Italian Offensive in France

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Canon in D
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Italian Offensive in France

Post by Canon in D » 16 Jul 2004 09:06

When Italy entered the conflict in 1940, I remember reading of a immediate loss to the French. It occurse near a small town just inside of the French border. If I recall, the Italians outnumbered their foes 5:1? I was wondering if anyone had a good website, or just some unit background on the Italian forces.

Thanks!


J.R.

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 16 Jul 2004 14:55

Here you can find a very detailed Italian OOB: http://www.comandosupremo.com/France.html. For the compisition of the Italian divisions in 1940 and for another and more detailed OOB (see Army Group West), just see the great site by Dr. Leo Nierhorster here: http://niehorster.orbat.com/019_italy/__italy.htm.

About that loss, may you be more precise, please? Certainly not just after the DoW, since the first offensive actions (larger than a few patrols of skiers) started 10 days after it, on 20 June 1940.

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Canon in D
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Post by Canon in D » 17 Jul 2004 01:49

I'll find the WWII magazine I found the article in. It may take me a bit though. I have quite a few and they are scattered about. But no worries!

And thank you for the websites!

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Thomhasj
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Post by Thomhasj » 17 Jul 2004 10:31

In a World War II magazine I own, it says that Italian troops invaded the Cote d'Azur on 22 June 1940. They attacked the town of Menton. The French resisted fiercely, but had to surrender ultimately to the Cosseria-Division.

Hope this helps a bit.

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Post by CoffeeCake » 17 Jul 2004 18:32

I also know that the Italians attacked the French from the Alps, but were repulsed severly. I will get more info as its more availble. Too tired right now.

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Lupo Solitario
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Post by Lupo Solitario » 17 Jul 2004 20:13

it seems that 1940 west alpine campaign is one of most unknown of WWII...well, one of the shortest too. It lasted three days only (June 21-24 1940) and it needs some explanation.

Italo-French border is one of the hardest terrain in Europe, all mountains, many over 3000meters high, absolutely no plain areas and less of ten roads connecting countries passing thru mountain passes or canyons. Mountains end directly into the sea leaving no space for manouvers.

It's an ideal place for a fortification system, so either countries developed a defensive structure relying on permanent hard structures. In particular the French built in '30s many structures using technologies used also in Maginot Line. The Italian system was not so updated.

The Italian strategy plans excluded offensive against France, in case of war Italy had to defend on alps and solve the war elsewhere. I ignore which were french plans.

In June 1940, there were about 300000 italians forming the Army Group West (OOB as from DrG links) against 200000 frenchmen forming the Alps Army; I have not a good OOB but they were mainly foming garrisons of permanent fortification.

At Italian Declaration of War (June 10) Mussolini ordered his troops to stand on defensive and do nothing; nothing happened. At June 20, Mussolini realized that he had to do something to have word at peace talks so he simply ordered army to "advance and keep what thay can". So italian army had 24 hours to pass from defensive to offensive attitude and launch an attack for which there were no plans.

In those conditions italians could only try to launch some frontal attack against a well fortified enemy with scarce artillery support and without air force (bad weather). Results were very low and at ceasefire (June 24) half of italian troops had still to reach the frontline.

(continue...)

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Lupo Solitario
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Post by Lupo Solitario » 18 Jul 2004 17:12

continue...

About the so-called battle for Mentone...well, Mentone is a little french town on the coast really, really close to italian border (3.2 kms). French had built some bunker at Ponte S.Luigi controlling coastal road and at Pilon, more internal. Behind Menton there were two great forts at Cap Martin (on the coast) and at Mont Agel, well equipped with artillery and capable to fire into italian territory.

Italian advance on Menton along coastline had been given to Infantry Division Cosseria with few support artillery. Italian attack started at 09.30 of June 21st but it was immediately stopped by fortifications at Ponte S.Luigi without progress for entire day. Italian infantry reached to slip between french positions and reach the doors of Menton at evening but they can't take with them artillery or logistics while french artillery hit support columns. The coast road is still close.

June 22nd: italian infatrymen start to enter into Menton facing a costant close combat. In an artillery duel, french destroy Italian armed train n.2, one of the main italian support units.

June 23rd: hard urban fightings in Menton, Italians take Pilon fort and can finally enlarge their breech and send some support to units in Menton. Ponte San Luigi continue to deny the coastal road

June 24th: an amphibious action against Cap Martin fort is cancelled for bad weather and lack of preparation, still close combats in Menton. Ponte San Luigi continue to resist

June 25th: ceasefire. Italians control about half of Mentone town and quite all fortifications are still in French hands

Certainly not a masterwork of warfare art...

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 18 Jul 2004 20:58

Some photos of Italian troops in Mentone: http://digilander.libero.it/avantisavoi ... entone.htm.

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Canon in D
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Post by Canon in D » 19 Jul 2004 03:13

Well, I've looked and looked again; I've found nothing. I suppose the issue was old enough that I threw it away, a shame really. But Menton may have been part of the story. It rang a bell. I'm not too sure, however. But I thank you all for your help.

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Lupo Solitario
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Post by Lupo Solitario » 19 Jul 2004 13:46

Well, the point is that Mentone is the only thing slightly resembling a city where fightings happened during June campaign...no alternatives!

Told this, I can tell nothing about ratio of forces (italians should have been more or less 10000, I ignore frenchmen)

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Post by Andy H » 28 Jul 2004 23:41

http://france1940.free.fr/oob/alpes.html

The above will give you a full OoB for the French forces facing Italy

Andy H

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 28 Jul 2004 23:46

http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~dpohara/alpine.htm

Also this link has some useful information listed.

Andy H

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Post by Wargames » 15 Nov 2006 04:36

Out of curiosity, has anyone tried to identify which Italian units attacked which French units? And respective casualties?

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Xª Mas
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Post by Xª Mas » 20 Nov 2006 07:19

Lupo hit the nail right on the head. From what I understand, the Italians played more of a crucial role than realized. The germans are considered the victors and the Italians were considered useless at this point, but in actuality, I gather that the Italians were used as bait to occupy the French in the Maginot Line. The Italians kept the French busy while the Germans went around the Maginot through Belgium and took the French from behind. the Italians took the actual fighting. The French woke up one morning with Italians in front of them and Germans behind them.

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Loïc
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Post by Loïc » 22 Nov 2006 17:54

Andy H wrote:http://france1940.free.fr/oob/alpes.html

The above will give you a full OoB for the French forces facing Italy
OOB for the 10th May 1940, in june there were only the 64e 65e 66e DI and the Fortress Sectors, the 2e and 8e DIC were converted in Light Infantry Divisions and sent to the XXIV Army Corps for the 2nd, and X Army Corps for the 8th.

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