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“There Was No Plan B” Another take on what would have happened if D-Day had failed

Sense of Events: The awful stakes of D-Day by Donald Sensing

The specter of defeat on June 6, 1944 was overwhelmingly dreadful. The Allies had no other plans. There was no Plan B in case the landings were repulsed.

There are many “pivot” days in human history when the course of human events swung in a new direction because of discrete actions. It is hard to find another moment in all history when so much rested on an outcome of one day as rested on the success of the Allies’ landings on Normandy. In military history, no other day in American history compares. The only single day that comes to mind for me right now is the day of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC when an Athenian army repelled a Persian landing force. The entire future of Western civilization and the idea of democracy itself lay in the balance. And yet even that may not stand alone as D-Day does because the Persians persisted and the later battles of Plataea and Salamis were probably even more important. So there was no “one day” of paramount importance in the Persian War, even though it was almost certainly the most important war of ancient times.

The Soviets, pushing toward Nazi Germany from the east in 1944, had clamored for years for America and Britain to open a second front against Germany from the west. A second front would compel Germany to draw soldiers and materiel away from the Russian front. Allied claims that operations in North Africa, southern Europe and indeed, the UK-US bombing campaign constituted a second front were scorned by Stalin.

Placating Stalin was one reason the Allies had to invade Germany through France. All the military and political leaders remembered early 1918, when the newly-in-power Soviet government under Lenin had made a separate peace with Imperial Germany. Even though all the Allies had agreed early in WW II that no separate peace agreements would be made, the nag was always there.

Moreover, neither Roosevelt nor Churchill had any desire at all to see all Germany overrun from the east and fall under the hammer and sickle. The only way to prevent that was to place American and British soldiers on the ground inside Germany. Invasion through northern Europe was the only way to do that (Churchill’s claim that an invasion from the south, through Europe’s “soft underbelly,” proved fantastical in rolling up the Italian peninsula. Whatever Europe’s underbelly was, it wasn’t soft.) — READ THE REST AT Sense of Events: The awful stakes of D-Day

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Dan Patterson June 6, 2019, 5:00 AM

    Not only was there no Plan “B” there was barely a Plan “A”. The intricacies of the proposed assault were entirely fanciful and no one with a whisper of combat experience would have approved it. Those in the approval realm were politicians, bureaucrats, and blowhards; though there were successes stemming from the plan those were exceptions that prove the rule – the Mulberry Harbors are good examples.
    This is from my FaceButt post on the subject yesterday:

    The invasion of Europe had been planned for years, and meticulously so, with divisions of soldiers dedicated to the inevitable task. As is always the case with battle plans this version, overseen by the politician/bureaucrat Eisenhower rather than by a combat-experienced leader, was on track to fail from the time of its birth. Notable pieces of the plan were successful, the Mulberry Harbor comes to mind, but survival and eventual success in those early days of the invasion was solely due to the bravery, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of small-unit riflemen and had nothing whatever to do with the supercilious oversight and planning from the upper echelon. None of the intricately-timed maneuvering, none of the layered interdependent actions expected by Eisenhower’s war-gaming chess-board whiz kids was effective; the men were hindered by the plan and its failings from the outset and the assault quickly morphed into a disorganized gory bloodbath. The first to encounter the enemy on his own territory were the parachute troops from the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions, both elements were flown behind enemy lines hours before the landing craft made their way to the beaches with orders and training to disrupt, eliminate, and occupy. Planners expected to surprise the enemy with both the timing of the invasion and its location, but the enemy had put strong defensive works in place long before, and likely drops zones were defended by German troops expecting their arrival. Some men of the 82nd landed generally close to their intended drop zones near the strategically important town of St. Mere-Eglise – the first to land were killed or captured quickly – while the 101st were meant to be dropped a little further east and south, nearer Utah Beach but both were scattered across the Contenin peninsula, and few were placed where planned. Both divisions faced intense enemy opposition; the unintended dispersal greatly burdened the men and truncated the missions’ success. But the confusion also gave an unintentional assist to the invading troops, the initial chaos offering no massed troops and no unified direction for the enemy to counter-attack.

  • Dan Patterson June 6, 2019, 5:08 AM

    The common refrain of “a second front” is also a sloppy mis-step. The invasion of France opened not a second but a third (if not fourth) front against Nazi Germany; The fabled Eastern Front, The Southern Italian Campaign was in full fury, though disastrously mis-managed by Mark Clark among others, then the Napoleonic frontal assault on France.

  • Twosheds June 6, 2019, 12:38 PM

    “early 1918,…Soviet government under Lenin had made a separate peace with Imperial Germany.” VDH said the only treaties the USSR kept was the one they had, to not attack Japan….our enemy.

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