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What if... the British choose not to reinforce Greece?

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  • What if... the British choose not to reinforce Greece?

    The jackboot reigns supreme on the mainland of Western Europe. Fascism is riding on a tide of success... Well German fascism is. Italy's follies are mounting and utter defeat in North Africa looms so long as the British continue Operation Compass. After 10 weeks the Allies have advanced 500 miles, destroyed 400 tanks, 1,292 artillery pieces and captured 130,000 very grateful POWs. The Allies have lost 494 dead and 1,225 wounded. Yet with central Europe threatened by the Nazi menace, Churchill chooses to support the Greeks. The net result is a lost opportunity to drive Italy out of the desert and total defeat in Greece. But what if the British had abandoned Greece in favour of victory in North Africa...

  • #2
    It's debatable as to whether O'Connor could have continued his advance to Tripoli. After Beda Fomm, the British forces were exhausted and in dire need of a period of repair, recuperation, and maintenance.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but IIRC the Germans started to land in North Africa on February 14th. It is doubtful if the British could have started a proper advance on tripoli, in strength, before this date.

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    • #3
      I think these forces are removed too late to have much effect on Operation Compass: the Battle at Beda Fomm is in early February, and the divisions are only removed from the desert in late February, by which time the offensive has pretty much stalled. Where they might have been of some use is preventing Rommell's offensive from El Agheila in April: if his initial probes find the line more strongly defended than it was in reality, he might have obeyed his orders and conducted a defensive action.

      Another possible what-if comes from the removal of the 4th Indian Division to East Africa. If they'd ignored the situation there, sending the 6th Australian instead, Compass might have maintained its initial momentum and pushed on further towards Benghazi. The Italians are on the back foot in Eritrea; they might not have plucked up the courage to wipe out the last pockets of resistance before the Australians arrived. Then again, this relies on a willingness on the part of the British to risk East Africa for further gains in the desert.
      Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt

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