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impavidus
11-23-2010, 03:48 PM
what do you think, was the most important war operation during ww2 and why? Please add your reasons. I think was operation hushy, because from that operation began the ending of ww2.

Churchill
11-23-2010, 04:36 PM
Another topic like this eh...?

Whatever, discussion could prove interesting, in the long run.

I'd say Market Gar-, Fork-, Compass, the first push against the Italians in North Africa. It went along perfectly until someone in London told Wavell to stop the offensive and send troops to Greece. If Wavell had ignored the order and driven the Italians out of North Africa, the Desert War never would have happened, and possibly the invasion of Italy could have commenced sooner.

Then again, there is Operation Ultra, which doesn't really need to be explained in my opinion, just helped know what the Nazis were doing.

tankgeezer
11-23-2010, 04:43 PM
Well, an operation may be important because it failed, and allowed an eventual victory by the Allies. Or, it may have been a successful operation that furthered those same ends. Specificity is also important. Could you expand on your question a bit?

Timbo in Oz
11-28-2010, 05:36 PM
Closest to one and it's not really a single operation, although by the end it almost was.

?

The allied cryptanalytical and intelligence distribution system, England, America, Poland, Russia, and Australia, together learned and shared ideas and approaches.

From traffic analysis through code breaking, ongoing decryption, cross-referencing, trend recognition, and controlled, secure restricted distribution and briefings.

While I do think that this was the single biggest factor in victory. I do have a more personal attachment to this view. i) I'm an ex-infantryman but did serve in Int. ii) My father-in-law an Australian academic served in Central Bureau which was part of Macarthur's HQ. In April this year, just 3 days before he died, with Anzac day on the way, he received the UK's WWII GCCS * medal from the then PM.

*Government Code and Cypher School

royal744
12-18-2010, 01:58 PM
Trying to decide which operation or action is the most important is like trying to pick the most beautiful out of a bevy of beauties - nearly impossible and probably not worth it.

Deaf Smith
12-18-2010, 09:40 PM
Manhattan. Manhattan and the development of the B-29.

That 'operation', if the war had lingered on, would have been decisive on all fronts.

Deaf

ced381
12-18-2010, 10:27 PM
I would say the invasion of Poland, which officially started WW2.

ozarkgary
12-25-2010, 06:59 AM
Operation Varsity - the allies crossed the Rhine to invade Germany for the beginning of the end.

Evillittlekenny
01-06-2011, 01:28 PM
It is a bit of a hard question, I think you need to concentrate on a theatre of the war, atleast this is easier to specify. I will write what I think were the most important operations on some of the theatres.


Weserübung (Invasion of Denmark and Norway): Battle of Narvik

The chance to win in this battle was squandered with the withdrawal of the Allied troops because of the Battle of France.


Balkan Campaign: Operation Mercury

The Germans managed to take the island of Crete, which could have proved a serious threat to the Axis shipping in the area. But this came at so high losses that Hitler forbade further airborne operations, which could have been useful for the Germans.


Eastern Front: Operation Barbarossa

I think this was the operation which decided it for the biggest part. If things would have run more smoothly for the Axis, especially for the Germans at Moscow, the War in Russia would have for sure been different.


Pacific: Midway

The US troops managed to destroy 4 Japanese carriers and Japan lost many of it's finest and most experienced pilots. From then on, Japan was not able to start any major offensvie in the Pacific any more and was constantly on defense, even though they were very tenacious at it. It was just a matter of time.


Italy: Operation Husky

The Allied forces managed to captured the island of Sicily and caught the Axis by surpires. The most devastating effect for the Axis was that this lead to the switching of the side of Italy. Tha Western allies had to face then only the German units (apart from Italian units in German service) and the Yugoslav Partisans had the chance to advance relatively deeply into the areas formerly held by the Italians (although not all could be held against the reacting Germans). Also, the Germans needed to divert troops for Albania, where they captured Tirana with paratroopers before Albanian Partisans could do the same.




Those are the operations I can think of now which I would regard as highly important. I would have some more, but I can't write right now, I will add them later.

fastmongrel
01-15-2011, 11:39 AM
Operation Dynamo. Without those 300,000 + men getting out of France Churchill might have been forced to resign and a new prime minister and cabinet might have signed a peace treaty with Germany. Without Britain being a thorn in Hitlers side Barbarossa might have happened on time and been succesful. Without the unsinkable aircraft carrier the US could not have carried the war to Germany.

Iron Yeoman
01-17-2011, 07:48 AM
Lots of good points mentioned so far, I think it's true that its hard to pin down one operation especially as WW2 has several theatres and several themes associated with it. For my tuppence's worth the Japanese operation on Pearl Harbour has to be fairly key.

Bringing the Americans in probably shortened the war by a few years and arguably altered the world significantly. Without the Americans intervening Europe could well have gone 'Red' after the Russian steamroller had finished 'liberating' it. The British Empire might have limped on a few more decades. With American industry, cash and lives western europe was liberated and pressure was taken off the commonwealth forces in the far-east. And who-knows what the Japanese might have done if they solved their fuel problem and were left un-checked in the pacific?

Rising Sun*
01-17-2011, 09:39 AM
If I'd been badly wounded in WWII and a surgeon had saved my life, I'd say that that was the most important operation of WWII.

Apart from that, there is no operation which is the 'most important' as if you take any single operation out of the war it probably wasn't going to change the final result, being the defeat of the Axis forces, sooner or later.

Evillittlekenny
01-17-2011, 09:52 AM
Lots of good points mentioned so far, I think it's true that its hard to pin down one operation especially as WW2 has several theatres and several themes associated with it. For my tuppence's worth the Japanese operation on Pearl Harbour has to be fairly key.

Bringing the Americans in probably shortened the war by a few years and arguably altered the world significantly. Without the Americans intervening Europe could well have gone 'Red' after the Russian steamroller had finished 'liberating' it. The British Empire might have limped on a few more decades. With American industry, cash and lives western europe was liberated and pressure was taken off the commonwealth forces in the far-east. And who-knows what the Japanese might have done if they solved their fuel problem and were left un-checked in the pacific?

Also a good point, but I would like to add something to this one. A big factor is also that Germany and Italy declared then war on the USA. Otherwise it could be questionable whether the USA could fight the Axis as a whole without inner unrest or not.

Iron Yeoman
01-17-2011, 05:11 PM
Also a good point, but I would like to add something to this one. A big factor is also that Germany and Italy declared then war on the USA. Otherwise it could be questionable whether the USA could fight the Axis as a whole without inner unrest or not.

Interesting point, but would the fact the Japanese were allied to the Germans have dragged them into Europe anyway?

Evillittlekenny
01-18-2011, 09:58 AM
Interesting point, but would the fact the Japanese were allied to the Germans have dragged them into Europe anyway?

Well, I think not necessarily. Especially if the Axis in Europe would play this ace smart.

Not all Axis nations were in war with all Allied nations and vice versa. Bulgaria was not at war with the Soviet Union (atleast until 1944), but with US. Finland was at war with the Soviet Union and UK, but not with the US (as far as I know atleast).

Also in WW1, Italy was allied with the Central Powers Germany and Austro-Hungary, but refused to join the war as they signed a defense pact. Later they even chose to fight with the Entente against the Central Powers.

So it would need to convince the people of the USA to agree this war in Europe as well. And the lesson from WW1 was, such a war is costly. And since the European Axis could not directly help the Asian Axis, I think it would need a big convincing work to lead war on both sides of the Earth.


Now one could argue, if the status between the Germans and the US concerning the shipping would stay the same (Germans subs attacked US ships with supplies for the Allies, US ships attacked German subs), it could lead to an acceptable reason to declare war, which would lead the US then again into Europe.

This is atleast what I can think to it :)

Kregs
01-23-2011, 01:16 AM
My bias is showing in this post (blush). But, in a more serious mindset, I think the most important operations in World War II were conducted off the battlefield and in obscure offices and secret residential houses--mostly where mathematicians and cryptologists broke codes for military intelligence and monitored messages from underground resistance groups. The bulk of the important military cryptology operations were conducted by the Cipher Bureau in Poland and Bletchley Park in England.

When I think of those numerous workers at the Bureau and Bletchley Park, Marian Rejewski's name stands out the most and for good reason, too: his manipulations of the German Engima cycles helped the allied war effort enormously. Rejewski's understanding of cryptology and usage of mathematical theorems such as group theory and permutations helped solve many vexing problems for the Cipher Bureau and the British military.

Evillittlekenny
01-23-2011, 03:23 PM
Ahh, Marijan Rejewski and his "bomba". In school in the subject "Cryptography" we learned about him. He named his machine after his favourite ice cream brand if I am not mistaken.

Iron Yeoman
01-23-2011, 04:35 PM
Ahh, Marijan Rejewski and his "bomba". In school in the subject "Cryptography" we learned about him. He named his machine after his favourite ice cream brand if I am not mistaken.

'Bomba' interesting name for a Polish ice cream brand! I thought being a resident of Wien you would have thought the 1945 Vienna offensive was the most important :D

Evillittlekenny
01-23-2011, 04:49 PM
'Bomba' interesting name for a Polish ice cream brand! I thought being a resident of Wien you would have thought the 1945 Vienna offensive was the most important :D


Hahaha, maybe if I would be a real Viennese. But so, of course the most important operation is the battle of some remaining Axis troops with the Yugoslav Partisans around my home village a week and more after the official ending of the war in Europe :mrgreen:

Iron Yeoman
01-24-2011, 11:39 AM
Hahaha, maybe if I would be a real Viennese. But so, of course the most important operation is the battle of some remaining Axis troops with the Yugoslav Partisans around my home village a week and more after the official ending of the war in Europe :mrgreen:

They didn't get the memo then? As an aside I love Vienna, visited it twice so far and would move there tomorrow if I could.

Evillittlekenny
01-24-2011, 02:18 PM
They didn't get the memo then? As an aside I love Vienna, visited it twice so far and would move there tomorrow if I could.

Well, I guess they wanted to make it to the Western Allies. Also some fanatics seem to have been among them, as they were forcibly drafting people (and shooting those who refused) they could find. In this last fightings and happenings around, approximately 10% of my home village died.


Anyway, true, Vienna is really a nice city, it has a lot of things to see. But I can also recommend Eisenstadt, Zagreb, Sisak, Warsaw and Poznan. All nice cities :)

Eugen
01-26-2011, 11:41 AM
Operation Bagration and Overlord(both in 1944) decided the outcome of the war.It was the point where Germans took casualties which they couldn't replace anymore.The finest german divisions were annihilated.
And yes, I believe, that Stalignrad wasn't decisive at all.It was the turning point on the Eastern Front, but it hasn't decided the outcome of the war.I am free to discuss my statement ;)

Iron Yeoman
01-26-2011, 11:59 AM
Someone else from Wien! Obviously someone is spreading the world about ww2incolor down at Zum Bettel Student!

Kregs
01-28-2011, 01:22 AM
Ahh, Marijan Rejewski and his "bomba". In school in the subject "Cryptography" we learned about him. He named his machine after his favourite ice cream brand if I am not mistaken.

Jerzy Rozycki sometimes claimed that he named the electro-mechanical device after the dessert, but the other three mathematicans--Rejewski, Zygalski and Betlewski-- often refuted his claim. They chose "The Bomb," I'm guessing, because it was simple and easy to remember.


I, however, remember the Bomba ice cream as a child. Jerzy, who dated my sister Iwona when they both attended Poznan University, used to come over to our house with several of his college "chums" to eat our special "Bomba" ice cream dessert. He especially liked my Mama's recipe, which was very simple and easy to make and very tasty; I don't remember what she put in it, maybe some extra corn syrup from the farm and milk from the cows, but her version always made a big sensation in our town. Interestingly, years later, Jerzy would write letters to Iwona, many years after she refused to marry him (a move that would force him to contemplate suicide), about Mama's recipe that tasted better than any "ice cream parlor dessert."

Rising Sun*
01-28-2011, 05:36 AM
Operation Bagration and Overlord(both in 1944) decided the outcome of the war.It was the point where Germans took casualties which they couldn't replace anymore.The finest german divisions were annihilated.
And yes, I believe, that Stalignrad wasn't decisive at all.It was the turning point on the Eastern Front, but it hasn't decided the outcome of the war.I am free to discuss my statement ;)

Alas, the topic is 'most important operation', not the two most important operations.

Which one of your choices was the most important?

Then we'll be free to discuss your statement. ;) :D

Eugen
01-28-2011, 12:02 PM
Not easy to say.Bagration was such a horrifying disaster for the germans, but so was Overlord.
I think the landing in Normandy was slightly more important, because it did bound so many german divisions, so that they couldn't help out in the East.

shaef1944
02-27-2011, 09:21 AM
Sounds too obvious, but I would go with the cross-channel invasion. Not only did it put Allied troops into the major battle arena with Germany ... which had been decided at the highest Allied level was definately the Axis member to be defeated first .... but the ongoing threat of the invasion tied down many German assets, from Norway to the south of France, that otherwise could have been used in the east, possibly with dire results for the USSR.

DVX
03-01-2011, 05:29 PM
In my opinion?
1) Operation Barbarossa. By attacking Russia before England was out of conflict, Hitler lost the war. He feared the double front, and opened it by himself...
2) The operation never done: C3, the invasion of Malta. Rommel was a great tactic but a poor strategist, and Hitler worse. After the fall of Tobruk Malta should and could be conquered.
Without Malta British position in the Mediterranean front could not resist longer... Their opposition (of Rommel and Hitler) at C3, supported instead by Kesserling and Italian High Command, frustrate the last possibility of closing victoriusly a front before the arrival of Americans.

Der Toten Kaiser
07-07-2011, 08:07 PM
Well guys, I have to disagree with most of you. TO ME, Operation Varsity wasn't important because the allies had already win the war; manhattan same reason, to me the most important, mainly DECISIVE operations of the war, were the turning points. In europe, operation Uranus was the most important, because it was the turning point against germany togheter with el alamein. In the pacific, it was the conquer of the solomons & midway, for the same previous reason. But this is from the most decisive point of view. In terms of numbers it was certainly the barbarossa and overlord. these were the largest full scale ground invasion and amphibious invasion, respectively, until today. In terms of dare, maybe the take of fort eben emael

Der Toten Kaiser
07-07-2011, 08:12 PM
I don't think the post-1943 operations were much important, because by that time the war was already won by the allies (by the most Decisive point of view). Operation overlord just made less soviet troops die, and guarantee the western europe didn't became comunist

forager
07-08-2011, 07:23 AM
Establishing the beach head at Normandy went a long way towards "the beginning of the end."

It was downhill all the way for the Germans after that-less than a year-alles kaput!

Hard to name a "most significant."

Der Toten Kaiser
07-09-2011, 12:09 PM
Yeah, but I think after the german defeat at kursk, the tide of the war was totally against the germans, operation overlord just made the war more short, and less casualties to the soviets, but it was very important too, because it deviated A LOT of german resources, and in the and, putting 150,000 germans out of combat!

Alex83
12-27-2011, 01:21 AM
No doubts - Battle for Moscow and Stalingrad. None of any western operations were so much important like most of eastern.

impavidus
12-27-2011, 04:22 AM
Yes but don't forget that Operation Ladbroke, was the first operation by glider, and was really important because was a test for Normandy!!

Alex83
12-27-2011, 06:52 AM
Battle for Moscow and then Stalingrad, not Normandy, were the decisive battles of WWII, and the turning points when the German army was forced to retreat. The West, foreseeing the Cold War, was more then happy to see the Russians fight it out with the Germans from a safe distance. The only reason why D-Day happened when it did is because they realized that the whole European continent would be liberated by the Soviets rendering their role irrelevant.

leccy
12-27-2011, 02:14 PM
Battle for Moscow and then Stalingrad, not Normandy, were the decisive battles of WWII, and the turning points when the German army was forced to retreat. The West, foreseeing the Cold War, was more then happy to see the Russians fight it out with the Germans from a safe distance. The only reason why D-Day happened when it did is because they realized that the whole European continent would be liberated by the Soviets rendering their role irrelevant.

Hardly the reason for D Day. Churchill saw the cold war looming a long time before the US.

The most important operation of WW2 possibly dropping the A Bombs, they may just have helped stop a WW3 in the 50's.

Nickdfresh
12-27-2011, 03:40 PM
Battle for Moscow and then Stalingrad, not Normandy, were the decisive battles of WWII, and the turning points when the German army was forced to retreat.

Moscow and Stalingrad were turning points, but: The German surrender of the Afrikakorp resulted in the loss of almost as many troops and material in the North African Campaign as Stalingrad did..


The West, foreseeing the Cold War, was more then happy to see the Russians fight it out with the Germans from a safe distance. The only reason why D-Day happened when it did is because they realized that the whole European continent would be liberated by the Soviets rendering their role irrelevant.

The U.S. didn't foresee the Cold War, though Churchill did as leccy stated. D-Day was planned long before any foresight and the U.S. Army was forcefully arguing to invade France and setting up a second front in 1942 (see Operation Sledgehammer!), long before U.S. soldiers were battle-worthy or tested and before equipment was available (such as landing craft) as U.S. mass production was still ramping up, largely to assist the Soviets--especially in the event of a general retreat by the Red Army. High level strategic arguments between the British and American high commands overruled an early entry into France as impracticable and as having little bearing in the war in the East as the few divisions available would have been easily contained by a relatively small number of Heer divisions...

Boutte
01-31-2012, 11:38 PM
I think Barbarossa is unquestionably the deciding factor in the outcome of the war. If that's too broad I'd say Stalingrad. I don't think there's any question that had Hitler concentrated all of his resources against the British he would have taken North Africa, forcing the UK to sue for peace. Taking control of the Suez Canal and the oil resources of the Middle East would have been decisive. With Europe in his pocket and no threat from the US the Soviet Union may not have been able to resist.

tonycsmoke
02-07-2012, 02:25 PM
I think whats most important is not what operations, but the many points in the war that critical mistakes were made. At Dunkirk, Germany had British and the French on the ropes. They had them trapped and decided to stop to repair their armor and let the infrantry catch up. The time they stopped plus the weather when they resumed allowed 300,000 troops escape. If they don't stop and cut off the retreat Britian probably has to concede defeat. They would have not had the manpower nor the equipment to continue. That would have allowed Germany to attack Russia with only one front.

Boutte
02-09-2012, 05:05 PM
I think whats most important is not what operations, but the many points in the war that critical mistakes were made. At Dunkirk, Germany had British and the French on the ropes. They had them trapped and decided to stop to repair their armor and let the infrantry catch up. The time they stopped plus the weather when they resumed allowed 300,000 troops escape. If they don't stop and cut off the retreat Britian probably has to concede defeat. They would have not had the manpower nor the equipment to continue. That would have allowed Germany to attack Russia with only one front.

I came to the same conclusion years ago. The winner is the one who screws up the least.

royal744
08-17-2013, 02:49 PM
No doubt neither the Japanese nor the Germans (and not the Americans either) could see it, but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it guaranteed that the Axis would lose the war. Therefore the attack that started the war for the US, was also the first step in its successful conclusion for the whole world. Everything else is rattling pocket change, LOL. I'm happy to defend this proposition, so have at it.

Rising Sun*
08-18-2013, 07:55 AM
No doubt neither the Japanese nor the Germans (and not the Americans either) could see it, but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it guaranteed that the Axis would lose the war. Therefore the attack that started the war for the US, was also the first step in its successful conclusion for the whole world. Everything else is rattling pocket change, LOL. I'm happy to defend this proposition, so have at it.

As a pivotal point in turning the war eventually against the Axis (combined with Hitler's almost simultaneous and quite unnecessary and idiotic declaration of war on the US which brought the European war into America's areas of operation when, perhaps, that might not have happened otherwise), I agree that it was the single most important operation in WWII from an overall strategic point of view.

However, without a series of frequently unsuccessful operations by the British Commonwealth in various theatres before Pearl Harbor, combined with a series of frequently unsuccessful operations by the Soviets in the previous half year or so and a much longer series of largely unknown and ignored operations in China against the Japanese for nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, that attack could have confined America to a response to Japan rather than entry into what became WWII.

Also, without the Soviets being the only forces consistently fighting the Germans on European land for a couple of years after Pearl Harbor, there could have been nothing to allow a Western Allies invasion of Europe.

My points are simply that:
1. While one can identify critical turning points such as the Battle of Britain or Pearl Harbor or D Day, they are all pieces in a much larger jigsaw picture which, no matter how large the piece is, are merely necessary parts in the whole picture.
2. Trying to identify the most important operation in WWII ranks with other pointless tasks upon which there can never be agreement, such as identifying the best / 5 best / 10 best / 20 best / 50 best / 100 best movies (although "The Outlaw Josey Wales" is clearly the best Western ever made ;) :D ) / albums / songs / books / poems / paintings etc in a given period or ever.

pdf27
08-18-2013, 08:04 AM
I'm actually coming to the conclusion that one of the biggest wrong decisions/turning points was in November 1939 when General Gamelin went to the Dyle rather than Eschaut plan. A large part of the reason for the disaster in France was that the allies were overextended in Belgium and trying to hold a line without the field fortifications they'd been promised by the Belgians. If they'd held to their original plan and kept a strong mobile reserve (as Gamelin's deputy wanted to), Fall Gelb would probably have been a disaster for Germany. If so, the war would probably have been over by 1942.

Rising Sun*
08-18-2013, 08:19 AM
I'm actually coming to the conclusion that one of the biggest wrong decisions/turning points was in November 1939 when General Gamelin went to the Dyle rather than Eschaut plan. A large part of the reason for the disaster in France was that the allies were overextended in Belgium and trying to hold a line without the field fortifications they'd been promised by the Belgians. If they'd held to their original plan and kept a strong mobile reserve (as Gamelin's deputy wanted to), Fall Gelb would probably have been a disaster for Germany. If so, the war would probably have been over by 1942.

On that score, the crushing Soviet defeat of Japan at Khalkhin-Gol in 1939 determined the course of Japan's war as fatally as did Pearl Harbor. Instead of striking into Siberia as its preferred course, Japan chose the southern strike.

The consequences of Khalkhin-Gol were that the Soviets didn't have to fight a war on two fronts on opposite ends of the Soviet land mass, thus releasing forces to face the Germans in the west, and the Japanese were forced to hold substantial forces on that border for the duration of the Pacific War, thus depriving them of forces to fight in China and to strike south, and notably (ignoring the Japanese shipping shortage) to invade Australia to deny America its base there.

Nickdfresh
08-18-2013, 08:34 AM
Or Generals Halder and Brauchitsch standing up to Hitler and his notions of invading France (through Belgium) in the Autumn of 1939. Hitler wanted an attack immediately after the Polish capitulation and even before the bulk of his troops and panzers were withdrawn from the East, as early as October. An offensive was hasty planned that was basically a scaled down version of the Schlieffen Plan and was so uninspiring and awful that many think Halder intentionally threw the planning as he predicted heavy casualties and a long slogging match as a means to slow Hitler down. The Wehrmacht was short of ammunition and its men and aircrews were exhausted --and while the French also were not quite ready-- the battle no doubt would have degenerated into a battle of attrition the Germans could not afford. They also would have successfully managed to bring the full weight of not only the French, but of RAF Fighter Command in Britain with their plans of capturing bases in the low countries to wage an air war against Britain while fighting the French on the ground. It seems a grand recipe for disaster. Perhaps if Hitler had tried to force the issue, the possibility of a coup de tat by the Heer taking place cannot be discounted. The six months of going back and forth led to Fall Gelb as a desperate Halder saw the genius in the muted Manstein plan and developed it along, and of course the Wehrmacht was able to retrain and make good its losses from The Polish Invasion...

Nickdfresh
08-18-2013, 09:07 AM
I'm actually coming to the conclusion that one of the biggest wrong decisions/turning points was in November 1939 when General Gamelin went to the Dyle rather than Eschaut plan. A large part of the reason for the disaster in France was that the allies were overextended in Belgium and trying to hold a line without the field fortifications they'd been promised by the Belgians. If they'd held to their original plan and kept a strong mobile reserve (as Gamelin's deputy wanted to), Fall Gelb would probably have been a disaster for Germany. If so, the war would probably have been over by 1942.

I agree. It should be noted that I think I read the original Dyle Plan was to be little more than a politically expatiate nominal assistance to Belgium. The expectation was only of slowing down the Germans, not stopping them as only ten French infantry divisions were originally earmarked to incur into Belgium --instead of the 30 divisions comprising the best of the French mobile forces. The bulk of the armor was to stay in France back from the front waiting for the Heer to wear itself down.

Even as it was, Fall Gelb was a close run thing benefiting from luck, very good luck in the Germans' case and very bad luck for the French. If the French Armée de l'Air and the RAF had launched serious air strikes over Ardennes in the two weeks it took the Heer to get their 40,000 vehicles through instead of the desperate, belated attempts to severe the bridges over the Meuse afterward, things might well have been different...

Ardee
08-18-2013, 12:30 PM
Especially at the beginning of this thread, a number of posts pointed out the futility of this thread: too much depends on how you define "important," "operation," etc. But I'll just toss out a couple of possible candidates I haven't seen mentioned yet.

The French Invasion of the Saar, 1939: important not because of what it was, but what it wasn't. It was too weak, too half-hearted, at a time when Germany had virtually all its resources in the east, and the German heartland lay vulnerable to good solid kick at the western door. Recall too that the French Army was widely viewed as the best in the world at the time. Yeah, there are issues like French logistics and will to fight, but.... Consequences include not only the non-assault on Germany (or even defeat thereof, or perhaps alienating the German people to the Hitler regime), but also brought the Soviet Union into the invasion of Poland because it was obvious the West was going to nothing (and thereby putting a final nail in Poland's coffin). It also brought portions of the Soviet forces forward of their prepared defenses, and that much closer to the German army that would strike them when the time came.

The Soviet Assault on the Mannerheim Line: incredibly important as it reinforced France's belief in static defenses, and as part of the Winter War in general, contributed to the revamping of the Soviet army after the Purge. Soviet performance in the Winter War contributed to Hitler's assessment of the USSR as a house of cards, just waiting for a good kick. It was also perhaps important for a lesson learned/not learned: the Soviets learned they were not as prepared for winter combat as they thought -- the brutal winter of 39-40 being far worse than average and caused endless mechanical problems. The Germans, anticipating "just" another summer blitz, paid no heed to the implications for their own plans.

The Western aerial campaign against Germany: forcing the recall of Luftwaffe forces from the east, arguably costing Germany her air superiority on the Eastern front and all that implies.

In terms of importance and far-reaching consequences, I would tend to favor early actions, as they set the stage for all that followed. Poland, Dunkirk, and Pearl Harbor have already been mentioned. I would suggest the Battle of Britain deserves consideration as well, not only for its effect on the Luftwaffe (and on Operation Sea Lion, though the chances of success for the latter is open to debate), but also on British morale and will to fight. You could also toss in a variety of "pre-war" actions, like the German re-occupation of the Rhineland. Battles like Stalingrad, Kursk, El Alamein, and others I would describe as being "climaxic" rather than important in and of themselves: they resolved the situations already set up by earlier events. But maybe that's just semantics. As somebody else observed, this can be a fun topic, but it's unlikely to reach a definitive conclusion. ;)

royal744
08-18-2013, 01:02 PM
As a pivotal point in turning the war eventually against the Axis (combined with Hitler's almost simultaneous and quite unnecessary and idiotic declaration of war on the US which brought the European war into America's areas of operation when, perhaps, that might not have happened otherwise), I agree that it was the single most important operation in WWII from an overall strategic point of view.

However, without a series of frequently unsuccessful operations by the British Commonwealth in various theatres before Pearl Harbor, combined with a series of frequently unsuccessful operations by the Soviets in the previous half year or so and a much longer series of largely unknown and ignored operations in China against the Japanese for nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, that attack could have confined America to a response to Japan rather than entry into what became WWII.

Also, without the Soviets being the only forces consistently fighting the Germans on European land for a couple of years after Pearl Harbor, there could have been nothing to allow a Western Allies invasion of Europe.

My points are simply that:
1. While one can identify critical turning points such as the Battle of Britain or Pearl Harbor or D Day, they are all pieces in a much larger jigsaw picture which, no matter how large the piece is, are merely necessary parts in the whole picture.
2. Trying to identify the most important operation in WWII ranks with other pointless tasks upon which there can never be agreement, such as identifying the best / 5 best / 10 best / 20 best / 50 best / 100 best movies (although "The Outlaw Josey Wales" is clearly the best Western ever made ;) :D ) / albums / songs / books / poems / paintings etc in a given period or ever.

All that is true, RS, and there were many critical points during WWII that were/are important. Every ally was important and made its significant contribution, most of all the combined Russian and Anglo-Saxon forces. Nevertheless, without the sheer weight, industrial strength, air and naval power and land manpower of the US, I doubt the war could have been successfully concluded. At some point in 1944, the US Navy alone was larger than all the navies in the world combined. Considering the vastness of the Pacific War, it is remarkable that the US never committed more than 10%-15% of its total wartime resources to the defeat of Japan. The rest went to North Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe. Subtract Lend Lease from the Russians, the supplies, trucks, aircraft, etc. and at best one has an uncertain conclusion.

Firefly
11-02-2013, 04:58 PM
I would go with Op URANUS. It was the first successful Soviet operation in ww2 and from then on the Germans were on the back foot and never really recovered! this led to the frantic and doomed Kursk operation for the Germans. Then ultimately to the end of the war.

Wittmann
11-22-2013, 11:23 PM
I would have to go with Operation Overlord.

Rising Sun*
12-06-2013, 07:30 AM
I would have to go with Operation Overlord.

Compared with the rather larger and longer operations by the Soviets on the Eastern Front, it wasn't the most important operation which led to Germany's defeat. But, as with many other operations, it was a critical part in Germany's defeat. We just know a lot more about it because of the bias of Western news media and subsequent Hollywood versions.

The problem with all "best" or "most important" etc lists is that they usually ignore what went before. Such as sustained bombing raids on Germany for months before D Day designed, among other things, to draw out and destroy German air forces so they couldn't resist the D Day landings.