Italy invading Malta in 1940

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by jwsleser » 10 Nov 2018 16:10

As I stated...
I certainly agree that Italy wouldn't attack Malta, but this is a what if...
I do agree with Mark's historical analysis; it isn't going to happen. And note that overall, I feel Italy made the right decision given their thoughts/beliefs of limited war at the time. Where Italy failed was not thinking though the other possibilities and how Italy gets out of the war if the UK doesn't fold. In better words, they didn't take actions that would create 'operational maneuver space' if things go sour. This lack of strategic understanding is also noticeable when Italy decides to assist in Russia and when they declares war on the US in 1941 for no valid reasons.

As a point of clarification to my comment above, I don't believe Italy should have entered the war in June 1940. Given their strategic needs, they likely could have gotten most of what they wanted by negotiation.

For any chance of Italy attacking Malta in 1940, it would need to be embedded in Italy's strategic planning by, at the latest,1938. That is when the first first serious study was undertaken. Italy would need to recognized that gaining Malta was a strategic imperative and an essential objective in any conflict. This postures the military staffs for planning and the subsequent actions based on that plan. That is what is needed to create the ability for rapid operational action.

None of this was in place in 1940.
The Italians clearly had a significant advantage due to geography and in (manpower) resources available. If they had the determination, I do not see how they could have failed to take Malta.
Agree.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 10 Nov 2018 17:07

jwsleser wrote:
09 Nov 2018 23:46
One should consider a few points:

These are fishing vessels, and as such are considerably more seaworthy than landing craft. These aren't the Rhine river barges the German were planning in using for Seelöwe.
Indeed, and I did not intend to minimize the difference, but rather just noted the similarity in appearance. Like all such improvised landing craft without ramps, the inconvenience and danger of troops having to go over the sides is what matters. They were similarly exposed on the early Higgins boat.
Landing craft would have the same issues against pillboxes and 6" guns as these motobragozzo, yet the the former were able to conduct successful invasions. The Gallipoli landings used rowed boats against a defending enemy and still managed to land their troops.
Yes, but Gallipoli is a good example I'm afraid. Take Cape Helles, defended by two Turkish battalions on a six-mile front, attacked by roughly five British battalions. The British suffered around 2,000 casualties and barely got ashore. That was without the enfilade they would encounter entering St. Paul's or Melleiha bays. The Turks did have two 12cm and two 15cm guns, but each landing beach was covered by just 4 to 6 MG in field fortifications...the south side of St. Paul's Bay had 14 pillbox positions alone, each with a Vickers and a Bren, plus field fortifications and the 18-pdr beach guns. Fort Campbell added some 11 more pillboxes on the Salmun peninsula and 18 or more pillboxes were completed ringing Melleiha Bay...with the better parts of three infantry battalions manning the various positions. On top of that the beaches were ringed by double and triple-apron barbed wire entanglements and other obstacles...and I have yet to see how the Italians expected to deal with that?
Please don't overreact to my comments. I am pointing out that in many ways, purpose-built landing craft and these motobragozzi aren't much different. They will do the job if given a chance.

The plan and its execution (by both sides) is what will matter.

Pista! Jeff
Exactly, I'm not overreacting, but I am expecting a bloody failure given the lack of Italian preparation faced by the British preparations if they go ahead with a 28 August landing. The question then would be what next? Would the Italians persist?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by jwsleser » 10 Nov 2018 22:05

Richard

I certainly realize that in the end, the discussion will not resolve anything. What it does provide is an offering of facts and a comparison of ideas.

Yes, the design of the boats was not ideal, but many landings were executed with inferior boats. Possibly bloody, yes. A failure, no.
Yes, but Gallipoli is a good example I'm afraid.
Yes it is. A poorly planned operation, using untrained troops, and yet it still succeed. Look at all the landings in WW2. No matter what plan, the training or the equipment, they were bloody and they usually succeeded. Why? Because of numbers. The defender really could do little if they had nothing else to throw into battle if the attacker persisted.
On top of that the beaches were ringed by double and triple-apron barbed wire entanglements and other obstacles...and I have yet to see how the Italians expected to deal with that?
I am very surprised by this comment. Why would an army that most people claim was trained and equipped for the last war not be able to handle these obstacles. After all, they dealt with much worse in WW1. If I was going to discuss the strengths of the R.E., it would be in such a set-piece tactical battle. It is what they did better than any other aspect of combat in WW2. It is what their army had been focused on for decades. They have the engineers, the training, the equipment. It is what they had prepared to do.

In fact, Malta plays to many of their strengths. Broke terrain, small unit actions, main focus on small arms, etc. The R.E. was weak at the operational level and poor at maneuver. These are not factors here. They started the war with a developed special operations capability that they did plan to use in 1940.

I posted my opinion because I had reviewed their plan. St. Paul's or Melleiha Bays weren't their main efforts. Their main effort was at the very northern tip at Punta Matfa. Both of those bays and three other locations in the south east were to be attacked, but the effort was focused north. The Malta garrison has little offensive capability and the multiple landings (or attempted landings) will pin forces.

I posted my opinion because I had previous studied the UK island defenses of Hoping Kong and Singapore and the actions at the landings at Kota Bharu. Why are these fixed defenses being seen as ruling the beaches? Malta's beach defenses are just as incomplete as many these other locations. Like those two islands, Malta is cut-off and is on its own. Like Kota Bharu, the UK will withdraw once they feel their defenses are being penetrating. The UK demonstrated again and again that they will give up the beaches if pressed hard because they believe in prolonged defense. Here the Victoria Line is a negative. If pressed in the north (the main attack), they will withdraw to that line thinking prolonged defense. That will be the decisive act. It will allow the Italians to build up their forces (especially artillery) and that will end the defense. Think Hill 107 on Crete.

We will never resolve whether an Italian attack in 1940 would succeed or fail. What I am stating is that such an attack is not an open and shut case. Too many focus on the overall defeat of the Italian military during the war without actually digging into why they lost. As important they don't look at their successes :-)

Pista! Jeff
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RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940 - (Well Sort Of).

Post by Robert Rojas » 11 Nov 2018 00:40

Greetings to both citizen Iron Machine and the community as a whole. Howdy I.M.! Well sir, in deference to your point OR points-of-view as articulated within your posting of Saturday - November 10, 2018 - 12:09am, old yours truly will most certainly concede that I am not the END ALL TO BE ALL on the this topic OR any other topic for that matter. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, it has been my "understanding'" that the formations that would come to be known as the Infanteria de Marina had their contemporary genesis in the RIF WAR (1920-1927). During the course of this conflict, both the nations of France and Spain mounted THE first combined amphibious operation in the annals of modern warfare on September 08, 1925. This substantial operation was executed at ALUCEMAS BAY in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. Some 13,000 personnel were landed directly on the beach from ramp equipped vessels. It also my "understanding" that it was the "desire" of certain elements within the Republican Government to disband the Infanteria de Marina, because it was seen as a "TOOL OF COLONIALISM". That is quite an enlightening indictment from the SPANISH LEFT for men who allegedly did nothing more than guard naval facilities. However, historical events subsequently overtook that political "desire" from the SPANISH LEFT. The fratricide that would come to be known as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) found the personnel of the Infanteria de Marina fighting with distinction on both sides of the political spectrum. After the conclusion of that domestic unpleasantness, Francisco Franco retained the Infanteria de Marina as a distinct Naval entity with projections to transform this organization into a credible force unto itself, which was quite an intraservice concession from an Army General. Apparently, Francisco Franco intuitively grasped the worthiness of amphibious warfare since he was one of the 13,000 personnel who debarked on the shore of ALUCEMAS BAY on September 08, 1925. Now, with all of that said, I also rather suspect that El Caudillo's clandestine commitment of his battle hardened Infanteria de Marina to the Malta Operation just "MIGHT" settle accounts with Il Duce over Fascist Italy's support of the Nationalists during the very recent Spanish Civil War. After all, BUSINESS is BUSINESS! Finally, this might also be a "cultural" opportunity for the Infanteria de Marina to provide a taste of Spanish COLONIALISM to the fine burghers of Malta. Sound like a plan!? Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the greater Iberian Peninsula. Adios!


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
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RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Robert Rojas » 11 Nov 2018 03:44

Greetings to both citizen L.Colombo and the community as a whole. Howdy L.C.! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Saturday - November 10, 2018 - 12:40pm, old yours truly would like to convey my appreciation for the heads up regarding the existence of the San Marco Regiment. The addition of such a Naval Infantry Regiment during this scenario can only greatly improve the odds of success for the Italian amphibious assault on the Island of Malta on or about August 28, 1940. Now, I do have a not so inconsequential question concerning this regiment. How much combat experience has this formation accrued since its inception? Assuming that the battle hardened veterans of Spain's Infanteria de Marina are not available for this operation, will the San Marco Regiment be up to the task to HIT-THE-BEACH under withering fire, rapidly storm British defenses and create the conditions necessary for a breakthrough by follow up invasion forces? It's just something to ponder. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of sunny Italy. CIAO!


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2018 04:32

jwsleser wrote:
10 Nov 2018 22:05
I certainly realize that in the end, the discussion will not resolve anything. What it does provide is an offering of facts and a comparison of ideas.
Indeed Jeff, I don't think any of these discussions ever resolve anything, but they sure can be fun. :D
Yes, the design of the boats was not ideal, but many landings were executed with inferior boats. Possibly bloody, yes. A failure, no.
Yep, remarkably few amphibious assaults ended up being failures, but many of them were bloody messes.
Yes it is. A poorly planned operation, using untrained troops, and yet it still succeed. Look at all the landings in WW2. No matter what plan, the training or the equipment, they were bloody and they usually succeeded. Why? Because of numbers. The defender really could do little if they had nothing else to throw into battle if the attacker persisted.
Yep.
I am very surprised by this comment. Why would an army that most people claim was trained and equipped for the last war not be able to handle these obstacles. After all, they dealt with much worse in WW1. If I was going to discuss the strengths of the R.E., it would be in such a set-piece tactical battle. It is what they did better than any other aspect of combat in WW2. It is what their army had been focused on for decades. They have the engineers, the training, the equipment. It is what they had prepared to do.
Oh, certainly they might be able to handle such an obstacle in the field, but I honestly don't know if they had a plan for, or a means of, breaching such an obstacle as encountered in this case in 1940. Part of it is that other than the vague remarks about the 1940 planning made by wargames, I have yet to run into a good description of how the Italians planned to execute such an attack in 1940. Instead, I see what I suspect is quite a bit of conflation with the 1942 planning.

Which is why I'm glad for your commentary that has already cleared up the planning for boat improvisations.
In fact, Malta plays to many of their strengths. Broke terrain, small unit actions, main focus on small arms, etc. The R.E. was weak at the operational level and poor at maneuver. These are not factors here. They started the war with a developed special operations capability that they did plan to use in 1940.
Excellent, but please tell me more. What special operations capability did they have and how did they plan to use it in this case?
I posted my opinion because I had reviewed their plan. St. Paul's or Melleiha Bays weren't their main efforts.
I rather suspected it wouldn't be. If they did, then they are sticking their noses into a re-entrant angle, exposed to fire from flank and rear, and attempting to land over very narrow beaches at the end of a cul de sac...that is why I remarked on the barbed wire entanglements, in those circumstances I don't think they could get through them.
Their main effort was at the very northern tip at Punta Matfa. Both of those bays and three other locations in the south east were to be attacked, but the effort was focused north. The Malta garrison has little offensive capability and the multiple landings (or attempted landings) will pin forces.
I think you mean Punta Marfa? So yes, Ramla tel-Bir, Ramla tal-Qortin, and Armier Bay, those are indeed the week points in 1940. From what I can tell, the pillbox system there was nowhere near as complete as that further south by mid-1940 (Fort Campbell, Melleiha Bay, and St Paul's Bay were the focus of the 1938-1940 construction). While the water is very shallow and the beaches rudimentary, the lack of defenses makes that the best place. From there, they can then build up after seizing the ferry docks as a supply route (if the British don't damage them too much) and work their way southwards at some leisure. The hazard of course is British submarines and a possible British surface sortie, but those would be pretty desperate acts. I expect the southeast locations were feints though, since those also stand a good chance of going pear-shaped.

Overall, the only thing the British could do in 1940 if the Italians followed that plan would be to hunker down on the successive ridge defense system (Melleiha, Bajda, and Wardija ridges) and pray that the Italians wear down before they do.
I posted my opinion because I had previous studied the UK island defenses of Hoping Kong and Singapore and the actions at the landings at Kota Bharu. Why are these fixed defenses being seen as ruling the beaches? Malta's beach defenses are just as incomplete as many these other locations. Like those two islands, Malta is cut-off and is on its own. Like Kota Bharu, the UK will withdraw once they feel their defenses are being penetrating. The UK demonstrated again and again that they will give up the beaches if pressed hard because they believe in prolonged defense. Here the Victoria Line is a negative. If pressed in the north (the main attack), they will withdraw to that line thinking prolonged defense. That will be the decisive act. It will allow the Italians to build up their forces (especially artillery) and that will end the defense. Think Hill 107 on Crete.
Very likely it would follow something like that, except the British had not planned on the Victoria Lines defenses since 1907. Interwar, they refocused on beach defense, which is partly why so many 18-pdrs were there. However, until the pillbox lines in Marfa could be completed they did rely on a stopline defense further south, but based on the ridges forward of the old Victoria Lines (although interestingly enough, parts of the old Victoria Lines positions were modernized where it fit into the new plan). The real question to pin down is how much of the Marfa beach defenses were completed and when, but even then if the Italians were willing to sacrifice enough men to get ashore they likely would, since AFAIK Marfa was never defended by more than the 1st KOMR (with later attachments from the Cheshires and other folks that came in as reinforcements after August 1940).
We will never resolve whether an Italian attack in 1940 would succeed or fail. What I am stating is that such an attack is not an open and shut case. Too many focus on the overall defeat of the Italian military during the war without actually digging into why they lost. As important they don't look at their successes.
Yep.
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Ironmachine » 11 Nov 2018 10:34

Roberto Rojas wrote:Greetings to both citizen Iron Machine and the community as a whole. Howdy I.M.! Well sir, in deference to your point OR points-of-view as articulated within your posting of Saturday - November 10, 2018 - 12:09am, old yours truly will most certainly concede that I am not the END ALL TO BE ALL on the this topic OR any other topic for that matter. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, it has been my "understanding'" that the formations that would come to be known as the Infanteria de Marina had their contemporary genesis in the RIF WAR (1920-1927). During the course of this conflict, both the nations of France and Spain mounted THE first combined amphibious operation in the annals of modern warfare on September 08, 1925. This substantial operation was executed at ALUCEMAS BAY in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. Some 13,000 personnel were landed directly on the beach from ramp equipped vessels.
Well, the Spanish "Infantería de Marina" has a long history, and its origins can be traced back, according to some authors, to the creation in 1537 of the "Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles". But the Alhucemas landing is not, in any way, a relevant point for the "Infantería de Marina" (IM from now on) . The participation of the IM in the landing (which, by the way, was basically a Spanish operation, French participation being very, very small) was reduced to an expeditionary battalion that was not part of the first wave of the landing. Its actions were in no way different to those of the Army units involved in the operation, and it could have been easily replaced by them.
Roberto Rojas wrote:It also my "understanding" that it was the "desire" of certain elements within the Republican Government to disband the Infanteria de Marina, because it was seen as a "TOOL OF COLONIALISM". That is quite an enlightening indictment from the SPANISH LEFT for men who allegedly did nothing more than guard naval facilities.
The IM was "declarada a extinguir" (that is, their losses were not going to be replaced until the IM ceased to exist) on 10 july 1931, certainly under the government of the left in the II Republic. But I have never heard that this was because the IM was seen as a "tool of colonialism", and I think this is blatantly false for a number of reasons:
  • Through its long history, the IM was not specially involved in colonial campaigns. When the IM participated, it was a minimal contribution to the total forces involved in a campaign. The Army was the service charged with colonial warfare.
  • For a corps supposedly considered a "tool of colonialism", I think it is highly significant that when the Spanish left parties came to power in 1931 there were no IM units in Morocco. All IM units were in Spain proper.
  • Doubts about the need for an IM has been common in Spain since at least the beginning of the XX century; the idea of disbanding it as it was no longer necessary was floating around.
  • At the same date, the Engineers of the Navy and the Navy Artillery branches were also "declarados a extinguir", and they both could hardly be accused of being "tools of colonialism". It was simply a reorganization of the Navy.
  • Some Army units, like the Legión or the Regulares, that could much easily, and with better reasons, be considered "tools of colonialism" were not affected in any way.
  • Between 1934 and 1936, when the right parties were in power (and they were not shy about colonialism), the decisión about the disbanding of the IM was not changed.
It is not that those men allegedly did nothing more than guard naval facilities, it's that they did nothing more than guard naval facilities.
Roberto Rojas wrote:However, historical events subsequently overtook that political "desire" from the SPANISH LEFT. The fratricide that would come to be known as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) found the personnel of the Infanteria de Marina fighting with distinction on both sides of the political spectrum.
The personnel of the IM fought well in the SCW, but they were IM just in name. There was nothing in their equipment, training or capacities to distinguish them for Army units, and they did not fought better than Army units. They were not elite, not shock troops, not special in any way.
Roberto Rojas wrote:After the conclusion of that domestic unpleasantness,
Holy Cannoli, Bat... err, Roberto! That's the biggest euphemism I have ever seen...
Roberto Rojas wrote:Francisco Franco retained the Infanteria de Marina as a distinct Naval entity with projections to transform this organization into a credible force unto itself, which was quite an intraservice concession from an Army General.
The IM was retained, but I have never seen that Franco had any project to "transform this organization into a credible force unto itself". Now, Admiral Moreno, the Navy Minister, may have had those projects, but still in october 1940 his reorganization of the IM listed their missions as: garrisoning ships and bases; manning anti-aircraft machine-guns in warships and bases; and providing passive defense against air attacks on land bases. No mention at all was made of amphibious warfare (not to mention the lack of any way to project their force, that is, there were no landing ships of any kind). Doesn't look (to me, at least) as anything remarkable. Despite some earlier experiences with very small units, the Spanish IM did not began to recover its amphibious vocation until 1957.
And about what you consider "quite an intraservice concession from an Army General", you have to consider that by that time Franco was not longer an Army General but a head of state. Anyway, many more similar or even greater concessions were made, for example the creation of the Air Force as a independent service instead of letting it as a branch of the Army as it was originally, or the creation of land forces (not parachutists) for the Air Force for the protection of air bases (quite similar to the IM, indeed). Anyway, 5 regiments of IM is not so big a concession IMHO.
Roberto Rojas wrote:Apparently, Francisco Franco intuitively grasped the worthiness of amphibious warfare since he was one of the 13,000 personnel who debarked on the shore of ALUCEMAS BAY on September 08, 1925.
As one of the 13,000 personnel who debarked on the shore on Alhucemas on 8 September 1925 he would have seen that amphibious warfare could be made without "Infantería de Marina"! The worthiness of amphibious warfare does not directy imply the worthiness of Marines. And Franco does not seem to have pressed the Navy to build any kind of landing ship, so whether he grasped the worthiness of amphibious warfare or not is open to discussion. In fact, at the time there were not plausible scenarios in which a Spanish amphibious capacity, which by force of circunstances would have been very small, would have been valuable. And as I said before, the Spanish IM did not began to regain its amphibious capacity until 1957. With all that in mind, I don't think that Franco was especially involved in the fate of the IM.
Roberto Rojas wrote:Now, with all of that said, I also rather suspect that El Caudillo's clandestine commitment of his battle hardened Infanteria de Marina to the Malta Operation just "MIGHT" settle accounts with Il Duce over Fascist Italy's support of the Nationalists during the very recent Spanish Civil War. After all, BUSINESS is BUSINESS!
Well, accounts with Il Duce were settled with money, so there was no need to do anything else. If Hitler, who had much more leverage over him, could not move Franco to act, Mussolini is certainly not going to achieve success.
And Franco's battle-hardened "Infantería de Marina" would amount to maybe three-four battalions with neither experience nor training in amphibious warfare. They could do nothing that the Italians could not do better and more easily.
Roberto Rojas wrote:Finally, this might also be a "cultural" opportunity for the Infanteria de Marina to provide a taste of Spanish COLONIALISM to the fine burghers of Malta.
I'm sure there would have been more interest in showing Spanish "culture" to the proud sons of Italy. :lol:
Roberto Rojas wrote:Sound like a plan!?
No, not to me at least. :wink:
Roberto Rojas wrote:Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the greater Iberian Peninsula. Adios!
Have a nice day!
Last edited by Ironmachine on 12 Nov 2018 08:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2018 17:39

LColombo wrote:
10 Nov 2018 09:40
Italy already had its own naval infantry (the "San Marco" Regiment). 2,000 "San Marco" troops were planned to be part of the invasion force for "C.3", though I do not know what were the plans in 1940.
I forgot about this. IIRC, the San Marco "Regiment" was a single battalion of about 500 men, apparently not including its detachments at Shanghai, Tsientsin, and Beijing. A second battalion, comprised of reservists, was raised in June on the Italian declaration of war. So there were about 1,000 marine infantry available, about half of them newly organized reservists. They joined the Forza Navale Speciale (FNS), when that unit was organized 25 October 1940, but I'm sure Jeff has more information on the organization and capability of those units two months earlier?
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Terry Duncan » 12 Nov 2018 12:53

For anyone interested, this topic was discussed previously when Dave Bender suggested an invasion in June 1940, and although some of the suggestions for how to go about things were unconventional to say the least, there may be some interesting info for people;

viewtopic.php?p=1494914#p1494914

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Nov 2018 17:51

jwsleser wrote:
10 Nov 2018 00:14
-The RN could certainly sortie but they can't stay.
-Hindsight tell us that damaging the RN ships would be difficult for the R.A., but give them enough chances, they will get hits.
-Italian submarines will definitely be a threat. Again how many chances to you give them to score hits?
-The RN terminated several operations when the AA ammunition ran low. Just running attacks against the fleet will force them to withdraw.
-While the Italians might have limitations as soldiers/airmen/sailors, they are brave. Once in the fight under these conditions, they will fight hard.
Malta had been home to the Mediterranean fleet for a long time so likely there were stores of all the navies ammunition types.
Also damaged ships can be repaired there in an emergency.
If the UK doesn't completely defeat the invasion in the first 24 hours (meaning the Italians get several thousand troops ashore), they have lost. Once established, the UK lacks the means to force them off.
No, I don't see that. The Italians getting several thousand men ashore only means they have several thousand less men than the defenders, who will have had the time to bring up guns in range of the beaches.
And, of course, the Royal Navy.

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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 12 Nov 2018 19:06

Gooner1 wrote:
12 Nov 2018 17:51
Malta had been home to the Mediterranean fleet for a long time so likely there were stores of all the navies ammunition types.
Also damaged ships can be repaired there in an emergency.
There is a question for sure. When the fleet evacuated to Alexandria, did they evacuate the fleet stores - including the ammunition - as well?
No, I don't see that. The Italians getting several thousand men ashore only means they have several thousand less men than the defenders, who will have had the time to bring up guns in range of the beaches.
And, of course, the Royal Navy.
The problem there, as Jeff said, is the limited mobility of the garrison. Most of the beach guns were relatively immobile and until the 12th Field Regiment came ashore the only mobile battery was the 6-inch howitzer battery and it used extemporaneous prime movers it seems as well. There are also a very limited number of gun positions, all of the prepared ones I know of were in the Victoria Lines, so field positions and ammunition stores were required. Finally, there was only a single reserve battalion available and until the first tank troop arrived it was unlikely it would be capable of beating back a force already established in Marfa.

The ultimate kicker of course is the RN. If a sortie can arrive and disperse or destroy the Italian supply and reinforcement effort then there is a major problem for the Italians...water. :D There is no significant source of water in Marfa other than surface catchments and a few shallow private wells. Where does the water come from to supply the invasion force?
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Wargames » 13 Nov 2018 00:49

jwsleser wrote:
09 Nov 2018 19:36

I will note that these laguni are not mentioned in the 1938 or in the 1940 planning. Instead the plan was to use bragozzi, a type of fishing boat heavily used in the Adriatic. From 'Progetto del 18 giugno 1940', section 2, found in Gabriele p. 232.
An excellent description of the boats to be used by the men of San Marco. The bragozzi were one of Italy's largest and most numerous fishing boats. These were sailboats used for night fishing and, if their colorful sails were died, could be brought in silently at night (Their crews were night fishermen) unseen. Being flat bottomed they could get in very close to shore (but had a very deep rudder to act as a centerboard). San Marco was to land at night to clear the beach obstacles for the main day landing to follow.

But they had a troop capacity of only 15 men.

So, yes. With 33 of them you could land a 500 man San Marco battalion and that number of boats would be easy to find. But as far as landing the rest of the troops? I think you're still looking.

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RE: Italy Invading Malta In 1940.

Post by Robert Rojas » 13 Nov 2018 05:40

Greetings to both brother Wargames and the community as whole. Howdy Wargames! Well sir, this entry really isn't directed to anyone in particular, but at least from outward appearances anyway, this discussion has entered the surrealistic realm of the academic. Now, it is apparent that the British Commonwealth cannot effectively defend the Island of Malta and the Italians cannot effectively assault the Island of Malta. In short, what we now have here is a classic MEXICAN standoff with apparently no practical course of military action to break the figurative log jam. Unless Fascist Italy can entice National Socialist Germany to intervene with its now stillborn enterprise on the Island of Malta, I personally see no point with Il Duce's continued pursuit of this mad adventurism worthy of Don Quixote. Apart from Adolf Hitler, do you see any other Fascist ally or Fascist fellow traveler potentially rising to the occasion to pull Benito Mussolini's chestnuts out of the fire? Maybe the Vatican can intercede and negotiate an armistice? It's just something to ponder. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day from sea to shining sea.


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

Gooner1
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 13 Nov 2018 14:28

Richard Anderson wrote:
12 Nov 2018 19:06
There is a question for sure. When the fleet evacuated to Alexandria, did they evacuate the fleet stores - including the ammunition - as well?
I'll guess that the answer to that will be some but not all.
The problem there, as Jeff said, is the limited mobility of the garrison. Most of the beach guns were relatively immobile and until the 12th Field Regiment came ashore the only mobile battery was the 6-inch howitzer battery and it used extemporaneous prime movers it seems as well. There are also a very limited number of gun positions, all of the prepared ones I know of were in the Victoria Lines, so field positions and ammunition stores were required. Finally, there was only a single reserve battalion available and until the first tank troop arrived it was unlikely it would be capable of beating back a force already established in Marfa.
The 6-inch howitzer battery, or some of its guns at least, may already be in range of the chosen beaches. Which considering the tiny size of the beaches, the fire from the howitzers is a doleful prospect. There are also the Heavy Anti-Aircraft guns, which with time and effort, could be redeployed. Though some of the HAA positions will be in range as it is.
Once the landing area is identified the infantry defending the other coastal areas would be thinned out I would have thought.
The ultimate kicker of course is the RN. If a sortie can arrive and disperse or destroy the Italian supply and reinforcement effort then there is a major problem for the Italians...water. :D There is no significant source of water in Marfa other than surface catchments and a few shallow private wells. Where does the water come from to supply the invasion force?
The British will treat the prisoners kindly.

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BDV
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Re: Italy invading Malta in 1940

Post by BDV » 13 Nov 2018 18:15

One minor, but relevant detail is that air-support and the departure of naval units in the Italian attack on Malta would have happened from territory hostile to the central Fascist government (as demonstrated in 1943).

The secrecy needed for such action would be severely compromised.

But, even if a costly abysmal failure, it would be much less costly than the historical debacle in Cyrenaica.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

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