Britain's Declaration of War?

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Polynikes
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Post by Polynikes » 15 Jul 2004 06:28

Shrek wrote:The Italian attack on Egypt in September 1940 was intended to coincide with Operation Seelöwe. The objective was political much more than it was strategic - just like Mussolini's attack on France in 1940 was.

By the time the DAK went to Libya, all notions of a peace conference had of course evaporated - and Rommel getting the command there (no, he did not preside over all Axis forces in North Africa) was more a function of his considerable PR skills - he gained laurels in France, but so did other commanders, and his literary claim to fame was a book on infantry tactics.


How did Mussolini know of Seelowe when, in fact, it never existed as an operational plan but a strategic bluff?

Mussolini had his own agenda and timetable. He actually once told his general facing Wavell "attack next week or be replaced". Did he have an advance copy of the Seelowe timetable that even the German High Command didn't posses?

I'm not sure about the choice of Rommel as german commander...I've just heard it said that he (and the choice of the name DAK) was meant as a slight to the Italians.

As for him being in command in North Africa...I don't know about formal agreements but the Germans were definitely the ones calling the shots.

Axis plans in North Africa after the Germans arrived in numbers were GERMAN plans.

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Post by Jon G. » 15 Jul 2004 07:31

Polynikes wrote:How did Mussolini know of Seelowe when, in fact, it never existed as an operational plan but a strategic bluff?


More effort went into planning Seelöwe than calling it a pure bluff. Whether it was a realistic proposal is irrelevant; Mussolini in fact offered Hitler to contributing Italian troops to the operation - and instead of telling him that it was a 'bluff', Hitler advised him to attack British possessions in the Mediterranean.

September was the latest possible time for launching Seelöwe. The Italian army in Libya could have attacked the British in Egypt earlier, but didn't. As far as Mussolini was concerned, it was a matter of making it before the peace conference - not a question of reaching the Nile.

Mussolini had his own agenda and timetable. He actually once told his general facing Wavell "attack next week or be replaced".


Curious how Mussolini's communiques resembled Churchill's then. I don't see this conflicting with attempting to synchronize the Italian war effort with the German war. Hitler and Mussolini themselves referred to it as 'parallel war'.

Did he have an advance copy of the Seelowe timetable that even the German High Command didn't posses?


I would not be so quick to decide what the OKW possessed and not - Seelöwe was not ruled out as an option by September 1940. That was the latest time of the year where it could still be launched.

I'm not sure about the choice of Rommel as german commander...I've just heard it said that he (and the choice of the name DAK) was meant as a slight to the Italians.


It was not called the DAK initially. It was only a single division strong when sent in February 1941.

As for him being in command in North Africa...I don't know about formal agreements but the Germans were definitely the ones calling the shots.


Rommel's original orders stated that he should not move too far away from Tripolis, an order he didn't respect. Calling it Rommel doing whatever he wanted would be more apt.

Axis plans in North Africa after the Germans arrived in numbers were GERMAN plans.


Keeping Libya was integral to Italian plans I'd say - the Germans never pursued a Mediterranean strategy very wholeheartedly. The initial despatch of German forces to North Africa was simply to avoid Mussolini losing his Med. empire.

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Post by DrG » 15 Jul 2004 14:16

Polynikes wrote:Not sure what you're saying...that had Britain NOT been at war, then Mussolini would've backed off because he KNEW his army wasn't capable of defeating the small British force in the Western Desert?

Polynikes, I would really, really like to know why you have a faith (since, being utterly unproved, it's only a matter of faith) that Mussolini would have made a war with UK. Moreover, your questions about the Western Desert are completely pointless: besides the fact, already well underlined by Shrek, that the decision was, as usual for Mussolini, merely political, but even if there had been the absolute certitude of a victory on Britain in Egypt, that would have been only because it was clear that most of the British war effort was directed against Germany. Only a mental retarded Italian prime minister would have declared war on UK without the presence of a strong (and almost winning) ally (as Germany in 1940).

Even in 1935 the British bluff of the Home Fleet in the Mediterranean almost stopped the war of Ethiopia, but it didn't succeed. Why? Because Mussolini had been informed that the offensive capabilities of the RN was next to zero given the lack of ammo (just for a few minutes of fire) of the larger calibers and the lack of AA artillery (in that times Douhet's dreams looked realistic, and the Air Force was considered more than enough to smash even battleships).
In the following years UK rearmed and the RN soon returned to be too strong for any country of the world fighting alone. But in 1940, with the victory behind the corner and the Kriegsmarine, maybe... ;)
I think Mussolini was humiliated that his army failed to defeat the British and needed German help.

I would really like to know how happy were the Britons under Eisenhower's command. ;)
I don't know if this is true but Mussolini most certainly would not be happy and most certainly anticipated that his army would prevail against the much smaller British force WITHOUT any German help.

And pigs fly... Please, as I have explained, if there were a chance of defeating UK in Egypt, it was only because of the complete destruction of the BEF in May 1940 and the fact that the Germans were keeping busy both the RAF and the RN. If UK and Germany had been in peace, and if Germany hadn't annihilated France and UK in the French Campaign, Italy would have never attacked the British Empire.
These are only pipe dreams.
Bit of a chicken and egg here...British forces were in Greece to protect it from Italian/German aggression.
Had there not been any fascist designs on Greece, then there'd be no British forces.
Mussolini wanted to control Greece having invaded Albania in April 1939.

British advisors were in Greece well before the Italian attack, their mission was, as far as I know, just to prepare a British intervention in Greece in the event of an Italian attack, an attack that happened also because intelligence had reported the presence of British advisors (whose mission was thought to be offensive, not only defensive). About the use of Greek facilities and harbours (a suspect arosed in the Italian govern after the battle of Cape Spada, 19 July 1940, when 2 Italian CL were intercepted in the Egean by an Australian CA and 5 British DD) by the Royal Navy it's reported by Cunningham in his "A Saylor's Odyssey".
....Mussolini decided in August to attack Greece which he regarded as falling within his Mediterranean sphere of interest. He had already occupied Albania in April 1939 and from positions there launched his attack on 28 October without warning Hitler.
http://www.expage.com/wwiimed01

Ah, well, with sources like this! :D I'd really like to know why De Felice has "wasted" 30 years of his life to research in documents, diaries, testimonies, etc. about Mussolini, when we have sources like this.... :roll:
THardly. The Spanish civil war was long over and Mussolini's war in Eithiopia was small scale stuff compared to his designs on Egypt and Greece.

It had finished just a year before the Italian DoW on UK and Frace, if you think it was "long over"... I'd really like to know how, with what time and money Italy would have been able to modernize its forces (as historically happened, by the way).
What is your souce that gives British military expenditure of 16.27% of the national budget? For what year?

As I have written, it was for 1936. My source is "Calendario Atlante De Agostini - XX Secolo", De Agostini, 2000 (it's a statistical yearbook published by the most important Italian geographic publisher), see image below. Nevertheless, the data for Italian expenditure look too low, it's possible (but the book doesn't tell it), that they exclude the exceptional expenses for the wars fought by Italy in 1936 (Ethiopia, that wasn't cheap at all, and Spain). If it's so, it's an excellent idea, because it would mean that they are the net expenses, comparable to those of countries not at war, as UK.
.....Albania hadn't the slightest true indipendence.

I suppose not after Italy invaded it.[/quote][/quote]
Of course (not that before was much different...), but the facts that I listed (govern, currency, flag, armed forces, DoW on UK on 16 June 1940) were after the Italian occupation. Yet, in your superficial definition of "indipendence", you told it was indipendent! :D

This is a scansion of my source about the economic data that I have provided (translation of the notes: The values are expressed in millions of local currency; 1: moreover the debt included 32.7 millions of British £, 257.5 millions of US $ and 119 millions of Swiss Francs; 2: gold pesos; 3: 1937; 4: 1934; 5: domestic debt; 6: British £; 7: 1937-38 ):
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Polynikes
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Post by Polynikes » 15 Jul 2004 15:25

Shrek

More effort went into planning Seelöwe than calling it a pure bluff. Whether it was a realistic proposal is irrelevant;

I would say more planning went into Hitler's visit to Paris than Sealion.

It was purely a bluff - Hitler more than anyone knew this. The Battle of Britain was a longshot gamble to get the British to agree a peace, never the preparation for an invasion.

As Hitler knew that Germany was never going to invade Britain, any "suggestions" to Mussolini (do you have a link that he actually did tell Mussolini to attack Britain?) were purely out of encouragement and not part of any master plan.

Indeed the Italian effort in North Africa only diluted the German effort against the USSR (and the Italian one too for that matter) when Hitler was required to support his Italian ally.

The Italian army in Libya could have attacked the British in Egypt earlier, but didn't.

Not, seemingly, according to the Italian commander who constantly asked for more time - hence the direct week's notice to attack ultimatum.

Curious how Mussolini's communiques resembled Churchill's then. I don't see this conflicting with attempting to synchronize the Italian war effort with the German war. Hitler and Mussolini themselves referred to it as 'parallel war'.

Actually most leaders tried to dictate the war timetable - Hitler certainly did and so did Rooseveldt when requiring an action of sorts before a elections.

I would not be so quick to decide what the OKW possessed and not - Seelöwe was not ruled out as an option by September 1940. That was the latest time of the year where it could still be launched.

Sealion was never an option to begin with.

It was not called the DAK initially. It was only a single division strong when sent in February 1941.

Yes it was:

http://cosmos.oninetspeed.pt/dak/dak/dakhistory.htm

...and gives him the order to go to North Africa with an expedition force, named by Hitler as the Afrika Korps...

Rommel's original orders stated that he should not move too far away from Tripolis, an order he didn't respect. Calling it Rommel doing whatever he wanted would be more apt.

Yes the idea was to support the Italians but pretty soon it was was the other way round and stayed that way.

Keeping Libya was integral to Italian plans I'd say - the Germans never pursued a Mediterranean strategy very wholeheartedly. The initial despatch of German forces to North Africa was simply to avoid Mussolini losing his Med. empire.

The strategy was to keep the Italians from suffering an almighty defeat and thus risking losing Mussolini as an ally.

Hitler never intended North Africa to be anything other than a sideshow....but what plans were drawn up to fight the British/CW forces AFTER the Germans arrived were decided by the local German command.

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Post by Andreas » 15 Jul 2004 15:47

Polynikes wrote:Shrek

More effort went into planning Seelöwe than calling it a pure bluff. Whether it was a realistic proposal is irrelevant;

I would say more planning went into Hitler's visit to Paris than Sealion.

It was purely a bluff - Hitler more than anyone knew this. The Battle of Britain was a longshot gamble to get the British to agree a peace, never the preparation for an invasion.


If Seelöwe was purely a bluff and no operational plan existed, how come all those barges were collected in the channel ports, my grandfather's battalion was moved to Antwerp from Paris, and a complete operational order of battle had been assigned, as outlined elsewhere on this forum?

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Post by Polynikes » 15 Jul 2004 16:01

DrG

Polynikes, I would really, really like to know why you have a faith (since, being utterly unproved, it's only a matter of faith) that Mussolini would have made a war with UK.

I don't have any faith that Mussolini would attack British Egypt had there not been a state of war between Britain and Germany (that Italy joined in after it was obvious - to Mussolini - that Germany was going to win).

What I do believe is that Facsist Italy had built (seemingly) a powerful army, navy and airforce. To think that these were just for show is a pure denial.

Mussolini's actions clearly show him to be at best somewhat uncertain and at worst cowardly - the courage of a mugger.

Italy declares war on France with the French on the very verge of defeat - perhaps it seemed to Mussolini that the 30,000 Western Desert Force was an easy victim.
Greece likewise probably looked like an easy score too.

No, I think that Mussolini wanted italy to be powerful and wanted to cast himself as a powerful leader - he WANTED conquest.

To think that he would spend all that money on his armed forces and NOT use them is foolish IMO. You could draw a modern parallel to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and his war with Iran. You don't built up your army unless yo intend to use it.

....Only a mental retarded Italian prime minister would have declared war on UK without the presence of a strong (and almost winning) ally (as Germany in 1940).

A cynic would add that, given the Italian army's lack of willingness to fight, even a war with African tribesman was taking a risk.

However, one of Fascism's characteristics was bending political reality to suit its requirements. Nevertheless Mussolini actually believed his army in Libya actually WOULD beat the small British force and the Italian navy WOULD beat the RN.

I would really like to know how happy were the Britons under Eisenhower's command.

Not the same thing at all.

A better one would be if Britain had failed in the Falklands war and Britain had been required to ask for US ground troops to fight the war for her.

If you look at the two world wars, Britain has ALWAYS been the junior partner to a larger military power.

In WWI Britain was the junior partner to the French (perhaps not in the last few months).
In France 1940, France again was the senior partner...then Britain courted the USSR and the USA to be the lead player.

North Africa was meant to be a sideshow but an ITALIAN sideshow. The Italians failed comprehensively & German forces had to be "invited" in. Your comparison with the USA taking over in Europe is both disingenuous and pointless.

And pigs fly... Please, as I have explained, if there were a chance of defeating UK in Egypt, it was only because of the complete destruction of the BEF in May 1940 and the fact that the Germans were keeping busy both the RAF and the RN. If UK and Germany had been in peace, and if Germany hadn't annihilated France and UK in the French Campaign, Italy would have never attacked the British Empire.

Agreed - I have never suggested otherwise as you will find with a brief re-read.

I did, however, suggest that Italy may have attacked Greece.

It had finished just a year before the Italian DoW on UK and Frace, if you think it was "long over"

Absolutely. The Spanish civil war officially came to an end in April 1939 over a YEAR before the Italian attack on British Egypt.

Check your history.

... I'd really like to know how, with what time and money Italy would have been able to modernize its forces (as historically happened, by the way).

You'd like to know how Italy could build up an army as happened?
I suggest you study some more as you've answered your own question.

As I have written, it was for 1936. My source is "Calendario Atlante De Agostini - XX Secolo", De Agostini, 2000 (it's a statistical yearbook published by the most important Italian geographic publisher), see image below. Nevertheless, the data for Italian expenditure look too low, it's possible (but the book doesn't tell it), that they exclude the exceptional expenses for the wars fought by Italy in 1936 (Ethiopia, that wasn't cheap at all, and Spain).

I was asking about the British figure of 15%+ which is quite riddiculous....

I'll get a British figure for you.

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Post by Hoolaman » 15 Jul 2004 16:06

I can comment on the relationship of Australia to Britain. I know it is similar for the other commonwealth colonies, but Canada and certainly South Africa had their own issues.

The best example is the fact that the King (or Queen) of England was our King. The highest court of appeal was the High court in England. Our Governors were often englishmen appointed by England. We were a proud independant nation, but only truly a nation since 1901. You wouldn't call an aussie an englishman if you value your life, yet we were proud to be children of the British empire. Our men would volunteer to defend "mother england" and be proud to do so. England would request troops, and they would be sent. So it was more than just an economic arrangement but a state of mind of the nation. The mutual support of the empire was assumed by all because it was in a sense a single entity.

Of course after the war England was broke, and being saved by the yanks was not good for her reputation. The EEC also aligned Britain economically with europe instead of the far reaches of the empire. We realised that the empire was not going to provide security or prosperity for us and since then Australia has been more closely aligned with US interests and persued asian trade.

This is more or less what every country came to realise postwar and one by one they all got their independance.

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Post by Polynikes » 15 Jul 2004 16:08

Andreas

If Seelöwe was purely a bluff and no operational plan existed, how come all those barges were collected in the channel ports, my grandfather's battalion was moved to Antwerp from Paris, and a complete operational order of battle had been assigned, as outlined elsewhere on this forum?

How come river barges were collected?

That was the bluff!!!

I mean, RIVER barges!

They would sink in a heart beat if they tried to cross the English Channel with them.

Sealion wasn't even a good bluff....in contrast check out the elaborate deception that the allies used in the creation of the US 1st Army Group under Lt General Patton in the months prior to D-Day.

Special inflatable tanks were even shipped from the USA to build up a dummy army to persuade Hitler that there really was going to be an invasion across the Pas de Calais.

Your grandfather enjoyed his furlow to Antwerp I hope?

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Post by Polynikes » 15 Jul 2004 16:10

Hoolaman wrote:I can comment on the relationship of Australia to Britain. I know it is similar for the other commonwealth colonies, but Canada and certainly South Africa had their own issues.

The best example is the fact that the King (or Queen) of England was our King. The highest court of appeal was the High court in England. Our Governors were often englishmen appointed by England. We were a proud independant nation, but only truly a nation since 1901. You wouldn't call an aussie an englishman if you value your life, yet we were proud to be children of the British empire. Our men would volunteer to defend "mother england" and be proud to do so. England would request troops, and they would be sent. So it was more than just an economic arrangement but a state of mind of the nation. The mutual support of the empire was assumed by all because it was in a sense a single entity.

Of course after the war England was broke, and being saved by the yanks was not good for her reputation. The EEC also aligned Britain economically with europe instead of the far reaches of the empire. We realised that the empire was not going to provide security or prosperity for us and since then Australia has been more closely aligned with US interests and persued asian trade.

This is more or less what every country came to realise postwar and one by one they all got their independance.


So Hoolaman, for the benfit of Tony, Britain didn't actually order Australia to go to war with Germany then?

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Post by Andreas » 15 Jul 2004 16:19

Polynikes wrote:How come river barges were collected?

That was the bluff!!!

I mean, RIVER barges!

They would sink in a heart beat if they tried to cross the English Channel with them.


Depends entirely on the weather. A while back some (obviously mad) chap took an English canal barge (30ft or thereabouts, called narrowboat) round Wales.

German river barges are more seaworthy than canal barges, that much is certain.

Image

Here you can order a video of a narrowboat crossing the Channel.

I have seen a number of Dutch river barges in English waters. Unless they were flown in by Zeppelin, or walked across the sea bottom, I suppose they did not 'sink in a heart beat'.

At the other end of the market the barges are designed more for continental cruising along rivers with fairly frequent crossings of the English Channel etc. They have a more rounded shape and flowing sheer (with bow and stern higher than the middle of the boat).


Replica Dutch Barge info, emphasis by me.

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Post by tonyh » 15 Jul 2004 17:18

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

You have a very fantasic view of both the British Empire and WWII in general, It's something I cannot agree with as it just doesn't fit with the real political situation that prevailed in 1939 or onwards. I shall reply to your points.

I think my view pretty much reflects the de-facto relationship between London and the British dominions.


Well, of course you're welcome to your opinion, but I believe that while your opinion of a happy collection of equal partners may be somewhat valid in the case of the "white Colonies", the same cannot be said for the others. I don't think we disagee wholeheartedly on this subject as some might view. But the turn of the Century mindset of many in Britain still believed that these Nations were "part of the British Empire" as a whole and not just members of a Commonwealth of Nations as it later came to be. It was a dying concept of course, but many held on to it. The bottom line is that Britain viewed itself as the senior body and not some equal partner.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

.....but it was she who was the centre point of the "alliance", of the "British Commonwealth" as it was known until the 70's. Britain was the keystone in the relationship between these Nations and wasn't short in letting them know it either.

OK, this is closer.
At least you recognise that the dominions weren't mere extentions of Britain - Of course Britain was/is at the centre of the Commonwealth - that stands to reason.
Britain was the most powerful member of the Commonwealth so "keystone" of any alliance would be a reasonable description...though not as vital as say the USA's role in NATO.

As for being short in letting them know...I'm not sure what you mean. Certainly there are examples of when the USA has tried to pressure NATO members to support it in war (Vietnam and Iraq for example) but I can't think of any pressure Britain ever applied...dominion support was assumed not dictated.


Of course these Coutries were "extentions of Britain" in the physical sense, but they were in a power sense. The "British Commonwealth" was Britain, whereas the Dominions were "part of" the BRITISH Commonwealth. The point being that Britain set the standard and the rest were to follow the leader. These Dominion Countires, even with their relative independence, knew that the real seat of power lay in the house of Commons, not in their own backyard. Even today theres much debate in Australia about the Queen being their Monarch!

But remember in the context we began talking about, it was the early 20th Century yardstick and residue from the 1800's that prevailed in the Britain of the 1930's. Also the very fact support was assumed says that Britain felt it had a control in the situation. I'll repeat the point Canada only declared war on the 10th of September after much pressure from the British home Government and teh PM of Australia was told that the "Empire was at war". In other words, the boss has declared war and your involved.

I can't see strictly eye to eye with your "Sunny Sunday" version of the Empire. And while the likes of Canada, Australia, etc weren't run by an iron hand, it was still very much a "British" Empire.


Polynikes wrote:tonyh

This is the important point in the perception of the "Empire's war". My mother who was born on the Channel Islands remembers clearly that she was thought in school that canada, Australia, parts or South Africa were coloured pink (or crimson on some maps), and therefore "British".

Sorry Tony, that is meaningless....most kids thought the same. I used to think it too that Britain owned all these places.

Even as late as the 70's, (British) international political maps coloured Australia and Canada pink. Some probably still do.
Britain's political leadership didn't form their views on the subject from jingoistic cartographers though.


Meaningless to whom? It was certainly meaningful to the people who deemed it nesscessary to decide that it was worth teaching (ie the ruling government of the time), also by the teachers teaching it and by the pupils who were thought it. But remember, we have to seperate the British Empire of the 30's to the Britain that existed after WWII. Both are very different entities.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

Of course the mail would say that wouldn't it. It was and is an "establishment" newspaper and therefore will reflect the governmental view of the times. But such a headline neglects the fact that Canada didn't actually declare war until the 10th of September and the Austrailian PM had no say in the matter. Just because a newspaper of the day states a spurious headline doesn't mean that that headline is fact.

You've kind of contradicted yourself here Tony.

You're trying to tell me that "people" regarded the empire (including the dominions) as British, yet when I tell you that the Daily Mail specifically celebrates that these same dominions made a conscious decision of support - you say that this view reflected a general view that these places were British and thus weren't in a position to make such a conscious declaration anymore than say East Anglia or Cornwall was.

The very fact that the newspapers made an big issue of it demonstrates recognition that the dominions were independent, grown up nations yet STILL supporting the mother country.

I disagree that the Aussie PM had no say BTW and your point about Canadian declarations actually supports my assertion that Canada was politically independent - if it were a mere possesion, then no procedure would be required in order to delay it's declaration.

Finally, this whole discussion is in regard as to whether dominion industrial production could in any way be ragrded as British and so used to inflate British figures when matched against Germany at the outbreak of war.
I say it cannot.


You'll have to be clearer on where I have contradicted myself. Just because the "British Dominions" also declare war after the head of the British Empire declared war doesn't go against anything I said previously. And the discussion was actually about whether the production capacity of the British Empire would larger than German production. And on that we'll have to disagree. But to end on that matter, remember that at the end 1940, British fighter production alone was outstripping German fighter production. And while that may be put down to a "relaxed" aproach to the war from Germany's POV, its indicative of both nations attitude to war production in the early stages of the war.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

Actually, it looked rather different in your original post. You said that the British Empire was "over" after WWI.

In effect it was.
The dominions went their own way after WWI and British power was severely limited - hence the reason why the British forces (the best in terms of quality in 1914 and quantity with regard to the RN) were so weak in 1939.

However impressive the British empire looked on paper or jingoistic maps, the reality was different.
After WWI, it was finished....it wasn't a question of IF the British empire would break up, but WHEN.
Before WWI, such questions were unthinkable.

No, it was WWI that was the real watershed of empire not WWII.


Again we'll just have to disagree on that too During the 20's and 30's the Empire was alive and well although weaker than before WWI, with the "white colonies" gaining more independence, but after WWII the Empire was a dead duck as it was always destined to be of course (all empires fall), the seond war just wuicken things up. But we actually do agree somwwhat with the reality of the "British Empire" and the perception.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

Well, what you "believe" and what is fact are two vastly different things. Your beliefs are based on what you want to believe, not what was actually the political climate and what was actually possible in the 1940's.

How? In what way?
I think your posts are prejudiced against Britain - just WHEN has Britain ever sought to rule ANY part of continental Europe?
Not since successive English kings tried to gain control of the French throne has this been the case. Certainly British/English troops have fought in Europe on many occasions, but never to rule the place, merely to limit another country from exercising dominant rule.

You will find that it's your view of Britain as an aspirant master of Europe that's out of step with historical truth.


You need to go back an read my posts. Your not clear on what I have said. I didn't ever say the Britain wanted to "rule" Europe or even parts of Europe. But she certainly enjoyed the balance of power in Europe. The very fact that she stepped into European affairs regarding the Anschluss and the Czech situation and also had the attitude to "Demand" that Germany pull her troops out of another European Country displays this clearly. Again, you're confusing the Britain of today with the Britain of the 30's. The two just aren't comparable. And my posts aren't "prejdicial" against Britain at all. Just the reality. It made abolute sense for Britain to presurise her only major condender on the Continent for the power ballance. She wasn't just about to give up that position to Germany. Thats why she expanded a war she had no business in into an new major European war, and consequently a new World war.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

It still doesn't alter the fact that it was Britain who made the first move in a war against Germany. A Nation who had no aspirations against Britain itself .......they sought to contain German power on the Continent and maintain their own balance of power.

A few points:

1. If Germany had no "aspirations" against Britain, what were those U-Boats for?
2. Germany supported anti-democratic governments like Franco's. You're going to tell me that this isn't a threat to democracy and therefore Britain (and all the other democracies). Domino theory and all that?
3. You actually hit the nail on the head. Britain DID seek to limit German power - that was what the ultimatum over Poland was all about - Germany HAD to be stopped from growing into an unstoppable military juggernaut.
The USA made similar efforts to retard the growth of Soviet/Chinese power BTW. eg: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, the creation of NATO before the creation of the Wasaw Pact. Why were hundreds of thousands of US troops in Europe post WWII?
You could argue that the USSR hadn't any aspirations to invade the USA but a reduction in the number of Western democracies was most definitely a threat to the USA.

German hegemony in Europe OF COUSE threatened Britain....not because Germany WOULD attack Britain but because it COULD & therefore MIGHT and therefore would give Germany political leverage/power over Britain.

Think about it.


I have thought about, an awful lot and for many years. But regarding your points.

1. When war started Germany's U-boat fleet consisted mainly of coastal boats type I's, type II's etc and a couple of type VII ocean going vessel's. So your "what were those U-Boats for?" doesn't actually make sense. The coastal boats were no threat to Britain at all and germany was forced by the Western allies to restrict its Navy to such measures because of the limits to her Naval power dictated in Versailles. A submarine fleet was not by German design.
2. Germany's support of Franco may have been a threat to the Monarchy in Spain, but it certainly was no threat to Britain in any way. Who Hitler repeatedly said he did NOT want to bother with. Again your seeing things in a way that YOU want to see them and not the reality of the situation.
3. Your third point I don't get. I haven't said anything other than that the primary British foreign policy toward Germany since 1870 was one of containment. Britain declared war on Germany to maintain her balance of power on the Continent. I don't see the problem you have with this.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

You need to re-read your own posts. They contain references saying that Germany could win a war in Russia and that Britain fought a "war of liberation".

Please READ them Tony.

I'll repeat what you just quoted: Britain DIDN'T didn't go to war to fight a "war of liberation".

(my bold)

Quote:
Again. I can only say that you should re-read your OWN posts. You clearly mention Britain fighting a "war of liberation".

Oh dear....read it again & feel publically embarrassed.
Your own post states it. Note the DIDN'T.

That's DIDN'T or DID NOT....fight a war of liberation.

Clear?

Now please don't ascibe quotes I didn't make....I NEVER at ANY time claimed Britain has EVER fought a war of liberation. Because she hasn't....unless you count the Falklands war.


Ok this is getting ridiculous. You say that Britain didn't fight a war of Liberation, fine. But I didn't either. Its completely contrary to my point. So I don't know where you get the 'You (as in me) clearly mention Britain fighting a "war of liberation".' from.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

.....you're wrong....do not understand the real aspects of the war in Russia....your dreams of a German victory in Russia sound as fanciful as Hitler's. ......NO WAY Germany can achieve an all out victory in Russia....wouldn't happen.... your opinion is just not realistic....

Quite a passionate post Tony.
Of course it's all specualtion but I believe that Germany WOULD beat the USSR 1:1. Indeed most speculative fiction supports it. There is no end to the number of books about how Germany could've beaten the USSR even WITH Britain & the USA in the mix as you put it.

Now of course if Britain and France stay out of it entirely (as you suggest they could've) then the whole Wehrmacht gets directed against the USSR - of course the Germans might still lose but their forces would be almost doubled in size in the East (factoring in the German/Italian naval forces not required etc).

You say the USSR wins, I say Germany wins. Who knows, it's not actually important - the fact is that Britain believed that Germany COULD win (indeed a Soviet win is almost as bad).
Could Britain really gamble on a 0-0 draw with both countries (Nazi Germany AND the USSR) completely exhausted?

Another point - you seem willing to ascribe to me Nazi dreams of conquest (presumably a bad thing in your eyes) yet retain a view of Nazi benevolence towards Britain.
Just to put you right - I don't lie awake at night fantasising about the Fuhrer victorious over the world. In fact, for me, it's the stuff of nightmares. You couldn't be more wrong.


My point about "you sounding like Hitler" is to point out the fanciful nature of both yours and Hitler's opinions regarding a German victory in Russia. Not that you wish for the actual event to manifest itself. This is a matter that we will just jave to disagree on. But also German forces in the East will not "double" in size if a Western War is not declared, they simply gain the 20% of the forces they are forced to leave behind to guard her rear. It's still not enough to counter the absolutely over whelming Soviet forces waiting for them in the East. The war would be longer, but theres no German all out victory.

Polynikes wrote:tonyh

Your "...A few SS divisions (and the Luftwaffe) would suffice to control Russian peasants armed with little more than small arms." demonstrates a lack of knowledge regarding the desparation of German rear area actions. The Germans couldn't manage to effectively combat the Russian partisans, when they had 80% of the Wehrmacht there. How the hell are they supposed to do it when they have to fight a new war in the West, whcih would have been a far different proposition after a long war in Russia, than it was in 1940.

I see how you form this view...
OK. If the USSR is defeated, the partizans dissolve.
After large scale combat ops are over, resistance peters out in the face of brutal repression.
Think Hungary 1956.

Large areas of what was the USSR used to be ruled by the likes of Sweden and Poland with few actual troops. Don't kid yourself....a visit by the SS would soon crush revolt.

Those partizans would end up as terrorists and terrorists always lose against totalitarian regimes.

Think Genghis Khan.


No. I'll think 20th Century warfare. The Genghis Khan route won't work. It won't apply. Neither does the Hugarian situation. Both are too different. Your argument falls down on your presupposition of a complete German victory in Russia.



Hmmm....I've reached a point in this reply of realising the pointlessness of repling to you. I haven't the time for another long winded post essentially saying the same things that I have already said and this thread is in danger of become a circular is too/is not type diatribe. If people are interested they can go back and read what has already been written. But nothing you have said has convinced me I'm afraid. Your posts just don't relate with reality.

My essential points are
1.Britain and her Empire would produce more than Germany
2.Britain declared war on Germany to preserve her status in the balance of power in European affairs
3.Hitler had no designs of expansion to the West, until after the British and France declared war on Germany and then it was out of nesscessity rather than design
4.Germany could not win a complete victory over Russia

and they have not changed. That dosen't mean of course that they aren't subject to change. And by the way, Hoolaman's rendition of how Australia existed within the British Empire coincides more or less with my own view on the matter and the fact that Britain apointed the Governor's says an awful lot about how Britain view her too.

Tony

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 15 Jul 2004 17:51

Polynikes wrote:I don't have any faith that Mussolini would attack British Egypt had there not been a state of war between Britain and Germany (that Italy joined in after it was obvious - to Mussolini - that Germany was going to win).

Maybe I misunderstood you, but your question looked rather clear: "Not sure what you're saying...that had Britain NOT been at war, then Mussolini would've backed off because he KNEW his army wasn't capable of defeating the small British force in the Western Desert?". What did you mean? I think, asking it, that you wanted to say that Italy would have attacked the British forces in Egypt even if Britain hadn't been at war with anybody. Wouldn't this be an attack on the British Empire of Italy alone?
What I do believe is that Facsist Italy had built (seemingly) a powerful army, navy and airforce. To think that these were just for show is a pure denial.

I believe you utterly ignore Fascist Italy.
Mussolini's actions clearly show him to be at best somewhat uncertain and at worst cowardly - the courage of a mugger.
Italy declares war on France with the French on the very verge of defeat - perhaps it seemed to Mussolini that the 30,000 Western Desert Force was an easy victim.
Greece likewise probably looked like an easy score too.

About the fact that Greece looked easy you are right, but so what? In 1923 Italy occupied Corfù to be sure that Greece would have paid an amend for the murder of Gen. Tellini and other Italians by Greek bandits. Greece paid, but the Italian forces had been retreated because of British pressures. Mussolini knew well, much more than you, that an attack on Greece (even more in 1940, with the increased British influence on that country) would have meant a war with UK.
About the political attitude of Mussolini, I hope you remember that he was the only one who actively stopped Hitler when he tried to annex Austria. Then the Naval Treaty of London shown the courage of British leaders. By the way, the DoW on France was not followed by any attack because of Mussolini's own order, who didn't need to attack an almost defeated country. The offensive of 21-24 June was made only for political reasons (to force the acceptance of the, indeed rather mild, Italian conditions of armistice).
The Western Desert Force didn't look like exactly an easy enemy, also because its dimensions were unknown and over-inflated by Italian intelligence. Yet, yes, it seemed possible to attack Egypt (but only in Rome, not in Graziani's commands), but, again, only because Britain was already involved in a war with Germany. And again (and again, and again...) we return to the start: no war of UK with Germany = no war of UK with Italy = no war of Italy with Greece.
No, I think that Mussolini wanted italy to be powerful and wanted to cast himself as a powerful leader - he WANTED conquest.

Ah, well, if you think it it must be true... :roll:
To think that he would spend all that money on his armed forces and NOT use them is foolish IMO. You could draw a modern parallel to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and his war with Iran. You don't built up your army unless yo intend to use it.

Do you see that you have still failed to demonstrate:
- that Italy spent so much money for the Armed Forces (by the way, the exchange rate of Italian Lira and British £ was about 90 lire for 1 £ in 1936)
- that the money spent was not comparable to that spent by other European powers
- that it was used to modernize or even enlarge the Armed Forces, rather then to keep them in service or for the Wars of Ethiopia and Spain
- that Italy had a project of expansionism using military means and that this alleged (unproved and pratically never considered by any serious historian) project was directed against the British Empire
- that the British DoW on Germany reduced the threat of Italy for UK.
A cynic would add that, given the Italian army's lack of willingness to fight, even a war with African tribesman was taking a risk.

Ah, now we have reached the good old British mythology... OK, OK, the Italian soldiers were good only for parades... :roll:
However, one of Fascism's characteristics was bending political reality to suit its requirements. Nevertheless Mussolini actually believed his army in Libya actually WOULD beat the small British force and the Italian navy WOULD beat the RN.

Polynikes, here the only one who is bending reality it's you.
Absolutely. The Spanish civil war officially came to an end in April 1939 over a YEAR before the Italian attack on British Egypt.

Hey, here you are becoming quite annoying: if you were able to read, you would have seen that I have written too that the war of Spain had finished a year before the Italian entrance in WW2. And in a year you modernize nothing (as happened). By the way:
- I can read: no need of bold and capital letters
- keep capital letters for other people: they mean you are shouting, if you want to shout, go to a stadium.
Check your history.

:D Pathetic.
You'd like to know how Italy could build up an army as happened?
I suggest you study some more as you've answered your own question.

Ah well, an Army that had the most obsolete equipement? An army lacking any tank (just 20 on 10 June 1940)? Yes, truly a very expensive army..... :roll: The nightmare of British leaders....
I was asking about the British figure of 15%+ which is quite riddiculous....

While your historic knowledge is pretty ridiculous, your math is unexisting! 8O I have provided the sourcem and the numbers, just recalculate the percentage if it's not too difficult for you... :roll:
I'll get a British figure for you.

Yes, thank you very much. By the way, do you think that "Italian figures" are crap? De Agostini is a serious publisher, that keeps and publishes statistical data each year since 1904. I can trust what they publish.
By the way, what are your great sources about Italian expansionism?
Last edited by DrG on 15 Jul 2004 19:49, edited 1 time in total.

Globalization41
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Location: California

Canada

Post by Globalization41 » 15 Jul 2004 19:42

The Canadians may have been "with" the
British on paper, but in reality they didn't
seem very enthusiastic about risking their
lives in support of the Empire's policy of war
against evil Nazism.

[url=http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?p=487400//url#487400]Canadian Volunteers for
Overseas War Duty Lagging
[/url]

Globalization41

Jon G.
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Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 15 Jul 2004 19:53

Polynikes wrote:I would say more planning went into Hitler's visit to Paris than Sealion.

It was purely a bluff - Hitler more than anyone knew this. The Battle of Britain was a longshot gamble to get the British to agree a peace, never the preparation for an invasion.

As Hitler knew that Germany was never going to invade Britain,


Did Hitler's visit to Paris necessitate the development of amphibious tanks? The massing of lots and lots of barges on the Channel coast?

Much planning and effort went into Sealion. That it was not carried out does not qualify calling it a 'bluff'. You're merely post-rationalizing. In the summer and early autumn of 1940, Seelöwe seemed realistic enough to everybody concerned - including, notably, Mussolini.

any "suggestions" to Mussolini (do you have a link that he actually did tell Mussolini to attack Britain?) were purely out of encouragement and not part of any master plan...


Attacking in Egypt at the same time that Sealion was supposed to take place is a far cry from any master plan - Mussolini thought that the UK was on the verge of collapse and just needed the final push to be brought to the negotiation table.

Anyway, my basic point is that Mussolini's attack in Egypt had a political, rather than a strategic aim. He wanted to be on the winning side before it was too late.

Globalization41
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Posts: 1133
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 02:52
Location: California

Operation Sea Lion

Post by Globalization41 » 15 Jul 2004 20:53

The fact that Operation Sea Lion was never
launched proves that it was a bluff. It would
not have been a bluff had the troop barges
not been assembled. ... Hitler could easily
have ordered the cross-channel invasion
as early as by late summer 1940 and
successfully have pulled it off. He was not
afraid to take casualties as Poland and
France had proved. Sea Lion would have
been bloody, but after consolidating their
foothold the Germans would have been
unstoppable
and merciless. ... Meanwhile,
with the Germans busy subduing the British
Isles, Stalin would have been munching away
at eastern Europe, "taking small bites and
allowing time for digestion."

Globalization41

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