Winnie and the Balkans

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daveshoup2MD
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 13 Mar 2021 21:16

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
13 Mar 2021 20:49
daveshoup2MD wrote:
13 Mar 2021 18:31
The Americans wanted to win the war with Germany in 1941-45 (as was envisioned in 1917-19) and win the peace (as was lost in 1919-39); the British, since they lived in Europe, had different priorities for much of 1939-45, most of which revolved around the Mediterranean littoral.
Well, the British certainly wanted to win both the war and the peace...
daveshoup2MD wrote:
13 Mar 2021 18:31
Again, the topography makes things clear.
And a chart makes the presence of the Atlantic and that annoying Channel clear as well!

Regards

Tom
That's the darker grey. ;)

The British wanted to win "their" peace, which presumably had something to do with continuing to dominate the Med and hanging on to the Empire (at least until it became clear that neither was likely); the Americans, having seen what happened between 1919-39, didn't want to have to come back in - say - the mid-1960s and have to do it again.

These two aims are not and were not the same.

However, both nations' leaders agreed that defeating the Germans was the priority; keeping the Soviets in, and taking away the Ruhr, and destroying Berlin's ability to function as administrative center of a continent-wide occupation was the agreed-upon method. The appropriate schedule for doing so was the point of contention - more or less.

Now, from a pure focus on ordnance on target, the US could have waited until the middle of 1945 and done that quite expeditiously, but that ability was not obvious in 1941-44.

The obvious cost to the Europeans under German occupation of waiting for nuclear weapons and a delivery system would have suggested otherwise, as well, one would think...

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 18 Mar 2021 19:33

I thought this letter from Smuts to Churchill might be of interest to some (Source: The Churchill Documents Volume 19: Fateful Questions September 1943 to April 1944):
p.24

Field Marshal Jan Smuts to Winston S. Churchill
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram T.1277/3, Concrete No. 723
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

3 September 1943 South Africa
Immediate
Personal and Most Secret
No. 1160

After sending my previous message criticising our war progress I have now received Telegram No. 1132 summarising the Quebec recommendations for future operations. I must frankly express my disappointment with this Quebec plan as being an inadequate programme for the fifth year of the war and especially after the enormous change that has taken place in our war fortunes recently. This plan has only added to my misgivings and fears for the future. It does not justice to the real strength of our position and may gravely affect public morale as well as future relations with Russia. We are capable of a much greater effort and should face the position with greater boldness.
In effect, the plan merely proposes to continue and increase the present bombing and anti-U-boat campaigns, to take Sardinia and Corsica and the South of Italy (here the decipher is uncertain) and bomb northwards from there. We are then to fight our way northwards through Italy over difficult mountainous terrain in a campaign which may take much time before we reach Northern Italy and the main German defence position. Next Spring we shall cross the channel in force if the air and military situation in France is favourable and we may invade France from the south if only as a diversion. We leave the Balkans to the guerrillas with air encouragement from us.
So much for the West. In the East we do some island hopping which may bring us up against the enemies main base in the Carolines some time towards the end of next year. The resources of the Dutch East Indies we leave meanwhile to the enemy while we make efforts to open the Burma route and assist China as much as possible by air. Some undefined amphibious operations against Burma are also indicated.
Bombing appears to me the only serious part of this plan, all the rest is still on a small scale similar what we have been doing for the last couple of years. Surely this would not be a serious effort for this stage of the war nor a proper use of our greatly improved war position. If by the end of 1944 we have done

p.25

no better than merely nibbling at the enemy’s main positions we may experience a dangerous revulsion of opinion and rightly so. It would compare most unfavourably with the grand effort and achievement of Russia who may conclude that her suspicions of us are justified.
In the absence of inner staff information, it is difficult for me to suggest alternative plans but feel convinced that we can and should do much more and better than the Quebec plan which would unduly drag out and prolong the war with all the attendant risks and possibilities I have indicated in my former message. The bombing policy, the anti-U-boat campaign and the large scale attack across the channel I approve. But in the Mediterranean we should take Sardinia and Corsica and immediately attack in North Italy without fighting our way up the peninsula. We should immediately take Southern Italy and move on to the Adriatic and from a suitable point there launch a real attack on the Balkans and set its resurgent forces going. This will bring Turkey into the picture and carry our fleet into the Black Sea where we shall join hands with Russia, supply her and enable her to attack Hitler’s fortress itself from the East and South-East. With the vast change in the war situation on the Russian front I do not think this too ambitious a programme to work to.
Should Badoglio surrender soon, so much the better, as in that case the attack on North Italy and from the Adriatic into the Balkans would be expedited. These attacks again would draw large German forces from the Russian front and so facilitate the advance of Russia across the Ukraine.
I would urge that the staff seriously consider and work out alternative plans for the West on these or similar lines which I think contain the germ of feasible proposals. I think the situation calls for a much bolder plan than Quebec which would mean an unnecessary prolongation of the war and a whole chapter of grave possibilities military and political. I make no suggestions about Asia yet.
I hope this message may yet reach you before you leave Washington and that you may consider it worthy of discussion with President Roosevelt. I have not written it lightly or without grave concern over the future. My best wishes for you in your heavy responsibilities. Repeat the bold and fruitful planning at Cairo in your last grave crisis.
Regards

Tom

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Mar 2021 08:03

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
18 Mar 2021 19:33
I thought this letter from Smuts to Churchill might be of interest to some (Source: The Churchill Documents Volume 19: Fateful Questions September 1943 to April 1944):
p.24

Field Marshal Jan Smuts to Winston S. Churchill
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram T.1277/3, Concrete No. 723
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

3 September 1943 South Africa
Immediate
Personal and Most Secret
No. 1160

After sending my previous message criticising our war progress I have now received Telegram No. 1132 summarising the Quebec recommendations for future operations. I must frankly express my disappointment with this Quebec plan as being an inadequate programme for the fifth year of the war and especially after the enormous change that has taken place in our war fortunes recently. This plan has only added to my misgivings and fears for the future. It does not justice to the real strength of our position and may gravely affect public morale as well as future relations with Russia. We are capable of a much greater effort and should face the position with greater boldness.
In effect, the plan merely proposes to continue and increase the present bombing and anti-U-boat campaigns, to take Sardinia and Corsica and the South of Italy (here the decipher is uncertain) and bomb northwards from there. We are then to fight our way northwards through Italy over difficult mountainous terrain in a campaign which may take much time before we reach Northern Italy and the main German defence position. Next Spring we shall cross the channel in force if the air and military situation in France is favourable and we may invade France from the south if only as a diversion. We leave the Balkans to the guerrillas with air encouragement from us.
So much for the West. In the East we do some island hopping which may bring us up against the enemies main base in the Carolines some time towards the end of next year. The resources of the Dutch East Indies we leave meanwhile to the enemy while we make efforts to open the Burma route and assist China as much as possible by air. Some undefined amphibious operations against Burma are also indicated.
Bombing appears to me the only serious part of this plan, all the rest is still on a small scale similar what we have been doing for the last couple of years. Surely this would not be a serious effort for this stage of the war nor a proper use of our greatly improved war position. If by the end of 1944 we have done

p.25

no better than merely nibbling at the enemy’s main positions we may experience a dangerous revulsion of opinion and rightly so. It would compare most unfavourably with the grand effort and achievement of Russia who may conclude that her suspicions of us are justified.
In the absence of inner staff information, it is difficult for me to suggest alternative plans but feel convinced that we can and should do much more and better than the Quebec plan which would unduly drag out and prolong the war with all the attendant risks and possibilities I have indicated in my former message. The bombing policy, the anti-U-boat campaign and the large scale attack across the channel I approve. But in the Mediterranean we should take Sardinia and Corsica and immediately attack in North Italy without fighting our way up the peninsula. We should immediately take Southern Italy and move on to the Adriatic and from a suitable point there launch a real attack on the Balkans and set its resurgent forces going. This will bring Turkey into the picture and carry our fleet into the Black Sea where we shall join hands with Russia, supply her and enable her to attack Hitler’s fortress itself from the East and South-East. With the vast change in the war situation on the Russian front I do not think this too ambitious a programme to work to.
Should Badoglio surrender soon, so much the better, as in that case the attack on North Italy and from the Adriatic into the Balkans would be expedited. These attacks again would draw large German forces from the Russian front and so facilitate the advance of Russia across the Ukraine.
I would urge that the staff seriously consider and work out alternative plans for the West on these or similar lines which I think contain the germ of feasible proposals. I think the situation calls for a much bolder plan than Quebec which would mean an unnecessary prolongation of the war and a whole chapter of grave possibilities military and political. I make no suggestions about Asia yet.
I hope this message may yet reach you before you leave Washington and that you may consider it worthy of discussion with President Roosevelt. I have not written it lightly or without grave concern over the future. My best wishes for you in your heavy responsibilities. Repeat the bold and fruitful planning at Cairo in your last grave crisis.
Regards

Tom
So, Smuts advice was to attack everywhere at once. Seems a trifle unfocused, doesn't it?

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 20 Mar 2021 21:17

daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Mar 2021 08:03
So, Smuts advice was to attack everywhere at once. Seems a trifle unfocused, doesn't it?
Yes, and Mr Churchill seems a paragon of strategic sense in his response! :D
Winston S. Churchill to Field Marshal Jan Smuts
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram, T.1287/3
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

5 September 1943
Most Immediate
Most Secret and Personal
Decypher yourself
No. 1149

For you alone.
Yours Nos. 1145 and 1160.
1. The invasion of the Toe of Italy now begun is of course only the prelude to a far heavier attack which is imminent and will, if successful, produce consequences of a far-reaching character. We hope presently to open a heavy front across Italy as far north as we can get. Such a front will absorb about twenty divisions from the Mediterranean and may require reinforcement if selected for counter-attack by the enemy.
2. I have always been most anxious to come into the Balkans which are already doing so well. We shall have to see how the fighting in Italy develops before committing ourselves beyond Commandos, agents and supplies, but the whole place is aflame, and with the defection of the twenty-four Italian divisions scattered in the Balkans who have ceased to fight and now only try to get home, it may well be that the Germans will be forced to retire to the line of the Sava and the Danube. At present they are building up large air forces south of the Danube as well as along its valley, no doubt with a view to attacking our flank in Italy as well as of shielding themselves from the air attack into Austria, of protecting Ploesti, and in the last resort covering a shortening of their front in this theatre.
3. I think it better not to demand entry into the war by Turkey at this present time, as the forces with which we should have to fight are more usefully employed in the Central Mediterranean. The question may be put to Turkey later in the year.
4. In spite of these serious needs and projects in the Mediterranean which strain our resources to the full, we have to find seven divisions from the theatre from November on for the build-up of operation ‘Overlord’ in the Spring of 1944. For this purpose every personnel-ship which can be gathered apart from those used by the United States in the Pacific is being employed in

p.43

the ceaseless transportation of American troops and air forces. None of our ships have been idle this year and yet there are so far only two American divisions in England. It is not physically possible to make a larger concentration by the date mentioned. We shall be able to match the American expedition with nearly equal force of British divisions, but after the initial assault the build-up must be entirely American as I am completely at the end of manpower resources and even now have to ask the Americans to interrupt the movement of field troops in order to send over some thousands of engineers to help make the installations and establishments required for the gathering of their trans-Atlantic army.
5. These projects in Europe, together with the air offensive and the sea war, completely absorb all our resources of manpower and of ship-power. This fact must be faced. There is no comparison with our conditions and those prevailing in Russia, where the whole strength of a nation of nearly two hundred millions, less war losses, long organised into a vast national army is deployed on a two thousand miles land front. This again is a fact which must be faced.

6. I think it inevitable that Russia will be the greatest land power in the world after this war which will have rid her of the two military powers, Japan and Germany, who in our lifetime have inflicted upon her such heavy defeats. I hope, however, that the ‘fraternal association’ of the British Commonwealth and the United States together with sea and air power, may put us on good terms and in a friendly balance with Russia at least for the period of re-building. Further than that I cannot see with mortal eye, and I am not as yet fully informed about the celestial telescopes.
7. In the east we British have no shortage of forces but the same difficulty of coming into action as the United States in the Atlantic and also in the Pacific. The shipping stringency rules all oversea and amphibious action, and for the rest, in Burma there are the jungles, the mountains, and the fact that more than half the year is swamped by the monsoon. However, a vigorous campaign has been set on foot. I brought young Wingate to Quebec and he is being raised from a Brigadier to a Corps Commander with powerful jungle forces adapted to the purpose being formed with the utmost speed for an attack in the first month of next year. The appointment of Mountbatten heralds an amphibious operation of novelty and far-reaching scope which I am pressing with all possible energy, the details of which I will unfold to you when we meet.
8. Believe me, my dear friend, I am not at all vexed at your two telegrams of criticism. I am confident that it we were together for two or three days I could

p.44

remove such of your anxieties as are not inherent in exorable facts. Night and day I press for greater speed in action and less cumbrousness in organisation. I am waiting this side of the Atlantic pending the Italian coup and its repercussions, but I expect to be home when Parliament meets and hope to find you at least approaching our shores.
Regards

Tom

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Mar 2021 23:12

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
20 Mar 2021 21:17
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Mar 2021 08:03
So, Smuts advice was to attack everywhere at once. Seems a trifle unfocused, doesn't it?
Yes, and Mr Churchill seems a paragon of strategic sense in his response! :D
Winston S. Churchill to Field Marshal Jan Smuts
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram, T.1287/3
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

5 September 1943
Most Immediate
Most Secret and Personal
Decypher yourself
No. 1149

For you alone.
Yours Nos. 1145 and 1160.
1. The invasion of the Toe of Italy now begun is of course only the prelude to a far heavier attack which is imminent and will, if successful, produce consequences of a far-reaching character. We hope presently to open a heavy front across Italy as far north as we can get. Such a front will absorb about twenty divisions from the Mediterranean and may require reinforcement if selected for counter-attack by the enemy.
2. I have always been most anxious to come into the Balkans which are already doing so well. We shall have to see how the fighting in Italy develops before committing ourselves beyond Commandos, agents and supplies, but the whole place is aflame, and with the defection of the twenty-four Italian divisions scattered in the Balkans who have ceased to fight and now only try to get home, it may well be that the Germans will be forced to retire to the line of the Sava and the Danube. At present they are building up large air forces south of the Danube as well as along its valley, no doubt with a view to attacking our flank in Italy as well as of shielding themselves from the air attack into Austria, of protecting Ploesti, and in the last resort covering a shortening of their front in this theatre.
3. I think it better not to demand entry into the war by Turkey at this present time, as the forces with which we should have to fight are more usefully employed in the Central Mediterranean. The question may be put to Turkey later in the year.
4. In spite of these serious needs and projects in the Mediterranean which strain our resources to the full, we have to find seven divisions from the theatre from November on for the build-up of operation ‘Overlord’ in the Spring of 1944. For this purpose every personnel-ship which can be gathered apart from those used by the United States in the Pacific is being employed in

p.43

the ceaseless transportation of American troops and air forces. None of our ships have been idle this year and yet there are so far only two American divisions in England. It is not physically possible to make a larger concentration by the date mentioned. We shall be able to match the American expedition with nearly equal force of British divisions, but after the initial assault the build-up must be entirely American as I am completely at the end of manpower resources and even now have to ask the Americans to interrupt the movement of field troops in order to send over some thousands of engineers to help make the installations and establishments required for the gathering of their trans-Atlantic army.
5. These projects in Europe, together with the air offensive and the sea war, completely absorb all our resources of manpower and of ship-power. This fact must be faced. There is no comparison with our conditions and those prevailing in Russia, where the whole strength of a nation of nearly two hundred millions, less war losses, long organised into a vast national army is deployed on a two thousand miles land front. This again is a fact which must be faced.

6. I think it inevitable that Russia will be the greatest land power in the world after this war which will have rid her of the two military powers, Japan and Germany, who in our lifetime have inflicted upon her such heavy defeats. I hope, however, that the ‘fraternal association’ of the British Commonwealth and the United States together with sea and air power, may put us on good terms and in a friendly balance with Russia at least for the period of re-building. Further than that I cannot see with mortal eye, and I am not as yet fully informed about the celestial telescopes.
7. In the east we British have no shortage of forces but the same difficulty of coming into action as the United States in the Atlantic and also in the Pacific. The shipping stringency rules all oversea and amphibious action, and for the rest, in Burma there are the jungles, the mountains, and the fact that more than half the year is swamped by the monsoon. However, a vigorous campaign has been set on foot. I brought young Wingate to Quebec and he is being raised from a Brigadier to a Corps Commander with powerful jungle forces adapted to the purpose being formed with the utmost speed for an attack in the first month of next year. The appointment of Mountbatten heralds an amphibious operation of novelty and far-reaching scope which I am pressing with all possible energy, the details of which I will unfold to you when we meet.
8. Believe me, my dear friend, I am not at all vexed at your two telegrams of criticism. I am confident that it we were together for two or three days I could

p.44

remove such of your anxieties as are not inherent in exorable facts. Night and day I press for greater speed in action and less cumbrousness in organisation. I am waiting this side of the Atlantic pending the Italian coup and its repercussions, but I expect to be home when Parliament meets and hope to find you at least approaching our shores.
Regards

Tom
Interesting read; thanks. I found this especially interesting for September, 1943, from WSC to the head of a Commonwealth nation with (essentially) dominion status:

"... as I am completely at the end of manpower resources and even now have to ask the Americans to interrupt the movement of field troops in order to send over some thousands of engineers to help make the installations and establishments required for the gathering of their trans-Atlantic army."

So, the problem is stated clearly - but where's the ask?

I mean, to give South Africa due credit, they put a two-division expeditionary force into the field for active operations and lost 50 percent of it (more or less) while under British corps, army, and theater command; the South Africans, in comparison to the Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, certainly "did their share" when it came to ground troops. The fact that even after the above experience in 1941-42, they still put an armored division into the field in Europe in 1944-45 is respectable.

However, South Africa, with the "Africa Oath" had the same sort of geographical restriction on deployment of their forces as Australia and Canada did; their conscription laws were limited to home defense, like (initially) Australia and Canada; and South Africa had access to "additional' manpower resources (in the Union and the SW Africa Mandate) that were not tapped (certainly not for combat duty) and in fact, as I understand it, prevented the British from doing much with the available manpower in the British-controlled high commission territories in southern Africa; recruitment for pioneer" duties, but not beyond that.

Obviously, South African politics (racial and otherwise) were fraught, but - at a time when Churchill is plainly telling Smuts "the manpower crisis is real" there's the unasked question - "what are you going to do to help?"

Which is really interesting.

In 1940, the Union had a population of roughly 11 million; the "white" population was (roughly) less than 3 million. Mixed race (i.e. "coloured" was about half that of "white," there was a small population of South Asian ancestry (couple hundred thousand, perhaps), and the rest is pretty much "black".... at its high point, the South Africans contributed two infantry divisions, of three brigades each for a total of six, to the Allied order of battle. The vast majority of the personnel, certainly in the combat arms, were white; some non-whites served in the divisions' support and service elements.

By 1943, when this exchange of letters occurred, that commitment (for understandable reasons) was on track to be a single division, of two brigades, until the end of the war.

Obviously, WSC and Smuts know all this, and the historical and political realities of racism have to be weighed, but what is interesting in these two letters is that neither say "look, what kind of additional volunteer forces could be raised in South Africa"? No one says, "what could be done with manpower from the high commission territories" in combatant roles? And there's the obvious question of the South African "Indians" - at a time when the IA was expanding hugely, there was a small but generally Anglophone and, I presume, reasonably Anglophile population of men waiting to be tapped - who were not.

Later in the war (1944-45) when the British started diverting physically fit 18-year-old Englishmen, Scotsmen, and Welshmen from conscription for the military for, instead, labor service (largely in the coal mining industry), one has to wonder why these and other manpower pools that were (historically) available for non-combatant duty were not tapped.

All in all, it suggests that at least some of the manpower problems the British and dominion nations labored under in 1943-45 were, certainly to a degree, self-inflicted.

Gooner1
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Location: London

Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 22 Mar 2021 15:01

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
18 Mar 2021 19:33
I thought this letter from Smuts to Churchill might be of interest to some (Source: The Churchill Documents Volume 19: Fateful Questions September 1943 to April 1944):

p.24

Field Marshal Jan Smuts to Winston S. Churchill
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram T.1277/3, Concrete No. 723
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

3 September 1943 South Africa
Immediate
Personal and Most Secret
No. 1160

In effect, the plan merely proposes to continue and increase the present bombing and anti-U-boat campaigns, to take Sardinia and Corsica and the South of Italy (here the decipher is uncertain) and bomb northwards from there. We are then to fight our way northwards through Italy over difficult mountainous terrain in a campaign which may take much time before we reach Northern Italy and the main German defence position.
<snip>
But in the Mediterranean we should take Sardinia and Corsica and immediately attack in North Italy without fighting our way up the peninsula.
With hindsight, Smuts was on the money there.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Mar 2021 18:40

Gooner1 wrote:
22 Mar 2021 15:01
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
18 Mar 2021 19:33
I thought this letter from Smuts to Churchill might be of interest to some (Source: The Churchill Documents Volume 19: Fateful Questions September 1943 to April 1944):

p.24

Field Marshal Jan Smuts to Winston S. Churchill
Prime Minister’s Personal Telegram T.1277/3, Concrete No. 723
(Churchill Papers, 20/117)

3 September 1943 South Africa
Immediate
Personal and Most Secret
No. 1160

In effect, the plan merely proposes to continue and increase the present bombing and anti-U-boat campaigns, to take Sardinia and Corsica and the South of Italy (here the decipher is uncertain) and bomb northwards from there. We are then to fight our way northwards through Italy over difficult mountainous terrain in a campaign which may take much time before we reach Northern Italy and the main German defence position.
<snip>
But in the Mediterranean we should take Sardinia and Corsica and immediately attack in North Italy without fighting our way up the peninsula.
With hindsight, Smuts was on the money there.
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?

Gooner1
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Location: London

Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 23 Mar 2021 13:15

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?
I wouldn't recommend landing in Liguria at all. From what I remember the beaches are mostly small and are hemmed in by the mountains with precious few inland passes and very difficult lateral movement.
Tuscany would be a better bet. The beach at Viareggio is nice and wide with no dominating high ground just inland, as I remember. Not too far from a major port at Leghorn and less than 100 miles from Bastia, easy Spitfire distance, unlike Salerno.
Would it matter if the capture of the Foggia airfields and the Italian Armistice is delayed a couple of months?
Can't see the Gothic line being able to resist 24 Allied divisions in Summer '44.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 24 Mar 2021 05:50

Gooner1 wrote:
23 Mar 2021 13:15
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?
I wouldn't recommend landing in Liguria at all. From what I remember the beaches are mostly small and are hemmed in by the mountains with precious few inland passes and very difficult lateral movement.
Tuscany would be a better bet. The beach at Viareggio is nice and wide with no dominating high ground just inland, as I remember. Not too far from a major port at Leghorn and less than 100 miles from Bastia, easy Spitfire distance, unlike Salerno.
Would it matter if the capture of the Foggia airfields and the Italian Armistice is delayed a couple of months?
Can't see the Gothic line being able to resist 24 Allied divisions in Summer '44.
So are you suggesting Operation TUSCANY as an alternative to BAYTOWN-AVALANCHE-SLAPSTICK, or not? Because the Italian surrender was not a sure thing absent a credible Allied expedition into southern Italy (giving the king and government "somewhere" to run to from Rome, if nothing else); and Sardinia and Corsica were unlikely to fall into the Allies' hands as easily and quickly as they did historically absent Italian co-belligerency.

Which makes an amphibious operation in northwestern Italy in the late autumn or early winter somewhat more problematic, especially because Elba would be seen as an obstacle in its own right...

Gooner1
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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 24 Mar 2021 11:59

daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Mar 2021 05:50
So are you suggesting Operation TUSCANY as an alternative to BAYTOWN-AVALANCHE-SLAPSTICK, or not? Because the Italian surrender was not a sure thing absent a credible Allied expedition into southern Italy (giving the king and government "somewhere" to run to from Rome, if nothing else); and Sardinia and Corsica were unlikely to fall into the Allies' hands as easily and quickly as they did historically absent Italian co-belligerency.

Which makes an amphibious operation in northwestern Italy in the late autumn or early winter somewhat more problematic, especially because Elba would be seen as an obstacle in its own right...
It would have to be instead of Operation Avalance with all the delays and difficulties that that would entail.
One advantage of a landing in Sardinia first would be the great difficulty in evacuating any of their forces the Germans would have with the Allies great naval and air superiority. A chance to bag most of a division.
Baytown could probably go ahead. There'd be a need for Allied forces to follow the Germans retreating up the peninsula and also give them something to think about whilst the northern landing is prepared. A two division corps should be enough to hold Calabria if the Germans turn and get nasty against the impudently small landing.
With hindsight, would Badoglio and the King staying in Rome for the armistice be a bad thing? They might have provided orders encouragement, and I don't know, leadership, for the Italians to resist.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Mar 2021 03:54

Gooner1 wrote:
24 Mar 2021 11:59
daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Mar 2021 05:50
So are you suggesting Operation TUSCANY as an alternative to BAYTOWN-AVALANCHE-SLAPSTICK, or not? Because the Italian surrender was not a sure thing absent a credible Allied expedition into southern Italy (giving the king and government "somewhere" to run to from Rome, if nothing else); and Sardinia and Corsica were unlikely to fall into the Allies' hands as easily and quickly as they did historically absent Italian co-belligerency.

Which makes an amphibious operation in northwestern Italy in the late autumn or early winter somewhat more problematic, especially because Elba would be seen as an obstacle in its own right...
It would have to be instead of Operation Avalance with all the delays and difficulties that that would entail.
One advantage of a landing in Sardinia first would be the great difficulty in evacuating any of their forces the Germans would have with the Allies great naval and air superiority. A chance to bag most of a division.
Baytown could probably go ahead. There'd be a need for Allied forces to follow the Germans retreating up the peninsula and also give them something to think about whilst the northern landing is prepared. A two division corps should be enough to hold Calabria if the Germans turn and get nasty against the impudently small landing.
With hindsight, would Badoglio and the King staying in Rome for the armistice be a bad thing? They might have provided orders encouragement, and I don't know, leadership, for the Italians to resist.
They approved the armistice and left Rome historically when AVALANCHE was in the offing; absent that, seems somewhat unlikely they'd do so without it. That means the Allies have to take Sardinia and Corsica as something more than an economy in force operation, which slows things down; and then even if the Allies take the islands, there still needs to be a build-up to make them a useful base for TUSCANY in the way Sicily was for BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, and then there's the problem of Elba.

No idea how that would all play out, but very doubtful that a TUSCANY could be mounted at he same as AVALANCHE was historically, which delays everything for (weeks?) and then even if successful, the end result is the Allies have (presumably) a line to hold all the way across the peninsula in the south and a beachhead in the north ... which is basically the situation they faced after SHINGLE, except in this version, the Allied positions are even farther apart.

All in all, it seems even riskier than the divide between BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, much less the divide between the Allied forces on the Winter Line and SHINGLE.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 25 Mar 2021 15:57

daveshoup2MD wrote:
25 Mar 2021 03:54

They approved the armistice and left Rome historically when AVALANCHE was in the offing; absent that, seems somewhat unlikely they'd do so without it. That means the Allies have to take Sardinia and Corsica as something more than an economy in force operation, which slows things down; and then even if the Allies take the islands, there still needs to be a build-up to make them a useful base for TUSCANY in the way Sicily was for BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, and then there's the problem of Elba.
No idea how that would all play out, but very doubtful that a TUSCANY could be mounted at he same as AVALANCHE was historically, which delays everything for (weeks?) and then even if successful, the end result is the Allies have (presumably) a line to hold all the way across the peninsula in the south and a beachhead in the north ... which is basically the situation they faced after SHINGLE, except in this version, the Allied positions are even farther apart.

All in all, it seems even riskier than the divide between BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, much less the divide between the Allied forces on the Winter Line and SHINGLE.
Yes the operation would take longer to mount, Mid-October if the Allies are really lucky I guess.
As regards the Italian armistice, the landings at Salerno drew the gravity of the German forces south of Rome, a landing in the north would drag the gravity of German forces north of Rome. It could be that the Germans decide to abandon the south of Italy altogether, it was something they were debating, or, perhaps less likely, the Italians in the south liberate themselves.

The Allies couldn't afford to split their forces, 5th Army and 8th Army would have to land together and fight side by side. Which is what Monty advocated before Avalanche and what Allied Armies in Italy eventually had to do to crack the Winter line and take Rome.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 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.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Mar 2021 12:00

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Mar 2021 22:52
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.
Cargo discharged at Anzio as daily average in tons:
22nd Jan- 20th February - 3,255
March - 5,105
April - 3,255
May - 4,238

During that period the number of divisions in the beachhead increased from 2 to 7.

Yes a major port would be one of the first requirements, Leghorn/Livorno is one of the largest ports in Italy today, I don't know back in the 30s but presumably significant. Porto di Pisa a minor harbour perhaps suitable for coasters.

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Re: Winnie and the Balkans

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Mar 2021 04:53

Gooner1 wrote:
25 Mar 2021 15:57
daveshoup2MD wrote:
25 Mar 2021 03:54

They approved the armistice and left Rome historically when AVALANCHE was in the offing; absent that, seems somewhat unlikely they'd do so without it. That means the Allies have to take Sardinia and Corsica as something more than an economy in force operation, which slows things down; and then even if the Allies take the islands, there still needs to be a build-up to make them a useful base for TUSCANY in the way Sicily was for BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, and then there's the problem of Elba.
No idea how that would all play out, but very doubtful that a TUSCANY could be mounted at he same as AVALANCHE was historically, which delays everything for (weeks?) and then even if successful, the end result is the Allies have (presumably) a line to hold all the way across the peninsula in the south and a beachhead in the north ... which is basically the situation they faced after SHINGLE, except in this version, the Allied positions are even farther apart.

All in all, it seems even riskier than the divide between BAYTOWN and AVALANCHE, much less the divide between the Allied forces on the Winter Line and SHINGLE.
Yes the operation would take longer to mount, Mid-October if the Allies are really lucky I guess.
As regards the Italian armistice, the landings at Salerno drew the gravity of the German forces south of Rome, a landing in the north would drag the gravity of German forces north of Rome. It could be that the Germans decide to abandon the south of Italy altogether, it was something they were debating, or, perhaps less likely, the Italians in the south liberate themselves.

The Allies couldn't afford to split their forces, 5th Army and 8th Army would have to land together and fight side by side. Which is what Monty advocated before Avalanche and what Allied Armies in Italy eventually had to do to crack the Winter line and take Rome.
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.

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