Italy invading Malta in 1940

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Wargames
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Wargames » 06 Nov 2018 23:31

MarkN wrote:
06 Nov 2018 13:23
Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 11:34
MarkN wrote:
06 Nov 2018 11:26
The implication of what you write in this post is that it was an initial either/or scenario: Malta or Egypt; they couldn't be done simultaneously and that Mussolini won the bitch-fight with Grazziani.

And yet, in response to my post you stated that the invasion of Egypt would go ahead as planned on 9th September as it did in history.

Seems a bit of confused or contradictory thinking in there.
Mussolini was willing to consider two invasions in August, 1940. One was Egypt and he never backed off it. Therefore, I'm stuck with it. Mussolini's logic leaves much to be desired. A military genius he wasn't.
What you are "stuck" with is evidence that it was an either/or decision and an opinion that they could do both. That's a problem for the topic and your efforts. If Italy was prioritizing Malta instead of Egypt, then the British deployments and responses would have been different.
OK. I'm interested. British deployments and responses would have been different how?
There was a reason why it became only Egypt and not Malta and Egypt. And you seem to be deliberately neglecting to engage with that.
I'm stuck with Mussolini's opinion. It was his opinion and not mine.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Wargames » 06 Nov 2018 23:35

LColombo wrote:
06 Nov 2018 18:27
Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 11:45
LColombo wrote:
06 Nov 2018 09:40

Could you elaborate on that? This is the first time I hear about them.
Minesweepers similar to the Elan class.
However, I am quite sure that no French warships were transferred to Italy until November 1942 (when Italy and Germany occupied the Vichy-controlled part of France and the few French warships that did not scuttle themselves, or were salvaged and repaired, were commissioned under Italian flag).
Nine ships but I did not have the date. It sounds like you know it better than me.
Thank you.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Wargames » 06 Nov 2018 23:47

Richard Anderson wrote:
06 Nov 2018 20:05
LColombo wrote:
06 Nov 2018 18:27
Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 11:45
LColombo wrote:
06 Nov 2018 09:40

Could you elaborate on that? This is the first time I hear about them.
Minesweepers similar to the Elan class.
However, I am quite sure that no French warships were transferred to Italy until November 1942 (when Italy and Germany occupied the Vichy-controlled part of France and the few French warships that did not scuttle themselves, or were salvaged and repaired, were commissioned under Italian flag).
Of the thirteen Élan-class ships, Élan was interned in Turkey, four were seized by the British and eventually turned over to the Forces Navales Françaises Libres, and four went over to the Forces Navales Françaises Libres upon the German-Italian occupation of Vichy. Of the remaining four, two were scuttled in Toulon during ANTON and were later raised, repaired, and turned over to the Italians, while the last two were seized by the Germans at Bizerta and turned over to the Italians.

So how do the Italians get any of them in September 1940?
The records I have indicated they had obtained nine ships "similar to the Elan class" but not specifying the actual class. Since the Navy planned the transport situation in July, 1940, I assumed the Navy had them then. It was the Navy that reduced the Army's plan to land 40,000 men based on the actual transport available. Regia Aeronautica then reduced it again based upon the number of men they had the ability to parachute supply.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2018 01:24

Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:08
You're right. However I said you'd get a quick reply. Here's the link I used:
You may have used that link, but I don't think you understood it? Those were additional drafts for those units, arriving in September. I just gave you the strengths and arrivals for those battalions that were already on Malta as of 30 June 1940. So the 120 officers and 3,506 OR were joined by drafts totaling 28 officers and 716 OR for a total of 148 officers and 4,222.

The garrison was joined by the 4th King's Royal East Kent Regiment (Buffs) and 12th Field Regiment RA on 10 November 1940 and the 1st The Hampshire Regiment on 21 February 1941. They were both formerly elements of Cairo (23rd) Brigade, which was part of the old 7th Division (redesignated the 6th Division on 3 November 1939). The next was the 1st The Cheshire Regiment (MG) on 27 July 1941, the 8th King's Own Royal Regiment and 11th Lancashire Fusiliers on 27 August 1941, then the 1st King's Royal West Kent...
But the two battalions were taken from the broken up 6th Division if that's important.
Why do I have to repeat myself? The battalion drawn from the old 6th Division was the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers. They originally left for Palestine to join the 6th Division on Saturday, 15 October 1938. They were stationed at Haifa until 30 March 1939, when they moved to join the Malta garrison.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2018 01:37

Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:47
The records I have indicated they had obtained nine ships "similar to the Elan class" but not specifying the actual class. Since the Navy planned the transport situation in July, 1940, I assumed the Navy had them then.
So a sloop-minesweeper in the 630-ton standard displacement range? Obtained them from where? They weren't Italian ships, the closest were the Gabbiano's, which were all laid down after January 1942. Otherwise the single Eritrea and Diana sloops were it for similar Italian ships. They weren't French, as noted the Èlan class in Italian service totaled four and after November 1942. So whose were they? What is your source?

BTW, if you've ever been on a vaporetto you would certainly not be happy with the idea of taking it on a sea voyage. Most have a free-board of about a foot and the older types that served in Venice were not much better. There were about 57 of them in service in Venice by 1930.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by pugsville » 07 Nov 2018 01:43

Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:24

Look up "Mellieha bay photos" and "St. Paul's Bay photos".

I'll give you a hint. They're all resorts. :D
They are the only viable landing spots. small beaches at the end of canyon like bays. both of which are northern sector and defended either width crossfire from the shore or once landed by a narrow section of land connecting them to the rest of the Island.

there possible landing posts far from ideal but there is little other options.

The small number of landing ships can take troops OR equipment, or guns but 5 landing ships is not a lot/ Slow vulnerable ships that will need protection. It will slow the Italian approach. 10 knots at best. Whats going to stop the ships being sunk in their approach along this narrow bays?

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by pugsville » 07 Nov 2018 01:48

Wargames wrote: OK. I'm interested. British deployments and responses would have been different how?
The British conducted reconnaissance of Italian ports and airfields in June to check if Italy was preparing invasion force. Any build up for invasion has some chance of being detected, Operation Hurry August 2 might have been bigger than 12 hurricanes and 2 skuas to Malta. The reinforcements of November might have been brought forward,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Hurry

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Wargames » 07 Nov 2018 06:49

In the "What if" invasion scenario the Italians landed at dawn, August 28.

At Gibraltar there is Force F (to be transferred to Cunningham at Alexandria) which includes BB Valiant, CV Illustrious (With 18 swordfish and 15 Fulmars), A/A CL's Coventry and Calcutta, and DD’s Gallant, Greyhound, Griffin, Hotspur, Janus, Mohawk and Nubian.

Arriving at Gibraltar at 2030 (8:30 PM) that night is Force H, comprised of the carrier Ark Royal (supposedly 30 Fairey Swordfish but she only launched 9, 12 Blackburn Skuas, and 12 Fairey Fulmars), BB Resolution (18 knots max), the battle-cruiser Renown, the cruiser Sheffield, and destroyers Encounter, Faulknor, Firedrake, Forester, Foresight, Fortune, Fury, Hero, Velox and Wishart.

Somerville got them at all at sea the next morning (8:45 AM August 30). The original plan was to accompany Force F as far as Skerki Channel and then separate from Force F (which would continue on to Malta to unite with Cunningham) and head north to raid Cagliari before returning to Gibraltar.

If he proceeds all the way to Malta (skips the Cagliari raid) it will be at 18 knots if he includes Resolution. Otherwise, he must leave it behind to make Valiant's 23.5 knots. His destroyers will also have to be refueled at Gibraltar. I don't know Ark Royal's air complement as of this date,

So, Somerville does what? He leaves when, with what, and on what course?

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Wargames » 07 Nov 2018 07:13

pugsville wrote:
07 Nov 2018 01:48
Wargames wrote: OK. I'm interested. British deployments and responses would have been different how?
The British conducted reconnaissance of Italian ports and airfields in June to check if Italy was preparing invasion force. Any build up for invasion has some chance of being detected, Operation Hurry August 2 might have been bigger than 12 hurricanes and 2 skuas to Malta. The reinforcements of November might have been brought forward,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Hurry
The British expected Malta to be invaded. They had pulled out the naval base, removed the submarines on June 21, left them no fighters but those found in crates, provided the Fairey swordfish with no torpedoes, blocked off Luqa airfield to prevent the Italians from landing on it and evacuated those civilians wanting to leave. They had the June 7 recon reports to see it and they did very little about it.

I have the Malta recon reports for August. I selected a harbor to leave from first and then checked to see if the British overflew it. They didn't. But they would figure it out about August 21 but not the actual date. The HATS convoy was already planned and in motion by then. Your projected reinforcements, at least from Britain, are already underway and Cunningham is sending three transports of supplies even as the invasion takes place. The wild card in the deck is Cunningham. He has the ability to add infantry battalions to Malta. Would he? If so, how long would it take? Go back and read my original post.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Wargames » 07 Nov 2018 07:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Nov 2018 01:37
Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:47
The records I have indicated they had obtained nine ships "similar to the Elan class" but not specifying the actual class. Since the Navy planned the transport situation in July, 1940, I assumed the Navy had them then.
So a sloop-minesweeper in the 630-ton standard displacement range? Obtained them from where? They weren't Italian ships, the closest were the Gabbiano's, which were all laid down after January 1942. Otherwise the single Eritrea and Diana sloops were it for similar Italian ships. They weren't French, as noted the Èlan class in Italian service totaled four and after November 1942. So whose were they? What is your source?

BTW, if you've ever been on a vaporetto you would certainly not be happy with the idea of taking it on a sea voyage. Most have a free-board of about a foot and the older types that served in Venice were not much better. There were about 57 of them in service in Venice by 1930.
They weren't Italian ships.

As for the vaporetto, I looked them up afterwards as the translation seemed similar. However, when I saw a picture of one I saw where it didn't fit the description I had. The 80 boats were described as "one way". The Venice steamers are very shallow (check the depth of the canals). They likely draw a meter or less. They could come in very close to a beach. I don't know how that would make them "one way" unless, with that foot of free-board, they all sank on the way. "One way" implies running it up on a beach. The Italians knew how to blow the bow off a beached vessel to unload it. And, once you blow the bow off, it's "one way".

My guess would be they were a random selection of small coastal vessels of no particular class or design. It's probably why no troop capacity was specified.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by pugsville » 07 Nov 2018 08:34

Wargames wrote:
07 Nov 2018 07:13
The British expected Malta to be invaded.
No they did not they saw no preparations for an invasion.
They had decided in 1939 that it was not defensible.
Churchill coming to power changed the strategic outlook,.
Wargames wrote:
07 Nov 2018 07:13
They had pulled out the naval base, removed the submarines on June 21, left them no fighters but those found in crates,
Fighters were deployed August 2. The period of crated Gladiators was extremely short and over for 3 weeks before August 22.

Wargames wrote:
07 Nov 2018 07:13
provided the Fairey swordfish with no torpedoes
The Swordfish were random evacuations bounced from France, then Tunis. They had not planned for the aircraft to be there.
Wargames wrote:
07 Nov 2018 07:13
I have the Malta recon reports for August. I selected a harbor to leave from first and then checked to see if the British overflew it. They didn't. But they would figure it out about August 21 but not the actual date.
intelligence is a number of things. if there was an actual build up for invasion there is a number of ways it could be detected. It cannot be just universality ruled out.

Have you got a appropriate time frame. Decision being made to force being deployed. Building up the appropriate forces in the right ports and airfields takes time. have you got a rough pre invasion timeline of actions.

Italian intelligence grossly over estimated the British garrison 15000, 100 AFVs , up to 300 odd aircraft or something. So are you going with 40,000 invaders? the timetable for landing such a force, the landing ships might get the first way ashore, bu7t they were quite limited, poor power unlikely to de-beach themselves. they would not be tugs tehre how do they get off again? How do the other troops land?

5,000Italain infantry without heavy weapons are not going to prevail against 5,000 garrison troops with some artillery.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by MarkN » 07 Nov 2018 10:29

Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:08
MarkN wrote:
06 Nov 2018 09:50
Wargames wrote:
04 Nov 2018 22:47
1) Cunningham had two battalions of the 6th Infantry Division available.
As a quick answer:

HMS GLOUCESTER and HMS LIVERPOOL - Under the operation title MB 5, these two light cruisers sailed from Alexandria 28.9.40 in company with the Fleet, having embarked 1200 troops and RAF personnel to reinforce the Malta garrison. The two ships entered Malta late on 30.9, landed the troops and sailed again at 0230 1.10.

The 1,200 men belonged to the 6th Division which was then being broken up at this time and afterwards ceased to exist. Here are the infantry battalion components (basically companies):

2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment: 5 officers 221 OR
1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment: 4 officers 112 OR
2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: 3 officers 164 OR
8th Bn Manchester Regiment: 7 officers 72 OR
2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers 9 officers 147 OR

They would be reorganized as two battalions on Malta.
All 5 of the battalions you mention above were already part of the Malta garrison. They were not part of 6th Infantry Division which had already ceased to exist.
You're right. However I said you'd get a quick reply. Here's the link I used:

https://maltagc70.wordpress.com/2015/09 ... -in-malta/

But the two battalions were taken from the broken up 6th Division if that's important.
OK. You've taken us around in a big loop and we're now back at the beginning.

Who were the two battalions that you claim Wavell had made available to Cunningham to send to Malta?

I appreciate that this is not about history, it's about you trying to build a credible fantasy alternate history. So, in that sense you can name whichever two battalions you want. But credibility of your proposal rests on the opportunity cost of which two you delegate. No British infantry battalion was sitting idle in Egypt. If you take two out you have to find somebody else to cover what they were doing - or leave that task unfilled. There are consequences.

So, again, which two battalions are you delegating as being "available" to Cunningham?

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by MarkN » 07 Nov 2018 10:34

Wargames wrote:
06 Nov 2018 23:31
I'm stuck with Mussolini's opinion. It was his opinion and not mine.
No, you are ignoring his opinion. An invasion of Malta is predicated on Mussolini's choices not being followed.

Moreover, you claimed that Grazziani and Mussolini were fighting over whether it would be Malta or Egypt. One or the other.

Are you now claiming that Mussolini made two decisions?
1) he decided that they would only attack Malta or Egypt; then,
2) he decided that it would be Egypt against military advice.

If he made the first decision, then it would suggest he's not as "stupid" as you claim. In fact, even with 75 years of historical hindsight, you still haven't grasped that doing both was unrealistic.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by MarkN » 07 Nov 2018 10:43

Wargames wrote:
07 Nov 2018 07:13
The British expected Malta to be invaded.
I accept that in your fantasy alternate storyline, you can make up whatever scenario you like.

However, in the real world, the actual history was the complete opposite.

On 23/24 August, Wavell received policy instructions and strategic (military) advice from the War Cabinet in London. His priorities were clearly identified. Malta did not get a mention until paragraph 17.
At a later date it is hoped that the reinforcment of the AA defence of Malta and its re-occupation by the Fleet will hamper the sending of further reinforcements - Italian or German - from Europe into Africa, and that an air offensive may ultimately be developed from Malta against Italy.
In the real history that really happened, Malta was perceived as place from which offensive action could be taken; it was not being prepared to withstand an invasion. Why? Because the British were not expecting it to be invaded.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by BDV » 07 Nov 2018 16:02

pugsville wrote: Italian intelligence grossly over estimated the British garrison 15000, 100 AFVs , up to 300 odd aircraft or something.
It may be possible that Italian intelligence was that incompetent; I doubt it. Possibly it's the Italian intelligence trying to send a message to Benzino.
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