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 'France 44' by Guest Historian Chris Oakley
Guest Historian Guest Historian Chris Oakley says, thank you for visiting TIAH. This thread attempts to explore how the end of World War II might have played out if the main Allied landings in France on D-Day had been aimed at France's Mediterranean coast. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit the Changing the Times web site.

August 6

On this day in 1944, two major battles of the Second World War came to an end.

In France, the Battle of the Bulge finished with the Americans taking the surrender of the last Waffen-SS holdouts in Dijon; in Poland, the anti-Nazi uprising in Warsaw collapsed as German tanks overran the main strongpoints for the Polish revolt.


July 13

On this day in 1944, the Red Army recaptured the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius from the Germans.


June 6

On this day in 1944, the German army high command received reports of Allied troop landings on Frances Normandy coast. Adolf Hitler dismissed these landings as a diversionary tactic, insisting that the real Allied invasion attempt would be made at Pas de Calais.


The Normandy assault WAS a diversion, but not in the way Hitler imagined - while his generals were trying to figure out where the Allies main blow would fall on Normandy or Pas de Calais, the real Allied invasion, aimed at France`s Mediterranean coast, would come ashore nearly unopposed. By the time the Germans figured out what was happening, the Allies had already gained a foothold on French soil and were squeezing the Wehrmacht divisions in France in the largest pincer maneuver in military history. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, then in command of German defenses along France's northern coast, had been home on leave when the invasion hit and was caught off guard; he was later reported to say to his wife: `Wie dumm von mir! (How stupid of me!)`

June 13

On this day in 1944, Allied Supreme Commander in Europe Gen. Dwight Eisenhower announced the liberation of Rouen. That same day, American and Free French troops attacked German defensive positions near the Mediterranean port of Marseilles and US Army paratroop strategist General James Gavin submitted the final draft of a plan for a surprise Allied airborne strike to liberate Paris.


June 18

On this day in 1944, American and Free French troops eliminated the last pockets of German resistance in Marseilles.                                                                                                  


June 23

In 1944, General Dietrich von Cholitz, commandant of German occupation forces in Paris, ignored a directive by Adolf Hitler to fight to the last man and ordered his surviving troops in the French capital to cease fire. With that act, the battle for Paris effectively ended in an Allied victory and the already shaky Wehrmacht battlefront in western Europe began to weaken even further.


August 28

On this day in 1944, the Allies launched Operation Market-Garden, a four-pronged infantry and armor offensive against the German divisions threatening Antwerp; Winston Churchill, who had advocated a paratroop attack, was later heard to quip that the assault should have been code-named Operation Dragoon "`because I was dragooned into it".

British PM
British PM - Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

June 9

On this day in 1944, the last pockets of German resistance in the French Mediterranean port of Toulon surrendered to Allied troops. In northern France, American and British artillery began shelling German defensive positions near the city of Rouen.


June 25

In 1944, Free French movement leader Charles de Gaulle began making preparations to return to his homeland after nearly four years in exile.                                                    

 - Charles De Gaulle
Charles De Gaulle

July 22

On this day in 1944, German Stuka dive bombers raided Polish insurgent strongpoints inside Warsaw.

 - Stuka

July 3

In 1944, Allied troops in northern France started advancing on Reims as Charles de Gaulle made his triumphant return home from exile in London. That same day Claus von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators in the plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler made their final decision to mount their coup against the Nazi dictator within 48 hours.

 - Von Stauffenberg
Von Stauffenberg

July 5

In 1944, Adolf Hitler was severely injured when a bomb exploded in the conference room of his field headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia during his routine daily military conference.

Although Hitler survived the blast, the assassination attempt marked the beginning of his final descent into the insanity which would at last force his protege Hermann Goering to remove him from office in January of 1945.

 - Hermann Goering
Hermann Goering

July 6

On this day in 1944, precisely one month after Allied forces began the liberation of France, Charles de Gaulle returned to Paris to assume his new position as head of the provisional post-liberation French government. That same day Claus Schenck von Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad for his role in the previous day's assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler; the colonel's execution would be just the beginning of an orgy of bloodletting that would terrorize Germany in the final months of Hitler's rule.

 - Von Stauffenberg
Von Stauffenberg

July 10

On this day in 1944, US Army General George S. Patton personally accepted the surrender of the German forces in Reims, France. That same day Polish resistance fighters in Warsaw began an uprising against the German occupation troops there.

 - George Patton
George Patton

July 15

On this day in 1944, a potential obstacle to Hermann Goering's quest to succeed Hitler as chancellor of the Third Reich was removed when Hitler's personal adjutant, Martin Bormann, was killed during an American air raid on Berlin.

Bormann had long been a bitter rival of the Luftwaffe commander-in-chief and done a great deal to dimish Goering's influence within Hitler's inner circle; with Bormann's demise, however, Goering received an opportunity to regain at least some of his lost prestige.

 - Hermann Goering
Hermann Goering

July 16

On this day in 1944, Erwin Rommel was wounded in an RAF strafing attack while driving back to his headquarters after an inspection tour of German army defensive positions in northern France.

That same day, Allied troops in southern France liberated Limoges.

 - Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel

July 18

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in northern France linked up with the Allied contingent in southern France at Orleans. That same day on the Eastern Front, Soviet troops began wiping out the last pockets of German army resistance in Lithuania and advancing into Latvia.


July 25

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in northern France liberated the Channel port of Dunkirk; many of the troops taking part in the liberation had previously been among the soldiers evacuated from the city during the German conquest of France four years earlier.


July 28

On this day in 1944, Nazi judge Roland Friesler convened the first session of his infamous People's Tribunal, a rigged special court intended to provide legal justification for the execution of German citizens alleged to have been involved with the July 5th assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.

Nazi Judge
Nazi Judge - Roland Friesler
Roland Friesler

In truth, most of those convicted and sentenced by the court had little connection to the assassination plot and were being imprisoned or executed largely because of Hitler's insane need for vengeance.

July 30

On this day in 1944, former Leipzig mayor Carl Gordeler, a key civilian conspirator in the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, was sentenced to death by Roland Freisler's People's Court.

Gordeler was hanged the next day.

 - Roland Freisler
Roland Freisler

August 1

In 1944 on this day American and Free French troops surrounded Waffen-SS units at the town of Dijon. The resulting five-day siege would be immortalized in the American press as "the Battle of the Bulge".


August 2

On this day in 1944, the Polish anti-Nazi uprising in Warsaw was dealt a severe setback as German troops recaptured the Stare Miasto section of the city.


August 10

On this day in 1944, Allied troops crossed the Franco-Belgian border.


August 13

On this day in 1944, the last remaining Wehrmacht units in the Baltic republic of Estonia began evacuating by sea to Germany.                                                                                


August 17

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Belgium liberated Mons and started pushing towards Namur.


August 18

On this day in 1944, Allied ground forces entered Luxembourg.


August 20

On this day in 1944, Allied advance units reached the outskirts of Namur.


August 22

On this day in 1944, Namur was liberated by the Allies after only minimal German resistance.


August 23

On this day in 1944, the Red Army finally commenced an all-out drive for the ruined Polish capital Warsaw.

After the Second World War ended, the Soviet government would be hounded by accusations that it had deliberately withheld support from the Polish anti-Nazi uprising; the Soviets would maintain that they had been forced to delay the start of the Warsaw offensive due to overextended supply lines.


August 26

On this day in 1944, Allied reconnaissance planes flying over the shrinking Nazi occupation zone inside Belgium spotted massive troop and tank formations gathering east of the recently liberated port of Antwerp for what Allied supreme commander General Dwight Eisenhower and his senior staff rightly suspected was an impending multi-front assault on Allied defenses around the city.


August 30

On this day in 1944, Soviet troops entered the ruins of Warsaw.


July 20

On this day in 1944, the RAF began air-dropping food and munitions to aid the Polish anti-Nazi uprising in Warsaw.

That same day Erwin Rommel, knowing he was about to be court-martialled for his ties to the July 5th assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, committed suicide in his hospital bed; however, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' official announcement of Rommel's death claimed that the ex-Afrika Korps commander died of his wounds from the July 16th RAF strafing attack.

 - Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel

September 2

On this day in 1944, the Red Army accepted the surrender of the last remaining German troops in Warsaw.


September 5

On this day in 1944, the last remnants of the German occupation force in Belgium began withdrawing to Holland.


September 9

On this day in 1944, American troops in Belgium liberated Malmedy.


September 12

On this day in 1944, American troops entered the Dutch city of Rotterdam and liberated the Luxembourg capital, Luxembourg City.                                                                        


September 14

On this day in 1944, American forces overran the last pockets of German resistance in Rotterdam. That same day Dutch fascist collaborator Anton Mussert was assassinated in Amsterdam by Dutch anti-Nazi partisans.


September 16

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Italy occupied the tiny enclave of the Republic of San Marino.


September 20

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Holland liberated the Hague and began advancing on Amsterdam.


September 22

On this day in 1944, Dutch anti-Nazi guerrillas seized control of the main phone, radio, and communications facilities in Amsterdam and sent a message to Allied field commanders that they were attacking the main German troop garrison in that city.


September 24

On this day in 1944, Allied advance columns reached the outskirts of Amsterdam.


September 25

On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Holland entered Amsterdam amid heavy German resistance.


September 28

On this day in 1944, the last pockets of German resistance in Amsterdam surrendered to the Allies.


October 1

On this day in 1944, British troops and Greek anti-Nazi partisans liberated Athens.

Athens - Liberated

October 5

On this day in 1944, Allied advance units in Holland crossed the border into Germany.


October 8

On this day in 1944, the last German troops in Holland were evacuated to Denmark. That same day, Allied troops in Germany captured the city of Essen.                                  


October 10

On this day in 1944, Allied forces in Germany began advancing toward Dortmund and Munster.


October 11

On this day in 1944, People's Court chief judge Roland Friesler was killed during an American air raid on Berlin when his courtroom took a direct hit from a 1000-lb. high explosive bomb.

Nazi Judge
Nazi Judge - Roland Friesler
Roland Friesler

October 13

On this day in 1944, Belgian fascist collaborator Leon Degrelle was indicted for treason by a special Belgian military tribunal.

Collaborator - Leon Degrelle
Leon Degrelle

October 17

On this day in 1944, Allied forces in Germany took Dortmund and reached the outskirts of Munster.

During the fall of Dortmund a senior SS officer, Obergruppenfuhrer und General der Waffen-SS Felix Steiner was captured by American advance troops.

Obergruppenfuhrer - Felix Steiner
Felix Steiner

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