Air War College, Air University issued. in March 1986, a report titled “OVERLORD, The Unnecessary Invasion” that concluded D-Day was unnecessary.  Written by William F. Moore, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, the research report was submitted to the faculty in fulfillment of the research requirement led by Research Advisor Dr. Joseph L. Strange, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.  VT has thought it best this report be made public so that a proper historical record can be made.

WW2 EDUCATION: For the record, Russia lost about 27,000,000 million during WW2. USA was late to war in 1941; lost about 419,000. It was Soviet Union that captured Berlin and surrounded Adolf Hitler; not USA/England/France. Russians know this truth but it’s just NOT properly taught in USA Schools. The D-Day invasion was critical to freeing Western Europe but it did NOT in of itself end the war. FYI, Hitler’s biggest enemy was Communism. He hated communism. He was a capitalist. It was the Soviet Union that took him down.

Soviet Union captures Berlin during World War II

 

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE; DISTRIBUTION UNLIMITED

DISCLAIMER-ABSTAINER
This research report represents the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Air War College or the Department of the Air Force.

This document is the property of the United States government and is not to be reproduced In whole or in part without the permission of the commandant, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.


AIR WAR COLLEGE RESEARCH REPORT ABSTRACT

TITLE: OVERLORD: The Unnecessary Invasion
AUTHOR: William F. Moore, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

[This document] Assesses whether the OVERLORD Invasion of Normandy was necessary for military victory in Europe during World War II. [It is concluded] that it was not necessary, based on Russian success against the German Army on the Eastern Front, the ability of the strategic bombing campaign to destroy German war support industries, and the extended political uncertainty concerning the requirement for OVERLORD which preceded the final decision. [The report] Concludes with a discussion of possible allied motives for assuming the risk associated with OVERLORD when it was not necessary for victory.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


Lieutenant Colonel William F. Moore (B.S. United States Air Force Academy, M.B.A. Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, University of Pennsylvania) has been interested in American military history and leadership throughout his Air Force career. He has had several assignments in Research and Development, most recently on the MX and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) programs. He is a graduate of the Air War College, class of 1986.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER PAGE
DISCLAIMER-ABSTAINER ii
ABSTRACT iii
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH iv
I INTRODUCTION 1
II WAR ON THE RUSSIAN FRONT 4
III THE STRATEGIC BOMBING CAMPAIGN 11
IV PLANS AND POLITICS 20
V OTHER STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS 30
VI CONCLUSION 35
LIST OF REFERENCES 38

INTRODUCTION

OVERLORD. Normandy. D-Day. June 6, 1944. The Longest Day. The event has been referred to as “The Mighty Endeavor,” “The Great Crusade,” “Much the greatest thing we have ever attempted,” and other equally extravagant titles. Whatever the nomenclature, it commonly evokes the image of decisive victory — a do-or-die operation upon which hung the outcome of World War II In Europe. The common perception that D-Day, OVERLORD, was necessary, even vital, for victory against Hitler has influenced policy decisions regarding the nature, size, composition, and missions of American armed forces from the end of World II to the present.

The purpose of this paper is to point out that this perception of OVERLORD is in all likelihood based upon an illusion – a myth. Americans typically believe that Nazi Germany was defeated during World War II by American fighting forces, and that It was primarily the skill and dedication of the American fighting man, the civilian-soldier, which proved decisive in this conflict. Typical Americans also believe that combined US and British forces were primarily responsible for destroying the German Army in 1944 and 1945 after the successful amphibious landing on the coast of Normandy. The exploits of Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Montgomery as they swept across France and into Germany following the breakout from Normandy have become the stuff of legend, as well as the subject of numerous books and movies.

Unfortunately, history shows these views concerning American and British supremacy and the importance of Normandy and the Western Front In Europe to be inaccurate. Operation OVERLORD and the massive cross-channel Invasion of Europe were not necessary to the military defeat of Germany. Furthermore, had the invasion merely been delayed for a few months, the political objectives which resulted from OVERLORD could have been attained with only a fraction of the British/American casualties.

These conclusions may seem startling or even ridiculous to those accustomed to popularly held views of allied victory in Europe. However, they are based on readily documented historical information. The historical record shows that by the end of 1943 the German Army had been beaten decisively on the eastern front and that it could not resist the increasing power and tempo of the Soviet advance to Berlin. It also shows that by early 1944 the American and British strategic bombing campaign was systematically devastating the German industrial base and that defeat or total incapacitation of the German war machine was inevitable — sooner, not later. Most remarkable of all, however, history shows that American and British planners believed that the massive Normandy invasion was not necessary to achieve military victory, and that it could easily result in a catastrophic defeat for the allied forces. Such a result would, as a minimum, have lengthened rather than shortened the war and could well have caused incalculable damage to the allied cause.

The process which led to the development of this flawed allied strategy for the European theater was intensely political, emotional, and chauvinistic. An examination of this process provides a disturbing insight into the difficulties and complexities of coalition warfare. It also provides the basis for serious inquiry into the motives of US military and political leaders during this period when merely winning the war was not a sufficient objective.

WAR ON THE RUSSIAN FRONT

On the importance of the Eastern front in World War II, most serious historians are in agreement. Trumbull Higgins puts it this way, “It remains an uncontestable fact that in the Second World War the Eastern Front constituted the main and decisive theater against the Germans, the theater in which…the backbone of the German Army was broken.” (4:ix) Not only is this statement true now, It was already true by the end of 1943 when America and Britain made their final commitment to the OVERLORD landing in Normandy. In 1941 and 1942 the Germans had suffered disastrous defeats at Moscow and at Stalingrad, and with the defeat at Kursk in the summer of 1943, the German Army “lost the initiative and was forced to turn to the strategic defense along the entire Soviet-German front.” (19:95) After Kursk the Germans were never again able to launch a coordinated offensive in the East. (18:239) This was demonstrated conclusively, not so much by the success which the British and Americans enjoyed at Normandy and during the subsequent campaign across France, but by the devastation which the Russians were again able to inflict on the remnants of the German Army during their 1944 summer offensive. During the first month of this offensive alone, the Soviets reported killing 381,000 German soldiers and capturing another 158,000.(18:270) Such devastation after the losses of the preceding three years clearly indicates that the German army no longer had the capacity to achieve victory.

The decisive nature of the Eastern Front can be deduced by reviewing the size of Hitler’s commitment. On June 21, 1941, the eve of BARBAROSSA, the German Order of Battle included over 3,300,000 men comprising 154 German divisions, 18 Finnish divisions, and 14 Rumanian divisions. (4:121,122) Opposing the Germans, but not alerted for the surprise attack, were approximately 4,500,000 men in European Russia comprising 235 divisions. (4:122) Hitler left another 60 German divisions to guard the western and southern borders of Nazi occupied Europe. (4:123) With this vast commitment of resources to his eastern front, Hitler knew that if he did not win there, he would lose the war. Victory in the other theaters could not compensate for a loss in the east.

Within a month the eastern front stretched more than 1200 miles. Subsequent battles along this vast front were truly massive in scale. The opposing forces at the major eastern front battles through the end of t943 are summarized below: (19:37,39,69,71,80,82,113,114)

Battle                                            Divisions  Divisions
German   Russian
Moscow: Oct-Nov 41                         77.5        95
Stalingrad: Nov 42-Feb 43                50           78
Kursk: Jul 43                                     50         110
Battle for the Dnieper: Aug-Sep 43   98         231

These numbers are most meaningful when viewed relative to the German forces which the other allies faced during their campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and France. At the peak of their strength during the Tunisian Campaign, German forces In North Africa never exceeded eight divisions. (20: Map 87) In Italy German strength usually varied between 20 and 25 divisions. (21) On June 6, 1944, there were 58 German divisions in France to oppose the landings at Normandy and the subsequent drive to the East. These opposing forces on the other fronts are summarized below:

Battle                                                         Divisions    Divisions
German       Allied
North Africa: May 43 (20: Map 87)                   8              18
Italy: May 43 (21)(20: Map 103)                     23             26
France (available for OVERLORD, Jun 44)        58             39

These figures indicate that the opposing forces for the major eastern front battles greatly exceeded the total forces engaged on the other fronts. This disparity was recognized by allied leaders. In 1942 President Roosevelt said, “I find it difficult this Spring and Summer to get away from the simple fact that the Russian armies are killing more Axis personnel and destroying more Axis materiel than all the other 25 United Nations put together.” (16: 61)

German army records show that between June 1941 and December 1943 approximately 94% of their losses occurred on the Eastern front. (4:282) In only the two and a half months between November 19, 1942 and February 2, 1943, the time period during which the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad, German losses totaled over 500,000 men. (4:261) In the summer of 1943 the Germans lost over 3,000 tanks, 1,000 pieces of artillery, 5,000 motor vehicles, and 1400 airplanes at the Battle of Kursk alone. (18: 237) This level of destruction and loss of life has not been seen before or since.

It is a common weakness among Western historians to regard Russian losses in World War II as an indicator primarily of the ineptitude of Russian leadership, rather than as an indicator of the skill of the German Army and of the tenacity of the Russian resistance. When focusing on the Eastern front, many tend to forget the amazing success of the Germans against western armies in 1939 and 1940. After all, at the outbreak of World War II, the French, not the Germans or the Russians, had the largest standing army in the world. As an indicator of the ferocity of conflict on the Eastern Front, Russian losses during World War II simply have no parallel in modern history. Although German losses by end of February 1942 totaled 258,000 dead or missing, Russian army losses had totaled approximately 4,000,000 prisoners of war alone. (4:196) By the spring of 1943, German losses of approximately 1,000,000 men were matched by Russian losses of eight to nine times that number. (4:273) The Russians were victorious, but they paid a higher price than any of their allies for victory.

Of the total German losses, it suffices to say that the 3,300,000 man army that invaded Russia in June 1941 and their replacements over the next four years were simply consumed. Most were killed. Of those who surrendered or were taken prisoner of war, only a small fraction were ever repatriated. Practically all of the German prisoners on the eastern front were either killed outright or deprived of the food and shelter needed to survive. German skill at soldiering has never been surpassed, but they could not replace their losses, and the Russians could.

Perhaps of equal importance to the war’s final outcome, Russian industry was significantly outproducing the Germans. As early as August of 1942 Soviet tank production was reported by Stalin at approximately 2000 per month as compared to only 350 per month for the Germans. (4:230) The Germans were able to increase tank production to a maximum of approximately 1000 per month in 1943, but they were never able to match the Russians. (18: 232) In contrast to German industry, Soviet production continued to increase throughout the war. Russia’s average annual output for 1942 through 1945 is summarized below: (18: 232)

Tanks and self-propelled artillery                 30,000
Planes                                                        40,000
Cannon                                                    120,000
Machine guns and automatic weapons     450,000
Rifles                                                     3,000,000

Lend Lease also provided a critical boost to the Russian war effort, especially during the early months following Hitler’s invasion. In 1942 alone over 4500 tanks were provided through Lend Lease. It cannot be argued that Lend Lease was not important, but in total it comprised only a small fraction, estimated at 10-11%, of total Soviet production. (16: 286) It was primarily the efforts of the Russian people, their army, and their industry which defeated Hitler on the eastern front.

Of perhaps even greater significance than previous German losses and Russian industrial strength was the overwhelming size of the Russian Army. By 1943 the Russians had mobilized an army of such numerical strength that the Germans could not hope to match it. At that time the Soviet Army had reached its full strength of 500 divisions. (18: 230) From 1943 on, German strength on the eastern front never exceeded 140 divisions. (18: 280) Although the Germans were accustomed to fighting at a numerical disadvantage, they could not hope for victory against odds this great.

By the end of 1943 all that was apparently required to insure defeat of the German Army was continuation of the war of attrition on the eastern front. The time frame for opening a truly decisive second front had already passed.

However, it was not until this time that British and American forces became capable of making a major contribution to the ground war. This opportunity was not to be lost, even if the decisive battles had already been fought.



EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE
All content herein is owned by author exclusively.  Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, technicians or Veterans Today Network (VT).  Some content may be satirical in nature. 
All images within are full responsibility of author and NOT VT.
About VT - Read Full Policy Notice - Comment Policy

9 COMMENTS

  1. Along with d-Day, another military operation was ‘Operation Tiger ‘which was the dress rehearsal for D-day which had numerous fatalities of which included my dad’s brother. This event occurred about 1 month before D-day

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_Tiger
    It was a secret mission that was covered-up by the government for many years which made it hard on the family . The families were only told of the date of the solder’s death April 28, 1944 .

  2. It was the policy of unconditional surrender insisted on by Roosevelt and Churchill that prolonged WW2. Hitler was willing to have a negotiated peace but not unconditional surrender. You only have to look at what happened after they did surrender this way – mass killings, starvation of pows and civilians, mass rapes, looting of art, machinery and patents, war crimes trials for the defeated but not the victors even though they did the same thing etc – to see why he refused. Hitler made over a dozen peace offers including withdrawing German troops from France, Belgium, Holland and other areas in return for a negotiated peace and they were all rejected by Britain and USA. https://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=10192

  3. We have to mention, that USSR had many divisions in the South, because Turkey was a potential opponent. And many divisions in the Far East, – Japan was the enemy. After the capitulation of Germany, Marshall Zhukov broke into pieces a million Japanese Kwantung army during a month.
    So, the enormous territory, unfriendly and unfamiliar nature and weather, the national fury of the Soviet People’s, huge resources, partisan fight – all this was a cemetery for invaders. It was the essential question of surviving for my peoples.

    • Zhukov crushed the Japanese twice – first at Khalkin Gol in 1939 and again in 1945. The Germans are always credited with being the first to employ all arms mechanised warfare, but really, it was Zhukov, out on the border between Manchuria and Russia, where he used armour, aircraft, artillery and infantry in coordination to absolutely rout the Japanese forces. This was the development of the ‘deep battle’ tactics developed in the 1930s by Tukachevsky, who sadly fell to Stalin’s purges. The Russians were very lucky that Zhukov survived the purges because he was all the way out in the far eastern military district and thus, out of sight, out of mind. The Americans lionise Patton, the west as a whole has a built up the likes of Rommel, Guderian and Manstein as great generals, but the truth is, the outstanding commander of WW2 was Zhukov, he beat the Germans before Moscow, saved Leningrad, crushed the Germans at Stalingrad and then lead the Red Army all the way to Berlin.

  4. The purpose of the war was to capture Caspian basin somehow, as is always the purpose with British/Napoleon/USA/Nazis/Isil/NATO. It is always the different aggressor but the target is always the same.

  5. 1/ Good article. Thank. We also have the opinion that the second front was opened later than it should have been and in a hurry. There were no special prerequisites for delaying the opening of the second front, as Stalin requested England and the United States. I do not in any way underestimate the value of hundreds of thousands of lost Yankees and Britons. But in fact, the second front and the operation in Normandy – it was just a rush. The Western coalition understood that the USSR itself would crush Germany (and, in fact, the whole of Europe, since Germany united the majority of European countries against the USSR). They were afraid that the Soviet soldier would reach the western outskirts of Europe and thus practically all of Europe would be under the influence of the USSR. All historically described.

    • 2/While the Soviet Vanya stormed the strongest German strongholds, dying by the hundreds of thousands, the Western coalition sought to be near when all was finished by Soviet soldier. Crafty, with their second front. And while ordinary soldiers – heroes, from both sides, were hugging on the Elbe, their western hyenas, commanders and politicians, were already planning an operation on the atomic bombing of my great country. … Allies,- worse than enemies! My country was destroyed, robbed. My ancestors once again liberated Europe from militaristic sentiments and fascism. 15 years have passed and the whole world recognized Yuri Gagarin! The bosses from the Bilderberg club may try to rewrite the history of the Second World War as much as they want, but millions of people in the ranks of the Immortal Regiment, the genetic memory of the winners, like the harsh ocean waves will break a wave of lies and deception of the Western rulers.

Comments are closed.