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The MTO...The Forgotten Theatre....

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by MARNE, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. MARNE

    MARNE Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm new here but, hope that this forum is much more into the actual history of the Second World War instead of the reenacting half of it which if I might say ain't overly swift right now here in the southeastern U.S., too many egos running around...if you get my meaning....

    Anyways, to the point of this topic. I find it intriguing that everyone spouts off about D-DAY and all of that. However, the nice stroll the GI's and Tommies took from N. Africa to N. Italy gets very little press. I find it disturbing to a great degree when people talk about D-DAY and how tough it was, never taking into account what the men of the MTO armies and divisions had to put up with from late 42' to early 45'. I mean, I understand D-Day was pivital but, if it weren't for those poor lads in the MTO, D-DAY may not have succeeded, better yet may not have happened when it did. Their job was to be basically a punching bag of sorts while the boys in Normandy went in the back door. Until June 6th, 44' Italy was the frontlines, that all changed after the 6th of June. Rome was the really the last great event you really hear about in the MTO.

    My view is that I think its time they were recognized, they've been forgotten they need a film or detailed piece of literature that epitimizes their hard fight to Berlin and what they did. Enough about D-DAY, aswell as the "Airborne" there was WAY more GI's fighting in Normandy on that day than just the "Airborne" elements; I've heard enough. There is more information of that one day than all of WWII combined on all fronts. What happened to the rest of the war!? :D

    The MTO needs a little recognition, its time this is just my take....

    I'm wondering what your opinions are please comment!

    ROCK OF THE MARNE!!

    MARNE
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Welcome to the WWII Forums, Marne !

    You're absolutely right, and I think we raised this point here a while back.

    It's interesting that the MTO, especially Italy, has always been overlooked. The 'D-Day Dodgers' slur caused great anger in WWII - Italy was always considered a sideshow and the senior Allied officers knew this all too well. Hence, men such as Leese and Clark felt that their careers were being overshadowed which explains some of the 'grandstanding' and lack of co-operation which occured.

    By coincidence, I recently read Douglas Porch's 'Hitler's Mediterranean Gamble'and am now onto Bidwell/Graham's 'Tug Of War' , so I'm in the process of learning much more about what went on in Italy.

    Interesting that you should mention films....the best IMHO is 'A Walk In The Sun' but as that was made in the late '40s you can't expect it to have an impact on modern audiences. The last movie was I think 'Anzio' from 1968 which really wasn't very good. There's certainly no MTO equivalent of 'SPR'..... :(
     
  3. MARNE

    MARNE Member

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    Thanks for the welcome Martin, I've been looking around here on the forum and I'm REALLY glad to be here.

    I love the MTO, I portray a soldier of the MTO because of the fact that its the "forgotten front" and not many people portray those soldiers. The one division that I am a strong supporter is of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. Primarily my interest sparked up further for the 3rd because the active duty division is stationed right up the road from me. If you've ever read anything on this particular division it is mind boggling to me how no one in this day and age has been able to create a 20-30 part mini-series of the Band of Brothers caliber off this one division.

    The Englsh army could easily surpass even this division considering the English had been fighting since before the Americans Arrived during Op. "Torch" in late 42'. But the division in the U.S. Army that while in Europe is practically no. 1 in everything on the list has only ONE film done of it and thats for Audie Murphy. Granted his exploits are well-worth mentioning them in its own film he was quite an extrodinary soldier.

    But I mean how could you not make a mini-series of BoB or SPR caliber off a division with this record....

    U.S. 3rd Infantry Division....

    Days in Combat: 531(most in the MTO/ETO)*
    *Second only to the 37th Division in the Pacific for days in combat (603).
    CMH: 36
    Bronze Star: 3,415
    Silver Star: 4,345
    DFC: 83
    Legion of Merit: 91
    DSC: 43
    Combat Casualties: 24,316*
    The most of any combat division in Europe or the Mediterranean.

    This is just the tip of the sword with this division...it goes on and on....I recently finish a REALLY good book called "The Battle For Rome" by Robert Katz, it was excellent it talks about all of the parties involved in the Italian theatre and the way they all worked it out as to who would clam rights to Rome once captured, the Pope was in on it too!...etc...

    Acouple of other good books I've read are...

    "Cassino" by Fred Majdalany

    "An Army At Dawn" by Rick Atkinson

    These two are excellent....as for the films there are a couple of others on the italian theatre other that those mentioned "A Force of Arms" with William Holden and 36th Division in Italy. As well as "Go For Broke" about the 442nd RCT "Nieci'" it discusses their stint in Italy before going to Southern Europe with the 36th Division. Also "To Hell and Back " The Audie Murphy Story..

    If you have had the chance to see those three films their a definite must definitely check em' out!

    Well, enough of my rambling....

    Regards,
    MARNE
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    You obviously know your stuff on the 3rd Inf. Division, Marne....I'd never even heard of the films you mention ! The Robert Katz book I saw in London recently and is firmly on my 'to get' list.
     
  5. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    MARNE go back to the "old" threads there my be some beneficial materials for you.

    one of our members Paul Reed ? has a web-site to some of the interesting spots of WW 2 in the MTO with Cassino included.

    the F.M. book on Cassino is a classic and should be on every interested MTO shelf. Sadly only Fallschirmjäger Böhlmers acct covers the German side of that action and even then sometimes goes out of scope with story telling ..... I need to buy this book and this was info given to me by German researchers on the battle. AFter the Battle does a nice breif synopsis of the many battled engagement
     
  6. jpatterson

    jpatterson Member

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    Hello Marne.

    While I agree with you that the MTO is often overlooked, much like the CBI in the war with Japan, I have to point out that most historians would'nt consider D-day the "back door" to Europe. In fact, they would probably consider the MTO the diversion at the "back door" while we built up to kick in the front. Nonetheless, is that one word?, without the operations in NA and the rest of the Med D-day would never have been possible.

    Welcome to the Forums.

    Later
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, Welcome Marne!

    Like you see many of us don´t consider the MTO a forgotten front. Like Erich mentions there are older threads in this section as well so check them out!

    Hope you like the discussions here!
     
  8. MARNE

    MARNE Member

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    Well hot dang!

    I sure appreciate all the welcome fellas....

    I'll tell you and I don't mind saying that I used to be on the WWII Reenactors Forum and while it was a nice forum it had three bad things within it, that this one is free of and it sure is nice to see...(1) is egos, (2) a lack of respect of the WWII Veterans and their accomplisments on a whole in not just the Mediterranean but, all theatres of the war, and (3) a well knowledged, well rounded group of historians, not just solely reenactors.

    I have to say that my main course of study and interest is in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations I love it and I have to say that I think the lesser known and studied theatres are the most interesting. One aspect that I like between well-known and lesser known theatres is that fact of how differently the GI's and their commanders operated and did things on an average basis.

    Its interesting because if you look at the photos of the MTO vs. the ETO, the ETO seems to hamstringed by the fact they have to follow the TO&E's and the manual. While the forces in the MTO pretty much disregard all of the "by the manual" type of organizationing. I love that one fact and it intrigues me to no end.

    jpatterson, I have to agree with your opinion to an extent with the term "back door." What I meant was how from Nov. 42' to Jun. 44' the "front door" was in Italy. All eyes and forces for the German army were heading to Italy to stunt the impending danger of an invasion from Italy and along with the Germans the entire world watched Italy.

    And the Tommies and GI's did an outstanding job in the face of consideable hypocracy and slandering to an extent from Churchill and others. It wasn't until the GI's and Tommies secretly consolidating in England did they hit the "back door" at Normandy and the Germans and the world turned around 180 degrees to look and realize...OH WHOOPS!!! They're over there now!!!

    To me thats when the Normandy invasion and its attacking forces becames the "front door." Its like the old addage from the American Civil War stated by a Federal officer upon Little Round Top..."Hey Colonel appears to me we're the back door, everythings going on at the front door!"

    Well I'll be around if you'd like to chat fellas....

    "ROCK OF THE MARNE!!!"

    Best Regards,
    MARNE
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Well, like any human endeavour we're not entirely free of (1), and we're sometimes a little wobbly on (3) but we can claim to be 100% on (2) ! Veterans of any Nation are always given full respect on this board. [​IMG]

    I always like the old story ( I may have the wording slightly wrong ) about Churchill promoting the Italian campaign as 'The soft underbelly of Europe' and a US Officer gloomily saying 'More like damned tough old gut...' :(
     
  10. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WWII Veteran

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    Hi Marne,

    Forgotten maybe. But not by Field-Marshall Alexander who commanded us.

    He summed up the Battle for Italy in the following words:
    "Any estimate of the value of the campaign must he expressed, not in terms of the ground gained, for the ground was not vital, in the strict sense, either to us or to the enemy, but in terms of its effect on the war as a whole. The Allied Armies in Italy were not engaged with the enemy's main armies and their attacks were not directed, as were those of the Allies in the west or the Russians in the east, against the heart of the German Fatherland and the nerve-centres of Germany's national existence. Our role was subordinate and preparatory. Ten months before the great assault in the west our invasion of Italy, at first in very moderate strength, drew off to that remote quarter forces that might have turned the scale in France. As the campaign progressed more and more German troops were drawn in to oppose us. The supreme directors of Allied strategy were always careful to see that our strength was never allowed to grow above the minimum necessary for our tasks; at one time and another during those 20 months no less than 21 divisions in all were removed from my command for the benefit of other theatres. The Germans made no comparable detachments. Except for a short period in the spring of 1944 they had always more formations in Italy than we had, and we made such good use of that brief exceptional period that in the summer of 1944, the crisis of the war, they found themselves forced to divert eight divisions to this secondary theatre. At that time, when the value of our strategic contribution was at its greatest, 55 German divisions were tied down in the Mediterranean by the threat, actual or potential, presented by our armies in Italy. The record of the comparative casualties tells us the same story. On the German side they amounted to 536,000. Allied casualties were 312,000. The difference is the more remarkable in that we were always the attackers. Four times we carried out that most difficult operation of war, an amphibious landing. Three times we launched a prepared offensive with the full strength of an army group. Nowhere in Europe did soldiers face more difficult terrain or more determined adversaries.
    The conclusion is that the campaign in Italy fulfilled its strategic mission."

    Cheers, Gerry
     
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  11. Pro_Consul

    Pro_Consul Member

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    Besides the diversion of a great deal of German combat power from other theaters, the operations in the MTO had two other effects which were vital for the success of later Allied operations in Europe:

    1. It allowed the U.S. forces to get "blooded" and work out the kinks in their operational methodology, which to that point had been purely theoretical for all those personnel, from the lowest private all the way up to Patton and Bradley. None of them had ever before fought in a war conducted on modern (for WWII) principles, with mobility and flexibility. Some had fought in the Pacific, but that was a completely different kind of warfare with different requirements and lessons.

    2. It allowed U.S. and U.K. forces to work out and perfect methods of interoperability, particularly between varying branches of their respective armed forces. For example, American planes flying combat support missions for British troops, and vice-versa, needed to work out methods and mechanics of communications so that incidents like the relatively high friendly fire casualty rate of Anzio would not plague the far more large scale and complex D-Day and post-D-Day operations.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    And it kept General Mark Clark out of Normandy/France...

    ;)
     
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Amen!
     
  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    well it cannot be denied that the US 15th AF bombers and fighters also wore out the Luftwaffe and even overlapped each other on several day light missions. the Luftw. could not be everywhere at once and indeed this pressed them till they were no-more

    more later on this, I have a special 325th fg pilot narrative I am working on....
     
  15. sunray

    sunray Member

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    We do a lot to keep the theatre alive working closely with the British veterans. Please take a look at our website. index. There will be a whole load more of museum items, veterans photographs, veterans stories and history going on the site over the next few weeks!

    Best
     
  16. Amrit

    Amrit Member

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    sunray, there's a problem with the url you posted. It comes up as http://www.d-daydoders.com It was missing a 'g'

    This is the correct url:
    index

    Nice site
     

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