The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

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The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by wm » 14 Nov 2020 11:51

As it turned out, the Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy—some thirty-three—as Stalin had requested in his demands for a second front in France (he kept asking for between thirty and forty)
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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Art » 14 Nov 2020 17:25

Check this page:
https://www.axishistory.com/list-all-ca ... rld-war-ii
(he kept asking for between thirty and forty)
When was he asking that exactly? Formally speaking there were already 30-40 or even more active German divisions in the West in 1943, even though the second front hadn't been opened yet.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Art » 14 Nov 2020 20:09

According to Müller-Hillebrand German forces in Italy by the start of July 1943 consisted of 15 and 90 Panzergrendier Division, "Hermann Göring" Panzer Division and also 16 SS Division in Corsica. By the moment of the Italian coup 5 divisions were additionally deployed from the West: 3 and 29 Panzergrenadier, 16 and 26 Panzer and 1 Fallschirmjäger. Until the end of August 8 divisions were deployed from the West: 44, 65, 76, 94, 305 Infantry, 24 Panzer and 2 Fallschirmjäger, and 1 (71 Infantry) from Denmark. Of these 9 divisions 8 were under command of the newly created Herresgruppe B. All that brought the number of division in the South-West to 17. Until the end of December 3 division were formed in Italy: 278 and 362 Infantry and 4 Fallschirmjäger, 1 arrived from the Eastern Front (5 Gebirgs-Division), 3 from the West (334, 356, 371 Infantry), and 1 from Germany (162 Turkistan Infantry Division). At the same time 4 divisions departed to the Eastern Front (76 Infantry, 16 and 24 Panzer, 2 Fallschirmjäger) and 1 (371 Infantry) to Balkans. In addition 188 Reserve Division was formed in Italy in October 1943. Thus, the number of divisions reached 21.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Nov 2020 22:41

In the west there were another 15 - 20 'mobile' divisions (horse & motor) in France, the Low Countries, and Norway. Absent the Allied threat they were oaf some value in the east. The larger contribution of the west Allies was in the air, even in 1943 inflicting severe loss on the German AF. I'd estimate that without that effort the German operating air strength in the east would have been double that of OTL & the preservation of veteran aircrew much better.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by wm » 14 Nov 2020 23:01

The source given is: Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War by Eric Larrabee
I found this:
At one time or another, the Allies employed the equivalent of thirty-three divisions in Italy, the Germans thirty-six (of which three were Italian and one Russian).
Since there were only six German divisions in Italy when the Allies landed, the latter would therefore seem to have drawn some thirty enemy divisions away from other (and more critical) fronts.
Commander in Chief by Eric Larrabee
The source for that is Ernest F. Fisher Jr.: Cassino to the Alps.
can't find anything about Stalin and his requests in Larrabee.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Art » 17 Nov 2020 07:50

I believe, it would be correct to say that the size of German ground forces employed in Italy was larger than forces in Africa but still very much short of the second front proper (i.e. Western Front proper in 1944-45). Also at the initial stage (August-September 1943) they were as much busy with disarming the Italian Amy as with actual fights aginst the Allies. Most of divisions drawn to Italy were "Stalingrad" and "Africa" division, that is divisions reconstructed after defeats in Stalingrad and Tunisia using the balance of personnel (wounded and sick in hospitals, men on furlough) and replacements. After Italians were neutralized some first-rate unit left (e.g. LASH, 16 and 24 Pz.Div.) for the Eastern Front and were substituted with formations of the lesser caliber.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Kelvin » 22 Nov 2020 06:11

Despite the fact that military threat from southern Front, German was still capable of sending badly needed armored units to Russian in the second half of 1943 : Once disarming of the Italian army, 24.Panzer division was rushed to East from Italy, followed by newly rebuilt 14.Panzer division, then came 25. Panzer division from Norway, then in Nov 1943, 1.SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Panzer division and 1. Panzer division from Greece, and finally 16.Panzer division, in December 1943 to exchange for 5.Gebirgs Division from the East.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by wm » 30 Nov 2020 22:33

I believed that my journey in 1942 [to London and Washington] and its results were a great victory for us. We knew they couldn't dare mount a second front, but we made them agree to it in writing.
Stalin also instructed me to demand they draw off thirty to forty enemy divisions from the Russian front.
When I met with Roosevelt I had to hide my astonishment when I told him that and he replied, "A legitimate, reasonable demand."
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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by valentine III » 11 Dec 2020 11:49

What surprises me most is the use of so many mechanised resources in Italian battlefields when they probably would have been more useful elsewhere, ex: ostfront. The 3,15,29,90, 16ss, panzergrenadiere, 26th, HG panzerdivisions, 504,508 heavy panzer abts (most tanks simply lost mechanical failures), I/4 panther abt for most of the campaign and others just a few months. In a front not really suited to the mechanized units. Would not have been better to send there some Stug units to support the infantry and counterattack when necessary??

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Kelvin » 11 Dec 2020 12:28

valentine III wrote:
11 Dec 2020 11:49
What surprises me most is the use of so many mechanised resources in Italian battlefields when they probably would have been more useful elsewhere, ex: ostfront. The 3,15,29,90, 16ss, panzergrenadiere, 26th, HG panzerdivisions, 504,508 heavy panzer abts (most tanks simply lost mechanical failures), I/4 panther abt for most of the campaign and others just a few months. In a front not really suited to the mechanized units. Would not have been better to send there some Stug units to support the infantry and counterattack when necessary??
German actually did have StuG units in Italy, 3 x StuG Brigades equipped with StuG/StuH and 1 x Luftwaffe StuG Brigade with Semoventre 10.5cm and also 1 x Stu.Pz Abt with Sturmpanzer IV and two separate tank battalions with mix of Italian CV-33, L6 tankette and M-13/14/15 medium tanks, Semovente 47mm StuG and P-40 heavy tanks.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by AnchorSteam » 11 Dec 2020 20:03

valentine III wrote:
11 Dec 2020 11:49
What surprises me most is the use of so many mechanised resources in Italian battlefields when they probably would have been more useful elsewhere, ex: ostfront. The 3,15,29,90, 16ss, panzergrenadiere, 26th, HG panzerdivisions, 504,508 heavy panzer abts (most tanks simply lost mechanical failures), I/4 panther abt for most of the campaign and others just a few months. In a front not really suited to the mechanized units. Would not have been better to send there some Stug units to support the infantry and counterattack when necessary??
That surrprises me too. Why were Tigers deployed in the West at all? Why were there so many Mk.III in Russia?

Tigers were over-kill, Panthers too unless there were Churchills to be dealt with, and a Mk. III with a long 50mm gun was a perfectly credible threat to the Shermans of 1943 and had similar armor.

Some of the things that the supposedly brilliant General Staff did make no sense at all to me.

According to Jentz & Doyle, the number of Italian Stugs taken over was considerable; 123 w/short 75mm, 36 with long 75s, and 28 with 105mm guns.... and many more of all types were built by the end.
All in all, the Germans probably over-invested in Italy.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Dec 2020 21:17

Because the Germans weren't playing a war game.
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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Dec 2020 23:41

AnchorSteam wrote:
11 Dec 2020 20:03
valentine III wrote:
11 Dec 2020 11:49
What surprises me most is the use of so many mechanised resources in Italian battlefields when they probably would have been more useful elsewhere, ex: ostfront. The 3,15,29,90, 16ss, panzergrenadiere, 26th, HG panzerdivisions, 504,508 heavy panzer abts (most tanks simply lost mechanical failures), I/4 panther abt for most of the campaign and others just a few months. In a front not really suited to the mechanized units. Would not have been better to send there some Stug units to support the infantry and counterattack when necessary??
That surrprises me too. Why were Tigers deployed in the West at all? Why were there so many Mk.III in Russia?

Tigers were over-kill, Panthers too unless there were Churchills to be dealt with, and a Mk. III with a long 50mm gun was a perfectly credible threat to the Shermans of 1943 and had similar armor.

Some of the things that the supposedly brilliant General Staff did make no sense at all to me.

According to Jentz & Doyle, the number of Italian Stugs taken over was considerable; 123 w/short 75mm, 36 with long 75s, and 28 with 105mm guns.... and many more of all types were built by the end.
All in all, the Germans probably over-invested in Italy.
There is a tendency to consider the WW2 through the perspective of national perspectives and myths perpetuating wartime debates. There is a view that the Mediterranean theatre was an irrelevant distraction from the main business of invading France. All the post war debate is counter-factual. The only truth is that the course the allies followed led to victory at an acceptable cost. Whether the war would have been shorter or longer is pure speculation.

The Tigers were in the Mediterranean because it was an important theatre - at least to Hitler. Op Torch and El Alamein mattered enough to Hitler to divert 300,000 men, equipment including 450 tanks and around 2,500 aircraft to Tunisia at a critical time on the Eastern Front. All was lost. Stalin never acknowledged the benefits of Op Torch. Nor do many who have decided to that the operations in the Mediterranean was a waste of time and lives.

There were Tigers in Sicily because they were part of the HG Panzer Division - probably only there by accident. Tigers, Panthers and Ferdinands only appeared next in Italy because Hitler thought the Anzio landings were a chance to demonstrate how the Germans would crush the Second Front expected in 1944. Despite the anguish Anzio caused for the allies, it must have even more depressing for the Germans.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by AnchorSteam » 12 Dec 2020 08:23

Sheldrake wrote:
11 Dec 2020 23:41
There is a tendency to consider the WW2 through the perspective of national perspectives and myths perpetuating wartime debates. There is a view that the Mediterranean theatre was an irrelevant distraction from the main business of invading France. All the post war debate is counter-factual. The only truth is that the course the allies followed led to victory at an acceptable cost. Whether the war would have been shorter or longer is pure speculation.

The Tigers were in the Mediterranean because it was an important theatre - at least to Hitler. Op Torch and El Alamein mattered enough to Hitler to divert 300,000 men, equipment including 450 tanks and around 2,500 aircraft to Tunisia at a critical time on the Eastern Front. All was lost. Stalin never acknowledged the benefits of Op Torch. Nor do many who have decided to that the operations in the Mediterranean was a waste of time and lives.

There were Tigers in Sicily because they were part of the HG Panzer Division - probably only there by accident. Tigers, Panthers and Ferdinands only appeared next in Italy because Hitler thought the Anzio landings were a chance to demonstrate how the Germans would crush the Second Front expected in 1944. Despite the anguish Anzio caused for the allies, it must have even more depressing for the Germans.
Yes, I agree to all of that.
I just thought that if there was an Inspector Gerneral of Panzers or something like that, he would have done some shuffling around with various units. For example, there were 49 Mk. III with long 40mm with HG in Sicily, and 432 on the Kursk front. A little wheeling & dealing could have seen a trade of several of the medium tanks for each Tiger sent east, a good trade for all concerned.

And yes, Stalin was a bastard, and not nearly as competant as some people seem to think. His big victories always seemed to be dependant on being timed to match the big moves made in the west; Stalingrad with Torch, Kursk with Sicily, and Bagration with D-Day.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 12 Dec 2020 10:52

AnchorSteam wrote:
12 Dec 2020 08:23
I just thought that if there was an Inspector Gerneral of Panzers or something like that, he would have done some shuffling around with various units. For example, there were 49 Mk. III with long 40mm with HG in Sicily, and 432 on the Kursk front. A little wheeling & dealing could have seen a trade of several of the medium tanks for each Tiger sent east, a good trade for all concerned.
As Rich posted in #12. This wasn't a war game. Generals move units not individual tanks.

In general the Germans and Allies were selective about the equipment sent to each theatre. The Allies rushed M4 Sherman tanks to Egypt in Summer 1942 after the fall of Tobruk. The Germans did not deploy any Panthers to Italy until Anzio. The Germans raised the 21st Panzer Division from recycled French AFVs soelely for use in the west The British did not send Fireflys 17 pounder Sherman tanks to Italy until after Normandy.

Tanks only work well when manned by the crews trained to use them. Divisions work best when their component units have trained together with the mix of equipment they expect. Sure it was possible to assign particular equipment to particular theatres, but it takes time to learn how to operate and use different equipment. Taking over a Tiger tank wasn't like taking over a hire car on holiday/vacation.

The divisions in France and Italy might be transferred to the Eastern Front at short notice. When they got there they would be expected to be combat effective. In Panzer Leader Guderian wrote about the problems of the 25th Panzer Division in the Ukraine. This formation was raised in Norway and then flung into battle piecemeal in the Ukraine.

There was also the often ignored matter of logistics. Railway space was limited and precious. Swapping a train load of Tiger tanks in Sicily for two train loads of Panzer III from the Ukraine was a lot of effort for a marginal gain.

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