Andrew Stock
Period 8
4/20/12
Historical Investigation Paper

Research Question: To what extent did Anglo-American tensions during the Normandy Campaign of WWII contribute to the failure to secure and close the Falaise Pocket?

Part A: Plan of Investigation

The Battle of the Falaise Gap occurred in the wake of a massive Allied breakout from the Normandy hedgerows. The scale of this encirclement could have included the entirety of Germany’s western forces, but many were able to escape despite overwhelming Allied forces. The purpose of this investigation is to analyse the question “to what extent did Anglo-American tensions during the Normandy Campaign of WWII contribute to the failure to secure and close the Falaise Pocket?” The investigation will specifically cover the period between the build-up to Operation Cobra during mid-July and the final closing of the Falaise Gap on 21 August, 1944.

Part B: Summary of Evidence

Part B-1: British Commanders
- Among the Allies there was already considerable discontent with leadership. Montgomery was questioned as a leader in the Normandy campaign because of his slow movement.#
- British soldiers, after the North Africa campaign, especially Kasserine Pass, the British soldiers saw their American counterparts as inferior and treated them as such up through command levels.#
- British forces launched Operation Goodwood on 18 July, though it is unclear whether the the operation was designed to assist American forces or win a decisive all-British victory is unknown.#

Part B-2: Allied Commanders

- “Although Britain and the United States were to contribute equal forces in the initial phase of the Overlord invasion, the Americans would eventually far outnumber the British.”#
- American planners before the initial D-Day landings theorized that it was best to overwhelm German forces on the direct routes to Germany to defeat them quickly and move to fighting Japan. “The British, less favored in manpower reserves and materiel, looked to victory by an indirect method. Essentially opportunistic, they opposed firm commitments to the distant future. They preferred to maintain sea blockade, intensified air bombardment, and naval raids, to encourage Resistance sabotage and terrorism in the German-occupied countries.”#
- Throughout Operation Overlord, The US Army Medical Corps “treated close to 100,000 patients. They returned 22,639 to active duty and evacuated about 60,000 more to England” The losses were primarily American soldiers as more Americans entered the European Theater of operations.#
- “The US Army in World War II was designed to reflect, more than anything else, one dominant characteristic of American life -- mobility”#
- “In World War Two, the US Army was, by far, the most mechanized force in existence”#
- “By the end of July, the American troop presence was so massive in Normandy-- Americans comprised nearly two-thirds of Allied strength-- that there were enough divisions to build two armies: The 1st and 3rd.”#

Part B-3: Other relevant details on Allied Command Structure

- Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander, and had the final say on ground operations, but was still back on England. “Without a facility on the ground, it would be awkward, if not downright impossible, to exercise proper direction. Ferrying his SHAEF across the channel was impractical because of the restricted size of the foothold [in Normandy].”#
- In the absence of a definitive authority over the operations, two corp commanders were the highest ranking officers in the operation. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and General Omar Bradley were of equal rank in the Allied coalition, however they commanded only British and American troops, respectively. In Eisenhower’s absence, Montgomery was made the default ground commander. Montgomery’s leadership was criticized however, as “American critics began to voice their opinion that the campaign was being mismanaged by the British commander who ought to be replaced”#

Part B-4: Miscellaneous

- By the end of the Battle of the Falaise Gap, “The Americans captured about 25,000 enemy soldiers, the Canadians and Poles a like number, and about 10,000 Germans lost their lives. Anywhere between 20,000 and 40,000 Germans escaped, but the majority of them were not combat troops. The average German division had no more than 300 men left.”#

Part C: Evaluation of Sources

Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals: The Untold
Story of the Falaise Pocket -- The Campaign that Should
have Won World War II. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1993. Print.

The book is a historical account and analysis of the Falaise Gap campaign by Martin Blumenson, who served as a historical officer attached to US forces during the campaign. He wrote a serious of historical accounts of actions of the US Third and Seventh armies, having been attached to both. His selected works includes an authoritative biography of general George S. Patton, Jr. The purpose of the book is to give an account and analysis of Allied actions during the Falaise Gap campaign. The book focuses on specific operations divided up by region, time of occurrence, and involvement of the forces of specific countries. The book gives an excellent analysis of the causes, triumphs, failures and effects of the battle, as well as an analysis of the commanders involved. The specifics on unit movements are well described, and give the reader an excellent perspective on the events that led to the formation of The Falaise Gap. Also, if gives insight to the actions of the German high command and their part in the battle, as well as a good account of the escape of German forces across the Siene River. The unit designations and the actual tangible effects of their actions are sometimes hard to discern (for example, Blumenson describes General Bradley’s allowing Patton to divide his forces even though they were at risk of being spread too thin, but it doesn’t cover the ground conditions very well.). It is mainly focused on the generals involved in the battle, and doesn’t lend much attention to first person accounts of the battle.

McManus, John C. The Americans at Normandy: The Summer of
1944 -- The American War from the Beaches of Normandy to Falaise.
New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2004. Print.

Americans at Normandy is by John C. McManus, Assistant Professor of U.S. Military History at the University of Missouri-Rolla. The purpose of the book is to inform readers about the American side of the Falaise Campaign, from the Normandy invasion to the closing of the Falaise Pocket. Its value is not in its perspective on a national level, but on an individual level. The book covers numerous primary sources from soldiers on the battlefield and their experiences throughout the campaign. The limitations of this are that it doesn't address the flaws of coalition command during the campaign, as it focuses on lower level operations rather than broad strategic moves.

Part D: Analysis

Planners of Operation Overlord clashed in a coalition command because of different leadership strategies. “The British, less favored in manpower reserves and materiel, looked to victory by an indirect method. Essentially opportunistic, they opposed firm commitments to the distant future. They preferred to maintain sea blockade, intensified air bombardment, and naval raids, to encourage Resistance sabotage and terrorism in the German-occupied countries.”# Their slow, careful approach contrasted with the Americans’ stress on mobile combat and tank tactics. The eventual Overlord plan was agreed on by the two superpowers, though their individual commanders were already forming their own, different plans for the post-invasion actions. These different styles of command increased tensions between commanders and ultimately led to several failures in the Overlord plan, including the failure to close and secure the Falaise Gap.

The first indication that tensions between English and American commanders was the division of forces among the different combat zones. Forces from both nations demanded to serve under commanders of their nation, which divided the front by nation, causing an inconsistency in battle tactics between different sections of the same front. This was exacerbated by the fact that Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, was unable to move his headquarters to Normandy to oversee operations and give them a cohesive, unified course. The two acting commanders, General Omar Bradley and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, were of equal rank in the Allied command structure and were thus able to pursue their battle plans with near complete authority in the absence of Eisenhower. However, each represented two completely opposite styles of command, and their clashes cost the Allied forces fluidity of movement without a guiding hand from the top of the chain of command.

Ultimately, in the case of the Falaise Gap, the lack of cohesive, well coordinated movement allowed over 20,000 german Wermacht soldiers to escape, who would later form elements to repel operation Market Garden. The lack of cohesiveness between American and English commanders resulted not in a defeat, as the Falaise Gap was still a striking strategic victory, but an incomplete one. The opportunity to destroy all German forces west of the Siene river was lost, and Allied commanders would pay for it over the next year.

Part E: Conclusion

The Anglo-American alliance during World War two was shaky to begin with. The United Kingdom, who had been holding off the Germans from taking the British Isles for four years before the Americans even became involved directly in the conflict, saw American troops as inexperienced, ill-advised, and with less capable commanders than their British counterparts. Furthermore, most American soldiers had not seen nearly as much combat as British soldiers, and the strategies of the two nations reflected this. During the Normandy Campaign, the demands of each commander to lead troops of their specific nation created a split front, and furthered tensions along the frayed edges where the line of advance overlapped.

At the conclusion of the Battle of the Falaise Gap, Bradley and Montgomery had effectively prevented each other from closing and securing the pocket by not agreeing on the meeting points and ordering several units to stop before they reached their objectives. The British units moved without a uniform direction, and wound up unable to reach their own objectives by the deadlines, and costing crucial days in the operation and allowing German soldiers to escape. The tensions between the commanding officers represented the tension between Britain and the United States, and because of these tensions they were unable to come up with a plan that utilized both nations’ strengths. Without this, the Anglo-American tensions cost the Allies what would have been a decisive, conclusive victory and an early chance to strike into the heart of Germany.

Part F: List of Sources

Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals: The Untold
Story of the Falaise Pocket -- The Campaign that Should
have Won World War II. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1993. Print.



Blumenson, Martin. "United States Army in World War II
European Theater of Operations: Breakout and Pursuit."
ibiblio.org. Center of Military History, 1960. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.<__http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-E-Breakout/index.html__>


Hartesveldt, Fred R. van, and Spencer C. Tucker. "Falaise-
Argentin Pocket: World War II." World at War: Understanding
Conflict and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2012.

McManus, John C. The Americans at Normandy: The Summer of
1944 -- The American War from the Beaches of Normandy to Falaise.
New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2004. Print.

Word Count: 1847



Footnotes:
1. Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals: The Untold
Story of the Falaise Pocket -- The Campaign that Should
have Won World War II. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1993. Print.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Ibid
5. Ibid
6. McManus, John C. The Americans at Normandy: The Summer of
1944 -- The American War from the Beaches of Normandy to Falaise. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2004. Print.
7. Ibid
8. Ibid
9. Ibid
10. Blumenson. Battle of the Generals
11. Ibid
12. McManus. Americans At Normandy