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  • Normandy beaches reversed.

    What if the Normandy landings were reversed? That is, the British land at Utah and Omaha, the Canadians at Gold and the US at Sword and Juno. How would this play out. The US is tasked with taking Caen. Most of the German armor ends up facing the US not Britain. The US has no Fireflies but does have more armor available to push into the invasion zone.
    There are other considerations, many very subtle, but how would this have played out?

  • #2
    D-Day, I see effectively no difference, aside from the obvious casualty figures being swapped. Omaha is still a slaughterhouse, no matter who steps off there.

    D+1, This is where things might start to get slightly interesting. The US has more tanks to put ashore, and if they've got a beachhead that's been able to push a bit further with fewer casualties and less of a bog, the US might be rolling more tanks ashore. No, the US doesn't have Firefly, but overall the Firefly wasn't so much more effective that it was truly decisive. A decent chunk of armor, and that armor being more suited to supporting infantry with HE fire, might make a difference in cracking into Caen a bit sooner.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      Casualties about the same across the beaches though lower on Omaha and higher on Sword and Juno because 'Funnies'.
      The US hasn't got more armour than 2nd British to deploy - rather the opposite. The US has a higher infantry to tank ratio though.

      2nd British Army has an advantage fighting in the Bocage of three brigades of Churchill tanks which had better terrain crossing ability than the Sherman. They also have AVREs to blast holes through the hedges. Given the creative and often spectacular solutions displayed whilst fighting on the Eastern flank, I can't help but think the Germans would be transferring some of their premier assets to the Western flank once 2nd Army start displaying them there.
      Perhaps 2nd Army makes faster better progress in the West causing the Germans to redeploy and 1st US then 3rd US deliver the knockout blows from the East.

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      • #4
        Do the funnies have the same problems the US ones had at Omaha? Sunk, wrong places, dispersed, etc
        Do they make it ashore fairly intact at Juno/Sword?
        SPORTS FREAK/ PANZERBLITZ COMMANDER/ CC2 COMMANDER

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        • #5
          As a bit of context what was the thinking behind the real world assignment of beaches?
          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dgfred View Post
            Do the funnies have the same problems the US ones had at Omaha? Sunk, wrong places, dispersed, etc
            Do they make it ashore fairly intact at Juno/Sword?
            At Omaha one (of the two?) DD tank regiments was entirely lost to swamping. I know many of the DD tanks on the British/Canadian beaches were driven to the shore in their LCTs. Dunno if that could be a difference.

            I was thinking more of the Churchill AVREs of which their were over 100 deployed on Gold Juno Sword. Of course they would still be shot up by the unsupressed A/Tk on Omaha but the more armour you put on the beach the more that will survive.

            D-day_-_British_Forces_during_the_Invasion_of_Normandy_6_June_1944_B5095.jpg

            The Fascines and Bridgelayers could also expedite progress inland from Utah.
            Attached Files

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Surrey View Post
              As a bit of context what was the thinking behind the real world assignment of beaches?
              US troops were quartered more in the SW of the country.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                US troops were quartered more in the SW of the country.
                This! Swapping beaches would have required the massive armada of invasion ships to cross paths in the narrow waters of the channel, a logistical and traffic control nightmare, if not outright impossibility. Changing would have required swapping US units into the defensive positions in SE England that the U.K. Forces had established in 1940 as they arrived in 43-44. And that, while more easily achievable than the crossing during the channel crossing, would have been movement for no reason at the time.

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                • #9
                  Marc Milner's excellent book "Stopping the Panzers" can shed some light on this situation.

                  The Brits and Canadians decided that all artillery going ashore on DDAY would be self propelled. The US army decided that towed was good enough. The result was that almost all commonwealth guns got ashore on DDAY whereas the US divisions lost a very high percentage of their towed cannons to swamping. The US also launched their DD tanks early and lost a high percentage. They also didn't have as many tank and tank destroyers assigned

                  Furthermore the commonwealth planners had identified the area behind Juno beach as prime location for a German panzer counter attack so they loaded 3rd Canadian division with guns. 3rd Canadian had 4 regiments of priests and 2 of towed 25 pounders. It also had an corps level AT brigade with 4 regiments of 17 pounders of which two were self propelled. It was also supported by a full tank brigade. I'm not sure American planners would have done the same.

                  I think the armour heavy commonwealth assault would have blown through the Omaha defenders much quicker than the OTL and advanced farther inland. The 6th para would have been dropped on target and seized the causeways quicker.

                  The Americans would have taken more time on sword, juno and gold because they didn't have the funnies and not get as far on June 6. The 82nd and 101 would be dropped all over the place and likely on top of 21st panzer. That would not end well for the airborne.

                  7th of June is where it gets interesting. Historically 12SS counterattacked 3rd Canadian and overan Authie but got smashed at Buron by massed artillery and 17 pounders. Had the Americans been there with fewer guns and fewer and weaker antitank guns, 12SS' attack likely gets farther. Maybe even the beaches.

                  Basically commonwealth divisions assigned to Normandy had much greater anti tank firepower than the American divisions. Thus they were able stop the German counter attacks in their tracks. I don't think the American divisions would have done as well.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                    I was thinking more of the Churchill AVREs of which their were over 100 deployed on Gold Juno Sword. Of course they would still be shot up by the unsupressed A/Tk on Omaha but the more armour you put on the beach the more that will survive.
                    Not really. The Churchills are pretty much immune to anything but an 88.
                    The Royal Marines also brought about 100 Centaurs to the show. These usually tend to get forgotten.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                      Marc Milner's excellent book "Stopping the Panzers" can shed some light on this situation.

                      The Brits and Canadians decided that all artillery going ashore on DDAY would be self propelled.
                      Including anti-tank and anti-aircraft, plus AVREs for the engineers.

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                      • #12
                        Some of the obvious questions arising from the difference between the US and British (inc Canadians)

                        Airborne forces
                        US has more but generally used them as infantry divisions delivered by air, where the British focussed more on glider assault and point targets.

                        On the Eastern flank, the British used airborne forces against the Merville battery, Pegasus bridge and the Troan bridges (an under-reported adventure). Will the US do the same or will one of the divisions be dropped on or around Caen itself? Will this make a difference to 21st Panzer's initial deployment on 6th June?

                        I'd have to look at the Western flank again to think through how the British would use airborne forces.

                        Beach assault
                        British used more armour and were perhaps more effective in getting their troops trained to get of the beach.

                        I can't see the US getting to closer to Caen on D-Day, although they are unlikely to be much behind. I think the British will penetrate deeper behind Omaha and Utah but still probably behind the target lines.

                        Deep penetration
                        The British had 2 armoured brigades tasked with deeper penetration (IIRC Villers Boacge & ?). This might work on Utah but I'd have to check the map for potential targets.

                        German counterattacks
                        US forces should stop 21st Panzer counterattacks on D-Day.

                        Post D-Day
                        German counterattacks would still be focussed around Caen. Key question would be British priorities - would 7th Armoured be kept in reserve near the coast as a backstop, or pushed south to threaten the German rear when 352nd division pulls back?

                        How would Bradley cope with the pressure of being on the defensive? Montgomery would still focus on the battle around Caen, but I think it would be Bradley under threat of being replaced, by maybe Collins?

                        Overall I think the biggest difference will come from how the US airborne divisions are deployed - any suggestions?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aber View Post
                          Some of the obvious questions arising from the difference between the US and British (inc Canadians)

                          Airborne forces
                          US has more but generally used them as infantry divisions delivered by air, where the British focussed more on glider assault and point targets.

                          On the Eastern flank, the British used airborne forces against the Merville battery, Pegasus bridge and the Troan bridges (an under-reported adventure). Will the US do the same or will one of the divisions be dropped on or around Caen itself? Will this make a difference to 21st Panzer's initial deployment on 6th June?

                          I'd have to look at the Western flank again to think through how the British would use airborne forces.

                          Overall I think the biggest difference will come from how the US airborne divisions are deployed - any suggestions?

                          British 1st Airborne Division was ready for deployment? If so the plan would mirror history I would think, the priority in landing after securing the bridgehead was taking Cherbourg.

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                          • #14
                            One thing to note here is that the topography of the beaches is quite different. The US at Omaha had just 4 or 5 routes up "draws" -- narrow ravines-- leading off the beach. The rest of the beach was pretty much cliff face. Utah got lucky and landed at the wrong place leading to almost no casualties and easily leaving the beachhead.

                            I think the US, once ashore and clear of the beach, would move more aggressively against Caen.

                            It is also likely that the composition of the landings would be altered to fit the beaches they were to land on. The US might well land more armor earlier than they did for example while the British choose to land somewhat less.

                            The US, unlike the British, don't have to be very careful about managing casualties. The US can take more and has the replacements-- even if for a period in the ETO their system was stretched. I'd also think that the US would be less inclined to set-piece battles like Goodwood and more inclined to apply massive firepower continuously against the Germans.

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                            • #15
                              Also, what would the Rangers have been put on, if they didn't have to take Pointe du Hoc and that was left to the Royal Marine Commandoes?

                              Overall, I think the effective results would have been marginally different. Maybe the Brits do a bit better with getting up the draws on Omaha. Maybe the US gets a bit of a better opening and sends its armor and Rangers racing to try to get to Caen. I don't see the Airborne drops being different....they'll still be scattered all to hell, which was found to have some substantial effects on the Germans as they thought we had dropped several Corps of paras due to how they performed despite being scattered.
                              Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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