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What if Churchill never undertook the Balkans campaign?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by SOAR21, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. firstnorth

    firstnorth Dishonorably Discharged

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    Lenin had five short years to implement his vision. At some point , your 'young generation of officers' would have overthrown the Stalin regime. Nazi Germany 'made' Josef Stalin.
     
  2. firstnorth

    firstnorth Dishonorably Discharged

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    so, the Autralian & NZ troops in Greece & Crete did not 'die in Vain'. Moscow in 1941 was a 'close run game'
     
  3. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Getting to Tripoli is no given, the Commonwealth forces would be facing the same logistics situation the had after Crusader, there are no usable railways West of the border, IMO the axis could reinforce in Tripolitania a lot faster than the allies could. Don't forget that after Beda Fomm they till had to face the 4 division army that was originally guarding the Tunisian border. If the Italians don't deploy again as non supporting camps it's a pretty tough nut to crack with the available forces.
     
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  4. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    While it's not a given, it's not impossible.. The Aussies only got as far as they did through use of all that Italian equipment they handed over to us with so little trouble.

    And seeing as many thought it was an impossible mission from the get go.. It made no sense for them to go.. They could just as well have diverted Axis force by securing Libya which would open up the threat of Invasion in Italy.
     
  5. firstnorth

    firstnorth Dishonorably Discharged

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    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Excellent point. Re-enforcement of Crete would have made both campaigns possible. The battl;e for Crete could have been turned into a killing zone
     
  6. scipio

    scipio Member

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    The Italians were not offering any resistance and had already drawn up a plan to retreat back to Tripoli. I have no doubt that some sort of Commonwealth force could have arrived at Tripoli but the question is would this be sufficiently strong to take the town?

    I guess we are assuming that Hitler does not offer German assistance?

    Beda Fomm ended on 6th February and Rommel arrived on 7th - the first German Convoy arrived on 14th and 3rd reconnaissance and 39th Anti tank Regiment were already at El Agheila on 17th February. On 5th march 5th Light with 150 Panzers, half of which were Mark III and Mark IV plus 88mms and 80 rubbishy Italian tanks if necessary.

    So the Commonwealth only had a maximum of 3 weeks to take Tripoli. Once Rommel arrived it was all over - the German tanks easily trumped the British just as British tanks were superior to Italian ones.

    But lets suppose that 4th Indian had not been sent to defeat the Italians in the Horn of Africa (which ended on 14th February and was far more important strategically than NA at that stage in the War), that 2nd Armoured tanks which were arriving (mostly clapped out with 1000 miles) and had survived the 400 miles journey from Mersah Matruh, that sufficient Trucks had been found to ferry the enormous amounts of water, ammo and petrol to sustain the advance on Tripoli and that the Italians had crumbled.

    The British are still in no position to threaten an invasion of Italy. It is all very embarrassing for Mussolini but it would have left Hitler with another two excellent Divisions headed by Rommel for his attack on the USSR.

    For all its faults the Greek campaign forced Hitler to revise his plans and Rommel's quixotic adventures in NA, used up resources which could have been more effective in Russia.

    Truth was this was the first time that Hitler abandoned the Clausewitz principle of "selection and maintenance of aim" - Halder and other were right - NA was an unnecessary diversion of German strength.
     
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  7. firstnorth

    firstnorth Dishonorably Discharged

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    A well deserved salute for excellent insight!
    Post war, Germany wanted to 'forget Greece'- so a lot of legends were created under Adenaur.
    that they got sideshowed into beating up on a brave little cradle of democracy doesn't look very favorable against the 'for all our faults, were were campaigning against evil communism' marketing campaign...
     
  8. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    You're all missing a major factor, perhaps the foremost reason why Britain stopped short of Tripoli, to fight in Greece, with little hope of actual victory - political consequence.

    You have to ask yourself, what was worth the effort, and what was going on in the background? - the negotiations with the US for what would become Lend Lease. Churchill may have shown himself to be questionable when it came to commanders and strategy, but he was at his best as a politician, he knew was running out of US $’s and was fixated on the need to get the US in the war, or at least to get US aid to stay in the war.

    To summarize, despite FDR’s intentions, the American people were leery of any involvement in another European war, and for a variety of reasons, support for Britain was less than whole hearted, FDR & Churchill both knew it. But Americans loved a plucky underdog, and were very much taken with the Greeks and their mighty struggle with the dastardly Axis (they also felt an affinity with the Chinese as well, unrelated here), and supported aid for Greece. Greece was broke, and appealed to the US in late 1940 with a list of requirements, but the Johnson Debt-Default Act still applied. While US bean counters were going through British assets, it was that Greek request for aid that stimulated what became Lend Lease, dictated FDR’s method, the form in which the Bill was actually presented and the speed with which it was passed.

    The British had given Greece a guarantee in 1939, and certainly with an eye to public opinion as voiced in the US media, Churchill would live up to it, relegating the Italian knock-out punch in North Africa to the yet to be determined, in favour of the “worthy” Greeks.

    So, as initially drafted and titled, the US Lend Lease Bill had 2 recipients in mind – Greece and Britain; the result of a huge amount of sympathy for Greece in the US, and praise for Britain living up to its responsibilities, willingness to come to grips, regardless of outcome. Lend Lease didn’t help Greece at the time but that’s why Churchill’s Greek misadventure was ultimately worth it, and can stand on its own, without alternative.

     
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  9. scipio

    scipio Member

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    You could also see the American factor at work in the earlier British decision to eliminate the Italians in Ethiopia and Somaliland at the expense of support for the North Africa Campaign.

    Roosevelt would not deliver any materials into the Red Sea area since it was a "war zone".

    Control of this area overcame this objection (as well as guaranteeing oil from the Gulf and freedom of resupply to Egypt).
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    scipio, good observation. I've always thought the active dismemberment of the Italian East African empire was largely wasted effort; it presented little active threat and was bound to fall eventually as long as the British held Egypt and Suez. Do you know how much further American ships were able to go once the Red Sea was no longer a war zone? Where they would unload or transship their cargo, compared to where they did before?

    One small point, without the North African commitment, the Germans would probably only have had one more panzer division - 15th - for Barbarossa; there would have been no reason to form 5th Light/21st Panzer. As I'm sure you know, in 1940 Hitler ordered the panzer force doubled, from ten to twenty divisions. This meant that the six divisions which had two panzer regiments each lost one. Five of regiments went to newly forming panzer divisions and one (Panzer Regiment 5) to the Sonnenblume force which became 5th Light Division. Five new panzer regiments had to be formed for the remaining five divisions. None of the regiments, new or old, were at full strength, and a substantial share of the tanks they did have were Panzer Is and IIs or Czech models. So I expect that absent Sonnenblume they would have assigned PzR 5 to one of the new divisions and only formed four new panzer regiments at that time.

    I'd agree that Rommel would probably have gotten a corps command for Barbarossa, there were as many panzer corps (ten) as there had been divisions in 1940, and corps commanders Hoth and Hoepner had been advanced to panzer group level.
     
  11. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Not sure that the Americans even tried to ship into this area - can't find a map of the no-go zone but it was large, extending as far as Iran and down to Kenya.

    You can see the strangle-hold that the Italians could exert on this area from the map below. You should remember that very early on they had taken control of British Somaliland - which I think from memory was only defended by a battalion and some marines. Also a bit of Northern Kenya.

    Whilst the British dominated air and sea north of Port Sudan the Italians held the Southern Part of the Red Sea and the whole coastline down to Kenya.

    Thus clearing East Africa was higher priority than NA - you may recall that O'Connor's initial action in NA was envisaged as a 5 day raid to mess up the expected Italian attack (the Italians had a 5 to 1 numerical advantage). When it succeeded beyond the Commonwealth dreams they just kept going.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    "Until now we would say that the Greeks fight like heroes. From now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks” – Winston Churchill

    I forbid the Press to underestimate the Greeks, to defame them.... The Führer admires the bravery of Greeks” – Josef Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries

    "The Greek soldier in particular fought with boldness and highest disrespect for death. Capitulated only when further resistance was impossible and useless” – Adolf Hitler’s speech to Reichstag, 1941

    "The unbelievably strong resistance of the Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia if we did not have this long delay the outcome of the war would have been different in the eastern front and in the war in general and others would be sitting here today" - Hitler's Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel at The Nuremberg Trials
     
  13. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Adjusting my opinion, Earlier I was of the impression that the Balkans was a waste of time that lost the allies the opportunity to gain control of Italian North Africa, how ever with a current book I'm reading, While not heavy on statistics and figures does give me an idea of the state of forces.

    Considering the British were starting to outfit them selves with captured Italian tanks as they had just a few dozen of there tanks left, Which them selves were not far off needing a major overhaul I do understand why people say they wouldn't have been able to advance further then they had, Not by much anyway.

    However, I do believe those forces would have been able to put up a stiff resistance against Rommel's raiding parties which I believe would have ended up not turning into an all out offensive (Which occurred largely due to British forces avoiding large engagements).
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The Italians had no way to send ships to east Africa, the whole area was a vast drain on Italy, the men and equipment would have been better off in the med. The Greek campaign had one advantage, it did not delay Barbarossa, it was the weather, with out the losses from taking Crete the Germans very well would have tried an attack on Malta with the airborne troops.
     
  15. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    East Africa was not only a drain on men and equipment but also a drain economically, One year the governor for Italian East Africa asked for a sum of fund's for projects that actually amounted to just over the Entire government spending for that year... Expanding into Ethiopia made it just as worse.

    Realistically Italian East Africa would only have been useful if Germany, Italy and Japan where working towards there goal's all at the same time thus providing mutual support, But seeing as it all occurred at various time tables and in many cases with one another not knowing what there axis partner was planning.

    Had Hitler known Italy's intentions with Greece and Egypt then it more likely then not that he would get them to launch those attacks sooner or delay Barbarossa.

    But lucky for us they never all worked so well and coordinated togethor =).
     
  16. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    That old myth.
    Barbarossa was postponed on March 30th 1941.
    Nothing to do with the weather but to do with Balkan intervention.
     
  17. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Hitler found out about the Italian plan to invade Greece the day before it happened.
    He was urged by many and a message was typed out for him to sign to ask Mussolini not to attack.
    Hitler dithered then decided not to sign.
    Over the next few days he regretted it greatly.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Then post your sources.
     
  19. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    PART FIVE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CAMPAIGNS IN THE BALKANS AND
    calls them at least partially to question. Here is a relevant quote:
    Then there is this:
    which is followed by the following:
     

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