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What if Manstein commanded the Afrika Korps?

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by SOAR21, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Soniksp is right Manstein was a proven army/army group commander and Rommel at the time of his selection was not. He was better off in Russia.
     
  2. Artem

    Artem Member

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    IIRC, Rommel was also hardly responsible for Malta, he was promised at one point that Malta was to be captured by Italian and German paratroopers, which never went ahead.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Artem, check out 'Fall of Malta decisive or not' we had a spirited debate you may find interesting on the subject.
     
  4. Artem

    Artem Member

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    I was just merely pointing out that Manstein's involvement (if he was in Rommel's position) wouldn't have changed much on Malta, anyway.
     
  5. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    No suprise about the Allies regaining air superiority. It wasn't the Spitfires that did it either, it was a lack of German aircraft, most of which were supporting Rommel.

    Malta was to be inundated. The Italians could have run the operation on their own if they'd been adequately supplied with the fuel to finish the job.

    Source for the state of the Malta garrison, (Lord Gort himself) also stated that the troops stationed were suffering from the length of the siege, as were the civilians. Malta is a tiny island with no room for the movement that characterized Crete. Once landed, the defense would have been split, and fatally so. Once artillery was landed for the subsequent waves, the garrison would have had no reply. Gort knew this, and attempted to conserve ammunition for this eventuality, restricting even anti-aircraft units with this situation in mind.

    As I say, Manstein, or any other properly trained General officer, would not have let this situation go on as long as Rommel did. Malta was the ONLY source of opposition for troops and stores attempting to reach Tunis. Take Malta, clear your logistic path, push ahead, resupply, push ahead again. It was all so simple, yet beyond Rommel's comprehension. He really WAS "Just a good divisional General" as von Runestedt always claimed. His promotion gave him two things that were fatal. Delusions of grandure and a relationship with Hitler that ensured that Rommel could get what he wanted ALL of the time.

    Oh, by the way, the fall of Malta may not have been the decisive element, but it most certainly would have helped a lot. Failure to secure this outpost early in the conflict could have been a more fatal error than Russia itself.

    Could have, should have....didn't. It's an epitaph that applies to many of the operations of the German military in WW2.

    It was these very factors that ensured the performance of the German Army in Normandy would be fragmented by Rommel's petty sqaubbling. And he was meant to be the premier General of the Reich!

    Rommel was a creation of the Nazi Partei. In the end, he showed far more character than many of his brother officers by shaking off his ties to the NSDAP. In the end, thoughts of his family were of over-riding importance. I don't think the Allies would have put him before a court. What an opportunity we missed post-war to have Rommel alive and talking. Family aside, this was most certainly the biggest tragedy of his career, the fact that the telling of it was left in the hands of post-war historians.
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    of course,you are wrong,fully wrong,but,a consolation is that there are still a lot of naive people falling for the myth of Malta .
    Shortly :if Malta was out,the consequences would be
    1) that more supplies would arrive at Tripoli:yes or no ?
    2)that these more supplies would be stockpiled at Tripoli and never would arrive at the front,unless you think that,after the fall of Malta,the railways and roads of Libya would,miraculously,become better and would be able to transport these "more" supplies to the front .yes or no ?
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    1)The Italians could have run the job on their own :DI did not know you were such an Italia lover.I wouldn't trust the Italians to be able to butten up their trousers :D
    2)Malta was the only source of opposition for troops and stores attempting to reach Tunis :there is a complication,it seems you have forgotten that the front was not at Tunis,but 2000 km farther=a little more than the distance Berlin-Stalingrad
    3)Rommel was no more a creation of the Nazi Party than Manstein,or Guderian.One could even argue that Rommel was a British creation:D
    4)In WWII,the Italians never have been able to run the job on their own ,unless you have an exemple proving the opposite?In this case,I will be the first to recognize that I have stained the Italian military honour .:cool:
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Even without air surperiority an airborne drop is going to be very costly if opposing fighter intercept and there's a very good chance in this case that they will.
    That's conjecture and highly debateable. The RN had significantly more force to draw on in the Med than the Italian navy and would have used it in this case. In someways the Italians might have been better off doing it alone as at least then the Brittish wouldn't have had the advanced warning due to Ultra.
    That's looking at only one side of the equation. First of all an airborne force is going to take a lot of casualties trying to hit a place like Malta before it even lands. Between the fighters and the AA one can expect to loose a considerable number of transports planes. Then the conditions on Malta are such that the landing paratroops are likely to take even more casualties landing and there's a good chance that the British will know where they landed and be able to counter attack (supported by artillery) before the Paratroopers have much of a chance to do much.
    And just how do you propose they land said artillery? Gliders as the Germans were want to use are going to a disaster as the only place they can find a safe strip to land in is the British airfields which not only have plenty of AA but can easily be blocked if the British fighters are out of action and if they aren't the gliders and towing aircraft have got even more problems. As for landing on the beaches there are very few on Malta that are suitable. Those that are are going to be well covered by British infantry and ranged by British artillery. Then there's the RN as well and what kind of landing craft do the axis have available at this point?'
    Really? Why not?
    Not quite right i.e. wrong.
    That explains his WWI experiances then?
     
  9. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Lw.....

    Rommel as an infantry instructor earned his spurs. As a divisional commander he was only elevated to this level for France, at his own request. He really did do quite well at this level, and an excited Adolf sent him to Africa. It's here that his political roots as an apointee came back to bite. Tactically, he performed with his usual brilliance. Strategically, however, his campaign was a flop. The greater majority of troops and stores sent to him were in fact recieved. What was done with those troops once they arrived was really no-one's fault but Rommel himeself. He threw away almost half the Korps attacking an Australian garrisoned Tobruk. A dash to the wire was ill advised, and Rommel had to retreat. These are not the actions of a Staff trained man, conscious of the supply situation. They are the acts of a front line general who is in over his head, hopeing that the next brilliant tactical move will yeild strategic results.

    And, with the fall of tobruck, he came darned close to achieving what he set out to do....close...but no cigar....and for the reasons I have attempted to outline in these posts.

    I'm not so sure that Kurt Student was going to make many of the same mistakes for Malta that he did for Crete. This and the general tone of his comments, indicates that he thought the island would fall. Good enough ofr me. In fact, Hitler postponed the assault at the last minute for fear that the Italians would let him down. His comments regarding the Italians were influenced to no small degree by Rommel's opinion of them. Trouble is, though, they needed Italian cooperation to achieve anything at all in the Med, and that is where the game fell apart.

    The Italians requested sufficient fuel, and the agreements reached where not kept by Germany. Absurd restrictions as to the official monthly ration were revised, always downward.

    Rommel's attitude to the Italians speaks volumes for his lack of staff training. An Army commander is a diplomat, (ask Eisenhower!), and must balance diplomacy with military expediency. Rommel failed to do this, sarcastically blaming the Regia Marina time and again for "failing to deliver" when the figures show otherwise. Rommel was definately looking for a scapegoat to blame his lack of performance on, and the Italian military were conveniently there for it.

    As I said before, many things may have been different had someone other than a political appointee that rommel was ran the show. Rommel had no experience in this type of general officer work, and the axis effort in the Med suffered badly for it.
     
  10. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Artillery pieces in Malta for the Allies were mainly anti-aircraft pieces and coastal artillery. They had little or no field artillery, and this would have hamstrung their defence once the Italian landing were ashore. If Rommel's supplies can get through all the way to Tunisia, then a Malta landing was more than possible. Island garrison was ill equiped, tired and strung out. Their 'siege mentality' strained them, and their lack of ammunition would have proved fatal.

    Once the field artillery arrived, even if it had to be airlanded, it was going to be an uphill struggle for the defenders.

    Malta's airgroups kept getting trounced, having to be built up to stength several times from next to nothing. No reason to suppose the pre-landing air attacks would not have achieved the same result.

    Anyhow, LD, lets hear your version. Easy just to take a permanently contrary view by saying "no it isn't!" tpo every post, so how about a few ideas from the mind of your good self?
     
  11. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Remeber old lad, Malta only had 4 brigades of troops, and these had been split up. You cant cover everything. Sitting around the airfields merely invites a seaborne landing. Suitable beaches or not, the assault boats will roll. And just what field artillery do you suppose will help a Brit counterattack, of which they have precious few concentrated troops to deliver. As I said, Malta had mainly static coastal artillery, (unsuitable for infantry support) and AA guns with no indirect fire capability. This is what leads me to conclude that an Axis landing of field artillery was to be the decisive move.

    Crete had a decisive moment. The failure of the 1st NZ Div to attack the other end of Maleme airfield enabled the German units to set a perimeter up and bring in units by Ju-52. Despite the losses, the issue was done and dusted at the beginning of the second day.

    Malta would have been very similar. Kurt Student certainly thought so.

    And he had no problems co-operating with the Italians. Unlike Uncle Erwin.
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed and how many paratroopers do you think the Germans had at the time? And how many could they land in a wave?
    Lookding at Fallschirm-J├Ąger-Regimenter I only see 4 or possibly 5 regiments available at this time in the German OB.
    Acutally they could cover the beaches and the airfields and leave as well as a fair number of troops scattered about here and there.
    Your faith is touching but you haven't supplied any reason for us to believe this. Especially since you keep ignoring the inbalance between the axis and allied naval forces and the effects of Ultra.
    Why do they need much in the way of field artillery? In any case according to:
    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=82303&hilit=malta+invasion+42
    There's at least one field artillery regiment there.
    Got any support for this? It's certainly the impression I got from reading: Axis History Forum • View topic - June 1940. Italy invades Malta.
    And just how long do you think they will take to land it and an adequate supply of ammo and get it into operation?
    But Crete was a case where most of the troops were newly arrived to the island many without a lot of their equipment and the command was rather disorganized. Furthermore the Germans were able to land their gliders something the British will almost assuredly be able to prevent in this case. You might also note the impact of RN on the naval component of Crete and what it portends in this case.
    Crete was in many ways a phyric victory for the Germans Malta would likely have been a dissaster regardless of Student's thoughts.
    However at this point the Germans thought that the intell the allies were getting was comming from an Italian leak rather than Ultra and that doesn't bode well for cooperation now does it?
     
  13. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Have to admit I'm a little puzzled by "Malta was the ONLY source of opposition for troops and stores attempting to reach Tunis" let alone "letting the Axis use Bizerte". At the time Hercules was being considered, June 1942, following Rommel's victory at Gazala and capture of Tobruk, French North Africa was neutral. Nor would there have been much point in landing supplies hundreds of miles further from the front lines even than Tripoli.

    The nearest British naval bases to Malta were a thousand miles in either direction - Alexandria and Gibraltar - with a gauntlet of Axis aircraft, submarines, and torpedo craft, not to mention the occasional intervention of the Italian battle fleet or cruisers. The Mediterranean Fleet at that point had nothing larger than a light cruiser. Force H was practically nonexistent except when reinforced from the Home Fleet for operations like Pedestal; even then they declined to send capital ships into the Sicilian Straits. The Royal Navy had minimal ability to intervene against an Axis assault on Malta or to interdict Rommel's supplies should the island be lost.
     
    LJAd likes this.
  14. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    I don't think it would have made any difference no supplies no success you just can't win modern battles without fuel.
     
  15. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    I don't agree the allied infantry were more than a match for Rommels the problems with 8th army were faulty doctine splitting there forces into brigade sized groups and deploying them piecemeal and not putting armour with the infantry was aweful it caused 8th army so much of it's problems.

    Monty fought his army the right way with infantry divisions fighting as divisions behind concentrated artillary fire backed up with air supremecy and he was a firm commander confident in his ability and he wouldn't lose his nerve and quit in a hard fight.
     

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