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  • Before D-Day, There Was Dieppe

    Posted by David Foster on June 1st, 2019 (All posts by )

    June 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.  Most Americans surely have at least some knowledge of this event…but relatively few are aware that there was an earlier amphibious assault on occupied Europe. The attack on the French port of Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The objectives were twofold. First, the attack was intended as kind of a “feasibility test” for the large-scale invasion which was to take place later. As stated by General Sir Alan Brooke, “If it was ever intended to invade France it was essential to launch a preliminary offensive on a divisional scale.” Second, the attack was intended to convince Hitler that an invasion was more imminent than it in fact was, thereby leading to the diversion of German forces from other areas.

    The troops assigned to Dieppe were mostly Canadians–5000 of them. There were also British commandos and a small number of American Rangers. Eight destroyers were assigned to the operation, along with 74 Allied air squadrons.

    The attack was a disastrous failure. In the words of military historian John Keegan: “When the badly shocked survivors of that terrible morning were got home and heads counted, only 2,110 of the 4,963 Canadians who had set sail the day before could be found. It became known later that 1,874 were prisoners, but of these 568 were wounded and 72 were to die of their wounds, while 378 of those returning were also wounded. Sixty-five percent of the Canadians engaged had therefore become casualties, almost all of them from the six assaulting infantry battalions, a toll which compared with that of July 1st, 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme and blackest in the British army’s history. The 2nd Canadian Division had, for practical purposes, been destroyed…Strategic as well as human criteria applied in measuring the scale of the disaster. All the tanks which had been landed had been lost…lost also were 5 of the 10 precious Landing Craft Tank. And, auguring worst of all for the future, the damage had been done not by hastily summoned reinforcements, but by the forces already present; the 3 Canadian battalions which had stormed the central beach had been opposed by a single German company–at odds, that is, of 12 to 1…” If one defending unit could stop an attacking force with 12 times the numbers, a successful invasion would be impossible. Keegan: “(the disparity between the power of the attack and the defense) clearly could not be overcome merely by increasing the numbers of those embarked for the assault. that would be to repeat the mistakes of the First World War, when the solution of greater numbers resulted arithmetically in greater casualties for no territorial gains.”

    Captain (later Vice-Admiral) John Hughes-Hallett summarized the lessons of the failure in a report written shortly after the fact. To quote Keegan once again: “‘The lesson of Greatest Importance,’ his report capitalized and italicized, “Is the need for overwhelming fire support, including close support, during the initial stages of the attack,’ It should be provided by ‘heavy and medium Naval bombardment, by air action, by special vessels or craft’ (which would have to be developed) ‘working close inshore, and by using the firepower of the assaulting troops while still seaborne.’”

    The lessons of Dieppe were taken seriously. Keegan goes on to describe the naval firepower assigned to the actual D-day landings carried out by Canadians at Juno Beach: “Heaviest and furthest out were the two battleships Ramillies and Warspite…They both mounted four 15-inch guns and there were two more in Roberts, their accompanying monitor. Their chief task was to engage the large-calibre shore batteries between the Orne and the mouth of the Seine, but so great was their range–over eighteen miles–that they could in emergency be talked in on any target in the British bridgeheads…Immediately port and starboard of the lowering position was disposed a line of twelve cruisers, the smallest, like Diadem, mounting eight 5.25 inch guns, the largest, like Belfast, twelve 6-inch. Both were covering the Canadian beaches…In front of the Canadian lowering position manoeuvred the supporting destroyers, eleven for the Juno sector…And immediately in ahead of the assault-wave infantry was deployed a small fleet of support landing-craft: eight Landing Craft Gun, a sort of small monitor mounting two 4.7 inch guns; four Landing Craft Support, bristling with automatic cannon; eight Landing Craft tank (Rocket), on each of which were racked the tubes of 1,100 5-inch rockets, to be discharged in a single salvo; and eighteen Landing Craft Assault (Hedgerow), which were to fire their loads of twenty-four 60-lb bombs into the beach obstacles and so explode as many as possible of the mines attached to them.”

    In addition to the need for very heavy naval firepower, the D-day planners learned another lesson from Dieppe: rather than immediately seizing a port, or landing in close proximity to one, they avoided ports altogether, landing supplies initially over an open beach and leaving the capture of a port for a later phase in the operation.

    Keegan quotes are from his book, Six Armies in Normandy.

    There is much talk in management and consulting circles these days about the need for organizations to “embrace failure”…much of this talk is fairly glib and does not always consider that certain kinds of failures are truly catastrophic from a human/strategic/economic point of view and are indeed worthy of stringent efforts to prevent their occurrence.  When failures–catastrophic or otherwise–do occur, it is incumbent on responsible leadership to seriously analyze the lessons to be learned and to apply that knowledge diligently.  In the case of Dieppe, that work does indeed appear to have been done.


    53 Responses to “Before D-Day, There Was Dieppe”

    1. MIke K Says:

      There is a history concerning Louis Mountbatten and the Dieppe raid.

      Here is some of it.

      Given the fact that British and other Allied troops had barely escaped from Dunkirk two years earlier, the idea of landing the mostly Canadian force on the beaches of Dieppe, have them destroy some German coastal defenses, hold the town for two tides, and then withdraw might indeed have seemed rather foolhardy.

      But Mountbatten pushed for the raid as a dramatic blow against the Germans whose forces had shifted east to strike at the Soviet Union.

      The landing at Dieppe about 100 miles east of the D-Day beaches of Normandy would be the first large-scale daylight assault on a strongly held objective in Europe. It also would be the greatest amphibious landing since Gallipolli during World War I another bloody disaster and it would be the first time in history tanks would land on beaches held by the enemy.

      But Dieppe was to be another first as well. It would be the first big propaganda exercise of modern warfare. At the time, military-public relations were a newfangled notion, foreign to most senior British and Canadian officers.

      However Lord Mountbatten’s eager P.R. team took an opportunistic view. Included on his staff were two American publicists from Hollywood, Major Jock Lawrence and Lt. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., son of the film star.

      Twenty-one war correspondents and photographers were allowed to accompany the raid. What they in fact witnessed was a tragic and costly fiasco. What they wrote, after their copy was vetted by Mountbatten’s censors, was largely fiction.

      There is also an issue that the raid was postponed and this gave the Germans warning of it.

      Here the issue of security is addressed.

      The decision to let loose Operation Jubilee, as the planners dubbed the August raid, came from Mountbatten, McNaughton, Crerar, and Roberts. The commanders knew that soldiers had talked in the pubs about the cancelled raid on Dieppe in July; they banked on the likelihood that the Germans would not believe that the Allies could be so foolish as to have the same troops attack the same target a month later. Crerar’s comment on the revived plan, offered on August 11, was that “given an even break in luck and good navigation” the raid “should” prove successful. Once more, luck was the key. Unfortunately, there was none in Operation Jubilee.

      Here is another very critical article

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      The anniversary is June 6th, isn’t it? I am sure that the memory of Dieppe gave Churchill nightmares about D-Day too.

      I was reading that the Americans initially wanted an earlier invasion and the British, with Dieppe in fresh memory, talked them out of it.

    3. Jay Guevara Says:

      Was another motivation for Dieppe to keep the Soviets onside? Were they already squawking about another front in 1942?

    4. David Foster Says:

      In the post, I said…”Most Americans surely have at least some knowledge of this event (D-Day)”

      …but I wonder if this is really true, given the appallingly poor level of teaching about history in both K-12 schools and in universities.

      See this post by Fred Siegel:

    5. rcocean Says:

      Had the Deippe raid been a smashing success, would Churchill and Brooke been pleased? It would have increased Soviet and American pressure for a 2nd Front ASAP.

      Not something either man desired. I don’t think the raid was “set up for failure” but I don’t think the planner were determined to make it a 100% no-risk venture either. The US Army didn’t learn the lesson of Dieppe, since they landed at Salerno without any naval support in order to take the Germans “by surprise” – which they didn’t.

    6. Grurray Says:

      Churchill wanted to invade Greece instead of France. The stories told now are that he was afraid of a continental war, he was only interested in bombing German women and children, an invasion of France would interfere with his plans of genociding India, etc.

      However, all that doesn’t take into account that Churchill tried an invasion down there during WWI at Gallipoli. Yes that was ultimately unsuccessful, but improved communications, better coordination, and, most importantly, a lot of American firepower would surely mean another go at on the other side of the Aegean would fare better.

      As far as timing and distance, the route through France, while shorter, still took almost a year to end in Berlin and join the Soviets coincidentally arriving at the same time. All the armchair historians and Monday morning quaterbacks complain about our performance in mountainous terrain, but it wasn’t exactly spectacular in the forests of eastern France either. And imagine how different Europe would have looked had we left behind garrisons in Romania, Hungary, and Czechia.

    7. MCS Says:

      A Greek invasion was guaranteed to bog down somewhere just north of Athens, with a supply line that passed close to all of the German U-boat bases when the Germans were winning the Battle of the Atlantic and we were just managing to keep England from starving.

      D-Day happened in 1944 because there were neither the troops or the material available sooner.

      The Brits have a thing for pointless demonstrations. If they wanted to know how division sized landings went, they should have payed attention to the Pacific, plenty of them there and plenty of mistakes to learn from. They managed to have a landing on their own shore shot up by the Germans.

    8. Mike K Says:

      The Greek diversion was a disastrous error by Churchill that nearly lost the north African campaign.

      Naturally, it is minimized in his history,

    9. David Foster Says:

      Macron isn’t coming to the D-Day commemoration.

      It is very difficult to believe that his participation in this event would interfere with his “alliance with Berlin”, just as it was difficult to believe that a Trafalgar reenactment would harm Britain’s relationship with France, as was asserted several years ago.

    10. rcocean Says:

      Churchill wanted a 1943/44 invasion of The Balkans since he believed it would result in:

      -Turkey coming into the war; and
      -Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania changing sides and/or dropping out.

      After Stalingrad all three of these Axis Allies were looking for a way out, but they obviously didn’t want to be occupied by the Red Army -which not only was know for its Raping and looting – but would impose a communist dictatorship. Surrendering to the Anglo-Americans was the only solution to their lose-lose situation.

      Given that we lost 110,000 men in NW Europe, you have to wonder why Marshall and FDR were so set on invading France. After all, we had less at stake then the British. We didn’t start the war in 1939, and Hitler was 3,000 miles away from the USA, not 30 miles across the Channel.

    11. rcocean Says:

      Its a truism of history that the less chance you or your friends have of getting killed, the more Ruthless you are regarding losses. Its just “Those other people”. Numbers on a page.

      I’m just glad no one in my family got killed in Europe because FDR wanted to “Win the war quicker” or “Please Stalin”.

    12. Mike K Says:

      you have to wonder why Marshall and FDR were so set on invading France. After all, we had less at stake then the British. We didn’t start the war in 1939, and Hitler was 3,000 miles away from the USA, not 30 miles across the Channel.

      Britain was lucky that Hitler declared war on us after Pearl Harbor. FDR would have had a hard time with his “Germany First” campaign without Hitler to help.

      I assume Hitler thought we were not a risk and it was an empty gesture.

    13. Grurray Says:

      The Nazis were bogged down in the Balkans for years fighting the partisan resistance groups. Had we played our cards right it could’ve turned into Hitler’s Vietnam. Paddy Fermor would’ve been the WWII Bing West.

    14. Bill Brandt Says:

      Britain was lucky that Hitler declared war on us after Pearl Harbor. FDR would have had a hard time with his “Germany First” campaign without Hitler to help.

      I assume Hitler thought we were not a risk and it was an empty gesture.

      Didn’t Hitler do this because of a treaty Germany had with Japan?

      But I agree, it is difficult in retrospect, to imagine the huge “America First” movement in America today.

      And the public was furious with Japan, not Germany.

    15. Jay Guevara Says:

      Its a truism of history that the less chance you or your friends have of getting killed, the more Ruthless you are regarding losses. Its just “Those other people”. Numbers on a page.

      In this context, note that the Dieppe raid was carried out by Canadians.

    16. MCS Says:

      Italy had surely lost its taste for the war by the end of 1942, look at what it took to get to Rome.

      Eisenhower and Marshal knew that there were just barely enough shipping, troop transports and landing craft to support the landing across 30 miles that we owned air and sea. That there were just enough troops to press the attack without having to divert them for garrisons to protect supply lines. These conditions obtained nowhere else than Northern France. If Churchill and Roosevelt didn’t know, I’m sure they had it explained to them.

      The most important consideration was that this was where the Germans were and we had an army to kill.

    17. Anonymous Says:

      I assume Hitler thought we were not a risk and it was an empty gesture.

      Hitler and his Generals thought the USSR was finished. Even the December ’41 Russian counter-offensive against Army Group Centre was considered a “last gasp.” Meanwhile, we were for intends and purposes in a shooting war in the Atlantic, and sending the UK all the aid we could. Hitler probably thought there wasn’t much more we could do till 1943 – and by then the USSR would be cleaned-up and the German Army transferred to France or the Mediterranean.

      Fortunately for us, the Soviet counter-offensive was not the end of Stalin – but the beginning the end for Hitler.

      As for “America First”, polls in November 1941 showed the American public was in favor of sending Aid to England but completely against sending troops. Keeping draftees in the Army had barely passed the House in October 1941.

    18. OBloodyHell Says:

      As far as timing and distance, the route through France, while shorter, still took almost a year to end in Berlin and join the Soviets coincidentally arriving at the same time.

      Well, there’s always the argument that Patton would have done it six months sooner, except for the Allies fear of his making them look bad.

      And yes, the counter to that is that he was in danger of overrunning his supply lines.

      So it all goes down to a big “what if?”.

    19. OBloodyHell Says:

      The Nazis were bogged down in the Balkans for years fighting the partisan resistance groups. Had we played our cards right it could’ve turned into Hitler’s Vietnam. Paddy Fermor would’ve been the WWII Bing West.

      And Jews would be no more. :-/

    20. Grurray Says:

      Greek Jews, called Romaniotes, have a long history and distinctive ethnic identity. During the war, 87% of them were murdered in the Holocaust.

      In Thessaloniki alone, about 50,000 were killed. This was around 20% of the entire population of the city at the time. In other more isolated areas, Jewish communities were too tightly wound into the social fabric for Greeks not to fight back.

      The coastal city of Volos on the Aegean Sea had a Jewish population of almost 900, and some Jews from Saloniki had fled there. In September 1943, the city fell under German occupation. Nevertheless, due to the efforts of the city’s chief rabbi Moshe Pessah, who worked together with the local Archbishop and the National Liberation Front, the vast majority of the city’s inhabitants were saved.

      Finally, no mention of the Greek Jews and the Holocaust would be complete without the story of the island of Zakynthos, the third largest of the Ionian Sea. In 1944, the mayor, Loukas Karrer, was ordered by the Germans to hand over a list of the Jews living on the island. Bishop Chrysostomos presented the Germans with a list containing two names – his own, and mayor Karrer. The bishop told the Germans. “Here are your Jews. If you choose to deport the Jews of Zakynthos, you must also take me, and I will share their fate.” The Jews of the island were safely hidden in the mountains, and all 275 survived the Holocaust.

    21. Mike K Says:

      Meanwhile, we were for intends and purposes in a shooting war in the Atlantic, and sending the UK all the aid we could. Hitler probably thought there wasn’t much more we could do till 1943 – and by then the USSR would be cleaned-up and the German Army transferred to France or the Mediterranean.

      I think that is an astute observation. Plus, the 8th AF strategic bombing was not working until late 1943.

    22. Bill Brandt Says:

      I’m reading this out of print book on D day and there’s a lot of interesting facts. Among which Hitler thought he would defeat the Soviet union in five months

    23. John Henry Says:

      1) Germany had a treaty in Japan that called for them to join in if Japan was attacked. That’s an important distinction. Japan was NOT attacked, it attacked the US. At the time of the German declaration of war, about 7 days after Pearl Harbor, we had not even struck back. If we had struck back by December 11, it still would not have activated the treaty.

      2) I’ve had this conversation a number of times online and in meatspace. We were in WWII right from the git-go in 1939. Started off low key “Lending our neighbor a garden hose when his house is on fire” as FDR put it. We financed Britain when they were out of money. We sold them arms when we would not sell to Germany. We swapped US destroyers bases on Caribbean Islands. We occupied Iceland. We sent planes over the North Atlantic to help British destroyers locate German U-Boats. When that was not enough, we started bombing U-Boats. Then we sent US destroyers to depth charge U-Boats. Then FDR implemented a “Sink on Sight” that we would attack, without warning or provocation, any German warship. We interned German merchant vessels.

      When the USS Geer and USS Reuben James were torpedoed, FDR was outraged! Why they were just minding their own business on the high seas! It was unprovoked! The American public was not told that they were engaged in depth charging the U-Boats that torpedoed them.

      And more.

      All this before the Germans declared war on the US. All this while the Germans were going out of their way NOT to provoke us.

      All this while, as someone mentioned, as lat as November 1941 American opinion was running 70-80% against involvement in another European war.

      FDR had been trying for years to get German to declare war on us. Churchill had been pushing him to get into the war. The plan was to force Germany to declare war on us first and it worked.

      I have found very few people who have actually read the German Declaration of War against the US:


      The Government of the United States having violated in the most flagrant manner and in ever increasing measure all rules of neutrality in favor of the adversaries of Germany and having continually been guilty of the most severe provocations toward Germany ever since the outbreak of the European war, provoked by the British declaration of war against Germany on September 3, 1939, has finally resorted to open military acts of aggression.

      On September 11, 1941, the President of the United States publicly declared that he had ordered the American Navy and Air Force to shoot on sight at any German war vessel. In his speech of October 27, 1941, he once more expressly affirmed that this order was in force. Acting under this order, vessels of the American Navy, since early September 1941, have systematically attacked German naval forces. Thus, American destroyers, as for instance the Greer, the Kearney and the Reuben James, have opened fire on German submarines according to plan. The Secretary of the American Navy, Mr. Knox, himself confirmed that-American destroyers attacked German submarines.

      Furthermore, the naval forces of the United States, under order of their Government and contrary to international law have treated and seized German merchant vessels on the high seas as enemy ships.

      The German Government therefore establishes the following facts:

      Although Germany on her part has strictly adhered to the rules of international law in her relations with the United States during every period of the present war, the Government of the United States from initial violations of neutrality has finally proceeded to open acts of war against Germany. The Government of the United States has thereby virtually created a state of war.

      The German Government, consequently, discontinues diplomatic relations with the United States of America and declares that under these circumstances brought about by President Roosevelt Germany too, as from today, considers herself as being in a state of war with the United States of America.

      Accept, Mr. Charge d’Affaires, the expression of my high consideration.

      December 11, 1941.


      FDR wanted to get the US into WWII but knew that there was no way the US public would stand for it. His policy of pushing and goading finally worked.

      A lot of Americans, including myself, are still befuddled. We were attacked by the Japanese and wound up in a war with Germany? Huh? How the heck does that work?

      I still say that we had no dog in the fight in Europe and should have stayed neutral in reality instead of neutral in name only.

      John Henry

    24. Anonymous Says:

      100 US sailors died when the USS Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk

      USS Greer (not Geer as I said above) was torpedoed but the torpedo missed.

      John Henry

    25. Anonymous Says:

      Bill Brandt Says:
      June 3rd, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Among which Hitler thought he would defeat the Soviet union in five months

      I am always stunned by the sheer number of casualties that the Russians and Germans took in the Eastern war. I think the Germans lost 400,000 men at Stalingrad. The Russians lost something like 500,000. Just one city!

      Had it been named anything else, casualties would ahve been a fraction of that. The Germans were determined to raze Stalingrad because of hatred for Stalin. Stalin was just as determined to win it because his name was on it. To paraphrase, “It was not business, it was personal”

      The Battle for Berlin began less than a month before the end of the war when the Germans were on their last legs in all respects. The Russian took 250,000 casualties, lost almost 1,1000 plans, 2000 tanks, 2,000 artillery pieces. It seemed pretty unnecessary, the Russians had the city surrounded and could have starved the Germans out.

      The war in the east was a religious war as much as anything else: National vs International Socialism.

      John Henry

    26. MCS Says:

      I’m stunned when I hear an otherwise sensible person that can’t find a reason that we might have wanted to prevent Hitler and the Nazis from conquering Europe, with plans for and agents trying to extend their control to South America.

      The war in the Pacific might not have been quite impossible without Australia as a base but would have been out of reach with Australia as a member of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    27. Anonymous Says:

      John Henry: “I still say that we had no dog in the fight in Europe and should have stayed neutral in reality instead of neutral in name only.”

      And that applied even more in World War I, where there was really no moral difference between the parties. If the US had stayed out of WWI, the exhausted combatants would have negotiated a cease fire eventually, there would have been no vindictive Treaty of Versailles, Germany would have retained control over much of Western Russia, there would probably have been no USSR, and no World War II.

      I was brought up (like so many others in the West) with the belief that WWII was the “Good War”, won by the British with some American help. Slowly, I learned that the real story was much more complicated. The Brits and the French declared war on Germany — not the other way around. They declared war on Germany over the joint German/USSR invasion of Poland, but did not declare war on the USSR — realpolitik rather than the defense of justice & morality. And they abandoned Poland to the tender mercies of the USSR after the war, giving the lie to the claim they went to war to protect the independence of Poland. FDR had clearly been finagling in the background, trying for years to get the USA into war with Germany. Why?

      President Hoover’s view was that (based on Hitler’s own words in Mein Kampf) the real conflict would be between the National Socialists of Germany and the Communists of the USSR. He tried to persuade the Brits not to get in the way over Poland, let the inevitable war between Germany and the USSR take place, and then pick up the pieces. However FDR was trying, trying, trying to get the Brits into war with Germany — while promising to Americans to stay out of the war. Now that we know FDR’s administration was riddled with communist sympathizers who presumably wanted the USA to provide support to the USSR, maybe it all starts to make sense.

    28. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Sorry, that anonymous was me — again. It would be nice to have the system prompt us before we post.

    29. John Henry Says:

      Gavin, you are absolutely right about WWI and I think I said something similar a few days ago in a comment thread on WWI. If we had stayed out of WWI, WWII might never have happened.

      MCS, I stand by my statement on WWII. I thought I was clear that I was talking about the European edition. FDR Lied and fiddled us into WWII. He ran in 1940 on a platform of keping us out of the war. Just like Wilson did in 1916 and LBJ did in 1964.

      “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
      – FDR, Speech in Boston, October 30, 1940.

      When he said that he was lying. He was neck deep scheming with Churchill to get us into the war. See my previous comments about what we were doing between 1939 and 1941. That, like Wilson before him and LBJ after, once elected he dragged us kicking and screaming into it.

      No, I’ll say again, we had no dog in that fight.

      Japan attacked us. We had no choice but to go to war with them. There is some evidence that FDR pursued a similar policy in the Pacific to goad them into war with us. If you can justify a war with Germany based on their treatment of European countries and people, the justification for going to war with Japan based on their treatment of China, Korea and other countries would certainly justify going to war with Japan. But, like Europe, until December 7 we had no dog in that fight.

      I do not get your point about South America. Look at a map, there is no way Germany could maintain supply lines to the east coast, primarily Argentina, much less the west coast. Argentina has had an enormouss German population since the 1860’s or so. Most of them left Germany to escape the militarism. The National Socialists would not have found a warm welcome. And there are even more Italians than Germans there.

      I agree about Australia, we needed it to defeat Japan. The main reason we needed it to defeat Japan was because our Europe First policy left us dangerously weak in the Pacific. Had we not been in Europe and focused all our efforts on Japan, that edition of WWII would have been much shorter.

      John Henry

    30. Anonymous Says:

      I said that there is some evidence that FDR was trying to goad Japan into attacking us. We certainly took some actions, cutting their oil and metal supplies for example, that encouraged that result. The evidence that it was our intention is a bit shakey. Interesting to speculate about but I don’t think I really believe we did that.

      OTOH, Herbert Hoover, in the 3rd volume of his memoirs, seems to think so, though he touches on it very lightly.

      OT but let me recommend Hoover’s memoirs, especially Volumes 1&2 which take him to the end of his presidency. I think Hoover is one of my favorite presidents. Not for his presidency, though I don’t think he was as bad as his reputation. He was just one of the most interesting people ever to occupy the Whitehouse.

      Also, with Theodore Roosevelt, probably the best writer to to occupy the WH. Both are terrific on a variety of subjects. His wife Lou was pretty accomplished in her own right also.

      John Henry

    31. John Henry Says:

      BTW: I live in Puerto Rico, about a mile from the main entrance to the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. Roosevelt Roads was heavily fortified prior to WWII and was to be the seat of the British crown and govt in exile had the Germans invaded England.

      I’ll be happy to share information about the fortifications if anyone is interested.

      One example is the powerhouse. You can see a picture here with some information abut it’s construction. This is a blog I started after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

      I also have 3 very heavy bunkers about 300 yards in front of my house as the seagull flies. They were spotting facilities for 3 dual 15″ gun emplacements. there are a number of others around the base.

      Pics on request.

      John Henry

    32. Mike K Says:

      John Henry, I was in PR about 2008 and we went through the old fort in San Juan but did not see much of the island.

      I agree about WWI and have done quite a bit of reading about it. I read Pat Buchanan’s book about Churchill and “Unnecessary Wars” in which he makes some good points. It has prompted me to read about Sir Edward Grey. I can take Buchanan in small doses , not like “Farmer” over at Althouse.

      I told a friend of mine that both the US and UK should have stayed out of WWI. He is a retired colonel in the RAMC. The British Army is not Royal but the Medical Corps is. WWI ended the British Empire. I think the Boer War is the real beginning. Cecil Rhodes has much to answer for. The Kaiser tried to aid the Boers. The British Navy blockaded them. That stimulated the Kaiser’s desire for a High Seas Fleet.

    33. Grurray Says:

      When he said that he was lying. He was neck deep scheming with Churchill to get us into the war

      Unfortunately, the enemy(ies) gets to vote too. When Chamberlain appeased Hitler at Munich, he didn’t include the Soviets. This was viewed by Stalin as a signal that the West would stand by as Hitler chewed up Eastern Europe to unify the Lebensraum, and he was certainly right. Germany subsequently violated the Munich Agreement and claimed Bohemians and Moravians were really Germans to be reunited with the Fatherland. Stalin saw the writing on the wall and signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

      Now with a German-Soviet alliance and with the Nazis claiming non-German ethnic groups needed to be reunited with the Fatherland, the future was not following the script laid out in Mein Kampf.

      Now there is the problem in saying that Hitler laid it all out in Mein Kampf, and if only Britain would have just obeyed Hitler’s master plan we would all have lived in peace with Hitler and Stalin controlling 1/3 of the world. Germany would not stop at its frontier. They must always expand their borders for a defense-in-depth strategy because of their precarious geopolitical position.

    34. Mike K Says:

      Chamberlain’s worst error was not Munich but the Polish Guarantee.

      Munich was betrayal of a friend and it is possible that Czechoslovakia could have held off the Germans.

      There was no possible way Britain could have aided Poland. France would have had to attack Germany while it was devouring Poland and Hitler, with his feminine instincts, knew they would not do anything.

      France was bled white by WWI and there was no will to resist Germany, even in 1936 when it was possible.

      The Germans in WWI had a valid argument that France had invaded them multiple times, including the 1870 war which France initiated.

    35. Bill Brandt Says:

      I read somewhere that in 1938 the Czech army could have defeated the Germans. And of course prior to 1938 it would’ve been fairly painless defeating Hitler But in reading about world war one and how France and Britain were bled dry I can understand the fact they had no stomach for confrontation.

      Interesting thing I was just reading in this fascinating book that is out of print, the secret of the day, that when Germany was invading Poland they left a skeleton military to guard the Rhine. Forget how many divisions it was but it was nominal

      Interesting to think of alternative history.

      On Amazon prime there is an interesting German movie on Rommel. You never know what to believe but the things it has advanced that I knew to be true are there so I’m assuming what I did not know that is advanced you never know is probably true

      But according to the movie when the full scope of D Day was becoming evident he knew they were going to lose and was urging Hitler to negotiate. Hitler would not do so

      I have also heard it said that the plotters for Hitler‘s assassination had wanted Rommel to represent them to the allies after the deed was successfully done.

      According to at least the movie, Rommel wanted nothing to do with the plot in assassinating Hitler but he would have been their spokesman.

      I do believe he was the only Nazi general whom the allies had any respect for

    36. John Henry Says:


      I imagine you went to the El Morro fort that is right at the entrance to the harbor. It is the one most tourists visit if they only visit one. Also the one I would recommend in that case.

      There is another fort, San Cristobal, not quite as big but very impressive. Both are part of the National Park System. See it too if you have time.

      San Cristobal had some additional fortifications added at the beginning of WWII. As you go up through the fort you pass through a section of reinforced concrete about 8’thick that they cut a hole through for the stairs.

      As you went into El Morro did you notice the plaque to the builders? Field Marshal Alejandro O’reilley, born Dublin 1722 and Engineer Tomas O’Daly also born in Ireland.

      If you ever come again, give me a call and I’ll show you some sights.

      John Henry

    37. John Henry Says:

      In Volume 2 of Manchester’s bio of Churchill, he talks at some length about the particion of Czechoslovakia by Chamberlain. It’s been many years since I read it but Manchester thought that Czechoslovakia, had it not been divided, would have been impregnable. As I recall, Chamberlain gave away the mountainous, fortified, part of the country.

      The Czechs also had Skoda Works that rivaled Krupp for producing armaments.

      John Henry

    38. Boarwild Says:

      Before Dieppe there was Dunkirk, Norway, & Greece. Britain was thrown out of Europe those four times.

    39. Mike K Says:

      As I recall, Chamberlain gave away the mountainous, fortified, part of the country.

      That was the area of the Sudeten Germans so there is some question about their loyalty.

      I’m now reading a series of novels about the RFC in WWI. He is quite good at the details. It keeps me running to learn about the individual planes.

    40. Larry Says:

      The Brits have a thing for pointless demonstrations. If they wanted to know how division sized landings went, they should have payed attention to the Pacific, plenty of them there and plenty of mistakes to learn from.

      @MCS No, I’m afraid not. The very first divisional-sized landing in the Pacific was at Guadalcanal, just 12 days before the Dieppe landing. Moreover, the main landing on Guadalcanal was unopposed.

      The Brits learned quite a bit from Dieppe, and used that info on D-Day.

    41. Larry Says:

      an invasion of France would interfere with his plans of genociding India, etc.

      @Grurray, How? That makes no sense.

    42. Grurray Says:

      That was sarcasm, Larry. I’m sure that the PC police and the postmodern revisionists could put their heads together and come up with something.

    43. MCS Says:

      Let me get this straight. Hitler with the population and industry of all of Europe, with his U-boats and cruisers unopposed in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and Japan with Asia and the Pacific west of Hawaii weren’t going to be a problem for us. We would have been the dish eaten last, even a political hack of the caliber of Roosevelt could see that coming.

      Hitler had a network of agents throughout South America churning up as much mischief as they could. You’d better believe that he intended for them to all become allies by one way or another after he was finished with Europe. Any that didn’t come into line would be overthrown in favor of more compliant visionaries.

      Had England and France repudiated or never made their commitment to Poland, Hitler would have probably succeeded in Russia before turning around and consuming both in short order. Their mistake was writing a check they couldn’t cash. As it was, having to prosecute a two front war was what doomed Hitler.

      As far a Dieppe: It had about as much to do with the taking of Europe as a fire cracker with the A-Bomb.

    44. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Bill Brandt: “According to at least the movie, Rommel wanted nothing to do with the plot in assassinating Hitler but he would have been their spokesman.”

      There is an excellent book about Rommel and other key WWII generals — titled (reasonably enough) “Patton, Montgomery, Rommel”, by Terry Brighton (2008). Well worth a read.

      Per that book, Rommel’s name came up in the investigation after the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler. Rommel, who by that stage in the war had been seriously wounded, was visited by two of Hitler’s aides who gave him a choice — (a) be tried, found guilty of treason, and be executed along with his whole family, or (b) commit suicide, get a hero’s funeral, and an assurance that his family would be treated well. Rommel took the offered poison.

    45. Mike K Says:

      Rommel’s son Manfred, had an interesting career.

      Rommel collaborated with Basil Liddell-Hart in the publication of The Rommel Papers, a collection of diaries, letters and notes that his father wrote during and after his military campaigns.

      Those might be interesting to read. Also:

      On 14 October 1944, he was present at his parents’ house when his father was led off and forced to commit suicide for his alleged complicity in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, which was publicly portrayed by the Nazi leadership as a death resulting from a war injury.

    46. miguel cervantes Says:

      an interesting notion, harry turtledove, thought general model could probably get to india, after defeating the brits in Egypt, follett’s a key to Rebecca, had some interesting notes of what the pro german Egyptian underground including young lt anwar sadat were about, how much resistance they might have faced in the arabian peninsula, is unclear, there was little opposition among reza shah,

    47. rcocean Says:

      Had England and France repudiated or never made their commitment to Poland, Hitler would have probably succeeded in Russia before turning around and consuming both in short order.

      Huh? Had England and France made an Alliance with Stalin, and the USSR (Not RUSSIA!), they would’ve boxed Hitler in, and there would’ve been no War.

      Had England and France, simply let Hitler have Eastern Europe in 1939, and built up their defenses, Hitler would’ve attacked Stalin and three things could’ve happened:

      1) Stalemate
      2) Stalin Wins
      3) Hitler Wins

      #3 was extremely unlikely. And in any case, even if Hitler had beaten the USSR, England/France would’ve been no worse off then they were in 1940. France, in case you forgotten was OCCUPIED. And England was alone and bombed for almost 1 year. And took the USA to keep her from being OCCUPIED.

    48. John Henry Says:

      Since we are speaking of high ranking German officers, let me throw out another name, also involved in the assassination attempt of 1944. And executed for it.

      Admiral Wilhelm Carnaris had a very interesting naval career starting around 1900. If he had done nothing else he should have been notable for that.

      What makes him particularly interesting was that during WWII he was head of the Abwehr German Military intelligence.

      Canaris also became very anti-National Socialist.

      Most interestingly, he was in contact throughout the war with British Intelligence, even to the point of meeting with the head British spoke Robert(?) Menzies in Spain in 1942 or 43 IIRC.

      It is a bit murky what intelligence he gave us (the allies) but it seems clear that it was a pretty goodly amount almost since day 1.

      I was interested in Cryptography for a while in the 90s and read a bunch about it including working my way through Kahn’s “The Code Breakers”. Also read some histories of Ultra.

      Ultra (the Enigma machine) always seemed a bit odd to me. There is a lot that we have not been told about it. Perhaps quite properly. I have always wondered if Canaris was feeding us information to help break the code.Complete, pure, speculation on my part. I’ve never seen anyone discuss this, much less suggest it.

      OTOH, by war’s end we were reading the Army and AF versions of Ultra in almost real time. The Naval version always gave us a lot of trouble. Canaris was very loyal to the Navy. Perhaps it was even his first loyalty. Before Germany, certainly before the NSDAP.

      Anyway, very interesting fellow. A good bio, that I read a year or two ago, is “Nazi Spymaster” by Michael Muller.

      Another book, that I read back in the 90s on my crypto kick, was Ladislo Farago’s “Game of the Foxes”. It is about the Spy vs Spy game of WWII, and Canaris puts in a number of appearances. Farago also wrote “Patton” and Last Days of Patton” on which the movies are based.

      “The Code Breakers” is also interesting and a great read if you read about half the book. There is a lot of math, by way of code explanation. At first I tried to follow it but it was 1) Boring and 2) over my head. I soon realized that if I skipped over the math, the rest of the book was great reading.

      John Henry

    49. Anonymous Says:

      Head spook, Menzies. Not Spoke

      John Henry

    50. Bill Brandt Says:

      Was Canaris involved in the 1944 attempt? I hadn’t heard that. But as you say while he helped the allies, it was a bit murky. I am fascinated in the intelligence was prior top D-Day. Amazing that the allies managed the deception so well that even after Normandy the Germans held their armor at Calais. If Canaris was sandbagging that would have been the ultimate deception in WW2 – but I doubt it. If agents were reportinkg the deception that couldn’t be hidden.

      IIRC he was executed weeks before the end of the war.

      I have just finished this book on Virginia Hill – what am amazing record first with the SOE in France then the OSS. She organized resistance cells and sabotage. Eisenhower said that she shortened the war by 9 months. And she had a wooden leg from a hunting accident.

    51. MCS Says:

      The British and French alliance with Poland was a product of the peace conference that ended WWI. They were primarily responsible for reconstituting Poland by separating most of it from Russia and the rest from Germany and some of the minor losers. Poland hadn’t existed as an independent country for a long time.

      An alliance with the USSR was never in the cards except the sort of uneasy de facto one that eventually came about. We, the British, the French and even the Czechs had fought the Bolsheviks, at first to prevent them from making a separate peace and then to prevent a Communist victory and were still considered enemies.

      It seems at least possible that Hitler’s invasion of Russia without the drains of occupying France, the British air war and significant material support from us might have been more successful. It came fairly close to taking Moscow as it was. At some point the German advance would have overwhelmed the ability of the Russians to respond. It’s entirely possible even probable that the Germans couldn’t have overcome the depth that the Russians exploited and winter was inevitable. The Russians weren’t going to stop fighting just because the Germans occupied Moscow.

      The possible permutations are endless. Hitler himself said that forceful reaction at any point going back to the initial re-armament would have caused him to stop, probably not permanently. I will always believe that the late response that was made was better than a later one, the interest that was accruing was paid in blood.

      We are presently allowing China to do pretty much what it wants and even supplying the money and most of the technology. I wonder how much it will eventually cost us. I see some evidence that China will implode before the bill comes due. If it does, it will be luck rather than statesmanship.

    52. miguel cervantes Says:

      he did not get a chance, to follow through at the end:

    53. O Bloody Hell Says:

      D-Day’s Greatest Hero: Agent Garbo

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