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Old 05-07-2018, 11:43 AM
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What if Alan Brooke had been supreme allied commander instead of Eisenhower?


Just curious what people think if Churchill didn't change his mind and decided to keep Alan Brooke to be in overall command of the Normandy invasion and. Would it have gone better or worse? I think it went off pretty well except for Omaha Beach of course. However, so many things went wrong there that I'm not sure if having Brooke in charge would have made a difference.

As for after Normandy until the end of the war, I'm still reading his war diaries and haven't gotten that far yet. However, my overall impression so far is that he seemed much more on the ball than anybody else in regards to the strategic planning so maybe having him as the supreme commander might have worked out better in the long run.
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:51 AM
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Since this requires speculation, let's move it to IMHO.

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Old 05-07-2018, 12:17 PM
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Alan Brooke found his right place as CIGS. Someone had to be the Churchill-wrangler, and I doubt anyone else could have handled that formidable task better then he managed.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:00 PM
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Yes, some interesting conversations between the two. It's hard to believe that Brookes was told 3 times he would be getting the job plus Churchill even told his wife that her husband was going to be the supreme commander and then the final decision comes down saying otherwise. I don't know how often this type of thing goes on at that level with high officials and military personnel but it's no wonder Brookes had such a dim view of politicians.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:14 PM
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Churchill realized it wasn't his decision to make. The majority of troops and resources were going to be American so an American commander was inevitable. If Churchill had tried to fight it, Roosevelt would have just overruled him.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:35 PM
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Eventually. Not initially. Eisenhower was surprised to get it, he thought Brooke was a shoo in.
Technically it would have been a demotion for Brooke.
He would have done a good job. There would have been no problem with the Hedgerows, since he mentioned them approximately a million times only for his advice to be ignored.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:16 AM
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Eventually. Not initially. Eisenhower was surprised to get it, he thought Brooke was a shoo in.
Actually Eisenhower expected Marshall would get the job.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:23 AM
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What’s often forgotten is that Ike wore two hats, as SACEUR and Commander Land Forces. If Brooke does get the top job, then I expect Ike or some other American to get charge of Land HQ.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:06 AM
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What’s often forgotten is that Ike wore two hats, as SACEUR and Commander Land Forces. If Brooke does get the top job, then I expect Ike or some other American to get charge of Land HQ.
That would have caused problems. Brooke absolutely despised Americans and didn't think any of them were competent to lead troops in battle. For political reasons, he muted his feelings in public but his diary and private conversations display an astonishing amount of contempt. It's hard to see how he could have effectively led a joint operation with that attitude.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:17 AM
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Yes, although I think it was more of a condescending attitude then “despised”.
But, if Brooke was good at any thing, it was suppressing personal feelings in favour of the larger mission. I do not see that changing.
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Old 05-08-2018, 08:53 AM
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Operation Overlord was largely planned out according to the logical application of Allied capabilities, geography, weather, and the known disposition of German forces. Whether the supreme commander was Brooke, Eisenhower, or someone else, the invasion would have proceeded in more or less the same way and probably come to the same result at about the same time.

I am not sure Brooke would have bene as good as Eisenhower at managing the personalities under him, but who knows? Maybe he'd have done better. Either way, the Germans would probably still have been smashed to pieces at Falaise and would have scurried across the Seine around August 30, as in fact they did.

As to Brooke's unfavorable attitude towards Americans, I think it is important to note that Brooke had unfavorable attitudes towards everyone. He was one of the first British commanders to (correctly) predict that the French Army was hopelessly unfit to resist a German attack, and he ripped into his fellow Britons as well. Almost all of his negative attitudes, though, he did a pretty good job of keeping private, and it's not that he disliked the men he worked with, he was just the kind of person who felt his job was to disagree.
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Old 05-08-2018, 08:59 AM
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He handled Churchill and King. You think he would have broken a sweat with Monty or Patton?
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:17 AM
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But would Brooke, a man who thought American generals and American troops were worthless, have approved of a plan like the Cobra breakout? I find it very doubtful. Brooke was also opposed to the landings in southern France. He might well have cancelled those. Brooke was, in fact, opposed to whole idea of invading France; he felt we should be attacking Germany in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

So if Brooke had been in charge of Overlord, it's very possible the campaign would have bogged down into holding a defensive position in Normandy.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:42 PM
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But would Brooke, a man who thought American generals and American troops were worthless, have approved of a plan like the Cobra breakout? I find it very doubtful. Brooke was also opposed to the landings in southern France. He might well have cancelled those. Brooke was, in fact, opposed to whole idea of invading France; he felt we should be attacking Germany in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

So if Brooke had been in charge of Overlord, it's very possible the campaign would have bogged down into holding a defensive position in Normandy.
And the landings in S France accomplished fuck all, except complicate the supply and communication situation in TWO theatres, so he was pretty right about that.

And having been raised in Normandy and having fought in the region in two Wars, he knew the land and told the Americans just how bad the hedgerows were.He was ignored. If he had been SACEUR, there would have been a lot more thought given to that problem.
There would have been no broad front strategy. He would have concentrated attacks on the low countries, basically Market Garden on steroids.

So no Hurtgen Forest or Metz.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:26 PM
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I skimmed ahead a bit with his memoirs and one thing I learned is that the V1 attacks when they started, ended up being much more of a problem then I realized. Some serious concerns about morale and the effects on production are mentioned by him. The efforts to take the launch sites out with bombing were not very successful so I can only assume that the only effective method was by ground attacks. I don't think it's prudent to say the Normandy landings accomplished anything "except complicate the supply and communication situation in TWO theatres". Obviously, he and others underestimated the potential of this new type of weapon.



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Churchill realized it wasn't his decision to make. The majority of troops and resources were going to be American so an American commander was inevitable. If Churchill had tried to fight it, Roosevelt would have just overruled him.

Fair point. I guess I should have said I'm surprised at Churchill's indiscretion regarding hinting a selection was already done when it obviously wasn't fully made by those involved. However, I'm not so sure about your comment about the number of troops and resources involved. Here's a quote from a fella that goes by the handle "TheVilla Aston" on youtube. I've seen him often argue with Americans about this topic and he always seems to come out ahead so there must be something to what he says. Must admit as a Canadian, my knowledge about Englands WW2 war production and manpower contributions is pretty lacking. Anyway the quote:

"D-Day
The air forces involved were 55% each from the RAF and 45%USAAF. Allied air operations were commanded by Trafford Leigh-Mallory of the RAF.

The land forces comprised 39.5% British, 14% Canadian and 46.5% US.
All land forces were under the command of General Montgomery.

Britain supplied 79% of the warships involved and just over 67% of the landing craft of all types. Allied Naval operations were commanded by Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay of the Royal Navy.

A few things I could add regarding Britain’s role in D-Day and the whole Overlord undertaking would be (in no particular order):
The dominant role of SOE in co-ordinating allied liaison with the various French resistance movements.
The monitoring of the German Enigma and Geheim-schreiber (Secret writer) messages by Bletchley Park which involved the construction of Colossus the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer.
The British lead role in Operation Fortitude.
The design and construction of two artificial harbours – one each for the British and US armies. As we all know, the destruction of the American harbour was partly caused by the shoddy installation of the harbour by American engineers.
The design, construction and installation of the PLUTO pipelines.
The provision of geological surveys of the landing beaches, weather forecasting, search and rescue services at sea, most of the medical facilities for the allied armies in Britain, air traffic control and so on…"

I haven't had a chance to verify any of the stats. The rest seems pretty accurate including the Americans ignoring advice on how to secure the Omaha Beach Mulberry harbor in the case of a storm as mentioned in the book "Code Name Mulberry: The Planning Building and Operation of the Normandy Harbours" by Guy Hartcup.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:35 PM
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But would Brooke, a man who thought American generals and American troops were worthless...
This is a huge exaggeration. Brooke ripped everyone in his private letters but this statement is not literally true.

It is also not true Brooke opposed the invasion nof France. He opposed invading it too soon, and wanted the attack in the Meditteranean in the meantime, which of course is in fact what the Allies did.

Had Brooke chosen a defensive posture in Normandy he would have been rather promptly fired, and he would not have wanted to be fired.
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Old 05-08-2018, 02:08 PM
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And having been raised in Normandy and having fought in the region in two Wars, he knew the land and told the Americans just how bad the hedgerows were.He was ignored. If he had been SACEUR, there would have been a lot more thought given to that problem.

Sidebar, please, counsel: "Hedgerow problem"?
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Old 05-08-2018, 02:55 PM
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Brooke was, in fact, opposed to whole idea of invading France; he felt we should be attacking Germany in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
I've read this was because Churchill wanted to preserve the British Empire after the war, and the Americans did not.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:07 PM
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And the landings in S France accomplished fuck all, except complicate the supply and communication situation in TWO theatres, so he was pretty right about that.
The landings in southern France captured the port of Marseilles intact, at a time when no significant working port in northern France was in Allied hands. So it was a major benefit for the Allied supply situation.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:10 PM
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Sidebar, please, counsel: "Hedgerow problem"?
Google "bocage". A huge help for the German defenders, Then google "Cullen device" as an ingenious counter to it. Still, the nickname "hedgerow hell" is certainly appropriate.

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Old 05-08-2018, 03:12 PM
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Sidebar, please, counsel: "Hedgerow problem"?
Hedgerows
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:14 PM
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I've read this was because Churchill wanted to preserve the British Empire after the war, and the Americans did not.
Very likely.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:19 PM
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And the landings in S France accomplished......


There would have been no broad front strategy. He would have concentrated attacks on the low countries, basically Market Garden on steroids.

So no Hurtgen Forest or Metz.

Sorry. My bad. My first post today assumed you were talking about the Normandy landings. Missed the "S" somehow.

You bring up what I was mostly concerned about, the situations that led to Hurtgen Forest & Metz. Really frustrating reading about how these unfolded and how the Americans got into them in the first place.
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Old 05-08-2018, 04:58 PM
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I've read this was because Churchill wanted to preserve the British Empire after the war, and the Americans did not.
Well yes, but what's that got to do with the invasion of France? It's not like the British were hoping to reclaim Calais for the King.
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Old 05-08-2018, 05:09 PM
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Well yes, but what's that got to do with the invasion of France? It's not like the British were hoping to reclaim Calais for the King.
The British supposedly wanted to invade areas where they could reestablish control of countries they controlled as part of the British Empire.
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Old 05-08-2018, 05:11 PM
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Brooke was, in fact, opposed to whole idea of invading France
No he wasn't, he understood that it needed to be done right, and it was likely a one-shot deal whenever it did happen. Which was the consensus of all senior western Allied people who mattered, eventually.
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Old 05-08-2018, 05:16 PM
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The British supposedly wanted to invade areas where they could reestablish control of countries they controlled as part of the British Empire.
In Europe? The theatre of war this thread is about?
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Old 05-08-2018, 07:11 PM
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In Europe? The theatre of war this thread is about?
They didn't want to land in France, but in the Med and North Eastern Africa.
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:36 PM
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What if Alan Brooke had been supreme allied commander instead of Eisenhower?


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They didn't want to land in France, but in the Med and North Eastern Africa.


Where were there any Axis forces in North-Eastern Africa after the general surrender in May, 1943?

After that, the Allies did invade in the Med - in Italy, which ultimately knocked Fascist Italy out of the war.

What British colonies in the Med or North east Africa were under Axis control, that the British supposedly wanted to re-gain?
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Old 05-08-2018, 11:16 PM
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The landings in southern France captured the port of Marseilles intact, at a time when no significant working port in northern France was in Allied hands. So it was a major benefit for the Allied supply situation.
I don't understand this. Operation Anvil began on August 15. Marseillis was not taken in the initial landings, it was taken about a week later. By the time Marseilles was captured, Army Group B had already been defeated in the Falaise Gap and Overlord was almost over. France would have fallen to the Allies whether Anvil happened or not.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:19 AM
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What British colonies in the Med or North east Africa were under Axis control, that the British supposedly wanted to re-gain?
They wanted to retain Egypt, Palestine and the Sudan. They had other countries in Africa as well. I think their interest in the Med would have been Gibraltar, Minorca and Malta. They were also determined to protect India and approaches to India.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:28 AM
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All of which were under British control from 1943.

You agreed with Little Nemo that Churchill didn't want to invade France, but wanted to attack the Germans in north-east Africa and the Med.

I'm asking: from 1943 onwards, where were there any Germans in North Africa or the Med that Churchill wanted to attack instead of invading France, as you're suggesting?
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:01 AM
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They wanted to retain Egypt, Palestine and the Sudan. They had other countries in Africa as well. I think their interest in the Med would have been Gibraltar, Minorca and Malta. They were also determined to protect India and approaches to India.
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All of which were under British control from 1943.

You agreed with Little Nemo that Churchill didn't want to invade France, but wanted to attack the Germans in north-east Africa and the Med.

I'm asking: from 1943 onwards, where were there any Germans in North Africa or the Med that Churchill wanted to attack instead of invading France, as you're suggesting?
Yes, plant, while the British did have an major interest in the Mediterranean, by the time of Overlord it was pretty much a done deal. The major disagreements was the British (Churchill and Alan Brooke) wanting to continue pushing in Italy and with perhaps a associated invasion in the Adriatic, with Vienna being the objective. This was more to position Britain for the post-war world, as Stalin and the Russians were already pressing into the Balkans and Poland at this time. The Americans were against this type of 'geo-political' stragety and made Overlord and the defeat of the German Army in France the major focus. Since by 1944 the Americans had become the major power of the Alliance, they got their way.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:38 PM
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I believe my latest foray into the subjects was "Masters and Commanders" by Andrew Roberts. The British had secured North Africa and the Med by 194(3) as well, so let the Americans run the show. I think Brooke was portrayed as a nice family guy, but definitely an "American phobe" if that is a legitimate term. A firm British belief that the Americans were too inexperienced was described in the book.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:00 PM
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I'm working my way through "The Last Lion: Winston Churchill--Defender of the Realm" which covers this topic and I concur, Alanbrooke wasn't real fond of American fighting ability (and truth be told, until 1944 there wasn't much to be said for it), but he did get along with Eisenhower, who got the job Alanbrooke coveted.
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Old 05-14-2018, 03:48 AM
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Brooke got along well with Marshall and was correct in restraining some of the more far fetched American ideas like a 1942-1943 France Landing.
No idea how that equates with being Anti-American.
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Old 05-14-2018, 05:01 AM
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I'd like to think Brooke would have stood up to Monty and prevented Operation Market Garden. That was a quite a cluster-fuck.

Last edited by aceplace57; 05-14-2018 at 05:04 AM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:43 PM
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I just finished a reading some of Alan Brooke’s war diaries, and I wonder....maybe a split SACEUR and CDR land forces might have worked better. Alan Brooke certainly seemed to have been right on the money with his criticisms of Ike’s strategic vision.
Maybe, Ike was too myopic to the task at hand. The again, Brooke was CIGS and had a much wider view than a theatre commander had, and if he had been that, maybe he would have done the same.
Eisenhower’s later career does not show lack of strategic awareness.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:08 PM
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AK84, you're sure you didn't bump it just because of the recent relevant xkcd?

(the answer to the OP is obviously than Eisenhower would have become God-Emperor of the Missouris)
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:57 PM
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Bumped.
I just finished a reading some of Alan Brooke’s war diaries, and I wonder....maybe a split SACEUR and CDR land forces might have worked better. Alan Brooke certainly seemed to have been right on the money with his criticisms of Ike’s strategic vision.
Maybe, Ike was too myopic to the task at hand. The again, Brooke was CIGS and had a much wider view than a theatre commander had, and if he had been that, maybe he would have done the same.
Eisenhower’s later career does not show lack of strategic awareness.
In my opinion, Eisenhower probably followed the best plan. His plan was cautious but that was its virtue. It was slow and steady and guaranteed to win the war in Europe.

Other generals suggested plans that might have won the war faster - and they were correct. But their plans contained the possibility of a serious defeat as well as a war-winning victory. Eisenhower figured a ten-month plan with a 100% chance of success was better than a ten-week plan with a 90% chance of success.

Eisenhower also right about foregoing the temptation to race to Berlin. For one thing, he probably would have lost the race; the Soviets were much closer to Berlin than the Americans or British were. And taking Berlin wouldn't have changed anything; the occupation zones had already been set. Eisenhower would have just been spending American and British lives to capture territory that would then be turned over to the Soviets.

And Eisenhower read the military situation on the ground. He could see that the smartest thing the Germans could do was build up a series of fortifications and supply depots in the alps and then fall back on them in a fighting retreat. If the Germans did this, they could have established a strong defensive position in the alps and held out for at least another year. So rather than racing across northern Germany, Eisenhower set the main direction of his advance through southern Germany to cut off this line of withdrawal. Of course, as it turned out, this was unnecessary; while it would have been the smart strategy, it wasn't what Hitler wanted. He ordered German forces to stand their ground and die in place rather than allow them to withdraw to a better defensive position. But Eisenhower was correct in not basing his own strategy around the possibility that the Germans would screw up.
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:49 AM
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On 6 June 1944 the Soviets were further from Berlin. Vitebsk to Berlin is 1400 km compared to 1200 from Normandy to Berlin. Bagration would have happened regardless who was in charge of Overlord.
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Old 05-18-2019, 10:54 AM
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The Soviets refused to let go of countries they had "liberated". Would any of these countries been saved by a different plan? Churchill may very well have kept Italy and Greece from becoming Communist with his much disliked "soft underbelly of Europe".
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Old 05-18-2019, 10:57 AM
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Was Brooke an relation to Broke, who took the Chesapeake?
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:51 AM
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On 6 June 1944 the Soviets were further from Berlin. Vitebsk to Berlin is 1400 km compared to 1200 from Normandy to Berlin. Bagration would have happened regardless who was in charge of Overlord.
The Allies weren't in any position to launch an offensive towards Berlin on June 6. For all the success they had on D-Day, the reality is that the post-landing offensive quickly slowed down. It would be seven weeks before the allied armies advanced out of the landing zone.

The Soviet offensive started later, on June 23. But once it started, it made much greater progress than the western offensive was making. To give a comparative example, the city of Minsk was a hundred miles behind the starting front line and it was captured six days after the Soviet offensive began. The city of Caen was five miles from the beach in Normandy but the Germans still held it six weeks after the western allies had landed.
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