Pursuit to the German Border. September 1944.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by davebender, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    map1.jpg

    Aachen is only about 35 km from the Ruhr.
    Aachen is located on a main rail line for easy supply.
    Dive bombers and even long range artillery located in the vicinity of Aachen could systemically reduce the most important German industrial region to rubble.

    Why wasn't the capture of Aachen and the surrounding region given top priority during September 1944 rather then piddling around in the Netherlands?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Because Ike wanted a broad front strategy. It kept the Germans busy everywhere, but at the cost of the allies never having the required strength to punch through any given point in the German lines.

    There was also severe logistical issues that needed to be addressed. The allies had out run their logistics tail. Ikes minimizing the importance of grabbing Antwerp ASAP was an omission that came back to haunt him.
     
  3. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    Aachen is not enough near for artillery (70km from Dusseldorf 125 km from Dortmund) (the allied longest range gun the 8 inch M1 around 32 km were deployed only in 36 examplares in 5 us btl and 3 british btries).
    Fighter bomber non need a so near base
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Krupp K5 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    800px-Anzioanniegun.jpg

    Range = 64 km.
    15 rounds per hour. 255 kg shell.
    This weapon was not particularly high tech. Essentially just a 12" battleship gun mounted on a high angle railroad gun carriage. I think the U.S. Army could build something similiar if we wanted to. It's ideal for shelling the SW Ruhr region from the rail line which runs from Paris to Aachen. That same main rail line means an offensive to seize Aachen and beyond should have no logistical problems.

    Rouen is the main seaport for Paris. Le Havre guards the Seine River mouth. Kicking the Germans out of Le Havre should be part of the offensive plan.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    france-railway-map-lg.gif

    This map shows the rail line running from Paris to Aachen and then onward into the Ruhr. By 1890 it was the main rail line in that region and still is today.

    WWI era forts at Liege, Namur, Lille and Maubeuge were built to guard this obvious invasion route. Germany had to seize the forts during August to September 1914 when projecting 1st and 2nd Army across Belgium into Northern France.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The US and British both had similar guns left over from WW I. And a few built of bits and pieces later. The Problem, as has been said is logistics. AFTER you come up with this brilliant plan, you have to get the guns and carriages on ships, get them to France, get them unloaded, British 18in guns used to shoot across the English channel

    BL 18 inch railway howitzer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    weighed 85.7 tons so you need a rather large dockyard crane to unload these things even in pieces. You have to reassemble the thing and then move it forward. These are specialized gun mountings and not a bunch of boiler plate knocked together at a local railroad yard out of old bits and pieces. You might get A gun in place several weeks after you get your bright idea. If you are lucky and if the logistics demands don't decide that something else might be more useful to the war effort than 200-300tons of railroad gun, not including ammo.

    AS for that railroad from Paris to Aachen through Belgium, I suppose for this scenario that the American and British air forces just managed to miss it with all the thousands of tons of bombs they dropped on the French and German rail system? and you logistic supply is assured along this pristine railway by the dozens of locomotives not needed elsewhere on the system out of all the ones left after 2 years of american and British planes shooting at every locomotive they could find? Likewise there are a few hundred rail wagons not being used for anything else either?

    See Red Ball Express - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Port of Rouen.
    History of the port of Rouen, valley of the Seine, France
    If Ike is short sighted enough to destroy the Port of Rouen with aerial bombardment then I agree. If he has enough sense to lunge for Aachen then perhaps he also has enough sense to leave the largest French seaport intact for Allied use.

    The Port of Rouen plus the twin track rail line from Paris to Aachen would solve most Anglo-American logistical problems in Northern France and Belgium. The Netherlands could and probably should be bypassed.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Huuummm, let me see if I have this right, if Ike was smart he would leave a twin track railroad line from the heart of German industry to Paris and beyond so he could use it a number of weeks after the invasion?

    Of course the Germans would be kind enough NOT TO USE IT in the meantime to bring reinforcements and supplies to their troops, right?
     
  9. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #9 Vincenzo, Sep 14, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
    Railway guns so other all the logistic trouble show from SR6 they need also build up a new railwaygun (The US 14 inch gun has around 40 km of range)
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Exactly,you beat me to it :)
    That's why even Bomber Command was diverted (kicking and screaming) to destroy French infrastructure before the invasion. It then went back to flattening the Ruhr. What would a piddling artillery bombardment from a few railway guns achieve that 1000s of bombers could not? What would a few hundred fighter bombers,flying into the densest anti aircraft defences in Germany,achieve that all those heavy bombers could not?

    Steve
     
  11. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    There was also the fact that the Netherlands was an ally and their population was starving. So the broad front advancing towards Germany was relieving allies and defeating Germany at the same time. There was an attempt at a narrow front break through - but that did not go as well as hoped for many reasons.
    The Russians were far less concerned about casualties - so could throw divisions at well defended areas and still make progress. On the Western Front - that would not have been acceptable.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Then destroying Ruhr industries makes even more sense. No need to phyically over run Europe if Germany loses her munitions industry.
     
  13. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Casualties were not the only issue.
    There were also very large egos at stake - Monty and Patton to name the more obvious ones.
    The Ruhr was a target for both daylight and nightime bombing - so I dont think even large calibre railway guns would have made much difference. Remeber that Germany had become quite adept at dispesing manufacturing and also hiding factories deep underground.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately (for the Allies) only a tiny minority of bombs hit factory complexes. Most cratered the countryside and inflicted misery on civilians but contributed little to the defeat of Germany.

    Which brings up an ugly political issue. The U.S. and Britain would need to admit their heavy bomber campaigns are a failure. Otherwise there is no need to bring the Ruhr within artillery range.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    How many of your artillery shells are going to do anything different to the bombs? How accurate were these pieces at such extreme ranges?
    The bombing destroyed plenty of industrial infrastucture,as has been said,the Germans became very adept at dispersing and protecting their facilities. A quick read of the SBS would show that the bombing campaigns,whilst not the unmitigated success that the airmen had hoped for in the early years,were not a failiure.There was no need to bring the Ruhr within artillery range which is one of several reasons why it wasn't done.
    Bombers have the logistical advantage of being supplied from Britain without the need to deliver their fuel and ordnance via the shattered infra structure of liberated Europe. They take care of that themselves.
    The well documented and oft quoted woes of the Luftwaffe were brought about not just by the loss of territory but well targeted strategic bombing.
    Steve
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    For artillery to be accurate it needs forward observers. Not too common on the ground in the Ruhr at that time I believe. Next alternative is air observation or spotting. Germans are going let a few observation planes cruise around at 100-200mph and a few thousand feet for hours if not days while this bombardment goes on?
    A British 13.5in 1400lb HE shell had a 176.5lb bursting charge. A 500lb GP bomb had about a 250lb busting charge. 500lb bombs were too small to really wreck factories.
    What size guns does Mr Bender propose be used for this escapade?

    BTW the bursting charge of the German Naval 28cm guns was under 50lbs for an HE shell.
     
  17. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    There was a train of railway artillery kept in reserve if needed. However if the Allies struggled to get a 10 ton railway wagon moved across the French railway network even in Jan 45 how do you think they are going to shift an overweight, out of gauge and very long railway gun.

    The Railway guns were only to be used if the front line became a WW One style affair as the specially reinforced track took a while to build. You could fire from a normal railway line but a branch line trackbed wouldnt stand up to many firings before collapsing and obviously you wouldnt want to block the main line with a railway gun.

    The only time I could see a railway gun being anything other than a huge useless pain in the behind would be if the Allies decided to besiege one of the coastal towns that were bypassed during the push to the Belgian border. Even then moor a 15" monitor off shore and bang away at least a 12 knot monitor could move quicker than a 12 miles a day if your lucky railway gun.
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    The Allies needed a port. Everything I've read about this time states that the Allies had overstretched their supply lines. I believe that was the first priority at the time - supply.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree and Rouen is that port. Largest in France. Adjacent to the Paris rail hub. Much nearer the German border then seaports further south.

    But you cannot bomb Rouen to dust and then expect to use the seaport. Rail lines extending from Rouen towards Germany should be cut closer to the German border.
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #20 tyrodtom, Sep 18, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
    Rouen was far too close to Normandy, going easy on it with the bombing would have been a good indication to the Gemans we intended to land at Normandy.
    It didn't really matter how much we bombed any of the ports anyway, did the Germans move out of any without doing their utmost to destroy them first?
     
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