Had the Germans known in advance, assume they had 7 days notice, could they have gathered enough men and equipment to tip the balance and keep the invading Allied force from taking the beaches of Normandy… or would the Allied troops still have been successful even if the Germans had known of their plans?
It wasn’t a matter of having advance notice, it was a matter of convincing Hitler to deal with it.
Certainly the element of surprise was critical to the success. Had Hitler known that a major amphibious attack was coming why wouldn’t he want to “deal with it”?
Hitler had far more of his army on the Eastern front. They couldn’t have moved a million troops in seven days. The Allied invasion threw so much at them that despite the problems they were able to overwhelm the Germans. If the German army was more equally distributed on the Eastern and Western fronts it could have been a different story.
Because he always knew best.
The Allies would have noticed that their cover was blown.
How does one back out of an amphibious invasion already in progress? I don’t think turning around was an option.
The men wouldn’t have even been onboard the ships, however, launching some airstrikes on the other hand…
Are you sure about that? One day before and with ships already going out, the invasion was called off for a day because of the weather.
Now, yes, if they were already landing on the beach it would had been much harder to pull back, but with the air superiority the allies had then I think a pull back from the beaches could had been done too; but, the resources and material put on the effort were so massive that it was hard not to have some confidence, I have read reports from veterans that there was no “plan B” if the Germans had pushed back.
It would have certainly been harder. The Germans expected the invasion to happen at Calais and had held several divisions back in reserve. I seem to recall that these weren’t released until the end of the day, maybe later.
There was a reason the Allies tried so hard to keep the exact details of the invasion a secret and prepared such elaborate deceptions. If Germany had know the date and location of the landings (and if Hitler had responded correctly) they could have thrown off the landing force.
The landing force on D-Day was twelve divisions. The Germans had four divisions in the area. But being in fortified positions gave the Germans a major advantage. There were 10,000 Allied casualties vs only 1,000 German casualties on D-Day. And while the Allies were able to hold all five beaches, they were not able to advance inland on the first day as they had planned. (The city of Caen was supposed to have been captured on the first day. It took them two months.)
So even with complete surprise the invasion was a very close thing. If the Germans had been expecting it, it’s virtually certain they would have defeated the invasion forces. The troops were available - there were fifty divisions stationed in the west waiting for the invasion. If the Germans had just brought ten of those divisions to the landing site, the landing forces would have been overwhelmed.
Are you talking about the Germans launching airstrikes?
By June 1944 what remained of the Luftwaffe was being used for air defence against the bombing raids. The Germans weren’t sending bombers and ground attack planes against the UK* because the RAF and the USAAF had complete air superiority over the Channel. Sending Stukas to attack UK ports in 1944 would have been an utterly pointless suicide mission.
*They were still sending them against the Soviets at that point, but they were losing that fight too.
The Germans were already losing the war, and most of their high command knew it. Of course Hitler seemed to still be convinced that they could win. D-day was more about the Soviet threat than the Germans.
This was how Rommel wanted to respond to an Allied invasion; repulse them in force on the beaches. Von Rundstedt wanted to hold units in reserve and then move in to attack once the Allies had already landed.
Hitler, who liked to encourage rivalry between his commanders, endorsed neither but placed the armour under his personal control. Had Rommel gotten his way and the Germans known that Normandy was the real target it’s probable that Eisenhower would have called off the invasion as being too risky.
They certainly make a point to mention that in The Longest Day - tank reserves that could have rushed the beaches were held back because only Hitler was authorized to give them their marching orders. But the glorious Führer had taken sleeping pills and given orders not to disturb his rest.
I have no doubt the landings would have failed or at least made the conquest of Normandy a nightmare had the Germans been given advance notice.
Omaha beach, the one landing beach where the Allies faced stiff & determined resistance, trapping them on the beach as Rommel wanted the defence to go, was a slaughterhouse (not that the *other *beaches were strolls in the park of course - but casualties at Omaha were an order of magnitude higher).
Now imagine the same thing everywhere, only with tanks parked on the slopes leading out of the beaches and into the trenchwork - the Allies didn’t bring tanks in the landing waves. Imagine the same thing with howitzers sighted on the water and raining shells directly on landing crafts or even firing at the invasion fleet itself.
You’d also have had more German troops canvassing the whole area for paratroopers, meaning less disruption of their supply lines, no assaults on Brecourt Manor etc…
The German Navy was, pardon the expression, kaput. The German Air Force, at that time, wasn’t doing too well, either. However, as many have pointed out, there were a significant Panzer divisions in Paris and the Pas-de-Calais (partly as a result of Hitler’s stupidity, partly as a result of successful deception operations). They also didn’t have much of a plan for dealing with the Normandy invasion.
My vote? If the Germans knew seven days in advance where the landing site was they could have time to build a comprehensive plan for repelling the invasion and moving armor divisions to the beach. The D-Day landing was already an unimaginable meat grinder… I can’t even imagine what it would look like with three armor divisions in defilade on the cliffs… And then another six divisions behind that in places like Carentan. It would have been a nightmare, no doubt about it, and I suspect they would not have succeeded.
The other important thing is that the Allied war planners had calculated the moon, weather, and tides to the point where they believed a landing was only possible for a few days each month. If the attack was aborted, it would mean waiting weeks for another opportunity (while the Germans dug in even deeper).
And Rommel had it right. The Allies couldn’t be defeated in France. Once they had established their beachhead and could move their superior resources into France, their task would become much, much harder. Repelling the invasion at the beaches would have prevented this.
Would it have made a difference in the end, what with the Russian steamroller plowing slowly but steadily along? I don’t know. I suspect if the Allies had been slower or come into Europe later, more of Europe would have been in the Russian hands and incorporated into the Warsaw Pact.
As it was, the world should be thankful that Hitler’s incompetence, combined with the Allies’ incredible counterintelligence and deception campaigns, prevented them from committing forces until it was too late.
The consensus seems to be that had the Germans had advanced warning of where and when D-Day was going to happen they could have mobilized troops and tanks and just waited on the cliffs for the Allies to show up. It would have been a meat grinder and either the Germans would have driven the Allies back into the sea, or at best it would have been a stand off.
If D-Day had failed it’s not necessarily the end for the Allies, but it would have bought Hitler some more time. Ultimately the Russians would have kept rolling west so he would have continued to be squeezed on two fronts… and the US was developing the A-bomb so that would have turned the tide eventually.
No need for the A-bomb, really. There were also the forces in Italy, and that was still a viable avenue for sending in troops. As it was, we likely would have a significant force in place in Europe and racing towards Germany well before August '45 even without a successful Normandy landing in June '44.
The strategy of using the A-bomb in the Pacific theater rather than the European theater would probably not have changed short of a truly disastrous set of battles.
Also Provence (as of August 15). Which were meant to distract forces from the Normandy landings, but could probably have been turned into “real” beachheads had push come to shove.
Then again, the Italian campaign proved harder than northern France and Belgium (past the bocage, anyway), rugged mountain passes being easier to defend than hilly forests. One of the worst memories of the Allies up north was Bastogne, the siege of which lasted 7 days. The whole Battle of the Bulge was over in a month.
Monte Cassino alone held for four months. And that was just one point of the Gustav Line.
Oh, no doubt. But it would keep additional German forces tied up, especially since the Germans would have to dedicate forces to overcome future attempts at a cross Channel operation and/or simply breaking through eventually in the South. At the very least, they could keep the pressure up until the Russians overran the Germans.
Even a failed June '44 forced landing wouldn’t have delayed ultimate victory for too long. And probably not so long that we’d have needed to change the strategic plan for Japan and the A-bomb.