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What were WWII’s most viable ‘greatest missed opportunities’?

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  • What were WWII’s most viable ‘greatest missed opportunities’?

    What were WWII’s most viable ‘greatest missed opportunities’?

    The above is a companion and contrast piece to my earlier thread-starters:
    . What are WWII’s most over-used and overwrought clichés?
    &
    . What is the most overlooked undervalued underestimated aspect of WWII?

    . what is the most viable example in WWII of 'Too little too late?

    Found this type of approach (the broad-brush, innumerable options available ‘open’ question) always very useful when assistant-tutoring as it opened up discussion and encouraged participants to use their imaginations.
    On the other hand I was once told by a colleague back in the mid-seventies that it (the approach) could come across as ‘patronising and almost smug’ would you believe?
    (she was slightly tipsy at the time ….but cripes what a slap-down… ya can’t win guys and gals I tell ya!)

    The crucial factor is when considering this question is of course the term viable.
    Many ‘greatest lost opportunities’ that some armchair generals often suggest are simply not realistic as they were militarily, not really feasible.
    Not feasible or plausible that is, due to either logistically insurmountable difficulties, lack of requisite resources or capabilities or often simply because the alternate option (which of course is what an opportunity is) was beyond the ‘mindset’ and thinking of those who might have been in a position to seize it.
    Some oft-mentioned lost opportunities which were in effect not even on the cards included:
    . Hitler either launching ‘Sealion, prioritising the naval war or building a strategic bomber
    Force

    . or in the Far East Japan attacking the USSR in 1941

    . and of course the old standbys: the Nazis building a A-Bomb, or giving precedence to
    war in the Mediterranean or Western Europe over the Eastern Front


    On the other hand nearly all the great plausible lost opportunities were military viable and at least militarily possible (though some of course would have been ‘difficult’ in other words costly but worth it). What was essential was the will to proceed on that alternate course and take the risks that course entailed.


    A handful of examples:

    . The potential to f a French Offensive ‘in the West;’ in Sept/Oct 1939 while Germany was tied up
    destroying Poland.

    . The ‘Panzer Halt’ outside Dunkirk ay 1940 probably allowing the BEF to escape and the opportunity
    for Hitler to insist they press on.


    . The option (which once again is of course an opportunity) for Hitler to simply ignore Britain after the
    fall of France as Hasting suggests in his overview of the Battle of Britain in chapter 4 of ‘All Hell Let
    Loose’ (his WWII grand history)

    . The opportunity for the UK to finalise the drive to push the Axis out of North Africa in early 1941

    . Various opportunities on the Eastern Front from Hitler swinging the Germans to encircling Kiev instead of pressing onto Moscow in late summer/early Autumn
    1941 right through to the oppurtunity for Stalin to simply refuse entry of the Western Allies into Soviet conquered Berlin.


    Well you get the idea.

    Many 'opportunities' for discussion you might say.

    Looking forward to your ideas and suggestions

    Regards
    lodestar


  • #2
    Two of your examples are also non starters. In 1939 the French mobilisation took far too long for them to launch an offensive whilst Germany was involved in Poland. They would have had to start preparing in 1938. Ignoring Britain in 1940 was also not a real option - especially because of Italy's intervention in Greece. This brought Yugoslavia into play and Hitler was all too aware that most of Germany's supply of steel alloying metals came from there. Germany had to act in the Balkans and to do so would mean facing Britain in the Mediterranean.

    A viable missed opportunity ? I can think of two Axis ones

    1. Not reinforcing Italy's attempt to destroy the Royal Navy's oil supply capability at Haifa by transferring Luftwaffe bombers to the air campaign. Even the some what pathetic Italian attempts had the Admiralty panicking and actively planning the removal of the fleet from the Mediterranean.

    2. Abandoning the planned airborne assault on Malta which Hitler originally approved and then changed his mind about. Rommel reckoned that the failure to take out Malta cost him North Africa. Malta was more crucial than Crete
    Last edited by MarkV; 05 May 19, 05:57.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      The panzer halt outside Dunkirk is also "the subject of myth". The BEF and the French forces had Battered the panzer forces in a dogged retreat, and the German armor was in need of repair, consolidation , and resupply before attacking through the canal and marshland defences around Dunkirk.
      The battle for the Breskins pocket in 1944 shows what a determined defence could accomplish in that terrain.
      A better example would be " what if the advance to the Dyle line hadn't been ordered?"
      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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      • #4
        Thread moved to Alternate Timelines as it deals with What If subject matter
        ACG Staff

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        • #5
          Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post
          Thread moved to Alternate Timelines as it deals with What If subject matter
          ACG Staff
          Without in the slightest criticising the decisions of the overlords might one grovelingly suggest that this thread be put right back? As my posting history will show I am not a fan of the Zeppelin sized, garlic flavoured pompous windbag's approach but I would most abjectly and humbly suggest that this is not a "what if" but a "was the decision not to correct" question. For example the two examples I quoted both involved serious planning exercises by the German and Italian military (of.which documentary evidence exists) only for the no decision to be given by Hitler and/or Mussolini. It would seem perfectly legitimate to ask the question "was this a good decision?" in the WW2 forum which is seeming pretty anaemic these days.
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            Maybe a tactical, rather than a strategic one, but what if Kurita's force had fought through the CVEs and destroyers and had attacked the amphibious ships unloading supplies. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the battle, but it would have pushed back the victory.

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            • #7
              The U.S. Navy had thoroughly tested its surface, submarine and aerial torpedos. And corrected their problems before the war started. A lot more Japenese ships would have gone to the bottom in 1942 and 43.
              "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
              Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                Maybe a tactical, rather than a strategic one, but what if Kurita's force had fought through the CVEs and destroyers and had attacked the amphibious ships unloading supplies. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the battle, but it would have pushed back the victory.
                The same could be said for the Battle of Savo Island, when the Marines landed at Guadalcanal.
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                • #9
                  April 1939 Hitler stops his expansionist policy.

                  With little bloodshed by that point in time Germany had:

                  Started a massive rearmament program violating the treaties that ended World War I.

                  Remilitarized the Rhineland

                  United with Austria

                  Occupied Czechoslovakia

                  At this time Germany would be at its most powerful without war

                  Of course Hitler was a megalomaniac so short of a coup this wouldn't happen.
                  "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
                  Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                    2. Abandoning the planned airborne assault on Malta which Hitler originally approved and then changed his mind about. Rommel reckoned that the failure to take out Malta cost him North Africa. Malta was more crucial than Crete

                    Almost certainly not viable in July 1942 and very problematic in May 41.

                    An attempt on Malta in July '42 might even have allowed Auchinleck to stumble to victory at Alamein, depriving Rommel, as it would, of much of his airforce, reinforcements and resupply,

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                    • #11
                      1. Not allowing O'Connor an attempt at the conquest of Tripolitania
                      2. Not going for the full-blooded thrust strategy in NWE from August '44.
                      3. Not delaying Dragoon until after 15th Army Group were over the Appennines

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                      • #12
                        The Pearl Harbour defences being on alert in December 1941?
                        "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gooner View Post


                          Almost certainly not viable in July 1942 and very problematic in May 41.

                          An attempt on Malta in July '42 might even have allowed Auchinleck to stumble to victory at Alamein, depriving Rommel, as it would, of much of his airforce, reinforcements and resupply,
                          Kesselring backed by Rommel put the case to Hitler in February 1942. He had been trying to convince him since 1941 but this time, unknown to Keselring, Raeder had also made the same case. He had previously suggested it in March 1941. Hitler said go ahead. The resultant planned joint German Italian operation was named Esigenza C3. Originally the intent was to take Malta before Rommel's offensive in order to ensure that his logistic line of supply for this was clear. However in April 1942 at a meeting between Mussolini and Hitler at Klessheim it was agreed that the assault on Malta would kick off after Tobruk had been retaken and at that point Rommel would halt his advance until the island fell. Although joint Italo German planning for the invasion continued until August 1942 at that point it was effectively dead. However had Hitler stuck to his original intent then your points do not stand.
                          The original plan, using previous Italian plans, would have involved 100,000 troops with the Italian Folgore parachute division providing many of the airborne force and the Luftwaffe the aircraft.

                          See Major Alessandro Vivarelli.Italian Army, School of Advanced Military Studies United States Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The Axis and the Intended Invasion of Malta in 1942: a Combined Planning Endeavor. 2014




                          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                          • #14
                            Well April 1942 was the last time the Axis had air superiority over the Island, after that the Spitfires were ascendant.

                            An attempt to take Malta in April, which would still probably fail, also leaves Eighth Army in a good position to take to the offensive in Libya.

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                            • #15
                              I'll still argue for this;
                              Southern France D-Day Before Northern France D-Day

                              The are several pages of scores of posts, but towards the end it gets to the nub;
                              https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...e-d-day/page17

                              Thing is, by the time of the Anzio landings in January 1944, there are already about 5 corps on the Southern part of Italy, and Anzio involves a 6th. Also Anzio is an "end-run" around the "line of scrimmage" when a "long, deep pass" might have been the better play.

                              If the earlier Dragoon is done instead of Anzio, around Jan. to March at latest, should be able to get much of the amphib used back up to the UK in time for Overlord/Neptune. Meanwhile, Germany is having to pull troops from south of Italy and/or central to Northern France to try and contain the landings in Southern France, which could make Overlord/Neptune encounter slightly less resistance on the Channel coasts.

                              Also, if enough progress and breakout happens in Southern France, driving North to NW towards the Western coast might place pressure on the ports used for U-boat a lot sooner, affecting the "Battle for the Atlantic".

                              Leave 2-3 corps in Southern Italy to hold the German interest, send 3-4 corps to South of France and should place the Germans on a larger "horns of dilemma" by the time June arrives and Overlord/Neptune kick-off.

                              This option has had some interesting results when "gamed".
                              TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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