1941 Invasion of Sicily and Sardinia what if?




 
--
 
November 12th, 2011  
samneanderthal
 

Topic: 1941 Invasion of Sicily and Sardinia what if?


Mussolini chose the worst possible time to invade Greece. Italy was reinforcing Libya, which was under attack by the British and Mussolini had just licenced 600,000 men to go home for the autumn harvest. There were very few Italian troops, trucks, etc, in Albania. The British captured large quantities of Italian cannon, machineguns, ammunition, etc, in Libya and provided them to the Greeks. The Greeks used these weapons not only to defeat the Italian offensive, but to capture part of Albania.
After the British had defeated the bulk of the Italian forces in Libya, Churchill pulled out most of those troops and sent them to Greece and the Sudan. This allowed the Italians to reinforce Tripoli and caused the British debacle in Greece.

Lets assume that Churchill decides to use his brain and does not send invaluable troops, planes, ships, etc, to suffer heavy losses and waste their time in Greece fighting the Germans. Instead Churchill invades poorly defended Sicily and Sardinia with his powerful navy and airforce. Malta, is only 93 km away from Sicily and Sardinia is close enough to invade by ship from Gibraltar. This prevents the Italians from supplying Tripoli, Pantelleria & Lampedusa (dooming those italian troops) and might induce Mussolini to disengage from Greece in order to recover his large islands.
Sardinia and Sicily in British hands ensure the sealanes to supply Egypt. They also allow Britain to bomb Italy easily, including the naval bases in Naples, Taranto, etc, the railroad centers, airports, factories, etc, Moreover, capturing these islands reduces the resources available to Mussolini (food, minerals, men, etc,) and allows the British to bomb the part of France that is occupied by the Germans, the parts of Germany adjacent to Switzerland and France, etc, The islands can also be used to launch the eventual liberation or invasion of France, Italy, Yugoslavia, etc,
With British planes, troops and ships established in these islands Italy does not stand a chance of recapturing them and the Italian navy would suffer heavy losses trying to supply its troops in Greece by sea.
November 12th, 2011  
lljadw
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by samneanderthal
Mussolini chose the worst possible time to invade Greece. Italy was reinforcing Libya, which was under attack by the British and Mussolini had just licenced 600,000 men to go home for the autumn harvest. There were very few Italian troops, trucks, etc, in Albania. The British captured large quantities of Italian cannon, machineguns, ammunition, etc, in Libya and provided them to the Greeks. The Greeks used these weapons not only to defeat the Italian offensive, but to capture part of Albania.
After the British had defeated the bulk of the Italian forces in Libya, Churchill pulled out most of those troops and sent them to Greece and the Sudan. This allowed the Italians to reinforce Tripoli and caused the British debacle in Greece.

Lets assume that Churchill decides to use his brain and does not send invaluable troops, planes, ships, etc, to suffer heavy losses and waste their time in Greece fighting the Germans. Instead Churchill invades poorly defended Sicily and Sardinia with his powerful navy and airforce. Malta, is only 93 km away from Sicily and Sardinia is close enough to invade by ship from Gibraltar. This prevents the Italians from supplying Tripoli, Pantelleria & Lampedusa (dooming those italian troops) and might induce Mussolini to disengage from Greece in order to recover his large islands.
Sardinia and Sicily in British hands ensure the sealanes to supply Egypt. They also allow Britain to bomb Italy easily, including the naval bases in Naples, Taranto, etc, the railroad centers, airports, factories, etc, Moreover, capturing these islands reduces the resources available to Mussolini (food, minerals, men, etc,) and allows the British to bomb the part of France that is occupied by the Germans, the parts of Germany adjacent to Switzerland and France, etc, The islands can also be used to launch the eventual liberation or invasion of France, Italy, Yugoslavia, etc,
With British planes, troops and ships established in these islands Italy does not stand a chance of recapturing them and the Italian navy would suffer heavy losses trying to supply its troops in Greece by sea.
This "if" is depending from the possibility that the British could capture Tripoli,what they could not :they were exhausted,and the Germans were already in Lybia .
"They also allow Britain to bomb Italy easily" :if Britain had enough bombers available in the ME,and that's not proven,it's even questionable .
November 12th, 2011  
samneanderthal
 
On the contrary, they need not capture Tripoli, Pantelleria nor Lampedusa. Those troops cannot survive, much less fight without without supplies, which would not be getting through with the Brits en Sicily and Sardinia. The British did bomb Italy Flying from aircraft carriers and Malta and in 1943 from Sicily. The allies had to mount a massive invasion in 1943, encompassing a much longer front than in Normandy and lose a lot of planes, tanks, men, etc, invading Sicily, because there were Germans there. In 1940 Sicily was much less defended than Libya and it was a much more important asset, without which Libya was rendered moot.
The British were much better prepared to fight the Italians than the Germans, as proven by the Libya campaign, in which 36,000 Brits captured 130,000 Italians, better equiped and more numerous than the forces in SIcily. So Sicily did not stand a chance agains tthe Brits, whereas the Brits did not stand a chance against Germany and Italy in Greece.
Capturing the two large Islands eliminates the possibility of the axis fighting at all in North Africa, saving the British all the losses against Rommel and defending and supplying Malta.
--
November 12th, 2011  
lljadw
 
The allied invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland (Husky and Avalanche) started from Tripoli:without the possession of Tripoli,Husky and Avalanche were not possible .There was no possibility for the British to capture Tripoli in the beginnning of 1941.Thus,Avalanche and Husky were not possible in 1941.
Your claim,that,after the capture of Sicily/Sardaign in 1941,the British could bombard Italy, also is wrong :in november 1941,Britain had 2 squadrons of medium range bombers in the Mediterranean=some 30 bombers.
November 12th, 2011  
samneanderthal
 
Please read carefully. I said that the British need not capture Tripoli if they invade Sicily and Sardinia.
The allies had to mount a massive operation and lose a lot of men and equipment invading Sicily in 1943, when there were Germans defending it and then used it to bomb Italy. It would have been much cheaper to do it in 1940 when there were few and poorly equipped Italians in Sicily and Sardinia and it would have saved the Brits the losses against Rommel and defending and supplying Malta.

The British had plenty of planes and lost many of them in futile battle in Greece. They did bomb Sicily and Italy from Malta and aircraft carriers and then very heavily bombed Italy from Sicily in 43 and 44.

By the way Tunisia is much closer to Sicily and many of the planes involved in the invasion of Sicily in 1943 took of from it. Lybia was ot essential. But like I said if invading in 1941, all the North African campaign is eliminated after these islands fall.
November 12th, 2011  
lljadw
 
But,in 1940,Britain could NOT use Tunesia(or you had to assume that France would join):a 1940(even 1941) invasion of Sicily had to start from Tripoli,or Alexandria.
And, at the end of 1940,the British were not in Tripoli,the British offensive started only in december,and,in february 1941,the British captured Benghazi ,at ......700 km from Tripoli,and,this was not because of the transfert of British troops to Greece,because,between december and february,no British troops were sent to Greece .
Thus,an attack on Sicily in 1940 was impossible .
November 12th, 2011  
samneanderthal
 
I did not say to use Tunisia in 1941. You mentioned that Sicily was invaded from Tripoli in 1943 and I mentioned that Tunisia was much closer to western Sicily for the planes (as was Malta to eastern Sicily). I said that in 1941 a much smaller operation is required because there are no Germans and the italian army is mostly in Greece and Libya and has little equipment and few men in Sicily, so planes from Malta and the aircraft carriers can support the invasion with the forces that were wasted in Greece, Sudan and Cirenaica. Hurricanes from Gibraltar and Alexandria are transported in carriers to Malta (as they were to Norway, Greece, Singapore, etc,) and bombers can fly from Tobruk to Malta to built up an invasion force and then the carriers can launch planes to Sicily and Sardinia during the invasion.

It makes a lot more sense to attack where the Italians are weak and to capture valuable territory in key locations than to attack very strong German and Italian forces in Greece and strong italian forces in Sudan and Libya, fighting everywhere for almost useless territory.

Many of the most spectacular debacles in WW I & II occurred because both sides often attacked when and where the enemy was strongest, causing terrible losses without any gains at all. This is precisely what Churchill did in Greece in 1941 and bombing Germany in 1943 without escort fighters and what Hitler did in the BoB, Sevastopol, Kursk, the Bulge, etc,