Should The Allies Have Bypassed Italy?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by stug3, May 27, 2012.

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Should The Allies Have Bypassed Italy?

  1. yes

    7 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. no

    21 vote(s)
    75.0%
  1. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    Would the war have been shortened and less overall casualties suffered? Would substantial German forces have still been required to control northern Italy and prevent Rome from falling under the influence of antifascist factions? Though it would have allowed the Allies to accumulate men material in England for the cross channel invasion sooner, it would also have left considerable German assets free to reinforce France or attempt to stem the turning tide in the East.
    Gen. Marshall the US JCS realised by mid 1943 that The Germans had bitten off more than they could chew in the USSR and thus being pushed westward, the western Allies should just get on with it in France and really put the squeeze on them. But Churchill wanted Rome and pursuaded FDR that invading Italy would tie down enough German forces to relieve pressure on Russia and reduce their numbers in France. It also eventually put considerable industrial targets in range of Allied bombers operating from central Italy. If they would have been able to take the north it would have given the allies other invasion options too. (e.g. southern France)

    I have to admit that Ive never been able to decide my own definitive opinion on an answer for this question, but have always been fascinated by it.
     
  2. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Stalin wanted an active land front from the Allies .... Stalin wanted sacrifice and blood commisurate with his own peoples'.

    I trust Churchill's judgement on most matters ...

    MM
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    This is a great "what if" because so much is up in the air. While the Italian Invasion did divert allied resources, the Normandy Invasion used a lot more resources than the Italian Invasion did. A Summer of 1943 Invasion of France means much less air support, less bombing of German infrastructure, less experienced Allied (American officers) and so on. The next Question is what is the actual "window" in which a cross channel invasion can take place? That is, how bad is the weather in winter so that it prohibits an invasion in the Winter/late Fall/early Spring months?

    From Wiki: two harbours codenamed Mulberry "A" and "B" were constructed at Omaha Beach and Arromanches, respectively. However, a large storm on 19 June destroyed the American harbour at Omaha, leaving only the British harbour which came to be known as Port Winston at Arromanches. While the harbour at Omaha was destroyed sooner than expected (due to it not being securely anchored to the sea bed, a result of incorrect and hasty assembly by the Americans), Port Winston saw heavy use for 8 months—despite being designed to last only 3 months. In the 10 months after D-Day, it was used to land over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tonnes of supplies providing much needed reinforcements in France.[5][6] In response to this longer than planned use the Phoenix breakwater was reinforced with the addition of extra specially strengthened caisson:

    Getting ashore isn't the problem, staying ashore is.
     
  4. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    Even without invading Italy, afaik the Allies werent even thinking about a cross channel invasion before Spring 1944.
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    #5 freebird, May 27, 2012
    Last edited: May 27, 2012
    No

    No
    Without any attack on Italy proper, Mussolini is still in power and the Germans don't need to send anything to Italy, and the anti-fascists have minimal effect.

    The surrender of Italy had a far, far larger effect than just requiring Germany to garrison Italy. The Italians had large garrisons in the Balkans, Greece, Rhodes, and other Mediterranean holdings, which forced Germany to withdraw units from other fronts to replace the Italians.

    Also, Italy has a significant air naval presence in the Med, which is lost with the surrender.


    Churchill wasn't after Rome - his goal was to fight the war the most efficient way, and to aid the Soviets as much as possible.
    A 1943 landing in France by 8 or 10 divisions that is crushed by the Axis does nothing to help the Soviets, in fact it is worse. Hitler realizes the Allies have "shot their clip" so to speak, and would not be able to try a second time in 1943, so he can withdraw Western Front units to send to the East.

    With all due respect to Marshall and his skills as an administrator, he wasn't a great strategic military genius, and his 1942 push for "Sledgehammer" was another example of misplaced enthusiasm for a bad idea.


    Keep in mind that the Allies were bottled up in Normandy in 1944, when they had far stronger ground air forces, and German forces are weaker as they face increasing pressure in the East. By June 1944 the Soviets are halfway through the "Year of the 10 Victories", while in July/August 1943 the battle of Kursk was not completed.

    When the Allies broke out following Cobra/Goodwood, there were about 22 Allied divisions on the continent. In 1943, the Allies would be lucky to have 12 - 14 divisions landed in France (and maybe not even that)
     
  6. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    Its well documented and common knowledge that Churchill wanted Rome to show the world that the star of European Fascism was a descendant star.
     
  7. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    The short answer is this: The Allies almost certainly do not have enough strength or supplies to sustain a landing in France in 1943.

    Here's a table of the cargo buildup in the UK

    WWIIcargo.buildupTable.jpg

    There is a slow buildup during 1942, until about Sept/Oct, when there is a rapid drain of resources - needed to support the USAAF major expansion, and the needs of "Torch". It's not until about July of 1943 that huge increase in US shipping tonnage again builds up substantial stocks in the UK.

    Considering that durin the spring/summer 1943 the UK had a severe shortage of imports arriving (British Import Crisis), there is no way that the Allies could bring in enough supplies to land enough divisions to make a landing in France.

    British Import Crisis
     
  8. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    #8 stug3, May 28, 2012
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
    yer preachin to the choir freebird.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    #9 freebird, May 28, 2012
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
    Actually the US (Marshall Stimson) were lobbying hard for a French landing in 1942 (Sledgehammer) or 1943 (Roundup)

    That wasn't the main purpose of the 'Mediterranean Strategy" though, it was done to reduce the strain on Allied shipping and to tie down Axis forces that could otherwise have been used in the Soviet Union
     
  10. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The US wanted a cross channel invasion long before 1944, even as early as 1942. They were hopelessly optimistic. That invasion would have probably failed anytime before 1944. The Italian Campaign was mishandled mostly by the US but it did tie down a lot of German forces and it allowed the eastern front action to chew up a lot of Axis power and the time involved allowed for the build up of US forces along with combat experience learned. Even with all those factors Overlord was not a sure thing.
     
  11. s1chris

    s1chris Member

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    I have to say no the Allies should not have bypassed Italy. Obviously the time which was taken to carry out the invasion of Italy in and not the French coast gave extra time to the intense allied bombing campaign to weaken the Nazi war machine. By defeating Italy first it also rulled out any chance of Germany being reinforced from the South by the Italian troops and air force etc if we had of attempted a cross channel invasion first.

    Let's not also forget the valuable raw materials that the allies had access to once Italy had surrendered. After all Italy was still supplying Britain with materials even when the Axis had declared war and it was only after a lot of pressure from Hitler that this ceased.

    As history has proven wether it was the right or wrong decision we achieved the desired end result. Who knows what could have happened?

    Chris
     
  12. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    I dont think Italy could have given significant aid to Germany after 1943 anyway. If the Fascists had prevented Badoglio from removing Mussolini or had retaken control of the government, they would still have had serious partisan opposition if not outright civil war to deal with. This scenario supposes the absence of an adequate German military presence in the north due to requirement elsewhere of course.
    Also the Allies could have used bases on Sicily, Sardinia or Corsica to keep Italian naval air forces in check.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure the lessons learned during the Italian campaign was worth the assets we tied down (vs Germans), nor do I think the Italians would have been effective beyond the Med, nor do I think that Kesselering would have been a threat across the Med back to the Suez.

    The better question is what could the Allies do, earlier? Sicily and Africa was a warm up for the US and they tested the LW to the point that combined with RAF Desert Force, they controlled the air (and the Med).

    I believe that a cross channel invasion before control of the air was very risky.. but had the Allies Not invaded Italy and stopped at Sicily, kesserling is still compelled to keep a sizable force at hand in the Rome area.

    So, possibly the extra fresh assets would have been of enormous leverage by invading southern France in April/combined with Normandy two months earlier when the West wall was less re-inforced. Logistically, the Germans are not in a good position to re-inforce either Russia OR France from Italy. Their natural inclination would have been to re-inforce East which ultimately would have been good for the West.

    1.) weaker German west wall, but stronger in airpower during April than June
    2.) greater US/Brit strength at Normandy and Southern France based on experience gained at Sicily and North Africa.
    3.) Inexperience not a major factor as US D-Day Divisions were extracted from Africa/Sicily or direct from US. 36th Div, 82nd AB, 45 Div with Sicily blooding and no Salerno to Anzio BLEEDING would have been a plus.
    4.) Patton maybe survives discrace at Sicily for slapping incident and becomes a leader either in Southern France or Normandy.
    5.) No Italian bases for 15th AF. All primary tactical airpower support would have to be from USN/RN Carriers for Southern France until beacheads secured and Allies push inland.
     
  14. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    They certainly would, Italian occupation forces in Greece the Balkans frees up 10 - 20 German divisions for activity elsewhere.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean - Anvil in April instead of Aug 1944?

    Problem is, by having the US ( British) basically sit idle in the second half of 1943 while the Soviets fought alone was politically completely unacceptable to FDR who had promised action to Stalin


    The intent at the time was to help the Russians by engaging Axis forces.

    If the Allies don't invade mainland Italy, then they don't sign the armistice.

    These are just a few of the German divisions tied down in Italy or the Balkans, not counting Heer infantry divisions.

    1st Panzer division is in France until June 1943, sent to Italy in July, then to Greece after the Italian surrender.
    11th SS Panzergrenadier division formed in summer 1943, then sent to the Balkans after Italy surrenders
    14th SS mountain division trained in France in the Spring/Summer 1943, sent to Italy following Italian surrender
    24th Panzer was reformed in France in Mar 1943, then sent to Italy in September following the Italian surrender
    26th Panzer was formed in 1942, in Amiens France from Oct 1942, then withdrawn and sent to Italy after "Avalanche"


    Again, keep in mind that the choice to go into Italy or sit idle for the rest of 1943 has to be made BEFORE the results of the German 1943 summer offensive (ie Kursk) are known.
    While Germany did suffer a defeat at Stalingrad, Manstein defeats the Soviets again at Kharkov in the spring of 1943, so it's not entirely clear which way the Eastern front war is going.
    Meanwhile Stalin Soviet ambassadors are giving dire warnings to FDR about an imminent catastrophe (ie - unless the Westrn Allies relieve the pressure by opening a second front.)

    Nor can the leadership predict the way the war in Italy will go without a crystal ball, had the command not made a few bad choices (Mark Clark letting the 11th Army escape) they could have been much more succesful with fewer casualties
     
  15. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    although the signing of the armistice came the same day of the landing in Calabria, the firm was only the final stage and the surrender was indipendent from invasion (even if a invasion was supposed shortly)
     
  16. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    But without the presence of German forces, are the antifascist factions strong enough that the Fascists need those troops in Italy to maintain control? Once they realize no invasion will occur, dont the Fascists consider their chances of regaining or staying (if they have prevented Mussolini from being removed) in power to be much better?
     
  17. merlin

    merlin Member

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    Invade Italy yes, but with lesser objectives - avoid the 'bony' west coast of the 'leg' of Italy and concentrated on the east coast, and the hills. Once the Airfield complex is seized at Foggia and a security zone north of it - relax. The Germans have to be strong just in case of amphibious assault elsewhere in the Adriatic.
    Rome - that was Clark's fixation!
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sicily was a relatively quick and low cost operation which more or less secured the central Med. So you might as well grab it using forces already sitting in North Africa. But I would leave Southern Italy alone.

    From Sicily you could land in Southern France during September 1943. Safer then landing in Northern France yet it's guaranteed to tie down a bunch of German army divisions. It also applies diplomatic pressure to force Spain and Portugal to quit trading with Germany.
     
  19. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    The problem was that the Italian government wanted an assurance of an Allied landing before they would surrender, as they feared German retaliation occupation.
    My understanding of the negotiations is that without a landing promised there would be no armistice, but if Italian sources say otherwise I would be interested to find oot

    Pretty unlikely, as it was after the armistice that antipartisans expanded operations.
    There were still a good number of Italian troops police in italy Proper, so it's unlikely that they would need to recall the Alpini from the Balkans.
     
  20. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    the landing was required from italians, also a para landing on Roma
     
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