What if Crete had held out?

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ljadw
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by ljadw » 07 Jan 2022 07:37

It would take months to transfer RAF squadrons and army units to the Middle East,it would also be an additional burden for the Navy and the Merchant Fleet and, how to supply tens of thousands of men in Crete ?
Every month thousands of men and thousands of tons of supplies left the UK for the ME, for North Africa and for the Far East .
I doubt that it would be possible to transport thousands of men and thousands of tons of supplies to Crete .
About the 8 AF: If I am not wrong, she was not operational in 1942. Besides, I doubt that Washington would agree with the transfer of 8 AF to the Balkans .
And, what would be the utility of Crete for Britain ?The same for the utility of the Balkans .

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Jan 2022 19:55

AnchorSteam wrote:
06 Jan 2022 22:19
ljadw wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:57
Was Hitler convinced by the man who never was ?
Yeah, okay, even as I was typing that I was wondering if I was being too specific, but somebody sure put a lot of stuff into the Balkans that would have been better placed in Italian territory in 1943.
Holt in his 800+ page of the deception operations 'The Decievers'. identifies a large package of deception ops aimed at the Balkans. Those were connected to the ongoing SOE ops & support of partisan ops in the Balkans, and the German concern about keeping mining operations and the Danube river traffic secure.

A side note is the Deception committee & their staff made much use of the Bletchley Park ULTRA information. They trawled through messages originating with OKW and other top HQ for connections to the false information they were planting. They used that to refine the deception plans and cater to German or rather Hitlers fears and try to compound those.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Jan 2022 20:42

ljadw wrote:
07 Jan 2022 07:37

About the 8 AF: If I am not wrong, she was not operational in 1942.
That was originally stood up in the UK February 1942. For that year it was mostly involved in planning, setting up the airbase infrastructure, and conducting small raids into France and Belgium. In January 1944 all the US air forces in the UK were reorganized & there was a considerable shuffling of staff and commanders.

ljadw wrote:
07 Jan 2022 07:37
Besides, I doubt that Washington would agree with the transfer of 8 AF to the Balkans .
And, what would be the utility of Crete for Britain ?The same for the utility of the Balkans .
Quite right. since other US air forces were stood up in the MTO. The earliest was the Halverson Project. In early 1942 a group of B24 bombers were sent to Egypt & with British support were sent of a test raid on Ploesti 11 June 1942. 13 bomber were launched & four were lost, interned in Turkey after they made emergency landings there. Subsequently the HALPRO Group was expanded to the 1st Provisional Bombardment Group with a B17 group added. Then the 376 Heavy Bombardment Group. In 1942 this mix bag flew 450 more sorties vs Axis targets in Lybia and Italian navy bases. These were part of the British operations in the Med.

Col Halversons command was designated the USAMEAF & Bereton assumed command. In November 1942 the HQ US 9th AF was moved from the US to Egypt and replaced USAMEAF. Aircraft continued to flay in from the US, or arrive crated on cargo ships. At the end of 1942 9th AF strength stood at 370 aircraft of all types, based in Egypt & Lybia. In August 1943 the 9th AF was amalgamated with the 12th & 15th AF & select command personnel along with the flag were transferred to England.

On 22 August 1943 the following groups were transferred from the Ninth Air Force to the Twelfth Air Force:

12th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Gerbini, Sicily with B-25s
57th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
79th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
324th Fighter Group at El Haouaria, Tunisia with P-40s and
340th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Comiso, Sicily with B-25s

Twelfth AF was stood up in Algeria 9 November 1942 under Maj Gen Dolittle. Air Grpis fly with the 12th 1942-43 included:

Arrow 12th Bombardment Group
17th Bombardment Group
27th Fighter Group
310th Bombardment Group
319th Bombardment Group
320th Bombardment Group
321st Bombardment Group
324th Fighter Group
340th Bombardment Group
3rd Reconnaissance Group
42d Bombardment Wing
57th Bombardment Wing
57th Fighter Group
64th Troop Carrier Group
79th Fighter Group
86th Fighter Group
87th Fighter Group
87th Fighter Wing
XII Bomber Command
XII Tactical Air Command
XXII Tactical Air Command

The 15th AF stood up 1 November 1943 under Maj General Doolittle. The Fifteenth Air Force drew its operational forces from heavy bombers of the IX Bomber Command, the strategic bomber command of the Ninth Air Force and by a diversion of groups originally intended for the Eighth Air Force.

Note bolded line. This was somewhat controversial within Hap Arnolds staff & elsewhere in the US senior command. A trade off between striking at German mostly from the UK and weakly from the south, or more evenly from two directions.

What all this shows is there was some US air strength in the MTO in 1942 and a fairly strong presence in 1943. It is not necessary to 'base' heavy bombers in Crete. Those based in Africa could be stage through Crete airfields when long range raids in the Balkans were planned. That was a common procedure during the war elsewhere where very long range missions were flown. Fighter groups & perhaps some medium bomber groups would be permanently based on Crete, as well as some reconissane and maritime operations air units.

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Kingfish
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Kingfish » 13 Jan 2022 02:01

AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Jan 2022 05:54
The most difficult thing, I fear, would have been prying offensive aircraft (bombers) away from Harris. The very thing that would have made Crete most valuable would have been the hardest to get, politically.
Valuable in what sense?
Aside from Ploesti what other target of strategic importance would justify basing a bomber force on Crete?
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by ljadw » 13 Jan 2022 11:56

AnchorSteam wrote:
06 Jan 2022 22:19
ljadw wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:57
Was Hitler convinced by the man who never was ?
Yeah, okay, even as I was typing that I was wondering if I was being too specific, but somebody sure put a lot of stuff into the Balkans that would have been better placed in Italian territory in 1943.
The question remains :WHY did the Germans put a lot of stuff in the Balkans that would have been better placed in Italy in 1943 ,followed by the question :would it had made a difference if this stuff had been placed in Italy ?
On the first question one can answer that the Balkans (which is here Greece and Yugoslavia )were vulnerable to the partisans and that a successful allied landing would have bad results for the German relations with Turkey and the imports of chrome from Turkey .
On the second question : I don't know the answer , no one does, but, IMO, it is doubtful that it would have made a difference ,given the allied superiority .

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AnchorSteam
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 15 Jan 2022 05:18

Kingfish wrote:
13 Jan 2022 02:01
AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Jan 2022 05:54
The most difficult thing, I fear, would have been prying offensive aircraft (bombers) away from Harris. The very thing that would have made Crete most valuable would have been the hardest to get, politically.
Valuable in what sense?
Aside from Ploesti what other target of strategic importance would justify basing a bomber force on Crete?
Trade arteries connecting the 3rd Reich with Turkey come to mind, both rail and shipping. I recall that Turkey was under a lot of pressure from the Allies to cut off the Chrome and other strategic materials. Striking at Railways in Bulgaria or ports in Greece would have been a major temptation.
Several Balkan countries have significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, chromite, manganese, magnesite, and bauxite.
Bombing the cities of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia would have severaly shaken the morale' of those minor axis allies.... or that is probably an argument that would have been made at the time.

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AnchorSteam
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 15 Jan 2022 05:24

ljadw wrote:
13 Jan 2022 11:56
AnchorSteam wrote:
06 Jan 2022 22:19
ljadw wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:57
Was Hitler convinced by the man who never was ?
Yeah, okay, even as I was typing that I was wondering if I was being too specific, but somebody sure put a lot of stuff into the Balkans that would have been better placed in Italian territory in 1943.
The question remains :WHY did the Germans put a lot of stuff in the Balkans that would have been better placed in Italy in 1943 ,followed by the question :would it had made a difference if this stuff had been placed in Italy ?
On the first question one can answer that the Balkans (which is here Greece and Yugoslavia )were vulnerable to the partisans and that a successful allied landing would have bad results for the German relations with Turkey and the imports of chrome from Turkey .
On the second question : I don't know the answer , no one does, but, IMO, it is doubtful that it would have made a difference ,given the allied superiority .
Well, even in a small scale, an island-hoping campaign up the Aegean (sort of a miniature version of the Pacific war) could have been interesting, and it would not have taken much to pull it off. The only major German naval unit in the area was the repaired Destroyer Hermes (I think?) and that was not available until 1943.
However, the swift German reaction to the Italian surrender and their counter-attack to British landings during that same year does give one pause....

One thing seems certain; with Crete the UK would not have needed help from Carriers to seal the Aegean off from the rest of the Med.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by EwenS » 15 Jan 2022 13:57

Britain didn’t have carriers “to seal the Aegean off from the rest of the Med” after the Battle for Crete anyway.

Eagle was withdrawn to the Indian Ocean in April 1941. Formidable was bombed and put out of action on 26th May, right at the start of the Crete battle, and had to be sent for repairs in the USA. In mid 1943 she returned to Alexandria for 3 months to cover convoys from Egypt for Operation Husky and took a single swipe at Crete in the process.

The next time carriers deployed operationally to the eastern Med (other than on transit to the Suez Canal and the Far East) was in Sept / Oct 1944 for Operation Outing I & II which involved 7 escort carriers in strikes around the Aegean. This was when the Germans were withdrawing from Greece.

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