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Churchill
05-05-2011, 09:44 PM
Everything I've read and watched has said that Stalin was always crying out for a second front. If I remember correctly, debatable, this started in 1941 when the invasion started. In 1942, the invasion of Italy became a reality. Wouldn't this be a second front? I can understand that Stalin wanted a more draining front than Italy, but does it not count, and wouldn't that make Normandy, when it does eventually happen, a third front?

I posed the question to my western civ teacher today and didn't really get a satisfiable answer.

burp
05-06-2011, 02:47 AM
Normandy is exactly the third front. From what i read, also Churchill and Roosevelt want another beach landing in Mediterranean area, at the beginning the want to land in Black Sea, but Stalin don't agree so they choose to land first in North Africa and from this advanced base land in Italy.
From Stalin point of view, Nazi has a less numerous army, so after that Germany move enough soldier away from Eastern front he was sure to be able to win because he can simple flood German lines.

flamethrowerguy
05-06-2011, 03:58 AM
Stalin wanted a second front - but not in this part of Europe since he had some plans for this region himself...

Churchill
05-07-2011, 08:55 AM
Yeah, but why would Stalin want Italy? That place was, and kind of is still, messed up. What could he hope to accomplish there? Or are we talking about him using Italy as a jumping point for Southern France, Austria, of Yugoslavia?

DVX
05-07-2011, 09:25 AM
Yes, Stalin asked a second front and after Operation Husky in july 1943 this second front was opened. Anyway, a second front opened in Italy or in the Balkans (Churchill thought even to a landing in the Balkans, for evident political reasons: reach them before the communism) had some military problems. Italy and Balkans could be more easily defended because they're montainous lands, with a few wide ways. In the case of Balkans, for Germans would be more simple move divisions from eastern front.
Italy was attacked for political reasons as well as strategical reasons: to put out Italy from the war with all the moral consequences of this in the opposite sides.
France was actually the third front, but it was considered the most important for Allies, because it splitted in two far fronts the German Army and freeded the western Europe.

fredl109
05-07-2011, 10:51 AM
It was my dear DVX, a good way to fix some of the German troops were still very numerous in Italy at the time and that could pose a big problem if it had been folded over the East. But on the other side the Germans had greatly strengthened their positions in northern Italy, for they knew that after the defeat of the Axis in North Africa, one of the best entry points for the Allies were just the Italy.
Friendly Fred

Churchill
05-07-2011, 01:06 PM
In the case of Balkans, for Germans would be more simple move divisions from eastern front.

Yeah, but wouldn't that be what Stalin wanted?



Italy was attacked for political reasons as well as strategical reasons: to put out Italy from the war with all the moral consequences of this in the opposite sides.

Was Italy really a force to be reckoned with at that point in the war?

Nickdfresh
05-07-2011, 04:10 PM
The problem with Italy was that it was too easily defended with a minimum number of troops that could even have largely withdrawn to the Alps, instead of waging a dogged fighting withdrawal, and still bottled up the Allies with lessor resources. The Italian Campaign was beset by numbers of problems, not least of which intercedent fighting between the Americans and British (mainly being Churchill and a few factions in the British high command) that wanted to make Italy the main focus and stab up the "soft underbelly" of the Axis; and the Americans (and many British) that knew a cross channel invasion was inevitable. Maps showed that Marshall, Ike, and even Monty were right. Italy was really only a partial second front since it was far less of an immediate threat to Germany than was an invasion of France by fast moving, mechanized forces that were essentially a knife to Germany's jugular: the Ruhr River Vally. That being said, the Italian Campaign did drain German resources and forced them to counter what was still a very real threat while having to defend the French coastline, and just about every other coastline in the West. But I think you'd find the numbers of German divisions in Italy were a drop in the bucket to those on the Eastern Front, and even the ones earmarked to defend France...

But to answer the OP's question, you could still regard North Africa as a "second front" in a way, as the Axis defeat there was in many ways on par with the defeat at Stalingrad in terms of losses and morale. But when we're talking about a true second front, I think one must define it as a Western Front that menaces Germany with a true existential threat to its economic lifelines in the West, forcing Germany to draw off divisions from the East in significant numbers, which of course Overlord finally did. This could never be done in Italy, whose mountainous country could be defended on a shoestring, as the cost of trying to break into Austria would have been tremendous to the Allies as well as slow going that negated their now overwhelming advantages in logistics and transport. Hope that helps...

DVX
05-08-2011, 09:49 AM
Yeah, but wouldn't that be what Stalin wanted?



Was Italy really a force to be reckoned with at that point in the war?

Stalin just wanted a reductions of German pressure on his front, of course Anglo-Americans wanted a second front for their political and military interests, not just because Stalin asked it. The Balkans were too much near, strategically, to the eastern front, too far from Germany's heart, and like Italy, a montainous enviroment with a few big ways of communication definly quite easy defendable. Of course Churchill thought to them for political reasons.
As Fredl 109 and Nick was rightly saying Italy could be defended with not too many troops thanks to the monatianous environment and the few way of communication, but it was anyway an useful way to fix some German division in another front.
At the time of Operation Husky Italy was already defeated in Africa, a strategical sector ever undervaluated by Hitler and his obsessions for easter front. So invasion of Italy, was important not so much for military reasons, as far political and strategical reasons.
I told in fact political and moral conseguences: do you imagine the political and moral effects in a war of the surrender of one of the major Axis powers (Rome Berlin Tokio)? The effects for the home front? In the Allies side and in Axis side; ones feels the war is not far from victory, the others from defeat.
The political reasons about knocking out Italy from the war are absolutely clear in that context, and they join the moral reasons I was saying and the strategical ones that have been told.

Churchill
05-08-2011, 04:10 PM
I can see those, but was Italy a major player after their defeat in Africa? Taking Italy out of the war for moral purposes, at least to me, would have been like taking out Balkan state like Hungary. I don't see places like Hungary or Romania as major players, and I don't see Italy as a major player after Africa. I think that to get that from me they would have to have been able to at least defend their country with their army, and, from what you said, it should have been relatively easy seeing as Italy is a narrow peninsula with mountains, in other words the perfect defensive terrain. Sure Italian moral wasn't very high, but was it ever after Albania and Ethiopia?

DVX
05-08-2011, 04:48 PM
I can see those, but was Italy a major player after their defeat in Africa? Taking Italy out of the war for moral purposes, at least to me, would have been like taking out Balkan state like Hungary. I don't see places like Hungary or Romania as major players, and I don't see Italy as a major player after Africa. I think that to get that from me they would have to have been able to at least defend their country with their army, and, from what you said, it should have been relatively easy seeing as Italy is a narrow peninsula with mountains, in other words the perfect defensive terrain. Sure Italian moral wasn't very high, but was it ever after Albania and Ethiopia?

About the fact Italy was not actually a major threat for Allies after the lost of Africa, of course I agree. But you are forgetting that Italy was before the war a major political power, and one of the 3 countries of the Tripartite Pact (German, Japan and Italy). Don't see everything only under a retrospect point of view of military strenght.
About Italian drop of moral strenght, after the lost of Africa, of course Allies know that: they know that in 1939-40 Italy didn't want the war but was forced, being completetely unprepared, for several political reasons, to bet her destiny in the conflict. They knew that all contradictions of that time were exploding in the Italian homefront under the defeat's hits.
Also for this reason they launched an air "terroristic" offensive, to accelerate the Italian moral collapse, so for a mix of political, strategic, military and moral reason an ultimate attack against Italy was definly opportune. It would the first brick in the Axis wall.

fredl109
05-08-2011, 05:13 PM
I totally agree with you DVX, many people think that the Allies invaded Italy is because they could not do otherwise, but this is your need and situation analysis is correct, the Italian pact between Germany and more important for Germany than the one signed with the Japanese. The loss of such an ally even though this one is weakened after its defeat in North Africa is far from negligible and the Allied invasion of Italy and far from being accidental, no only on a strategic point, the making Italy will allow the allies to provide bases for aviation ideally placed, but the moral cost increased to Germany is very far from being negligible, the loss of Italy that the Germans find themselves alone, and I personally think that this has greatly influenced the decision Allies.
Friendly Fred

Nickdfresh
05-08-2011, 05:40 PM
Another factor was the Italian dissent, and the ultimate deposition of Mussolini. Many Allied generals, especially the Americans, considered the securing of Sicily along with the near total destruction of Italian sea and air power to be sufficient, and that a weakened Italy would be more of a burden to Germany than one partially controlled (and fed, fueled, etc.) by the Allies. But the virtual pleading and secret dealings with those in the Italian gov't solidified the moral dimension and swung the way of those who thought Italy could hasten victory. In the end, perhaps it was a wash. But the Allies could afford to send manpower and equipment to Italy. Germany under--strain on the Eastern Front, and by a total air war--couldn't...

Ardee
05-09-2011, 02:00 PM
Another point is the psychological effect on Hitler and the demise of the Mussolini regime. Lets not forget where fascism started, nor the roots of the word....

Uyraell
05-10-2011, 08:11 PM
There's yet another point to consider.
Stalin only considered UK & USA as Allies of the moment. As soon as combat in Western Europe ceased, both were again enemies of the USSR, as Stalin viewed it.

Warfare is also an economic activity, and the UK and USA having to fight a war on three disparate fronts (Europe NthWest, and Europe Sth, Pacific and Asia), whilst still having to supply the USSR via Lend-Lease as well as account for the wellbeing and governance and feeding of the civilians populations in the frontline territories were all vast economic drains.

Whilst in effect the USSR was having to fight on a (by comparison) unified front (Ukraine, Baltic States) whilst the UK & USA were fighting on disparate fronts was thus a greater economic drain on UK & USA .

Once the UK and USA economies were sufficiently weakened, neither would be in suitable position to resist the USSR once and if it (Stalin) were to be decided to invade Western Europe following the defeat of Germany and Italy. There are indicators that such was in fact the case: consider that Germany itself once defeated became hostage while the USSR developed it's own Atomic bomb under conditions of extreme urgency between 1945 and 1949. The later Berlin Airlift is also integral evidence of the hostage status of defeated Germany.

Where Italy plays into all of the above is the necessarily economically draining nature of the superbly defensive terrain. It costs per soldier on the ground a hell of a lot more to keep him feed, alive, and maintained in ammunition and medical supplies in terrain such as Italy, than it costs to keep that same soldier similarly supplied in flat open plains such as Poland or the Ukraine, or indeed the Taiga or Steppes.

Thus, Italy was not only a politico-strategic consideration, it was also an economic drain of larger proportion than the actual strategic worth of the terrain itself.

As such, it *is* the "second front" (yet relegated to third, see below) Stalin sought to have, but yet is relatively minor in comparison to the Normandy front, which rightly takes the term "Second Front" by virtue of greater strategic importance to the UK & USA.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Churchill my friend, Uyraell.

fredl109
05-11-2011, 09:27 AM
Uyraell my dear, here is a very good analysis that I agree 100%, it is indeed something that is not introduced into the discussion, except that this is important if we are to understand the consequences of the war and especially the geopolitical aspect thereof. If one considers only the strategic point of the invasion of Italy without it hurting our Italian friend, the invasion itself is not the most important military point of view, Italy is in shambles industry level and she lost a lot of troops in the North African campaign, despite a good defense to the north, in fact it will cause many casualties to the Allies, the Allies could do without its invasion and settle for a blockade by sea and land mass bombardemement as happened in Germany. But forget that Stalin had views especially at the borders with Yugoslavia and as you said in your excellent presentation that will force Anglo American to position themselves on the south flank to counter the attempts of this sector that 'Stalin had.
Regards Fred

flamethrowerguy
05-27-2011, 09:43 AM
Maybe I should stick to the 'photo posting area. Best regards, JR.

No, but you shouldn't use the word SPAM too frequently these days.;)
Seriously, glad you finally decided to participate here as well.

tankgeezer
05-27-2011, 11:27 AM
You'll enjoy it on this side JR, don't be a stranger.

skorzeny57
05-27-2011, 02:42 PM
An honest welcome to this side, JR. ;) :)

fredl109
05-28-2011, 03:53 AM
Welcome to JR this post, all your comment about this are welcome and will certainly help a better understanding of this era.
Regards Fred

Nickdfresh
05-28-2011, 05:59 AM
Not so much a comment on the Italian Front, as on the "Second Front" issue. Up to June, 1944, Soviet soldiers commonly used the term "Second Front" to refer to ... SPAM luncheon meat, the lend-lease stomach-filler upon which many of the Comrades marched. I do suspect that, while it has no geographical element, SPAM, Studebaker trucks and Valentine tanks formed a sort of "Second Front" that was, perhaps, more important to the Soviets than North Africa or even Italy. My first post In Here. I am in awe as to the level of expertise in This Corner. Maybe I should stick to the 'photo posting area. Best regards, JR.

JR, it's very good to see you in these parts. I think I've heard that the Red Army boys often referred to Spam as "Roosevelt Sausage" IIRC. LOL I just picked up a couple of cans of Spam (spur of the moment impulse buy, on sale!). Spam is sort of God awful when you first open it, smelling like dog food. But it keeps forever and is a good iron ration in a pinch, and not bad with eggs either...

Regards

Byron
07-10-2011, 08:51 PM
My understanding is that, when Stalin was screaming for a second front, he wanted an invasion of Northern Europe (France), not Italy. He didn't see the significance of invading Italy, which was pretty much defeated after NA and he, like Hitler, considered NA a sideshow not a real front.

Stalin wanted the Allies to invade France; it was Churchill who advocated attacking the "soft underbelly" of Europe--for political reasons. He saw it as a way to get to the Balkans and Eastern Europe before the Russians and he understood (as did the US) that the Allies were not yet ready to invade France. They had to do something and, pretty much, that left Italy (the US did not at all like the Balkan option).

However, the invasion of Italy actually allowed the Germans to strip troops from France and send them to the East (as well as the new Italian front) since they knew the Allies could not invade elsewhere again that year.

DVX
09-29-2011, 08:50 AM
Another factor was the Italian dissent, and the ultimate deposition of Mussolini. Many Allied generals, especially the Americans, considered the securing of Sicily along with the near total destruction of Italian sea and air power to be sufficient, and that a weakened Italy would be more of a burden to Germany than one partially controlled (and fed, fueled, etc.) by the Allies. But the virtual pleading and secret dealings with those in the Italian gov't solidified the moral dimension and swung the way of those who thought Italy could hasten victory. In the end, perhaps it was a wash. But the Allies could afford to send manpower and equipment to Italy. Germany under--strain on the Eastern Front, and by a total air war--couldn't...

That's absolutely true. The Americans would had avoided the invasion of Italy, it was firstly a British interest, because of the traditional interests of the British Empire in the Mediterranean Sea: it was an unexcusable mistake of Hitler to leave this structural strategical sector to the weak Italy almost alone.
Also the decision to invade Sicily, and not Sardinia (that would had guaranteed the same strategical advantages with perhaps less risks or efforts), was taken for political reasons: the ancient links with Britain (for example Nelson was duke of Bronte), and the secret links with the mafia (by US) and the new sparatist Sicilian party (almost created by GB and linked itself with the mafia).
Another point is, as you rightly were saying, that the conctacts between Allies and the Italian monarchy, and those elements of High command that were tired of the war (like the most of population) had started already in the summer of 1942, and continued stronger from the late of 1942. But this fact, paradoxically, caught the Allies attack.
In fact, the Americans would have overlooked the Mediterranean if the Britons had not been imposed it, with evident reasons, apart their interests.
The U.S. wanted to land directly in France in 1943, and although the German army of 1943 was stronger than that of 1944, and the U.S. army of 1943 would be less experienced than that which landed in 1944, perhaps the U.S. original strategy would had accellrated the completion of war, saving the Balkans and eastern Europe wrom what followed.
But because Britain had specific interests in the Mediterranean, and above all important sectors of the Italian armed forces and the monarchy itself were trying to negotiate a separate peace or armistice and to overthrow the fascist regime, suggesting that Italian morale had collapsed (more in the high pews that in the troops at the front), land in Italy was a necessary operation, because it gave the assurance, and not the possibility, that Italy came out of the war. With all the advantages of moral, psychology and propaganda of the case, and not least the material benefits, such as the fact that the melted Italian divisions in France, Balkans and Aegean would have forced the Germans to drain enormous resources to replace them.
In reality, generally, the Italian troops fought quite well in Sicily, but the High command was thinking to push down Mussolini rather than to stop the invader. To left many divisions in France and Balkans when the Fatherland was going to be invaded, to left the armored division M of Black Shirts (that asked to reach the front, and which was a politica fear for the plotters) far from the frontline, the sudden surrender of two important naval bases, and lack of intervention by the fleet, are all elements that clearly indicate a sort of agreement between the Italian Monarchy and High command with the Allies (that, "strangely", stopped the bombings over the Italian fleet in june...).
Well, perhaps if the Italian leadership had proven resolute to resist, the Allies would not have considered lucrative to land in Italy, and had landed in France a year earlier, so perhaps shortening the war, saving the East Europe, with the conseguence for Italy, too, to reach a surrender much less phisically and morally painful.

leccy
09-29-2011, 12:13 PM
The US promised the USSR it would launch a cross channel invasion in 1943 (promised it in 1942) but after its experience in Tunisia it found it had some severe shortcomings that needed to be overcome.
The Dieppe raid showed how hard it would be to take a port on the French coast. Southern France was too far for allied airpower so that left Sicily as the only realistic option (with the benefit of possibly forcing the Italians to give up). It also brought US airpower closer to targets in Germany and Romania.
Stalin also agreed that a delay in Cross Channel attack was preferable (although he was expecting several months earlier in 1944) to having the landings fail.

Rising Sun*
09-30-2011, 07:55 AM
it was Churchill who advocated attacking the "soft underbelly" of Europe

I think this is one of those phrases which never existed in the mouth of the alleged author. My understanding is that Churchill referred only to the underbelly of Europe.

Rising Sun*
09-30-2011, 08:18 AM
That's absolutely true. The Americans would had avoided the invasion of Italy, it was firstly a British interest, because of the traditional interests of the British Empire in the Mediterranean Sea: it was an unexcusable mistake of Hitler to leave this structural strategical sector to the weak Italy almost alone.
Also the decision to invade Sicily, and not Sardinia (that would had guaranteed the same strategical advantages with perhaps less risks or efforts), was taken for political reasons: the ancient links with Britain (for example Nelson was duke of Bronte), and the secret links with the mafia (by US) and the new sparatist Sicilian party (almost created by GB and linked itself with the mafia).
Another point is, as you rightly were saying, that the conctacts between Allies and the Italian monarchy, and those elements of High command that were tired of the war (like the most of population) had started already in the summer of 1942, and continued stronger from the late of 1942. But this fact, paradoxically, caught the Allies attack.
In fact, the Americans would have overlooked the Mediterranean if the Britons had not been imposed it, with evident reasons, apart their interests.
The U.S. wanted to land directly in France in 1943, and although the German army of 1943 was stronger than that of 1944, and the U.S. army of 1943 would be less experienced than that which landed in 1944, perhaps the U.S. original strategy would had accellrated the completion of war, saving the Balkans and eastern Europe wrom what followed.
But because Britain had specific interests in the Mediterranean, and above all important sectors of the Italian armed forces and the monarchy itself were trying to negotiate a separate peace or armistice and to overthrow the fascist regime, suggesting that Italian morale had collapsed (more in the high pews that in the troops at the front), land in Italy was a necessary operation, because it gave the assurance, and not the possibility, that Italy came out of the war. With all the advantages of moral, psychology and propaganda of the case, and not least the material benefits, such as the fact that the melted Italian divisions in France, Balkans and Aegean would have forced the Germans to drain enormous resources to replace them.
In reality, generally, the Italian troops fought quite well in Sicily, but the High command was thinking to push down Mussolini rather than to stop the invader. To left many divisions in France and Balkans when the Fatherland was going to be invaded, to left the armored division M of Black Shirts (that asked to reach the front, and which was a politica fear for the plotters) far from the frontline, the sudden surrender of two important naval bases, and lack of intervention by the fleet, are all elements that clearly indicate a sort of agreement between the Italian Monarchy and High command with the Allies (that, "strangely", stopped the bombings over the Italian fleet in june...).
Well, perhaps if the Italian leadership had proven resolute to resist, the Allies would not have considered lucrative to land in Italy, and had landed in France a year earlier, so perhaps shortening the war, saving the East Europe, with the conseguence for Italy, too, to reach a surrender much less phisically and morally painful.

This ignores the reality.

1. America and Britain agreed at Casablanca that Sicily would be the next target.
2. One of the very sound reasons for this was the presence of American forces in North Africa which, at the time, happened to be the only American forces engaged in successful land actions against the Axis.
3. While Stalin and some on the other Allied side pressed for an invasion of Western Europe, the Allies facing Western Europe were not then tactically and, critically, logistically capable of such an invasion.
4. If the Western Allies had landed in France, whether through the Mediterranean or across the English Channel in any year before 1944 they would have
(a) lacked the transport to do it at a level necessary for victory; (b) lacked the quality and number of troops to do it at a level necessary for victory; (c) lacked the logistics for (a) and (b); (d) lacked just about everything else necessary for victory. An invasion attempt at that time would have been no more than Dieppe writ large, and with far more damaging consequences at a morale and other levels for the prospects of a future assault on the Axis powers in Europe and the Nazis in particular.

DVX
10-02-2011, 08:45 AM
This ignores the reality.

1. America and Britain agreed at Casablanca that Sicily would be the next target.


The conctacts with Italian monarchy and the plotter side of the Italian High Command at that time were advanced, so to put out Italy out of war fas not an opportunity but a security. If it had not a security, Americans would had kept their forces for the France invasion.



2. One of the very sound reasons for this was the presence of American forces in North Africa which, at the time, happened to be the only American forces engaged in successful land actions against the Axis.

This presence was firstly a strong will of Churchill, for many political and strategical reasons, rather than of the american command. And in november 1942 the contacts between Italian supporters of a separated peace or armistice were advanced, and this fact was a strong support for the Churchill strategy.



3. While Stalin and some on the other Allied side pressed for an invasion of Western Europe, the Allies facing Western Europe were not then tactically and, critically, logistically capable of such an invasion.
4. If the Western Allies had landed in France, whether through the Mediterranean or across the English Channel in any year before 1944 they would have
(a) lacked the transport to do it at a level necessary for victory; (b) lacked the quality and number of troops to do it at a level necessary for victory; (c) lacked the logistics for (a) and (b); (d) lacked just about everything else necessary for victory. An invasion attempt at that time would have been no more than Dieppe writ large, and with far more damaging consequences at a morale and other levels for the prospects of a future assault on the Axis powers in Europe and the Nazis in particular.

That's true, but the Allies hoped until the last minute to be able to start the Landing before 1944; to spread troops and resources without the security of a result would be unaccepatable, so if they used this force was because they have the security of the result. In the meantime, Stalin thought the Allies were deceiving him, promising and delaying continously the landing.
For example, the operation Avalanche, the landing on Salerno, was decided in a few time and acted with so few troops that was almost ending with a disaster. But Italy was out of war (the Armistice was signed in secret the september 3d, the landing started the 8th with the official announcement of the Armistice) and the confusion conseguenting in the Germans permitted the move (even if the Germans shew less confusion than guessed).
In Sicily the Italian navy (the most monarchic armed force) had already guaranteed to the Allies her secret and passive support, with the unjustified surrender of Pantelleria and Augusta, and the stop of the fleet (and in exchange the Allies "strangely" stopped their bombings over her harbors).
The Allies command knew well, from almost one year, that Italian moral was collapsing and important political forces (up to the king) wanted get Italy out of war and overthrew the fascism. This ultimate element imposed the landing in Sicily and later in Salerno, this last even with dangerously insufficient forces because the political situation (now overt) of the Italian surrender.
A fortiori to waste resources needed for the landing not yet possible in France could not be justified unless the certainty, I repeat, the certainty, of a political and strategical success justified the move.
And this certainty came from the secret contacts with the Italian monarchy.
So only hazzard in my argument was when I said, but using the conditional, that a landing in France in 1943 could had shortened the war.
If this one was impossible, a fortiori would be a bad decision to disperse forces in Italy, unless the certainty, and not a mere optimism, of a full succesful attack.

leccy
10-02-2011, 02:33 PM
DVX
So only hazzard in my argument was when I said, but using the conditional, that a landing in France in 1943 could had shortened the war.
If this one was impossible, a fortiori would be a bad decision to disperse forces in Italy, unless the certainty, and not a mere optimism, of a full succesful attack.

And it still completely ignores the pure logistics of the fact that the allies were incapable of landing in France with any chance of success in 1943. It was not till 1944 that equipment, supplies, manpower, airpower, shipping were available.
Some units US and British were still being equipped with kit in the weeks before D Day (79 Armd Div got some of its tanks a few days before sailing).

royal744
10-06-2011, 04:08 PM
Interesting discussion. Invasion of Italy through Sicily must have seemed logical in view of the fact that many German troops had escaped from Tunisia to Sicily following the collapse of North Africa. The Americans were still in a learning mode. They had gained valuable experience in North Africa against the Germans but their experience was quite incomplete. Invasion of the Italian mainland must also have seemed like a logical next step, especially after the Italian collapse but the Germans showed both the Americans, British and other allies just how well they could fight a long delaying action in mountainous terrain. To the critics of both the Americans and British in fighting this campaign it seems logical to ask just how many German divisions were diverted to Italy that could have been used profitably elsewhere by the Germans. To be sure the Italian campaign was filled with many botches and some folks like General Clark who let his ego get in the way of logic. Still, the Germans used a lot of armor and good troops in Italy and these troops were NOT in Russia and NOT in France. The allies, unlike the Germans, had the resources to fight wars on many fronts all around the world, and in fact launched Overlord on the same day that Rome was being occupied.
In spite of American eagerness to get "on the ground" in France in 1943, I wholeheartedly agree that this would probably have ended in disaster due to 1) American inexperience, 2) lack of sufficient materiel available and 3) greater German resources on the landing grounds. It's all speculation, of course, but my gut tells me this is right.

leccy
10-07-2011, 03:52 AM
One of the main things in the German favour that is pretty much ignored when concerning Divisions being moved from one area to another is that they were operating on shrinking internal lines of communication.

To shift a Division and supply it by rail from Italy to France, Eastern Front, Balkans etc was much easier and quicker than it was for the Western Allies to move their troops invariably by sea, especially with the shrinking German occupied areas.

The Germans became very adept at moving units from one front to another in a fire brigade role as and when required, to stabilize a position then move them somewhere else.

People often say that Italy was a waste of time as it did not draw any German Divisions to that theatre, at times it did and many of those divisions that fought in Italy were the fully manned and the better units the Germans had.
Couple this with the so called peripheral operations, Balkans (supplying the resistance kept them fighting and tying down Axis Divisions for little cost in manpower), Norway (a few commando raids tied down 380,000 German Troops for again very little manpower costs), North Africa and Tunisia (tied down large numbers of Axis troops, supplys and materiel production, ultimately costing over 500,000 Axis troops including some of the most mobile German and Italian units).

fredl109
12-30-2011, 05:15 AM
Hello to all, I agree with you Leccy, has what a lot of people think contrarily, the defense of Italy by the German was a tactical decision of the high German command. Indeed the one here authorized to constitute a point of fixing of the troops allied, delaying the landing in France and allowing them to strengthen their defenses.
Fred regards

Frankly Dude Really
06-12-2015, 05:36 AM
As to the original question/poster:

It is the emphasize that is different:
Stalin wanted a second FRONT in the order of magnitude of what the russians had to bear most of the time.
The deployment in Italy was not a FRONT as such, but more of a puny little skirmish such as a "Battle of Nikolayevka"...in the eyes of the misinformed Stalin(ists).

That 's how you have to see it. And that is why there are no records of Churchill mentioning this to Stalin "Dear Stalin, I am obliged to point out to you, that you seem to have been uninformed about the developments of a second front on the Italian fascist boot".
Which is kind of strange, because you'd expect Churchill to have the balls to mention it to Stalin (knowing that Stalin could never be "so insulted" as to make another separate peace with Hitler...).
And the west (by Enigma cracking) and east allies (Spy informers) would have been able to confirm that indeed many SS troops were whisked off from Kursk to support the Italian defence.
So, what more could STalin want ? ..and that's exactly it : A LOT MORE.



Edit:
come to think of (conspirational whisper) maybe the US boys at Omaha beach were intended somewhat to get sacrificed (Bombers "forgot" to prebomb the beach, Overshoots or too little bombardment from battleships, misdirected landing from landing craft, the stupid attack spot too far away from Utah and Gold beach, and an impossible cliff wall...how stupid as a planner can you be to select this location !?) otherwise brother Stalin might think it was a complete walkover (as Utah and GJS effectively were) , feeding the thought and proof that the west allies had waited too long and suffered too little.

Rising Sun*
06-12-2015, 08:35 AM
come to think of (conspirational whisper) maybe the US boys at Omaha beach were intended somewhat to get sacrificed (Bombers "forgot" to prebomb the beach

Why would an amphibious invader pre-bomb the 300 yards of firm sand on the beach its troops had to cross?


The beach slopes very gently below highwater mark. With a tidal range of 18 feet expected at the period of the assault, low tide would expose a stretch of firm sand averaging about 300 yards in distance from lowwater mark to high. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-A-Omaha/USA-A-Omaha-2.html

Bombing will only produce craters and raised soft sand around them, thus slowing the troops crossing the beach and exposing them longer to the defenders' fire by forcing them to work around craters and being slowed by the soft sand around them.

The craters would provide no cover to the invaders as the beach was swept by fire from the enemy's elevated positions.

Or are you misrepresenting the failure to bomb caused by weather conditions aborting missions, which had nothing to do with 'forgetting' to bomb the defences behind the beach?


Overshoots or too little bombardment from battleships, misdirected landing from landing craft,

Those present and those evaluating this aspect had a different, and one imagines rather better informed, view to yours.


It is regrettable that in the preparation for this operation as probably in most others, the gunfire support ships and craft which ultimately participated could not be present in the early stages of training of the Landing Force. This would have helped to avoid the birth of what is believed to be unsound doctrine that sprang from a lack of assurance that Naval support in sufficient strength would be furnished.

Naval Gunfire in the Operation. H-hour for the operation was based on a variety of factors, and changed with the date of D day. In any case it allowed for at least fifty minutes of daylight prior to the landing. Airspot was furnished beginning forty minutes before sunrise. Based on these limiting factors, and on the amount of fire power available, it was planned to put down neutralizing fire on beach defenses from H minus 40 minutes to about H-hour and to lift fire to targets inland for twenty minutes thereafter. TEXAS was assigned the task of knocking out the strong (6 155mm guns) battery believed to be on POINTE du HOE. ARKANSAS, GLASGOW, GEORGES LEYGUES and eleven destroyers were assigned targets on, behind and on the flanks of the beaches. MONTCAIM was given the task of

-- 2-4 --
neutralizing PORT en BESSIN initially. Fire was to be continued on the flanks of the assault beaches for varying periods based on the time it was expected that the troops would reach phase lines. Destroyers were ordered to close the beaches as near as possible to deliver direct aim fire on pillboxes and beach defenses. All fire was delivered on schedule. Immediately preceding the assault LCT(R)s were scheduled to fire full HE rocket salvos at strong points on the cliffs immediately behind the beaches. LCGs and LCS(S)s were assigned targets commensurate with their fire power.

From an examination of the beach defenses, and from the action of the defenders, it appears that the German defenses except obstructions were directed entirely against troops on or near the beaches and not against shipping or against boats until they were very close to the beaches. Casemated guns, pillboxes and machine guns were almost all sited to fire up and down the beach instead of out to sea. In many cases they were constructed so that they were invisible from seaward. All were difficult to detect. As a result, even though photographic reconnaissance was very thorough and usually correct, ships were unable to pick out all the positions in the areas assigned them. Further, the time available for prelanding bombardment was not sufficient for the destruction of beach targets. German technique permitted the attacking units which got past the mines and underwater obstacles to get on the beach and then endeavored to wipe them out by the fire of automatic weapons and light artillery.

The assault sections of both the 116th and 16th regiments were held up on the beaches by enemy mortar, light artillery, automatic weapon and small arms fire. This fire was being delivered from strong points located at the top of the cliffs and bluffs overlooking the beaches and from mortars a little further inland. Although Shore Fire Control Parties were landed at H+30 minutes they were in many cases unable to set up their equipment because of casualties and enemy fire.

At this juncture the destroyers CARMICK, DOYLE, MCCOOK, THOMPSON, FRANKFORD, HARDING, EMMONS, and BALDWIN and the three British Hunts MELBREAK, TALYBONT and TANATSIDE closed the beach and took under fire many of the enemy positions. Their fire was directed in part from the ships and in part from Shore Fire Control Parties which managed to set up communications. Too much credit cannot be given the destroyers which participated in this bombardment. Lacking complete knowledge of their own troops positions, and hard pressed to pick out enemy positions, they closed in some cases to within 800 yards of the beach. Position after position was taken under direct fire. It is certain that they destroyed many of the enemy positions and it is probable that without their assistance the casualties on the beach would have been considerably higher. Heavier ships joined in the fire but for the most part fired with airspot at targets designated

-- 2-5 --
by SFCPs or planes. Spotting aircraft were kept busy searching for enemy guns inland from the beaches. Aided by the concentration of fire the 16th Infantry and somewhat later the 116th Infantry attacked and moved off the beaches.

The Germans had an elaborate system of tunnels which it was not practicable to clear out at this time even had its full extent and nature been realized. Observers in these tunnels were able to spot for field artillery in the rear of the beaches with devastating accuracy. The Germans continued to hold their fire until LCTs and LCI(L)s hit the beach and then opened up. Evidently their guns were registered on the beaches; in any event their fire was very successful. In addition to 88 mm and 75 mm fire the Germans used 200 lb. oil filled incendiary rockets. At least one LCT was hit by one of these rockets just as unloading was commenced. The craft was totally destroyed. This artillery and mortar fire was very difficult to stop, and continued with decreasing intensity throughout the afternoon of D+1 day. Fortunately in the later stages it was mostly directed against the block ships and against the beach area in general rather than against specific LCTs and vehicles on the beaches.

By 1300 on D day (H plus 6 hours 30 minutes) the situation had improved considerably and the Shore Fire Control Parties began to function in their normal manner. From this time until D plus 4, when the forward line reached the FOREST OF CERISY and passed out of the range of all ships of Force "0", effective call fire was delivered by all fire support ships as the need arose. On D+1, HAWKINS and ENTERPRISE of Force "L'" reported to the Bombardment Group Commander. These ships rendered valuable assistance. They were released to Force "U" that evening. On D+2 BELLONA was requested and assigned from the Control Force. As their ammunition allowance (75%) was expended the original fire support destroyers were replaced by destroyers from the screen. Replacement destroyers were BARTON, ELLYSON, O'BRIEN, MURPHY and PLUNKETT.

Brief reference may be made to the operation against POINTE du HOE. Photographic reconnaissance indicated the presence of six casemated guns. On that premise, the position was subjected to severe air bombing both preceding and during the operation proper. Also TEXAS delivered some 250 rounds of 14 inch fire on it. When the Rangers succeeded in scaling the cliff, however, they found the casemates empty. It later developed that four of the guns had been moved and emplaced in a hedge lane about a mile south. This new position was bombarded and knocked out by TEXAS using airspot during the morning of D day. Meanwhile, the Rangers found themselves in a precarious position and were maintained only by their own efforts and the untiring assistance of SATTERLEE, and later THOMPSON, HARDING and BARTON.

-- 2-6 --
In General. It is believed that the time available for prelanding bombardment was not sufficient. German defensive positions were well camouflaged and strong. It is considered that these positions should be destroyed by slow aimed fire from close range, prior to the landing. Something more than temporary neutralization is required when troops face beach mines, wire, anti-tank ditches and similar obstacles after landing. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/rep/Normandy/Cominch/Neptune2.html



the stupid attack spot too far away from Utah and Gold beach, and an impossible cliff wall...how stupid as a planner can you be to select this location !?)

Look at the map and see if you can work out why Omaha was a necessary part of the frontal assault on Fortress Europe.

7469



otherwise brother Stalin might think it was a complete walkover (as Utah and GJS effectively were) , feeding the thought and proof that the west allies had waited too long and suffered too little.

No comment.

Frankly Dude Really
11-23-2015, 06:50 AM
Pointe du hoc...iso Omaha Beach. Sorry. That is what I meant. That is where the cliffs where, there was no or bad prebombardment (by planes.. of the day before...the other craters where from many days /weeks before..or later that DDay and +1) , no proper navy bombardment support (after the initial area bombardment of some 30 minutes it was left unattended..except for one clever dutch destroyer firing a few supporting shots in disbelief seeing the rangers struggle), the landing craft were at a wrong location and turned to the better location just few 100 yards before the coast sailing parallel to it.. (omg)
The only reason given for this difficult attack location was the fear of some german artillery that ,may be, could reach Utah and further Omaha beaches.
Well, why not have paratroopers drop there ??..
And for the 6 artillery pieces at P dHoc there are 100 others scattered elsewhere behind the frontline being directed by spotters at the frontline doing the same or more harm, and of those no-one of the allied planners
were worried ?

But in the end the german guns at PdHoc were fakes(or disfunctional or obsolete) except for a handfull which were pulled and hidden further inland.
..some intel.


So, of course thanks to the french partisans and air bombardment of infrastructure , and the few flanks (flanks! = not BEHIND the center front) covered by paratrooper landings the germans were not able to send in fast and strong reinforcements (also thanks to a sleeping beauty Hitler)...but reading the accounts of the first landings on Utah, Gold Juno Sword and parts of Omaha , you must agree in terms of facing the worst odds battlefronts in russia and on japanese islands; Normandy beaches were a walkover ..

Logistically , the invasion operation as such, was big..but in terms of how many men confronted eachother at the distance of a rifle range = little.(compared to bloody carnages in russia and in pacific).
Everywhere the allied soldiers were at the roads behind the beachwall within few hours. Often within 30 minutes.

Bayeux had no paratroopers coverage. Bayeux had no railroad junction (Caen and St Lo already bombed = sufficient)...yet there was no major influx of german reinforcements from there to the beaches. Why is that ?
answer; because there was no (substantial) reserve !

And that is why I make the "conspiracy" suggestion that maybe the allied invasion would be embarrassing in the face of Stalin and the west public if it were TOO successful, and hence the allied command throw in an impossible mission Pointe Du Hoc to show the world "SEE? it was THAT hard/difficult/tough. But we did it. and this could not be done in 1943".

Frankly Dude Really
11-23-2015, 07:28 AM
Why would an amphibious invader pre-bomb the 300 yards of firm sand on the beach its troops had to cross?


Bombing will only produce craters and raised soft sand around them, thus slowing the troops crossing the beach and exposing them longer to the defenders' fire by forcing them to work around craters and being slowed by the soft sand around them.

The craters would provide no cover to the invaders as the beach was swept by fire from the enemy's elevated positions.



I 'd take, no , every infantry man would take a crater filled beach , any time over a flat beach being fired on from an elevation.
Why ?
An infantry man is carrying some 40 kgs of gear...not at all a sprinter. Certainly not one that could make 400 meters in dull flat sand in 30 seconds.
That would take him 3 minutes , if he'd not collapse before of exhaustion. And that is without being fired upon.

No, rather he'd take short sprints, then rest, and sprint again...what better opportunity than to take cover in a crater here or there ?
A fairly standard bomb crater is deeper than a foxhole..so to that again, it proves its worth.

Frankly Dude Really
11-23-2015, 08:01 AM
here a picture of which ship was supposed to cover Point du Hoc..and actually didn't when the rangers climbed the cliffs; the Texas ?
7556
and the dutch one Soemba that did out of common sense

and here an anecdote on how the British Royal marine treated foreign non american navy : (answer: with stupefying contempt...)
(in short ; dutch destroyer needed replacement gun for DDAY or else couldnot participate..and english Captain agreed and thought that a Limerick style request would help..it did raise attention. But it only meant more limericks sending to and fro. Nine limericks !
When finally a dutch admiral felt he had to throw in some weight..with a half limerick.)


De veelvuldige inzet eiste zijn tol. De kanons van de Floresklasse waren drie keer vaker gebruikt dan waar ze voor ontworpen waren. Vooral die van de Soemba waren aan vervanging toe, maar de wachtlijst was lang. Het einde van de successen leek nabij.

Op de Britse Admiraliteit kwam het verzoek binnen dat één van de drie kanons van de Soemba vervangen moest worden. Ondertussen waren de voorbereidingen voor een invasie op het vasteland van West-Europa in volle gang. De drukte op de scheepswerven was enorm en de prioriteit lag bij andere zaken. Toch meende de Britse kapitein ter zee Nicholl dat de Terrible Twins de invasie niet mochten missen; ze zouden van grote waarde zijn voor het Nederlandse moreel.

KTZ Nicholl besloot daarop het verzoek door te sturen naar de scheepswerven in de vorm van een limerick, een soort rijm:

A report has come in from the Soemba
That their salvos go off like a Rhumba
Two guns, they sound fine
But the third five point nine
He am bust and refuse to go boomba

De truc leek te werken en zijn bericht viel op tussen al die standaard verzoeken. De limerick werd beantwoord met limericks. Na negen limericks was er echter nog niets toegezegd. KTZ Jhr. Van Holthe, vice-chef-staf en liaison-officer bij de Admiraliteit kreeg er genoeg van en stuurde een dubbele rijm:

After so much backchat it is but right
That Soemba should join in this fight
Because she loves very much
To be rude too, and in Dutch
So no one can read it, serve you right
Waarom wordt nog niet begonnen
Met verwisselen der kanonnen?
Rijmpjes maken helpt geen zier
Want met pen, inkt en papier
Werd geen oorlog ooit gewonnen

Googletranslate;
Why not started yet
With change of the guns?
Make rhymes helps not a whit
Because with pen, ink and paper
No war was ever won

Het wonder geschiedde en Hr.Ms. Soemba kreeg een nieuw derde kanon. De Terrible Twins konden op de lijst voor D-Day op 5 juni 1944.



also briefly mentioned in ;
https://books.google.nl/books?id=ON07BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA93&dq=soemba++pointe+du+hoc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2_brk3abJAhXMNxQKHaIoBTkQ6AEIJjAB#v=on epage&q=soemba%20%20pointe%20du%20hoc&f=false

Clarkson
01-09-2016, 10:20 PM
Ermmm...

The bombing of Omaha was a study in failure to listen to good advice from those who knew.

And blame for this rests entirely with none other than General Omar "Soldier's soldier" Bradley.

MR Bradley totally ignored the Pacific advisors sent to COSSAC planners, Gen. Pete Corbin. Bradley told him, without qualifications, that Corbin was preaching "Bush league stuff".

I'll drag the MHQ article out on this if anyone is particularly interested. corbin's advice was ignored. Brdley felt that in the "Big Leaugue", his professional advice was not welcome.

significantly, Omaha was the only beach wehere the issue was in any way "in doubt". The airstrike killed more Norman cows than German troops of the 352nd infantry division. they had, by 1100 hrs on D-Day, the situation so well in hand in their view, that reserves went to British beaches instead.

If anything, cratering Omaha beach may well have been useful; at the very least it would have given attacking waves somewhere to shelter. As it was, the bombardment failed in every way possible, the surf was too heavy to use the only British amphibious toys that Bradley also arrogantly waived aside, and nearly every one of the DD tanks that set forth to land sank.

Listening to Pete Corbin's realistic objections about lack of numbers in bombarding ships, their target selection, and the role of the Air force in the pre-invasion bombardment, cost a lot of lives, saved only by German reserves stupidly sent elsewhere, when Omaha could, concievably, have been trounced at the waterline.

Corbin had noted well that the Marine corps version of support from fighter bombers and medium attack planes usually did very little in the way of it's stated tasks in the Pacific. noting this to Bradley, Bradley swept such considerations aside as well.

all in all, it was an arrogant performance from a General whose name even his serving soldiers were mostly unaware of. On the other hand, Third Army units knew exactly who their Army commander was right through the conflict, from their initial role as the 'bait' (then designated as FUSAG..Frst US Army Group), to their transfer to normandy and activation as the Third Army, for the breakout into open country during Operation "Cobra".

Omar Bradley had the wonderful distinction of having his chief rival, Patton, die in a vehicle collision whilst still in Germany.

no-one was 'mouthy' enough after the war to check ?Bradley's claims of having won the ground war virtually on his own, with hodges, Patton, Dempsey, montgomery, Crerar and others as mere 'supporting elements".