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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. justinian

    justinian recruit

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    Have to agree Manstein would of had the same problems regarding supplies and would have choosen a ground to his advantage, but still wouldn't have been enough to defeat the English or Americans.
     
  2. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Manstein's Eastern Front machinations added many months to the conflict as a whole. The lack of Manstein for the East would have produced a faster collapse. Rommel was placed into the command of the AK specifically because the size of the forces deployed there suited his skill level as a commander. Rommel's headstrong attitude could have produced something in Russia, but it's doubtful whether his pechant for risk taking would have been any more decisive.

    In short, the Eastern Front needed Manstein's staff work, whilst Rommel's 'from the front' command style was a liability at the Army Command level.
     
  3. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    It seems to me that everyone thinks general Montgomery only won in the western desert,and the rout that 8th army gave the axis forces there,was just because of "ultra".would I be correct in thinking this?.cheers.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No. Monty and the 8th army had a positional and numerical advantage over the AK and the evidence even without Ultra was that the Germans would attack. I'm sure Monty appreciated some of the Ultra intel but it was hardly necessary.
     
  5. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Im sure Soviet Russia wouldnt mind having Manstein in Africa. No matter the out outcome with Manstein in charge, the war in the east would have been shorter...
     
  6. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Folks, what the blue blazes is all this about "The Royal Navy/Air Force stopping Rommel's supplies?"?

    The figures CLEARLY show that the greater majority of troops and stores/equipment that were dispatched to Rommel did indeed reach their destination!

    So much for the 'brilliance' of the "Desert Fox"! Put Rommel in Russia and he would probably have been SACKED the way Guderian was.....or Manstein. His one saving grace may have been his favoured status with Hitler. Rommel spent most of his command career in WW2 arguing with people above and below him. He was as famous for ignoring good advice, as he was for outrunning his logistics in a theater of war where logistics were the bottom line.

    By contrast, Monty would not move until he had all of this logistical support well in place. Remember, he was on a LONGER supply line than Rommel!

    Do people actually read historical accounts of the Desert conflict, or do they simply look at bloody Wikipedia and parrot the 'official' line?
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    So, how would changing commanders relieve the problems the Axis faced with limited port capacity, lack of railroads, lack of motor transport, and other problems in getting their supplies from those ports to the front? Sea transport wasn't the problem. The problems started once the ships reached port. If the French hadn't been strong armed into letting the Axis use Bizerte to an extent Rommel, or his successor, would never have reached Alamein at all! Tripoli and Bengahazi were not going to cut the mustard in terms of capacity. Adding Tobruk helps but then the convoys start taking serious losses not from Malta but the RAF in Egypt where they are far stronger.
    How does a Manstein, or any other German general change that situation?
     
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  8. RAM

    RAM Member

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    Here's an extract from an earlier thread touching the topic:

    North Africa was never anything but a sideshow to the Germans. They got involved there because Mussolini needed help to keep his pants up after being beaten by the British.
    On 19 March 1941 Rommel flew to Berlin to ask for two more Panzer corps. General Franz Halder, chief of the General Staff, told Rommel politely that his request was ‘impracticable’. He knew, as Rommel did not, that Hitler was soon to invade Russia and that all available Panzer corps would be required in the east. Rommel was told to hold his position and not to attack. By the beginning of November 1941, less than half of the troop reinforcements required by Rommel had arrived.

    (Masters of Battle. Monty, Patton and Rommel at War. By Terry Brighton, pages 105,113.)

    The difficulties of shipping supplies to North Africa plagued the Axis during the entire campaign. Germany was short both on transport vessels and escorts. 35% of the supplies were lost due to enemy activity.
    (The Bitter Sea. The Struggle for Mastery in The Mediterranean 1939-1945. by Simon Ball. Page 147.)

    North Africa was written off in Hitler's mind when he started planning the invasion of the Soviet Union. The outcome would have been the same regardless of German commander.
     
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  9. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Manstein, the Staff trained logistics man, would have cleared Malta before he did anything else on the African mainland. Rommel had a late chance to sieze Malta, (Kurt Student had planned "Hercules" to the final detail), and threw it away by insisting the Air support needed to guarantee Malta was held in place by his push to Egypt, instead of returning to Malta.

    Manstein would not have made an error of this magnitude.

    Staff College is all about learning what is logistically possible and applying your calculations by consideration of them FIRST, (That is, before consideration is given to the conduct of a given operation.)
    Rommel wasn't generally too much concerned by his supply situation. His conduct of operations in Africa clearly demonstrate this. Too many risky moves on a logistics shoestring. He was not only exceeding his orders on a strategic level, he was exceeding his own expectations of what he thought he could achieve in this theater. This gave him a big-head, something his promotion to Field Marshal most definately made worse.

    Montgomery most certainly did not make this particular mistake. His comment at the time reflects this, ("We had been up and back twice already. I wanted to make sure this didn't happen again.")

    Rommel would have made the perfect field commander IF another man was placed over him, (A German Officer, not an Italian. Rommel ignored Italian advice consistantly throughout the campaign, another aspect of his abrasive command style. Admiral Weichold was another man he should have listened to but didn't.)
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I've seen this debated quite a bit recently. It's not at all clear that the axis ever had a good chance of taking Malta and a failed attack on the island is going to leave them in even worse shape than they were historically. Indeed even a "succesful" one may have the same result.
     
  11. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    The garrison of Malta was quite ragged, (uniforms in tatters, shortages of food and fuel, fighting units, of which there were only 4, split up to repair bomb damage). With Crete in mind, Student would make a lot fewer mistakes for Malta. Some of the best units, (Italians as well) were earmarked. While no pushover, 2000 German and Italian aircraft would have had absolute air superiority. The professional airborne soldiers would have pushed this operation to a successful conclusion. Malta would have FALLEN, no question about it.

    And Rommel threw it all to the winds for some shoestring push into Egypt, lured by the mirage of the pyramids and with his ego in overdrive after Hitler had made his pet General a Field Marshal.....
     
  12. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    I don't think Hitler would have sent Manstein. Remember that North Africa was a sideshow and a distraction to Adolf. Russia was all he cared about, and since von Manstein was the brilliant strategist, Hitler would never have let him go to Libya. So, it's a moot question.
     
  13. Artem

    Artem Member

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    Wasn't even so much that Rommel was insisting on malta. Air force was doing a perfectly fine work on Malta and canceled it out as a threat altogether at the beginning of the campaign. I'm sure any other Generael would have seen it as a waste of time also. Rommel wasn't exactly swimming in troops and divisions. He had as little as it was on the front. How many would it take to capture malta?


    :confused:
    Rommel was perfectly aware and concerned about his supply situation. In what he has written, he was perfectly aware of the British superior supplied and mechanized force. He argues that in an attempt to cancel out this threat he constantly had to outmaneuver and pound the allies, otherwise they'd break through purely on a supply basis. This arguments seems perfectly feasible to me.


    don't see how you can make this point even when he blatantly ignored instructions from Berlin.
     
  14. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Mussolini and Weichold both "wore themselves out" trying to convince Rommel of two things. The first was that Malta needed to be subdued ASAP, and the second was to supply the Regia Marina with sufficient fuel to make their operations meaningful. Rommel pushed their advice aside on both counts.

    If Rommel was such a logistics wizard, why did he keep 'dashing to the wire' only to fall back again due to an unsecured rear? And just who pinched Italian transport to get his Germans out of the Alamein position? Rommel's relations with the Italians, with the Luftwaffe, (Kesselring thought he was 'reckless"), and with his collegues in Berlin was anything but cordial. Tactical genius he may have been, great humanitarian he was, but as an Army Commander Rommel always felt that he knew best.
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    1) about Hercules :this was not Rommel's business;the responsible was at East Prussia (the Wolfschanze)
    2)about the fuel for the R M :again ,it was not Rommel's business:the responsible was at Berlin(I think KM Headquarters was at the Tirpitzufer)
    3) about the Italian transport pinched at Alamein :you have proofs it was on Rommel's order ?At Alamein,it was not women and children first,it was,in the POV of the Germans :Germans first .
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    and why would it be necessary to capture Malta ?
     
  17. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    LJ, if the obvious benefit to capture of the strategic island of Malta escapes you entirely, I'm certainly not going to point it out.

    I mean, correct me if I'm wrong. You love pulling apart arguments without offering alternative scenarios, it seems. So away you go!
     
  18. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    "Hercules" was all set to go. Student confirms that he "spent months planning it."

    Just before the final conference, at about the same time Rommel wanted to break out of the Gazala position, Rommel requested air support. He could not move out of Gazala without it. It was granted for three weeks on the proviso that it be returned so that "Hercules" could roll. Two things followed.

    1/ Rommel finally took Tobruk. He wanted to go further, right into Cairo. Mussolini protested, as did Weichold, that Malta must have the aircraft or "Hercules" would be a 'no-go'. Over the protests and with his new Field marshal's baton in his knapsack, Hitler gave Rommel his head, (how could he refuse a man he's just promoted to such a high office?).

    2/Auckinleck promptly stopped Rommel at the desperate encounter of 1st Alamein. This decisive confrontation was a narrow victory, but it halted Rommel, giving him a case to keep the air support right where it was and bugger all for Malta. The agonised protests of the long suffering Italians were again overruled. After laying 5 million mines to stabilize his front, (and with no trouble transporting them to the front either!) Rommel was sent home due to illness. After a pause, Monty arrived, declaring that he wasn't moving until he was good and ready. They attacked before Rommel's health was recovered, causing Rommel to be recalled back to Africa before he was ready.

    Rommel may not have been giving the orders for "Hercules", but his actions dictated the non-pursuance of it. The Luftwaffe did not have the strength to cover the airborne landings that were to take place AND push into Egypt. Troops earmarked for "Hercules" turned up at Alamein as replacements for Rommel's losses.

    Caught off balance, and with his field commander left in charge of the AK missing, Rommel flew back. On his arrival, he roared at his staff for not counter-attacking immediately, while the British were bogged down in the minefields. Monty broke through, pushing Australian and New Zealand troops through the mines and into open country. With his posiition severely compromised and no reserves, Rommel collected every transport vehicle he could find, and loading every German he could find into them, he retreated, leaving many Italians with no way out.

    Thus, Rommel's pigheaded insistence cost them the campaign, and after all that effort. With the siege of Malta lifted, it wasn't possible to build up another army for Rommel, so his retreat into Tunisia was assured. The "Torch" landings later on guaranteed that Rommel wouldn't be given this particular opportunity again.

    Simple really.
     
  19. Artem

    Artem Member

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    I believe there was a topic on this which explained more then well on how capturing Malta wouldn't have effected anything significantly.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But Crete was very different from what Malta would have been. Furthermore it's goign to take a fair amount of time for the Germans to recover from Crete. I notice in another response you mention about the time of 1st El Alamein. That's July of 42!!!
    For instance note what wiki says about this time period: Siege of Malta (World War II) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    So you've got an airborne invasion going in in the face of air superiority. Doesn't sound healthy to me. Then there are lines like this:
    Which suggest a certain amount of over confidence on the part of the Germans. Malta is also not a place you really want to try landing gliders or paratroopers from what I've heard on some other related threads.
    They like the Germans still need to get onto the ground in shape to do something.
    The reference above rather brings that up to question.
    There is considerable question about this. You've also neglected to mention what happens to the naval end of this or the fact that Ultra would have let the British know was coming. In the time frame you are talking about Malta would probably have been a bloody fiasco for the axis.
     

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