Importance of the Med. Theatre

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CardinalBaseball
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Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by CardinalBaseball » 06 Feb 2007 23:49

In your opinion how important was the Mediterranean theatre? Give specifics, not just "it was/n't"

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Pips
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Post by Pips » 07 Feb 2007 22:45

The Mediterranean was a matter of life or death for two warring countries, and totally undervalued by a third in either opportunity or strategic value.

To Italy it represented the opportunity of colonial expansion, establishment of an Empire, control of the regions rich trade routes for a (very) resource poor country and international prestige. Failure to secure the region left Italy itself open to invasion.

To the British the Mediterranean was a two edged sword. Defeat would spell little short of disaster - the prospect of the sequential loss of Egypt, the Suez Canal, the Levant and, ultimately, the crucial oilfields of the Middle East. It also offered a direct way to strike at Germany through a (potentially) soft region from avariety of directions, eg Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Vichy France. Ultimately that opportunity was realsied after three years of bitter fighting with American help, in the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland. Yet skillfull defensive battles fought by the Germans, and lack of serious resources by the Allies (Normandy and the invasion of France took the lions share) negated that effort to a large degree.

Of the three main protagionists Germany failed utterly in realising the regions potential. The region always remained a 'side-show', with just enough logistics and resources committed to both block British thrusts and to maintain Italy in the War. And yet even with such little committment on their part, the Germans (with Italian help) achieved amazing results.

Had Germany committed even a fraction of the massive forces committed to Russia in a clear determined goal driven way, Britain forces would have been defeated and driven form the region. And would have indeed turned the Mediterranean into Mussolini's cherished Italian Lake. That would have protected the whole area, allowed full use of the region's resource riches, required little in the way of military support, and kept Italy in the war. It would have restricted the Allies to one form of attack - aerial incursions across the Channel. And Germany could possibly have been better placed to combat those, with no distractions in the South AND the use of the not insubstantial aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica. It would also have left the 100 odd U-Boats committed to the Med where they belonged ie the Atlantic. Along with the 150 odd Italian submarines available for service. What a difference that could have made to the Battle Of The Atlantic.

The Mediterranean was a crucial theatre.One that Britain recognised and capitalised upon, one that the Italians were just as aware of but did not have the resources to fight to a successful conclusion on their own; and one that the Germans, with their land-locked mentality, failed to recognise.

Defeat in the Mediterranean laid the groundwork for the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe.

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Jon G. » 09 Feb 2007 05:55

CardinalBaseball wrote:In your opinion how important was the Mediterranean theatre? Give specifics, not just "it was/n't"


That depends very strongly on which perspective you apply. The Mediterranean was absolutely crucial to Italian strategy, for example, and wholly irrelevant to Japanese war plans.

Could you offer us your own specific views on the matter?

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Tim Smith
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Tim Smith » 09 Feb 2007 09:14

Jon G. wrote:
CardinalBaseball wrote:In your opinion how important was the Mediterranean theatre? Give specifics, not just "it was/n't"


The Mediterranean was ............... wholly irrelevant to Japanese war plans.

Could you offer us your own specific views on the matter?


Not quite. Until mid-1943, the Italian battle fleet tied down British capital ships in the Med. Ships which were badly needed in the Indian Ocean.

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Post by Jon G. » 09 Feb 2007 09:38

Hmm, yes. But that just translates into the fact that Britain was already at war when Japan attacked in Asia.

On second thought, there was one part of the war in the Mediterranean which perhaps inspired the Japanese - namely the 1940 Taranto raid, which may have given the Japanese higher hopes for their planned attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by CardinalBaseball » 09 Feb 2007 22:29

Jon G. wrote:
CardinalBaseball wrote:In your opinion how important was the Mediterranean theatre? Give specifics, not just "it was/n't"


That depends very strongly on which perspective you apply. The Mediterranean was absolutely crucial to Italian strategy, for example, and wholly irrelevant to Japanese war plans.

Could you offer us your own specific views on the matter?


When I say "Med. Theatre" I mean for the war in Europe. I ask this because I just finished reading Path to Victory ( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=YG2qHq2Cpf&isbn=0374205183&itm=1 )
in which Porch argues that the war in the Mediterranean was the "most pivotal" theatre in the war in Europe.

To sum up my own opinion I would just say read Pips post. He (I'm guessing. . .) did well.

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Post by badenbaden » 17 Feb 2007 04:25

Pips, great! Right.
Having sent main forces to theses regions, Germany must have defeated the U.K. easily. :lol:

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Post by CardinalBaseball » 20 Feb 2007 04:08

Could you explain what you mean by that?

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by tigersqn » 15 Mar 2007 23:26

CardinalBaseball wrote:When I say "Med. Theatre" I mean for the war in Europe. I ask this because I just finished reading Path to Victory ( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=YG2qHq2Cpf&isbn=0374205183&itm=1 )
in which Porch argues that the war in the Mediterranean was the "most pivotal" theatre in the war in Europe.

To sum up my own opinion I would just say read Pips post. He (I'm guessing. . .) did well.


I've read Porch's book and must say that he presents a very valid argument.

The North African/Italian/Mediterranean Campaigns allowed the US as well as the British Armies to learn, or rather re-learn, how to fight a war in a non-critical theatre.

Could you imagine a Kasserine on the Normandy beaches in early 1943 ?? 8O

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Post by doogal » 11 Aug 2007 16:23

Germany did not fail to recognise the importance. They knew very well what could be gained.
(i.e)
The Rommel papers
F.M.Romel clearly indicates as the german field commander the possibilities of this theatre.
He clearly indicates his ideas several times to adolf hitler.
A plan to invade malta existed but hitlers assesment of the italian navy was none to favourable.
He didnt consider it after tobruk fell and never sent supplys through there.
Admiral Raeder put forward a proposal after the fall of france, but it was rejected through reasons of diplomatic neccesity with italy.
General Guderian in panzer leader covers the med subject. He discussed he says with higher powers.
Although these are matters of heresay it would be foolish to assume that the high command had neglected to realise the full extent of possibilities that lay in full scale operations in the med.
Unfortunately.
The italians wanted the med as there sphere of influence. Hitler pandered to his friend the duce and had been known to speak of there relationship.Although italy was a junior partner they did not want full scale german presence and the german pre-occupation with russia meant the forces were not readily available unless they had been a hundred per-cent behind it.
i dont think they overlooked the med, but i think that germany believed that they had a winning strategy and didnt look at the med as being needed as decisive theatre.


doogal

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Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Aug 2007 19:45

It was vitally important for Britain in two ways...

1/ After the Fall of France and the Battle of Britain it was the one front where British forces had direct border to border contact with the Axis, the Italians in Libya. Churchill's government came to power as a result of the previous government's apparent failures in Norway...then had to deal with the loss of france as an ally, and being thrown out of mainland Europe...then a proplonged threat of invasion. A theatre where the British ARMY could successfully take on the enemy and begin to restore the confidence of the people in its ability was necessary, and that was why the War Cabinet instructed Wavell to commence offeensive operations in 1940 - as recorded by Churchill in writing and Anthony Eden in several filmed interviews.

2/ It helped convince the Americans that britain was really intending to fight, instead of merely jockey for a good negotiating position. Don't forget, the start of the North African theatre was the period of Joe Kennedy constantly telling FDR that the British were about to capitulate and to stop sending them aid. That aid was vital, so Churchill had to demonstrate that the British would fight on, and needed to take the offensive somewhere....which by default meant North Africa as they couldn't reach out and touch the Axis forces anywhere else!

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Andy H » 14 Aug 2007 17:36

Tim Smith wrote:
Jon G. wrote:
CardinalBaseball wrote:In your opinion how important was the Mediterranean theatre? Give specifics, not just "it was/n't"


The Mediterranean was ............... wholly irrelevant to Japanese war plans.

Could you offer us your own specific views on the matter?


Not quite. Until mid-1943, the Italian battle fleet tied down British capital ships in the Med. Ships which were badly needed in the Indian Ocean.


Hi Tim

I would postulate that the constant supplying of Malta tied down the British Med Fleet as much as any latent threat from the Italian fleet.

Regards

Andy H

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RE: Importance Of The Mediterranean Theatre?

Post by Robert Rojas » 15 Aug 2007 06:38

Greetings to both brother Cardinal Baseball and the community as a whole. Well C.B., in light of your introductory posting of Tuesday - February 06, 2007 - 11:49pm, old Uncle Bob would like to recommend the following thread for your perusal. The thread in question is entitled as GREATEST GERMAN DEFEAT and it is located within the adjacent WORLD WAR TWO IN GENERAL section of the forum. The thread's author goes by the nom de plume of Roberto Muehlenkamp and its creation date is Thursday - April 11, 2002 - 9:18pm. Of specific interest to your pointed inquiry gravitating on the importance of the Mediterranean Theatre is my specific posting of Thursday - January 23, 2003 - 9:14am AND citizen Qvist's subsequent rebuttal to that specific posting as duly noted on Friday - January 24, 2003 - 9:52am. Now, for whatever it is worth to you, old Uncle Bob's original position on this now vintage topic has changed little since the inauguration of the GREATEST GERMAN DEFEAT thread. This little blurb is for your edification. ENJOY! Well, that's my initial two cents, pence, pfennigs or kopecks worth on this controversial topic of interest - for now anyway. In anycase, I would like to bid you a copacetic day over in the Show Me State.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :) :wink: 8-)

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by ljadw » 21 Aug 2009 12:39

Not knowing how to use my unpacked scanner :( ,the following from WW 2 forum(Yes or no Germans take Gibraltar ):British oil imports in 1939 :46.2% Carribean 30.8% Middle East 19.2% USA the rest came from Rumania. With Italy entering in the war in june 1940,and the cental Med. a war zone,middle east oil became more expensive since it had to be shipped around the Cape .In consequence,by 1942,no middle east oil was sent to the home islands ,both Persian and Iraqi oil production/ refining was scaled back short term (civil unrest didn't help )and that which was produced was 'used' in 'house',i.e. the MTO,plus some sent to India ,especially after the loss of the Far East oil producers:NEI,Burma,Borneo and Malaya to the Japanese. So this is the picture by 1942 : 60 % US 40 % Trinidad,Venezuela and Mexico . By 1944,79 % of Britain's oil imports would be from the USA ;21 % from the Caribbean,as they were cheaper. The Suezcanal have been of no import to the UK for supplying the home islands( they had been shipping over 90% of all goods around the Cape since the opening days of the war ),since Italy was holding Ethiopya and 'air-patrolling" the southern entrance to Suez, only warships and supplyships for the troops in Egypt used the Canal,the UK didn't receive any substantial percentage of their oil from their holdings in the ME after 194O .The British Isles themselves got most of their oiland petro-products from the US ,still the world's leading oil exporterat the moment .The US supplied(from our own fields)nearly 75 % from all the oiland its products used by all the western allies in the entire war . Note how very different the petro-world was then !The Persian gulf was not nearly as significant an oil producer in WW II as it is now . In 1939 ,the US accounted for 60,4% of GLOBAL PETROLEUM PRODUCTION,and Latin America for another 15.3 %,so more than 75 % of the world's petroleum production was in the new world (Western Hemisphere ). The USSR accounted for the largest chunk of the remaining production:10.6 % . Irak and Iran:5.4 %. NEI (Dutch East Indies ):2.7 %.Rumania: 2.4 % Malaya,Burma and Btitish Borneo:2 % .The Arabian and Noert African oil fields had not yet been found nor developped . UK imports of petroleum early in the war were running about 11-12 million metric tons.About half of this coulf be satisfied from the Empire sources alone.After june 1940 they could get as much as they wanted from the NEI,wich could have covered the rest of the Commonwealth states and Dominions in the Pacific.But the US is a lot closer to the home islands and they could get high qualityrefined products from there as well ,so they probably got as much as they could afford from the US . The British had been sending between 85 and 90 % of their commercial shipping around the "Horn of Africa "since the outbreak of war, both to anf from their dominion and commonweath partners in the Pacific Area. The Suez Canal connection was most generally used for military shipments to the troops in Egypt and the RN in the Med.,but the Levant area and eastern Meditarranean islands could be as easely supplied from Syria,Iran and Iraq. The Uk had also cordite production plants for propellants established in Irak,India ,Egypt ,Pakistan and Australia .If gibraltar or Malta had fallen,they wouldn't need to be supplied as they were historically,and that was the bulk of the materialshipped though Gibraltar .If no Malta or Gibraltar to supply,it would be no loss to the RN in the eastern Mediterranean,and the German supply across the Med. would still be in jeopardy from intercepted "Ultra " messages and air attack from British held positions in the eastern Levant,as they were historically . The loss of either Gibraltar or Malta would have been another blow to the British ego,just ass the loss of the Suez would have been .Just as the loss of Greece and Crte were ego insults,but of little military importance . BY COURTESY OF BRNDIRT 1

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Dili » 21 Aug 2009 16:43

It is difficult to rate Mediterranean Theatre.

What Britain could have do? Duplicate Bomber Command? Invest in rockets and make a British V2?
Several more Dieppe Raids?

Concerning German submarines in Mediterranean they sunk 2 Aircraft carriers and a Battleship plus more damage to many ships, there is a discussion to be made if sinking Merchants would be better for Germans but the case isn't clear cut.


I think Mediterranean was the mother of Western Europe Warfaring. I think it was crucial in two points: Training for Allies - but it could have been much worse for them . And putting Italy out of War in a period when Italian Industry was correcting their mistakes and making worthwhile products, when Italian Commanders were much better than the Fascist and Royal cronies of War start and Italian units were fighting much more efficiently.

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