Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    141
    what effect did Malta have on the German position just before El Alamein?
    By mid-1942, Malta had in effect been neutralized. The RN’s 10th Sub Flotilla left their Lazaretto base in April, after it was ruined by the Luftwaffe. They then operated with the 3rd Flotilla in Alex, for a short time, but later it was out of Haifa, Beirut, and Port Said, Harwood in fact partially evacuated Alex as well. A reduced 10th later returned to Malta in in Aug., but fuel and supplies were so short they were almost required to leave again, in any case they were severely restricted in the short term. Likewise with the RAF, the fuel supply was down to mere days, glycol even less than that. Yet we all know what Rommel’s supply situ. was like during the mid-1942/pre- El Alamein period, and we still have the stats( listed below).
    Why? because Rommel insisted that convoys be run direct to Tobruk, instead of Tripoli and Benghazi, for while the Italians could ship to Tripoli and Benghazi relatively unscathed at this time, these ports were so far behind the front line that regardless how much was shipped, supplies carried to Tripoli and Benghazi either sat on the piers, or took weeks to get to the front due to the hugely inadequate motor transport. But Tobruk could only handle 1/5th the volume Rommel needed anyway, plus it was so far to the east that it was unduly exposed to the British Navy and RAF. Italian merchant losses increased fourfold and supplies dropped almost 50% from July to August, and Malta had little to do with it . The Italians had to abandon shipping to Tobruk mid-August, they couldn’t afford the losses, nor the extra fuel oil for the shipping and escort required to go that far, Rommel was screwed, his fuel allotment was only 30% of what was required.
    Malta, while a very useful base for the British has in some respects been overvalued in the downfall of Rommel.

    Axis shipping sunk by cause in the Med. was:

    Subs, 47.5%; Aircraft, 39.2%; Mines, 6.0%; Surface, 3.1%; and Other, 4.2%

    As far as RN subs go, from June 1940 to the end of 1944, 286 ships of over 1 million tons were sunk Med. wide - Roskill.

    The Italian Merchant Marine lost some 2,272,707 tons worth of shipping overall ( at large portion was due to the fact that the outbreak of war came as a surprise to the Italian merchant fleet and a large part of it was captured in Allied ports) over 800,000 tons of that on the routes to Libya and Tunisia - Professor Lucio Ceva, University of Pavia, "The North African Campaign 1940-1943".

    Malta itself?
    From June 1940 – Nov. 1942, Maltese based aircraft, subs and surface ships sank or damaged over 500,000 tons of Axis shipping, enroute to North Africa. – Dr. Charles Jellison, U. of NH, “Besieged”, he credits Italian sources.

    Many thanks to Marmat for the info

    [ 24 October 2002, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: redcoat ]
     
  2. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    2
    Redcoat - thanks for your very detailed analysis!

    AndyW - I agree with you. Even though German and some Italian roads would allow for that speed, you'd fly off the Brenner at anything over 180 km/h I assure you!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    No, Andy. Those figures are an example whic describe the whole situation more detaily. The losses were some 50% in the Mediterranean. And the 50% of supplies which arrived to North Afrika, as you say were in bottlenecks in the roads. So, Rommel only received like 30% of his supplies in a short-term.

    And Malta was the base for all those losses. I wonder if the HMS Upholder under Lieutenant-commander Mander Malcom david Wanklyn could have sunk 133.940 tons of Axis shipping withouth Malta as a base... :rolleyes:
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    I think one of the figures of the battle of Malta:He beat Kesselring in BoB and he beat him in Malta...

    Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group
    A New Zealander, and son of Professor James Park, he came to Britain to serve in the First World War as a gunner before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps during 1917 and receiving a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force.

    He was given command of his first squadron on 10th April 1918, 48 Squadron, the first to be equipped with the Bristol Fighter, and later passed through the RAF Staff College before being appointed air attache to Argentina. By 1938 he had become Dowding's right-hand man as senior Staff Officer in Fighter Command, and was subsequently appointed as Air Officer Commanding No 11 Group. Like his commander, Park was relieved of his post almost immediately after the Battle of Britain and given command of a Flying Training Group. This was the outcome of pointed criticism of his tactics by Leigh-Mallory, Air Officer Commanding No 12 Group, who had gained favour within the War Cabinet and disliked both Dowding and his ally, Park.

    "It has been stated, that, Dowding controlled the Battle of Britain from day to day, while Keith Park controlled it hour by hour. "

    In 1942 he became Air Officer Commanding Malta. This was during the anxious period in which the defence of the island rested with a few Hurricanes which fought with great determination and courage until the arrival of additional aircraft and aid allowed the garrison to be saved and the Mediterranean cleared. In January 1944, he was appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Middle East, and a year later Allied Air Commander-in-Chief of South-East Asia Command. He died, aged 82, in New Zealand in 1975. It has been said of him by one of the great fighter leaders of the Second World War, Air Vice-Marshal 'Johnnie' Johnson, that "he was the only man who could have lost the war in a day or even an afternoon

    "If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save, not only this country, but the world." Lord Tedder – Chief of the Royal Air Force, February 1947

    When Park, now Air Marshal Park, arrived on the island.Instead of trying to defend the island, Park, in the best All Black tradition, determined to counter-attack. The fighters that were sent out to intercept the German attack inflicted such heavy losses on the incoming German planes that Malta was saved.

    I think he said to the previous commander who told him after the bombings that they could take it all: "WHY?" and made a campaign with which to destroy the nazi bombers before they reached the island...Sometimes great ideas are simple!

    I don´t have the calculations but next time I´ll put them down from a book I have. After Park´s methods the Luftwaffe losses were 5-7.5% (!!!) and bombs dropped on the island some 10-20% from what it was during the bitterest fighting. So actually he turned the battle of Malta victorious with just changing the strategy of fighting the Luftwaffe...He sent the planes to meet Luftwaffe NOT over Malta but just outside its airspace with certain planes to meet the fighters and the others to fight the bombers!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Carl G. E. von Mannerheim

    Carl G. E. von Mannerheim Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2002
    Messages:
    1,221
    Likes Received:
    10
    This is all i am going to say:

    Had Germany taken Malta, they would have won the war. Case Closed.

    CvM
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    Indeed,

    I think as well Malta would have been the key, but even more I think of Gibraltar. With Gibraltar no convoys to Malta, no nothing, end of their story. But this is interesting to see that the tactics can change a lot... :eek:

    " On 14 July 1942 a Sunderland flying boat arrived over malta. It broght Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park to replace Lloyd. Lloyd told Park that like London , Malta could take it! Park thought he was dumb. "Why don´t you stop the bombing?" he asked.It was not a joke. Within three weeks, Park had done just that.

    lloyd had led Malta´s air defences with great courage and tenacity throughout the worst year in its history, but he was a bomber man.

    Fliegerkorps II´s attacks on Malta had peaked in April. The 8,788 sorties they flew in that month fell to 2,476 in May, and dropped again to 956 in June because of the needs of the desert itself.But in July, bombers from France and fighters from Russia arrived in Sicily.That month, with 150 aircraft, Fliegerkorps II flew 1,819 sorties against the island.They were given a beating.

    Park:" I changed the tactics to what I called forward interception plan. I sent the fighter squadrons forward, climbing to meet the enemy bombers head on, and to intercept well before they reached Malta, when the bombers were in tight formation,heavily laden and unable to take evading action.

    Squadrons were from now on to follow instructions from the controllers, who were to put one squadron up-sun to attack the German top cover, one to attack the close escorts and a third to deliver a head-on attack on the heavily laden bombers.
    Park suggested that past tactics had been forced on the defenders by lack of fighters, but that they now had sufficient numbers to stop daylight bombing.

    The effect was immediate.During the first half of July, 34 British aircraft had been destroyed or damaged. In the latter half the number was four.Whilst 380 tons of bombs had fallen on Malta during the first two weeks, after Park took over the figure dropped to 160 tons.During July Luftwaffe suffered the loss of rate 5.8%, even higher than the 5.1% rate suffered by the US in the disastrous Schweinfurt raid of August 1943 which almost persuaded them to abandon bombing Germany.
    Unlike the Americans, the Luftwaffe was truly persuaded. Having flown 1,819 sorties in AUgust and reduced it further to a mere 391 in September.

    On 11 October Kesselring launched a last, forlorn attempt to neutralize Malta. the Luftwaffe flew 2,842 sorties.He kept on going until 16 Ocotber, then called it off.His bombers had suffered a loss rate of 7.5%.It was all over.
    Over two years it cost Luftwaffe 357 aircraft, over three quarters of them in 1942.In Russia that year, it lost about the same number of aircraft every month."

    From "Alamein" by Stephen Bungay (2002)
     
  7. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    141
    No, Rommel's little adventures in the N.African desert were never going to change the outcome of WW2 :rolleyes: .
    That was decided on the Eastern Front :cool:
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    Redcoat,

    I think Churchill was "a bit" interested in the North Africa situation all the while and Hitler was not until 1943. I hope I don´t sound rude but the Brits did lose quite a lot of tanks and equipment ( Crusader etc ) for Rommel´s little adeventures. Then again if you compare what Rommel had for troops it was a little adventure for the Germans...

    But think of this, not only the eastern front like Hitler....

    "In London emotions ran high as the British faced the prospect of the loss of Egypt and the vital oil supplies of the Middle East. An even greater nightmare for the Allies was that the Axis forces might link up with the Germans from across the Caucasus Mountains in Russia and possibly even the Japanese fleet in the Indian Ocean."

    After Alexandria what could stop Rommel anyway??

    :eek:
     
  9. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    141
    "After Alexandria what could stop Rommel anyway??"

    Simple Logistics
    His army would have been brought to a halt by the fact that Axis did not have the logistical backup to exploit any breakout beyond El Alemein. At El Alemein, Rommel was only getting 30% of the fuel he needed due to logistical problems, it would have gotten worse the further he travelled.
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    With Alexandria the Axis troops would have gotten another place to land supplies, which was rather impossible except for Beghazi, Tripol and Tobruk.
    Alexandria would have given a huge moral blow to the allied ( once more ) and possibly helped their "friends" in the Middle east and Iraq etc to fight the British troops.Not a bad idea I think.

    ;)
     
  11. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    141
    Unfortunately it would have a lot further for the Italian navy to escort the convoys there, and a lot closer to the British Submarine bases in the middle east.
    and what happens when the Allies land in French N.Africa with Operation Torch ?
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    Well, Redcoat, I admit you have a point there but as long as it did not happen, Rommel taking Egypt, ( I think not even close to happening as Hitler was not interested in Africa except for keeping Italy in the war ) we´ll never know. I appreciate your view but I think more would have been on its way than just armies against each other if Mussolini had rode on his white horse to Alexandria...

    If Germany had taken Alexandria and Egypt the whole Near East would have been in flames and The British would have been in huge trouble even without the Germans to keep it theirs. I don´t think the Germans would have been better but some locals hated The British and wanter them out for any price, I think.
    As well it would have meant bye bye for Winston Churchill as his politics in North Africa would have been a total disaster. I don´t think there would have been a better man for PM in England but with Egypt lost it would have been the end of his career. And that would have meant a huge political chaos in England for a while. Germany could have taken quite a profit on this.

    Churchill was the man to think that instead of attacking France they should hit the soft belly-Italy.And thus operation "Torch" was on its way. Without Churchill, they might have aimed for France first.
    I think Churchill was right and at the time attacking France ( Overlord ) without much combat experience for the US troops it might have been a huge mistake. Then again France was quite empty of German troops, if I remember right, at the time of Stalingrad so it might have succeeded well..??

    Anyway,in real life with Alamein England boosted their morale, and got their new hero, Monty. Germany got kicked really hard in Africa and Russia at the same time.

    [ 01. December 2002, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,587
    Likes Received:
    1,652
    Location:
    Finland
    Interesting info on Gibraltar:

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWtorch.htm

    General Dwight D. Eisenhower, message to General George Marshall (1st September, 1942)

    The following are the particular factors that bear directly upon the degree of hazard inherent in this operation:

    (a) The sufficiency of carrier-borne air support during initial stages. The operational strength of the French Air Force in Africa is about 500 planes. Neither the bombers nor the fighters are of the most modern type, but the fighters are superior in performance to the naval types on carriers. Consequently, if the French make determined and unified resistance to the initial landing, particularly by concentrating the bulk of their air against either of the major ports, they can seriously interfere with, if not prevent, a landing at that point. The total carrier-borne fighter strength (counting on 100 U.S. fighters on Ranger and auxiliary) will apparently be about 166 planes in actual support of the landings. Only twenty to thirty will be with the naval covering forces to the eastward. These fighters will be under the usual handicaps of carrier-based aircraft when operating against land-based planes.

    (b) Efficiency of Gibraltar as an erection point for fighter aircraft to be used after landing fields have been secured. Since Gibraltar is the only port available to Allies in that region, the rapid transfer of fighter craft to captured airdromes will be largely dependent upon our ability to set up at Gibraltar a reasonable number for immediate operations and a flow thereafter of at least thirty planes per day. The vulnerability of Gibraltar, especially to interference by Spanish forces, is obvious. If the Spaniards should take hostile action against us immediately upon the beginning of landing operations, it would be practically impossible to secure any land-based fighter craft for use in northern Africa for a period of some days.

    (c) Another critical factor affecting the air will be the state of the weather. It is planned to transfer by flying to captured airdromes in North Africa the American units now in Great Britain except the Spitfire groups. These last will necessarily be shipped and set up at Gibraltar or captured airdromes. A spell of bad weather would so weaken the anticipated air support in the early stages of the operation as to constitute another definite hazard to success.

    (d) The character of resistance of the French Army. In the region now are some fourteen French divisions rather poorly equipped but presumably with a fair degree of training and with the benefit of professional leadership. If this Army should act as a unit in contesting the invasion, it could, in view of the slowness with which Allied forces can be accumulated at the two main ports, so delay and hamper operations that the real object of the expedition could not be achieved, namely, the seizing control of the north shore of Africa before it can be substantially reinforced by the Axis.

    (e) The attitude of the Spanish Army. While there have been no indications to date that the Spaniards would take sides in the war as a result of this particular operation, this contingency must be looked on as a possibility, particularly if Germany should make a definite move toward entering Spain. In any event, Spain's entry would instantly entail the loss of Gibraltar as a landing field and would prevent our use of the Strait of Gibraltar until effective action could be taken by the Allies. In view of available resources, it would appear doubtful that such effective action is within our capabilities.

    (f) The possibility that the German air forces now in western Europe may rapidly enter Spain and operate against our line of communications. This would not be an easy operation for the Germans except with the full acquiescence and support of Spain. Gasoline, bombs, and lubricants do not exist at the Spanish airfields and the transfer to the country of ground and maintenance crews and supplies would require considerable time. Certain facts that bear upon the likelihood of such enemy action are, first, that Germany already has excellent landing fields in Sicily, from which their long-range aircraft can operate without going to the trouble of establishing new bases. Secondly, the advantages to Germany of occupying the Iberian Peninsula in force have always existed. The fact that Germany has made no noticeable move in this direction, even under the conditions lately existing when substantial parts of the British naval strength have been inside the Mediterranean, is at least some evidence that the enemy does not consider this an easy operation.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page