What if Crete had held out?

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AnchorSteam
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What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 02 Jan 2022 00:25

I know this will probably devolve into a ton of "well HOW could that have happened?!" stuff, and that's fine, but I don't think i will take part in that.

The actual question is; What if the slap-dash German assault on Crete had resulted in the loss of that German Paratroops Division and a Regiment of Alpine troops trying to raft their way out there... what happens then?

Could Crete have been used as a springboard for the re-capture of the Aegean, and altered Western Allied plans for a 2nd front (meaning, a link up with the Red Army instead of hitting Western Europe) ?

Could a base for RAF Heavy bombers have been built there, and maintained? Would this have spelled the doom of Ploesti?

Would it have delayed Barbarossa even more? I really doubt this, but might it have diverted a large part of the Luftwaffe for the rest of the war?

Would it have truly relegated North Africa and everything going on there to back-water that the OKW would have preffered, or would they have decided that having Rommel link up with Syria was the only way to isolate and starve Crete out of existence?


(this is my idea of an Alt. Hist. scenario that would turn things in favor of the Allies instead of the Axis)

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 02 Jan 2022 01:39

If Crete held, I have no doubt that the British could have continued to keep the island under their control, and it's very unlikely that the Germans would make a second attempt on it. It would have put a crimp on the Germans doing reconnaissance over Egypt--like flying Ju 86P's for photo recon--as the range from Greece itself is too great.

I do doubt that the British could do much more than hold the island and defend the air space over it successfully. They have bigger fish to fry and Crete would languish as a backwater.

Things change in 1942 however. With the US in the war, they have the ability to bring in the necessary engineers and materials to build large bomber capable airfields in really nothing flat. Let's say by late 1942 these airfields are done. Ploesti and other targets in Eastern Europe are now in trouble. Ploesti is about 400 miles from Crete so even medium bombers could theoretically reach it as a target.

I'd also think that Rhodes would come in for more attention.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Kingfish » 02 Jan 2022 03:13

AnchorSteam wrote:
02 Jan 2022 00:25
Would it have truly relegated North Africa and everything going on there to back-water that the OKW would have preffered, or would they have decided that having Rommel link up with Syria was the only way to isolate and starve Crete out of existence?
I don't see the latter happening in light of Barbarossa being only a month away from launch.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Jan 2022 04:01

AnchorSteam wrote:
02 Jan 2022 00:25
I know this will probably devolve into a ton of "well HOW could that have happened?!" stuff, and that's fine, but I don't think i will take part in that.

The actual question is; What if the slap-dash German assault on Crete had resulted in the loss of that German Paratroops Division and a Regiment of Alpine troops trying to raft their way out there... what happens then?

Could Crete have been used as a springboard for the re-capture of the Aegean, and altered Western Allied plans for a 2nd front (meaning, a link up with the Red Army instead of hitting Western Europe) ?
Hypothetically, tho I don't think possession of Crete would result in any fundamental change in Allied strategy. Probably more peripheral operations in the Aegean/Balkans region, perhaps a earlier seizure of Athens
AnchorSteam wrote:
02 Jan 2022 00:25
Could a base for RAF Heavy bombers have been built there, and maintained? Would this have spelled the doom of Ploesti?
Yes. No. Best use would be a intermediate base for staging air attacks. Similar to the role the Australian airfields in New Guinea played in Allied attacks of Rabaul & its satellites in 1942/43. The US & Australian bombers were based in Australia. They used the New Guinea airfields to refuel & repair enroute, and for recovery of damaged aircraft on return. This reduces vulnerability to enemy counterstrikes & reduces the construction requirements in the short run. Later the airfields on Create can be expanded if desired.

More important than attacks northwards are attacks from that quarter on Axis supply ships to Lybia.
AnchorSteam wrote:
02 Jan 2022 00:25
Would it have truly relegated North Africa and everything going on there to back-water that the OKW would have preffered,
if the British.Commonwealth attacks from Crete tip the balance in the convoy war, then perhaps. it comes down to how much more in air power can be squeezed out of the RAF to operate bases of any sort in Crete. Britihs resources in 1941-42 are finite & they probably have to reduce somewhere else to maintain even forward bases & strikes from Crete.

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AnchorSteam
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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 03 Jan 2022 19:28

T. A. Gardner wrote:
02 Jan 2022 01:39
If Crete held, I have no doubt that the British could have continued to keep the island under their control, and it's very unlikely that the Germans would make a second attempt on it. It would have put a crimp on the Germans doing reconnaissance over Egypt--like flying Ju 86P's for photo recon--as the range from Greece itself is too great.

I do doubt that the British could do much more than hold the island and defend the air space over it successfully. They have bigger fish to fry and Crete would languish as a backwater.

Things change in 1942 however. With the US in the war, they have the ability to bring in the necessary engineers and materials to build large bomber capable airfields in really nothing flat. Let's say by late 1942 these airfields are done. Ploesti and other targets in Eastern Europe are now in trouble. Ploesti is about 400 miles from Crete so even medium bombers could theoretically reach it as a target.

I'd also think that Rhodes would come in for more attention.
Right, so Ploesti would face bombing attacks a year before it did historically, that would be a major issue in itself.
So, which would then be a higher priority; Malta or Ploesti?
..... and I mean that for both sides.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 03 Jan 2022 19:30

Kingfish wrote:
02 Jan 2022 03:13
AnchorSteam wrote:
02 Jan 2022 00:25
Would it have truly relegated North Africa and everything going on there to back-water that the OKW would have preffered, or would they have decided that having Rommel link up with Syria was the only way to isolate and starve Crete out of existence?
I don't see the latter happening in light of Barbarossa being only a month away from launch.
Yes, and it probably would be too late for linking up with VIchy Syria in any case, seeing as how it was about to fall.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 03 Jan 2022 19:36

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Jan 2022 04:01
........
if the British.Commonwealth attacks from Crete tip the balance in the convoy war, then perhaps. it comes down to how much more in air power can be squeezed out of the RAF to operate bases of any sort in Crete. Britihs resources in 1941-42 are finite & they probably have to reduce somewhere else to maintain even forward bases & strikes from Crete.
What I am wondering is, would this have caused a campaign similar to the Solomons for a couple of years, as in the Tokyo Express on one side and the RN on the other. On one hand, it would be the type of campaign that the Italian Navy was suited for, but on the other the attrition could only have favored the Allies in the long run.
And as you point out, it could have drawn an awful lot of things from other fronts at exactly the time they were needed elsewhere.

This opens up other questions.
Was the 1,000-Bomber raid really needed?
Would Bomber Harris have even been interested in Ploesti, or brush it off as a "panacea" as he later did when asked about concentrating on oil?

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Dupplin Muir » 03 Jan 2022 20:55

One of the main advantages of holding Crete would be that it would make re-supplying Malta much easier. Convoys from Alexandria could be timed to arrive off the eastern end of the island at dawn, and these could then be covered by fighters hopping from airfield to airfield along the island until the ships were a hundred miles or so west of Crete - which would be timed to occur at dusk. The convoy could then do a brisk run through the night to be within air-cover from Malta at dawn.

The other advantage would be to bring forward the mining of the Danube, which was one of the two most effective uses of strategic air-power in WWII. This would require a relatively small force of bombers as compared with trying to destroy Ploesti.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Jan 2022 02:25

Here are a couple of possible outcomes:

1. Safety for Egypt. Allied occupation of Crete would protect the Libya and Egyptian coast and offshore. This would hinder axis attempts to invade Egypt.

2. Encouragement for Churchill's Balkan interests This region offered an opportunity to engage the Axis powers. It contained significant resources including Rumanian oil, chrome, pyrites and Magnesite from Yugoslavia Greece and Turkey. The resistance movements in the Balkans could be a resource to open a second front. Hitler shared his interest in the region and was worried by potential disruption to his plans.

If the Allies hold Crete it is likely that there would have been a series of allied operations in the Balkans, perhaps diversions: perhaps not.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Jan 2022 19:37

If the Allies hold Crete it is likely that there would have been a series of allied operations in the Balkans, perhaps diversions: perhaps not.
That never worked for me. Even when the game design was flawed with unlimited port capacity and implied a road network as good as that of NW Europe. The Allied armies were just crossing the Danube when the Red Army was crossing the Rhine :(

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 05 Jan 2022 20:04

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Jan 2022 19:37
If the Allies hold Crete it is likely that there would have been a series of allied operations in the Balkans, perhaps diversions: perhaps not.
That never worked for me. Even when the game design was flawed with unlimited port capacity and implied a road network as good as that of NW Europe. The Allied armies were just crossing the Danube when the Red Army was crossing the Rhine :(
I don't think so. after all, "the man who never was" did a good job of convincing Hitler that the Allies were headed for the Balkans in 1943, so it can't have been a totally far-fetched idea.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by ljadw » 05 Jan 2022 21:52

Sheldrake wrote:
04 Jan 2022 02:25
Here are a couple of possible outcomes:

1. Safety for Egypt. Allied occupation of Crete would protect the Libya and Egyptian coast and offshore. This would hinder axis attempts to invade Egypt.



If the Allies hold Crete it is likely that there would have been a series of allied operations in the Balkans, perhaps diversions: perhaps not.
1 Why would British occupation of Crete protect Libya and Egypt ?
One can easily argue the opposite :the occupation of Crete would demand additional forces,who were needed in Libya .
2 Not likely, but maybe and IMHO unlikely : where would Britain get the forces for operations in the Balkans ?

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by ljadw » 05 Jan 2022 21:57

AnchorSteam wrote:
05 Jan 2022 20:04
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Jan 2022 19:37
If the Allies hold Crete it is likely that there would have been a series of allied operations in the Balkans, perhaps diversions: perhaps not.
That never worked for me. Even when the game design was flawed with unlimited port capacity and implied a road network as good as that of NW Europe. The Allied armies were just crossing the Danube when the Red Army was crossing the Rhine :(
I don't think so. after all, "the man who never was" did a good job of convincing Hitler that the Allies were headed for the Balkans in 1943, so it can't have been a totally far-fetched idea.
Was Hitler convinced by the man who never was ?

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 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.

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Re: What if Crete had held out?

Post by AnchorSteam » 07 Jan 2022 05:54

ljadw wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:52
1 Why would British occupation of Crete protect Libya and Egypt ?
One can easily argue the opposite :the occupation of Crete would demand additional forces,who were needed in Libya .
2 Not likely, but maybe and IMHO unlikely : where would Britain get the forces for operations in the Balkans ?
By 1942 the Home Islses had over 20 Spitfire squadrons that were under-employed, and the Canadians that were wasted at Dieppe could have gone as well.
There were also a lot of Air-Defense Divisions in Britain, one of those could have been a big boost for the defensive side on Crete.
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.
Maybe the 8th A.F. could have gotten it's start there, instead of up north? The P-38s sure did better in the Med than they did in norther Europe.... or anywhere else where cockpit heating was an issue.

And as I have alluded to before about the Aegean; its like PT-Boat heaven! :thumbsup:

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