Possible landings for Overlord

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by chipm, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    When i watch some of the popular videos about D-day, they stress the two areas of Calais or Normandy. I never hear why the other spots were not considered.

    What about the areas in between those two...Dieppe maybe.?
    But anyway, between Calais and Normandy..... were there not any "reasonable" beaches in those areas.?
    Thank You
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    a number of reasons below

    Normandy was chosen for the landings because it was in range of fighter aircraft based in England and had open beaches that were not as well defended as those of the Pas de Calais. It also had a fairly large port (Cherbourg), and was opposite the main ports of southern England.

    The Allied deception plan
    The Germans generally assumed that the Pas de Calais was the likeliest place for the invasion. The Allied deception plan was also intended to give the impression that diversionary attacks would be made in Normandy and southern Norway before the main attack on the Pas de Calais. It was implemented by creating imaginary army units and using various decoys, such as aircraft, tanks and landing craft. False information about the invasion was also passed to the Germans by the double agent known as 'Garbo'. These measures were very successful and discouraged the Germans from reinforcing their troops in Normandy even after D-Day. This document contains notes and photographs of dummy aircraft, one of which is shown here.
    The National Archives | Exhibitions | British Battles

    Normandy was also a possibility but COSSAC recognised that the distance would be a serious issue in that the weather could quickly change during a long crossing creating mayhem. However, the invasion force was better served by Portsmouth, Southampton, Poole and Portland, which could accommodate a large force. It was also believed that the German defences were weaker in Normandy when compared to the Pays de Calais. Despite the fact that any aerial support would include ‘dead’ flying time, this was felt a necessary sacrifice. Therefore, Normandy was chosen.

    Invasion of Normandy - Wikipedia

    if you google there is a lot out there

    beaches chosen for fairly easy access for troops and vehicles and easier to build a bridgehead plus defences not as strong
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Added to that, the deception Operation Fortitude led to Hitler accepting the false intelligence that the Pas de Calais was the area focused by the Allies for an invasion.It worked because Hitler was unable to grasp the dynamic development of the invasion and initially refused to allow the transfer of Wehrmacht armour to Normandy....this delay added to the Allied advantage in Normandy. Sarcastically, Hitler was widely recorded as being the best general the Allies possessed...intervening frequently and overruling the military expertise of Wehrmacht battlefield leadership.

    Just as the launching area for the invasion on the English south coast was ideal for the extensive invasion force,the western Bay of the Seine was the ideal location to land a large invasion force on a broad scale and was necessary to consolidate the British,Canadian and US forces into a formidable bridgehead....fail and the Allies would be denied a foothold on the continent.To gain a foothold on the continent,the Allies ensured that they had air superiority from the south coast airfields through their tactical air forces for the invasion but quickly constructed temporary airfields through their airfield construction units.To establish such airfields in the Pas de Calais where the Luftwaffe probably held the upper hand would have been a formidable task...relatively short distances from Germany and Luftwaffe airfields in the Low Countries and Northern France. As it was, these airfields along with captured airfields presented the Allies with the means of continuing their air supremacy throughout the European campaign.

    The other point about Normandy was that it stretched the German lines of supply and communication.It meant that cutting off the Brittany peninsular was within the Allies grasp with the elimination of German forces north of the Loire and the isolation of German forces south of the Loire.German forces south of the Loire played no part in resisting the Normandy invasion apart from the Das Reich SS division who dogged by French resistance irregulars,arrived in Normandy three weeks after 6 June 1944.
    Tricky Dicky and CL1 like this.
  5. For the genesis of OVERLORD, Cross Channel Attack provides extensive information, including the selection of the location:
    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Cross-Channel Attack

    The Pas de Calais area extends from the Belgian border to Normandy, which itself extends down to Brittany, so the two areas together constitute the entire French coast on the English Channel, Brittany excepted.

    The whole coast from Norway to Spain and then on the Mediterranean Sea was assessed during the selection process, with several scenarios drafted, some of which were implemented, such as Operation Anvil (Dragoon), albeit at a later date than initially planned.

    Even landing on the Baltic Coast was assessed, but was excluded at an early stage for obvious reasons.

  6. Thanks for that link TD.
    Interesting reading, in that it is representative of the hard-core non-interventionist US faction that fortunately did not prevail.
    The total disregard for the occupied populations of NWE is blatant in this rather poorly argumented essay, and quite typical of that same faction.

  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - used it last night instead of counting sheep

    canuck likes this.
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    COSSAC had the task actioned on it by the Washington Conference of May 1943 to produce a draft plan for the invasion of Europe by 1 August 1943.The plan had previous information to hand from the experience of Combined Operations....landing to seize a port such as Dieppe were ruled out...from this experience, ports were known to be heavily defended and thus precluded any direct assault on a port in the invasion plan.

    The zones focused were Pas de Calais....too obvious,Normandy and Brittany,latter too far a distance both from southern England and too far from the objectives of the Allies intentions for the European campaign.Any other envisaged landings such as the French Atlantic coast and Spain would have to run the risk of intervention of the associated Atlantic U Boat bases. Other suggestions would also entail long supply and communication problems and present a case of biting a leg of the Third Reich rather than an attack with the prospects of biting the throat of the regime much earlier.

    With Normandy there was the added bonus of the capture of the port of Cherbourg,the area of which was in the plan to establish the fuel supply system, Pluto.

    It wasn't until December 1943 when the ownership of Overload was declared and the ground force commander, Montgomery was appointed in the role.Montgomery studied the plan and sensed that the force strength was too light in early 1944.it being composed of three divisions for the landing assault with an airborne division landed on each flank.Montgomery increased the landing divisions to five and added a further airborne division,the extra one being US.

    I have read the Unnecessary Invasion paper before and came to the conclusion that it would never have been adopted....put it in the box with Morgenthau Plan,another example of distorted thinking.
  9. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Very interesting... Thank You

    Wow... Greece.!
    I never would have thought that was a good idea.

    My main reason for asking the OP, was just lack of knowledge of the terrain between Calais and Sword beach.
    I was not sure if the coast of France, in that area, offered nice big beaches like there were in Normandy.
    Thanks again
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Frederick Morgan, - COSSAC himself, wrote about how they decided the lodgment area in his book "Prelude to Overlord" (?). They did consider all the options from Portugal to Norway. Portugal and Spain were ruled out for logistic as well as political reasons. Norway because they would be left effectively with a second major water crossing. Denmark because it would be easy to block off.

    The decision between the Pas de Calais and Normandy was decided by some sort of wargame in the last week of June 1943 at the Combined Operations Training Centre at Largs. The British favoured Pas de Calais and the Americans Normandy. Each team played the other team's version and the decision was Normany. At the end of the exercise they went to watch the 1st Canadian Division sail down the Clyde for Sicily. A piper played the Canadians off.
    canuck likes this.
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Major General David Belchem, head of Montgomery's Operations and Planning Staff throughout the Normandy campaign in his publication Victory in Normandy recounts comprehensively the detail which led to Normandy being chosen for the assault landings.

    Apart from an assessment of the enemy's dispositions,the main crux of the matter was to consider the needs of the three services.The Allied air forces were declared to be the limiting factor,particularly related to the range and duration of the Spitfire when considering the locations.The Spitfire would represent half of the fighters tasked with the role of establishing air superiority over the invasion beaches from homeland airfields.Longer range USAAF aircraft would attack targets deeper into Normandy.

    Montgomery had not seen a copy of the Overload operation until he met Churchill and Eisenhower at Marrakesh on 31 December 1943 after giving up command in Italy.Churchill gave him a copy, Montgomery studied it and declared it to be non viable,Eisenhower who had already seen the document, agreed with Montgomery.In Mongomery's view, the strength and distribution of forces in the COSSAC plan proposed for an invasion in the Bay of the Seine were insufficient to ensure success.Montgomery returned to London to discuss the plan with the respective naval and air force commanders,Ramsey and Leigh Mallory.

    COSSAC was then disbanded,Morgan and his staff were restructured into the newly formed SHAEF.
  12. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    I have heard it mentioned a few times, that crossing at Calais would have been a problem of size.
    How many ships were there.....5k-6k.? The planners surmised that there was not enough room, in that part of The Channel, to make for an efficient or timely crossing.
    I do not know if that is true, but it sounds reasonable.
  13. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Interesting thread. It is also worth giving The Netherlands a mention. Very nice beaches from the Hook of Holland all the way to Den Helder. Would also have the advantage of landing north of the Rhine and it's not too far to Germany and the Ruhr industrial area. However, problems of Germans flooding the land and of getting boxed in with the Rhine/Maas to the south and the Ijssel to the east.

    Having had a quick look at google maps, here's one to throw out there - invasion of North Holland and then a quick invasion across the Ijsselmere? This option would probably require the neutralization of the island of Texel. Sorry, I know we are not into "what ifs", but just wondering if anyone knows whether Holland was seriously considered?
  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The Netherlands were considered but I'm surprised as it was so close to Germany who could quickly mount the Luftwaffe against a landing before the airfield landing strips could be laid down.However the first consideration came from the army regarding mobility of armour and an invasion via the Low Countries was discounted on this factor.

    The maximum range and duration of the Spitfire was the prerequisite factor for a landing...the possible sites were within the Spitfire range arc drawn from southern English airfields to encompass the proposed landing sites.The arc ran from the north in southend Holland at Flushing to the Cherbourg Peninsula in the south and west.The maximum range in Normandy was just on the southern outskirts of Caen and included the whole area of the operation including half of the Cherbourg Peninsula and an extended bridgehead.

    Each proposal site landing location was assessed with considerations from the three services.The best site was then chosen with the first requirement being that of the Spitfire range.

    As said,an interesting debate but the selection outcome required no second guessing.... but apparently there was some serious misgivings by the tactical air forces who would have preferred the Somme Estuary but the army's consideration was taken as the most serious for to reject a landing there.
    smdarby likes this.
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    There were two other considerations:-

    1. Which ports in the area had the capacity to support an army that would grow from 30 to 75+ divisions? The assumption was that the 1st September front line would be on the rivers Seine and Loire.

    The aim of operation overlord was to secure a lodgement area including deep water ports to support the build up of the forces that would defeat the Germans in the west. As far as COSSAC was concerned, the forces deployed from the UK to France in Op Overlord were merely the advance guard. The advance guard crossed the seas in inefficient assault loaded shipping, after a stop over in the UK and lots of messing around including waterproofed vehicles top l;and on beaches etc. The ideal was to have the main body arriving in a proper port where efficiently packed equipment could be unloaded and assembled and married up with soldiers who traveled in troop ships.

    There were only a handful of ports in NW Europe that could support a full scale land campaign. Brest, Cherbourg, Bordeaux, Le Havre & Rouen, Antwerp, Rotterdam, then its Hamburg.

    2. Where next after landing?

    The Normandy plan adopted went for Cherbourg then Brest - but Le Havre & Rouen fell soon after.

    Pas de Calais presents some challenges.

    Superficially Pas de Calais looks a good place from which to head to Germany, but the allies could not charge inland without building the capacity to face a 60+ division German force.
    Calais, Boulogne and Dunkeque were ferry ports without the collectively capacity to handle the volumes of cargo.

    So the allies would either turn left eastwards and cross Flanders with its mud and waterways to capture Antwerp and Rotterdam or turn right, south west down the coast, away from Germany to Le Havre and Rouen.

    This was planners theoretical thinking. Historically, things did not work out like that.

    1. The Germans collapsed in France by August 1944 defeated by the allied advance guard. leaving the allies with a dilemma whether to gamble on victory on a logistic shoestring.

    2. The transportation plan that hampered the German response also destroyed the railway system from Brest and Cherbourg to the September front line. These ports were ultimately less important than Le Havre and Antwerp.

    3. Op Anvil/Dragoon an operation that was originally scheduled as a pre Overlord diversion and unwanted by various senior commanders, resulted in the capture of the big port of Marseilles and a reasonably intact rail system to the interior.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

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