Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by Cathartes »

The stick was too big and too sharp for the Allies, German defenses too thin, the Allied deception and intelligence-gathering too successful. The only way the Germans might have prevailed is if they had some notion and confidence of exactly where and when.

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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: Saint Ruth
OF course they could have thrown the enemy into the sea if there had been 10 panzer divisions sitting within 5 miles of the Normandy beaches. I can't see how you can say D-Day would have succeeded regardless of how many German soldiers were at Normandy.

I guess the Allies could have lost, yes, I mean in the game "Let's Pretend We Want To Be Trashed" [;)]

Inflicting losses will not necessarily win you wars or battles. Again, in case you missed it, in Berlin -around the Führerbunker- they were still inflicting losses to their enemies. Did this change the outcome? Not a iota.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: Saint Ruth
The Tactical Air Force didn't basically destroyed them. Panzer Lehr lost 95 or so vehicles (not tanks, vehicles) moving to the Normandy area. They were delayed substantially.

OF course they could have thrown the enemy into the sea if there had been 10 panzer divisions sitting within 5 miles of the Normandy beaches. I can't see how you can say D-Day would have succeeded regardless of how many German soldiers were at Normandy.

German accounts clearly state how devastating the enemy tactical air force was. Moving in the open was suicidal. No move, no maneuver = forget about throwing the enemy to the sea.

Anyway my bad, I should have said they were *neutralized*
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus
ORIGINAL: warspite1
Yes the Japanese built these craft and the doctrine to allow limited invasions of lightly held or undefended enemy territory. Please tell me how many Japanese amphibious operations were mounted directly against hundreds of thousands of well dug-in troops, supported by coastal batteries, beach defences (wire, tank-traps, pill-boxes etc etc), and an ability to hurry large numbers of troops and tanks to the beachhead very quickly?

You are grossly underestimating what the Japanese did methinks. And most importantly you are grossly overestimating the "Atlantic Wall"... You cannot- repeat- cannot defend a coast which goes from Denmark to Spain! It's a military impossibility.

You must be necessarily weak everywhere. And just because there are many enemy troops in the vicinity, this does not mean they will kick you out 10 minutes after the landings.

In fact, they could not manage to throw the enemy to the sea, go figure, no matter the many divisions around. And just in case someone retorts "Hitler did not allow these moves" what happened when they finally were on the move? The Tactical Air Force basically destroyed them. Again, where was the Luftwaffe?
warspite1

1. Underestimating the Japanese achievements. Not really. Don't get me wrong, I am not rubbishing all things Japanese. The Kido Butai (and the use of massed aircraft) was way ahead of the RN and USN at the start of the war, the Long-Lance torpedo, the largest battleships ever built – they had some excellent technical and military achievements. But what did the Japanese do, what did they really achieve and, more importantly, against what?

2. Overestimating the Atlantic Wall. Again no, the items I talked about were clearly not everywhere, but there was enough of them to cause the Allies serious casualties. But I think the main problem with your argument is that you are using that wonderful gift of hindsight.

To recap, you are saying essentially the following:
i) Post 2 - D-Day was guaranteed to succeed (although your later, Post 6, seemed to retract that)
ii) The fact that it was delayed unnecessarily and then, despite it happening successfully, there are those trying to suggest it was not guaranteed, is just a cover story for Churchill who wanted action taken elsewhere.
You cannot - repeat - cannot defend a coast which goes from Denmark to Spain! It's a military impossibility. You must be necessarily weak everywhere.

Agreed, unless of course the Germans decided NOT to be weak everywhere.
This is where hindsight comes in, how did the Allies know what the Germans would do? Hitler could have made different troop disposition decisions at any point. The Germans could have discovered that FUSAG was a deception for example, Rommel could have got his way.
[re the German armour] what happened when they finally were on the move? The Tactical Air Force basically destroyed them.

I think this is very simplistic and you massively overestimate the power of the air forces – powerful though indeed they were. But if, as you say, the Germans could not move the armour without being completely destroyed, then surely Operations like Epsom or Goodwood could never have happened? They can’t have done because if what you say is true, those Panzer units would never have reached Caen, because as soon as they moved they would have been destroyed. No the fact is, they could have been moved closer earlier.

We know that the weather – in the notoriously fickle channel - stayed kind enough for long enough to allow the mulberries to get up and running (and one remained in place after the storm). There was no guarantee the weather would not turn earlier, there was no guarantee that both Mulberries were not destroyed.

As I said before, no battle is guaranteed, there is always so much that can go wrong. This is doubly true of amphibious invasions.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by Hotschi »

Reading this thread, I have a couple things to add - and ask...

What's the fuss about the "mulberries"? An artificial harbor is of no use during an invasion (maybe because it needs to be built first [:D] ), only afterwards when huge amounts of supplies and additional units are landed. BUT - in the Pacific, the American already made dozens of landings without any artificial harbors installed afterwards. Right at the same time of the Normandy landings, the Americans landed in the Marianas - against opposition I might add - and didn't use artificial harbors afterwards either. Nor at Leyte. Nor at Iwo Jima. Nor at Okinawa. And American landings of course were unopposed (Solomons, New Guinea mostly) - as well as opposed, see Tarawa. In my opinion, the Mulberries were "nice to have", but not essential at all, and it's irrelevant whether WSC claims in his memoirs that he himself had a hand in inventing them. Just capture a harbor early, and you have your unloading facilities. Or do it the US Navy way in the Pacific, unload stuff onto smaller and smaller crafts which beach themselves or are able to sail in shallower water. Worked every time (okay, the drift at Iwo Jima wasn't all that helpful).

True, Churchill - and his General Staff - opposed earlier landings. Even D-Day was postponed in '44 for a couple months. Instead, Churchill favoured the strategy of attacking on the periphery (North Africa, Sicily, Italy). With hindsight, postponing D-Day was a good idea - see the half-arsed Dieppe "Raid" where a thousand of inexperienced Canadian troops were sacrificed for nothing (and nobody took the blame. Whose idea was this disaster anyway?). Would US and British/Commonwealth troops, with the experience, equipment, and tactics, of 1942 (North Africa) or '43 have succeeded in a cross-channel attack? Who really knows, but I'd say rather "No".

Could D-Day have failed? To my knowledge, not a single amphibious landing conducted by the Allies during the war, failed... Again, I'd rather say "No". Once the first waves are ashore, it was a - bitterly contested of course - sure thing. After all, the Allied had plenty of time to plan, plenty of time to build up forces, and plenty of experience from other theatres. They knew their job. They knew what they needed to carry out the plan. And they've got what they needed.

Last but not least, the one thing we western folks do not like to hear: at the time when the Western Allies finally landed in France, the landing was no longer needed to defeat the Nazis. Whether we like it or not, the land war in Europe was won by the Red Army (see dispositions of the Wehrmacht, the overwhelming majority of its assets were deployed in the East.

But what D-Day ultimately did - and this I of course say with hindsight - is to spare Western Europe the fate of... Eastern Europe. And thanks for that. Thanks to all the brave men, American, British, Canadian, Australian, French, Polish, Dutch, etc., be it Air Force, Army or Navy, who risked and gave their lives for this.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by DSWargamer »

Two things ensured D-day passed.

Patton's fame and the German's inability to think he wasn't in charge, and he was actually wanting to attack Calais himself which is interesting in so many ways. And Hitler's sleeping schedule and how no one had the balls to TELL the Fuehrer anything to his face meant the allies really didn't experience what any wargamer would make you experience.

Unsimulatable human stupidity and incredible human elements that never exist in wargames accounted for so much of how WW2 ended up happening.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by Twotribes »

ORIGINAL: gradenko_2000

Japanese amphibious landings were decidedly not state-of-the-art. They had no doctrine for naval gunfire support coordination, no doctrine for close air support coordination, and they only managed naval and air supremacy insofar as the enemy had little to none. You said it yourself - they were repulsed at Wake Island!
And actually the second invasion at Wake would have been a loss to, the ONLY place they succeeded was around the command center, the Naval and Marine Commander had no idea that everywhere else the Japanese had been repulsed so surrendered.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

What's the fuss about the "mulberries"? An artificial harbor is of no use during an invasion

A failure of an invasion is not just if it failed day 1. If troops got ashore and ultimately had to surrender or be evacuated because they could not hold onto the beachhead - then that is a failure of the invasion. So yes, the Mulberries were important to the overall success of the operation - not the landing itself.....
BUT - in the Pacific, the American already made dozens of landings without any artificial harbors installed afterwards. Right at the same time of the Normandy landings, the Americans landed in the Marianas - against opposition I might add - and didn't use artificial harbors afterwards either. Nor at Leyte. Nor at Iwo Jima. Nor at Okinawa.

Well my guess is that this has something to do with the size of forces attacking (and defending), the amount of supplies and reinforcements the attacking army required every single day, not to mention the need to land tanks and other vehicles given that the enemy had Tigers and Panthers as a reception committee..... The landings in the Pacific, and even those at Salerno or Sicily for example, were on a different scale.
Could D-Day have failed?.......Again, I'd rather say "No".

I just don't understand this view I must admit, but I've said my piece so I'll leave it at that.
Last but not least, the one thing we western folks do not like to hear: at the time when the Western Allies finally landed in France, the landing was no longer needed to defeat the Nazis. Whether we like it or not, the land war in Europe was won by the Red Army

I think most of us hear are big enough and ugly enough to understand the truth....[:D]
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: warspite1
Well my guess is that this has something to do with the size of forces attacking (and defending), the amount of supplies and reinforcements the attacking army required every single day, not to mention the need to land tanks and other vehicles given that the enemy had Tigers and Panthers as a reception committee..... The landings in the Pacific, and even those at Salerno or Sicily for example, were on a different scale.

The landings in the Caroline Islands, just a week after D-Day in Europe, involved 126.000 US troops. That's a lot of troops, Warspite. They were not coming from the other side of a narrow channel. They were coming from thousands of miles away: Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.

And unlike in Europe, when they assaulted, they were pretty certain the small island, atoll they were forced to frontally assault, was full of entrenched enemies, ready to die (and kill in the process).

Ok, the biggest landing was D-Day but overall it's in the the Pacific where a real modern naval war, and multitude of amphibious operations took place. What happened in Europe is a kid's game [;)]
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus
ORIGINAL: warspite1
Well my guess is that this has something to do with the size of forces attacking (and defending), the amount of supplies and reinforcements the attacking army required every single day, not to mention the need to land tanks and other vehicles given that the enemy had Tigers and Panthers as a reception committee..... The landings in the Pacific, and even those at Salerno or Sicily for example, were on a different scale.

The landings in the Caroline Islands, just a week after D-Day in Europe, involved 126.000 US troops. That's a lot of troops, Warspite. They were not coming from the other side of a narrow channel. They were coming from thousands of miles away: Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.

And unlike in Europe, when they assaulted, they were pretty certain the small island, atoll they were forced to frontally assault, was full of entrenched enemies, ready to die (and kill in the process).

Ok, the biggest landing was D-Day but overall it's in the the Pacific where a real modern naval war, and multitude of amphibious operations took place. What happened in Europe is a kid's game [;)]
warspite1

Mmmmm... always the problem with these types of debate.

Let me make clear, this isn't some kind of p*ssing match over who had the biggest invasion. Yes, there were some invasions in the Pacific that were large, complex operations. However, in overall scale they were not as big as D-Day.

The ships weren't coming across a narrow channel? No, a fine navy, manned by a highly efficient, highly organised and professional body of men brought those troops across the Pacific with the assistance of a fine fleet train in support. So how does that change what happened at D-Day and what was required, not just to land in France, but to hold, consolidate, breakout and then fight to Germany?

Are you saying that D-Day did not involve a frontal assault? Well I'm sure if you tell the 4,000 + dead, they will be interested to know that [;)]


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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: warspite1
Are you saying that D-Day did not involve a frontal assault? Well I'm sure if you tell the 4,000 + dead, they will be interested to know that [;)]

If you can't outflank your enemy, yes, it's a frontal assault. But pay attention: the front in Europe was from *Denmark to Spanish border*. Ergo you knew the enemy ie the Germans had necessarily spreaded their forces. Your concentrated forces would not meet the bulk of their forces, only a part of them.

Now imagine (Twilight Zone scenario) the Germans had gathered ALL of those forces in... Normandy. Then that's what happened in Guam, Peleiu etc. etc. etc. All the Japanese forces were concentrated there. And that's what they were trying to assault (and sometimes, to bypass). A brutish frontal assault, obviously [8D]

As stated by Hotschi, there had been a massive planning and build-up (2 years). That was not adventurism, amateurism, it was a really well calculated move. Ask Stalin, the Red Army, they had waited 2, 3 years? LOL
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus
ORIGINAL: warspite1
Are you saying that D-Day did not involve a frontal assault? Well I'm sure if you tell the 4,000 + dead, they will be interested to know that [;)]

If you can't outflank your enemy, yes, it's a frontal assault. But pay attention: the front in Europe was from *Denmark to Spanish border*. Ergo you knew the enemy ie the Germans had necessarily spreaded their forces. Your concentrated forces would not meet the bulk of their forces, only a part of them.

Now imagine (Twilight Zone scenario) the Germans had gathered ALL of those forces in... Normandy. Then that's what happened in Guam, Peleiu etc. etc. etc. All the Japanese forces were concentrated there. And that's what they were trying to assault. A frontal assault, obviously [8D]

As stated by Hotschi, there had been a massive planning and build-up (2 years). That was not adventurism, amateurism, it was a really well calculated move. Ask Stalin, the Red Army, they had waited 2, 3 years? LOL
warspite1
the front in Europe was from *Denmark to Spanish border*.

Three things. No. It. Wasn't.
As stated by Hotschi, there had been a massive planning and build-up (2 years). That was not adventurim, amateurims, it was a really well calculated move.

You seem to move the goalposts to suit your argument at the time. So D-Day involved massive planning and build up? Correct, and which btw was vital to its success. So maybe Churchill was right not to rush into a second front after all eh? [;)][:D]
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: warspite1
So maybe Churchill was right not to rush into a second front after all eh? [;)][:D]

Churchill had a war to win AND British interests to protect [;)] His approach was strikingly similar to the British approach during the Napoleonic Wars... Raids here and there, arm people in the continent to attrit Napoleon, avoid a direct confrontation until the last moment...

The only problem in this equation is that two big powers appeared: the URSS and USA. I guess he expected the end of the war would be like the end of the Napoleonic Wars: reorganisation of Europe (needless to say, the British leading the whole thing). Problem is, the two new variables in the equation: URSS and USA [;)] So instead of a post-Napoleonic era, poor Churchill perhaps never understood the end of the war would bring the end of... the empire [8D]
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus
ORIGINAL: warspite1
So maybe Churchill was right not to rush into a second front after all eh? [;)][:D]

Churchill had a war to win AND British interests to protect [;)] His approach was strikingly similar to the British approach during the Napoleonic Wars... Raids here and there, arm people in the continent to attrit Napoleon, avoid a direct confrontation until the last moment...

The only problem in this equation is that two big powers appeared: the URSS and USA. I guess he expected the end of the war would be like the end of the Napoleonic Wars: reorganisation of Europe (needless to say, the British leading the whole thing). Problem is, the two new variables in the equation: URSS and USA [;)] So instead of a post-Napoleonic era, poor Churchill perhaps never understood the end of the war would bring the end of... the empire [8D]
warspite1

Yes Churchill had to win the war and protect British interests - a bit like De Gaulle with the French, Roosevelt with the USA, Stalin with the USSR etc etc. Same as it ever was. Not sure what that has to do with not wanting to run the risk of another Gallipoli, but you can’t keep a good old conspiracy theory down for long [;)]

There were striking similarities to the Napoleonic War period, mainly because Hitler failed to learn from history.

With Britain's tiny land army there was little they could do directly once Hitler (Napoleon) had defeated France and Poland (Austria and Prussia). At the same time, the UK was not under threat thanks to the Royal Navy.

Then Mussolini (Napoleon) gave Britain a way of fighting the Axis (France) directly by buggering about in North Africa (Spain). It was small scale fighting compared to what had happened and what was to come, but it all helped attrit the enemy and basically be a PITA.

Hitler (Napoleon) then very helpfully invaded Russia before they had defeated the British. The British, and other Allies were then able to exploit this strategic faux pas by kicking bottom in France (Belgium).

One thing I can guarantee is that of all the world leaders, Churchill would have been the least likely to have read the tealeaves wrong. He knew only too well what was coming with the two power blocs – the USA and the USSR. You think Churchill didn’t understand what was happening? You believe he thought the British would be calling the shots unilaterally? Please……you have Churchill completely wrong I’m afraid.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: warspite1
Yes Churchill had to win the war and protect British interests - a bit like De Gaulle with the French, Roosevelt with the USA, Stalin with the USSR etc etc. Same as it ever was. Not sure what that has to do with not wanting to run the risk of another Gallipoli, but you can’t keep a good old conspiracy theory down for long [;)]

I'm afraid this "conspiracy" -as you incorrectly call it- was shared by MOST (if not all) the High allied officers (British excluded obviously). And the source of this is... Churchill himself in his memoirs! [:D]

Funny you mention Prima Donna* De Gaulle protecting "French interests" [:)]

*Roosevelt himself had called De Gaulle a "prima donna" [:D]
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by Curtis Lemay »

One thing that could have made the landings a disaster was if the Germans had employed their nerve gas advantage. They thought that the Allies were on par with them so didn't use it. They were wrong. The Germans had Sarin in large quantities. It was especially deadly due to the fact that it could be absorbed through the skin. So you needed a full body suit to survive it - something the Allies didn't have. And an amount equal to 1/1000th of a rain drop would kill you in one minute.

The Allies could counter with Phosgene - but that could be countered by just a gas mask. The report mentions Anthrax, but that, obviously, has no effect for several days and can even be countered by vaccine (at least nowadays). So, the invasion could have been wiped out by the time that even had effect. I'm not sure, but I think a gas mask counters Anthrax as well.

The other thing I always wonder about is what if the Germans had gone for broke and shifted a huge force from the East for a counter offensive? In reality, they did shift one panzer corps, but, perhaps in conjunction with a intentional pullback there, they might have had the margin to temporarily shift enough to be much more dangerous. Knowing that the invasion was imminent, it could have all been pre-planned. They had interior lines. Why not use them?
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by TulliusDetritus »

ORIGINAL: Curtis Lemay
The other thing I always wonder about is what if the Germans had gone for broke and shifted a huge force from the East for a counter offensive? In reality, they did shift one panzer corps, but, perhaps in conjunction with a intentional pullback there, they might have had the margin to temporarily shift enough to be much more dangerous. Knowing that the invasion was imminent, it could have all been pre-planned. They had interior lines. Why not use them?

Germans did not have strategic reserves. Had they stripped this front, it's the collapse and the Red Army would have been at the gates of Berlin before the end of 1944.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by Capt. Harlock »

What's the fuss about the "mulberries"? An artificial harbor is of no use during an invasion (maybe because it needs to be built first ), only afterwards when huge amounts of supplies and additional units are landed. BUT - in the Pacific, the American already made dozens of landings without any artificial harbors installed afterwards. Right at the same time of the Normandy landings, the Americans landed in the Marianas - against opposition I might add - and didn't use artificial harbors afterwards either. Nor at Leyte. Nor at Iwo Jima. Nor at Okinawa. And American landings of course were unopposed (Solomons, New Guinea mostly) - as well as opposed, see Tarawa. In my opinion, the Mulberries were "nice to have", but not essential at all, and it's irrelevant whether WSC claims in his memoirs that he himself had a hand in inventing them. Just capture a harbor early, and you have your unloading facilities. Or do it the US Navy way in the Pacific, unload stuff onto smaller and smaller crafts which beach themselves or are able to sail in shallower water.

The reasons were twofold: first, the Normandy landing and the follow-on reinforcements were on a much larger scale than any invasion mounted in the Pacific. Over-the-beach supply would not have been adequate to support a force of that size, especially one that included more armor and artillery than the Marines generally carried. Second, the Allies could not count on capturing a major harbor in usable condition for a significant time after D-Day. From experience, they knew the Germans would mine and otherwise sabotage all the port facilities before the Allies could seize them.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by gradenko2k »

ORIGINAL: Curtis Lemay
One thing that could have made the landings a disaster was if the Germans had employed their nerve gas advantage. They thought that the Allies were on par with them so didn't use it. They were wrong. The Germans had Sarin in large quantities. It was especially deadly due to the fact that it could be absorbed through the skin. So you needed a full body suit to survive it - something the Allies didn't have. And an amount equal to 1/1000th of a rain drop would kill you in one minute.

The Allies could counter with Phosgene - but that could be countered by just a gas mask. The report mentions Anthrax, but that, obviously, has no effect for several days and can even be countered by vaccine (at least nowadays). So, the invasion could have been wiped out by the time that even had effect. I'm not sure, but I think a gas mask counters Anthrax as well.

Operation Vegetarian would have been executed if the Allies even caught a whiff of the Germans using chemical/biological warfare, and Allied air superiority at that point was so complete as to ensure that the entire German countryside could have been rendered uninhabitable for literal decades.

Sure, they might have killed enough Allied soldiers to cause D-Day to fail, but the trade-off would have been pretty much their entire country.

On the political/personal spectrum, Hitler was also very much against the use of chemical warfare because of his own experience with it in WWI.
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RE: Five Ways D-Day Might Have Ended in Disaster

Post by warspite1 »

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus
ORIGINAL: warspite1
Yes Churchill had to win the war and protect British interests - a bit like De Gaulle with the French, Roosevelt with the USA, Stalin with the USSR etc etc. Same as it ever was. Not sure what that has to do with not wanting to run the risk of another Gallipoli, but you can’t keep a good old conspiracy theory down for long [;)]

I'm afraid this "conspiracy" -as you incorrectly call it- was shared by MOST (if not all) the High allied officers (British excluded obviously). And the source of this is... Churchill himself in his memoirs! [:D]

Funny you mention Prima Donna* De Gaulle protecting "French interests" [:)]

*Roosevelt himself had called De Gaulle a "prima donna" [:D]
warspite1

I know there was no conspiracy - I was being ironic given the falsehoods directed at Winston.

Not sure why you needed to explain Roosevelt thought De Gaulle was a prima donna. Everyone thought he was a prima donna. A brave man, and a patriot, but also a total PITA.[:D]
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