1943: THE VICTORY THAT NEVER WAS by John Grigg

1943: THE VICTORY THAT NEVER WAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Remember the Russians clamoring for a Second Front? If you can, or if you've caught the reverberations, this fascinating reappraisal of Allied military policy will keep you reading to the end. Armed with 35 years of hindsight, British historian Grigg claims that operation ROUNDUP (a cross-Channel assault in 1943) would have succeeded--a full year ahead of OVERLORD (the Normandy landings of June 1944). The result: an early end to the war as well as great savings in human life and effort. By 1943, Grigg notes, we already had air supremacy in the ETO and more than enough trained troops to launch a cross-Channel invasion; besides, with the Wehrmacht still deep in Russia, German supply lines would have been stretched to the breaking point. Had the Western Allies liberated only France and Belgium in 1943, speculates Grigg, they could have negotiated with Stalin from a position of strength, thereby eliminating at least some of the Cold War sore spots. But Roosevelt and Churchill shelved the plans for ROUNDUP (which Eisenhower and Marshall backed)--opting instead for TORCH (American landings in French North Africa in November 1942). The move was designed to stimulate American interest in the war against Germany by a sure victory, meanwhile taking some of the heat off the British in the Mediterranean. Of course, TORCH wasn't the Second Front that Stalin had meant, so the Western allies tried to sweeten the pill by promising the Soviet premier an all-out air offensive against Germany. Another miscalculation, asserts Grigg: the RAF's policy of indiscriminate area bombing neither slowed German war production nor demoralized the German people. (The war might have been won, he adds, by a ""combined and sustained policy of selective bombing."") Grigg also refutes the various arguments for scratching ROUNDUP from the agenda in '43: that it was impossible to land in France that year; that the Atlantic Wall was too strong in '43; that there were neither landing craft nor ""mulberry harbors."" Armchair generals will admire the dexterity with which Grigg makes his case.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1980
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux