastern Front, Fighter Defence of the Reich, new pilot training requirements, and the Mediterranean. Only Norway, the Balkans and the Baltic were lower in priority. Although the Allies would be flying inferior planes in 1943 than in 1944, the ratio of Allied to German aircraft was much more favorable in 1943, in part because heavy losses in bomber aircraft had not yet been sustained. (7)

LTC Frenzel’s point about Allied Military Intelligence is indisputable, but would have been offset by other factors unique to 1943. The desire by PM Winston Churchill for further operations in the Mediterranean Theater was well known to Hitler and the German High Command. It would not be difficult to organize deception operations to convince the Germans that forces built up in Great Britain were in fact destined for Italy or the Balkans, a credible option since forces used to invade French North Africa came from the British Isles and the United States. But any deception efforts, whether firing a corpse out of a submarine tube with a briefcase full of phony invasion plans or false radio traffic would pale in comparison to German efforts to deceive themselves.

In March 1943, the Abwehr intercepted a “scrambler” phone conversation between Churchill and President Franklin D Roosevelt discussing U-boat losses, and the feasibility of landings near the U-boat pens at Lorient and Brest. Churchill stated that the weather would be prohibitive until late summer or autumn. When this information was briefed to him, Adolf Hitler seized upon it as an excuse to strip all panzer and infantry formations from anti-invasion duties in France to replace the enormous losses at Stalingrad. Additionally, garrison units were stripped of one-third of their combat power (a full regiment), and the remaining two-thirds of units had 20-25% of their troops replaced by non-German conscripts – a total reduction of German troops by 46-50%. While this action stabilized the Eastern Front and enabled FM Erich von Manstein to recapture Kharkhov and set up the Kursk Offensive, it also left FM Gerd von Rundstedt in France devoid of any means of defeating an invasion. In the last analysis, no quantity or quality of Allied deception operations could hope to compete with a Hitlerian tantrum in effectively demolishing sound German strategic decision-making. The inability of Allied Military Intelligence to report the nakedness of German defences in France in 1943 ranks as one of the great intelligence failures of the Second World War – equal to the Pearl Harbor attack, or the failure by Stalin to perceive Operation Barbarossa. (8)

Logistical readiness was dependent upon a 1942 cross-Channel invasion decision being locked in stone, and a concurrent commitment by the British Government to order the necessary industrial commitment. Design work for Mulberry Harbours and PLUTO were completed prior to 1942, but the commitment of ten months’ time, the majority of workspace at nine major British shipyards and 120,000 tons of steel for two Mulberries is improbable in 1942. It is likely that only one would be built. The second major logistical obstacle was geographic and could not be overcome in 1942, 1943, or 1944. From the Allied perspective, the Pas de Calais region of France was the only strategic and tactical point suitable for a cross-Channel assault. Its location was hundreds of miles closer to the German heartland, maximized Allied air cover, minimized Allied exposure of masses of troops, and enjoyed far better beaches and terrain. Pas de Calais was also too far from large ports required once assault armies were ashore. Normandy was selected because the first Allied objective in France had to be the seizure of St Nazaire, Bordeaux, Cherbourg and Brest, the four largest Atlantic ports in cargo capacity.

As for landing craft, the Allies during Operation Husky had nine divisions [2nd U.S. Armored, 1st, 3rd, and 45th U.S. Infantry Divisions and 7 Armoured, 5, 50 (Northumberland), 51 (Highland) and 1 Canadian Divisions] afloat at the same time assaulting Sicily, two more divisions than would be employed at Normandy in 1944. The shortage of landing craft noted by LTC Frenzel was caused by Marshall’s agreement with U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Earnest King to divert amphibious shipping to the Pacific after the Casablanca Conference; and higher than anticipated losses at Salerno and Anzio. The only major logistical elements not readily available in 1943 were adequate numbers of transport aircraft. This would require a decision by Roosevelt to allocate additional C-47 and C-54 aircraft at the expense of supplying China over the “Hump” from airbases in India.

3. It had also been decided that the German war machine had been sufficiently weakened. While perhaps the historical record supports the existence of this subjective analysis, LTC Frenzel seems unconvinced of its validity. He spends several paragraphs describing the increase in German anti-invasion defences, improvements in the Atlantic Wall, and a build up from 29 to 56 combat divisions. What should be noted is that all of Churchill’s melodramatic arguments against a cross-Channel invasion in 1943 also provided strong rationale for abandoning amphibious landings at Gela, Syracuse, and Salerno. The American High Command understood this argument, but failed to play this card with sufficient resolution.

Coalition warfare is always a tradeoff, a series of political victories and compensating secondary concessions. The British having won the strategic argument to delay a cross-Channel assault from 1942 to 1943 would have been wise to accept the invasion in 1943 in exchange for full American logistical support for British movement of forces in the Middle East into Southern Europe. The British should have understood that with the full might of the American military and air power committed to a second front, the soft underbelly of Europe would become softer still. In a cold-hearted assessment, nothing illustrates the myopia that develops in strategic vision after a succession of defeats than the inability of the British High Command to perceive that the invasion of Normandy in 1943 was the final chance for the British Empire to secure victory in Europe before her position as a major power broke completely, and she would be relegated to second-class status on the level of France or Italy.

How might a 1943 Invasion have played out, the effects on both pre- and post-invasion events? LTC Frenzel alludes to the possibility of dramatic effects of an Allied victory in 1944, upon the genesis of the Cold War. However, the effects of this strategy stretch in both dimensions of time, and warrant closer examination.

German Defences – 12 May 1943: As noted, German Wehrmacht troops had been stripped to re-establish the German Army on the Eastern Front. Neither 15th Army near Pas de Calais or 7thArmy in Normandy nor any of their subordinate Corps were sufficiently staffed to actually direct a battle; German command and control often ran from Army Group B to actual divisions. Although equally inadequate for its own assigned missions and responsibilities, Army Group G in Southern France would be stripped of key units once they were brought up to full strength in troops and equipment. Many units in Army Group B were reforming after destruction at Stalingrad. From the historical record, in May 1943 the Germans deployed in France the following units:

Panzer Units – Normal configuration of one panzer, one panzer grenadier, one panzer artillery regiments, one panzer reconnaissance, one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, one anti-aircraft and one engineer battalions, motorized transport:
9th SS Panzer “Hohentaufen” Division – North of St Dizier – Formed February 1943 – At 55% manpower with no combat vehicles.
1st Panzer Division – St Lo and Flers – Reformed February 1943 – At full strength, and finishing handing over 4 PzKw I(Command), 10 PzKw II, 57 PzKw IVH to 16th Panzer Division. It had received orders to depart for Greece where a full outfit of unit equipment was to be received straight from German factories.
14th Panzer Division – South of Nantes – Reformed early May 1943 – At only 25% strength in personnel and just receiving 35 French Somua 40 training tanks from 1st Panzer Division.
16th Panzer Division – West of Chartres – Reformed March 1943 – At 70% strength in personnel, and company level training had begun on 18 elderly Czech PzKw 35 tanks.
24th Panzer Division – East of Rouen – Reformed April 1943 with a high cadre of Russian Front veterans – 50% strength with 4 PzKw IVF and 25 Somua 40 tanks.
26th Panzer Division – East of Orleans – Formed August 1942 – At full strength in personnel, with 10 PzKw I(Command), 9 PzKw II, 23 PzKw IIIJ, 12 PzKw IIIM(F), 14 PzKw IIIN, 6 PzKw IVF, 53 PzKw IVH tanks. Battalion-level training was well advanced, most regimental-level training had commenced and first Divisional maneuvers using integrated Battle Groups were currently underway.
29th Panzer Grenadier Division – Troyes – Reformed March 1943 – At full strength with two panzer grenadier and one motorized artillery regiment, one panzer, one panzer reconnaissance, one anti-tank, one engineer battalions. 12 PzKw II, 21 PzKw IIIF, 8 Pzkw IIIJ, 9 PzKw IVF, 7 Czech PzKw 38. Battalion and Regimental-level training had just commenced.
386thPanzer Grenadier Division – Southwest of Toulouse – Formed October 1942 and transferred to France, in March 1943 – at 100% personnel strength, and 80% equipment strength, the division performed poorly in exercises. The decision was made to transfer the remnants of the 3rd Motorized Division, destroyed at Stalingrad and replaces key commanders and staff, but was not yet executed. 13 PzKw II, 21 PzKw IIIF, 13 PzKw IIIJ, and 12 PzKw IVF2, 7 PzKw 38 tanks.
100th Panzer Training Regiment – St Dizier – 2 PzKw II, 2 PzKw IVH, 153 assorted captured Czech, French, British, Russian tanks. Responsible for training about 10% of all German tank crew replacements.
As can be seen, few of the tanks assigned were truly combat-worthy, although the PzKw IVH mounted the deadly 75mm/L43 gun. Only 1st and 26th Panzer Divisions were in any sense ready for battle and only 26th Panzer and 29th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were close to adequately equipped. In all of Army Group B there were only 209 modern tanks, and after use for training not all were fully serviceable. Similar shortages existed in armoured cars, half-tracks, anti-tank guns, artillery and lorries.

Parachute Units – Composed of three regiments, two artillery, one light reconnaissance battalions – elite troops, but few still parachute-qualified:
1st Parachute Division – Le Mans – Redesignated from 7th Parachute Division March 1943 – At 80% personnel strength with 1st and 3rd Parachute Regiments and all divisional units at full strength, but newly formed 4th Parachute Regiment was at 60% fill, with little training completed.
2nd Parachute Division – St Lo – Formed April 1943 from remnants of Afrka Korps’ 2nd Parachute Brigade and 2nd Parachute Regiment – At 20% strength with all divisional units at cadre strength, and no equipment beyond individual gear.
5th Parachute Division – Rheims – Formed March 1943 – At 20% strength, units at cadre level.

Standard Infantry Units – Three infantry and one artillery regiments, one anti-tank, one engineer battalions, one light reconnaissance company, one anti-aircraft battery; transport with motor vehicles:
65th Infantry Division – Eindhoven – Formed June 1942, transferred to the Netherlands October 1942 – Fully combat ready.
161st Infantry Division – Boulogne – Reformed November 1942 – on orders to Russia, but not yet departed.

Standard Infantry Units – Three infantry and one artillery regiments, one anti-tank, one engineer battalions, one light reconnaissance company. Horse drawn transport with few motor vehicles:
44th Infantry Division – Ghent – Reformed March 1943 in Austria, transferring to Belgium in early May – 70% strength, some unit training, Czech/French weapons.
76th Infantry Division – Brest- Reformed March 1943 – 70% strength, little unit training, French weapons.
94th Infantry Division – West of Orleans - Reformed April 1943 with a high percentage of Russia survivors – 35% strength, French equipment.
113th Infantry Division – West of St Malo – Reformed February 1943 – 75% strength, little unit training, poor quality, French equipment.
282nd Infantry Division – Channel Coast West of Dieppe – Formed December 1942 - on orders to Russia, one regiment departed in April 1943 with advanced guard; remainder trained and equipped.
297th Infantry Division – South of Bordeaux – Reforming in early May 1943- 10% cadre from Stalingrad survivors.
305th Infantry Division – South of Paris – Reformed one week prior, cadre only.
371st Infantry Division – Northeast of Brest – Reformed February 1943 – 75% strength. Just arriving in France with rearguard still aboard trains, little training, Czech equipment.
376th Infantry Division – Arnhem – Reformed April 1943 with a high percentage of Russian Front veterans – 40% strength, Czech equipment
384th Infantry Division – Bourges – Reformed April 1943 – 30% strength
389th Infantry Division – St Malo – Reformed one week prior to invasion, cadre only.

Luftwaffe Field Divisions – Formed from redundant ground crew as German aircraft losses skyrocketed in 1942, containing two infantry and one artillery regiments, one anti-tank, one anti-aircraft, one engineer battalions, and one light reconnaissance company. No organic transport at all, dependent upon railroads.
16th Luftwaffe Field Division – Rotterdam – Formed November 1942 – At full strength, poor state of training.
17th Luftwaffe Field Division – Le Havre – Formed December 1942 and transferred to France in March 1943. At full strength, average unit training.
18th Luftwaffe Field Division – Dunkirk – Formed January 1943 – 80% strength, poor state of training.

Occupation Divisions – Normally two infantry regiments, one artillery battalion standard. Overage World War I veterans with 40-55% Non-German conscripts. Czech, French, Belgian or Russian weapons, no transport of any kind.
319th Occupation Division – Channel Islands – Formed September 1940 – Heavily reinforced –Four regiments of infantry and one of artillery, two anti-aircraft battalions at full strength to hold these isolated islands. Few non-German troops.
325th Occupation Division – Paris – Formed a few days prior to the invasion as a security unit of three regiments, cadre only.
343rd Occupation Division – Lorient – Formed October 1942 – Transferred to France in March 1943. Above strength with one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, and one engineer battalions added.
344th Occupation Division – Bordeaux – Formed October 1942 – Transferred to France in March 1943. Above strength with a full artillery regiment, one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, and one engineer battalions, although not diluted with Non-Germans, the troops were of below average capabilities.
346th Occupation Division – Chartres – Formed October 1942 – Assigned additional units, one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, and one engineer battalions.
347th Occupation Division – The Hague – Formed October 1942 - Three infantry regiments, one artillery, one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, and one engineer battalion.
348th Occupation Division – Dieppe – Formed October 1942 after the Canadian raid – Three infantry regiments, one artillery, one light reconnaissance, one anti-tank, and one engineer battalion.
708th Occupation Division – North of Gironde Estuary – Formed in April 1941, stationed in France since the following November – at full strength and being prepared for rear area duties in Russia. Because of those plans an additional 25% of the division was replaced by Belgian, Dutch, Danish and Czech troops who volunteered to escape labour duties in the Reich.
709th Occupation Division – Cotentin Peninsula – Formed April 1941 – Transferred to France in April 1943 from Denmark, 919th Regiment arrived four days before the invasion.
711th Occupation Division – Rouen – Formed April 1941 – 33% Non-German, mostly Polish, poor training level.
712th Occupation Division – Eindhoven – Formed April 1941 – Average level of training.
715th Occupation Division – French Coast near Dax – Sister Division to the 708th Occupation Division – Reinforced with an engineer battalion and a reconnaissance company. Due to Hitler’s fears of an Allied invasion in the autumn of 1943, the unit was not diluted with Non-Germans, although a half-strength battalion of French North African Muslims was attached.
716th Occupation Division – Normandy – Formed April 1941 – Best trained unit of its type
719th Occupation Division – Breda – Formed April 1941 – Transferred from France to The Netherlands as unfit for anti-invasion duties, November 1942.

Training Divisions – Unfit for combat, but often historically employed with disastrous results, as Army Group B poached them from their Wehrkreis. They would have been better used as a source of raw manpower to units in existence if disbanded. Nominally they contained three infantry and one artillery regiments supplying about 20% of the German Army’s infantry replacements in 1943. Roughly 65% were ethnic Germans, many from Alsace-Lorraine or the Lowlands, 15% French conscripts destined for the Russian front, and 20% Czechs, Poles, Dutch or Belgians. After the invasion, these Non-German troops frequently surrendered and provided invaluable replacements for their national armies in exile.
148th Training Division – Toulouse – Formed in Metz in September 1942 – Moved to Toulouse during the occupation of Vichy France. In January 1943, French volunteers for the Legion des Voluntaires Francais which had lost one-third of its strength in Russia began training along with ethnic Germans.
156th Training Division – Calais – Formed September 1939 – Moved to France, February 1943 to increase training capacity for Non-Germans.
158th Training Division – La Rochelle – Formed in Strasbourg in September 1942 –Transferred to the Atlantic Coast after participating in the occupation of Vichy France. In March 1943, the unit began training Germans formerly exempt from conscription and German-speaking Poles.
165th Training Division – The Schelde – Formed November 1939 – Transferred to France in October 1942 and the Netherlands in February 1943, the unit was poached heavily by the SS; the unleavened remainder proved poor troops.
171st Training Division – Strasbourg – Formed October 1939 – Transferred to France, October 1942. Over 40% were French who proved disloyal once the SS had picked through them.
182nd Training Division – Metz – Formed October 1939 – Transferred to France, November 1940. Poor quality unit.
191st Training Division – West of Evreaux – Formed September 1942 – Only two infantry regiments instead of three. (9)

Command Selection. Undoubtedly, this would be the most difficult of the decisions leading up to landings in Normandy. Although, GEN Dwight D Eisenhower had proven successful in Operation Torch, his stature was still inadequate to command the invasion of France. Roosevelt would have to part with GEN Marshall as U.S. Army Chief of Staff. This would not be viewed as a demotion, two other former Chiefs of Staff were serving, GEN Douglas MacArthur as Southwest Pacific Commander, and LTG Malin Craig as Chief of Personnel.

Command of the Air was far easier to achieve for Marshall than it was for Eisenhower a year later. Marshall had been a superior officer to all USAAF commanders from Gen Henry “Hap” Arnold down, Eisenhower was a lesser peer to them. Marshall’s request for Eighth U.S. Air Force to suspend daylight raids over Germany, and concentrate on German airfields lines of communications, suspected troop concentrations and Normandy beach fortifications was acted on promptly, despite the widespread USAAF belief that Germany would be broken only through strategic application of airpower. Nevertheless, B-17s, B-24s and P-38s of Eighth U.S. Air Force were combined with B-25s, B-26s, A-20s, P-40s and early model P-47s and P-51s of Ninth U.S. Air Force. Ninth U.S. Air Force, Marshall’s second major air component, was created especially for tactical air support of ground forces. The RAF provided 2nd Tactical Air Force whose Spitfire Mk VIII and IX were the best Allied dogfighters (if too short-ranged). To make up the needed numbers, older RAF aircraft such as Blenheim Mk IV, Tomahawk IIB, Kittyhawk I and Hurricane Mk II remained in service.

The Luftwaffe, unable to maintain defenses against this vast assault, chose denial of the obvious implications instead. The shift of USAAF heavy bombers was attributed to unacceptable loss rates over Germany proper. The destruction of French air bases led to an end of FW Condor flights to locate Allied convoys, an integral part of any anti-U-boat campaign. The use of obsolescent RAF aircraft was interpreted as a need to give new pilots operational experience in a relatively weak theater. Although the Allies are flying as many as 3,000 sorties per day over France by early May 1943, the possibility of an invasion was not contemplated by Reichmarshall Goering’s staff. Hitler had previously declared that option impossible.

Invasion dates are weather, sea state, and tidal dependent, with 14 April, 12 May, 09 June, 07 July, 04 August, 01 and 29 September 1943 being considered possible dates. In general, weather in 1943 was far superior to 1944, and this extended into the winter of 1943-44. Gen Marshall chose the second date, for the simple reasons that troops and commanders were not in place for an April assault, and May proved clear and calm, and worse weather was possible later. Marshall did not yield to arguments for delay on the basis of upgrading equipment, or obtaining more favorable air support. The weather was good, and the Allies invaded.

(1) Statistics from Samuel L Morrison, U.S. Naval Operations in WWII Vol I “Battle of the Atlantic”; Brown and Little; 1951. Appendices are especially useful.
(2) U.S. Army divisional deployments – see Shelby Stanton “WWII Order of Battle” – Presidio Press; 1981. Analysis is my own.
(3) Many sources discuss the abrupt and significant decline of British fortunes in the sixth year of the Second World War, but none as clearly as Corelli Barnett in “Audit of War” MacMillan; 1986; and Eric Grove “From Vanguard to Trident” Naval Institute Press; 1987. Analysis is my own.
(4) The ability of the Allies to adhere to this strict timetable is the greatest weakness in this thesis.
(5) I am indebted the George Nafziger’s Order of Battle Series for British/Commonwealth units as well as David French, “Raising Churchill’s Army” Oxford Press; 2000. For German units Samuel Mitchum, “Hitler’s Legions” Stein and Day; 1985
(6) Throughout the remainder of this section, especially on German unit locations, Allied logistical and weather data I am indebted to Walter Dunn “Second Front Now, 1943” University of Alabama Press; 1980.
(7) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”.
(8) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”; Anecdote on Hitler is found therein.
(9) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”.
 
This thread has moved sufficiently towards the possibility of Allied landings in Northwestern France in 1943 that I venture this post. In January 2007, an article was published that argued forcefully that no invasion was possible prior to 1944; to which I wrote a lengthy (too lengthy for posting here) rebuttal. I do wish to provide excerpts that indicate the OTL decisions in World War II were not the only viable options. The reader is at a disadvantage unless the original article is found and read online, but please bear with that, ....

(7) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”.
(8) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”; Anecdote on Hitler is found therein.
(9) Walter Dunn “Second Front Now”.

The only thing I'd criticize there is the citation of Dunn as a source. His arguments are handicapped by things like using total LST delivered in 1943 for the number available mid year for use in a invasion.
 
Dunn has other problems too - most notably the axes ground to the handles. However, the limited use I made of locations and compositions of German forces and weather data seem borne out in other sources - his are just more detailed.
 
I do wish to provide excerpts that indicate the OTL decisions in World War II were not the only viable options.
Agreed; Other decisions were possible.

The ability of the Allies to adhere to this strict timetable is the greatest weakness in this thesis.
Exactly - For the Allies to decide in June 1942 to invade France in 1943 given the war situation at the time - loss of Burma, Tobruk, the German offensive on the Eastern Front, shipping losses on the US East Coast, etc etc - would be challenging.

I've also never seen anything convincing about the feasibility of getting a US Army Group to the UK in time.

In a cold-hearted assessment, nothing illustrates the myopia that develops in strategic vision after a succession of defeats than the inability of the British High Command to perceive that the invasion of Normandy in 1943 was the final chance for the British Empire to secure victory in Europe before her position as a major power broke completely, and she would be relegated to second-class status on the level of France or Italy.
:rolleyes:
 
Marshall? The man who wanted to abandon Germany first in favour of the Pacific? He's your standard for objectivity? Of course the allies aren't going to land in Spain anymore than they set foot in Norway, it will just provide a useful addition to Fortitude.
I honestly don’t see how the Allies could avoid landing in Spain if it was in the Axis. The threat to Gibraltar and the sea routes into the Med would be too great to ignore. While by no means requiring a full occupation, I’m convinced that at the minimum the Allies would want to establish a defensive perimeter around Gibraltar.
 
This thread has moved sufficiently towards the possibility of Allied landings in Northwestern France in 1943 that I venture this post.
I would add that in the scenario of a landing in 1943, with thr Allies focusing on liberating France and invading Germany, and with Germans forces being sent to stop them, Italy might simply drop out of the war in 1944 before any intense fighting on the mainland occured. Like Finland or Hungary.
 
I'd once again qualify the excellent post above by noting that while on paper the British had a number of full strength divisions in 1942-43, nearly all of them lacked the "tail" LOC units (Transport, signals, etc) to support their deployment overseas. This was the result of stripping divisions of much of their rearward support for Home Defense in 1940-41 , as they could operate locally in the UK without the extra manpower/material. After the deployment of divisions for Torch the UK was scraping the bottle of the barrel for the logistical support needed to send further expeditionary forces abroad, so they required another year and a half to build up the necessary units for an invasion in 1944.

David French gives an excellent overview of this process in his books/articles on the WW2-era British Army.

But these are entirely policy failures which could be rectified with different circumstances. If CIGS and Churchill both agree in 1941-42 that the threat of an invasion is unlikely and a major expeditionary force is urgently needed, the capacity could theoretically be built up for 1943.
 
I honestly don’t see how the Allies could avoid landing in Spain if it was in the Axis. The threat to Gibraltar and the sea routes into the Med would be too great to ignore. While by no means requiring a full occupation, I’m convinced that at the minimum the Allies would want to establish a defensive perimeter around Gibraltar.
But the problem is that clearing North Africa is a more attractive option, and once that's done the Med can be supplied via Suez. With air and naval bases in North Africa the Gibraltar straits become as dangerous as OTL for U-Boats.
 
But the problem is that clearing North Africa is a more attractive option, and once that's done the Med can be supplied via Suez. With air and naval bases in North Africa the Gibraltar straits become as dangerous as OTL for U-Boats.
Except supplying the Med through Suez adds literal weeks to the journey, eats up additional shipping, and increases the supply consumption due to the aforementioned two points. Not to mention the prestige blow due to the potential fall of the Rock. If just sailing around Africa was a decent alternative, the Allies wouldn’t have invested so much into holding Malta.
 
Except supplying the Med through Suez adds literal weeks to the journey, eats up additional shipping, and increases the supply consumption due to the aforementioned two points. Not to mention the prestige blow due to the potential fall of the Rock. If just sailing around Africa was a decent alternative, the Allies wouldn’t have invested so much into holding Malta.
Suez was closed largely because of the seizure of British colonies in East Africa and in fact the supply situation was rather the opposite as much of the supplies for the Middle East were originally coming from India and the Pacific, so going round Africa after Suez was closed was the drain on shipping.

And again it must be pointed out no has provided a plausible reason for Spain joining the Axis or for Germany suddenly deciding to draw yet more troops away from the eastern front, extend the coastline needing protection from Allied attack and lose a crucial pipeline for raw materials by invading. Unless someone can provide one or both of those then talk of where the Allies might launch alternative landings is meaningless.
 
And again it must be pointed out no has provided a plausible reason for Spain joining the Axis or for Germany suddenly deciding to draw yet more troops away from the eastern front, extend the coastline needing protection from Allied attack and lose a crucial pipeline for raw materials by invading. Unless someone can provide one or both of those then talk of where the Allies might launch alternative landings is meaningless.

As I said, the only plausible reason stems from Hitler dying. Goering was very anti-Franco and wanted to simply invade Spain once it became clear Franco was demanding impossibly high terms for his entry into the war. Ribbentrop concurred, and OKH was very pro-Felix as long as it wrapped up by February. Sans-Hitler, the Nazi leadership will likely invade Spain in October-November 1940, overrun the country + Gibraltar by January, and occupy it with 15ish divisions.

Nazi planning was based on breaking the British blockade on a grand scale by forcing the UK to the table, destroying the USSR, and/or getting Japan to enter the war and tie down the Royal Navy. While Spain was valuable as a source of raw materials, this was the less preferred option for the Nazis vis a vis seizing Gibraltar and South Atlantic bases and achieving "world power status". This was the era of planning for Mittelafrika, Lebensraum, and the return of the Z-Plan, not resource corridors.
 
Last edited:
As I said, the only plausible reason stems from Hitler dying. Goering was very anti-Franco and wanted to simply invade Spain once it became clear Franco was demanding impossibly high terms for his entry into the war. Ribbentrop concurred, and OKH was very pro-Felix as long as it wrapped up by February. Sans-Hitler, the Nazi leadership will likely invade Spain in October-November 1940, overrun the country + Gibraltar by January, and occupy it with 15ish divisions.
But if Hitler dies the first thing the Germans are going to do is look for a way out of the war, not extend it further. In 1940 Hitler had the success in France as proof of his military 'genius' to largely keep the military in line. To the rest of the senior leadership Goering is the one who promised to destroy the British at Dunkirk, and failed. Then he promised to destroy the RAF in a matter of weeks, and failed. Also you are proposing a winter offensive at a time when the Heer still hasn't replenished its stockpiles from the Battle of France. If Goering is looking to be deposed planning a pointless invasion of Spain, there being no North African campaign at the time, is a good way to go about it.
 
Do you have a link to the article?
No. I have it on Pdf only. But this is a later article by the same author with some additional material not in the January 2007, but still contains the core arguments.


With regard to Aber's comment regarding convincing evidence on the feasibility of an US Army Group in Great Britain in time. There is never convincing evidence for an event that did not happen. In April 1942, in London the Bolero Committee drew up plans for the accommodation of 1,147,000 combat troops, including 137,000 replacements, in the United Kingdom by the end of March 1943. These were just that, just plans.

By the time Bolero was cancelled in July 1942, only 1st US Armored, 1st and 34th US Infantry Divisions would make it to the UK, although most of the planned USAAF force (in addition to the figures above) did arrive in the UK. All three divisions, plus 2nd US Armored, 3rd and 9th US Infantry Divisions were diverted to Operation Torch. As noted in my previous posts, nine additional US Divisions were diverted to the Pacific. In addition 29th US Infantry Division arrived in the UK in October 1942. 36th Infantry Division arrived in North Africa in April 1943. Seventeen divisions is close to an Army Group. Also as I noted above, three US Corps HQ were available in Europe, I US Armored, II and V US Corps.

The available follow-on force that could be sent directly to France from the United States - in effect the forces Marshall held back in order to not assume the burden of sending their food and supplies by ship is significant. They include 3rd and 4th Armored, 82nd Airborne, 2nd, 4th, 5th (from Iceland), 8th, 26th, 30th, 35th, 44th and 45th Infantry Divisions.

As I noted, any 1943 invasion would be more heavily British-Canadian than American. However, the British Empire is also arguably the the greatest benefactor of an earlier invasion. In addition, the available Allied combat power is not the only factor to consider. The strength of the German defense pitted against an Allied invasion is of equal weight. The German defenses in May 1943 in France were hollow. The Atlantic Wall was not yet constructed. There was not a single fully equipped combat ready panzer or panzer grenadier division in France. There was not enough combat ready infantry divisions to turn the bocage into effective death traps. The nearest German reinforcements in significant mass and combat power to defeat an invasion were inconveniently located near Kursk.

Even if the US troops, as is quite likely, suffered Kasserine Pass like defeats, they would be well inside France, and unlikely to drive the Allies into the sea. The Americans would also not have the massive artillery groups in 1943 that were present a year later. The Germans also would lack a year of stability without a major second front to strengthen themselves either.

I concede as Stephen Ambrose states in his biography of Eisenhower "Supreme Commander" that based upon the knowledge available to the strategic planners in July 1942, Roundup in 1943 carried far more risk that of Overlord in 1944, but that the potential rewards were also far greater. OTL they took the lesser risk. They did not have to.
 
But if Hitler dies the first thing the Germans are going to do is look for a way out of the war, not extend it further. In 1940 Hitler had the success in France as proof of his military 'genius' to largely keep the military in line. To the rest of the senior leadership Goering is the one who promised to destroy the British at Dunkirk, and failed. Then he promised to destroy the RAF in a matter of weeks, and failed. Also you are proposing a winter offensive at a time when the Heer still hasn't replenished its stockpiles from the Battle of France. If Goering is looking to be deposed planning a pointless invasion of Spain, there being no North African campaign at the time, is a good way to go about it.

No one in Nazi Germany was seriously considering a negotiated peace with the UK in 1940 that anyone in the British government would ever accept, I don't know why that theory keeps getting bandied around. They were racist megalomaniacs obsessed with "world power status". Only Hitler (And Hess, who was more than a little delusional) was particularly fixated on the idea of the UK "coming to its senses" because of his belief that the UK was a natural "racial ally". Ribbentrop and the German FM were putting out plans to annex most of equatorial Africa and destroy the British Empire, Raeder wanted to seize the British Mediterranean/Mideast, and OKH/OKW were dropping memos in June-July 1940 supporting a peripheral strategy to knock the UK out of the war. The Heer is more than replenished after France to deploy 15-20 divisions for a campaign in Spain, their fuel stocks peaked in September 1940. Halder/OKH IOTL 100% supported operations against Britain's "Mediterranean periphery" in Fall 1940- Spring 1941 as an alternative to Sealion to secure Germany's Southern flank pre-Barbarossa, including operations in Spain and acquiring bases in French North Africa.

All of the serious Nazi foreign policy decision makers in 1940 (Goering, Ribbentrop, OKW/OKH, and Raeder) supported seizing bases in Spain and taking Gibraltar, and were extremely hostile toward Franco.
 
Last edited:
By the time Bolero was cancelled in July 1942,
Bolero was not cancelled, it was just scaled back without telling the British - see Ruppenthaal. :)
As noted in my previous posts, nine additional US Divisions were diverted to the Pacific.
The available follow-on force that could be sent directly to France from the United States - in effect the forces Marshall held back in order to not assume the burden of sending their food and supplies by ship is significant.
So US divisions were available for the ETO - they just didn't get sent. :cool: Given the bottleneck was principally UK port capacity it would have made sense to start shipping units earlier.
As I noted, any 1943 invasion would be more heavily British-Canadian than American. However, the British Empire is also arguably the the greatest benefactor of an earlier invasion.
The British did not see it that way.
In addition, the available Allied combat power is not the only factor to consider. The strength of the German defense pitted against an Allied invasion is of equal weight. The German defenses in May 1943 in France were hollow. The Atlantic Wall was not yet constructed. There was not a single fully equipped combat ready panzer or panzer grenadier division in France.
German units in France were a reflection of the Italian campaign in progress, and the lack of build up of an invasion force in the UK. Change Allied strategic deployments, and German dispositions will change.
 
No one in Nazi Germany was seriously considering a negotiated peace with the UK in 1940 that anyone in the British government would ever accept, I don't know why that theory keeps getting bandied around. They were racist megalomaniacs obsessed with "world power status". Only Hitler (And Hess, who was more than a little delusional) was particularly fixated on the idea of the UK "coming to its senses" because of his belief that the UK was a natural "racial ally". Ribbentrop and the German FM were putting out plans to annex most of equatorial Africa and destroy the British Empire, Raeder wanted to seize the British Mediterranean/Mideast, and OKH/OKW were dropping memos in June-July 1940 supporting a peripheral strategy to knock the UK out of the war. The Heer is more than replenished after France to deploy 15-20 divisions for a campaign in Spain, their fuel stocks peaked in September 1940. Halder/OKH IOTL 100% supported operations against Britain's "Mediterranean periphery" in Fall 1940- Spring 1941 as an alternative to Sealion to secure Germany's Southern flank pre-Barbarossa, including operations in Spain and acquiring bases in French North Africa.

All of the serious Nazi foreign policy decision makers in 1940 (Goering, Ribbentrop, OKW/OKH, and Raeder) supported seizing bases in Spain and taking Gibraltar, and were extremely hostile toward Franco.
This is getting more than a little convoluted. The OP was talking about Spain joining the Axis in 1941-42 and how that might influence the execution of D-Day. Now you are killing off Hitler, with all the butterflies that entails, to invade Spain in 1940, and of course you are assuming that Goering does indeed become Fuhrer, and all that goes along with that. And this so the Allies 'have' to mount some sort of landing in Spain. It really does seem a case of working backwards from an ending to make it happen regardless of how unlikely it beomes.
 
German units in France were a reflection of the Italian campaign in progress, and the lack of build up of an invasion force in the UK. Change Allied strategic deployments, and German dispositions will change.
Which of course is a common mistake in these sorts of discussion, assuming that if A changes their plans B will simply carry on as per OTL.
 
This is getting more than a little convoluted. The OP was talking about Spain joining the Axis in 1941-42 and how that might influence the execution of D-Day. Now you are killing off Hitler, with all the butterflies that entails, to invade Spain in 1940, and of course you are assuming that Goering does indeed become Fuhrer, and all that goes along with that. And this so the Allies 'have' to mount some sort of landing in Spain. It really does seem a case of working backwards from an ending to make it happen regardless of how unlikely it beomes.

Well, the TL has to start getting convoluted as there isn't really a reason for Spain to join the Axis voluntarily - Franco's conditions were simply too pricey. To get as close to OP's premise as possible you need to use force to get a Nazi-controlled Spain. But that won't happen with Hitler in power, as he was insistent on getting Franco to join up voluntarily. So, the first step to getting an Axis-controlled Spain is sidelining Hitler. It doesn't really matter who succeeds him (Though Goering is by far the most likely), because as I noted above all parties with substantial influence over Nazi foreign policy supported aggression against Spain to neutralize Gibraltar and seize bases in North Africa.
 
Top