What if: No Allied invasions of Sicily Italy

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by gjs238, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    With the benefit of hindsight we know that the "soft underbelly of europe" proved no easy task to conquer.
    What might have resulted had there been no Sicilian and/or Italian Campaigns?
    Perhaps a more productive area for a 2nd front?
    Perhaps put the saved resources into the French invasion?
    Perhaps the French invasion could have occurred sooner?
     
  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    #2 Capt. Vick, Mar 11, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
    My prediction would have been disaster on D-Day. We had a LOT to learn and North Africa just didn't do it. There were things done wrong. I believe Sicily and Italy were there best of all the options.
     
  3. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    I would venture to say that without an engagement in Mediterranean an invasion of France would probably be undertaken in 1943. However, without lessons learned in Italy and Sicily and with Wehrmacht stronger then year later this would prove more costly but probably successful in the end anyway. In 1943, after Stalingrad and Kursk it was impossible for Germany to win the war.
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Yep, but what if they landed on, say, 10th of july 1943, with bulk of Wehrmacht locked with Red Army?
    Plus, no Rommell there, half of fortifications not yet built, no Tigers Panthers 'till Rhine, perhaps only half of German forces there...
     
  5. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Good point Tomo. However, with North African campaign ending in early May I doubt invasion of France would have commenced before August 1943.
     
  6. Ferdinand Foch

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    I'm not sure that no invasion of Italy or Sicily would have allowed the Allies to invade France sooner, and successfully gjs. The bulk of the German Army would still be in the Soviet Union, Rommel wouldn't be there, and the Atlantic Wall would be in its infancy, that's true. But, I doubt the the Allies that the logistics and support and equipment for such an invasion in 1943 as occured on June 6th, 1944. It took six months to plan Operation Overlord, and even then some in the High Command was still worried that it would be a catastrophe. Any German units that could have been used in Italy and Sicily could just as well have been used on the Western Front if this invasion occured.
    Even though the Red Army was the bigger threat at this point, the Western Front offered the shortest route into Germany, so I'm certain that the Germans would have thrown more and more troops to stop this invasion as quickly as possible. I'm sorry, but I just don't see an invasion in 1943 being nearly as successful as the June 6 landings were.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Seizing Sicily secures the Med at relatively low cost. Now skip Italy and invade France as soon as the weather permits.

    BTW, I would also skip the landing in Southern France. That was another waste of resources. Instead you can place two landings in Northern France simultaneously or 1 landing in Northern France and 1 landing in Southern Norway.
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #8 syscom3, Mar 11, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
    The seizure of Sicily and at a minimum, the "boot" of Italy was vital in keeping the sea lanes in the Med open. Sardinia and Corsica were bonus's as they provided forward airfields to attack just about anything from Italy to Southern France.

    One aspect about the invasions of Italy was the immensly important lessons learned about large scale amphibious invasions.

    Another was the relatively mediocre performance of the US troops in North Africa. The various fights in Sicily and Italy "blooded" a lot of troops and officers (including SHAEF and the JCS) into being compatent in battle.

    As for an allied invasion of France in 1943 ..... forget it. Not enough airpower, not enough troops, no control of the sea lanes, blah blah blah. Italy was the perfect place to bring the fight to Germany with what the allies had available at the time.

    A better question would be; should Italy have been turned over to the defense once ANVIL got under way in Aug 1944.

    There is also the political aspect of the fight. Stalin wanted the Brits and US into the fight ASAP. It was the Russians who were doing the fighting and dieing "en mass" and for a non-fight in the med in 1943, would probably strain the alliance to the breaking point. Would the Russians lose the war in mid 1943 because of US/UK inaction? No. Would the fight in the east be even bloodier? Yes!
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Not untill the sea lanes in the Atlantic are secure.

    Not untill air supremecy over France is achieved.

    Not untill enough amphib assets are available.

    Not untill the logistics of supplying the armies are figured out and implimented.

    Not untill enough US divisions have been formed and trained to an acceptable level.

    Forget Norway. A waste of men and material that would easily be defeated in detail. Think Italy in the snow. A non starter.
     
  10. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    From Wikipedia (for what it's worth):

    Even prior to victory in the North African Campaign, there was disagreement between the Allies on the best strategy to defeat the Axis.

    The British, especially Winston Churchill, advocated their traditional naval-based peripheral strategy. Even with a large army, but greater naval power, the traditional British strategy against a continental enemy was to fight as part of a coalition and mount small peripheral operations designed to gradually weaken the enemy. The United States, with an even larger army, favoured a more direct strategy of fighting the main force of the German army in northern Europe. The ability to launch such a campaign depended on first winning the Battle of the Atlantic.

    The strategic disagreement was fierce, with the US service chiefs arguing for an invasion of France as early as possible, while their British counterparts advocated a Mediterranean strategy. The American staff believed that a full-scale invasion of France as soon as possible was necessary to end the war in Europe, and that no operations should be undertaken which might delay that effort. The British argued that the presence of large numbers of troops trained for amphibious landings in the Mediterranean made a limited-scale invasion possible and useful.

    Eventually the US and British political leadership made the decision to commit to an invasion of France in early 1944, but with a lower-priority Italian campaign reflecting Roosevelt's desire that to keep U.S. troops active in the European theater during 1943 and his attraction to the idea of eliminating Italy from the war.[9] It was hoped that an invasion would knock them out of the war, or provide at least a major propaganda blow. The elimination of Italy as an enemy would also enable Allied naval forces, principally the Royal Navy, to completely dominate the Mediterranean Sea, massively improving communications with Egypt, the Far East, the Middle East, and India. It would also mean that the Germans would have to transfer troops from the Eastern Front to defend Italy and the entire southern coast of France, thus aiding the Soviets. The Italians would also withdraw their troops from the Soviet Union to defend Italy.
     
  11. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Southern Norway? You're not serious right? I like Fjords as much as the next guy, but...
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    1914. Tanga.
    1915. Gallipoli.
    1940. Norway. Multiple landing sites.
    1940. Dakar.
    1942. Madagascar.
    1942. Dieppe.
    1942. Torch. Multiple landing sites.
    1942. Guadalcanal.
    1943. Siciily.
    1943. Attu.
    1943. Kiska.
    1943. Tarawa.

    Everything you need to know about amphibious landings can be learned from these operations. Not to mention studying how Japan conducted successful invasions of Tsingtao, Shanghai, Malaya, the Philippines, the East Indies, New Guinea, Attu, Kiska, the Gilbert Islands, Guam etc.

    You won't learn anything new by invading Italy during 1943 and 1944 (Anzio). Britain was just stalling while the Soviet Union chewed up more of the Wehrmacht.
     
  13. Ferdinand Foch

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    Dave, by 1944, the ports in southern and central Great Britian would have had a tough time continously supplying two invasion forces in northern france, or even one in Norway. They were already having a tough time just supplying one invasion force. Anvil was important because it took pressure off these ports.
     
  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #14 syscom3, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
    If what you say is true, then why were so many amphib errors were still being made in every invasion in the ETO/MTO even during Anzio?

    Sorry, but the lessons learned back then didn't travel quickly and weren't absorbed by the responsible commands untill much later after the lesson was first learned.

    And then, you still haven't explained how the allies were going to supply ever increasing numbers of troops and material on a daily basis without the required shipping and amphib vessels being available to support them. Landing a single light infantry division in the Pacific was one thing. Landing multiple infantry and armored divisions against the best army in the world is another.

    Read "An Army At Dawn" and "The Day Of battle" to see how f***ed up the invasion and assumed logistical plan never went to plan and the lessons being learned ultimately coalesced into the successful Normandy and S France invasions.
     
  15. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    The lessons needed to be taken on board, the special equipment designed and built let alone the infrastructure put in place. I don't see the invasion being brought forward by much.
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Whilst the allies held enormous material and productive advantages over the germans by 1943, there were several areas where they lacked significant capabilities. The first and most obvious was in the area of seasoned formations. The American formations in particular were extremely green. To the end of the North ASfrican campaign they only possessed about 3 divs of experienced troops. Sicily roughly doubled that, and throughout 1943 and the early part of 1944, the amount os experience in the Allied armies grew steadily as small units and individuals were transferred into and out of the war zones. Its quite wrong to think the Allied armies remained static in their experience levels from 1942 to 1944, and it is also quite wrong to think that the allied armies were in any condition to to fight a camapign the size of Normandy in 1943. The US output of replacements was simply too limited at that point to seriously consider a battle beyod a single army strength, and any battle in the main NW front needed at least 4 US armies to be successful. The output of US replacements did not reach that point until early 1944, and even then remained inadequate to the end of the war.

    Conversely, until the huge defeats suffered by the Germans in the East in 1943, the German army in the west was simply too experienced and efficient for the western armies to take on on a 1:1 basis. The eastern front sucked out that experience base and left only a half trained shell for many formations, further, as the war progressed the mobility of the main part of the German army (its Infantry) nosedived as trucks and draft animals were attritioned off throughout 1943, and fuel supplies dried up, and most importantly, the German air force was whittled down by constant attrition.

    Without the ebenefit of the so-called "sideshows" Allied development of capability and the corresponding loss of german capability would never have taken place. An invasion into NW Europe in 1943 would have ended in defeat for the allies. No action at all by the allies would have seen a possible collapse or surender of the Soviet Union. In other words the ultimate victory would have been put at risk....for what?????
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree. However without the committment to Italy and Southern France the invasion of Northern France will be a lot larger when it does happen.

    Cherbourg is a rather small sea port and it is a long way from the German border. Calais, Le Havre, Dunkirk, Zeebrugge, Antwerp and Rotterdam are much larger ports and are in the right locations for supporting a thrust towards the Ruhr.

    Marseilles is an excellent port but it is located hundreds of miles from the Ruhr. That would not be so bad except that Gen. Eisenhower had the French rail network bombed to dust during May 1944.
     
  18. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    The US was looking to end the war as quickly as possible, i.e., invade and decapitate Germany ASAP.
    The Brits had a different strategy, smaller peripheral actions over a longer period of time.

    The US was not saying, let's invade Italy to gain experience.
    The US wanted to concentrate resources on a northern (French) invasion.

    The Brits, apparently, looked at Italy as a "soft underbelly" - instead we ended up in a meat grinder that lasted almost right up to VE Day.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #19 parsifal, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
    There was only one man in Britain who was marketing the Italian invasion as the "soft underbelly" and that was Churchill. And even he didnt really believe that, it was done to keep the Americans in the fight and inflicting losses on the jerrys.

    The decisions to invade Italy were taken at Casablanca where the British were able for the last time in the war dictate grand strategy. The US had come up with a number of schemes, with british help, to invade France in the event of an imminent collapse of the Russians. In other worsds, the plans drawn up were those of desperation, to try an stave off defeat by taking desperate offensive action on the main front, with the aim of drawing off German formations from the East Front. Even the Americans conceded, however, that these attacks would be very costly and would probably be unsuccessful, drawing the war out for perhaps a further two years, and skyrocketing Allied casualties. US production advantages would have been lost due to the massive drain on manpower.

    Perhaps the most realistic option being brought to those contingency ideas was the invasion of Brittany, to estab;ish a bridgehead on the peninsula, and there to simply hang on, with the threat of offensive action into northwest europe. This was more commensurate to Allied capabilities of the time but was little better in terms of military potential, and lacking in some of the political advantages.

    The reasons for the invasion of Sicily and italy were many, but in the end the dewcision was a compromise between shipping availability, the available forces, the prospect of knocking Italy out of the war (and all the political ramifications that brought, plus th added advantages of slvaging at least some italian miliatary potential for allied use), providing greater support to the Yugoslav and Greek Partisans, maintaing the pressure on the Germans.

    The hot heads in the American camp that continued to advocate witholding forces until an overwhelming blow could be struck later on were overruled by the joint chiefs (which were Brit and US staffs I might add) because they failed to take into account the very real possibility of a Russian collapse if some pressure was not applied as early as possible. They failed to take into account the shipping limits that simply prevented anything large enough to engage the Germans until mid 1944 at the earliest, and failed to realize that Italy was a far more expensive bloodbath for the Germans than it ever was for the allies.

    Italy, and Sicily, in my opinion were the best realistic options available to the allies in 1943, and far from being a handicap for the 1944 campaigns, actually synchronized very well with Eisenhowers "broad front" military strategy. The allies found an advance on a broad front better strategy against the Germans on the ground, and Italy was simply an extension of that approach, in the finish.

    In the end, the crisi on the eastern front passed, but the Americans also realised after episodes like Kasserine, that they needed greater expereince in order to fight the germans effectively. Whilst they did not invade Italy to gain expereince, one of the reasons they didnt invade France in maximum strength until 1944 was precisely that reason, and one of the reasons they did not commit fully to the italian invasion wqas a fear of heavy casulaties in their formations. so in fact experience was a factor in the decision to invade in limited strength, (and hence Italy), in 1943
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That happened at Stalingrad during January 1943. It should not have been an issue during September 1943.
     
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