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Rommel pursues a different strategy in North Africa

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by T. A. Gardner, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Meanwhile, I have made a (primitive) timeline,starting with the day a train was arriving at a depot in Germany and finishinf at the day when the content (400 tonnes) were arriving at the front in NA .I have used information from The Crusader Project(=a must) .The figures are of course only guesses .
    Here we go
    Day1:a train is arriving at a depot in Germany,to be loaded with 400 tonnes of supplies
    D3:after being loaded,the train is leaving for Naples
    D10:the train is arriving at Naples
    D13:after being unloaded,the train leaves for Germany,and arrives at D20 again at the depot
    D16:the content of the train is loaded on a 500 tonnes ship(it could be earlier or later,dependind when the ship is available)
    :if the content was loaded on a 10000 tonnes ship,it would be later
    D19:the ship is leaving Naples(it could be earlier/sooner,depending on when /if fuel is available,the convoy is constituted,protection by the Italian navy is available)
    D22:the ship is arriving at Tripoli/Benghazi
    a)the content is transshipped on barges,which are leaving for Benghazi,and arriving there on D 26
    or
    b) the content is unloaded in the harbor and transported to a depot
    D25
    a)the content is loaded on a barge,which is sailing for Benghazi,arriving there on D 28
    or
    b)the content is partially loaded on 40 1 tonnes trucks
    D 27:the convoy of 40 trucks is leaving for Benghazi (distance =700 miles)
    D 35:the convoy is arriving at Benghazi
    D 28:the following convoy of 40 trucks is leaving for Benghazi arriving at D 36
    D 36,the last convoy is leaving Tripoli for Benghazi,arriving there at D 44.
    Conclusions
    1)to move 400 tonnes from Germany to Benghazi,a train would be needed during 20 days
    2)if the transport Tripoli-Benghazi was done by trucks,this would claim 400 trucks during 10 days
    3) the most economical transport(for the distance Tripoli-Benghazi) was the coastal shipping,but ,this was limited by shortages of barges,by the capacity of Benghazi,by the availability of Benghazi
     
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  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The following figures are from the Crusader Project :capacity of Tripoli and Benghazi harbours in 1941
    the following supplies were arriving in Tripoli (this is not the same as the Tripoli capacity)
    may :German cargo :20300 Italian:26000
    june:German:17000 Italian :45000
    july :German :35800 Italian :28800
    august :German:17400 Italian:49300
    Coastal transfers
    may:16380
    june:14700
    july:11720
    august:13820
     
  3. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    IMO we should look at the coastal shipping more closely, AFAIK the number of motozattere in Tobruk in 1942 is quite large, even not counting their German couterparts, so I think the amount of supplies moving to the front on them is significant, each motozattera or MFP could carry and unload on convenient beach around 100t worth of almost anything the Axis used in NA (they were orginally intended to land 3 M13/40 tanks and there are pictures of them loaded with a Tiger). I'm looking for data on how much they historically carried, it may help demistify the image of long columns of trucks eating up their whole load of fuel while traveling from Tripoli to the front. There are also some instances of ships unloading a lot further forward than Tobruk, though in that case the lack of ports would limit the load to what could be manhadled (200 liter oil drums can).
     
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  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    THe following figures (still from the Crusader project) are
    1) the total cargo arriving directly in Benghazi :
    may:5400
    june:3500
    july:12670
    august:14170
    2)the coastal transfer arriving in Benghazi
    may:16350
    june:14700
    july:11720
    august:13820
    If we are looking at the ratio between cargo and coastal shipping,we are seeing that for Tripoli,the coastal shipping was 35 % of the cargo in may,24% in june,18 % in july and 22¨in august .For Benghazi,the ratio was
    may:300 % !
    june:420 %
    july:92 %
    august:97 %

    Conclusion :in this period,Benghazi was mainly used for coastal shipping .
    If the Axis had been able to send more by barges,this would have mean a big saving ,barges being more economical than trucks consuming the fuel they were transporting .
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The problem with coastal shipping is that they had to be very careful about getting to close to Alexandria. The RN paid occasional visits to the axis ports as it was and a barge or cargo ship really doesn't want the attention of a destroyer much less a cruiser or battleship.
     
  6. scipio

    scipio Member

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    I am really a bit surprised a low loss rate.

    10th Flotilla which initially comprised 14 British and one Polish Submarine (but increased to 20 with 6 lost to enemy action) operated out of Malta between 1st Jan 1941 and May 1942. They claimed to have sunk 57 ships with a tonnage of 400,000.

    British surface vessels and aircraft must have accounted for a few more - so there seems to be a fairly large difference between British claimed losses and Italian reported ones (or am I missing something?).

    Have we decided whether the figures kindly produced by von-Nobie are tonnages or items?
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It is tonnages.
    The total tonnage sent to NA was 2.345.781,of which 315.476 was lost (14 %),as mentioned o this forum by Volga Boatman in "Rommel demythologized"
    From an other source (Batistelli),till november 1941,the Germans had sent to NA:33.549 men,11.330 vehicles (trucs and AFV) and 36332 tons of supplies (on German vessels,I think),but I have not seen separate numbers of tanks and trucs
    And,from an other source(forgotten which one),the number of supplies /men sent to Tunesia after Torch
    december 1942 till march 1943:supplies 188000,of which 23 % lost,men:42000(7.5 % lost)
    march :sent ? lost :43000 ton
    april:sent ? lost :29000 ton
    march + april :men :sent :12000,lost 12 %
    An other one :
    fuel sent by ships to Lybia (till january 1943):171.153 of which 59903 lost (35 %)
    fuel snt by ships to Tunesia (november 1942 to may 1943):132522,lost :38.431 (29 %)
     
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  8. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The claims of the 10th Flotilla are maybe /probably including ships which were returning to Italy,while the figure of 14 % is only for the supplies sent to NA.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    And the claims would be for the estimated size of the ship and not necessarily for the cargo she was carrying.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    [TABLE="class: grid"]
    [TR]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD]sent
    [/TD]
    [TD]arrived
    [/TD]
    [TD]%
    [/TD]
    [TD]personnel
    on warships
    arrived

    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Jan
    [/TD]
    [TD]88.933
    [/TD]
    [TD]70.193
    [/TD]
    [TD]79
    [/TD]
    [TD]15.922
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Feb
    [/TD]
    [TD]77.781
    [/TD]
    [TD]60.038
    [/TD]
    [TD]73
    [/TD]
    [TD]14.087
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Mar
    [/TD]
    [TD]84.193
    [/TD]
    [TD]49.361
    [/TD]
    [TD]59
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Apr
    [/TD]
    [TD]48.703
    [/TD]
    [TD]28.675
    [/TD]
    [TD]59
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]May
    [/TD]
    [TD]14.416
    [/TD]
    [TD]3.359
    [/TD]
    [TD]23
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Total
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [TD]51.935
    [/TD]
    [TD][/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]

    The above table is the 1943 losses I have for shipping
    From the same source I have for the campaign exluding Tunisia
    896 convoys
    1.789 crossings for 8.821.566t ( total displacement not cargo)
    2.243.381 tonns of cargo sent
    1.929.055 arrived
    151 ships lost for 642.677t (8.4%)
    Personnel sent 77.741 sent and 72.246 arrived (the importance of the air bridge is apparent here as the total troop numbers were significantly higher, just the German four divisions plus Ramke would account for most of that figure)

    For Tunisia
    379 convoys
    1.279 voyages
    83 ships lost at sea and 69 in port

    Data on personnel in the table is from a different source (Bernotti) , for April 1943 he gives 8 loaded and 5 returning ships lost for 46.200t and 20.500t of supplies lost out of roughly 50.000t, sent only figure that matches is the 41% loss ratio:

    Statistics are fun, never found a way to make two sources agree 100% (unless one is based on the other of course :D)

    IMO the only way is to look at the results is tonns as individual items are impossible to add up in a meaningful way (except possibly fuel), one must be careful when looking at the Malta flotilla figures as they include all claimed sinkings not just loaded ships making the trip to NA, IIRC the figure includes a number of ships making the trip back (including 2 loaded with POWs) and others that were serving routes unconnected to the NA resupply effort.
    IIRC in the later phase of the campaign (Tunisia) most troops were air transported or carried on destroyers not troopships, do those figure include those losses? AFAIK a couple of "air convoys" were badly mauled.
    AFAIK RN interference with coastal traffic was minimal in 1942, the motozattere and MFP were ugly customers as they were nearly immune to torpedoes and carried enough guns to give anything smaller than a destroyer pause and destroyers and larger ships were at a big risk operating close to the enemy coast until after the axis lost the air battle in late 1942. Don't know of any "small ship battles" in NA except the repulse of the Tobruk raid but later in the Adriatic and Aegean they usually gave the allied light forces a lot of trouble whenever they clashed.
     
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  11. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    double post: server had a glitch :-(
     
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    One thing has been neglected(as far as I known,I never have seen any figures about it) and it is questioning the importance of all the figures we have seen :the fate of the returning ships.
    All ships that arrived at NA,had to return (claiming space,maintenance and fuel in Tripoli,Benghazi,....),and,while returning,suffered losses .But,how much? All loss figures we have seen are for the journey Italy-NA,there is nothing for the journey NA-Italy .
     
  13. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Very good point, While most submariners would be interested in expending there torpedo's on loaded vessels, I'm sure the intelligence informed them about the lack or merchant fleet, Or there ability to replace losses would give them reason to sink ships when ever and were ever they could find them.
     
  14. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Rommel's best chance was to capture Tobruk in 1941 with an attack using Italian information from the South East as he did a year later.
    If Tobruk falls he may have the kudos to get another Panzer Division.
    This would also improve the supply situation greatly.
    Then when Operation Battle Axe fails in late June 1941 Rommel can counter attack and drive towards Alexandria.
     
  15. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler was in 1941 only looking at the Russian front. Rommel´s job was not to attack only hold positions primarily and help the Italians. That is why Halder et co were mad at Rommel and would do anything to stop any more troops arriving in Africa, if not due to the Russian front but due to the arrogance of Rommel.
     
  16. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    He was sent to fight a holding action, defied that and had initial success.
    This lead to Hitler sending him extra resources to fight an offensive action.
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Erwin Rommel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Siege of Tobruk...

    "At this point Rommel requested reinforcements for a renewed attack, but the High Command, then completing preparations for Operation Barbarossa, could not spare any. When Chief of Staff General Franz Halder also told Rommel before the latter left for Africa that a larger force could not be logistically sustained, Rommel had responded "that's your pigeon." Now Halder sarcastically commented: "Now at last he is constrained to state that his forces are not sufficiently strong to allow him to take full advantage of the 'unique opportunities' offered by the overall situation. That is the impression we have had for quite some time over here." Angry that his order not to advance beyond Maradah had been disobeyed and alarmed at mounting losses, Halder, never an admirer of Rommel, dispatched Friedrich Paulus to (in Halder's words) "head off this soldier gone stark mad."...
     
  18. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    He received another Panzer Division, Light Division and Infantry Division.
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Rommel attacked before all the German troops had arrived, I recall. Actually I think it was not until after El Alamein that Hitler started considering that Africa was important and sent even Tiger tanks to Tunis.
     
  20. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    His mistake in 1941 was not using the Italian fortification plans in his attack on Tobruk.
    This he did a year later and it was a success.
     

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