Importance of the Med. Theatre

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Kingfish
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Kingfish » 14 Mar 2013 11:03

merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by merdiolu » 14 Mar 2013 12:58

Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.

Yes but after Operation TORCH Suez route was opened up again for Allied convoys. It is estimated two million of shipping capacity was released once Allies began to use Med. route again for naval operations and transport. And after TORCH/HUSKY Luftwaffe never bothered anti shipping operations against Med. Convoy routes from Crete like they did to Russia/Murmansk convoys in Arctic.

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Urmel » 14 Mar 2013 13:33

Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.
The Tiger convoy went through in May 41. Convoys from alex to Malta and back also went through until Jan 42, but admittedly these were often with fast vessels like Breconshire.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Kingfish » 14 Mar 2013 14:58

merdiolu wrote:
Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.

Yes but after Operation TORCH Suez route was opened up again for Allied convoys. It is estimated two million of shipping capacity was released once Allies began to use Med. route again for naval operations and transport. And after TORCH/HUSKY Luftwaffe never bothered anti shipping operations against Med. Convoy routes from Crete like they did to Russia/Murmansk convoys in Arctic.
No dispute here, but my point was the Axis didn't have to physically capture Alexandria / Suez in order to cut the convoy routes in the Med.
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Kingfish » 14 Mar 2013 15:16

Urmel wrote:
Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.
The Tiger convoy went through in May 41. Convoys from alex to Malta and back also went through until Jan 42, but admittedly these were often with fast vessels like Breconshire.
Again, no dispute with the above, but note the difference between the Tiger convoy, which brought in the 'shot-in-the-arm' to the British tank fleet, to that of the much larger convoys that brought in the bulk of men and machines that made Op Crusader possible. The latter were routed around Africa, and with good reason.
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Urmel » 14 Mar 2013 16:02

Sorry to be pedantic. But that good reason was a risk/reward analysis by the British command. Which isn't the same as the Med being closed. The Baltic Sea was closed to the Royal Navy. But the Med remained a possible route, just a very very risky one, even in 1941 (in 1942 it was arguably effectively closed as a through route from February to December).

As an aside, the Tiger convoy tanks were expended in Operation BATTLEAXE. The tanks for CRUSADER came around the Cape.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Kingfish » 14 Mar 2013 16:38

Urmel wrote:Sorry to be pedantic. But that good reason was a risk/reward analysis by the British command. Which isn't the same as the Med being closed.
To clarify, when I said the route was "cut" I meant the Allies no longer considered it as a viable option due to that risk/reward analysis, and not physically closed. I'm well aware that the allies continued to supply Malta, even at great risk & loss. But with Malta there was no other choice.
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by merdiolu » 14 Mar 2013 21:11

Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:
Kingfish wrote:
merdiolu wrote:Cutting Suez would ensure that necessary shipping capacity to open up a Second Front would take much longer than anticipated.
The Suez route was essentially cut once the Luftwaffe entered the theater in early '41, and even more so after Crete fell to the Axis.

Yes but after Operation TORCH Suez route was opened up again for Allied convoys. It is estimated two million of shipping capacity was released once Allies began to use Med. route again for naval operations and transport. And after TORCH/HUSKY Luftwaffe never bothered anti shipping operations against Med. Convoy routes from Crete like they did to Russia/Murmansk convoys in Arctic.
No dispute here, but my point was the Axis didn't have to physically capture Alexandria / Suez in order to cut the convoy routes in the Med.
I agree though it was not so apperent by then. If British retreated constantly after a Italian show of force in 1940 at Libya-Egypt front or during Operation Crusader when British armour got mauled in Sidi Rezegh (Alan Cunningham commander of Eighth Army intended to do just that actually at the height of battle ) Nile Delta and Suez might indeed be lost. But you are right. Once British strategy was commited to hold Middle East and pour resources there to clear North Africa Panzer Armee no matter how tactically skilled it was doomed. North Africa and Mediterranean was an Allied priorty not an Axis especially not a German strategy priorty....

I assume that once Eighth Army raised to two or three corps level Axis cause in Africa was finished. All remained for British was to fix their deficiencies in tactics and command control levels with somewhat better management and better quality weapons / equipment which they got eventually.
Last edited by merdiolu on 14 Mar 2013 21:23, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by merdiolu » 14 Mar 2013 21:17

Another factor in Med. that benefited Allied strategy : After 1942 it became a sponge that sucked more and more German reserves. In Tunis entire 5th Panzer Army surrendered. By 1944 Hitler poured more than 25 divisions to keep Italy at war and to hold on Italian peninsula and Balkans....At that stage of war Allies could afford to spare on Mediterranean. Germans couldn't...

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by nmao » 14 Mar 2013 22:54

Urmel wrote: As an aside, the Tiger convoy tanks were expended in Operation BATTLEAXE. The tanks for CRUSADER came around the Cape.
Hello.
Don't want to nitpick, but actually Battleaxe didn't write off that many tanks.
295 tanks sent, 238 arrived (135 infantry, 82 cruiser, 21 light)
and losses were 65 inf, 30 cru and 3 lit tanks.
So of those sent there remained 70 inf, 52 cru and 18 lit tanks.

My point is...do you have any data on convoys and tanks sent for the Crusader buildup? :D

Sorry to hijack this thread!!

regards,

-nuno

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Urmel » 14 Mar 2013 23:17

I was being a bit liberal with the way I expressed myself, my apologies. My point was rather that the tanks that enabled BATTLEAXE came through the Med, while those that enabled CRUSADER came round the Cape.

I don't have much data on convoys in the period between the two offensives. I believe the 166 Crusader tanks of 22 Armoured Brigade got to Egypt around the beginning of October 41. The first M3 Honeys arrived in July, and continued arriving through September. The tanks of 2 Armoured Brigade (arriving November/December 41 I think) may have been used as replacements for battle losses during CRUSADER, before 2 Armoured Brigade got to the front in January 42?

Of the I-tanks in Egypt after BATTLEAXE, 52 (from memory) were sent to Tobruk, by the way, as complement of 4 R.T.R.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by phylo_roadking » 15 Mar 2013 00:36

And after TORCH/HUSKY Luftwaffe never bothered anti shipping operations against Med. Convoy routes from Crete like they did to Russia/Murmansk convoys in Arctic.
Crete never had the combat role to match its vital role for several years in staging transport flights to Rommel when he was far enough to the east in the Western Desert ;) Once that role vanished I.E. with the loss of control of the eastern half of Libya, Germany's real interest in Crete withered on the vine; using it as a regular and effective offensive base would have required a huge transport effort TO the island - machines, men, ordnance, fuel etc. - materiel that it wouldn't have been that cost-effective to fly in. From the defeat in North Africa until the end of the war on Crete (in 1944 ;)) IIRC less than half a dozen transport vessels arrived in Cretan ports from mainland Greece. In the end the garrison had to "supply" itself by organising a series of massive pillaging raids then retiring into a perimeter around Chania.

Meanwhile, effective anti-shipping aircraft like the beaufighter were arriving in the Eastern Med with the range to at last operate in the Aegean - so trying to regularly supply an offensive air operation in Crete would have been even more problematical.
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Mar 2013 13:14

Hi Phylo,

The strategic defensive importance of Crete predated and postdated its offensive possibilities.

Crete was within more comfortable bomber range of the vital Ploiesti oil fields in Romania than was North Africa and the denial of the island to the Allies was important in itself. Only with their occupation of southern Italy were the Anglo-Americans able to circumvent Crete and mount a systematic air campaign on the Romanian oil fields.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by phylo_roadking » 15 Mar 2013 16:07

The strategic defensive importance of Crete predated and postdated its offensive possibilities.

Crete was within more comfortable bomber range of the vital Ploiesti oil fields in Romania than was North Africa and the denial of the island to the Allies was important in itself. Only with their occupation of southern Italy were the Anglo-Americans able to circumvent Crete and mount a systematic air campaign on the Romanian oil fields.
Oh, certainly - but I was answering a specific question regarding the Axis' use of it to interdict East Med convoys and shipping after the loss of North Africa.

(On a minor point regarding this - by 1943, the Germans were of course gradually loosing the guerilla war on Crete...)
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Re: Importance of the Med. Theatre

Post by gracie4241 » 05 Jul 2019 20:22

On may 19. 1943 Hitler at his military conference that day(the verbatim transcript is included in "Hitler and his generals"- surviving transcripts o fHitler Conferences Dec 1, 1942-April 27, 1945) exhibited extreme concern about the Balkans to the point that he made it clear(don't take my word for it just read it) that this area and securing it was his biggest concern, and if forced to choose outweighed Citadel in importance(predictive of his july 13 decision to terminate Citadel).The relevance here is that the anxiety arose because of the allied Victory in north Africa, freeing up forces for further operations into southern Europe.Hitler feared an Italian political/military collapse could lead into Italy with a leap across the Adriatic into the Balkans.Additionally a large portion of the Balkan garrisons was Italian, and them dropping out of the war meant an IMMEDIATE need to replace them with german troops.his anxiety was such that as of july 1,1943(just before Citadel and Sicily) germany had 12 high quality mobile divisions in the Med-absolute difference makers at Kursk-25 field infantry divisions(incl 22 air landing division, 2 mountain Divisions, 44th infantry "Hoch and Deuchmeister" ). the mobile were: 1st panzer, Hermann Goering, 3, 15,29, and 90 PG divisions, the 16, 24, 26 Panzer divisions, the 4th SS PG and the 1 and 2 parachute divisions. Plus Richtofen's 1300 plane Air Fleet, and several flak divisions and a Flak corps.By june 1944 the Germans had nearly 50 divisions in Italy and the Balkans.The med was an important force sponge at crtical times for germany that it could NOT afford

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