Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

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AnchorSteam
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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 07 Dec 2020 07:09

I guess the real question is Why didn't Italy take it in 1940?

They could have done a lot of surprising things on the first day.... if they had planned it out properly, and if Mussy had given his military the proper advanced warning of a DOW.

IMHO, this is why all those opportunities were lost, and Italy surprised even the British with their incompetance.

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Kingfish » 07 Dec 2020 10:54

AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Dec 2020 07:09
I guess the real question is Why didn't Italy take it in 1940?
Which leads to the obvious questions of how and why?

Distance from Taranto to Paphos on the SW corner is over 800 nautical miles, whereas Alexandria to Paphos is only 250 nautical miles. With the average troop transport or cargo ship doing 12 knots/hr this works out to almost 3 days of transit time, most of which was skirting Greece, a country already on heightened alert for a possible Italian invasion.

And getting there is only half the fun. How do you maintain it? From Alexandria the British are well placed to interdict the sea LOCs into Cyprus, and things would only get worse when (not if) they deploy air and naval assets to Crete.

And why invade Cyprus at all? Even if we assume Italy can somehow capture and hold it, so what? Deep in the Eastern Med and surrounded by hostile or neutral shores it's ability to affect the strategic picture would be very limited, if at all. If anything it would become a giant sinkhole for Italian naval assets, and thus impact Italy's ability to maintain it's forces in North Africa.
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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 07 Dec 2020 18:27

Kingfish wrote:
07 Dec 2020 10:54
AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Dec 2020 07:09
I guess the real question is Why didn't Italy take it in 1940?
Which leads to the obvious questions of how and why?

Distance from Taranto to Paphos on the SW corner is over 800 nautical miles, whereas Alexandria to Paphos is only 250 nautical miles. With the average troop transport or cargo ship doing 12 knots/hr this works out to almost 3 days of transit time, most of which was skirting Greece, a country already on heightened alert for a possible Italian invasion.

And getting there is only half the fun. How do you maintain it? From Alexandria the British are well placed to interdict the sea LOCs into Cyprus, and things would only get worse when (not if) they deploy air and naval assets to Crete.

And why invade Cyprus at all? Even if we assume Italy can somehow capture and hold it, so what? Deep in the Eastern Med and surrounded by hostile or neutral shores it's ability to affect the strategic picture would be very limited, if at all. If anything it would become a giant sinkhole for Italian naval assets, and thus impact Italy's ability to maintain it's forces in North Africa.
Italy had control of Rhodes and other islands off the SW coast of Turkey, much closer to Cyprus and a good staging point for a unit able to take down a couple of Battalions.
Thinking offensively and making aggressive moves is their best path to a quick victory.... and a quick victory is their only chance to win at all.

Italy was caught flat-footed by their own sudden entry into the war, there is no doubt about that, but the whole excuse for going to war was to take advantage of France's sudden fall and grab all they could. They should have been ready to grab more than a small corner of Metropolitan France itself.

Even the US had plans set up for war with the UK, so unlikely as it was, Italy should have had plans and preperations in place for war with the same country, right?

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Kingfish » 08 Dec 2020 00:32

AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Dec 2020 18:27
Italy had control of Rhodes and other islands off the SW coast of Turkey, much closer to Cyprus and a good staging point for a unit able to take down a couple of Battalions.
Thinking offensively and making aggressive moves is their best path to a quick victory.... and a quick victory is their only chance to win at all.
A quick victory is only possible if the moves force the opponent into a position they can't back out of, but Britain was more than capable of check-mating any Italian move into the Eastern Med.

Besides, if aggressive moves is what was needed then Malta should have been at the top of that list.
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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Dili » 08 Dec 2020 03:36

Dodecanese lacking everything was only supplied by single fast merchant ships that made the transit time in Greek waters at night - one even inserted itself in an Allied convoy - plus submarines. But the number was minimal less than a dozen. By the time Greece was taken the situation was already difficult for supply. There was no logistic and military capability to support an operation of that nature.

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 08 Dec 2020 05:36

Kingfish wrote:
08 Dec 2020 00:32
AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Dec 2020 18:27
Italy had control of Rhodes and other islands off the SW coast of Turkey, much closer to Cyprus and a good staging point for a unit able to take down a couple of Battalions.
Thinking offensively and making aggressive moves is their best path to a quick victory.... and a quick victory is their only chance to win at all.
A quick victory is only possible if the moves force the opponent into a position they can't back out of,
Says who?
The whole motivation for Mussolini was to grab all he could, and if while doing so he caused a panic in London, Italy would have helped Germany win the war, at least temporarily, against the UK if he forced them to that "table" that was on his mind....
Kingfish wrote:
08 Dec 2020 00:32
but Britain was more than capable of check-mating any Italian move into the Eastern Med.

Besides, if aggressive moves is what was needed then Malta should have been at the top of that list.
If Italy had been capable of anything close to the preparation and planning that Japan was the following year, they should have been able to take Malta, Cyprus and Aden on Day One. The British themselves were prepared to write-off Malta in those early days, weren't they?

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 08 Dec 2020 05:53

Dili wrote:
08 Dec 2020 03:36
Dodecanese lacking everything was only supplied by single fast merchant ships that made the transit time in Greek waters at night - one even inserted itself in an Allied convoy - plus submarines. But the number was minimal less than a dozen. By the time Greece was taken the situation was already difficult for supply. There was no logistic and military capability to support an operation of that nature.
I have to admit, Italy's enmity with Greece baffles me...
But why would they have to sneek around like that while Greece was still neutral?
I'm thinking the first days of the way, even the first hours, to try and make an opning move like what Japan did in December of 1941.

I thought Rhodes was in better shape than that, considering how that was where the bombing raid on the Persian Gulf oilfields was launched from. And if the Dodecanese were so weak, why didn't the Greeks & British take them?

Cyprus could indeed be a bridge too far, but not in terms of ground forces. A diversion like that could have taken a lot of heat off whatever moves into Egypt were going on at the same time.

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Kingfish » 08 Dec 2020 11:09

AnchorSteam wrote:
08 Dec 2020 05:36
Says who?
Um, you did: and a quick victory is their only chance to win at all.

If you are Italy and your only chance to win is by a quick victory, then it must be one that literally makes the British throw up their hands and yell "fuckit, lets sue for peace". Otherwise, that quick victory becomes the focal point for an even quicker defeat, something the British certainly had the means to make happen.
The whole motivation for Mussolini was to grab all he could, and if while doing so he caused a panic in London, Italy would have helped Germany win the war, at least temporarily, against the UK if he forced them to that "table" that was on his mind....
But when had the British ever "panicked"? Not during the fall of Norway, or of France, or of British Somaliland, or of Greece. Not during the BoB, or the U-boats, or the loss of Singapore.
I fail to see how the (temporary) loss of a few possessions in the Med would become their tipping point.
If Italy had been capable of anything close to the preparation and planning that Japan was the following year, they should have been able to take Malta, Cyprus and Aden on Day One. The British themselves were prepared to write-off Malta in those early days, weren't they?
Perhaps, but like I said earlier there is the capture and there is the hold. The Italian track record for holding on to what it had captured is dismal to say the least.
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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Dili » 09 Dec 2020 05:20

AnchorSteam wrote:
08 Dec 2020 05:53
Dili wrote:
08 Dec 2020 03:36
Dodecanese lacking everything was only supplied by single fast merchant ships that made the transit time in Greek waters at night - one even inserted itself in an Allied convoy - plus submarines. But the number was minimal less than a dozen. By the time Greece was taken the situation was already difficult for supply. There was no logistic and military capability to support an operation of that nature.
I have to admit, Italy's enmity with Greece baffles me...
But why would they have to sneek around like that while Greece was still neutral?
I'm thinking the first days of the way, even the first hours, to try and make an opning move like what Japan did in December of 1941.

I thought Rhodes was in better shape than that, considering how that was where the bombing raid on the Persian Gulf oilfields was launched from. And if the Dodecanese were so weak, why didn't the Greeks & British take them?

Cyprus could indeed be a bridge too far, but not in terms of ground forces. A diversion like that could have taken a lot of heat off whatever moves into Egypt were going on at the same time.
Because the Royal Navy was always patrolling around Crete. There was only one infantry division in Dodecanese.

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 09 Dec 2020 07:40

Maybe I should take this to the "What if" rabbit hole.... I mean threads! :milwink:

You see, what I am wondering now is how much more effective Italy might have been if they
1) spent the Phony-War phase planning options and preparing for their entry into the war.
2) the Political Leadership could be held to giving the Military a 72-hour advanced notice of a declaration.

Does that sound worthwhile?

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Peter89 » 09 Dec 2020 20:25

AnchorSteam wrote:
08 Dec 2020 05:53
Dili wrote:
08 Dec 2020 03:36
Dodecanese lacking everything was only supplied by single fast merchant ships that made the transit time in Greek waters at night - one even inserted itself in an Allied convoy - plus submarines. But the number was minimal less than a dozen. By the time Greece was taken the situation was already difficult for supply. There was no logistic and military capability to support an operation of that nature.
I have to admit, Italy's enmity with Greece baffles me...
But why would they have to sneek around like that while Greece was still neutral?
I'm thinking the first days of the way, even the first hours, to try and make an opning move like what Japan did in December of 1941.

I thought Rhodes was in better shape than that, considering how that was where the bombing raid on the Persian Gulf oilfields was launched from. And if the Dodecanese were so weak, why didn't the Greeks & British take them?

Cyprus could indeed be a bridge too far, but not in terms of ground forces. A diversion like that could have taken a lot of heat off whatever moves into Egypt were going on at the same time.
The British tried to take the Dodecanese in early 1941, but they failed (Operation Abstention).

Rhodes was in an acceptable shape, but any operations before the Germans could have provided sufficient air cover, was doomed to fail.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Peter89 » 09 Dec 2020 20:28

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
08 Nov 2020 15:36
EwenS wrote:
29 Aug 2020 10:20
Look at the geography, it is not a short hop as in the Aegean islands. It is over 300 miles of open water from either Crete or Rhodes to Cyprus with only the semi friendly coast nearby that of neutral Turkey. So it is probably nearer a two day journey at sea with the type of assault shipping available. Open to the predations of the RAF, RN submarines and Med Fleet. Not a recipe for success.
Sea borne reinforcements to Crete suffered badly, despite Axis air dominating the route. Not a good indicator for a Cyprus operation, or Students proposed Levantine operations.
It's strange for me that Student came up with an airborne attack on the Vichy Levant, where German planes refueled and such.

Besides, the Army of the Levant could shatter any FJ troops remained after Crete.
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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Peter89 » 09 Dec 2020 20:38

Kingfish wrote:
07 Dec 2020 10:54
AnchorSteam wrote:
07 Dec 2020 07:09
I guess the real question is Why didn't Italy take it in 1940?
Which leads to the obvious questions of how and why?

Distance from Taranto to Paphos on the SW corner is over 800 nautical miles, whereas Alexandria to Paphos is only 250 nautical miles. With the average troop transport or cargo ship doing 12 knots/hr this works out to almost 3 days of transit time, most of which was skirting Greece, a country already on heightened alert for a possible Italian invasion.

And getting there is only half the fun. How do you maintain it? From Alexandria the British are well placed to interdict the sea LOCs into Cyprus, and things would only get worse when (not if) they deploy air and naval assets to Crete.

And why invade Cyprus at all? Even if we assume Italy can somehow capture and hold it, so what? Deep in the Eastern Med and surrounded by hostile or neutral shores it's ability to affect the strategic picture would be very limited, if at all. If anything it would become a giant sinkhole for Italian naval assets, and thus impact Italy's ability to maintain it's forces in North Africa.
Exactly. The Italians had to have Malta as soon as the conflict began. Everything else was out of their reach.

The German occupation of Greece and the reinforcement of the airforces in the Agean meant that they might get a shot against Cyprus, but:

1.) the strategic focus was on the SU
2.) then on Crete
3.) then the limited operations to Iraq and the Levant were not efficiently interdicted from Cyprus
4.) if the Germans won in the SU or aim for the Med in 1941, Cyprus is not really important; if they manage to close the Med, Cyprus is lost just like Crete and Malta
5.) bad intelligence, as mentioned above
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Dec 2020 01:54

Peter89 wrote:
09 Dec 2020 20:28

It's strange for me that Student came up with an airborne attack on the Vichy Levant, where German planes refueled and such.

Besides, the Army of the Levant could shatter any FJ troops remained after Crete.
Probably the bad intel referred to before. Along with a hefty dose of overconfidence.

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Re: Why German not invade Cyprus 1941

Post by AnchorSteam » 10 Dec 2020 05:11

Peter89 wrote:
09 Dec 2020 20:38
Exactly. The Italians had to have Malta as soon as the conflict began. Everything else was out of their reach.
Really?
Everything in the world?

We should use numbers to see if that is true. At that time, even the British were not assuming they had absolute supremacy across the board. How much of the RN was posted in Home waters to make sure that Sealion would not succeed that very summer?
How much of it was in the rest of the world, dealing with Raiders and U-Boats? (the U.K. lost 400 ships that year, the mojority of whom were Merchant ships).
What does that actually leave for the Mediterranean and the Red Sea?

The same question goes for the RAF and the Army.

Where was it all positioned June-September 1940?

For one thing, I know that the WDF in Egypt had 35,000 men, while the Italians had about 200,000 in Libya. This ironically worked against them because Grazziani invaded with so many men that the supply situation froze his Army in place for months. He fumbled around as if he had no idea what he was doing because he had no plan to follow.
He didn't want to do it (and therefore should have been replaced before starting) he had no confidence in his own army, but most of all he had no timetable, no clear objectives and NO PLAN to follow.

If there had been, it all could have been very different.

Yes, Malta on Day One. What was the garrison like? Besoides 4 biplane fighters still in their crates, what Aircraft were on hand?
How many Paratroopers did Italy have at that time? How many transports, including the CA-133?
The numbers will tell the tale.

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