Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The War Did Help Produce a Republican President

Rick Atkinson. The Gains at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1941-1945. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2013.

England, which suffered 50,000 civilian deaths from German air raids, feared from intelligence reports that Germans were plotting to drop rats that would spread bubonic plague or other toxic or chemical invasions. 1,500 civilians were prepared to undergo decontamination efforts if needed. The U.S. had 160,000 tons of chemicals ready for retaliatory strikes.

President Franklin Roosevelt chose Dwight Eisenhower to lead OVERLORD as Eisenhower, according to Roosevelt, was “the best politician among the military men. He is a natural leader.”

In England, new rail lines were camouflaged with cinder and sludge. Fake landing craft and false transmissions created false beliefs the invasion would occur elsewhere.

Landing craft for the invasion were overloaded. Warnings that the extra weight would requires vehicles to be unloaded in water that would ruin their engines were ignored.

Tragedy awaited many paratroopers and craft occupants who arrived off from their intended destinations.

Erwin Rommel had seen and respected American w. He had wanted 200 million land mines for fighting in North Africa yet received only 6 million. Rommel believed the U.S. had superior air and naval forces. Rommel believed an invasion would have to be fought on the beaches. He theorized that if the Allies got past the beaches that
Germany would lose the war.

The 12th S.S.Panzer division killed 156 of their prisoners, most of whom were Canadian.

Hitler looked worn from the war. He spoke about retiring. His plans were to meditate and work operating a museum.

Rommel and Rundstedt informed Hitler there were not enough troops to keep the invasion held back. They advised withdrawing forces from southern France and creating a strong German defense along the Loire River. Hitler did not agree and ordered the forces to stay put.

The Germans were working on developing flying torpedoes which Hitler believed would have a crucial role. Rundstedt and Rommel urged the V1s be used against the invaders. Hitler realized the V1s were inaccurate and thought that using them on London would weaken the British public spirit. Rommel asked Hitler if it would be wise to make an agreement with Western powers to mutually find peace and then attack the Soviet Union. Hitler told Rommel that such things were not of Rommel’s concern. Rundstedt also advised Hitler to end the war. Hitler had him retire.

Gen. Omar Bradley stuck to the original OVERLORD plan. Instead of moving towards capturing Paris, he diverted to attack coasted fortresses of German soldiers. This did prevent a German rear attack yet led to capturing ports that the Allies never used. It also delayed the advance towards Paris.

The French arrested 900,000 and held 125,000 for trial for their behavior during the occupation. Some were imprisoned and others banned from holding government positions.

In retreat, Hitler ordered that anything of economic value be destroyed, that men of military age be captured, and civilians criticizing the Nazis be executed.

A major problem the American forces faced was a much higher need for ordinance replacement than was planned. The supply plans has turned down a plan for numerous depots to supplying being handled on an ad hoc basis that did not work as well as anticipated.

Germany began firing V-2 rockets into England. Each rocket had a one ton warhead.

Aachen became the first German city to fall. The city residents feared Nazi reprisals if they surrendered. The attackers did not provide an “honorable” way to surrender. When the city did give up, it was insisted it be reported they were out of ammunition and food.

Trench foot, where long exposure to the cod and wet crippled blood vessels and tissues, represented about one fourth of military hospital cases by November 1944. 46,000 would eventually be hospitalized accounting for 10$ of European operation casualties. Sadly, these could have been avoided. Purple Hearts were not given for trench feet.

Rundstedt twice unsuccessfully urged Hitler to allow Germans to abandon Metz. Many Nazis fled anyway.

Bombing reduced German forces from 91 oil production facilities to three. The Cmbined Chiefs stated bombing priorities were petroleum targets, transportation, and tank manufacturers. Yet Bomber Command favored bombing cities. 19 cities were mostly destroyed and 19 cities seriously destroyed. British bombers suffered extensive casualties. Half of British bombs were dropped on cities.

American bombers disliked bombing civilians and were precision bombers aimed at military and war production targets. Under one third of bombs exploded within 1,000 feet of intended targets, though.

Eisenhower wanted to secure the west bank of the Rhine before crossing it. Most analysts believed he should have crossed it earlier and that an earlier crossing would not have been that difficult.

Hitler created 750,000 solders by lowering the military age to 16 and raising it to 50. The U.S. increased troops by one million in 1944 to 1945 by no longer exempting fathers.


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