What if operation Compass fails?

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Henri Winkelman
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What if operation Compass fails?

Post by Henri Winkelman » 12 Sep 2018 20:27

As we all know, operation Compass was an unparalleled disaster for the Italian army in 1941. 120.000 Italians were taken prisoner, causing Germany to intercept in Northern Africa. The wehrmacht became involved in a useless area and at least 200.000 very useful troops were wasted from 1941-1943.

What if operation Compass becomes not the ridiculous success it became (for Great-Brittain) and the Italians are able to hold their lines in either Sidi Barrani, Bardia or Tobruk? In other words, the Italians keep control over Libya and Germany doesn't have to intercept.

In my opinion a very plausible "what if-scenario" since this victory is one of the most unlikely victories in modern warfare. The Italians outnumbered the English with 10 to 1 and had countless opportunities to at least limit the disaster, but didn't.

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Old_Fossil
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Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by Old_Fossil » 13 Sep 2018 00:58

You may want to check out this two forum topics:



Germans Save Tobruk; Rommel conquers Egypt in April 1941
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=198371&hilit=germans+save+tobruk

Italians successfully defend Tobruk during Operation Compass
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=198103&hilit=germans+save+tobruk
"If things were different, they wouldn't be the same."

Henri Winkelman
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Location: Netherlands

Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by Henri Winkelman » 13 Sep 2018 17:34

Old_Fossil wrote:
13 Sep 2018 00:58
You may want to check out this two forum topics:



Germans Save Tobruk; Rommel conquers Egypt in April 1941
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=198371&hilit=germans+save+tobruk

Italians successfully defend Tobruk during Operation Compass
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=198103&hilit=germans+save+tobruk
Thank you, both very interesting topics to read!

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Kingfish
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Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by Kingfish » 16 Sep 2018 17:37

If the Italians are pushed back to Bardia or Tobruk then Op Compass has achieved its stated goal.

Even if they hold at Sidi Barrani, but delay or even cancel their offensive it still means a success for the British.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
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nmao
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Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by nmao » 21 Sep 2018 16:52

Henri Winkelman wrote:
12 Sep 2018 20:27
The Italians outnumbered the English with 10 to 1 and had countless opportunities to at least limit the disaster, but didn't.
Hi there!

The ratio of 10 to 1 is complete bullsh**!
In my research i've come to the totals of 78,000 italian and 36,000 commonwealth in the initial combat area.
10th Army had lots of garrison and rear area units that didn't come into combat much later. If one wishes to include them, then we must consider all the Delta area garrisons and service units.
In many books they talk about 250,000 italians but that is that more they had in all North Africa! Unfortunately they don't usually include the commonwealth units in Palestine, Sudan, Cyprus, etc...

I do concur with you that the italian command had several opportunities to limit the disaster but they were handicapped by their political masters.
In this campaign it seems everything that could wrong for the italians did go very badly, and the UK had good luck, good commanders and good units.
They pulled off a very efficient campaign operating on a shoestring.

Taking everything into consideration, it is difficult to imagine the UK losing, and very difficult to imagine Italy winning.
Bardia seems impossible to hold, but maybe with more (and better) involvement of the Regia Marina and Regia Aeronautica they could stop the UK around Gazala/Tobruk?

regards,

-Nuno

Henri Winkelman
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Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by Henri Winkelman » 21 Sep 2018 17:00

nmao wrote:
21 Sep 2018 16:52
Henri Winkelman wrote:
12 Sep 2018 20:27
The Italians outnumbered the English with 10 to 1 and had countless opportunities to at least limit the disaster, but didn't.
Hi there!

The ratio of 10 to 1 is complete bullsh**!
In my research i've come to the totals of 78,000 italian and 36,000 commonwealth in the initial combat area.
10th Army had lots of garrison and rear area units that didn't come into combat much later. If one wishes to include them, then we must consider all the Delta area garrisons and service units.
In many books they talk about 250,000 italians but that is that more they had in all North Africa! Unfortunately they don't usually include the commonwealth units in Palestine, Sudan, Cyprus, etc...

I do concur with you that the italian command had several opportunities to limit the disaster but they were handicapped by their political masters.
In this campaign it seems everything that could wrong for the italians did go very badly, and the UK had good luck, good commanders and good units.
They pulled off a very efficient campaign operating on a shoestring.

Taking everything into consideration, it is difficult to imagine the UK losing, and very difficult to imagine Italy winning.
Bardia seems impossible to hold, but maybe with more (and better) involvement of the Regia Marina and Regia Aeronautica they could stop the UK around Gazala/Tobruk?

regards,

-Nuno
10 to 1 is indeed bullsh*t, I don't know how I came to that number. A total of 78.000 seems a little too low in my opinion.

pugsville
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Re: What if operation Compass fails?

Post by pugsville » 21 Sep 2018 17:09

If Compass fails, Rommel and the Africa Corps are not sent to North Africa. They will not be asked for and the Italian logistics situation will not be freed up by the capture of 130,000 Italians.

it's unlikely the British will intervene in Greece, if they are under pressure in north Africa not basking in the after glow of Compass.

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