image from navy.mil
I was thinking about some things I’d read about WWII and remembered a question my dad had. He couldn’t watch movies like The Longest Day (too damned long and he hated it) and probably couldn’t watch Saving Private Ryan for too long… if he saw much of any of it.
It wasn’t that he was getting flashbacks or anything like that–his service was in Vietnam for one thing–it was more the sheer numbers of Allied men dying that day just pissed him off.
I’ve looked at WWII history so often and have read up on so much (and still have dozens on dozens of books I haven’t touched yet). I’ve talked to veterans and gotten their stories, but I still wonder about the D-Day landings.
My dad despised Eisenhower because of the decisions made on D-Day, condemning it as just a human wave attack when something better could have been done, and thousands of lost lives over the many days it took to control the beaches and fight in the hedgerows and not get thrown back into the sea.
I have wondered about dad’s question off and on, and I end up playing with some historical “what-ifs”. I’ve seen several documentaries on the Atlantic Wall, read up plenty on the other fronts that the Allies tried to establish (though not as many as I’d like on North Africa, but I’ll remedy that eventually). Though there were holes in the Atlantic Wall defenses, holes Rommel and other generals tried to fill… I can only imagine it would’ve taken a tremendous effort to really break into “Fortress Europe.”
I still think the way things had to go to get into Europe and establish that next front, it had to be a sledgehammer, not a chisel, especially with the amount of time and resources involved. Heaven only knows what failure would’ve meant, and the movement of that many ships and men couldn’t stay hidden too long (and wasn’t, but the awesome deceptions led to tons of confusion for the Germans).
Anyway, the June 6, 1944 landings were damned costly to the Allied forces, and the Axis. But I wonder what could’ve been done differently.
Could another plan have worked as well without the loss of life?
I admit, I can’t think of anything, no matter how hard I try.
Has anybody else wondered about this? Any other history buffs imagine a different invasion scenario or location than the Normandy beach on June 6, 1944 that would’ve worked as well or better at the time? Any way the body count could’ve been reduced that you can think of, or any other plans you heard of that were discarded?
Floor’s yours. I’m curious what’s possible and out there, ideas you might’ve had…