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What if invasion of Egypt and Malta instead of Greek intervention in 1941??

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by Aristo8089, Jun 9, 2020.

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Better to attack Egypt in 1941 than Greece and Crete?

  1. Yes

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  2. No

    50.0%
  3. Somewhat

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  1. Aristo8089

    Aristo8089 New Member

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    Let's say that after British forces land in Greece, instead of intervening in Greece, Germany and its allies take advantage of the allied shift into greece by sending larger forces into libya, form a defensive posture in the Balkans and so they can focus on the invasion of Egypt and malta while most allied forces are in egypt and are retreating from Libya in April 1941 , and attempt to capture the suez canal and to try to cut off the British forces in Greece and Crete.

    Would this scenario be possible if egypt is considered the primary focus in the first half of 1941, would invading egypt and Malta in april-may 1941 cause the British forces to retreat from Greece and Crete and make Greece a much easier target?

    Would this delay Barbarossa even further and cause butterfly effects into the end of 1941?
     
  2. Aristo8089

    Aristo8089 New Member

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    I think it would be a riskier gamble than greece and would delay Barbarossa somewhat since they would take longer to draw back forces into the eastern front, but wouldn't be better to strengthen the soft underbelly earlier while the allies were weaker compared to 1942 after they were reinforced in egypt?
     
  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...how would the British Navy react?
     
  4. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I do not see how Germany can ignore British Commonwealth forces on mainland Greece, much too close to Hitler's main oil supplies in Romania. Crete is another issue however.

    Targeting Malta, which had more support within the Italian forces, offered greater strategic value. Axis control of Malta would allow a greater percentage of supplies and replacement equipment to reach Rommel and Italian forces. Taking Malta would not be easy, but if enough air assets were diverted and a credible deception plan enacted 'targeting' Crete, it was doable.

    As to what the RN might do, I'm not sure they would have done more than they actually did. Certainly when they knew Malta was the intended target they would try to stop it without regard to odds. The Brit's are stubborn that way, but with tensions rising in the Pacific, the persistent threat of heavy German raiders breaking out into the Atlantic and the need to supply/protect the remnants of the Greek fiasco, I'm not sure how much they can deploy in time to stop a Axis attack on Malta.

    Capture of Malta and potential greater pressure on Egypt might prompt a withdrawal from Crete, but I' m sure the British would try to hold it if possible, but to really threaten Egypt, Russia would have to be put on hold.
     
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  5. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Did the British send troops to Crete simultaneously when they intervened in Greece in response to the German invasion? Or was Crete militarized once the withdrawal of British forces from the mainland after their defeat there? Regardless, having the British occupying Crete would be totally unacceptable to the Germans and Operation Mercury would go on as according to the original time line. If not, RAF bomber units would be well in range of the oilfields of Ploesti.

    I really don't see the invasion of Malta going off as by the time Crete was secured, their airborne units were severely depleted and Operation Barbarossa was waiting to kick off. Of course this is nothing new, the OTL covers this. Even Rommel didn't consider taking Malta as a higher priority than reaching the Suez. Coupled with Hitler's hesitance of using large airborne forces after their debacle in Crete, he post-poned the invasion of Malta until DAK successes in Egypt were met.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Two problems old chap

    #1 Politics German involvement in north Africa and the Balkans both stemmed from solving problems caused by Mussolini. A defensive stance in the Balkans makes it look as if the Greeks and a bit of British help could hold off the forces of the Third Reich. How does that play in Ankara, Bucharest or Sofia? How does it play in Moscow?

    #2 Logistics dear boy. The Germans had problems sustaining Rommel as far as Tobruk. What amount of logistics would be needed to capture Egypt? How long would it take to organise? What impact would that have on Op Barbarossa?
     
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  7. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Canceled post, nothing to see here, move along.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Ah, logistics. The biggest killer of "what ifs" and other possible viable alternative scenarios. Really, German endeavors in North Africa were to be relegated to at best a side show operation to the main event unfolding further to the north on the steppes with the Rooskies. And when Operation Barbarossa transformed into Operation Typhoon in October '41, Rommel's logistical problems continually worsened. Really, even if Rommel would have been successful at First Alamein, I doubt that he could have been able to cross the Nile without bridging equipment or barges. I seriously doubt that the combat engineer battalions of the DAK had any bridging equipment when they deployed to North Africa. The further Rommel moved east, the more severe his logistical nightmares became. And even if for some reason he reached the Suez, the Torch landings would all but finished him off. I doubt that he would have made it back across the Nile.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
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  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Oil is held as the great prize from the Middle east. However, even if the Germans managed to reach the Persian Gulf (or the Caspian sea) it would not help them to transport it to where they wanted it. No oil pipelines or access to a sea port. Maybe the Berlin to Bagdad railway comes into its own - if it wasn't so vulnerable to interdiction.
     
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  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..logistics are a key in every ''what if '' scenario
    ..didn't the Germans have air superiority in Greece? so my scenario is, the Brits would do better if the Germans did not go into Greece....less ships lost/etc..no German air superiority....much harder logistically for the Germans, as already mentioned
     
  11. efestos

    efestos Member

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    Too late for Med option if Adolf has yet decide to invade Russia. The AK would have need ... four? Panzer divisions to reach Suez ... that menas arround 140.000 tons of suplies per month... Tripoly could have provided 45.000 tons , Bengazi not sure 30000? . So to do that you need to improve the harbours, took Malta and probably Scifax and Gabes 250 miles west from Tripoly. . .. if not all Tunissia. There was just a short gauge railroad to Gabes... well how many trucks would have needed? My bet is that not less than 40.000 ... the initial idea was to move 70.000 tons as far as 600 km with 5600 trucks so you double the tons and and the distance have grow x3 or more and you got it. I assume Tobruck and later Alexandria rended usseles for a while... And well, subs and planes still depart from Egypt...
     
  12. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Crete is the crux. Germany lost few resources invading mainland Greece: there was no material loss that couldn't be recovered, nor did it affect the timetable for Barbarossa. We note that Germany had more casualties in the conquest of Crete than in the rest of the Greek campaign. As Belasar posted, they would have been better off with Malta... but only in as much as they could keep supply flowing to Rommel better with Malta, while he was that far west.... If however valuable and scarce resources are spent taking Malta, and Rommel supposedly pushes further Eastward into Egypt, then Crete would be the thorn in the side, still preventing reinforcements and replacements to reach the overstretched Rommel: the ports further west were limited, the roads bad and railroads scarce and limited or non-existant; Even Tobruk was not really adequate to supply enough forces to take the Suez. Without the ability to project sufficient air/sea power into the Eastern Mediterranean, it is hard to see Germany pushing into the Suez. The Commonwealth did not have the same logistical bottlenecks while defending Egypt.

     
  13. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    Hitler had to intervene in Greece because of the threat to German interest in neighbouring Yugoslavia if Italy's defeat meant Britain in Greece and able to threaten Yugoslavia which was the source of some strategically very important metals for Germany.
    Hitler did give the go ahead for a joint German Italian invasion of Malta in 1942. The lack of shipping meant it would have to be an airborne job like Crete. A joint German Italian staff got some way into the planning for this before he changed his mind - see Major Alessandro Vivarelli, The Axis and the Intended Invasion of Malta in 1942: A Combined Planning Endeavor, Monograph, School of Advanced Military Studies United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2014
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I have always seen Gibraltar the gateway to the Mediterranean. No supply ships. They woulkd have to go a long way to Egypt and Greece. Unless Greece was already taken. Franco on the other hand did not accept Hitler´s plan. "like pulling a tooth from my mouth" said Adolf....
     
  15. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    Who are "they"? Britain was already going the longway to Egypt and Greece - round Africa and up the Red Sea and Suez Canal. However Germany could take the train down Italy and pick up ships there. Italy did not have enough ships as the war progressed and attrition played its part. She also did not have the right kind of shipping for a seaborne assault on Malta
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, but Malta allowed them make convoys to North Africa, Malta and also destroy Axis convoys to Afrika Korps. Witout the route through Gibraltar everything would have to go the longer way.

    There were 35 large supply operations to Malta from 1940 to 1942. Operations White, Tiger, Halberd, MF5, MG1, Harpoon, Vigorous and Pedestal were turned back or suffered severe losses from Axis forces. There were long periods when no convoy runs were even attempted and only a trickle of supplies reached Malta by submarine or fast warship. The worst period for Malta was from December 1941 to October 1942, when Axis forces had air and naval supremacy in the central Mediterranean.

    Malta convoys - Wikipedia

    Operation Excess was a series of British supply convoys to Malta, Alexandria and Greece in January 1941. The operation encountered the first presence of Luftwaffe anti-shipping aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea. All the convoyed freighters reached their destinations. The destroyer Gallant was disabled by Italian mines and Axis bombers severely damaged the cruiser Southampton and the aircraft carrier Illustrious.

    Operation Excess - Wikipedia
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Many convoys suffered heavy losses, but Tiger, a through convoy to Alexandria, lost only one ship out of five, to a mine. This was in May 1941 when the Luftwaffe was engaged at Crete and shortly after the Italian navy had suffered defeat at Matapan. Halberd lost only one merchant ship out of nine; the battleship Nelson was damaged.
     
  18. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    Exactly. Just because one or two got through relatively lightly it was not possible to suffer the attrition on continued heavy losses
     

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