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  1. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    What if Rommel stopped after his stunning victory at Marsa Matruh, in accordance with Kesselring's advice and prepared a mobile defence allowing Kesselring to gather his forces to attack Malta in July or August of 1942?

    At this time Malta was under pressure from Kesselring's planes anyway and a combined Italian and German assault on the island would have succeeded. So suppose the island is now under Axis control. What happens in the desert campaign?

    The Eighth Army would have been chased back to Egypt with its tail between its legs, thoroughly demoralised and with a large part of its experienced troops casualties or prisoners. However reinforcements from Mesopotamia and England quickly brought it up to strength again, as evidenced in the historical Alamein battles.

    The Panzerarmee Afrika would now have a supply route that is a lot more secure, furthermore air support would be much easier to give to Rommel.

    What happens?
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Good question. Rommel's supply situation would have drastically improved. This meant that he would have been able to mount more offensives and a better defense when the Brits had their offensives. Rommel may have reached the Suez but would not be able to hold due to operation Torch by the Americans. The fall of Malta would have no impact on this so therefore the outcome may have been the same.

    [ 16 September 2002, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: PzJgr ]
     
  3. Sniper

    Sniper Member

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    If Malta had fallen, then yes, Ronmmel's supply lines would have been much better, with a lot more getting through.

    With the loss of control over that part of the Med, the British forces would have been in much more difficult circumstances. More than likely additional Commonwealth troops from South Africa and Australia would have been sent, until such time as more British troops could be added to protect Egypt and the Suez. They would probably have to come the long way around via South Africa for safety reasons.

    I'd also imagine that England would send in a few more submarines to help slow the Axis supply lines down, although with Malta gone, the Luftwaffe would pose a serious threat to this.

    Operation Torch would be brought forward to relieve the pressure on Egypt.

    It would have been a set back but eventually the result would have been the same, with the Axis armies defeated in North Africa.
     
  4. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    Probably the loss of Malta in automn 1942 would mean the loss of the total/a part of the Med.

    The Germans & the Italians would attack the Allies at El Alamein, and with full Luftwaffe support, they would destroyed a part of the Brittish troops.

    But I seriously doubt that after the Creta campaign the Axis could deploy a lot of para's. But by sea, they could defeat the already weaken troops.
     
  5. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    I have said it several times. It was "your perfect general" ( [​IMG] ) Rommel hugest mistake throughout all the war! Kesselring and the Italians were absolutely right in this point. Rommel was always fighting with Kesselring for supplies. The few supplies Kesselring could get from Rome and Berlin were being sunk in a 50% rate. Hitler had actually gave green light to Kesselring and Student to invade Malta, surely with Italian and German airbourne troops (at this time, even after Crete there were still enough paratroopers and Ju-52). The island would have fallen in Axis' hands. But Rommel, egotistically said: "Forget about it. I can finish it by myself once I have Suez". So, he got the aircraft which were going to be used for Malta's invasion to push the British VIII Army. But, as he realised he could not win with the forces he had. What would he had done if he had had those 50% more tanks, men and fuel? But that was only possible if Malta fell. Perhaps it meant a total or partial Axis victory in the Mediterranean. That is why I don't think on Rommel when they ask for the best general.
     
  6. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    Had Hitler sanctioned more supplies for Rommel, he probably could have finished it himself. [​IMG] The taking of Malta might have improved the Axis supply situation, but it would have given time for the 8th Army to reorganize, and take advantage of all the Commonwealth troops that could be shipped there in the meantime. The best time to take Malta would have been before the Afrika Korps even landed; then Rommel could have taken Suez well before Torch could have materialised.
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    If we consider taking Malta alone, it probably would have cost a lot of lives,planes and time, just to make a landing on the island, even more to take the whole of it. Just like Crete. But with it the situation in the area would have been easier for the axis and Rommel would have got a lot more supplies than he did. Not enough to win the war for Alexandria etc, but certainly giving a harder time to the allied.

    Anyway, by the discussions we had I would prefer to focus even on this to Gibraltar, as it was the key to the Mediterranean and without this the Allied would have to bring supplies to Malta elsewhere and it would be easier to conquer.Or perhaps it would not get the planes etc and would become meaningless by itself.

    I definitely would think twice as the defence would be tougher than on Crete and losses horrendous. Maybe with a great plan ...but just maybe.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

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    At least Malta is smaller than Crete! I think it was quite vulnerable, particularly early on in the campaign. And with good old Lord Gort in charge on his bicycle who knows how muddled the British defences could have been?

    Jumbo
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    I think Malta would have been much easier than Crete. It was not as well defended because there was not such a big garrison there. Malta doesn't have the horrendous terrain Crete has. All these makes considerable points. It had been an expensive victory, I agree. But quite cheaper than Crete.

    And Rommel definately could not defeat the British just with more supplies from Berlin. Das Reich, you come to the very some situation: The British aeroplanes, ships and submarines, based in Malta are sinking 50% of Rommel's reinforcements and supplies. The main thing here is to avoid this, not sending more supplies to be sunk by the enemy!
     
  10. vonManstein39

    vonManstein39 Member

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    Malta was a tough target in 1942. Yes, the Axis can gain air superiority over the island, as they did over Crete in 1941, but that's not enough to eliminate Malta as a threat.

    As for invasion, if we take Hitler's quote after the disastrous airborne assualt on Crete - "There will be no further operations of this kind!" - what then? That leaves only amphibious invasion, by joint German/Italian troops since most of the German army was in Russia, and Malta was very well prepared against that threat. The Axis would have had just as tough a time as the Americans did on Omaha Beach.

    An amphibious assault alone would probably have failed, even without the Royal Navy's interference. Only a joint airborne/seaborne assault could possibly have succeeded, and it would have been a repeat of Crete. A total bloodbath, with Axis victory far from certain.

    In contrast, Malta was virtually defenceless in 1940, and still vulnerable to airborne assault in early 1941.
     
  11. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Where do you get this 50% number?

    TOT: # of transport ships sent from Italy to Lybia
    KILL_SUB: # of transport ships sunk by U-boats, battleships and mines
    KILL_A/C: # of transport ships sunk by planes

    6 months from:
    June 40-Nov.40: TOT 174 //KILL_SUB 3 /KILL_A/C 1
    Dec 40-May.41: TOT 540 //KILL_SUB 26 /KILL_A/C 4
    June 41-Nov.41: TOT 383 //KILL_SUB 26 /KILL_A/C 18
    Dec 41-May 42: TOT 257 //KILL_SUB 15 /KILL_A/C 5
    June 42-Nov.42: TOT 408 //KILL_SUB 19 /KILL_A/C 23

    So losses during that period 140 Italian/German transportation ships or 8 %

    There was only one month where losses were 50 %, Dec. 1942: 8 ships sunk out of only 15 sent (which was the lowest number of ships sent since June 1940).

    (source: Jürgen Rohwer: "Der Nachschubverkehr zwischen Italien und Lybien vom Juni 1940 bis Januar 1943",in: Marinerundschau, 1959)

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers,

    [ 08 October 2002, 12:45 PM: Message edited by: AndyW ]
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    During the second half of 1942, the percentage of Axis shipping sunk was at least 20% for five of the six months. [14] At the end of September, Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Secretary, was quoted as saying that "at this rate the African problem will automatically end since we shall have no more ships with which to supply Libya." [15] In October, the month of the second battle of El Alamein, the percentage rose to a staggering 44 percent.

    F.H. Hinsley, British Intelligence During the Second World War, (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office [HMSO], 1979)

    http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/british_history/7252

    ---------

    the Allied offensive in the Mediterannean became more and more effective throughout 1942 with the Italians losing 50% of their supplies at sea in December 1942. In 1943 the Axis suffered even more catastrophic losses in the Mediterannean with 1,200 ships being sunk; and “in february only 25,000 tons had arrived instead of the 80,000 required3: the effect on the Axis forces in North Africa certainly being decisive.

    http://www.topedge.com/panels/ww2/na/supplies.html

    -------

    Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean the Italian Merchant Fleet was rapidly being depleted. Through Ultra, Force K, a British air Squadron stained on Malta, was able to obliterate between forty and sixty percent of the supplies that were being sent to General Rommel.

    By destroying much of the Italian fleet, Force K, by means of Ultra, cut the shipping down from 280,000 tons to 120,000 tons.

    http://www.ctable.homestead.com/files/_society.htm#DesertFox

    ------

    Just some stuff I found while looking for the course by which the US tanks and equipment went to Montgomery.

    And what was it with some Italian General that sold the convoys´s information..No wonder Afrika Korps lost! In some article it was mentioned that Rommel´s troops were mainly using allied captured war material in El Alamein..

    ;)
     
  13. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Now that I have 10 pics of men from the 5th Gebirgsjager div--tis going to be fun studying and doing research on them as they were on Malta.
     
  14. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Seems that our both sources aree contradictonary here:

    According to Rohwer, who used German and Italian dokuments, losses during 2nd half of 1942 were as follows:

    July 42: 2.2 % (TOT 90 //KILL_SUB 0 /KILL_A/C 2)
    Aug. 42: 17.2 % (TOT 64 //KILL_SUB 7 /KILL_A/C 4)
    Sept. 42: 8.8 % (TOT 91 //KILL_SUB 5 /KILL_A/C 3)
    Oct. 42: 14.5 % (TOT 62 //KILL_SUB 6 /KILL_A/C 3)
    Nov. 42: 12.5 % (TOT 72 //KILL_SUB 0 /KILL_A/C 9)
    Dec.42: 53.3 % (TOT 15 //KILL_SUB 4 /KILL_A/C 4)

    Total 2nd half 1942: 11.4 % (45 losses out of 394 transport ships). If I add the reported 25 demaged transporting ships during that time as a "loss" the ratio is still below 20%.

    Rohwer only counts transportation ships no warships, torpedoboats etc.

    Would be interesting to compare both Hinsley and Rohwer to get an idea who is right.

    Cheers,
     
  15. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, Andy,

    Comparing the different calculations would be good. AS well it´d be good to see what all material went to Rommel as the tonnage falls quite fast. The latter part started to interest me but not much on the net on either...

    Anyway,

    "in february only 25,000 tons had arrived instead of the 80,000 required: the effect on the Axis forces in North Africa certainly being decisive. The Afrika Korps were heavily handicapped by the fact that supplies did, at certain critical times in the campaign, dictate their strategy."

    From the second referrence.

    ;)
     
  16. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Hitler was willing to give the operation green light.

    Erwan Bergott, L'Afrika Korps,, Paris, 1977.

    Most excellent book about the DAK. From it:

     
  17. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Erwan Bergott, L'Afrika Korps,, Paris, 1977.

    Most excellent book about the DAK. From it:

    </font>[/QUOTE]So the 50% number is just for one month (Aug. 42) and a particular sort of supply (6000 tons of gasoline)?

    Cheers,
     
  18. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

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    Andy, if the numbers you posted are true (and they seem to be!) then it would mean that most descriptions of Rommel's supply situation and Malta's effect are a gross exaggeration!

    But I too always thought that there were much larger losses!
     
  19. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Logistics and lack of supply _was_ a big difficulty in the African Campaign.

    But as the numbers show, the supply lost in the Med Sea was only one part of the problem, the other was the difficulties to get it from the harbours to the front.

    Basically the Af.Corps faced the old german problem: the operational targets and successes weren't covered by the logisical means.

    In other words: Yes I have a car who can drive fast enough to go to Rome from here within 4 hrs, but does the traffic, the condition of the roads, my fuel allow it to go there in 4 hrs? Guess the German military staff had some difficulties to identify the "logistical bottlenecks" who became showstoppers to their operational targets (not only in Africa!)

    Cheers,
     
  20. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    I totally aggee with you.
    ;)
     
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