Stalin (quite understandably) had demanded that the Allies open a Second Front as early as 1942, yet this did not happen till June 1944. Why did it have to wait till so late?

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    Please clarify whether you're asking about a second front, or about an invasion of France?
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 14:34
  • Not an exact duplicate, but this examines some of the political aspects. history.stackexchange.com/questions/12044/…
    – Razie Mah
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 17:59
  • There was a number of fronts during the war. For example, North Africa. Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:23
  • There's a book called Second Front Now by Walter Scott Dunn Jr. The thesis is that a Normandy invasion was possible in 1943 because German defenses were weaker in 1943 than in 1944 and air superiority could have been achieved using short ranged fighters. Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 14:40
  • If you mean why didn't they land in France earlier, it's because Churchill was terrified that it would fail, as Churchill's amphibious adventures had a habit of doing. He knew that if it failed, he and British morale would be finished. Stalin and Roosevelt forced backed him into a corner and he finally agreed.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:08

4 Answers 4


It depends on how you define "Second Front."

The Allies opened a "second front" in North Africa in November, 1942. That was huge because the battle of Stalingrad was going on at the same time. Germany had to divert most of its air transport fleet to reinforcing North Africa, and suffered heavy casualties. When the transports returned to the eastern front, there weren't enough of them to resupply Paulus by air (even though German transports had done the job of supplying surrounded "pockets" near Moscow, in the winter of 1941-42.)

In July, 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily (followed by Italy in September). This diverted some 20 German divisions from the Russian front (almost as many as were lost at Stalingrad), even though they were sorely needed in Russia after the battle of Kursk.

The thrust of your question seems to be, why didn't the Allies open a "second front" in FRANCE earlier than 1944. That is a matter of logistical and other issues. One deterrent was the failure of a "probe" at Dieppe in August, 1942.

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    And don't forget the considerable resources the Luftwaffe was expending on trying to stop the flow of supplies into Murmansk at the time, bombers that could otherwise have been used against the Soviets (or to fly supplies into Stalingrad, an operation that consumed many an He.111 and Ju.88).
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 15:06
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    +1 for Dieppe raid, Allies had good reason to fear from opening the Second Front, a real major failure could easily mean the end of WW2 with Allies defeat. Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 12:31

Uh, because they couldn't? You make it sound like the Allied forces could just waltz into France whenever they wanted. In 1942 the US had nowhere near the resources necessary to mount an invasion of France. Basic problems like where would water and oil come from were completely unsolved. The Germans had air control. That alone prevented any thought of invasion. The allies were only doing night bombing. Why? Because a daytime raid would have been suicidal. If you cannot even bomb Europe safely, you are not going to be able to invade it safely.

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    I for one see tremendous potential merit in your answer. According to Manchester and Reed, The Last Lion - Defender of the Realm, one key requirement was that sufficient landing craft would not be available for an invasion of France until spring 1944. FRD reputedly confided this to Churchill before the Casablanca Conference in Fall 1942. Granted, this was partly a political decision, as landing craft were earmarked for the Pacific second after the Torch landings, then for France. Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 22:32
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    Air superiority. That was why Germany started the Battle of Britain in the first place: Not to bomb England into submission, but to suppress the RAF to the point where air superiority over the channel would allow the Luftwaffe to hold off the Royal Navy while troops crossed the channel (Operation Seelöwe). They couldn't, so they didn't.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 9:30
  • If nothing else, there would seem to be the obvious question of how long does it take to build sufficient landing craft (and all the other material) needed to get a sufficient number of troops across the Channel. and transport them across the Atlantic? Meanwhile using a large part of your industrial capacity to build ships, planes, and so on for the war in the Pacific.
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 17:01
  • The US actually halted landing craft production after TORCH, and diverted what they had in the production line to the Pacific. It was these two decisions in tandem which so infuriated the British and led to the shortage in Europe during 1943. Admiral King (I believe) made the decision on the basis that they already had enough landing craft in the pipeline and the shipbuilding resources could be put to other uses. Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 6:43

All good answers but has anyone thought about the battle of the Atlantic?

You can have all the soldiers you need even at 100/1 but if you can't supply them with food, equipment, ammunition... you get the idea... how far do you think a second front would go.

Britain in 1942 was totally isolated, with very little left except for Roosevelt eventually agreeing to supply the U.K. With what they needed to survive and continue fighting.

There are speculations on when Roosevelt decided, with the rest of the allies, to use Britain as a staging area for an invasion.

You also need to remember that the Americans were at war with Japan and that kept them very busy, especially with their supply lines.

Also worth consider than by 1939, the US army was no better than your local scout group(no offence intended here). It took them a long time to build, train men and organise their army.

The convoys that the American sent were the only source of help for the British.

However, the British won the Battle of Britain, conquering the skies making it safer.

But the u boats did more damaged.

When it was finally safe, Britain was chosen as a staging area. But it took all that time to bring men and equipment over.

There are many sources I use for these statements and it'll be futile to name them all.


The Battle of Britain was the same job as Normandy with the same pitfals. Only the direction is different.

For a succesfull opening a front one need air superiority, exceeding manpower, secure supply lines and crippled defenses on the shore.

Britain was defending themselves, the most of air battles happened above their waters and land - the pilots shot down were rescued or captured by british army, british planes have much more air-time than germans - thy didn't need to cross the chanell, germans did have to.

British infrastructure was healing after the Battle of Britain was won with limitted resources for invasion. The Atlantic was not U-boat free so intensive logistics from US were not possible.

In 1944 the Allied forces were able to secure air superiority over France and Europe, they were able to gather enough resources and manpower on the Chanell shore and still the invasion was not easy at all.

Considering invasion in earlier stages it might have lead to Germany holding their positions and causing critical losses to alied forces. Having opend fronts in the East, West and Italy, Germany was overwhelmed and collapsed. Failing the Normandy would lead in longer war hopefully pushing the Germany through entire Europe towards then-neutral Spain or gathering resources for Normandy 2.

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