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Thread: Italian Front

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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
    He who asks a question remains ignorant five minutes, who does not ask remains ignorant of his life.

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    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.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    You'll enjoy it on this side JR, don't be a stranger.

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    An honest welcome to this side, JR.
    Kill one man, terrify a thousand

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Welcome to JR this post, all your comment about this are welcome and will certainly help a better understanding of this era.
    Regards Fred
    He who asks a question remains ignorant five minutes, who does not ask remains ignorant of his life.

  6. #21
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    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

  7. #22
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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.

  8. #23
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    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.

  9. #24
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  10. #25
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    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.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVX View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 09-30-2011 at 09:21 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  12. #27
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    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.

  13. #28
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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).
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  14. #29
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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.

  15. #30
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    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).
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

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