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Failure of the Italian Campaign

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  • Failure of the Italian Campaign

    OK, need help with the following scenario:

    it's 1943 and Sicily has been taken, and the Salerno landings are about to occur. The Allied aim is to knock Italy out of the war. Only in this world, Italy means Italy, all the Balkans, Turkey and the French mandates. Huge chunk of real estate even Hitler knows will kill him to have to occupy if the Italians chicken out. So he sends his best man to take the 10th Army, the wunderkind who commanded the northern thrust of Kursk...and won.

    It gets better: Me-262s are starting to come online. Furthermore, though the Allies have ejected the Italians the the Afrika Corps from OTL's Tunisia and Libya, the Axis have controlled the entire British middle east since 1941. Rommel is licking his wounds in Alexandria, but he's not out. The Allies got surprise in Sicily because everyone expected the Anglo-American armies to push from Morocco and not stop until Basra. The American brass wants Italy knocked out because doing so will make Hitler's position much worse and provide Russia some breathing room.

    I need the Salerno beachhead annihilated, Sicily retaken, and the Allied offensive in North Africa to resume WITHOUT ending the careers of Patton (whom I need to be commanding at a Battle of the Bulge in late 44) or Eisenhower (whom I NEED to be president in the 50s). Preferably I need Eisenhower to lose gracefully, to do everything right and still get his ass handed to him.

    1. How should Salerno fall?
    2. Would the Allies choose to fight over Sicily? If so, what method should they use?
    3. Assuming Rommel has reliable access to supplies and troops via the Orient Express, and has to defend Egypt, what would he do? An El Alemien? A house to house fight in Alexandria? Retreat behind the Nile (Hitler for this purpose would never let Rommel go any further back except if absolutely needed)
    4. What would the Allies plan of attack be given Persia is scrupulously neutral (Stalin wants it that way so the Germans can't thrust into Russia's soft underbelly), and the Germans have fortified the Iraqi coast heavier than the Padi-Calais in OTL?
    5. Should take the blame for the Italian fiasco? What would happen to him (aside from the sacking)

    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

  • #2
    The only way your scenario(s) will have a chance of working is if the Germans mount and win a fight for air superiority over the entire Med. That takes a LOT of reworking of the way things unfolded.

    I suppose we could start by granting Axis air superiority, but then why would the Allied landings in North Africa have succeeded? Why would the Sicilian campaign have succeeded and why would Rommel be sitting in Egypt licking his wounds, instead of somewhere civilized?

    So, let's not fight the Battle of Britain and instead transfer the bulk of that air power to Spain, Morocco, Italy, Libya, Greece, Egypt, Turkey (yes, I know Turkey and Spain were neutral) and Palestine, along with Sicily and Crete. We must add a new generation of true heavy bombers, new dive bombers, purpose-built torpedo bombers and LOTS of long range reconnaissance. We also have to give them a radar network to cover the whole area.

    So, the Battle of Britain becomes the Battle of the Med. The Axis MUST win this battle to control the region. Then, they can dictate the fight anywhere. However, by doing this, probably the plans for a thrust at the "soft underbelly" will be scrapped as too difficult.

    So now what happens? Do the allies start from somewhere in West Africa like Nigeria? How about a thrust up the Red Sea?

    My favorite is a thrust through Mesopotamia, Turkey, Bulgaria and into Eastern Europe, completely bypassing the "Fortress Med".

    At the same time the "Battle of Britain gets fought in reverse. The goal being to attrit the air forces of the Axis and draw off resources from the southern front.

    Whaddya' think?


    • #3
      for something really plausible you would need something like england being taken out of the war by something like destroying the BEF and severely weaking the UK or even taking them out of the war

      probably have the battle of britan have a different outcome, but that is a another disscussion

      Then things could get


      • #4
        Okay, interesting scenario you have here...

        Let's go with the Salerno beachhead under Montgomery's command, just as he always wanted. Except in this case a major intelligence failure has allowed our 10th Army wunderkind to shift his panzer divisions nice and close for a Rommelesque counteroffensive against the beaches on Day Two of the landings. Montgomery (brilliant or otherwise) is still ramping up his offensive, and simply doesn't have the defensive depth to hold against something like this, so while the Panzers take some vicious losses to naval artillery, the Italian Navy is eventually able to drive them off with the aid of fuel from the Axis-held Middle East (Iraq mainly).

        With the Italian Navy bolstered by some Turkish units and the growing Luftwaffe - I'll go with bubblehead's idea of no Battle of Britain, and you mentioned in passing that Turkey was on the table - the Axis starts attempting to interdict Sicily's supplies and seaborne movement options. Caught up in a surge of fascist euphoria, Spain orders the British out of Gibraltar - not wishing to provoke another nation into jumping in with the Germans, the British comply.

        At this point I would see the Allies mounting a daring and heroic - and ultimately successful - bid to extricate their forces from being cut off in Sicily, taking heavy losses from their airpower and handing over air superiority to the Germans - but getting their divisions and Georgie-boy out of Sicily before they run out of supply.

        This would give Patton the opportunity to blame everything on Montgomery, declare "I will return" and salvage his reputation, claiming that if he'd been in charge (instead of in exile after the slapping incident) that things would have gone differently. Probably untrue, but that's Patton for you and it gives him a command in your Battle of the Bulge later. And if Rommel's in Egypt, Monty's reputation probably isn't so crash-hot either at the moment.

        With their Italian Campaign troops refitting in North Africa, the Allies launch a renewed offensive with their North African forces against Rommel. Personally I see Rommel (with his undeniable skill at wars of maneuver) falling back to the Nile, withdrawing his troops across it and burning the bridge - then passing most of his Korps back across the Nile over a secretly-built pontoon bridge some miles to the south under cover of darkness and attempting to catch the Allied units against the Nile and destroying them.

        Certainly before he'd try an El Alamein unless he was desperate for supply - and a meatgrinder in Alexandria? Never - supply or no supply, he simply doesn't have the manpower for something like that.

        If he managed to pull it off and eliminate the bulk of the Allied army sent against him, he'd presumably launch a counter-attack at this point, driving out of Egypt until it came against the still-superior veteran Allied forces from Sicily.

        I don't see the Allies pulling any more of these units away to attack Europe's 'vulnerable underbelly' at this point, not until they've driven Rommel back east to protect their only viable southern ports aside from Malta.

        I was assuming the Torch landings had succeeded and Eighth Army had more or less shattered to put Rommel in Egypt but 'licking his wounds'. This way the Allies can use Casablanca as a port from the Atlantic, even while Gibraltar stays British territory but is 'demilitarized' by Spain.

        At this point the Allied plan of attack would have to be letting Patton take on Rommel in the desert with the bulk of the southern forces - as he's perceived to have been the commander who, once removed, meant the Salerno landings were lost - while they try to build up for a northern attack on France. I'd see them using French Morocco as a base for a campaign eastwards, attempting to reclaim the Suez and Iraq from that side.

        With Montgomery's reputation still reeling from the loss at El Alamein - though as he told the world press afterwards, it was only due to his subordinates misunderstanding his instructions at the time (arguably true since I'm sure he'd have instructed them to win) - I don't see him being able to survive the ensuing firestorm after Salerno, Sicilian success or not.

        Sacked? Probably not, but given some vital post in the War Office and kept away from the front lines for the duration of the war.
        Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing


        • #5

          Thanks for the readout. THat was informative and barring Gibraltar, exactly what I was looking for.

          THe thing that delights me and confuses others is that this is not our World War II. It ryhmes but does not repeat, beat for beat. Problem for me at least is that all I really wanted was a stroy about the Nazis being overthrown and Germany negotiating a peace that would allow a united Germany to be the European backbone of NATO. As the story refines itself, I find I can't paper hang any battle, including ones that play out almost identically (like Moscow 1941, but the Russians in my story have been fighting since June 1940, Babarosa being a political move designed to cast Nazi Germany as the defender of Europe, including the Baltics.)

          I mean even the casulaties are down because in this world, penicilin was exploited almost as soon as Fleming found it, and other things like the British have 2 'air dragoon' divisions, which are helicopter mounted infantry.

          But for this scenario, what would I need to change for the 10 Army to be ready for the pounce? I'll come clean: originally this story of mine was a quasi-novelization of Defending the Reich campaign from Panzer General II. Salerno in that game had a punce 3-5 days after the landings, which I think happened historically. I would be willing to change that as long as Sicily is reconquered by the end of 43.

          Oh and one more thing which MIGHT complicate things. In this world, Italy is not ruled by the Peidmontes. It is ruled by the Paleologi Dynasty, stemming from the last Byzantine Emperor, whose illegitimate children were evaucated to Italy. Long story, lots of fun. Italian troops DO have a taste for Empire because they consider themselves Roman, and thus entitled to rule all of Trajan's Empire. They fight badly for the same reasons they did here, BUT their colonial troops are VERY effective. They sharpened their claws on the Turks and Serbs in the 20s and 30s, commiting acts that the Chicoms wouldn't do here. But they are smarter about it than the Nazis, who lack finese and a sense of propagandizing the survivng victims. I don't know if that would matter or not, but I thought mentioning it would help.
          How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
          275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird


          • #6

            I do think the Gibraltar thing - minor as it may seem - is an important part to reclaiming Sicily by the end of 43. While the Germans and Italians probably could kick them back off the island by sheer force of arms (provided the allies couldn't reinforce too heavily and the latter maintains the will), it could wind up a meatgrinder that loses the war for them overall.

            The more elegant solution to my mind (and one that salvages George's reputation since I think you said you needed him later) would be the Axis naval domination of the Med severing the supply opportunities for Sicily. With Rommel straddling the Suez and Gibraltar even DMZ'd the Allies don't have a fortified entrance into this 'Italian pond'.

            Though if the Italians are Paleologi (yes I'd love to hear that story sometime), should be interesting to see how well they get on with their Turkish Allies...

            On the 10 Army, it could be an intel failure as simple as the Market Garden one - because of good camouflage and/or sheer bad luck the Allied recon doesn't notice the Hermann Goering and the 15th Panzergrenadier in easy proximity to support the 16th Panzer for a counter-punch.

            This in turn gives the other half of 10th Army time to get on the scene, though realistically if they hit hard and fast enough (and with the added airpower that a resurgent Luftwaffe implies) the three divisions going in together (instead of piecemeal) may well be enough to drive the Allies back the scant few miles into the sea.

            ...I admit the British Air Cav threw me for a bit of a spin though ^_^
            Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing


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