Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

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daveshoup2MD
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 Feb 2022 18:21

Peter89 wrote:
06 Feb 2022 11:08
The problem with the Italian boldness in 1940 was manyfold, but the lack of coordination with the Germans was the most important of them. No wonder that Hitler ordered Keitel not to share their mind with the Italians. Hitler could not placate Vichy France, Spain and Italy at the same time, and their importance in the MTO was reversed to their willingness to ally themselves with the Germans.

The loss of Malta would not be nearly as fatal as eg. the loss of Gibraltar and Iberia. But because the Spanish cooperation was depending on the politico-military situation, we tend to give more thoughts to Malta, which can be purely seen as a military operation. But I believe it didn't make sense. Malta should have been neutralized, but it would fall bloodlessly if the Brits suffer a defeat in the Western Desert as they called it.

Now the question comes, how important was Malta in this?

Before the Italian entry into the war, the Italians failed to stockpile enough men, matériel and supplies into Lybia even though they had almost a year at war, or to be fair, they began WW2 in Albania over a year ago. The only chance they had for a successful entry into the war in 1940 was to overwhelm British defenses and cut off Suez on the land. If they focus all their assets to take out Malta at the first swing, the British position in the MTO might have been shaken, but it was not threatened.

After the Italian entry and the failed invasion of Egypt, Malta became important because, as you said, it could interdict supplies to Africa. But the thing is that Hitler never placed too much emphasis on the MTO; Rommel's forces were inadequate in all aspects. It was mostly British blundering that they could not translate their superiority to decisive battlefield victories (although it must be mentioned that the British and Commonwealth armies fought through 1941-1942 from Iran to Madagascar). I don't see how the Axis could manage to do way better if Malta was taken out.
And that's fair; obviously, a truly bold path for the Italians in 1940 would have been to join with their Allies in the last war and swing in against the Germans; equally so, simply staying out and playing the same game as the Spanish and Turks would have paid off - but they chose to ally with Germany and Japan, so given a range of bad alternatives - attack the French in the mountains? or attack the British in the desert in the summer with a largely non-motorized straightleg army with a non-existent supply line from Cyrenaica to the Delta (much less the Canal?)? - a reasonably planned and resourced version of C3 in 1940 does the following:

1. Puts the RM, RA, and Army into action against the last enemy in a theater, time, and place of the Italians' choosing, and where the British were - in 1940, at least - weak on the ground, non-existent in the air, and severely over-tasked at sea?
2. This "should" result in an undeniably Italian victory, with expected consequences on the diplomatic/political front;
3. And comes at a time when the British were, equally undeniably, reeling...

If the British stay in the war, of course (and the Axis make the incredibly stupid decisions they make in 1941, of course), the conflict only ends in one way ... but the above "might" end it in something like Amiens in 1802.

Of course, we all know how that turned out, but in the interim, the European Axis might get a respite.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 06 Feb 2022 19:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Feb 2022 19:21

glenn239 wrote:
05 Feb 2022 17:16
Richard Anderson wrote:
05 Feb 2022 16:49
Both. Without proper observation, any artillery possibly landed on Gozo would be useless. Italian battleships and cruisers standing for an extended period off Malta make wonderful targets for the 1st and 10th Submarine Flotillas and the 9.2-inch guns.
A submarine flotilla stationed defensively might torpedo a warship, but if deployed defensively around Malta for weeks on end, it would be engaged in a task that was not at all the point of it being at Malta in the first place. So that right there was a reason to bombard Malta with battleships, as an indirect method to keeping British submarines away from convoys.
Again a reply that carefully rewrites what I said. An Italian fleet standing off Malta bombarding in support of a landing is the stationary force, not any submarines dispatched to attack them. Plus, given the British ability to track the Italian fleet movements, ambushing them en route is a strong possibility too. The loss of Trento on 14 June 1942 is a nice illustration.

The problem in this case for the Italians is that their intelligence and reconnaissance of Malta, even as late as the formulation of the C.3 plan, was abysmal, while the British was quite good.

For example, the Italians had almost no idea of what the British defenses along the southeast coast where they planned to land were. They identified a battery at Benghisa as "two big guns in cavern installations" as the only one that could fire on the landing force and assigned the 5th Division's Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio to suppress it by firing 100 rounds each of 30.5cm and 32cm at 26,000 meters, followed by 200 rounds each at 21,000 meters. The ships were to close from the southwest at 1800, with the sun behind them to disrupt British observation. Seven destroyers of the 14th and 15th Squadron would then close to 10,000 yards and fire 120 rounds each of 12cm at the battery. The landing force would then go in at 0600 the next day.

Do you notice some problems with that plan? Among other things, since the 9.2-inch Mark V Mount only gave a range of 21,000 yards (19,202 meters) - sorry BTW, I forgot that detail WRT the discussion re firing on Gozo - it is likely the guns would remain silent and the Italians would have little or no means to tell if fire was effective, which, given the range chosen and increased dispersion of the reworked Italian guns combined with the number of rounds fired, is unlikely.

For another, the Italians were apparently unaware the British 9.2-inch guns were capable of 360 degree traverse and that the two guns at Battery St Leonardo could fire on the landing beaches as well, as could the DP 4.5-inch AA guns of St Peter's Battery. They also failed to identify the 6-inch/45 Mark V guns of Battery Delimara on the Marsaxlokk Peninsula, which would have made hash of any vessels approaching the bay...along with the 18-pdr anti-boat guns.
A 9.2" battery might be a threat to a cruiser, but not a battleship.
That's nice, but probably also incorrect, especially if the Italian battleships close in an attempt to improve accuracy when the 9.2-inch open on the landing fleet. The 9.2 APC projectile was possible the best of its class in World War II in terms of penetration and would likely make a hash of the upper works of the Italian ships...and would be capable of sinking any cruiser or destroyer coming nearby.

Nor, BTW, was the Italian plan to come in with the setting sun behind their backs viable. By 9 April 1941, Malta had nine AMES 504 Gunlaying radar systems in place and operational. The Dingli, Madliena, and Tas-Silg stationary sites are the best known, although apparently unknown to the Italians at the time, but there were also six mobile ones.
In terms of weight of fire, the naval ships have the nod. In terms of duration of fire, the artillery is more able to harass. I think the weight of bomardment is more important, so I would guess that the British on Malta would far rather face artillery on Gozo than a battleship bombardment.
The British 9.2-inch and 6-inch battery positions were extremely well camouflaged and designed to be protected against all but a direct hit. Given the lack of Italian intelligence and the rudimentary "plan" to suppress them, it is unlikely to work well for the Italians.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by AnchorSteam » 06 Feb 2022 20:12

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jan 2022 05:36
Richard Anderson wrote:
31 Jan 2022 03:48
There is a good reason that particular poster remains on ignore
As I've said before, if Richard Anderson threatens to put you on ignore, don't get your hopes up. Being proven right once again is dim consolation....

....
You can't of course. This is just irrelevant.
Oh, very good!
One wonders how and why the complaints of ever-decreasing membership and participation can be justified at times, eh?

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Feb 2022 21:28

daveshoup2MD wrote:
06 Feb 2022 18:21
And that's fair; obviously, a truly bold path for the Italians in 1940 would have been to join with their Allies in the last war and swing in against the Germans; equally so, simply staying out and playing the same game as the Spanish and Turks would have paid off - but they chose to ally with Germany and Japan, so given a range of bad alternatives - attack the French in the mountains? or attack the British in the desert in the summer with a largely non-motorized straightleg army with a non-existent supply line from Cyrenaica to the Delta (much less the Canal?)?
Indeed, a truly poor option given the lack of preparation and the sudden decision to go to war.
- a reasonably planned and resourced version of C3 in 1940 does the following:
But how, given the lack of preparation and the sudden decision to go to war?
1. Puts the RM, RA, and Army into action against the last enemy in a theater, time, and place of the Italians' choosing, and where the British were - in 1940, at least - weak on the ground, non-existent in the air, and severely over-tasked at sea?
2. This "should" result in an undeniably Italian victory, with expected consequences on the diplomatic/political front;
3. And comes at a time when the British were, equally undeniably, reeling...
Why? The German decision to go to war with Poland would be an unknown to Italy and even if Hitler shared that decision with Il Duce it only means that Italian "preparations" gain at most eight months. I cannot see how eight additional months of preparation would make an Italian victory in either North Africa or Malta undeniable?

Re Malta, the Italians have five improvised landing ships available: Adige, Sesia, Garigliano, Tirso, and Scrivia. Each was capable of landing a reinforced battalion, but would more likely be sunk on approach, so would be a good way to destroy a reinforced battalion. There were no Motorazate, because there were no German MFP to copy from until late 1940 and early 1941 and building times for those were five months or more. They could convert motorbragozzi to improvised landing craft, but they would then have the same issues the Germans found in SEELÖWE, chief of which is how to get the troops from the converted fishing smack to shore, since the converted fishing smack was never designed to be run onto a beach. Thus the requirement for large numbers of rubber and plywood dinghies suitable for moving lightly equipped infantry ashore...onto a shore essentially bristling with machine guns, mortars, and beach guns.

Re North Africa, eight months of preparation are unlikely to result in the Italian 10th Army's motorization or an improvement in its armament and training. There were just three battalions of L3/35 in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as of 10 June 1940, plus eight more and a company of the same in Italy. Otherwise, Centauro had four more such battalions in Albania and Ariete and Littorio four more each in Italy...otherwise the M11/39 were in tiny numbers, 72 newly arrived in June in Tripolitania and 24 newly arrived in Italian East Africa and were already found wanting, which meant the improved M13/40 was instead produced...starting in July 1940.

The best option for Italy was to follow the example of Spain and Turkey, but I doubt Mussolini's ego would have allowed that.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Feb 2022 21:48

daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Feb 2022 18:44
According to Joslen, the British garrison (historically) in Malta in the summer of 1940 was two infantry brigade groups with eight battalions between them, five British and three KOMR; that's not small, but still - the odds would have been better in 1940 than they were in 1942. Of course, obvious Italian planning for amphibious warfare in 1939-40 would very likely have prompted a British counter, but still - if there was ever a time for the Italians to be bold - as a member of the Axis - in WW II, it was 1940.
Eight battalions after 25 June 1940, when the 2d KOMR was split into the 2d and 3d KOMR. As of 30 June 1940, garrison strength (not including RAF and RN personnel) was:

2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers - 22 officers and 691 men
1st Dorsetshire - 24 officers and 689 men
2nd Devonshire - 24 officers and 670 men
2nd Queen’s Own Royal West Kent - 25 officers and 678 men
8th Manchester - 27 officers, 778 men
26th AT Regt RA - 12 officers, 244 men
4th Heavy Regt RA - 23 officers, 352 men
7th AA Regt RA - 18 officers, 379 men
RE – 8 officers, 333 men
1st KOMR – c. 1,200 O&OR (1 July 1941 Strength: 27 officers and 879 men)
2nd KOMR – c. 759 O&OR (25 June)
3rd KOMR – c. 596 O&OR (25 June)
RMA - 78 officers, 1,624 men
RAMP – 18 men
RASC - 5 officers, 126 men
RAOC - 12 officers, 36 men
RAMC - 26 officers, 156 men
RADC - 3 officers, 5 men
RAPC - 6 officers 12 men
Army Education Corps – 1 officer, 9 men
RA Chaplain Department – 4

There were also 34 HAA (18 4.5 and 3.7 inch and 16 3-inch) and 10 Bofors LAA, plus some assorted single, quad, and octuple 2-pdr Pom-Pom and .5 single, twin, and quad mount Vickers HMG, manned by the RN. Based on figures for the reinforced garrison in April 1941, in June 1940 there were likely about 400 Bren, 360 Lewis, 150 Vickers, and 8 Besa MG, along with about 80 2" and 3" mortars, and the 60-odd 18-pdr anti-boat/anti-tank guns.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 01:16

Richard Anderson wrote:
06 Feb 2022 21:28
daveshoup2MD wrote:
06 Feb 2022 18:21
And that's fair; obviously, a truly bold path for the Italians in 1940 would have been to join with their Allies in the last war and swing in against the Germans; equally so, simply staying out and playing the same game as the Spanish and Turks would have paid off - but they chose to ally with Germany and Japan, so given a range of bad alternatives - attack the French in the mountains? or attack the British in the desert in the summer with a largely non-motorized straightleg army with a non-existent supply line from Cyrenaica to the Delta (much less the Canal?)?
Indeed, a truly poor option given the lack of preparation and the sudden decision to go to war.
- a reasonably planned and resourced version of C3 in 1940 does the following:
But how, given the lack of preparation and the sudden decision to go to war?
1. Puts the RM, RA, and Army into action against the last enemy in a theater, time, and place of the Italians' choosing, and where the British were - in 1940, at least - weak on the ground, non-existent in the air, and severely over-tasked at sea?
2. This "should" result in an undeniably Italian victory, with expected consequences on the diplomatic/political front;
3. And comes at a time when the British were, equally undeniably, reeling...
Why? The German decision to go to war with Poland would be an unknown to Italy and even if Hitler shared that decision with Il Duce it only means that Italian "preparations" gain at most eight months. I cannot see how eight additional months of preparation would make an Italian victory in either North Africa or Malta undeniable?

Re Malta, the Italians have five improvised landing ships available: Adige, Sesia, Garigliano, Tirso, and Scrivia. Each was capable of landing a reinforced battalion, but would more likely be sunk on approach, so would be a good way to destroy a reinforced battalion. There were no Motorazate, because there were no German MFP to copy from until late 1940 and early 1941 and building times for those were five months or more. They could convert motorbragozzi to improvised landing craft, but they would then have the same issues the Germans found in SEELÖWE, chief of which is how to get the troops from the converted fishing smack to shore, since the converted fishing smack was never designed to be run onto a beach. Thus the requirement for large numbers of rubber and plywood dinghies suitable for moving lightly equipped infantry ashore...onto a shore essentially bristling with machine guns, mortars, and beach guns.

Re North Africa, eight months of preparation are unlikely to result in the Italian 10th Army's motorization or an improvement in its armament and training. There were just three battalions of L3/35 in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as of 10 June 1940, plus eight more and a company of the same in Italy. Otherwise, Centauro had four more such battalions in Albania and Ariete and Littorio four more each in Italy...otherwise the M11/39 were in tiny numbers, 72 newly arrived in June in Tripolitania and 24 newly arrived in Italian East Africa and were already found wanting, which meant the improved M13/40 was instead produced...starting in July 1940.

The best option for Italy was to follow the example of Spain and Turkey, but I doubt Mussolini's ego would have allowed that.
There was nothing rational about the Italians' decision to go to war when they did, of course; leaving a quarter or more of their merchant marine outside of the Med when going to war in a maritime theater makes that clear.

Having acknowledged that, some level of planning ahead for just that theater, after Ethiopia, Spain, and the alliance announced in May, 1939, would have suggested Malta and Corsica as the most vulnerable positions of their two likely enemies in the event of war.

Building a capability to attack one and then the other seems fairly straightforward, and of the two, Malta is smaller, more exposed to Italian air and naval attack, and less exposed to "enemy" countermeasures. May, 1939 to June, 1940, gives them about a year; that still would have required listening to the professionals and scraping together what they could, largely from the Italian MM - along with the five water tanker/ferries, presumably they could have managed landing craft and extemporized mother ships, using train ferries and other shallow draft coastal vessels, by drawing upon what the Allies did at Gallipoli, or the Spanish during the Rif War, for examples (X-Lighters and Y-LIghters) and British production of MLCs in the interwar period.

Obviously, they didn't do any of that, and there's probably a reasonable argument that the Italian high command and defense establishments, such as they were under the Fascists, were incapable of doing so - although, to be equally fair, the Italians developed a naval special warfare/small combatant capability in both world wars that was second to none, so - maybe?

Italy's strategic planning seems closer to "scream and leap" even than Japan's in the same era.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 01:29

Richard Anderson wrote:
06 Feb 2022 21:48
daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Feb 2022 18:44
According to Joslen, the British garrison (historically) in Malta in the summer of 1940 was two infantry brigade groups with eight battalions between them, five British and three KOMR; that's not small, but still - the odds would have been better in 1940 than they were in 1942. Of course, obvious Italian planning for amphibious warfare in 1939-40 would very likely have prompted a British counter, but still - if there was ever a time for the Italians to be bold - as a member of the Axis - in WW II, it was 1940.
Eight battalions after 25 June 1940, when the 2d KOMR was split into the 2d and 3d KOMR. As of 30 June 1940, garrison strength (not including RAF and RN personnel) was:

2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers - 22 officers and 691 men
1st Dorsetshire - 24 officers and 689 men
2nd Devonshire - 24 officers and 670 men
2nd Queen’s Own Royal West Kent - 25 officers and 678 men
8th Manchester - 27 officers, 778 men
26th AT Regt RA - 12 officers, 244 men
4th Heavy Regt RA - 23 officers, 352 men
7th AA Regt RA - 18 officers, 379 men
RE – 8 officers, 333 men
1st KOMR – c. 1,200 O&OR (1 July 1941 Strength: 27 officers and 879 men)
2nd KOMR – c. 759 O&OR (25 June)
3rd KOMR – c. 596 O&OR (25 June)
RMA - 78 officers, 1,624 men
RAMP – 18 men
RASC - 5 officers, 126 men
RAOC - 12 officers, 36 men
RAMC - 26 officers, 156 men
RADC - 3 officers, 5 men
RAPC - 6 officers 12 men
Army Education Corps – 1 officer, 9 men
RA Chaplain Department – 4

There were also 34 HAA (18 4.5 and 3.7 inch and 16 3-inch) and 10 Bofors LAA, plus some assorted single, quad, and octuple 2-pdr Pom-Pom and .5 single, twin, and quad mount Vickers HMG, manned by the RN. Based on figures for the reinforced garrison in April 1941, in June 1940 there were likely about 400 Bren, 360 Lewis, 150 Vickers, and 8 Besa MG, along with about 80 2" and 3" mortars, and the 60-odd 18-pdr anti-boat/anti-tank guns.
Thanks for the detail; roughly eight infantry battalions, 5-6 equivalents in artillery (CA, AA, and FA/AT); ~9,200 military garrison (not including RN, RM, RAF, etc.), and more than 100 guns... about twice as many defenders as Tarawa, slightly less than at Peliliu.

Now, the British were not the IJA, and the Italian Army and Navy were most certainly not the USN and USMC, but still: not a pleasant undertaking to consider...

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Feb 2022 06:36

daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 01:16
There was nothing rational about the Italians' decision to go to war when they did, of course; leaving a quarter or more of their merchant marine outside of the Med when going to war in a maritime theater makes that clear.
Yep.
Having acknowledged that, some level of planning ahead for just that theater, after Ethiopia, Spain, and the alliance announced in May, 1939, would have suggested Malta and Corsica as the most vulnerable positions of their two likely enemies in the event of war.

Building a capability to attack one and then the other seems fairly straightforward, and of the two, Malta is smaller, more exposed to Italian air and naval attack, and less exposed to "enemy" countermeasures. May, 1939 to June, 1940, gives them about a year;
You may be underestimating just how woefully unprepared for war Italy was in May 1939. As one example, the Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio began modernization in 1937, but it was August 1940 (Caio Duilio) and October 1940 (Andrea Doria) before the work was completed and they were commissioned. The modernization of Conte di Cavour and Giulio Cesare also took four years. Not a good track record.

I suspect for Il Duce the Pact of Steel was all about economic support from Germany, which probably made the Soviet-German Pact something of a shock.
that still would have required listening to the professionals and scraping together what they could, largely from the Italian MM - along with the five water tanker/ferries, presumably they could have managed landing craft and extemporized mother ships, using train ferries and other shallow draft coastal vessels, by drawing upon what the Allies did at Gallipoli, or the Spanish during the Rif War, for examples (X-Lighters and Y-LIghters) and British production of MLCs in the interwar period.
Yeah, but first they needed to decide on a strategy...as you say, "scream and leap" is not a strategy.

I'm not sure that the Italians could draw on British experience...the X-Lighter design was completed in four days and went out to thirty yards for completion. Most were launched within three to four months, and most of the 200 completed in 1915 were delivered by August, less than six months after the design was finalized. I just don't see where the Italians ever had the capability to do that.

Instead, they did follow the Spanish pattern and converted civilian vessels, which resulted in the five landing ships already mentioned, but that did not end with an actual amphibious doctrine, way forward, or thought about how to use them in the event of war in the Med with the British. It may have been a bridge too far for them.
Obviously, they didn't do any of that, and there's probably a reasonable argument that the Italian high command and defense establishments, such as they were under the Fascists, were incapable of doing so - although, to be equally fair, the Italians developed a naval special warfare/small combatant capability in both world wars that was second to none, so - maybe?
Yeah, but the naval special warfare/small combatant capability resulted in effectively bupkis until 19 December 1941...too little and too late.
Italy's strategic planning seems closer to "scream and leap" even than Japan's in the same era.
:lol:
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Feb 2022 07:08

daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 01:29
Thanks for the detail; roughly eight infantry battalions, 5-6 equivalents in artillery (CA, AA, and FA/AT); ~9,200 military garrison (not including RN, RM, RAF, etc.), and more than 100 guns... about twice as many defenders as Tarawa, slightly less than at Peliliu.
You're welcome. I should amend though, the HAA and LAA situation was as of 1 September 1939. I am unclear how many were there 10 June 1940, but it appears about 20 heavy and 14 Bofors were sent between 1 September 1939 and 19 June 1940.. Reinforcements I have been able to track were:

2 September 1940: 16 3.7-inch, 10 Bofors
30 September 1940: Reinforcement convoy arrives:
• Royal Army Service Corps 3 officers 16 OR
• Royal Artillery 27 HAA Battery: 7 officers, 247 other ranks (OR)
• Royal Artillery: 1 officer, 1 OR
• Royal Corps of Signals: 49 OR
• Royal Engineers: 3 OR
• 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
Total 1,071
10 November 1940: arrival of 4th Battalion the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) 11 motorcycles, 28 trucks and ten carriers. 12 Field Regiment RA with 49/91 Field Battery (25 pounder), plus 222 HAA Battery (personnel only – six officers, 200 other ranks) and 59 LAA Battery (personnel only – five officers, 134 other ranks) along with three searchlight instructors. Equipment included 24 25-pdr, 4 I Tanks and 2 Light Tanks.
8 January 1941: 12 AA Defence HQ officers 2, other ranks 7; 12 AA gun operation room officers 7, other ranks 12; 484 Searchlight Battery Royal Artillery officer 9, other ranks 322; RAPC officers 3; RAMC officer 1; Ad Corps officers 2, other ranks 1.
10 January 1941: 190 Heavy AA Battery RA officers 53, other ranks 3; Special Service Battalion officers 4, other ranks 59; RAOC officers 3 other ranks 75; 161 Field Ambulance RAMC officers 2 other ranks 19.
11 January 1941: 404 Searchlight Battery Royal Artillery officers 1, other ranks 57.
14 January 1941: 190 Heavy AA Battery RA officers 3, other ranks 129; 484 Searchlight Battery RA officers 1, other ranks 43; RAOC officers 9; 161 Field Ambulance RAMC officers 9, other ranks 154; RASC officers 3 other ranks 37.
21 February 1941: Convoy with 655 officers and OR of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment, 711 officers and OR 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment, 2 officers and 1 OR 2nd Devonshire, 3 officers 1st Dorsetshire, 1 OR 2nd Royal West Kent, 1 officer RA.
9 May 1941: Convoy arrives with drafts: 1st Cheshire - 5 officers, 95 OR; 1st Hampshire - 3 officers, 57 OR; RA – 1 officer, 9 OR.
24 July 1941: Convoy arrives with;
• Royal Navy 28
• RAF 676
• 11th Lancashire Fusiliers 38 officers and 833 OR
• Royal Artillery 16
• HQ 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regt 18
• 5 Heavy Ack Ack Battery 230
• 6 Heavy Ack Ack Battery 175
• HQ 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment 12
• 55 Light Ack Ack Battery 205
• 98 Light Ack Ack Battery 205
• 182 Light Ack Ack Battery 205
• 186 Light Ack Ack Battery 205
• 223 Light Ack Ack Battery 205
• 24 Light Wireless Section 31
• 64 Light Wireless Section 26
• HQ Infantry Brigade 12
• Royal Engineers 5
• 173 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers 230
• 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment 5
• Royal Army Medical Corps 55
• Other 83
2 August 1941: Convoy arrives with 186 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Artillery and 8th King’s Own Royal Rifles, 33 officers and 810 OR, as well as individual reinforcements for other units, making a total of 54 officers and 970 OR.
28 September 1941: Convoy reinforcements include a 600 bed hospital, 36 officers, 507 other ranks, including 344 RAF.
19 January 1942: X Squadron, 6th RTR arrives.
27 January 1942: 1st Durham Light Infantry (-) arrives.
Now, the British were not the IJA, and the Italian Army and Navy were most certainly not the USN and USMC, but still: not a pleasant undertaking to consider...
The amount of fortifications work, including pillboxes, shelters, gun emplacements, wire, mines, and other obstacles, on Malta was pretty extensive. As near I have been able to figure, by early 1941 all of the beaches on Malta were well laid out fire sacks that made the Japanese defenses on Betio look like a bus stop. For example, I have found that the south side of St. Paul's Bay had 14 pillbox positions alone by the end of September 1940, each with a Vickers and a Bren, plus field fortifications linking them and the 18-pdr beach guns. Fort Campbell added some 11 more pillboxes on the Salmun peninsula and 18 or more pillboxes were completed ringing Melleiha Bay...with the better parts of three infantry battalions manning the various positions. On top of that the beaches were ringed by double and triple-apron barbed wire entanglements and other obstacles and were heavily mined in places (there were at least 13,000 AT and 10,000 AP mines emplaced by February 1940, not a lot compared to Normandy on 6 June, but a lot for an island with fewer than a dozen practicable beaches...many of them under 100 meters wide). The situation at the landing site chosen by the Italians, Marsaxlokk Bay, was at least as dire.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 07:39

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Feb 2022 06:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 01:16
There was nothing rational about the Italians' decision to go to war when they did, of course; leaving a quarter or more of their merchant marine outside of the Med when going to war in a maritime theater makes that clear.
Yep.
Having acknowledged that, some level of planning ahead for just that theater, after Ethiopia, Spain, and the alliance announced in May, 1939, would have suggested Malta and Corsica as the most vulnerable positions of their two likely enemies in the event of war.

Building a capability to attack one and then the other seems fairly straightforward, and of the two, Malta is smaller, more exposed to Italian air and naval attack, and less exposed to "enemy" countermeasures. May, 1939 to June, 1940, gives them about a year;
You may be underestimating just how woefully unprepared for war Italy was in May 1939. As one example, the Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio began modernization in 1937, but it was August 1940 (Caio Duilio) and October 1940 (Andrea Doria) before the work was completed and they were commissioned. The modernization of Conte di Cavour and Giulio Cesare also took four years. Not a good track record.

I suspect for Il Duce the Pact of Steel was all about economic support from Germany, which probably made the Soviet-German Pact something of a shock.
that still would have required listening to the professionals and scraping together what they could, largely from the Italian MM - along with the five water tanker/ferries, presumably they could have managed landing craft and extemporized mother ships, using train ferries and other shallow draft coastal vessels, by drawing upon what the Allies did at Gallipoli, or the Spanish during the Rif War, for examples (X-Lighters and Y-LIghters) and British production of MLCs in the interwar period.
Yeah, but first they needed to decide on a strategy...as you say, "scream and leap" is not a strategy.

I'm not sure that the Italians could draw on British experience...the X-Lighter design was completed in four days and went out to thirty yards for completion. Most were launched within three to four months, and most of the 200 completed in 1915 were delivered by August, less than six months after the design was finalized. I just don't see where the Italians ever had the capability to do that.

Instead, they did follow the Spanish pattern and converted civilian vessels, which resulted in the five landing ships already mentioned, but that did not end with an actual amphibious doctrine, way forward, or thought about how to use them in the event of war in the Med with the British. It may have been a bridge too far for them.
Obviously, they didn't do any of that, and there's probably a reasonable argument that the Italian high command and defense establishments, such as they were under the Fascists, were incapable of doing so - although, to be equally fair, the Italians developed a naval special warfare/small combatant capability in both world wars that was second to none, so - maybe?
Yeah, but the naval special warfare/small combatant capability resulted in effectively bupkis until 19 December 1941...too little and too late.
Italy's strategic planning seems closer to "scream and leap" even than Japan's in the same era.
:lol:
Well, this is the "what if" section of the board. :lol:

The thought re Gallipoli and Alhucemas is simply that the Italians had seen both operations, essentially in their backyard, and would have had - presumably - ample time to study both during the 20s and 30s. Although the Italians had not been part of the Allied expeditionary force in Turkey, the Dodecanese had been part of the logistics chain for the operation, the 35th Division had gone to Salonika because of it, and the Allied navies, including the Italians, had served together operationally from 1915-18; likewise, the Franco-Spanish (Hispano-French?) operation at Alhucemas in 1925 put 13,000 troops ashore against (limited) resistance, using a mixed bag of warships, merchant vessels, and (for example) two dozen of more of the X-Lighters the British had built for Gallipoli, so the real world examples were there; there were also (presumably) Italian lessons learned from their own landings in Libya and the Aegean in the 1911 war, and Spain in the 1930s.

Italy, by definition, is a maritime theater, and coastal defense and sea control in the central Mediterranean, much less increasing the strategic depth to the east and west of the Italian peninsular, requires a maritime strategy and combined operations - it's not exactly deep strategic thinking to recognize those realities and build up a basic capability.

But, then again - and as you say - this was Fascist Italy we're talking about... :roll:

PS - to be fair, the aforementioned "naval special warfare/small combatant capability" had a pretty significant success on 1 November 1918.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 07 Feb 2022 22:52, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 07:44

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Feb 2022 07:08
daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 01:29
Thanks for the detail; roughly eight infantry battalions, 5-6 equivalents in artillery (CA, AA, and FA/AT); ~9,200 military garrison (not including RN, RM, RAF, etc.), and more than 100 guns... about twice as many defenders as Tarawa, slightly less than at Peliliu.
You're welcome. I should amend though, the HAA and LAA situation was as of 1 September 1939. I am unclear how many were there 10 June 1940, but it appears about 20 heavy and 14 Bofors were sent between 1 September 1939 and 19 June 1940.. Reinforcements I have been able to track were:

2 September 1940: 16 3.7-inch, 10 Bofors
30 September 1940: Reinforcement convoy arrives:
• Royal Army Service Corps 3 officers 16 OR
• Royal Artillery 27 HAA Battery: 7 officers, 247 other ranks (OR)
• Royal Artillery: 1 officer, 1 OR
• Royal Corps of Signals: 49 OR
• Royal Engineers: 3 OR
• 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
Total 1,071

etc.

The amount of fortifications work, including pillboxes, shelters, gun emplacements, wire, mines, and other obstacles, on Malta was pretty extensive. As near I have been able to figure, by early 1941 all of the beaches on Malta were well laid out fire sacks that made the Japanese defenses on Betio look like a bus stop. For example, I have found that the south side of St. Paul's Bay had 14 pillbox positions alone by the end of September 1940, each with a Vickers and a Bren, plus field fortifications linking them and the 18-pdr beach guns. Fort Campbell added some 11 more pillboxes on the Salmun peninsula and 18 or more pillboxes were completed ringing Melleiha Bay...with the better parts of three infantry battalions manning the various positions. On top of that the beaches were ringed by double and triple-apron barbed wire entanglements and other obstacles and were heavily mined in places (there were at least 13,000 AT and 10,000 AP mines emplaced by February 1940, not a lot compared to Normandy on 6 June, but a lot for an island with fewer than a dozen practicable beaches...many of them under 100 meters wide). The situation at the landing site chosen by the Italians, Marsaxlokk Bay, was at least as dire.
So, better than 10,000 Army by the summer of 1940? Yeah, getting to 3-1 odds (at least) would be challenging, wouldn't it?

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Feb 2022 16:40

daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 07:39
Well, this is the "what if" section of the board. :lol:
Sure, but as I've always advocated, a what if needs a logical and consistent premise as a take off point. Otherwise you have "what if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo" or "what if Lee had AK-37s at Gettysburg".
The thought re Gallipoli and Alhucemas is simply that the Italians had seen both operations, essentially in their backyard, and would have had - presumably - ample time to study both during the 20s and 30s.
They did, and they also saw what the Japanese did in China and began developing a 20-ton infantry landing craft, but ultimately the decision by the generals and admirals was that amphibious attack was too risky for any possible benefit, plus Il Duce had helped craft Munich, steering Europe away from war, so in early 1939 they canceled landing craft development and retired the admiral advocating for developing amphibious doctrine and development. Which was really nice for Italy because, well lira, you know? What was primarily driving interwar Italian strategic decisions was the economy, which was in shambles.
But, then again - and as you say - this was Fascist Italy we're talking about... :roll:

PS - to be fair, the aforementioned "naval special warfare/small combatant capability had a pretty significant success on 1 November 1918.
Yes, they were and yes it did, so a lot of development lira that could have gone into expensive large-scale amphibious warfare capability went into less expensive, small scale, small combatant capability. However, Decima Mas was not going to win the war in the Mediterranean.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Feb 2022 22:51

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Feb 2022 16:40
daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 07:39
Well, this is the "what if" section of the board. :lol:
Sure, but as I've always advocated, a what if needs a logical and consistent premise as a take off point. Otherwise you have "what if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo" or "what if Lee had AK-37s at Gettysburg".
The thought re Gallipoli and Alhucemas is simply that the Italians had seen both operations, essentially in their backyard, and would have had - presumably - ample time to study both during the 20s and 30s.
They did, and they also saw what the Japanese did in China and began developing a 20-ton infantry landing craft, but ultimately the decision by the generals and admirals was that amphibious attack was too risky for any possible benefit, plus Il Duce had helped craft Munich, steering Europe away from war, so in early 1939 they canceled landing craft development and retired the admiral advocating for developing amphibious doctrine and development. Which was really nice for Italy because, well lira, you know? What was primarily driving interwar Italian strategic decisions was the economy, which was in shambles.
But, then again - and as you say - this was Fascist Italy we're talking about... :roll:

PS - to be fair, the aforementioned "naval special warfare/small combatant capability had a pretty significant success on 1 November 1918.
Yes, they were and yes it did, so a lot of development lira that could have gone into expensive large-scale amphibious warfare capability went into less expensive, small scale, small combatant capability. However, Decima Mas was not going to win the war in the Mediterranean.
So a POD before (or in place of) Munich etc., then, where Benny gets his diplomatic "triumph" but some cold water comes into play... less "peace in our time" and more "we have a breathing space before the general war breaks out; make use of it."

Again, Fascist Italy, but doesn't seem extraordinarily beyond the realm of the possible. Who was the RL Italian amphibious force advocate? And ... just to give it a "Fascist" buff, maybe Borghese remains a SWO, rather than a submariner? Weirder things have happened...

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Feb 2022 05:23

daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 22:51
So a POD before (or in place of) Munich etc., then, where Benny gets his diplomatic "triumph" but some cold water comes into play... less "peace in our time" and more "we have a breathing space before the general war breaks out; make use of it."
My memory failed me. The Italian 20-ton LC program development was cancelled in November 1939.
Again, Fascist Italy, but doesn't seem extraordinarily beyond the realm of the possible. Who was the RL Italian amphibious force advocate? And ... just to give it a "Fascist" buff, maybe Borghese remains a SWO, rather than a submariner? Weirder things have happened...
General Alberto Pariani, Chief of Staff of the Regio Esercito and concurrently Undersecretary for War, was the primary moving force behind shifting from an amphibious doctrine that used large vessels directly landing a battalion landing team, which he saw as a recipe for disaster, to one using an initial landing by primarily infantry forces in small craft. He was dismissed from the Cabinet on 31 October 1939 and then from his position as CoS on 3 November 1939, after writing a letter to Mussolini stating Italy was not ready for a war. His brainchild, the 20-ton landing craft, was cancelled shortly afterwards.
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 08 Feb 2022 05:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
08 Feb 2022 05:23
daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 Feb 2022 22:51
So a POD before (or in place of) Munich etc., then, where Benny gets his diplomatic "triumph" but some cold water comes into play... less "peace in our time" and more "we have a breathing space before the general war breaks out; make use of it."
My memory failed me. The Italian 20-ton LC program development was cancelled in November 1939.
Again, Fascist Italy, but doesn't seem extraordinarily beyond the realm of the possible. Who was the RL Italian amphibious force advocate? And ... just to give it a "Fascist" buff, maybe Borghese remains a SWO, rather than a submariner? Weirder things have happened...
General Alberto Pariani, Chief of Staff of the Regio Esercito and concurrently Undersecretary for War, was the primary moving force behind shifting from an amphibious doctrine that used large vessels directly landing a battalion landing team, which he saw as a recipe for disaster, to one using an initial landing by primarily infantry forces in small craft. He was dismissed from the Cabinet on 31 October 1939 and then from his position as CoS on 3 November 1939, after writing a letter to Mussolini stating Italy was not ready for a war. His brainchild, the 20-ton landing craft, was cancelled shortly afterwards.
Thanks. Interesting.

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