Winnie and the Balkans

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daveshoup2MD
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Mar 2021 05:00

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Mar 2021 22:52
daveshoup2MD wrote:
22 Mar 2021 18:40
... Sardinia and Corsica were in Allied control by 4 October 1943 (at a cost of roughly 250 French and 600 Italian KIA); staging sufficient Allied air power and naval power forward to sustain operations in Liguria would have taken longer; using such operations as an complete replacement to BAYTOWN-AVALANCHE-SLAPSTICK would have, presumably, meant the Foggia airfield complex, and the ports that could sustain it - which was the only territory in Italy worth anything to the Allies - remains in German hands in the autumn of 1943.

And then it's winter. When, exactly, would you have suggested the Allies land in Liguria, and with what forces?
It appears it took the US and French air forces maybe two months or less to base 1,100 aircraft on Corsica. About a even split between bombers (B25 & B26) and fighters with 10% recon & ASW aircraft. What was based on Sardinia I can't say.

But heres the thing. As soon as the Decision for OVERLORD was made at the Terhan conference early November the Joint Chiefs were writing up directives for shifting the amphib fleet from the Med to the UK. When Clark was handed the directive & outline for Op SHINGLE he looked at the departure schedules of the amphibs & estimated SHINGLE would be limited to a corps size group. Any post October ops need to be executed in November or early December before the Tyrany of Overlord kicks in. & unlike at Anzio there needs to be a higher capacity port secured. Its risky with cross beach supply for a full size army, & esquires holding back LST & Mike boats for lighterage. I don't have the peace time capacity of the Italian ports at hand. 5,000 tons daily may not be enough for eight allied divisions in sustain defensive combat. 9000 tons daily might be a minimum for ten divisions, corps & army overhead, and a tactical air force ashore in sustained offensive combat.
I think the timeframe is what makes this impossible as an alternative strategy in the autumn of 1943; absent AVALANCHE or something equivalent, there's much less of a chance the Italian volte face will come off as it did historically, which means Sardinia and Corsica have be fought for (no friendly Italian garrisons, obviously) by the US and/or British, which means any buildup is slowed, which means even once the two islands are in Allied hands and are built up for TUSCANY, there's still the question of Elba, and only THEN can an operation begin...

Now, Sardinia and Corsica as an alternative to Sicily in the summer of 1943 might allow for TUSCANY, but that is a pretty huge delta in itself.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Mar 2021 13:33

Wouldn't be much of a fight. Both islands were considered undefendable by the Italian Commando Supremo. A couple weak infantry divisions, and token reinforcements were all they allocated to the defense of Sardinia. Its unlikely the militia would fight any better than on Sicilly. Air strength is a bit ambiguous. There seems to have been a minimum air garrison on Sardinia of 130-150 aircraft, but the Axis would reinforce that for a few days weeks or months depending on circumstance. What the Allied could use there in terms of P38 P40 fightrs I don't have at hand.

The Joint Chiefs had a one night affair at Casablanca with the idea of seizing Sardinia in March 1943. When the SYMBOL conference reconvened the following day Brooke blackballed the idea, preferring to take on the Axis forces in Tunisia head on. Reading Bryants interpretation of Brookes diary I can't determine if he understood at that point how long the Tunisian campaign might last. Inserting Allied airpower on that pair in the spring of 1943 vs the late autumn certainly complicates things for the Axis. But, there are other discussions of that idea elsewhere.

Gooner1
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 30 Mar 2021 12:21

daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Mar 2021 04:53
It's an interesting idea, and you're correct, the Germans went back and forth on when and where to try and hold a line in Italy for weeks after HUSKY was launched, but if the delta is August-September and the decisions that led to BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, time seems short to a) mount an full-fledged operation against Sardinia, hen a second against Corsica, then a build-up for TUSCANY, including (presumably) either a preliminary or secondary operation against Elba.
The option to go for Sardinia-Corsica instead of Calabria-Salerno was there until mid-late July. The removal of Mussolini and the opening of peace negotiations by the Italians helped persuade the Chiefs-of-Staffs to go for the mainland. Ironically the Italians negotiators were calling for an Allied landing north of Rome.

If landing on Sardinia I'd expect the Allies to want to do it properly but Italian resistance, as in Calabria, to be neglible and for the Germans to institute their prepared evacuation plan, first to Corsica and then to the mainland, quickly.
German losses in the evacuation included 55 transport aircraft and 17,000 tons of shipping. The British OH says "The Allies could no doubt have inflicted much more damage if they had considered it worthwhile to divert more force to this secondary task."

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 31 Mar 2021 05:49

Gooner1 wrote:
30 Mar 2021 12:21
daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Mar 2021 04:53
It's an interesting idea, and you're correct, the Germans went back and forth on when and where to try and hold a line in Italy for weeks after HUSKY was launched, but if the delta is August-September and the decisions that led to BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, time seems short to a) mount an full-fledged operation against Sardinia, hen a second against Corsica, then a build-up for TUSCANY, including (presumably) either a preliminary or secondary operation against Elba.
The option to go for Sardinia-Corsica instead of Calabria-Salerno was there until mid-late July. The removal of Mussolini and the opening of peace negotiations by the Italians helped persuade the Chiefs-of-Staffs to go for the mainland. Ironically the Italians negotiators were calling for an Allied landing north of Rome.

If landing on Sardinia I'd expect the Allies to want to do it properly but Italian resistance, as in Calabria, to be neglible and for the Germans to institute their prepared evacuation plan, first to Corsica and then to the mainland, quickly.
German losses in the evacuation included 55 transport aircraft and 17,000 tons of shipping. The British OH says "The Allies could no doubt have inflicted much more damage if they had considered it worthwhile to divert more force to this secondary task."
Absent an Italian surrender in September, I'd expect the Italian garrisons in Sardinia and Corsica to fight, as they did in Sicily; the coastal defense formations would presumably have been marginally effective, but - if my reading of the Italian divisional histories is correct, and it may not be - the Axis garrisons on the two islands amounted to:

Ge. 90th PGD (Sardinie Reserve); It 30th; It 31st; It 47th; It 203rd CD; It 225th CD; It 226th CD
Ge. SS RF PG Brigade (Corsica); It 20th; It 44th; It 204th CD; It 205th CD; ; 184th Nembo Parachute (-);

Not exactly the 6th Army, and the 6th Army wasn't exactly the best, but still - not negligible. In (very rough) equivalents, maybe four understrength divisions on Sardinia and 2-3 on Corsica; presume the Allied force would be (at least) a reinforced corps, that still has to fight for Sardinia and then Corsica in September, reorient toward Tuscany, and mount (presumably) some sort of equivalent of BRASSARD in October, before the Tuscan landing in October or November ... so, 3-4 landings in the space of, what, maybe two months?

Seems like a lot.

Scrap HUSKY in favor of Sardinia-Corsica in July, maybe?

Gooner1
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 31 Mar 2021 12:27

daveshoup2MD wrote:
31 Mar 2021 05:49
Absent an Italian surrender in September, I'd expect the Italian garrisons in Sardinia and Corsica to fight, as they did in Sicily; the coastal defense formations would presumably have been marginally effective, but - if my reading of the Italian divisional histories is correct, and it may not be - the Axis garrisons on the two islands amounted to:

Ge. 90th PGD (Sardinie Reserve); It 30th; It 31st; It 47th; It 203rd CD; It 225th CD; It 226th CD
Ge. SS RF PG Brigade (Corsica); It 20th; It 44th; It 204th CD; It 205th CD; ; 184th Nembo Parachute (-);

Not exactly the 6th Army, and the 6th Army wasn't exactly the best, but still - not negligible. In (very rough) equivalents, maybe four understrength divisions on Sardinia and 2-3 on Corsica; presume the Allied force would be (at least) a reinforced corps, that still has to fight for Sardinia and then Corsica in September, reorient toward Tuscany,
The Mussolini government had collapsed though, that would probably make a difference to the Italian troops willingness to fight. It did in the latter part of the Sicilian campaign and in Calabria.
Generally speaking not too expect the Coastal divisions too resist much, the Axis and Allied command both thought this of them on Sicily and their expectations were more than fulfilled. The field army divisions, except perhaps Nembo, would probably only fight effectively under German command and buttressed by German troops. The German troops probably too few, too dispersed and looking over their shoulders at evacuation to mount any prolonged resistance.
and mount (presumably) some sort of equivalent of BRASSARD in October, before the Tuscan landing in October or November ... so, 3-4 landings in the space of, what, maybe two months?

Seems like a lot.
Elba could be ignored but yes, time is the big factor. The Combined Chiefs want many of the Mediterranean landing craft in England before the winter weather; the Italian Armistice, in which great hope was misplaced, has to wait and the impatience of the Allied commanders to be 'getting on with things' conspire against it.
Shame, it could have saved the Allied armies 400 miles of slogging and probably put them in the Po Valley in Summer 1944.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 31 Mar 2021 21:46

Gooner1 wrote:
31 Mar 2021 12:27
daveshoup2MD wrote:
31 Mar 2021 05:49
Absent an Italian surrender in September, I'd expect the Italian garrisons in Sardinia and Corsica to fight, as they did in Sicily; the coastal defense formations would presumably have been marginally effective, but - if my reading of the Italian divisional histories is correct, and it may not be - the Axis garrisons on the two islands amounted to:

Ge. 90th PGD (Sardinie Reserve); It 30th; It 31st; It 47th; It 203rd CD; It 225th CD; It 226th CD
Ge. SS RF PG Brigade (Corsica); It 20th; It 44th; It 204th CD; It 205th CD; ; 184th Nembo Parachute (-);

Not exactly the 6th Army, and the 6th Army wasn't exactly the best, but still - not negligible. In (very rough) equivalents, maybe four understrength divisions on Sardinia and 2-3 on Corsica; presume the Allied force would be (at least) a reinforced corps, that still has to fight for Sardinia and then Corsica in September, reorient toward Tuscany,
The Mussolini government had collapsed though, that would probably make a difference to the Italian troops willingness to fight. It did in the latter part of the Sicilian campaign and in Calabria.
Generally speaking not too expect the Coastal divisions too resist much, the Axis and Allied command both thought this of them on Sicily and their expectations were more than fulfilled. The field army divisions, except perhaps Nembo, would probably only fight effectively under German command and buttressed by German troops. The German troops probably too few, too dispersed and looking over their shoulders at evacuation to mount any prolonged resistance.
and mount (presumably) some sort of equivalent of BRASSARD in October, before the Tuscan landing in October or November ... so, 3-4 landings in the space of, what, maybe two months?

Seems like a lot.
Elba could be ignored but yes, time is the big factor. The Combined Chiefs want many of the Mediterranean landing craft in England before the winter weather; the Italian Armistice, in which great hope was misplaced, has to wait and the impatience of the Allied commanders to be 'getting on with things' conspire against it. Shame, it could have saved the Allied armies 400 miles of slogging and probably put them in the Po Valley in Summer 1944.
Perhaps, but given the results of the British operations in the Dodecanese in exactly this period I would be very cautious about mounting amphibious operations on the fly... and I don't know that Elba can be ignored; if the Allied target is the Tuscan coastline, I'd think they'd have to deal with it, and the island is basically a shield for Piombino.

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