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  • Italy sides with the Allies in WWII

    I was sitting around, minding my own business when this idea popped into my head. I ran a few quick searches and couldn't find a recent thread on this topic. But first a confession: my knowledge of Italy during this period is rather hazy, so be nice.

    And now for the scenario:

    Upon Mussolini's declaration of war against the Allies, Balbo and Victor Emmanuel III launch a successful coup to remove him from power and imprison him, rescinding (with allied approval) Mussolini's declaration of war.

    Alarmed at this turn of events, Hitler issues an ultimatum to the Italians to restore Mussolini or face the wrath of the Wehrmacht. Encouraged by various financial incentives from the allied powers, Italy refuses. Thus, on the 18th June 1940, spurred on by his ongoing successes in France, Hitler declares war on Italy.

    So, semi-plausible or complete pile of junk?

    What effect does it have on the course of the war?
    Diadochi Rising Wargame:
    King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

  • #2
    Hmmm ... good one.


    It would probably take a few months before Germany would be in a position to attack Italy on the ground ... and Italy has the Alpine wall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_Wall

    You would not be wanting to attack across the Alps in Winter.

    The British can obviously move some of their Middle East forces to Italy v. quickly.

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    • #3
      If it had a specific thread here it probablly has long been archived. The question has been discussed in other threads here, and I've seen it several times on other discussion boards. This coup variant of the Italian nuetrality does not bode well for Italy. While the June 1940 date of the coup means Germany cannot intervene in a matter of days it is possible to contemplate a attack in July or August.

      The more likely scenario is Hitler would ignore Italy for the moment thinking he needs to force the British into a armistice via Goerings proposed attack with the German air force. Once Britain agrees to a armistice the Italians will as well, seeing the inevitability of Germn dominace of Europe.a By the time the result of the Battle of Britain is appararent the good campaigning weather in Italy is expiring, and the Italians have had time to build up defenses in the mountain passes on the border.

      The down side for Italy, actually several:

      Italians favoring Germany. Lots of Italians were guest workers in Germany, favored German moneny and other connections over British, favored Germany as a admirable Facist ally vs the degenerate democracy of England. That leads to low army morale.

      Italian army & airforce lack sustainability. While there were a lot of forces on paper replacements of weapons & existing ammunition stocks were effectively nil. Italy cant sustain a war of attrition vs Germany through the winter.

      German coal: Was important to Italys economy, as was Rumanian oil. Until early 1941 Italy had more influence over the Rumanians & their oil than Germany. Both the oil and coal are lost from a DoW on Germany. Britain cannot subsidize coal and oil to Italy for very long. the Italians will have to pay for such things with cash or barter, as long as they have any.

      Probable result is a Spring 1941 campaign defeats Italy, causing the Balkan nations to more closely align with Germany. There would be no north African campaign, but there would be a air war over the Med as Germany & Britain fight in the air over the sea route through the Med. Britain would have every incentive to hang onto Sicilly & Sardinia to shield their sea route to Suez.

      Of course a 1941, or even a late 1940 italian campaign weakens & delays any German effort against the USSR. Which is more important to Germany, the Urkraine or the Po River basin? Smolensk or Rome? Kiev or Naples?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
        German coal: Was important to Italys economy, as was Rumanian oil. Until early 1941 Italy had more influence over the Rumanians & their oil than Germany. Both the oil and coal are lost from a DoW on Germany. Britain cannot subsidize coal and oil to Italy for very long. the Italians will have to pay for such things with cash or barter, as long as they have any.
        Didn't Germany also provide substantial quantities of steel/armor plate? I seem to recall reading about that in conjunction with the coal.

        Regards,
        Dennis
        If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

        Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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        • #5
          Italy would have the option of appealing to the US for Lend-Lease for the resources lost from Germany.
          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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          • #6
            Italy's main land force would be steamrolled by the Wehrmacht very quickly, but only if they branched out from the Alps. Holding the Alps means a very large, well-dug-in force lies on Germany's south border, meaning they're constantly open to attack. This means Germany may not expand far Westward or Eastward.

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            • #7
              I would say within six months the Italians are finished on the mainland. Germany is garrisoning the country.
              The Italian fleet is at Malta, Alexandria, or Gibralter. North Africa is firmly in Allied hands.

              I think Sicily might be able to hold out with British assistance. Sardinia? Probably still in Italian hands but, it is possible as a paratroop target. If this is so Sicily stays Allied.

              Greece and Yugoslavia likely remain neutral and out of the war.

              More importantly, islands like Rhodes and other Italian possessions in the Eastern Med are in Allied hands. The Germans face a problem with Romanian oil being in range of bombers now. They can't take Crete if they are busy garrisoning Italy and trying to take more threatening positions in the Med like Sardinia or Sicily.

              The French might well be tempted to continue resistance overseas having a contigious land and sea route now available to British and Italian territory.

              The Germans do get access to Italian manufacturing and probably could raise several divisions of Facists into the SS at a minimum. That would make holding Italy a bit easier for them.

              The Italian Red Sea squadron at Massawa would be a welcome addition to British naval strenght in the IO.

              As for delaying the invasion of Russia? Maybe. If the Germans don't invade Yugoslavia and Greece they could still likely pull it off on the same time table.

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              • #8
                The biggest issue I can see with this is that although there may have been dissenting voices in certain quarters regarding timescales and preparedness none of the ruling "elite" was opposed to the aims that drove Italy's entry into the war.

                To my mind there would have to be a popular revolt against further foreign adventures and the Fascist leadership and apparatus, implying a potential civil war as a worst case scenario but at least severe social disorder and disruption.

                In that case, the biggest loose thread in 1940 for Hitler is still the UK and her Empire. No need to go rushing into a war with an Italy convulsed by internal strife.

                But if we assume that the leadership of the Fascist party is handed over relatively peacefully, what would alarm Hitler so greatly that he would declare war? I can't see any stance but neutrality from the new Italian fascist leader.

                Certainly German planning in 1940/41 wasn't reliant on Italian action, indeed the demand that was repeatedly coming from Berlin was one of inaction in the Balkans, so there is no impact on German priorities and capabilities. In fact the only entry I can see in the "Con" column for the Germans is the possibility that the UK might be able to withdraw some RN assets from the Med for the Battle of the Atlantic.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for all the great replies so far guys.

                  Originally posted by Fodder76 View Post
                  But if we assume that the leadership of the Fascist party is handed over relatively peacefully, what would alarm Hitler so greatly that he would declare war? I can't see any stance but neutrality from the new Italian fascist leader.
                  I always got the impression that Hitler and Mussolini were still fairly close at this point and that with his recent successes, Hitler would be completely confident of his ability to drive into Italy, depose the new government with help from Mussolini's supporters and then go back to preparing to invade Russia. It would make about as much sense as his other decisions, to be honest.
                  Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                  King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                    Hmmm ... good one.


                    It would probably take a few months before Germany would be in a position to attack Italy on the ground ... and Italy has the Alpine wall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_Wall

                    You would not be wanting to attack across the Alps in Winter.

                    The British can obviously move some of their Middle East forces to Italy v. quickly.
                    Interesting post, I had no idea they had anything like that... or that some of it was still in use in 1991!

                    However, I think that the foibles of the Italian Army at that time, plus the nature of the 3rd Reich point to one outcome; immediate and overwhelming invasion of Italy as soon as France is secured.

                    The Nazis didn't react to betrayal very well... unless it was one of the frequent examples of them doing the betraying.
                    Forget the Battle of Britain for the time being, aside from some raids to tie the Brits down. Ready or not, the first wave of the German Army would be hurled into Italy proper by early July. In August, once the first wave had beaten the Alpine Line (and themselves) to pieces, the second wave bursts into Northern Italy and it all goes south... for real.
                    Fighting a war it is well suited for, this time, the Luftwaffe stampedes the Civilian population and forces Italy to the bargaining table before anything but a token UK expeditionary force can arrive.

                    The real question is... what then?
                    A reasonable armistice, or will Hitler demand the reinstatement of Mussolini?
                    The later seems more likely, given the track record.

                    Greece remains neutral, Yugoslavia is cowed and the LW enters 1941 is much better condition.

                    All in all, I can't imagine a worse alternate scenario for the Allies.
                    Last edited by The Exorcist; 24 Aug 12, 19:23.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Anacreon View Post
                      I always got the impression that Hitler and Mussolini were still fairly close at this point and that with his recent successes, Hitler would be completely confident of his ability to drive into Italy, depose the new government with help from Mussolini's supporters and then go back to preparing to invade Russia. It would make about as much sense as his other decisions, to be honest.
                      Mussolini, by this point in time, had pretty much sown up the leadership of Italy through his own domination of the Fascist party. In order for him to be ousted in a coup by the King and Balbo/others it would require a situation where Mussolini's personal power base and wider support in the party was utterly undermined (if we assume a relatively pain free transition, if not we're in my civil war scenario). If we accept that collapse of personal power as a precondition then why would Hitler waste time and resource trying to re-instate Mussolini and then keep him propped up because he certainly wouldn't be able to rule without German muscle?

                      There is no real prospect of Italy jumping into an alliance with the UK. The Italian ruling elite harboured their own imperialist dreams for the Med and East Africa and the best way to achieve that was on the Germans coat tails. Any alliance with the UK would have meant putting those dreams to bed for good. Neutrality might have given them the opportunity to pick at the carcass should the Germans defeat the UK but all the choice cuts would have been taken already. Mussolini wanted a place at the table when the carve up took place (specifically areas and cities in South Eastern France for example), that meant putting boots on the ground when the prospects for booty relative to the risk was at its most favourable. No one in the Italian elite opposed the concept, just the assertion that Italy was in any way ready for a major conflict and even then, not very loudly.

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                      • #12
                        Assuming events pan out as per the OP, what does France do?

                        Petains first broadcast for an armistice was on 16th June and the Armistice was signed on the 22nd. With Italy now an ally in the war might France be tempted to fight on?
                        There certainly cannot be much non-German occupied France if Germany wants to attack Italy.



                        The idea of a 'redoubt' in the south of France may be a seductive one .. the Germans are not going to be able to get much armour down south for a while, motorcycles and trucks are comically easy to ambush and stop whilst the Luftwaffe is exhausted ..

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                        • #13
                          IIRC, one of the top German Genrals, when surrendering in North Africa said something like "Next time you take the Italians for Allies."
                          "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                          Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                          you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                            IIRC, one of the top German Genrals, when surrendering in North Africa said something like "Next time you take the Italians for Allies."
                            One commander said "We'll need 10 Italian divisions to hold the Alps, then 15 German divisions to make up for them."

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                            • #15
                              Maybe we are being a little to hard on the Eye-ties?
                              Perhaps they would have fought harder for the side the rank & file "wanted" to be on.

                              Even so, don't forget about the Austrian front. The Paras should be ready for action soon, and there were probably some Apline Korps Divisions in reserve.
                              Helping France is one thing, but dealing with a 2-front war was too much for the Italian Generalship of that time, with or without Fascist mismanagement.

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