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Most decisive battle of ww2?


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Surely Kursk also showed that the Russians had matured in their handling of armour. As Glantz points out the Russians won by not just sticking in their defensive belts and letting the Germans grind themselves down, but counter-attacking with armour (with varying degrees of success). In fact in 43 the Germans showed they had stagnated tactically and the Russians were on an upward rising curve, the omens were not good, given the quantative superiority enjoyed by the Soviets.

As for Sicily causing the postponement, wasn't there a slight matter of a major Russian offensive in the Northern sector causing rapid redeployment of that stalemated front?

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I know this has been done to death, but I was checking it out on other sites and the one I would pick often does not even feature in the top 10.

The most common answer is Stalingrad (of course the war in the west was just a sideshow and had no real effect on the outcome)

I dont agree, I think by the end of '42 the war was, one way or another, lost by the germans. Had the russians lost stalingrad they would, by no means have been anywhere near out of the war. With the combined industrial and military might of the British empire and the United states there was no way germany would be able to force a defeat on the western allies without nuclear weapons, regardless of what happened in russia.

My choice would be the battle of Britian. It was a close call and it was Britains last chance to stay in the war. Britain (and empire) being the only country that actually wanted war with Germany by this point, once knocked out, Germany would have been able to leave western europe virtually undefended and put her whole effort against the unsupported soviet union.

What do you guys think?

I'll go with the Battle of Britain. When it started in July, nobody was quite sure the Empire was going to fight on. Then the BoB and Mers-el-Kabir convinced everyone (Roosevelt and Hitler especially) that the British meant business and they were in for the win and had no intention of surrendering.

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While Britain may well have continued to fight guerilla style if invaded, the real consequence would have been a vastly more difficult logistical issue for the US in terms of getting back to the European continent. So, BOB was decisive even though very few men were involved

The invasion in N Africa was direct from the US, but it was tiny compared to Normandy and against dubious quality French opposition. Probably, N. Africa would have had to be the main US build-up area and the main invasion would probably then be via S. of France or Italy.

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In my opinion, most decisive battle of WW2 was battle of Moscow. The first large defeat of Germans. If war on the east had been lost, Britain would have few chances. Unites States even hadn't started producing Shermans. :) Also, imagine 100% of Werhmacht in the western front...

If Moscow was decisive then Tikhven in November was more decisive since it set the stage for Moscow.

See for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigory_Stelmakh

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/rkkaww2/maps/1941NW/Leningrad/Tikhvin_Nov11_Dec31_42.jpg

http://lbat.ru/tihk-1.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirill_Meretskov

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While Britain may well have continued to fight guerilla style if invaded, the real consequence would have been a vastly more difficult logistical issue for the US in terms of getting back to the European continent. So, BOB was decisive even though very few men were involved

The invasion in N Africa was direct from the US, but it was tiny compared to Normandy and against dubious quality French opposition. Probably, N. Africa would have had to be the main US build-up area and the main invasion would probably then be via S. of France or Italy.

I doubt the US would have entered the war had the UK sued for peace - which is much more realistic than an actual sea borne invasion - if we'd lost the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Perhaps the Atlantic Convoy "battle" was carefully calculated... If Britain needed more escorts, it's likely the US would have lendleased some more.

And that assumes that an operation going on for months/years can really be termed a "battle". Just cos someone called it a "battle" doesn't make it one. We don't refer to the "7-Years Battle" or "The Hundred Years Battle". The Atlantic contest was an air-naval war all by itself.

The Atlantic was a special situation, so that leaves BOB and Moscow 41 as leading contenders.

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Glantz seems to think Smolensk had a much greater role in disrupting Barbarossa than is appreciated and therefore may trump Moscow as having cost so much in time and resources as to make Moscow untenable. The resistance and shock to the German offensive was according to him also behind a lot of the indecision in the Wehrmacht about what to do next.

Still waiting for his 2nd book on the Battle of Smolensk, first was very good.

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I doubt the US would have entered the war had the UK sued for peace...

That's an interesting question, which is unfortunately probably unanswerable. At that point it would all lay in Hitler's hands. If Hitler offers generous terms to Britain and makes nice to the US, then I think a US DoW is politically impossible for Roosevelt at this point. But I also firmly believe (and so BTW did Hitler and Roosevelt) that frictions between the two countries would have led to war at some point anyway.

One major factor would be what happened to the Royal Navy. If Hitler demands that most of it be demobilized or interned in German-controlled ports, then the UK is out of the fight for the foreseeable future. If it escapes to, say, Canada, then even if it is not engaging in operations, it remains a very big factor in who will be warring against Germany and how well. Hitler knows this too, and would likely demand that it be taken off the table permanently. Whether he could enforce that demand...well, historically he never came close.

But supposing that Britain is out of the fight and does not appear likely to contribute much even if it returns (due to various provisions of the armistice—think Versailles in reverse), then an invasion of West or Northwest Africa directly from the US becomes just about the only viable strategy.

Michael

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an invasion of West or Northwest Africa directly from the US becomes just about the only viable strategy.

Coming in through the Middle East/Suez, maybe?

I recall reading, years ago, a book which purported to lay out the West's (well, mainly the US') plans for retaking Europe following a successful Soviet invasion. As I recall, it was assumed the Soviets would overrun Germany, the Low Countries, and France, and probably be stopped at the Pyrenees. I don’t remember what happened to the UK, but for what ever reason they weren’t a feature. I think Turkey and Italy fell too, but the Sovs wouldn’t be able to hop across the Med. Maybe there was a push down through Iran/Iraq too … but eventually the Sovs were halted everywhere by coastlines, as if Communists were allergic to saltwater.

The fightback was based around Spain and/or North West Africa (a’la Op TORCH), with a massive airforce buildup there securing air superiority over the western Med, under which the Navy would convey the Army from forward bases in Africa to an invasion of continental Europe. The timescale was over years. I don’t recall if nukes were in the mix, although given the times/distances involved I think they were. But it must have been in the era before ICBMs, or at least massive numbers of ICBMs, since the US was to resume it’s WWII role as the Arsenal of Democracy.

Ahem. Anyway. This discussion of the US fighting back against Germany without being able to use Airbase One reminded me of that.

Carry on :)

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Perhaps the most decisive event was not a battle but a decision. The decision by Hitler for solidarity with Japan by declaring war on the USA ( not required by their treaty).

Would the USA Congress have permitted a declaration vs Germany without a German declaration or provocation. Probably not in 41 or 42, who can say about later. Without the US resources (not just troops but thousands of essential landing craft) there would not have been an invasion of Sicily, Italy or France. Possibly, if the undeclared US had still furnished the Brit 8th Army with the reliable Stuarts, and reliable and upguned Grants and Shermans a stalemate would have taken place in North Africa but no invasion from Morocco into Tunisia. And in Russia again it might have depended on what an undeclared US would do relative to lend lease. Furnishing the Red Army about 500,000 motor vehicles, aviation fuel additives, commo gear, locamotives and much would have slowed down the advances the Red Army could make even after Stalingrad.

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When you say 'decisive battle' the image of a boxing knockout punch comes to mind. But after the invasion Eisenhower wasn't playing that game. Instead of going in for the kill he elected to methodically roll-up the front. In boxing terms, he favored body blows and exhausting his opponent over the old one-two KO. When Eisenhower did relent and agreed to Montgomery's 'knock-out punch' battle plan in Market Garden it blew up in their faces.

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Coming in through the Middle East/Suez, maybe?

Depends on who owns it and how friendly they were. That's an awfully long way to go to make an opposed landing, although if the US had just gotten through beating Japan and now decided to fight Germany, I suppose they might have the naval means to do so. Still, it would be a lot simpler to go to Northwest Africa.

I think we are so far off into speculation here that trying to defend any argument is...well...

Michael

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