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Italy doesn't declare war on Britain.

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  • Italy doesn't declare war on Britain.

    Instead of Mussolini declaring war on Britain (and crippled France) on June 10th 1940, he stays out of the war, remaining more or less neutral? Now, at a point thereafter, when France is defeated, he might or does still declare war on Greece (a neutral).

    How would you say this would change the dynamic of the war?

    Here, Britain is on the ropes at the moment. Sure, Italy has attacked Greece but that's going nowhere. Would Britain, barely able to scrape up their own army to face a potential German invasion, side with Greece when Italy is pursuing a "separate" war? Would they want to risk Germany invading the Balkans not to assist Italy so much as to secure their Southern flank against the British?
    With no war in N. Africa to fight how would this change things? Italian East Africa remains in Italian hands and potentially is now a port for occasional operations by German "merchant" ships and subs. Libya, likewise might become a occasional stopover point for German ships and aircraft.

    At least at first, this would give the Germans far more troops and equipment for a Russian invasion which could still happen in the summer of 1941, possibly much earlier if there is no Balkan campaign. Would this be sufficient to tip the balance of forces in the East to allow a German win? Sure, the Italians don't send their 8th Army to Russia but replacing it with German units that went elsewhere to either Africa or the Balkans would probably strengthen AGS rather than weaken it.


  • #2
    No Italian DOW means that Italy would remain neutral, but a neutral country is a potentially hostile country as in WWI . Britain would be able to use the Mediterranean for its supplies to/from the East and Britain would be able to attack the southern flank of fortress Europe .And, I like to see why Italy would attack Greece if it remained neutral in the war between Britain and Germany .Il Duce could blackmail Britain saying unless you abandon Greece,I go with Hitler and he could blackmail Hitler saying : if you don't help me against Greece, I go with Churchill .

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ljadw View Post
      No Italian DOW means that Italy would remain neutral, but a neutral country is a potentially hostile country as in WWI . Britain would be able to use the Mediterranean for its supplies to/from the East and Britain would be able to attack the southern flank of fortress Europe .And, I like to see why Italy would attack Greece if it remained neutral in the war between Britain and Germany .Il Duce could blackmail Britain saying unless you abandon Greece,I go with Hitler and he could blackmail Hitler saying : if you don't help me against Greece, I go with Churchill .
      Except, there is no "...southern flank of fortress Europe..." unless you invade Vichy France. The rest of the Mediterranean coast on the European side belongs to neutrals.

      Hitler had no interest in Greece or Yugoslavia particularly. He invaded the later to get at the former only because the British reinforced the Greek army after Italy attacked, who was now a German ally and actively in the war. Without a declaration of war, Britain would have to go to war with Italy separately to help Greece.
      If that doesn't happen, Germany might well ignore Yugoslavia for the time being and just go ahead with plans to invade Russia instead.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

        Hitler had no interest in Greece or Yugoslavia particularly. He invaded the later to get at the former only because the British reinforced the Greek army after Italy attacked, who was now a German ally and actively in the war. Without a declaration of war, Britain would have to go to war with Italy separately to help Greece.
        If that doesn't happen, Germany might well ignore Yugoslavia for the time being and just go ahead with plans to invade Russia instead.
        Germany invaded Yugoslavia mainly because of the pro-Allied coup there in March 1941 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugosl..._d%27%C3%A9tat

        Should Italy invade Greece I think there would be war with the UK.

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        • #5
          Spain, Vichy France, Yugoslavia and even Italy are vulnerable points in this scenario where Italy remains neutral .
          OTOH, could Italy remain neutral ? Its economy depended on coal/oil,things which it lacked, but which were in the possession of Germany/Britain . Both Germany/Britain could blackmail Italy : if you remain neutral,you will not have even one ton of oil, one ton of coal .

          The danger for Germany was that sooner or later,as in WWI, Britain would try to get Yugoslavia and Greece on its side and that Germany would have to intervene ,and the forces tied in the Balkans would not be available in the USSR .
          Last point : I doubt very much the impact of the German intervention in the Balkans on the timing of Barbarossa .
          Barbarossa was delayed by the weather, not by Marita ,the decision of which happened in December 1940 . And also not by Yugoslavia : the invasion of Yugoslavia was decided on March 27 and on that date ( 3 months before the start of Barbarossa ) there was still no decision when Barbarossa should start .

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          • #6
            The Historical Branch of the UK Cabinet Office concluded in 1952 that the Balkan Campaign had no influence on the launching of Barbarossa .
            A lot has been said about the launching of Barbarossa being delayed by the intervention of the Balkans , but
            1 We DO NOT know what the initial date for Barbarossa was and when that start date was decided : was it May 15 , or was it : not BEFORE May 15 ,or was it the week of May 15 , or the week after May 15, etc....In other years, the wet/winter weather was over on May 15, but 1941 was exceptional .
            2 We DO NOT know if the weather on May 15 1941 would allow the start of Barbarossa that day . We even do not know what weather it was that day .
            No historian has been able ( or is it : been willing ? ) to give the proofs that Barbarossa was possible on May 15 1941.
            The Germans could not predict the weather of May 15 1941 , they were thus forced to look at the weather of May 15 1940, 1939, 1938, etc and to hope that in 1941 the weather on May 15 would be the same as the weather on the same day in 1940,1939, etc ..
            Last edited by ljadw; 18 Nov 19, 09:15.

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            • #7
              Worth noting that even though this means no German investment in the Mediterranean, it also means no Allied investment there. In fact, the whole sea will be entirely in Allied control, making it a safe lend-lease route. Would this require further garrison in France? Would the Allies be able to route the troops invested here into Soviet Union? Would Italy flip to Allied side when the Wehrmacht bogs down in Russia? How does this change the power dynamics in the Balkans? Could Vichy France even be a thing without the med? Or will the Allies just take Tunisia immediately.

              Norway, Southern and Northern France would certainly become threatened.
              Wisdom is personal

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              • #8
                About the start date of Barbarossa : there was not one,only at the last moment, a date was decided .
                In Weisung 18, Hitler said that all preparations had to be finished on May 15,not because Barbarossa would begin on May 15, but because, in the past, May 15 was the first day of good weather that was needed for the attack.
                But was it so in 1941 ?
                From Geschichtsforum de. Mai-Juni 1941 geplantes Startdatum Unternehmen Barbarossa .
                Message from the weather service of AGS
                June 15 :Wasserstand des Bug etwas 1,5 m höher als in Juni 1940 : Water level of the Bug was 1.5 meter higher than in June 1940
                June 17 : Wasserstände unverändert : San unter Normal, Bug über Normal : the water levels have still not changed : the water level of the San was lower than normal and the water level of the Bug was higher than normal .
                What would have been the situation on May 15 ?
                Other point ( from the same source ) : The works on the railways ( Operation Otto ) were stopped in January 1941 because of the weather and they had already a delay of a month .

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                  Except, there is no "...southern flank of fortress Europe..." unless you invade Vichy France. The rest of the Mediterranean coast on the European side belongs to neutrals.

                  Hitler had no interest in Greece or Yugoslavia particularly. He invaded the later to get at the former only because the British reinforced the Greek army after Italy attacked, who was now a German ally and actively in the war. Without a declaration of war, Britain would have to go to war with Italy separately to help Greece.
                  If that doesn't happen, Germany might well ignore Yugoslavia for the time being and just go ahead with plans to invade Russia instead.
                  Yes, Hitler had no interest in invading anything in the whole Balkans. For Germany, having them like a SE Sweden (a friendly neutral supplying them with raw materials at bargain prices) was the ideal solution.
                  Also, let's keep in mind who always benefits from the peripheral strategy: the global power having global sea lift. The less periphery there is, the more this benefits the centralized continental ground-based power.

                  I'll add that I don't think it's likely that Italy goes to war against Greece separately, if it's not at war already with Britain. It's true that Mussolini was incensed by the German "military mission" to Romania, but he was first and foremost an opportunist. If he's not already at war, he'll very probably prefer to keep destabilizing by means short of war his preferred target Yugoslavia. And maybe later (once the invasion of the USSR has begun) he might declare war on it, rather than on Greece, if the Croatians he was funding have risen up in arms.

                  The only problem with this scenario is convincing Benito that declaring war on an already defeated France and on the tottering "shopkeepers' nation" isn't a good opportunity.
                  Michele

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                  • #10
                    In 1917 Britain intervened in Greece to force Greece to join the allied cause .Why should Britain(with the help of the US ) not intervene in Greece/Yugoslavia in 1940/1941 ? And this with forces that would be bigger than those who were committed in the OTL in 1940/1941 ?
                    Italy attacked Greece on October 28 , three days later Britain sent reinforcements to Crete,where they could not help Greece, but where they could threaten the Romanian oil fields and hurt Germany .

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michele View Post
                      The only problem with this scenario is convincing Benito that declaring war on an already defeated France and on the tottering "shopkeepers' nation" isn't a good opportunity.
                      The easiest way that happens is some German envoy, or another, high enough placed in the Nazi hierarchy tells Mussolini as France is being defeated that Hitler won't share the glory of that with Italy, that Hitler plans on humiliating the French as they did to Germany in WW 1. He makes it clear that Italy won't benefit from declaring war.
                      The consolation is that Hitler has no designs on territory Italy wants and once the war with Britain is over-- not knowing Hitler will go to war with Russia-- he'll likely help Italy reclaim past glory and expand their empire into the Balkans.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                        The easiest way that happens is some German envoy, or another, high enough placed in the Nazi hierarchy tells Mussolini as France is being defeated that Hitler won't share the glory of that with Italy, that Hitler plans on humiliating the French as they did to Germany in WW 1. He makes it clear that Italy won't benefit from declaring war.
                        The consolation is that Hitler has no designs on territory Italy wants and once the war with Britain is over-- not knowing Hitler will go to war with Russia-- he'll likely help Italy reclaim past glory and expand their empire into the Balkans.
                        Sorry to disagree. It would make sense, but I'm afraid you are underestimating the overestimation of Mussolini in Mussolini's mind. You are assuming he'd understand that any gain for Italy at the expense of the French would be foreseeably the result of German generosity. I doubt he'd see that.

                        Such a message, as far as I know his way of thinking, is likely to push him into declaring war on France, in order to attempt what he called, in OTL, the Italian "parallel war" with Italy's forces, even only for some token gain.
                        Michele

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                        • #13
                          I am not convinced that the ATL where Italy remained neutral,would be better for Germany than the OTL where Italy joined Germany .
                          The opposite : a OTL with a neutral Spain would be better for Germany than a Spain that joined the Axis .
                          An allied Italy tied til September 1943 strong British,later also US,forces .An allied Spain would make Barbarossa impossible .
                          Last edited by ljadw; 25 Nov 19, 03:28.

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                          • #14
                            Mussolini not invading France is relatively easy to imagine. Italy only got in a week before France sought an armistice with Germany. Italy only has to be slightly slower to get going & France slightly quicker to give up & he misses his chance.

                            I am not as persuaded that he won't try it on in Greece or Yugoslavia. Without war a with Britain Italy has a lot of soldiers sitting around in Africa with nothing much to do. Denied the possibility of territorial expansion elsewhere there has to be a chance Mussolini tries to invade on of those nations. Invading Greece might very well tempt Churchill to do something silly.

                            However, assuming none of this happens Britain gets a significant windfall. Obviously forces will need to be deployed to Egypt to protect the canal and keep the peace elsewhere, but at least some of that can be done by forces from the African colonies. That leaves a LOT of forces from all three services available to defend Malaya & Burma. While many of them won't have combat experience, they will include some of the best units from Britain and the Empire. The best Indian divisions, Australian & New Zealand troops. Everything will be available in greater numbers and higher quality. Britain would also have 12-18 months to properly work out how to defend its territory and give troops practice in local conditions.

                            This doesn't mean Japan gets stopped. Historically Britain frittered away resources defending indefensible position on Borneo, in the Dutch East Indies & PNG. That will likely happen again, probably on a larger scale. Japan moved quickly and its forces fought well. However, a well designed & resourced defence on the Malay peninsula & possibly Burma could significantly slow or even stop Japan. At a minimum it could impose a much heavier price on Japan and slow down expansion. Japan often spread its forces very thin and had poor logistics. A properly resourced & planned defence, especially in a confined space like Malaya, might have been effective.
                            Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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