COSSAC

Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan and the Genesis of Operation OVERLORD

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Overview

When Frederick Morgan was appointed COSSAC (Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander), in the spring of 1943, there was no approved plan for a cross-Channel attack and no commander. There was not even agreement about when the re-entry into the Continent would occur. The western Allies were in the midst of a great debate about the strategy or strategies to defeat Nazi Germany.

COSSAC’s primary task was to create a plan that would be approved by the inter-allied Combined Chiefs of Staff. To gain that authorization, Morgan had to decide where the attack was to take place, address the need for improvised shelters for the transport ships until a port could be captured; create all the structure necessary for a multi-national force that would liberate countries, not occupy them; and convince his superiors that it could be done with the limited forces they were willing to provide.

COSSAC presents a new interpretation of Morgan’s vital contributions to the development of the OVERLORD plan by exploring his leadership, his unorthodox approach to problem-solving, and his willingness to disregard or modify orders he thought wrong. By constantly taking the initiative to move the discussions forward, Morgan secured the needed political approval of a concept for the Normandy landings that Montgomery and Eisenhower would modify into the D-Day operational plan. 

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“This is an exceptional history of the combined staff that conceived the Normandy invasion and a fitting tribute to its remarkable leader, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan, who provided the direction that kept British and American officers working together. Stephen Kepher’s work provides important insights into the genesis of Operation OVERLORD and the personalities who both cooperated and collided in its planning.” —Peter R. Mansoor, author of The GI Offensive in Europe; Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History, The Ohio State University
“In this incredibly important book, Stephen C. Kepher introduces us to the real brains behind Operation Overlord, Lt. Gen. Fredrick Morgan. As Kepher makes clear, given the work done by Morgan and his COSSAC staff, any of the principal Allied commanders could have commanded the invasion. A long over-due expose of his essential officer.” —Stephen A. Bourque, Professor Emeritus of the School of Advanced Military Studies and author of Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France
“In the literature on the Normandy landing there is little on preliminaries beyond the Roosevelt-Churchill dispute on the desirability of the invasion and the deception of the Germans about its location. Here is a thoroughly researched account of the planning process led by General Morgan that provided the basis for Overlord.” —Gerhard L. Weinberg, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II; William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of History Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“The Normandy invasion of World War II was prepared in such minute detail that it effectively originated the practice—genus—of contingency planning. Stephen Kepher shows us how in his book Cossac. In these days where ‘planning’ is being eclipsed by chaos, the example of Sir Frederick Morgan and his comrades is an important reminder of critical best practices.” —John Prados, author of Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe
“Stephen Kepher has produced a fascinating and important pre-history of the D-Day invasions. This study of General Frederick Morgan, who has been overlooked in previous works, ranges widely over all the early plans for the western Allies to re-enter the European mainland through France. It is the story of growing ambition and interallied cooperation as Morgan oversees the creation of plans that would result in the greatest seaborne invasion in human history. In this well-written and meticulously researched study of Morgan and the early planning for D-Day, Kepher has produced a book that sheds new light on how D-Day came about: a great accomplishment.” —Phillips Payson O’Brien, author of How the War was Won (2015) and The Second Most Powerful Man in the World (2019)
“The COSSAC project involved all the extraordinarily wide-ranging advance planning for the 1944 invasion of Normandy. In charting the sheer complexities of planning major military operations against a totally unpredictable future, this clear-sighted and accessible book admirably underlines the point that 'There is indeed so much more to war than fighting battles.'” —Professor Geoffrey Till, Dudley Knox Chair of Naval History and Strategy, U.S. Naval War College
COSSAC is the most comprehensive and insightful work on the planning for OVERLORD to appear in decades. Kepher traces the planning process that laid the groundwork for success long before Eisenhower and Montgomery arrived on the scene, and rightfully places Brigadier Frederick Morgan, COSSAC, at the centre of the D-Day planning story. Highly recommended.” —Marc Milner, author of Stopping the Panzers: The Untold Story of D-Day
“D-Day is one of the best-known events of World War II; many books have been written about it. Stephen Kepher, however, has succeeded in breaking new ground by describing the role of General Morgan and the Anglo-American COSSAC committee. In 1943 this organization began to think through not only the amphibious landing but also the whole liberation of Europe. The book contains a vivid description of the dedicated band of staff officers involved and the forgotten contribution they made.” —Evan Mawdsley, Professor of International History, University of Glasgow, and general editor of The Cambridge History of the Second World War
“[COSSAC provides] plenty of interesting bits…. [It’s] fully annotated, plus [contains a] bibliography, index, appendices, a few photos, and a couple of maps.” —Stone & Stone
COSSAC offers a significant contribution to our understanding of that most venerated of d-days; it is a requisite read for any and all seeking to comprehend the genesis of operation OVERLORD and the genius of its primary planner, Lt. General Sir Frederick Morgan.” —New Books Network
“Using numerous memoirs and official records, Kepher has written a must-have volume for any student of D-Day to show just how challenging and risky the Normandy landings were and highlight the remarkable story of the small team of planners who overcame significant odds to help plan the liberation of a continent from tyranny.” —New York Journal of Books
“This is a very readable and highly recommended book.” —The Royal United Services Institute of Victoria

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