Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

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mikeDizzie

Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 11 Jun 2012 09:54

Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

"what if?" Background (Winter 1940-Spring 1941):
1) Fliegerkorps XI (Student) is moved to Sicily, and an airborne invasion of Malta is a success. This operation, conducted in the Dec 1940 - Feb 1941 timeframe, will have the support of Fliegerkorps X (Geissler) already in Sicily. At this time, 7.Flieger Division and LLStR were at full strength, having prepared for Operation Sealion.
2) Operation Felix goes ahead, with the Germans taking Gibraltar and closing the Straits.
3) British land Layforce in Rhodes and capture the Italian garrison.

And now for the questions (assuming the above events have already taken place):
1) Having lost Malta and Gibraltar, will the British still withdraw troops from Libya and land in mainland Greece?
2) Alternatively, will they simply attempt to defend Rhodes, Crete, Lemnos, and Cyrenaica?
3) Will the Germans still launch a full invasion of Greece without a major British landing?
4) If yes to 3, then will the Germans also attempt to take Crete, given that Rhodes is also in British hands?
5) Will there still be a 'Golden Triangle' uprising in Iraq without German support via Rhodes-Damascus-Baghdad?
6) Will there still be an anti-Axis coup d'etat in Yugoslavia in March 1941? Will German possession of Malta and Gibo affect this?

Cheers and hope to hear your opinions!
Mike

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Tim Smith
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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by Tim Smith » 11 Jun 2012 12:34

Answers:

1) Yes. Units sent to Greece are not really suited to retaking Malta as an alternative.
2) See above.
3. Yes. Germany was responding to British air power being used in Greece, rather than to British ground forces.
4. No. German losses on Malta would almost certainly be just as heavy as historical losses on Crete, and Italian losses would also be heavy, operation likely to cost them severe naval losses. So Hitler wouldn't try another major airborne operation, and the Italians would be far too weak to take Crete (or Rhodes) alone.
5. Doubtful, unless German aircraft can reach Iraq by another route - e.g. Germany 'sells' planes to Turkey, Turkey 'sells' them on to Iraq. Or, more plausibly, Germany sells modern aircraft to Turkey, Turkey sells her own obselete crap aircraft to the Iraqis.
6. Yes. Axis possession of Malta and Gibraltar would have no effect on Yugoslavs, they were trapped in the Adriatic regardless.

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LWD
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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by LWD » 11 Jun 2012 13:19

mikeDizzie wrote:Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

"what if?" Background (Winter 1940-Spring 1941):
1) Fliegerkorps XI (Student) is moved to Sicily, and an airborne invasion of Malta is a success. This operation, conducted in the Dec 1940 - Feb 1941 timeframe, will have the support of Fliegerkorps X (Geissler) already in Sicily. At this time, 7.Flieger Division and LLStR were at full strength, having prepared for Operation Sealion.
Why? Il Duce didn't want any German help in the Med/North Africa until what Dec 41 or so? How are the Axis going to put together an invasion of Malta in that time frame? Especially with British domination of the Med? If they do go for Malta they are not going to be able to take Crete and that creats it's own problems.
2) Operation Felix goes ahead, with the Germans taking Gibraltar and closing the Straits.
Why? How?

It's hard to anwer the questions without a reasonable degree of background information. A good what if has a single well described point of departure (POD), this one appears to have many ill or undefined ones. I believe this board also requests that the what if's be "reasonable" yours don't appear to be. There are also several threads discussing some of these already.

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by fredleander » 11 Jun 2012 22:46

mikeDizzie wrote:Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

1) Having lost Malta and Gibraltar, will the British still withdraw troops from Libya and land in mainland Greece?
2) Alternatively, will they simply attempt to defend Rhodes, Crete, Lemnos, and Cyrenaica?
3) Will the Germans still launch a full invasion of Greece without a major British landing?
4) If yes to 3, then will the Germans also attempt to take Crete, given that Rhodes is also in British hands?
5) Will there still be a 'Golden Triangle' uprising in Iraq without German support via Rhodes-Damascus-Baghdad?
6) Will there still be an anti-Axis coup d'etat in Yugoslavia in March 1941? Will German possession of Malta and Gibo affect this?

Cheers and hope to hear your opinions!
Mike
I find your WI quite reasonable. Showalter and Deutsch, in their book "What if: Strategic Alternatives of WWII", look at much the same scenario.

1. No
2. No, they would be busy defending Egypt and harbor their resources.
3. Yes, to help the Italians - as in the OTL.
4. Yes, Crete would also be much weaker defended since no British army forces had gone to Greece to withdraw there.
5. Probably, since Germany would stand forth as an even more probable winner than in the OTL. Turkey would soften up.
6. No. Yes.

Fred
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
https://www.fredleander.com
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by LWD » 11 Jun 2012 23:04

fredleander wrote:
mikeDizzie wrote:Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

1) Having lost Malta and Gibraltar, will the British still withdraw troops from Libya and land in mainland Greece?
2) Alternatively, will they simply attempt to defend Rhodes, Crete, Lemnos, and Cyrenaica?
3) Will the Germans still launch a full invasion of Greece without a major British landing?
4) If yes to 3, then will the Germans also attempt to take Crete, given that Rhodes is also in British hands?
5) Will there still be a 'Golden Triangle' uprising in Iraq without German support via Rhodes-Damascus-Baghdad?
6) Will there still be an anti-Axis coup d'etat in Yugoslavia in March 1941? Will German possession of Malta and Gibo affect this?

Cheers and hope to hear your opinions!
Mike
I find your WI quite reasonable. Showalter and Deutsch, in their book "What if: Strategic Alternatives of WWII", look at much the same scenario.

1. No
Without knowing how or why Gibralter and Malta fell it's almost impossbile to justfy this one way or the other. Indeed it could make the defence of Crete much more important. Loosing both Malta and Gibralter in early 41 also requires some very major changes in historical events in directions that are distinctly improbable.
2. No, they would be busy defending Egypt and harbor their resources.
Defending Crete helps defend Egypt.
3. Yes, to help the Italians - as in the OTL.
If the Italians even become involved there. Some of the other events in this suggest indeed that Italy might have interest eslewhere. This could also impact 2 above.
4. Yes, Crete would also be much weaker defended since no British army forces had gone to Greece to withdraw there.
Or perhaps it's more heavily defeneded as they went directly there giving up Greece as a lost cause.
Simply put there is not enough information to make any sort of well grounded answer to the above questions.

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by fredleander » 11 Jun 2012 23:07

LWD wrote:Why? Il Duce didn't want any German help in the Med/North Africa until what Dec 41 or so? How are the Axis going to put together an invasion of Malta in that time frame? Especially with British domination of the Med? If they do go for Malta they are not going to be able to take Crete and that creats it's own problems.
2) Operation Felix goes ahead, with the Germans taking Gibraltar and closing the Straits.
Why? How?
Mike, has laid down some premises. The question is what happens based on those - not when Mussolini wanted help or of the time-frame in question. That said, and if I remember correctly, Rommel arrived in Africa February 1941. German preparations started late 1940 after the Italians were pushed back from the Egyptian border in Operation Compass. The Afrika Korps was officially established in January 1941.

On the Balkans the German move Southwards started in earnest by the occupation of the Rumanian oilfields in October 1940.
River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
https://www.fredleander.com
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D3 ... rw_dp_labf

mikeDizzie

Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 12 Jun 2012 01:16

Tim Smith wrote:Answers:

1) Yes. Units sent to Greece are not really suited to retaking Malta as an alternative.
Agree that retaking Malta (at least in 1941) would have been unlikely, but with Gibo and Malta in Axis hands, Rommel's army would have posed more of an immediate threat to Egypt. So, I am questioning the likelihood of the Australians and New Zealanders being withdrawn from Libya to go to Greece in March
2) See above.
If the British do not land in mainland Greece, then a Greek peace with the Axis is a certainty, and since Greece was allied with Turkey at this time, the Turks may not have remained neutral.
3. Yes. Germany was responding to British air power being used in Greece, rather than to British ground forces.
Not true. The Germans originally planned to takeover only N.Greece (Thrace) which would have put the British base in Crete (since 11.40) within range of Luftwaffe aircraft. British air power at the time was very light, and only aimed at supporting Greek defense against the Italians in Albania.
4. No. German losses on Malta would almost certainly be just as heavy as historical losses on Crete, and Italian losses would also be heavy, operation likely to cost them severe naval losses. So Hitler wouldn't try another major airborne operation, and the Italians would be far too weak to take Crete (or Rhodes) alone.
Disagree. Malta is much smaller than Crete, and British defense forces were very small at this time. Historically, the airborne drop on the Corinth Canal (Operation Hannibal-4.41) alerted the British to the presence of paratroops in the Aegean, and Luftflotte 4 departed for Russia immediately before Merkur, which left the operation to conducted without airfield and transport experts. German losses would have been a fraction of those suffered historically on Crete. No argument about the Italians
5. Doubtful, unless German aircraft can reach Iraq by another route - e.g. Germany 'sells' planes to Turkey, Turkey 'sells' them on to Iraq. Or, more plausibly, Germany sells modern aircraft to Turkey, Turkey sells her own obselete crap aircraft to the Iraqis.
Agree. Did Turkey ever sell anything to the Iraqis?
6. Yes. Axis possession of Malta and Gibraltar would have no effect on Yugoslavs, they were trapped in the Adriatic regardless.
Intersting. However, there were pro-Axis elements in the Yugoslav government a this time, and Axis control over the western and central Med may have given these more impetus.

Cheers,
Mike

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by Kilgore Trout » 12 Jun 2012 02:01

By my understanding, the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia to try to induce co-operation in the rebel government and ensure a protected flank for "Barbarossa." They only continued into Greece to bail out the cock-up the Italian army had made of Mussolini's October 1940 invasion, which was done without prior notice or consultation with his alleged "ally." They would have been happy to not have to deal with either country. Indeed, Yugoslavia remained a thorn in the Nazi side to the end of their days.
The opening premise does not explain how "Unternehmen Felix" would have been completed. I think it may have proved a difficult undertaking. It may have led to quite a bit of fighting in Spain and Portugal - the opposite direction from where Hitler's mind was directed at the time. It is possible that Britain may have been able to hold Gibraltar.
I disagree with many about Crete. When attacked, it had two full Greek divisions and the equivalent of more than two British/Commonwealth divisions - more than 50,000 troops. If it could be taken in those circumstances by a much smaller force then, without the British contingent, it would fall even more easily. As for Malta: it would be a much smaller territory to conquer, and there would have been a much smaller defending force to overcome. Would there be a naval battle? I doubt it, because of the huge Axis air superiority. The R.N. took staggering losses to evacuate the Crete troops. It would be likely to lose much more if it tried to hold Malta.
Quite clearly, the Mediterranean campaign would have been much different if the Nazis were not busy with "Barbarossa." But if that were so, alomst everything about the course of the war would have been different, and Nazi operations in the area may have begun many months earlier.

mikeDizzie

Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 12 Jun 2012 02:12

LWD wrote:
mikeDizzie wrote:Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

"what if?" Background (Winter 1940-Spring 1941):
1) Fliegerkorps XI (Student) is moved to Sicily, and an airborne invasion of Malta is a success. This operation, conducted in the Dec 1940 - Feb 1941 timeframe, will have the support of Fliegerkorps X (Geissler) already in Sicily. At this time, 7.Flieger Division and LLStR were at full strength, having prepared for Operation Sealion.
Why? Il Duce didn't want any German help in the Med/North Africa until what Dec 41 or so? How are the Axis going to put together an invasion of Malta in that time frame? Especially with British domination of the Med? If they do go for Malta they are not going to be able to take Crete and that creats it's own problems.
2) Operation Felix goes ahead, with the Germans taking Gibraltar and closing the Straits.
Why? How?
It's hard to anwer the questions without a reasonable degree of background information. A good what if has a single well described point of departure (POD), this one appears to have many ill or undefined ones. I believe this board also requests that the what if's be "reasonable" yours don't appear to be. There are also several threads discussing some of these already.
In response to your objections:
1)Why? To defeat Britain before America becomes involved in the war, that's why. Il Duce wanted and needed help. By February 1941, his forces had retreated from Egypt, Italian 10.Army in Albania had been beaten by the Greeks, Italian East Africa was under attack, and the RM at Taranto had been attacked. In this scenario, the Germans are pursuing their 'peripheral' strategy against GB, and "British Domination of the Med" is overcome by airborne attack. In actual fact, it was not the British, but Fliegerkorps X who dominated Malta in early 1941.
2)With Operation Felix (Directive No.18), German 16.Armee drives through Spain and attacks Gibraltar. This operation included 3 motorized divisions, the equivalent of 1 specially trained assault division, a large detachment of Brandenburger special forces, and the full strength of Fliegerkorps VIII.
3)I have read numerous other threads which include, singly, what I have suggested here. They usually amount to something along the lines of "Could Malta have been taken in..?" or "Would this one thing have caused Germany to win the war?" So, NO, they are not the same. This is post is unique.

mikeDizzie

Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 12 Jun 2012 03:04

Kilgore Trout wrote:By my understanding, the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia to try to induce co-operation in the rebel government and ensure a protected flank for "Barbarossa." They only continued into Greece to bail out the cock-up the Italian army had made of Mussolini's October 1940 invasion, which was done without prior notice or consultation with his alleged "ally." They would have been happy to not have to deal with either country. Indeed, Yugoslavia remained a thorn in the Nazi side to the end of their days.
The opening premise does not explain how "Unternehmen Felix" would have been completed. I think it may have proved a difficult undertaking. It may have led to quite a bit of fighting in Spain and Portugal - the opposite direction from where Hitler's mind was directed at the time. It is possible that Britain may have been able to hold Gibraltar.
I disagree with many about Crete. When attacked, it had two full Greek divisions and the equivalent of more than two British/Commonwealth divisions - more than 50,000 troops. If it could be taken in those circumstances by a much smaller force then, without the British contingent, it would fall even more easily. As for Malta: it would be a much smaller territory to conquer, and there would have been a much smaller defending force to overcome. Would there be a naval battle? I doubt it, because of the huge Axis air superiority. The R.N. took staggering losses to evacuate the Crete troops. It would be likely to lose much more if it tried to hold Malta.
Quite clearly, the Mediterranean campaign would have been much different if the Nazis were not busy with "Barbarossa." But if that were so, alomst everything about the course of the war would have been different, and Nazi operations in the area may have begun many months earlier.
Kilgore, thanks for your input. You make some good points. There are a few I would like to make:

1) Yugoslavia was only invaded after the coup of March 1941. Operation Marita was amended at the last minute to include Yugoslavia at the same time as Greece. Immediately prior to the coup Yugoslavia had signed on to the Tripartite Pact. The originally planned German action in Greece was only aimed at a takeover of Thrace and Thessalonika. It was amended to a full invasion after the Greeks asked for British assistance in March.
2) I do not believe there would have been any resistance at all by the Spanish during Felix. In fact, they would have been perfectly happy to have had Gibraltar taken from the British and handed to them by the Germans. In this scenario, the Germans have engaged in a unilateral action of transiting Spain to pursue a 'peripheral' strategy against Great Britain. Certainly there was recent precedent for this in Norway(Weserubung). Franco's regime was openly sympathetic to the Axis cause, unlike the Norwegian government. His only reservation was fear of British retaliation, and his inability to counter due to an ill-equipped army. Here, he has been induced to tacitly allow the transit of German 16.AOK through Spain on the promise of immediate German action against the British in Malta, Greece, and North Africa, as well as the possibility of complete Axis control of the Med by 1942.
3) I agree with you that taking Malta in early 1941 would have been much easier for the Germans than was Crete in the Spring. Surprise would have been achieved, the battle won in a day or three at the most, and casualties for the paras no greater than those suffered at Oslo or Moerdijk. And if the RN had attempted a relief operation (or an evactuation for that matter) from either Gibraltar or Alexandria, they would have suffered serious losses like they did in the waters off Crete.
4) This scenario is is meant to leave Operation Barbarossa 'ceteris parabis' - that is the Germans still launch their attack against the USSR in late spring/early summer 1941. All the actions described here take place before that.

Cheers,
Mike

mikeDizzie

Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 12 Jun 2012 03:18

LWD wrote:
fredleander wrote:
mikeDizzie wrote:Gentlemen, this is my first WI post, so if I haven't conformed to the guidelines, please be gentle :milwink:

1) Having lost Malta and Gibraltar, will the British still withdraw troops from Libya and land in mainland Greece?
2) Alternatively, will they simply attempt to defend Rhodes, Crete, Lemnos, and Cyrenaica?
3) Will the Germans still launch a full invasion of Greece without a major British landing?
4) If yes to 3, then will the Germans also attempt to take Crete, given that Rhodes is also in British hands?
5) Will there still be a 'Golden Triangle' uprising in Iraq without German support via Rhodes-Damascus-Baghdad?
6) Will there still be an anti-Axis coup d'etat in Yugoslavia in March 1941? Will German possession of Malta and Gibo affect this?

Cheers and hope to hear your opinions!
Mike
I find your WI quite reasonable. Showalter and Deutsch, in their book "What if: Strategic Alternatives of WWII", look at much the same scenario.

1. No
Without knowing how or why Gibralter and Malta fell it's almost impossbile to justfy this one way or the other. Indeed it could make the defence of Crete much more important. Loosing both Malta and Gibralter in early 41 also requires some very major changes in historical events in directions that are distinctly improbable.
2. No, they would be busy defending Egypt and harbor their resources.
Defending Crete helps defend Egypt.
3. Yes, to help the Italians - as in the OTL.
If the Italians even become involved there. Some of the other events in this suggest indeed that Italy might have interest eslewhere. This could also impact 2 above.
4. Yes, Crete would also be much weaker defended since no British army forces had gone to Greece to withdraw there.
Or perhaps it's more heavily defeneded as they went directly there giving up Greece as a lost cause.
Simply put there is not enough information to make any sort of well grounded answer to the above questions.
Some good points LWD!
1) Yes. Losing Gibo and Malta will have made he defense of Crete and, in this scenario, Rhodes much more important
2) Yes. Correct.
3) This scenario dose not presuppose Italian participation in the attacks on either Gibraltar or Malta.
4) Exactly. Instead of landing another doomed BEF in mainland Greece, the British may instead reinforce Crete/Rhodes

mikeDizzie

Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by mikeDizzie » 12 Jun 2012 03:23

fredleander wrote:
LWD wrote:Why? Il Duce didn't want any German help in the Med/North Africa until what Dec 41 or so? How are the Axis going to put together an invasion of Malta in that time frame? Especially with British domination of the Med? If they do go for Malta they are not going to be able to take Crete and that creats it's own problems.
2) Operation Felix goes ahead, with the Germans taking Gibraltar and closing the Straits.
Why? How?
Mike, has laid down some premises. The question is what happens based on those - not when Mussolini wanted help or of the time-frame in question. That said, and if I remember correctly, Rommel arrived in Africa February 1941. German preparations started late 1940 after the Italians were pushed back from the Egyptian border in Operation Compass. The Afrika Korps was officially established in January 1941.

On the Balkans the German move Southwards started in earnest by the occupation of the Rumanian oilfields in October 1940.
Fred,
Thanks very much for the support and input! Keep it coming!
Cheers,
Mike

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by pugsville » 12 Jun 2012 05:12

Malta - I question the use of Paratroops against Malta as it was an extremely small Island with a lack of open ground to land on. Surely everywhere in Malta was close to AA batteries, landing Paratroops near AA guns would be close to suicidal. Anyone got a map of Malta showing defenses at the time?

Spain - It's not stated if these was achieved by political or military means. Spain's economy was pretty dependent on imports which would vanish if Spain joined the Axis. Franco would drive a tough deal. Military action against a Spain that resisted would be non-trivial. Either way to really define the situation the Political or Military cost would have to be factored. Spain, Vichy France, Italy have conflicting interests in North Africa.

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by LWD » 12 Jun 2012 16:10

mikeDizzie wrote: ...... 3) This scenario dose not presuppose Italian participation in the attacks on either Gibraltar or Malta.
How can it not?
4) Exactly. Instead of landing another doomed BEF in mainland Greece, the British may instead reinforce Crete/Rhodes
Or not. You simply haven't given us enough background to make any valid conjectures.

Look at the what if guidlines.

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Re: Alternate 1941 Med Campaign

Post by Markus Becker » 12 Jun 2012 18:03

Invasion of Malta in 40/41:

-IMO very possible


Invasion of Gibraltar:

IMO only possible if Spain permits it and thus utterly impossible as Spain would never do that.


Consequences:

2) Alternatively, will they simply attempt to defend Rhodes, Crete, Lemnos, and Cyrenaica?

It would not be difficult for them to do it, even w/o Malta and Gibraltar. The Med had been closed for east-west shipping already.


5) Will there still be a 'Golden Triangle' uprising in Iraq without German support via Rhodes-Damascus-Baghdad?

Questionable. Even a Greek tragedy like IOTL would not have meant loosing Crete, if some basic defensive preparations had been undertaken in the months before. And as long as the British position in the eastern Med looks stable from Baghdad, I don't think they'd try something.

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