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Churchill and his strategy

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by steverodgers801, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Ive never quite understood why Churchill and his staff kept on insisting on attacking Germany in mountainous areas and how taking islands near Greece would help defeat Germany.
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Was there an alternative in 1943,unless waitin and doing nothing till Overlord ?
     
  3. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    In lieu of the ability to actually attack Germany itself they had to choose some other battleground.
    They had to fight, train and practice somewhere.
     
  4. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    ... rather, the intent when originally conceived by the British in 1940, was Salonika. At the time it was unlikely that the British could return to France, but could cause a ruckus in the Balkans - after Greece,Yugoslavia and Crete, that changed somewhat. But later in the war, the Med. secure, the Soviets on the offencive, Salonika returned as an alternative with merit.

    Strategically, the Great European Plain, accessed from Northern France, i.e. Normandy, allowed the speed of manoeuvre of Allied armour, striking a blow to the heart of German industry in the Ruhr. But the Danubian Plain, accessed through Salonika shares much in common with the Great European Plain, accessible it's ideal tank country, the traditional area of manoeuvre aimed right at Germany - it's the "soft under belly" that invaders had used to attack Germany and Central Europe for centuries, NOT a "tough old gut" as is often portrayed i.e. don't confuse it with Italy.

    In economic terms, unlike the Allied bombing campaign, which at least inflicted some damage on Germany's economic potential in the Ruhr, until it could be wrested away, and could target France etc., this area proved largely inaccessible to economic attack. The area provided the Reich with essential raw materials; timber, grain, oil of course, copper, bauxite ... and chrome from Turkey - like taking the Ruhr, it's win-win. The German High Command feared its loss, or access being severed, the area was integral to maintaining Fortress Europe, much more so than Italy or Southern France - surprise was indicated post-war, that it wasn't a primary target. It also links with the Soviets, there would also be post-war considerations...


    A school of strategic thought existed in this regard, beyond Churchill, Jan Smuts was a major exponent, firmer in his support than Churchill in fact. Much by way of benefit was political and/or economic, MEW for example supported the Danubian Plain strategy which this is part of. Unlike Italy (or Southern France for that matter), Yugoslavia could actually be relied upon as a plus for assistance, the locals already had control of large swaths of the countryside, needing more by way of supplies and weapons to actively support landings. Plus the whole area was actually fairly shipping rich. Even the Danube freighter/tanker fleet pre-war, had been largely British & French controlled, much of that escaping to Turkey when Germany applied the screws. Beyond Cyprus,Turkey had always been supported, and sent supplies for use by Allied forces in the Middle East, and various commodities to British industry. Turkey had also been relied upon to send supplies in the relief of Greece, and Turkish bases had been used during the Dodecanese Campaign. It was time for Turkey to live up to the rest of the bulk of its treaty obligations to Britain, simple (plus no chrome for Germany in 1943). Shipping is also saved by being able to supply the Soviets through the Black Sea, instead of via the Persian Gulf and the Iranian railway system. Likewise, Romania and Hungary, seeing the Soviets bearing down, are encouraged to bail out on supporting Germany because the Western Allies are on their doorstep, an alternative they never had historically, a level of support in excess to that which the British would've liked to have given to the area in 1940. The list of benefits goes on ... in comparison, when it comes to maximizing gains made in the Med., Sardinia/Corsica to Southern France/Italy has little to offer by way of opportunity.
     
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  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The drawback is the lack of good roads or rail lines. The terrain favors the defenders, but I am also asking why Churchill thought taking the islands of Greece would contribute. Even after Italy proved to be a offensive nightmare he wanted to cancel France.
     
  6. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Which mountain areas are you talking about?

    The goal wasn't about defeating Germany, it was more about securing the Greek islands, and it was thought (wrongly) that after the defeats on the Eastern Front etc, that Germany couldn't do much to contest the Greek Islands
     
  7. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    There are different shades of neutrality, Spain may have been more neutral in the traditional sense, but contrary to popular belief,Turkey was a British ally (as was Portugal for that matter) under tri-partite treaty with France since 1939, with certain treaty obligations. Britain utilised bases made available in Turkey in order to launch the Dodecanese Campaign in the first place, next on the list was permanent air forces to enable air attacks on Rhodes - of course Turkey was watching closely.

    It’s a long story, but under the same treaty, the British had been quietly arming the Turks since 1939 (and before that had designed the military defences of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles). Like Greece and Portugal, Britain was obligated to help defend Turkey in the event of an attack. There was some waffling with the Fall of France, then with the Germans in the Balkans, it was decidedly better to use Turkish neutrality as a buffer to further German penetration to the Middle East, than what could be risked with any alternative. But by mid-1943, the British hoped that Turkey could be enticed into the war unilaterally, on their own incentive, without resorting to treaty obligations, because if that were the case, the British would also be required to further increase their own supplies of military equipment - in particular aircraft. The British couldn’t afford the extra expenditures, on Turkey’s behalf, especially with Overlord to come, and no support from the US in the endeavour, which felt that the Turks had already been given too much.But there was another interested party – the Soviets. The Soviets wanted the Turks in it too, right away, and not just to help defeat the Germans. They knew the British had been arming the Turks, and were asking why, if not for use against Germany?

    The Soviets wanted Turkey diminished by a still potent Germany, for post-war considerations – namely, the Balkans, and most notably actual control of access from the Black Sea into the Med, and the Turks were very much aware of it. The bottom line is that in microcosm, if the British could quickly eliminate the Germans from the Dodecanese, which was claimed by Turkey,demonstrate their support without increased military aid, how little military effort was required, and that it would cost them little, then Turkey could be enticed to enter the war on their own incentive, to help the British in an assault on the Balkans, ahead of the Soviets. But the Germans had something to say about it. The British had little time and effort available for a second attempt, and by then the opportunity had passed, the Soviets were looming, by then Turkish military effort against Germany vs. support against the Soviets in the area post-war was debatable, and max. effort was being developed and deployed in France. But if the Germans had been defeated in the Dodecanese …
     
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  8. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Excellent and well informed posts! (as usual) :cool:

    Don't forget that knocking Italy out of the war was a major benefit.
    Italy wasn't (shouldn't have been) an "offensive nightmare" for the Allies who dominated the seas. It was wrecked by a timid strategy which relied on costly frontal assaults rather than use the Allied amphibious capability to cut off German defenders.
    The one operation that DID this (Anzio) had a fool in charge who was more interested in planning his triumphant parade in Rome than cutting off the German army.
    Churchill didn't want to "cancel France", the British wanted to make sure that a landing could be made successfully, rather than try prematurly an have it crushed. By 1943-1944 the US could still afford to lose 6 or 8 divisions, but the British (with a critical manpower shortage) couldn't risk failure.
     
  9. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    The lines of communication were good enough for German armour in 1941, weren't they?

    With regard to the value of Greek islands: First they put bombers within range of the Romanian oilfields and second it would have been one step towards re-openeing the Med for East-West traffic. The detour around Africa took much time -app. a month- and it tied down a lot of shipping and shipping was always short in supply during the war.

    Last but not least, the problems in Italy seem to have been self inflicted by a lack of cooperation between US and UK forces.
     
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  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Churchills secret war By R.Dennison is about to come off the bookshelf then...been there too long...needs reading. Turkey and radar figures highly in it I beleive.
     
  11. thunder_love

    thunder_love Member

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    Simply Churchill wanted to setup pro-British regimes,so that Germany would be kept in check.
     
  12. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    It was not a bad strategy long term.
    With major landing in the Balkans rather than France Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary could have been saved from Communism.
     
  13. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The point was not to pick a fight with the Soviets, itwas to defeat Germany.
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Thunder I meant even in 1944 Churchill was willing to attack mountainious areas, but was afraid to attack Normandy.
     
  15. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    The main purpose of Dodecanese Campaign was to put extra influence and pressure on Turkey to enter war on Allied side and open up Straits to Allied shiping. Churchill always liked indirect strategy approach to dispense military power of Germany centered on Europe. Dardanelles and Straits were his gamble before in WW1 during Gallipoli Campaign and he decided try that aproach again. During Adana Conferance between Ismet Inonu (Turkish President) and Churchill (May 1943) and Cairo Conferance (September October 1943) it was agreed in principle to open up Turkish airfields in Anatolia to Allied bombers , to attack Balkans from Western Thrace and to open Straits to Allies in exchange for Allied military aid. Then Turkish goverment began dragging its feet and wait for 11th hour to join Allies and declare war on Germany (which it did on 1st February 1945 !) because it was a necessary condition to join UN.
     
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  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Do you have a copy of Churchills Secret war by Robin Denniston....not to be confused with the similar title on India and empire..

    Sub title...Diplomatic Decrypts the Foreign Office and Turkey 1942.to 1944..

    Excellent book on Chruchills, machinations with Turkey to get her into the war...
     
  17. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    I intend to read that one. :) Ordering book all the way from UK can be time and cash consuming sometimes.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Well if you have problems...I'll let you have my old hardback copy.See what we can do...No charge...I'm downsizing my library at the moment.
     

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