US Liberates Britain, 1944

13 Jun

This idea was mentioned on a discussion board I visited.  I started to think about it.

US Liberates Britain, 1944

Basic Concept

Britain was successfully invaded by the Nazis in 1940, with the remnants of the Royal Navy and the British Government fleeing across the Atlantic to Canada, but this didn’t bring an end to WW2.  While Italy and Japan sought to snatch up isolated and suddenly vulnerable parts of the British Empire, along with smaller countries like Spain, Turkey and Iran, Hitler struck east in early 1941 (early than OTL, as Italy didn’t invade Greece in this timeline) and found himself bogged down in a nightmarish war against Russia.  Hitler did take Moscow, thanks to the earlier start, but managed to lose it again as the Russians counterattacked in early 1942.  The war seesawed back and forth since then, with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.

Much to Hitler’s chagrin, the US entered the war in 1942 as a naval clash between the USN and the Japanese Navy turned into a major conflict … and US defeat, as the Japanese aircraft sunk the US battleships more or less effortlessly.  Hitler, still convinced the US was a paper tiger, was quick to declare war on the United States, a major blunder as the US was rearming quickly (faster than OTL, as lend-lease wasn’t sent to Britain or Russia) and managed to defeat a Japanese invasion of Australia in late 1942.  The US is also arming the ‘Free British,’ as well as a dizzying array of Indian factions who claim to remain loyal to the Raj, but are – to all intends and purposes – effectively independent. 

The US knows it has to carry the war into the lair of the fascist beast.  It isn’t going to be easy.  Iceland is a US base and heavily defended, but Ireland is effectively neutral (the Irish would prefer to side with the US, but the Germans are closer) and there aren’t many other options.  FDR, who needs a major victory (as well as airbases close enough to the Reich to eventually drop the a-bomb), has authorised the US to prepare for Operation Washington, the liberation of Britain.

Points to Ponder

  • What would have happened to the remnants of the Royal Navy, RAF and army in this timeline.  The navy would have been able to retreat to Canada or Gibraltar, although it is unclear how long the bases would have been able to sustain the fleet without supplies from the homeland.  The army would have lost much of its heavy material – how much manpower could be pulled out in time and how many men would actually want to go?
  • What would ‘Vichy Britain’ look like?  Oswald Mosley is the traditional British Petain (he insisted he would refuse the dishonour, if asked, but that was after the war was over and everyone knew the Nazis would lose).  How much of Hitler’s madcap plans for stripping Britain bare would actually be put into operation?  How many people would collaborate, because they saw no other choice; how many people would do their level best to resist, hide the vulnerable, fight back?
  • How much of the British Empire would remain loyal?  Spain would probably be able to take Gibraltar very quickly.  Italy would be able to snatch Malta – Egypt might be a harder target in the short term, although an Egyptian revolt in the rear might lead to disaster and fights between Jewish and Palestinian factions in Palestine.  Turkey would take advantage of the chaos to snatch northern Iraq; Russia might invade Iran; Japan might target the East Indies and Singapore (at the very least, they’d be able to stop supplies making their way into China.)  India would be harder for anyone to invade, at least in the short term, but British weakness would probably lead to a major power transfer (the best outcome) or complete chaos (the worst).  Dominions like Canada, New Zealand and Australia would be thrown back on their own resources and probably get much closer to the US.
  • How would the German-Russian War go in this timeline?  An earlier start might let Hitler get to Moscow before winter, and a shortage of lend-lease would definitely weaken the Russians, but there were just too many other problems with Barbarossa for them to be fixed quickly.  The Germans would snatch vast swathes of territory, even if they managed to keep Moscow, but they’d find it hard to keep their conquests long enough to exploit them.  That said, they’d probably be able to draw on more manpower from Italy and Spain if the former wasn’t fighting in North Africa on quite the same scale.
  • How would the US develop in this timeline.  Germany would look a lot scarier – Japan too, if the first battles are more one-sided than OTL.  (And Japan wouldn’t have looked to have launched a surprise attack too, possibly impacting the US’s response.)  That said, America is still staggeringly powerful and, once its people start getting experience, they will get more capable very quickly.
  • Ireland would probably snatch Northern Ireland as quickly as possible, perhaps under the guise of keeping the Nazis out.  The locals won’t like it – the Irish might try to keep British troops in place, but this would be politically difficult and likely to upset the Germans.  Ireland would probably prefer to side with America, when push came to shove, but the Germans are much closer.  Will this change?
  • Getting the US army to Britain will be difficult.  Landing will be harder.  If Ireland is a base, a landing in Liverpool might make sense (port facilities); if not, what about Glasgow (quite some distance from Europe) or Plymouth?
  • The USN could run a diversionary operation, perhaps claiming the troops are going to North Africa rather than the UK.

Thoughts?

15 Responses to “US Liberates Britain, 1944”

  1. wazman1930 June 13, 2021 at 3:51 pm #

    I like the concept. Ironically I was watching a video about contingency plans the British Gov had if the heart of the Empire was seized. hey had bunkers scattered all over with 8-12 man teams (think SAS) with orders to attack the Nazis when ever and where ever, but to be selective and make each strike count. Kinda like a last attempt. supposed these bunkers were manned from nearly the start of the war all the way up to just after the Normandy invasion. They couldn’t tell anyone where they what their assignment was they were just listed as deployed.

  2. Robert Kaliski June 13, 2021 at 4:50 pm #

    Unless Germany changed its philosophy of design in regards to the armed forces they are doomed in an alternative timeline. In the OTL Germany thought small. Short ranged fighters, bombers. The land forces still relied on draft animals for a large part of their logistics. Even the U boats who had a field day before America entered the war were demolished piecemeal by mobile air and sea forces operating off escort carriers.
    Germany would have to work out how to send beans and bullets across vast distances in the east and west, something the Americans did in the civil war. As in the OTL Hitlers best move would have been to sue for peace and leave Japan to their own devices against the Americans. Nazi Germany was barely set up to fight a war on one front.

    Retaking the UK would be the political goal, but I could see America hitting Northern France to first to isolate the Germans from the continent and starve them out. Oh and any radar and airbases set up by the Germans in England would make lovely targets for the free British SAS working with an underground.

    • chrishanger June 18, 2021 at 12:27 pm #

      Logistically, it would be tricky (he says, with massive understatement) to launch a cross-Atlantic invasion into France or North Africa. Britain would be hard enough, with or without Ireland as a base.

      Chris

  3. David power June 13, 2021 at 4:53 pm #

    Hmm, you’d need to consider the impact of the curtailed war in the Atlantic. The liberty ship program would not exist.

    A lot of the developments in anti submarine warfare probably wouldn’t have happened. For example, the deployment of catapult launched aircraft from freighters, small cheap escort carriers and 10mm radar equipped sub hunter aircraft would be less likely. The effective hedgehog anti submarine launcher which entered service in 1942 would not exist.

    The german submarine fleet would not have suffered massive losses of ships and experienced crews.

    Presumably, the addition of British shipyards to those of Germany and the rest of europe would mean the construction of a much larger and stronger german fleet.

    Another issue to consider, is would the french navy have fallen into Axis control after the fall of Britain?

    Shipping an invasion force across the Atlantic and supplying them would have been very difficult.

    Would Germany actually have attacked Russia? I thought the main driver for that conflict was to seize control of the Soviet oil fields.

    In your timeline, it would have been easier to take advantage of the middle east oll fields.

  4. Bill June 14, 2021 at 12:05 am #

    Not reading any others thoughts here at first.

    India becomes independent. Does it go neutral? That in and of itself presents several issues. They don’t care for the Chinese at all. So would they assist them against Japan?

    Northern Australia is not as much of a strong-hold as one would think. Would Japan invade, or leave it alone and focus on China? Great question there, it would have to be dealt with even if the focus of the story is on Europe.

    Does Russian declare war on Japan? Does Japan declare war on Russia? Let the OTL be the answer to that one (LOL).

    Even if Ireland remains neutral, the focus on England can happen, it is just harder.

    Have to remember, even though the specific organization of the “German American Bund” became a failure, there still was many who were sympathetic to the “New Germany.” This could be dealt with through an underground “German” resistance in the US.

    Would the US drop an A-bomb on a European city, like Berlin? Doubtful during the 1940’s. But I could be wrong, and this is fiction, not real history.

    So, there will be both collaborators and resistance in England. That could be the heart of the story. Will a collaborator do the right thing in the end. It is more than just good vs evil. How to wrap it all around into a great story is the mission here.

    And, Mr. Nuttall, you do a great job in writing your stories by the way. Good Luck on this one.

  5. William Ameling June 14, 2021 at 5:22 am #

    Another author, has a new series, 3 books so far (in Kindle Unlimited), The Usurpers War, by James Young, which I read a couple of months ago, where Great Britain gets forces to surrender in late 1941 or early 1942 by a nerve gas bombing by the Luftwaffe. Not the same scenario as yours, but with GB knocked out of the War.

  6. Aki Karjalainen June 14, 2021 at 7:37 am #

    Something to consider on the Russian front in a timeline like this is the Finnish contribution. Originally, Finland didn’t want to advance beyond their original borders they’d had to give up at the end of the Winter War, and they had been half-assing the siege of Leningrad because they could see the way the wind was blowing and wanted better terms with the Russians after Germans lost.

    Now if it looked like Germany was actually making headway in their Russian offensive, Finland might decide to push the Russians harder this time, actually cutting the Murmansk railway and taking Leningrad. Maybe not massive in the larger scheme of things, but it would certainly impact at least the Russian part of things.

  7. AC Young June 14, 2021 at 9:58 am #

    Britain was also the home of several governments-in-exile – by 1940 this would have included the French, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, Czechoslovak and Polish. It also had remnants of their armed forces, some of whom in OTL fought in the Battle of Britain. It’s reasonable to assume that all of these will flee to Canada with the British.

    Some of these countries had significant merchant navies (Norway in particular), and with Britain’s fall all would probably have crossed the Atlantic, along with the British Merchant Marine. These would all be available as supply ships for the invasion, in addition to the American and Canadian contingents.

    As far as the armed forces in exile was concerned the biggest impact of this would be to the Polish. In OTL an agreement between the Polish government-in-exile and Stalin led to Stalin sending 70-80,000 poles to Iran, where they were formed into military units and placed under western command. This agreement was made in 1941, so in the ATL is extremely unlikely, and depending on the disposition of the British Empire the transfer to western command might be impossible anyway. This may result in Stalin recruiting an even larger polish contingent to assist the Soviet armed forces

    The fall of the British would also have an impact on allied deception. In OTL by D-Day the British were in charge of all major allied deceptions on the western front, and had great success in forcing the Germans to keep armies where they wouldn’t be needed. In the ATL the key officers are unlikely to have developed the same level of expertise, so the sort of deceptions that were used for Operations Torch or Overlord are unlikely to be viable.

    Then there’s Enigma and the Lorenz cipher. The Poles were the first to crack Enigma. They handed the details over to the French and British before they were invaded. Unless this information was handed to the Americans and/or Canadians in the ATL, this knowledge would have been lost when Bletchley Park was overrun in 1940.

    The Lorenz cipher was first broken in OTL at Bletchley Park in 1941/42, and its cracking gave the allies crucial information in most of the major battles of the later part of the war against the Germans (including on the Eastern front). While the cipher text would still have been sent in the ATL the signal may not have reached across the Atlantic – and if it didn’t then the Americans/Canadians/British-in-exile might not have realised it existed and so would have been unable to attempt to decode it prior to the planned invasion of Britain. (In OTL the Soviets never cracked the Lorenz cipher, it seems reasonable to assume that this remains the case in the ATL.)

    • AC Young June 14, 2021 at 12:42 pm #

      A further thought. Some of the military units we’re familiar with may not have come into existence, or if they did may end up bearing different names.

      A key example, with many implications, is that the [British] Commandos were not created in OTL until June 1940. Depending on the precise dates of the Nazi invasion in the ATL they may not have come into existence before Britain fell. If they didn’t then it is worth noting that the concept was supplied by Dudley Clarke – if he wasn’t successfully evacuated then the idea may not have been put into practice in the ATL at all.

      If the ATL has no Commandos then the SAS may not come into being either. In OTL they were (in reality, ignoring the pre-existing nominal unit of the same name) the brainchild of a Commando. Without Commandos to come up with the idea, it would need to be derived from another special forces unit, which may not happen. If it did, then they may end up with a different name (either more or less likely depending on the naming convention of the other special forces unit).

      If the Commandos did come into existence in the ATL then the SAS is likely to come into being as well – but not necessarily under that name. In OTL the SAS was originally a nominal unit (meaning it existed only on paper), the name being re-used for the current extant force. It was conceived in OTL by Dudley Clarke because he discovered from reading a diary of a captured Italian soldier that the Italians had issues with enemy parachutists. In the ATL Clarke may not be sent to Cairo at all, and Egypt may not be able to hold off the Italians for long enough for the necessary information to end up in the hands of the British Deception personnel. Hence it is possible/probable that in the ATL the SAS would never have come into being as a nominal unit. Without the existence of a suitable nominal unit with a name that could be borrowed, the ATL SAS would need to pick a name of their own, and may very will have picked something else.

      Similarly, in the US armed forces, in OTL the US Rangers came into being as a result of a suggestion by Dudley Clarke (yes, him again) that the Americans needed Commandos of their own, but that because they would never name a unit after one operated by the British, they should instead name it after a force in a recent film. In the ATL the chances of this conversation happening are much reduced, and if it did probably wouldn’t have taken place in Cairo. In any case, if the Commandos never came into existence in the ATL, the US Rangers would probably not have come into existence in their current form either. If the Commandos did come into existence in the ATL it is possible that a different name would have been chosen for the force.

  8. Cathy Howat June 14, 2021 at 1:44 pm #

    Write it. You do good alternate history and it’s a change from your recent stuff.

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    • George Phillies June 14, 2021 at 2:16 pm #

      Seems a but of a trope. Consider instead “General Corap has some incident that takes him out of the picture in 1938, he is replaced by someone competent, and the German attack through the Sedan fails to break through the French defenses. Giving the French a strategic reserve would also help.

      • chrishanger June 18, 2021 at 12:29 pm #

        If the Germans lose in France – which isn’t impossible, because their logistics were pretty weak – the war will eventually grind down with a German defeat and/or a Russian knife in Hitler’s back. It would be less interesting than a bigger WW2

        Chris

      • George Phillies July 1, 2021 at 4:16 pm #

        It will be totally different than what anyone else has written. That is a selling point.

  9. Joseph P Jr Costa June 15, 2021 at 3:19 pm #

    Christopher, I hope you remember that the battleships that were sunk were sitting still in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese made their sneak attack and actually felt guilty because their communication with the declaration of war was not delivered until after the actual attack. I with very little experience could lead that attack and be victorious under those circumstances. The US were literally sleeping on that fateful Sunday. Another analogy would be like catching fish in a barrel. This wouldn’t ever be called sport. Both sides on that engagement made a lot of mistakes that day.

    • Nightfall June 18, 2021 at 7:57 am #

      Some things to consider (or at least interesting stuff most people don’t know):

      The war was really fought over oil. Most of the oil at this time came from the US (Texas) and a lesser amount from Venezuela, other oilfields existed, but they were minor compared to that. Oil in the middle east, for instance, was largely undeveloped. Oil in the Caucuses was developed, but still, in our timeline, the US sent a great deal of the USSR’s supply of both fuel and explosive chemicals to USSR ports (a quarter to a half).

      In our timeline, Germany relied on oil converted from coal, an inefficient process. Germany was so short that they thought of demobilizing some divisions as they didn’t have enough fuel, they managed to scrape up enough. One reason Hitler sometimes ordered them to stand and fight was because they simply did not have the fuel for anything else (the generals blamed Hitler so as to make themselves look good, despite losing). Italy was also short on oil, their ships seldom ventured out because of it.

      One of the main reasons Hitler invaded the USSR was to get the oil in the Caucuses. The Russians knew that, and also it was their sole source of oil, and thus their best troops were stationed on that front, it took the Germans a month longer than they had planned to get through them.

      Also, the Russians had a 200 mile belt of defenses between them and Germany. they had dismantled this, and were converting the army and airforce there into an offensive arm, stationed on Germanies’ borders, ready to invade Germany as soon as the German army got stuck in somewhere else (say the mid east or Africa). If Germany attacks sooner than in our timeline, this may still be in play, and the purges of the Russian army might not have all taken place, making the Russian army stronger. Hitler invaded Russian because Stalin was planning on invading him, and he wanted to get his shot in first. For instance, they had the worlds largest parachute arm, a purely offensive arm, station right up on Germanies borders.

      Meanwhile, in Japan, even after they invaded places like Indonesia and some other places with oil, they were so short on oil that their larger ships largely stayed in port, and even their smaller ships were constantly told to conserve both oil and explosives. This rather annoyed the captains, it’s hard to fight a war when your superiors don’t want you to move or shoot.

      It should also be noted what Germany and Japan were up against. The US, the worlds largest industrial power (over half the worlds industrial capacity). Russian, the worlds largest land empire. England, the worlds largest empire period. China, the worlds most populous country (with India being second). And then, a host of smaller countries, some of which were considered fairly strong. The axis simply never had a chance, it was simply a matter of how long it would take, and the resolve of all sides to keep fighting.

      Thus, in this, your timeline, both Germany and Japan (and to a lesser extent Russia) will still be constrained by oil shortages.

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