With America in the war it was widely expected that a ‘Second Front’ would be launched somewhere in Europe to help take the pressure off the Russians. There were many calls for such action on the Allied side, it was only as planning exercises developed that it was realised what a difficult undertaking this would be. For the time being the U-Boat threat alone meant that the necessary build up of troops in the UK was impossible.
Yet from this time on a new uncertainty about where the Allies might strike existed. Anywhere along the coast stretching from Norway down to Spain was now considered vulnerable. Following the Vaasgo Raid Hitler personally believed that Norway was a likely location. He was holding back U-Boats in the North Sea that might have added to the devastation currently unfolding on the American East coast. The more recent Bruneval Raid had added to the type of operations that the Allies might threaten. He now began to augment defences in the west, the building of the Atlantic Wall would begin soon:
The coastline of Europe will, in the coming months, be exposed to the danger of an enemy landing in force.
The time and place of the landing operations will not be dictated to the enemy by operational considerations alone. Failure in other theatres of war, obligations to allies, and political considerations may persuade him to take decisions which appear unlikely from a purely military point of view.
Even enemy landings with limited objectives can interfere seriously with our own plans if they result in the enemy gaining any kind of foothold on the coast. They can interrupt our coastal sea traffic, and pin down strong forces of our Army and Airforce, which will therefore have to be withdrawn from areas of crucial importance. It would be particularly dangerous should the enemy succeed in capturing our airfields or in establishing his own in areas which he has occupied.
The many important military and industrial establishments on the coast or in its neighbourhood, some of them equipped with particularly valuable plant, may moreover tempt the enemy to undertake surprise attacks of a local nature.
Particular attention must be paid to English preparations for landings on the open coast, for which they have at their disposal many armoured landing craft, built to carry armoured fighting vehicles and heavy weapons. The possibility of parachute and airborne attacks on a large scale must also be envisaged.
23 March 1942
Fuhrer Directive No. 40