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Brimstone vs Husky

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  • Brimstone vs Husky

    Flipping thru the opening chapters of Jacksons 'The Battle For Italy' I noticed that a Sardinia/Corsica operation was proposed amoung the possible operations in the Med after the African campaign was completed. During the 'Symbol' confrence @ Casablanca theBrit/US combined cheifs discussed two potiential operations for the intial moves against Italy. Sicilly was one, a Corsica/Sardinia attack the other. Churchill eventually threw his weight behind the Sicilly faction & Operation Husky begain planning.

    The Corsica/Sardinia operation remained on the backburner & emerged again in July August as a pair of nine different operations proposed for post Husky attacks against Italy. Specifically operations 'Firebrand' (French Army) and 'Brimstone' (US Fifth Army). Those operations were eventually carried out in late September/october 1943.

    My question is what would be the pros and cons of executing the Brimstone/Firebrand operations as a alternative to Husky?

    Italian garrison of the two in July was approx 200,000. The majority were third level reservists in coastal defense divsions, military polices units, and some sort of Facist home dfense militia. One German motorized divsion, the 17th SS reinforced the Sardinia garrison of Italians, by July. I am unsure when it arrived. In late April some 80 Axis aircraft were on Sardinia/Corsica & were increased to 175 by early July. The Italian captitol ships were divided between LaSpezia, Pola, and Taranto. They had enough fuel for one short sortie. Escourts and light attack craft were in short supply after the last year of naval combat as those still afloat were suffering from many mechanical problems.

    Details of the operations originally proposed are scarce. The idea seems to have been a inital attack of one corps on Sardinia, followed by a second. A third landing would subsequently be made on Corsica. It is not clear if this would be done by a third corps or by the first two. The strategic objective seems to have been to place forward Allied airbases in range of the entire length of Italy, closely pin the remaining Axis naval forces in the area, enable subequent amphibious operations vs northern Italy and southern France.

    As a operation of only two or three corps Jacksons text implies it could have been executed earlier than the larger Husky op. In June or even late May.

  • #2
    Here is one of two discussions of the subject that are posted on other web sites.

    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=90028

    Has some interesting information on the number of medium bomber air groups the Allies based on Corsica after capturing it.

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    • #3
      I'll take a stab at this one Carl. Most of my expierence is from reading books based on which wargame I am playing though.

      It would seem like a good idea to take Sardinia and/or Corsica first for a couple of reasons. First, if airbases are built there you could interdict supplies and troops moving down the boot of Italy toward Sicily. This would also cause the Germans and Italians to have to have reserves spread out all over northern Italy and southern France. Not to mention the Axis troops that could have been captured. I am sure some of them were used in the defense of Italy after the Germans figured out the Allies were not going to attack either island. Also, after their capture you could put some airborne there as a force in being to be used to outflank some of the defensive works.

      Problems that I could see would be that Corsica and Sardinia, at least from what little I have read about them, did not have as good of an infrastructure as Sicily. The Allies would have to bring a lot of material to the islands to get them going.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Dan Stueber

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BooBoo130 View Post
        I'll take a stab at this one Carl. Most of my expierence is from reading books based on which wargame I am playing though.
        I'll not diss that background. Better than some of the claims that seem to be drawn from the trash heap or pure vacum that are posted here.

        I think to have any more value than in our history Cosica must be secured months earlier (Last German departed 3 October 1943 13 days after the Allied invasion of 20 Sept). Jackson who I refered to in the first post suggests Corsica could have been attacked as early as May or June. If it can be secured by early or mid June that places Allied forces on the Italian flank three months earlier than OTL. It also forces the Germans to look at the defense of South France sooner as Cosica could support a following attack there. Allied deception was hitting full stride then & it probally would not be difficult to make the Germans think every inch of French and Italian coast could be invaded.

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        • #5
          Carl,

          How about this for Sardinia. Let's say after the Battle of Britain is over, about May of 1941, the British invade Sardinia. They capture the island by using some of the units that were sent to one of the Churchill plans, maybe the "W Force" in Greece.

          Then the Royal Engineers get to work repairing/improving the airfield on Sardinia and the repairing/improving the port at Cagaliari. The RAF then rebases some fighters and bombers onto the island.

          The bombers are used to help Malta in interdicting the flow of supplies to North Africa. Plus it could draw off some of the German air corps that was sent to Sicily in 1941.

          I know that is a lot of "IF's" but it would definately cause the Axis to expend supplies and material to retake the island. This might give the British army in N. Africa some respite.

          I saw this happen in a wargame once and thought I would throw it out there. I know it is probably far fetched but this is the Alternate Reality section right?

          Dan Stueber

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          • #6
            I'd not dismiss that one out of hand. The Italains would be a lot stronger at sea & in the air in 1941 vs 1943 when the Allies did begain planning for taking Sardinia, but if the British have suprise they might be able to throw the Italians off balance.

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            • #7
              The problem in invading Sardinia and Corsica before Sicily is air cover. You have air fields in Tunisia close to Sicily. They just can't give you the same coverage over Sardinia and Corsica. Once you take Sardinia and Corsica, where do you go from there? You would still have Italy in the war, although her staying on Germany's side is not a bad thing.

              I am afraid Sicily just makes better sense. The problem was in convincing Hitler otherwise.

              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                The problem in invading Sardinia and Corsica before Sicily is air cover. You have air fields in Tunisia close to Sicily. They just can't give you the same coverage over Sardinia and Corsica. Once you take Sardinia and Corsica, where do you go from there? You would still have Italy in the war, although her staying on Germany's side is not a bad thing.

                I am afraid Sicily just makes better sense. The problem was in convincing Hitler otherwise.

                Pruitt
                Wonder why the British chiefs favored it over Sicilly then? (Assuming Jackson is not lying in his text) He clearly states Churchill argued the US position for Husky and got his chief to admit Husky could be launched sooner than they claimed.

                Air cover. Scaling the map shows that Cagalari on southern Sardinia is further from the Naples airfield group than Sicilly, 470 kilometers vs 420 to Gela Sicilly. Neither is that planned landing area on Sardinia any closer to the Rome airfield group than the Naples airfields. So, no significant advantage for the Germans there. Conversely Cagalari is closer to the Allied airfields at Bone - 300 , Bizerte 280, & Tunis 300. Than Tunis to Gela - 360km. Malta to Gela is just a bit under 150km & I will concede that up to 20% of the allied fighter sorties came from there with a few more from Pantelleria. Still the Allies gain slightly with more of their developed airfields in shorter range to the Calagari area. In the case of Sardinia the principle direction of Axis air attacks would be across the Tyrrhenian Sea rather than across the hills of Sicilly. That allows the Allied air defense more warning as the Germans launch from th Naples/Rome airfields. In any case after the Italian arifields in south Sardinia are active for the Allied fighter wings the Germans are screwed on this account.

                Where the Allies go from these two islands is suggested by their actions there after the did capture those islands in October 1943. The French/US air forces installed six bomber wings & miscl fighter units on Corsica. The French trained a corps worth of soldiers there, & Corsica served as a naval station for suppressing the remaining German submarines in the Western Med. It served as a airbase for the amphibious landings at Anzio and the Rivera.

                From Corsica the Allies can provide air support to any potential beachhead from Rome to Marsaille. That increases the Allied options for the latter half of 1943. More important in enhances the Allied deception activities. The Axis leaders have a additional array of points to worry about & the Allied deception programs will certainly make good use of this It is likely Kesselrings strategy of delay in Southern Italy will not be in favor.

                The Italains were looking for a way out of the war before Sicilly was invaded. Allied soldiers on Corsica/Sardinia will not change that. As a propaganda target Sardinia is just as usefull as impoverished Sicily. Corsica more so as it would symbolize something for the French. With allied soldiers on those islands, bombers assembling on the airfields, and bustling preperations for attacks elsewhere on the Italian mainland displayed Mussolinis career prospects are just as precarious as in August after Sicily was cleared of Axis soldiers.

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                • #9
                  Good points, but when you say possession of Corsica opens up a range from Rome to Marseilles, that is not so true. Any landing on the Italian coast North of Rome faces the same problem as landing at the toe, ie crossing the mountains! The Allies took a look at "cutting off the Germans" and opted for invading the French Riviera instead. This way they get Marseilles and can drive North. The Vosges are not as hard to cross as the Alps!

                  The French took Corsica themselves. I am not sure where they got the shipping, but the troops were all French. You say the French trained a Corps worth of troops on Corsica? Aren't they the same troops that were training in North Africa and waiting on enough arms shipped over from the US to arm them for combat? They could not use French arms as they could not readily re-supply.

                  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"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                    Good points, but when you say possession of Corsica opens up a range from Rome to Marseilles, that is not so true. Any landing on the Italian coast North of Rome faces the same problem as landing at the toe, ie crossing the mountains! The Allies took a look at "cutting off the Germans" and opted for invading the French Riviera instead. This way they get Marseilles and can drive North. The Vosges are not as hard to cross as the Alps!
                    This is still a wider variety of options from July than available in OTL. If Italy is still the 1943 target landing north of Rome is better than fighting up from the south, through the mountains south and east of Rome. And yes Sardinia Corsica is a support base for a invasion of southern France. That would be my preference. Let the Germans and Italains deal with each other.

                    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                    The French took Corsica themselves. I am not sure where they got the shipping, but the troops were all French.
                    The combat units were French. Some US support units went along, a beach logisitics unit, a US Army port operations unit, miscl engineers and communications units. The sea transport and warships were drawn from the general Allied pool in use. The campaign had the support of the USAF which thought basing its medium bomber and fighters on Corsica would be a good thing. That is the mediums could reach industrial targets in southern/central France & northern Italy fairly easily from Corsica.

                    Jackson is not clear on the nature of the original Corsica/Sardinia campaign proposed during the January 1943 strategy sessions. It seems to have been proposed for two corps, with a possible third available if Axis resistance proved stiffer than anticipated. Three to five infantry divisions? Its not clear if it was to be a entirely British operation or if US combat units were included. As Husky wound down the plan was still on the table as two of nine post Sicily operations proposed. Brimstone -Sardinia was proposed as a US 5th Army alternative to Avalanche & Firebrand -Corsica was to be a French army show. When the decision for Avalance -Salerno was made Brimstone/Firebrand were handed off to the French and vaguely scheduled for 'later'. In early September Allied intellegence concluded the Germans were evacuating the SS divsion from Corsica/Sardinia & the French were scheduled for crossing the beach 20 September. The Germans had already fled Sardinia & a rear guard battle was fought in eastern Corsica unti the last Germans departed/surrendered 3 October.

                    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                    You say the French trained a Corps worth of troops on Corsica? Aren't they the same troops that were training in North Africa and waiting on enough arms shipped over from the US to arm them for combat? They could not use French arms as they could not readily re-supply.

                    Pruitt
                    The French corps that executed Brimstone/Firebrand remained there. Its battalions were filled out, new battalions were added, re equipment with US arms and vehicals completed, and the units reorganized and their training with the new equipment continued. Some of the new battalions were recruited from amoung the Corsican population. So yes that corps originated in the Free French army in North Africa. The only difference between this alternate hist & OTL is the French and Allies in general arrive on Corsica four or five months earlier. That allows expanded air operations, deceptions operations, and other actions to pressure the Germans four or five months earlier.

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