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  • Malta not Crete.

    Another one to consider....

    What if instead of going for Crete Hitler turned against Malta and ordered its invasion? If it fell (and it probably would have done in 1941) what would the effect have been on not just the Mediterranean campaign but the war as a whole?

    Example: With this thorn removed from his side and his supplies getting through largely in tact what possibilities would have presented themselves to Rommel and the Afrika Corps? Suez? Somewhere further afield still, what do you think?
    HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

    "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

  • #2
    Makes Rommel more difficult to eject from Libya but it does little to help him once he pushes into Egypt. The psychological effect on the Axis and Allies might be significant though.
    Signing out.

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    • #3
      With Gibraltar and Cyprus taken too; it coud work. But someone had to force Ialians and Vichy France to use their fleets.
      Kosovo is Serbian.
      I support United Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
      Behead those who say Islam is violent!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
        What if instead of going for Crete Hitler turned against Malta and ordered its invasion? If it fell (and it probably would have done in 1941)
        "3. The situation in Malta is, of course, very different to that of either Crete or Cyprus. Malta is a fortress which has been in our possession for over 100 years and has powerful defences which are constantly being augmented. A great deal of underground accommodation is available, so that, although there have been almost incessant air raids for a year, the casualties have been trifling. There is a completely equipped and efficient garrison; the air defences consist of fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft guns, the strength of which at the end of June was—
        Serviceable Hurricanes 50
        Heavy Anti-aircraft guns 112
        Light Anti-aircraft guns 72
        <>

        5. If, therefore, the Germans decide to attempt to capture Malta, the success of their enterprise will depend upon the amount of force they are prepared to expend on it. They could undoubtedly mount an attack from Sicily and Southern Italy of the same type as they launched against Crete from Rhodes and Greece. Their losses would be a good deal heavier than they sustained at Crete, but if they decided to maintain their attack day after day regardless of loss for perhaps a period of several weeks, they would probably in the end be successful. There is good reason to suppose, however, that the cost of this success might be the crippling of a large portion of the German short-range air force. Conversely, the losses which the Germans would sustain in the attack might be so great that they could not face them. It is this thought which may have deterred them from making the effort before now."
        http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/te...ee-b3-1-2.html

        And Crete was a pretty close-run thing ...

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        • #5
          I reckon Malta would have been as costly to Germany's airborne forces as the assault on Crete which would in turn have had the same effect on their future use.
          HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

          "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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          • #6
            The Italians would have had to use their fleet to land troops. Would the Italians have been willing to lose a number of capital ships?

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
              The Italians would have had to use their fleet to land troops. Would the Italians have been willing to lose a number of capital ships?

              Pruitt
              Well they planned on using the fleet to attack Malta. Several plans were written and superceded. I'm not the expert on these, but recall one of the criteria for executing a attack was ensuring the British fleet could not intervene. Several scenarios were contemplated for this, including a possible use of the Italian battleships, and they were willing to 'risk' them. However they seem to have thought the use of these a last resort and expected to be able to keep the Britsh fleet away with a combination of aircraft, submarines, and lighter surface ships. The sucess in damaging the British pedistal convoy with those methods suggests the Italian thinking was sound.

              I do have a question at this point... Exactly how valuable was Malta to the British. Specifically how many Italian cargo ships were sunk by Malta based attacks vs attacks based from Egypt, Lybia, or elsewhere? A examination of the air operations for the Allied invasion of Sicilly stongly suggests it was of minor value compared to the airbases in Tunisia.

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              • #8
                A whole lot of Axis tonnage went to the bottom thanks to Malta based submarines and aircraft. Granted the submarines were chased out of Malta a couple of times and at times the air effort was reduced to near zero but they always returned and when they did the supplies reaching Rommel fell dramatically.
                HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

                "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                  A whole lot of Axis tonnage went to the bottom thanks to Malta based submarines and aircraft. Granted the submarines were chased out of Malta a couple of times and at times the air effort was reduced to near zero but they always returned and when they did the supplies reaching Rommel fell dramatically.
                  Hmmmmm, I've got a chart that says otherwise, apart from a serious dip at the end of 1941 which corresponds to the 8th Army offensive that first drove Rommel from the gates of Tobruk. Part of the problem is that as Rommel's army grew the capability of the Italian merchant fleet to supply him didn't and neither did the port capacity. Thus the docks and wharfs at Tripoli and Benghazi were working flat out even when Rommel was at El Alamein ....... but the supplies were still 1500+ miles from the front line.
                  Signing out.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                    A examination of the air operations for the Allied invasion of Sicilly stongly suggests it was of minor value compared to the airbases in Tunisia.
                    Does it? I thought the opposite - Malta was absolutely vital to the invasion of Sicily IIRC some 600 (!) aircraft were stationed there prior to Husky.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                      A whole lot of Axis tonnage went to the bottom thanks to Malta based submarines and aircraft. Granted the submarines were chased out of Malta a couple of times and at times the air effort was reduced to near zero but they always returned and when they did the supplies reaching Rommel fell dramatically.
                      As FM has alluded to this is pretty much a myth. The apparent success of Malta has a lot to do with the allied use of Ultra to specifically target special shipments of fuel and other POL items. Under normal circumstances the Italian merchant convoys could, and did, avoid the worst that Malta could do. As a result the ports of Tripoli and Benghazi were normally quite full,... the problem was the axis inability to deliver these stocks to the front in an economical manner. The end result of Malta's loss to the allies would have been inconvenient but not critical.

                      On the other hand, leaving Crete in the hands of the allies opens up all kinds of possibilities. It can be more easily supplied from Egypt than could Malta and thus developed into more potent threat. The convoy routes to Benghazi are no within range of British aircraft without the need for airbases near Tobruk. Ploesti is in range of British bombers. Southern Italy can be attacked by bombers (including the ports). The islands of Aegean Sea (and the sea itself) are now exploitable by the allies. The coastal highway from Benghazi eastward is no open to attack even if/when the 8th Army retreats.

                      Given a choice for the allies to keep either Malta or Crete I would go with Crete.
                      The Purist

                      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Purist View Post

                        Given a choice for the allies to keep either Malta or Crete I would go with Crete.
                        So would I.

                        Crete in British hands? A nightmare, the Germans would have had to maintian a huge garrison in Greece, and the troops would probably have been taken from what was being sent to Rommel.

                        The most pathetic failure of Italy in that war was not taking Malta in the first week of the war. Absolutely unforgivable.

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                        • #13
                          This has cropped up recently in a few other threads and I don't want to repeat myself. Basically Hitler can take EITHER Malta or Crete. We know how many casualties he took on Crete and Malta would probably have been worse because we had better defences in a smaller areas. We let Crete fall because it wasn't neccesary to defend it when we had Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus. With Malta gone, Crete becomes important, we defend it properly.

                          Getting convoys to Crete with no Malta is tougher, but not that much tougher and the Italians have the same number of ships and aircraft they used to intercept Malta bound convoys and frankly whether they're based on Sicily or Malta makes little difference. In fact we could send the convoys closer to Africa which might make things easier. It was the final approaches to Malta that were most dangerous.

                          Gibraltar is another issue thats been discussed elsewhere. A seaborne invasion would be suicidally dangerous, an airborne one impossible and a landbased one needs Spain to come into the war.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                            Another one to consider....

                            What if instead of going for Crete Hitler turned against Malta and ordered its invasion? If it fell (and it probably would have done in 1941) what would the effect have been on not just the Mediterranean campaign but the war as a whole?

                            Example: With this thorn removed from his side and his supplies getting through largely intact what possibilities would have presented themselves to Rommel and the Afrika Corps? Suez? Somewhere further afield still, what do you think?
                            Interesting. Malta in German hands. The British lose a major naval and air base in the Mediterranean. The Afrikakorps logistic situation eased and German supplies get through in a flood instead of a trickle. Rommel can advance now that he has the stores to do so, but for how far? Can Monty meet him on even terms? How adversely affected is the British logistic situation with the loss of Malta? Will the British Eighth Army be swept down and out by a steel avalanche of German armour? Actually this scenario raises more questions and possibilities. Very interesting.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by peter sym
                              Gibraltar is another issue thats been discussed elsewhere. A seaborne invasion would be suicidally dangerous, an airborne one impossible and a landbased one needs Spain to come into the war.
                              I agree that an Axis seaborne invasion to Gibraltar would be a very costly failure. Operation Felix never got off the drawing board and Franco, with some encouragement from Canaris, was too smart to be drawn into the Axis and the war.
                              Last edited by Leander048; 07 Apr 09, 07:31.

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