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Analysis of Press Coverage of Events of 6 June 1944

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Bad Penny
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« on: February 27, 2011, 06:15:44 am »

I've just been listening to the live press coverage spanning the period between midnight Eastern War Time (6:00 AM British Double Summer Time (British Double Summer Time being an emergency wartime measure which put London six hours ahead of New York instead of the usual five) and 4:00 AM Eastern War Time (10:00 AM British Double Summer Time) on 6 June, 1944.

One interesting thing I've noted is the report of a German radio statement to the effect that the zone of landings lay between the Orne Estuary and the See Estuary (expressed in the original report as the cities of Caen and Avranches, respectively).  While this certainly represents the area of Allied aerial carpet bombing that morning, the expectation of Allied landings on the western shore of the Cotentin Peninsula seems to me to defy logic, as such a landing would require either the resource-wasteful seizure of the Channel Islands, or an attempt to bypass the Channel Islands while ignoring the fact that they lay astride and along side the shipping lanes which would be required for logistical support of any such landings.

This further seems to indicate the immense German expectation (based on their own operational practice) for converging axes of advance, rather than on the diverging axes of advance dictated by the logistical complexities of the operation, which were beyond the capabilities of the landlocked Germans to imagine, and which played a major part in the slow Allied advance  through Normandy (as the Germans were able to launch a er

Interference  will finish later

EDIT:

No government interference, but 96% humidity (my computer really doesn't like that!).  Here's a simple explanation, for which I'll supply a more sophisticated explanation later:

The situation in Normandy was like the Battle of Waterloo, except here Rommel was Wellington and Eisenhower was Napoleon.  So, how did Eisenhower win while Napoleon lost?  Superior firepower: Eisenhower was Napoleon with an air force!

More later.  (It's really just going to be a very boring discussion of interior lines versus exterior lines, and offensive versus defensive, and the enslavement of the German military mind to Klausewitz's analysis of Napoleon's operational art to an extent which blinded them to the overwhelming fact that the Allies' aerial supremacy gave the Allies firepower superiority which negated Napoleon's disadvantages at Waterloo (and this was also the same mistake which pulled Vo Nguyen Giap into his infamous attempt to recreate his victory at Dien Bien Phu by engaging in the siege of Khe Sahn: the firepower and logistical superiority which the US enjoyed in 1968 was incomprehensible to the victor of 1954.)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 07:52:36 am by Bad Penny » Report Spam   Logged

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Bad Penny
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 02:33:37 am »

Here's the beginning of my analysis (and I'll remind you that I'm interrupting my viewing of "The Longest Day" on television to post this!):

My earlier reference was to my having monitored CBS live coverage of 06/06/1944, but I've since listened to NBC coverage from later in the day which confirms my understanding of the German operational concept as including the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula in the Allied landings, in that it explicitly refers to a German report that the Channel Islands were a focus of the landings.

Anyways, the Germans were students of Clausewitz, who was, in turn, a student of Napoleon.  Napoleon won many victories early in his career by using a then-novel concept of accepting battle only when he could block his enemy's advance (and thus forcing his enemy to accept battle in turn) by occupying ground carefully chosen to give him the massive advantage of interior lines of communication (the understanding of which is based on analysis of black-powder era siege warfare, in which an attacker had to move his troops over great distances to remain outside the range of his enemy's weapons until he was ready to move in for the assault, whereas the defender had to move his forces only a short distance to counteract his enemy's movements (a result of the geometrical formula for the perimeter of a circle which states that the distance you have to go to travel in a circular direction is double the linear distance between your path and the perimeter of the smaller circle around which you're marching (actually double times 3.14159, but, seeing as your enemy on the inside of the circle is also moving in a circle, the constant Pi cancels out))).  At Waterloo, Napoleon made the critical mistake of adopting this essentially defensive concept for a battle in which he was taking the offensive (the correct move would have been for him to have refused battle and to have retreated and chosen an alternate axis of advance).  By careful choice of ground and brilliant deployment, Wellington created a battlefield upon which Napoleon had to throw his army apart in order to attack, and every possible avenue of attack available to Napoleon was blocked by Wellington's forces (i.e., infantry squares on the reverse slope where Wellington knew Napoleon would send his cavalry, the massive reinforcement of Chateau d'Hougoumont (which caused Napoleon's attempted diversion to become a diversion on Wellington's part), and Wellington's use of snipers to shoot officers and NCO's in order to degrade Napoleon's chain of command).

Napoleon threw his army against all that, and famously failed.  Had he the ability to call in an airstrike, many of his problems would have vanished.  But, unlike Eisenhower, Napoleon had no air force, and, like Wellington, Rommel, by June of 1944, had no serious air force either.

***

In my next installment, I'll explain how a divergent assault plan was a relatively small sacrifice compared to the need for a convergent logistical support plan, as an amphibious landing featuring an entire army group as your first wave is clearly a logistical nightmare, and beachhead organization and ability to defend against enemy interdiction of supply lines is critical.  (And clearly overrides any sentimental urge to liberate the Channel Islands.)
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Are you taking over?
Or are you taking orders?
I ain't going backwards!
We're going only forwards!

The Clash, White Riot
Bad Penny
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 05:12:52 am »

Here's my third installment.  Please be advised that I have no idea as to how that "Band of Brothers" ad got placed on this thread; I had nothing to do with it.

***

Anyways, two of the reasons Normandy was chosen over the Pas-de-Calais as the landing site are: 1) (historically verified) the fortification of the Normandy coast had been relatively neglected compared to the Pas-de-Calias, 2) (my conjecture) Normandy was a more central location relative to the channel ports of Southern England, (obviously not entirely central, but more central) facilitating access by logistical support forces.  Full advantage of this situation could not be taken unless the portion of the English Channel designated as a shipping lane for cross-channel shuttle traffic were relatively concentrated, to facilitate naval and air force defense of those shipping lanes.  An assault against the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula would have complicated these already immensely complex arrangements considerably by enlarging the area to be defended.  Further, an assault against the Channel Islands would have given the Allies (I'm returning here to my Waterloo analogy) a second Chateau d'Hougoumont, diverting precious resources from the main effort in addition to the city of Caen, which was the real stand-in for Chateau d'Hougoumont in this campaign)

Further, Eisenhower's concept of operations greatly facilitate linking the five beaches and two air drop zones into a single unified front, whereas landings on the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula would have complicated that process, threatening unity of command over an already immensely complex operation.  In other words, it would be tough for Mohammed Ali to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" if he's tied to his corner post and wearing a hundred-pound backpack.  The logistical arrangements simply couldn't support fancy footwork, but the Germans, who had never attempted any such operation, couldn't have realized that.

The Normandy Campaign's stand-in for Wellington's snipers was Hitler's refusal to understand that Normandy was the main effort, and not merely a diversion for landings at Pas-de-Calais.  This would be equivalent to Wellington's snipers shooting British officers and NCO's, rather than Napoleon's.

The final element analogous to the Battle of Waterloo is the British infantry squares on the reverse slope, which neutralized Napoleon's cavalry.  The hedgerows (read: earthen berms reinforced by the root systems of living trees and bushes) and strong German forces in the area represent this factor in the Normandy campaign.  Allied innovation in equipping tanks with what amount to huge serrated spatulas dealt with the hedgerows, while the enormous Allied bombing raid against German positions which began Operation Cobra dealt with the German resistance.

THE END!  (Whew!)

***

EDIT:

Actually, not quite the end.

I forgot about the Battle of Waterloo's having occurred in the aftermath of a severe rainstorm the previous night.  As Wellington's positions were on a hill, his men had dry ground to stand on, whereas Napoleon's men, marching across the bottom of a valley, had to slog through mud.  Perhaps the Normandy hedgerows could be seen as analogous to the muddy ground of Waterloo, with the modified tanks taking the role of a magical ground-drying machine (clearly unavailable to Napoleon, or to anyone else in a view of history which includes the foreseeable future).

***

OK, so THIS is the end.  (I think!)
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 06:07:23 am by Bad Penny » Report Spam   Logged

Are you taking over?
Or are you taking orders?
I ain't going backwards!
We're going only forwards!

The Clash, White Riot
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