The catastrophe of Operation Tiger almost canceled Operation Overlord
As operation Overlord started unfolding more and more military generals were expressing anxiety and doubts. The failures of Narvik landing in Norway in 1940 and the Dieppe raid in France in 1942 where coming back to the recollection of Churchill and Eisenhower. On April 1944 , operation Tiger made it clear that landing troops and materials are vulnerable and easy pray to attacks from land, sea and air even with the numerical advantage and the advanced technology that was available in 1944 for the allies which included Radars, ships and air superiority. The Operation Tiger disaster almost called for the cancellation or postponement of D-Day and the losing of the element of surprise. Many failures did happen in operation Overlord which caused fatalities and delays in the run to the Rhine. But many other catastrophes might occur if not a combination of share luck, superiority of numbers, weather, events in the eastern front and technology. If Rommel wouldn’t be in Berlin and Rundstet would allow tanks formations that Rommel planned for, the situation of the allies might be of encircled or cornered in a similar way as in Kasserine Path , Dunkirk or Norway.
Operation Tiger was for 40 years hidden from the public and there vital information still sealed. The concealment was done as part of the cold war and a cover up of professional failures, which included planning and raido frequency communication mistakes as well as friendly fire that some argue was as criminally negligent as it can get. Operation tiger was made on the closest point to the port of Cherburg, namely Lyme bay. This was almost as inviting the Germans to observe and attack with Torpedo boats or U-boats. Those E-Boats crated havoc destroying many needed landing crafts and supporting ships and killing about 800 troops which included ten officers who had the secret maps and information of operation Overlord. When those officers were reported missing, the possibility existed that the plans for the invasion of Europe had fallen into enemy hands, compromising the invasion plans and secrecy. On top of that in the confusion allies started firing on allies.
Operation Overlord was mostly a logistic operation which included military operation and not the other way around. The amount of people landing on the five Normandy beaches and parachuted on June 6th 1944 was about 156,000 troops was smaller then the evacuated from Dunkirk which amounted about 300,000 troops.
The Dunkirk ghost was still menacing the spirits of the allies. Air supremacy was key to the success and the strategic bombing of industrial Germany depleted thousands of 88 AA guns from Normandy and eased the landing of gliders, airborne troops and tactical spotting and bombings of shore positions. But there was still the possibility the enemy was simply waiting for the Allied armies to gather and move couple of miles inland before hidden German forces would be moving down on them in a similar way of what happened in Katherine path disaster two years before. The known German doctrine was to let the enemy advance and then trap them with a counter attack of pincer movements.
Dwight Eisenhower was on the Verge of stress collapse while waiting for news in the headquarters in Portsmouth, England. In the beginning of the operation he had drafted a letter for a situation where he would acknowledge the failure.
Eisenhower wrote: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duly could do. If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Some of the failures included one of the two Mulberry docks washed away. In an event that both docks would have been washed away a major delay may have cause serious damage to the operation. At Normandy about 33% of double drive tanks didn’t reach the shores due permeable canvas skirts not withstanding waves and mortars or an error in shore distance.
Many air raids and naval bombardments failed to target bunkers and cannons falling short or long on the Atlantic wall because of weather or navigation problems.
D-Day is not the turning point of WWII, since the eastern front was already changing with Russian materiel and air superiority. But D-Day made the shortened the Holocaust and the war. D-Day impeded the creation and expansion of turning point German technologies, including V2, Night vision, guided ammunition, Jet Airplanes and German WMD.
Related Resources & Links
Eisenhower Alternative Speech
D-Day Intelligence Photos
How Close Did D-Day Come to Failure
Failure of duplex drive tanks