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Rommel Captured Spring 1941

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  • Rommel Captured Spring 1941

    Whilst leading from the front in Lybia Rommel is captured before the end of April & spends the remainder of the war enjoying Canada. What are the consequences?

    Aside from forstalling any Rommel legend I'd think this would reduce beachfront defenses in France in 1944, making the Neptune assualt a teeny bit easier. Any other ideas?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
    Whilst leading from the front in Lybia Rommel is captured before the end of April & spends the remainder of the war enjoying Canada. What are the consequences?

    Aside from forstalling any Rommel legend I'd think this would reduce beachfront defenses in France in 1944, making the Neptune assualt a teeny bit easier. Any other ideas?
    Guderian states that Rommel was very adamant that his judgement about Normandy was correct. (Atlantic wall and landing zones). Both were incorrect, so having another General in charge could have made things harder for the Allies. Also, Guderian mentions von Kluge as having little understanding of armored warfare and he made many mistakes in Normandy.

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    • #3
      Rommel had already demonstrated quite a bit of leadership acumen and tactical abilities with the new style of warfare.

      I think the following would have happened:

      * I have a full copy of Rommel's thesis on armored and motorized warfare, instead of Commentaries on the Rommel Papers by American and British strategic thinkers.

      * Rommel would return to Germany post-war and be instrumental in the Western German military. He might even have a shot at a high command position, or even working with the Allies in a political position because he wasn't involved with Hitler during the truly heinous portions of the Nazi regime.

      * He would have lived to see Korea, and possibly portions of Vietnam, and maybe even written some articles about what was done right and wrong in each.

      *Germany wouldn't have sustained the losses they did in Africa, but then the Brits wouldn't have either, and overall the Axis position in Africa would be a bit more shaky than it was historically. Not much, but a bit, and certainly not as fluid.
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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      • #4
        Had not thought of any post war consequences.

        What about the early battle in Italy? Rommel supported Hitlers judgement that southern Italy was indefensible. Absent Rommel & his influence on Hitler would Kesselring have more resources to work with in September 1943?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          Whilst leading from the front in Lybia Rommel is captured before the end of April & spends the remainder of the war enjoying Canada. What are the consequences?

          Aside from forstalling any Rommel legend I'd think this would reduce beachfront defenses in France in 1944, making the Neptune assualt a teeny bit easier. Any other ideas?
          Did the Germans have anyone else at that time able to move in and replace Rommel without being missed in their current position? If not, maybe the allies would have made quicker work of north africa and might have seen a larger influx of allied troops there. With north africa lost sooner than it was really lost this might have made an impact on Hitlers orders on the Russian front.
          On the other hand, what if they found someone who did a better job than Rommel was doing?

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          • #6
            Its hard to say if there was anyone else with Rommels gamblers instincts. As far as operational skill there were quite a few others avaialble, but, most or all would have played the subsequent campaign more conservatively.

            Who were the principle subordinates in the DAK in March april 1941? Those would be the most likely candidates.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              Its hard to say if there was anyone else with Rommels gamblers instincts. As far as operational skill there were quite a few others avaialble, but, most or all would have played the subsequent campaign more conservatively.

              Who were the principle subordinates in the DAK in March april 1941? Those would be the most likely candidates.
              Prittwitz had 15th armored until he was killed in mid-April. After than, Esebeck, who had been a colonel, took over 15th armored was just promoted to general in your timeline, so I think he's out of the running. Von Funck, who commanded 5th light, would have been a good candidate, was transferred out of Africa right before you're timeline to take 7th armored for Barbarossa. Johannes Streich took over 5th light in February and had command until mid-May. In other words, not a lot to choose from.

              It would be a big propaganda blow to Germany to lose the Desert Fox. I can imagine Hitler trying to make a splash with a replacement. A few problems with that -
              1. Barbarossa is about to kick off and moving senior commanders on the eve of the attack isn't the best idea
              2. The people who would prove themselves in the Soviet Union hadn't done so yet
              3. Most of the star performers from the French campaign are busy prepping for the aforementioned Barbarossa.

              The Ibis of course has a solution, however silly it may be. There were a couple of under-employed Field Marshals available without active commands for Barbarossa - List and Weichs. Perhaps one of them (List being the better choice IMO, since he had a number of armored divisions under his command previously and presumably would know how to used them; OTOH, Weich had commanded an armored division before the war. In any case, either would probably do fine). It would probably take renaming the Africa Corps an army 6 months earlier, or passing command of some Italian tropps to warrant a Field Marshal, but that doesn't seem to be a big obstacle (the first option anyway).
              Last edited by The Ibis; 21 Jun 10, 20:47.

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              • #8
                If Hitler could have gotten Il Duce to go along with formally giving command of Italian Troops to a GERMAN Field Marshal in 1941, that would have created some interesting what-ifs. Rommel would have passed out from shock if he had been given direct overall command instead of having to deal with worthless Italian Officers to get what he wanted done. Having Panzerarmee Afrika be a multi-national Unified command under 1 German commander in '41, and having that be set down by the Italian dictator would seriously alleviate some of the problems experienced in Africa. That one factor might have made it easier for the Germans to accomplish their mission.
                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                • #9
                  "The One That Got Away"

                  Rommel waits for the winter freeze then leads a daring escape from his camp in Quebec, Canada. In the middle of the night he walks across the frozen St Lawrence River and turns himself in to neutral American authorities, claiming asylum and requesting to be allowed to return home.

                  Commonwealth governments protest vigourously. The US relents somewhat and will not allow Rommel to return home, but they won't send him back to Canada either. He will remain as a "guest" of the US government.

                  In the autumn of '41, Rommel is asked to speak to the graduating class at West Point. He is quite popular, his lecture consists of a mix of his own theories and real life current experience.

                  When Germany declares war on the US in December, Rommel sees this as the last nail in the coffin for the 3rd Reich. He believes he can only save the lives of his countrymen by hastening what he now sees as the inevitable Allied victory, hopefully with the Western Allies holding his homeland.

                  He volunteers for the US Army and serves on Eisenhowers' staff.
                  Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                  • #10
                    At this point I am seeing a mid war effect. Without Rommels daring gambles the Axis cannot drive the Brits out of Cyrinacia. With continual presence the Brits build up supply superiority, forward airbases, and turn the African into frustration for the Axis. In the Spring of 1942 Operation Gymnast is executed early & the Free French become a viable concern before the end of 1942. The Allied airforces in Africa reach overwhelming superiorty in numbers and the Axis position in Africa collapses very early in 1943.

                    A late war result could be the lack of Rommels ideas for the defense of the French coast. How might the Normandy battle gone had the mobile forces been posted further to the rear in reserve?

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                    • #11
                      The Germans send a more talented general who maintains the siege of Tobruk through the summer and matches the events of Nov-Dec with a tactical withdrawal back to the start line. The January riposte to Gazala is still carried and both sides plan for their summer attacks.

                      The British, as in the OTL, are hopelessly out of touch with the realities of mechanised warfare and Tobruk falls in late Jun of 42. Instead of pursuing the British the axis halt along the Egyptian frontier conserving both supplies and kit, executing the invasion of Malta. The fall sees a series of German-Italian spoiling attacks that greatly hinder the CW build up. The axis line has German-Italian infantry dug in from the coast at Sollum out to the "Sidi" forts backed by the four German-Italian armoured divisions and 90th Light.

                      The British offensive in October is effectively defeated in an series of open country battles since British armour is not yet up to the task of fighting a combined-arms battle. The arrival of news of Torch has the the German- Italian panzer army still largely intact and it retreats to Tunisia by Jan of 43. Reinforced by Centauro Armoured and the 10th Pz as well as parts of Herm Goering Pz and other German-Ital units, the axis armour defeats US II Corps and the British at Kasserine and Thala. Exploiting into Algeria, the axis force the retreat of 1st British Army past Constantine and westward into central Algeria.

                      Taking advantage of interior lines and superior airfield space the axis switch their main strength back to southern Tunisia where they again defeat the 8th Army in a series of clashes between Mareth and Wadi Akarit, delaying the advance by the allies north. Herm Goer is brought up to strength.

                      The solid axis bridgehead in Africa allows for a better flow of supplies as lack of air bases close to the Sicilian straits makes cutting Tunisia off more difficult. As the Allied naval superiority in the Mediterranean slowly takes it toll the axis slowly withdraw east from Algeria and north towards Sfax through the summer of 1943. Autumn rains again hamper the allied ground effort but as the axis position weakens they continue to pull back and evacuate Tunisia into the winter of 1943-44. The final rearguards are defeated by February 1944 but the axis have managed to evacuate the bulk of their best troops to Sicily where they have some weeks to rest and refit.

                      The allies try an invasion of Sicily to clear the shipping lanes across the Med in April 1944 but it is defeated by a series of counterattacks by the same seven axis armoured divisions that fought in Tunisia. Heavy losses in landing craft and other amphibious craft are felt two month later in Normandy where the allies just manage to scramble ashore to gain a toehold in France. The Mediterranean is abandoned as an active theatre with shipping continually harassed by axis aircraft from Sicily and Crete.

                      The weaker effort of Overlord means a slower Allied advance into France and the liberation of western Europe drags on into early 1945. This allows the Red Army to cross the Oder, take Berlin and push on over the Elbe to meet the allies along Weser in the north, the Mainz River west of Fulda in the centre and central Bavaria in the south. Austria falls to the Red Army. Italy surrenders after a coup removes Mussolini with arrival of Red Army troops in the Po Valley. A Communist government is established in Rome, western Germany under Allied control is too small to be viable. NATO is never established and France is brought into the Soviet sphere by the late 40s after the communists take power and demand the removal of Allied forces. Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg along with Denmark and Norway also eventually succumb to Soviet agitation. Franco in Spain is removed quietly as Spain and Portugal adopt pro-Soviet policies. Britain, embittered by the results of the war and threatened by the Red Menace holds out with US aid behind the ships of the Royal Navy but is nevertheless riddled with Soviet agents throughout all levels of society.

                      Europe effectively falls under Soviet domination by 1955...

                      ..., lucky for us Rommel didn't listen to his staff officers about logistics.
                      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
                        Very good

                        I'd think a stronger Axis position in the Med. in 1943 would curtail any further significant Allied investment there. Overlord might actually occur a mont or two sooner, and Neptune be made stronger without further major operations in the Med.

                        Between Allied deception efforts, which were largely sucessfull through the war & Hitlers inability to let go of anything the Axis commitment to Africa would turn into a distant tar baby with several mecahnized corps stuck there far from the decisive point in NW Europe. Many weeks would be required to withdraw the tank and motorized corps from Algeria, across the Med, and via Italian or French railroads to the main battle. All under raids by dominating Allied naval and air forces.

                        The main downside I see here would be a potiential impracticallity of using Marsaille/Toulon for supplying the Allied armies in France. Conversely the with additional German mobile forces in distant Africa & the friction involved in removing them to France the defeat there may come earlier & Antwerp or even Rotterdam become available to Allied use sooner. And, with the GAF confined to the Reich in late 1944 the Germans may not be able to interfere with Allied sea transit to south France.

                        In the autum of 1944 the Italian surrender and a secondary Allied offensive to Italy via Sardinia/Corsica further emires 500,000 Germans in Africa. Somewhat similar to the 300,000 Wehrmacht stuck in Norway.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
                          Rommel waits for the winter freeze then leads a daring escape from his camp in Quebec, Canada. In the middle of the night he walks across the frozen St Lawrence River and turns himself in to neutral American authorities, claiming asylum and requesting to be allowed to return home.

                          He volunteers for the US Army and serves on Eisenhowers' staff.
                          Some of Rommels cousins may have immigrated to the US in the mid 19th Century. WI Irwins father had followed them? Kruger & a couple other German immigrants served as senior US Generals. How might Rommel developed schooled in US Army doctrine? Perhaps as a former cavalry officer & commanding US 2d Corps in Tunisia 1943?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Some of Rommels cousins may have immigrated to the US in the mid 19th Century. WI Irwins father had followed them? Kruger & a couple other German immigrants served as senior US Generals. How might Rommel developed schooled in US Army doctrine? Perhaps as a former cavalry officer & commanding US 2d Corps in Tunisia 1943?
                            He would have gotten in a deul with Patton over which one of them managed to marry Bea. Given Bea and Lucy looked so much alike (see photos posted here), I could see them both courting her.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                              Very good ...
                              I actually borrowed this tale from a game played out in CWiE some 10 years ago. I managed to hold off the allies in Tunisia until Feb 1944 even though evacuating the German and Italian mech divisions was expensive. The LW had to throw everything they had into covering the evacuation (at the expense of the bomber war, which hurt production in early 44) but still about half the German units were reduced to kampfgruppes when they landed in Sicily (the Italian Ariete, Littorio and Centauro divsions were pulled out first and two were intact). It was necessary to rebuild Littorio, 10th and 15th Pz and 90th Pz Gr in the two month period before the allies hit Sicily.

                              In Sicily was 10th, 15th, 21st and Herm Goer. Pz Divs along with 90th and Pz Gr Div Afrika organised into two Pz Corps. The Germans lost the entire 164th Light, numerous para infantry regiments while the Italians lost some seven infantry and motorised divisions (Pasubio and Trieste amongst them). The interesting thing was that none of the Pz and Pz Gr divisions were ever used in France in 44 in the OTL so the allies still meet the same 10 Pz and Pz Gr divisions.

                              I should also mention that in the game the allies did not risk a Normandy style invasion and instead went in through Portugal and Spain. Thus the allied armies had a secure foothold but a much longer row to hoe in reaching Germany. Their advance was significantly held up in the Pyrennes and they never did try for Sardinia and Corsica. In Russia the Axis armies made a slow retreat to Poland and the Romanian frontier and the Italians were in the fight until the summer 1944 collapse in the east (retaining a small bridgehead in Albania when Germany surrendered).

                              Most of the German divisions were withdrawn from southern Italy in late summer of 44 to form a new front along the Rhone and they abandoned that line only when the Red Army breached the Oder. The last of the Africa divisions went down fighting near Vienna in the general collapse as the Red Army sprinted for the Rhine. The allies were finally able to cross the Meuse and then the Rhine as the west front was, literally, opened in a scramble to stop the Red Army,... didn't happen.

                              Went down in a blaze of glory in early April 1945.
                              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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