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(1939-1945) WWII
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G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 4/22/2020 7:52:52 PM

I realize there is already a thread here on Dragoon, but that is focused on the actual history, this is a hypothetical. Of course the Administrators/Moderators here might decide the two should be merged, so ...

The supposition here is that Allied Command decided to go with a bolder and larger reach of flanking in the MTO and do such in place of the short "end-run" of Operation Shingle landing barely40+ miles behind the German Gustav Line in Southern Italy where Allied divisions were bogged down trying to break through the "thickest part of the fence" so to speak. To most strategists, the path of landings from Tunisia to Sicily to Southern Italy would seem a logical progression of chasing the Axis through the MTO and clearing a seaway path from Gibraltar to
Suez.

However, once landed in the Southern part of Italy, driving overland along two thin coastal flatlands separated by a high mountain range should have seemed problematic if the Axis/Germans responded soon enough and in strength to entrench and block, which is what they did. So after the September 1943 landings, by October-November the 'Winter' rains and mud of a peninsula with limited road nets made northward advancement difficult to impossible and encouraged thoughts of amphibious flanking - envelopment to get around the loggerheads. Given the length of the Italian peninsula, it should have been reasonable to expect there might be need of a couple-few such operations to reach the Northern plains/Po valley.

Operation Shingle, landing in the Anzio area, was not planned nor expected to be the hemmed-in bottleneck and deathtrap it became. While reasonable to assume this theme/thread topic is the result of historical hindsight, in trying to put myself in the "shoes" of planners back then, with Overlord a bare half year away and it's intense need for amphib resources/lift and more troops, aircraft, etc.; extensive naval operations to flank ones way up the Italy coastlines would have only a few months window before such would have to yield to the needs of Overlord. This makes coastal "leapfrog" operations a bit dicey to sustain and encourages consideration of something else. Especially when the Shingle venture could be of limited effect and leave the Eastern coastal region as an escape path for the "pinned" German forces on the Gustav Line, should they opt to retreat to another position further up the peninsula.
Operation Shingle - Battle of Anzio
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Churchill at this time was advocating for schemes in the Balkans or Aegean as likely strategic flanking moves, but those offered some difficult terrain to operate through and at bit at the extension of Allied basings. Dragoon had been considered as something that could occur in conjunction with Overlord, but constraints in shipping and amphib lift made it a case of either one or the other, so Dragoon was given a backseat to Overlord.

But "What If" instead of jumping into a "short end run" of Shingle and landing at Anzio, the Allies went for a longer pass play and opted for the Southern Coast of France?

This topic has been kicked around a few years in another Forum, to the tune of about 255 posts and 16,850 views, here;

Southern France D-Day Before Northern France D-Day
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 4/22/2020 8:31:07 PM

The primary purpose of an earlier Dragoon, especially in place of Shingle/Anzio, is to open another Front for Germany to have to deal with. One that is geographically distant enough that it would draw away German resources from either the Russian Front, North France "Atlantic Wall", or those committed to the Italian Front. Secondary purpose would be to put as many Free French units and forces ashore and into France to initiate a distracting liberation effort in the South of France, hoping to develop a "horns of as dilemma" for the Germans to deal with.

Primary objectives would be seize the ports of Toulon and Marseilles, allowing direct offload of transport and freeing up amphib shipping for Overlord. Secondary objectives would be a drive up the Rhone valley, likely by mostly USA forces and a North-West drive towards the West coast of France by mostly Free French forces/units. British/UK forces landing on the Eastern flanks of the invasion beaches would move to block access from North Italy and/or threaten to advance in that direction.

This operation is not expected to be the drive that liberates Paris and most of France, though the further N-NW it moves from the landing zones/beach-heads the better. So long as the ports are secured and the advance goes only 30-50 miles inland during the first weeks, it will be deemed a success for tying down German resources sent to contain it and ideally take some pressure off the Overlord beaches/landings a few months later. Also, it might help thin the German units on the Gustav Line making movement north up Italian peninsula least difficult and costly.

Corsica, and Sardinia, had been liberated by early October 1943 and would provide forward air basing for this operation. As it was, Corsica would have the nickname USS Corsica reflecting it being a huge, but non movable "aircraft carrier" where eventually 17 airfields would be constructed. Assorted naval bombardments and airstrikes along both coast of Italy north of the front-lines prior to the invasion window would provide cover as softening for intended landings there, with the strikes against Southern France being focused in the week prior to the landings - focused mostly on reducing German aircraft in the region, AAA defenses, beach defenses, troop concentrations, and transportation grid.

Of the approximate dozen divisions facing the Gustav Line only about 6-8 would remain and those would assume defense posture and dig in. "Leaks" would suggest that the divisions pulled out are getting rest and refit for a "Spring Offensive"; and would join the forces allocated to 'Shingle' as the bulk of initial landing forces for Dragoon. The operation would also employ as many commando, Ranger, and Airborne as possible, knowing that for many this is "live action" training of sorts since they will be shifting north for Overlord ASAP.

Patton would be transferred to run the USA armor forces breaking out up through the Rhone.

That's the rough draft for now. More later, have to get dinner going and other things before wife gets home.
Operation Dragoon -Historical
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 5/22/2020 4:35:01 PM

Some context ...
... being part of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, MTO, a map;



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Sea
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And basic background;
Italian campaign (World War II)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_campaign_(World_War_II)
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 5/22/2020 4:43:52 PM

With Operation Anvil (known as Dragoon post Overlord) being in place of Operation Shingle, the landing at Anzio, here's some background on Shingle since many of the forces used for it will now be part of the earlier Anvil(Dragoon).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Anzio
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The map above gives some clue as to the forces to be used in an earlier Anvil(Dragoon);
1) USA VI Corps
2) Free French Expeditionary Corps
3) A UK Corps using the Br. units from VI, and a division from Br. X Corps
This gives about 7-8 divisions already, plus a few others that were in other parts of the MTO; and/or which might get pulled from the line in Italy.
Allied attacks northward are on hold as the line stretches out into a defense posture and starts to dig in more (for Winter). This means a good chance the push against Monte Cassino would be on hold and the site spared the destruction it historically had. Intel efforts are such as to encourage deception of the Germans that the units pulled from the line are for rest and refit, before rotating with others left on the line. Partially true, but they will also be undergoing amphib training for Southern France landings for some time in March +/-.

Expecting winter weather and terrain to be as difficult to a German offensive as was to the Allied, about eight Allied divisions will be on/holding the line against the Germans while others are getting ready for and engaging in Op. Anvil.

The map also gives some gauge on which German formations/units would be available for deploy to South France in response to the landings of Anvil(Dragoon).
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 5/22/2020 5:18:58 PM

Southern France
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_France
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden
WA USA
Posts: 327
What If --- Dragoon in place of Shingle and before Overlord
Posted on: 5/22/2020 5:27:02 PM

Historical Dragoon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Dragoon
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While historical was in mid August 1944, post Overlord(Normandy Landings), this earlier scenario has it ocurring in place of Shingle/Anzio of late January 1944. Tentatively about early March to ally amphib training for the units pulled out of Italy and other preparations, hopefully seizing ports of Toulon and Marseilles within first 2-3 weeks opening for direct shipment to the landed forces and free up of the landing craft/ships used so to be sent North to UK in time for Overlord.

German defenses may be similar to (if not lighter than) what are shown here, and likely Allied landing zones would be the same as historical, as shown on these maps;


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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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