Timing is Everything in Life and War
|British/Canadian prisoners from Operation Jubilee being paraded through the streets of Dieppe, 19 August 1942 (Hausmann, Federal Archive Bild 101I-611-2124-08).|
|German troops guarding some of the 3623 Allied soldiers killed, wounded, or captured at Dieppe, 19 August 1942 (© IWM (HU 1895)).|
|German Panzerbergungtrupp Zugfuhrer Lt. Epple Strand astride one of the 29 captured Churchill Mk I tanks at Dieppe, 19 August 1942.|
|A wounded Canadian soldier after the Dieppe Raid, 19 August 1942 (Meyer, Wiltberger, Federal Archive Bild 101I-291-1229-11).|
|Victorious German soldiers examine one of 33 Allied landing craft lost during the Dieppe Raid (Hausmann, Federal Archive Bild 101I-611-2124-24).|
|The first US troops arriving in Europe, 26 January 1942.|
|USAAF B-17 bombers during an October 1943 Schweinfurt raid, part of Operation Pointblack (USAF).|
The most important characteristic of the German Air Force in Western Europe is the continuous growth of fighter aircraft strength that, if not set to a minimum, could reach such a size that an amphibious landing is unthinkable. That is why, in the first place, it is necessary to reduce the German air strength between now and the moment of the attack ... That condition, more than any other, will determine whether an amphibious attack can be launched on a given date.The new P-51 Mustang and advanced Spitfires gave the US Army Air Force and RAF confidence they could protect the beachhead. The victory of the convoy system and advanced electronic warfare defeated the U-boats. The huge Wehrmacht losses at Tunis and Stalingrad in 1943 stretched the Wehrmacht’s manpower. A new secondary front in Italy occupied the German reserves. Everything came together by the spring of 1944.
|The P-51D Mustang first became available to USAAF 8th Air Force in the winter of 1943-44. They were a game-changer, enabling continuous fighter coverage during Pointblank raids (USAF).|
Anyway, by 1944, the Allies finally felt confident that they had overwhelming superiority on the Channel Front. Still, even then, D-Day was a very risky operation and the Allies were prepared for a massive catastrophe. Was a successful invasion in 1943 possible? Probably, but the disastrous January 1944 landing at Anzio (Operation Avalanche) showed just how quickly an inadequate invasion could go wrong. The Allies did not realize just how weakened the Wehrmacht in France was by then - we do, but hindsight is perfect.
|Troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) landing at Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944 (Sargent, Robert F., National Archives).|