Question: Why did “The Longest Day” have the “cricket” training scene if the allies received no intelligence about the hedgerows in Normandy.
None of the allies understood what a tactical advantage the hedgerows were for the defenders. None of the allies had the equipment or techniques to deal with them in June of 1944. The American landing spots on d-day further to the west were more proximal to some of the densest hedgerows which meant the Americans were beset earliest by the tactical problems the hedgerows represented. However all the allies had the same difficulties when they came in contact with the hedgerows which were pervasive on the entire Cotentin Peninsula. they held up the Allies ( American, British and Canadian) movement inland for nearly 3 months.
The big innovation mostly manufactured in the UK were blades for the front of the tanks, prongs as the British called them. Were not a fore thought, but an after thought. They were invented in Normandy in early July 1944, and permitted the allied tanks to punch through the hedgerows and enabled the tanks to better support offensive operations.
The allies knew about the hedgerows, but they didn't appreciate their tactical importance. When one is riding in a 30-40 ton Sherman tank, one doesn't worry typically about bushes. That is the nature of the intelligence failure which struck all the allies troops in Normandy. British, Canadian, and American.
The hedgerows in Normandy had been used for thousands of years, since Roman times to delineate fields, ownership, channel water, block wind, contain grazing animals etc. Being so ancient, their roots were deep and their branches and foliage were dense. Beyond that the area contained earthen dams which could be used by the defenders to flood fields and deny passage to the attackers. The entire Cotentin Peninsula where the D-Day landings were was dominated by miles of these obstacles. It was surprising to the allies that their tanks initially could not penetrate them without getting lifted and sometimes immobilized. That they were such an obstruction to platoon and company sized units. That they negated numeric superiority in tanks, planes and men and gave a huge advantage to the defenders.
The Germans having had 4 years to investigate, familiarize and prepare these natural defenses used them to great effect to set up lines of fire, conceal their troops, bottle neck the allies path's forward, and generally set up traps. Mean while the allies having just landed they did not have an appreciation for this obstacle. Which is why on Normandy June 6th 1944, they spent nearly three months beginning June 7th, figuring them out and traversing them.
The problem seems rather to have been that American commanders had failed to appreciate the specific problems that fighting in that kind of terrain would entail.
The Hedgerows were a problem for the British, Canadian and American troops. They concealed German troops which had to be dealt with before the allied troops could move inward.
It's true that the more eastern landing zones were not as proximal to the hedgerows as the more western landing zones.
However all the allies when they entered the hedgerows found themselves subject to the same problems. Their tanks could not penetrate the dense hedgerows without getting lifted and caught up; ultimately exposed to prepared German anti tank fire and destroyed. Their platoons and companies were likewise not effective. The hedgerows delayed all the allies not just the Americans
The Germans played the card of usury by prolonging the conflict: unable to resist the allied war machine, their actions delayed the advance of American, British or Canadian troops, without stopping it.
The big innovation which improved the allies ability to deal with the Hedgerows were putting teeth on the fronts of their tanks. The thus equipped American Sherman tanks were called "rhino tanks", the British designation for this innovation was called "prongs tanks". None of the allies had this innovation prior to June 6th. The prongs for operation Cobra which was the operation which broke the allies out of Normandy utilized these devices on the fonts of most of the allied tanks both British and American, Were mostly built in the UK, but not before July of 44 nearly a month after the d-day landings.
The invention of a hedge-breaching device is generally credited to Curtis G. Culin, a sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division's 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. However, military historian Max Hastings notes that Culin was inspired by "a Tennessee hillbilly named Roberts", who during a discussion about how to overcome the bocage, said "Why don't we get some saw teeth and put them on the front of the tank and cut through these hedges?" Rather than joining in the laughter that greeted this remark, Culin recognized the idea's potential. A prototype tusk-like assembly was created by welding steel scrap (from destroyed "Czech hedgehogs") to the front of a tank to create a hedge cutter. The teeth helped prevent the vulnerable underside of the tank from being exposed while it knocked a hole in the hedgerow wall. On 14 July, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley inspected the tank and "watched in awe as a hedgerow exploded ... to make way for the Sherman bursting through". According to Hastings, Culin, "an honest man", attempted to give credit to Roberts, but this was forgotten in the publicity surrounding the invention. Hastings concludes: "[Culin] became a very American kind of national hero".
Around 500 of the assemblies, called the "Culin Rhino device" or "Culin hedgerow cutter" by the Americans, were manufactured. These devices were used to modify nearly three-quarters of the US 2nd Armored Division's M4 Sherman and Stuart tanks and M10 tank destroyers in preparation for Operation Cobra.[a] The British Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) referred to the devices as "Prongs" and produced 24 from ex-German beach defenses, but thereafter Prongs were produced in the United Kingdom. Six hundred Mark I Prongs were delivered by August, to be fitted to the Sherman V. A further 1,000 Mark II Prongs were produced, to be fitted on Shermans and the M10, and 500 Mark III prongs were manufactured for the Cromwell tank. The Churchill tanks were not considered to need the Prong, but some were equipped with them nonetheless
On the contrary. There was a single 'unified' command structure in place for Allied forces in Europe. Brooke wasn't a part of it. He was (to quote Wikipedia) "chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, ... foremost military advisor to Winston Churchill, ... and had the role of co-ordinator of the British military efforts", but when it came to planning for D-Day, he could only advise (and even then, his voice was only one among many). –
Maybe I'm mistaken as I equate "Chief of the Imperial General Staff" to the "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" in the United States. Still he is the top commanding general in charge of US forces. Clearly these officials weren't the guys planning the D-Day invasion. General Marshal the US chief of staff, also not part of the Unified Command structure, relied on Eisenhower to do that.. As I'm guessing General Brooke had his own functionaries and intermediaries.
But that doesn't mean that if General Marshal had concerns he wouldn't have discussed them with Eisenhower and that Eisenhower would have taken them very seriously. Which I'm sure is true of General Brooke too. Likewise Churchill.
If General Brooke had believed the Hedgerows presented an existential threat to the success of the invasion, he would have been one of the few military commanders with even fewer civilian leaders who could have swayed the consensus of the decision makers. He was definitely in a position to direct resources towards that problem if he thought it was important. I agree as an advisor, but as was Marshal, a hugely influential advisor.
Battle of Saint-Lô