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Malta instead of El Alamein??

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by Henrik Krog, Oct 5, 2000.

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  1. Henrik Krog

    Henrik Krog Member

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    Let me propose an alternative here. In the spring of 1942, the Italian high command was at a crossroads: take Malta or go with Rommel and push into Egypt.
    Many dont realise, that Rommel in fact was under Italian command, though he normally got his way - if not on his own, then by appealing to his friends in Berlin.
    Now, in February-March 1942 he had launched a counter-offensive without informing neither the Italian High Command in Libya nor the German High Command in Italy. Now, what if they had not been impressed by Rommels victory in it, but instead had chosen to be more cautious, cleaning up the logistics and eliminating Malta??
    An invasion would have included the San Marco Commandoes and Marines ana a blackshir regiment going in first, 7th German Mountain, 185th Folgore Parachute and 80th La Spezia Airlanding Infantry division going in by air, while the 4th Livorno and 20th Friuli Assault and Landing Divisions went in by sea. And that was first wave.
    Now, assuming the invasion goes well, the Allies cannot attack Axis convoys from Malta anymore, but have to go from Gibraltar, Egypt and Cypres. Also, more airpower is freed from attacking Malta all the time, and can be employed in Northern Africa. Thus: more supplies get through, less are lost. At the same time, the supply route for the Allies by Malta is lost, and they have to take the route south around Africa.

    So: we have Malta eliminated, better logistics for Rommel, worse for Auchinleck. Rommel can still launch his attack in June, perhaps July, with probably the same results, but vastly better prepared to take losses. Even if everything after that happens as in our timeline, Rommel is vastly better prepared to recover from the losses he took at El Alamein. Also, the Axis have more opportunity to put troops across to Tunisia once the British and Americans land in Algeria and Marocco. Hey, why shouldnt the Axis be able to hold the Western part of Libya as they had done time and again since 1940?? If we give them a victory at Kasserine and let them take the port of Bone in Western Algeria, too, they are pretty good in place logistically. But even if not, they are still stronger and closer to home than ever before.

    Even if Northern Africa falls or is evacuated, we still have Malta in place, that needs to be taken by the Allies before they can go on to take Sicily, and all this give the Italians more time to reorganise and reequip. During 1943, moves were underway to reorganise and -equip the Italian divisions so that they actually could survive in a modern war.
    At the same time, a number of German divisions dont need to be sent into Italy, Southern France, Yugoslavia and Greece to take over occupation duties, and the partisans in those places dont get the enormous ammounts of weapons that they originally got from surrendering Italian troops. The Yugoslav partisans, for example, doubled their numbers from 160.000 to 320.000 as a consequence. Also, there is possibility to build up the Cetniks there as more of a counterpart to the partisans.
    The German divisions not pulled away to Southern Europe can be used in other places, the Eastern Front being the most important. Not that they will turn everything in favour of the Axis, but they surely will matter.

    What do you think??

    Henrik
     
  2. Peppy

    Peppy Idi Admin

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    I think this would have only been a succesful startegy for the Axis had they persued an all out Mediterranean strategy. Capturing Malta would have only made delayed the inevitable defeat of the Axis in this theater. What would have been more prudent, but also possibly risky, was the German conquest of Gibraltar, and than later Malta. The Germans could have sent just a few divisision through Spain, with or without Spains concent to take it from the rear. This would have effectively sealed the med from the UK and made the North Africa campaign MUCH easier.
     
  3. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Malta was a key point of failure for the Axis in the Med. It was also Rommel's only strategic mistake, (not taking it). I think WW2 could have been won and lost in the Med, but not with the half-assed strategy Hitler thought would do the job.
     
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