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Torch in Sardinia & Corsica, instead of N Africa

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by mjölnir, Mar 14, 2016.

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  1. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    OTL Patton fought gratuitously against French forces in Morocco and other allied forces fought the French gratuitously in Algeria. Patton's force wasted months before fighting the axis in Tunisia. N Africa did not threaten mainland Italy or Germany. The invasion of strongly defended Sicily cost a lot of time and casualties and the short channel separating it from Italy allowed the axis to evacuate most of its forces to fight in mainland Italy.

    ATL the powerful forces in Torch land in weakly defended Sardinia & Corsica, which are strategically located close to France, Sicily and mainland Italy and are a good staging areas for invading France and bombing Italy and German forces in N Tunisia, France and S Germany.

    Axis forces in Sardinia cannot be supplied or evacuated with very strong allied air and naval forces in the area, so they are all killed or captured. Air bases are rapidly enlarged and improved to deploy multiengine bombers, which initially concentrate on destroying axis planes in Sicily and bombing Italian industry, RR hubs, ports, naval bases, etc,

    It is much easier for the allies to supply Sardinia than to supply Monty in Libya, sailing around S Africa..

    Italy feels the pressure and fears an invasion, so it deposes Mussolini and sues for peace early in 1943. Germany has to send forces to secure Italy and Sicily and it has to occupy Vichy.France, which forces the French navy to leave Toulon and fall in allied hands in Sardinia. With the allies already in Sardinia, reinforcing and supplying axis forces in Tunisia becomes difficult.

    With Italy out of the war, the allies invade Corsica and prepare to invade the French Riviera, which is much less fortified than the Atlantic French coast. Hitler underestimates allied logistics, so he is positive that the allies can only afford to invade across the Channel.

    Since Monty is still fighting in Tunisia, allied forces are led by Patton in the French Riviera, where the allies land in early June 1943 (when German forces are engaged in Kursk). Since the European front has priority, all landing craft are sent to Sardinia and landings in the Pacific are temporarily cancelled. Without the hedgerows or Normandy or the mountains of Italy to hold back the allies, Patton rapidly advances toward Paris in a pincer movement Hitler has to recall forces from Kursk to send them to the west, but by the time they arrive, Patton is near Paris.
    The Soviets know that Germany is extremely vulnerable, engaged on two strong fronts, with production still rising, but inadequate to cover heavy losses on both fronts, so the Soviets launch a massive counter offensive with all available forces and push back the Germans hundreds of km, while inflicting irreplaceable losses.

    German generals know that the war is lost and attempt to kill Hitler, but fail. Hitler kills dozens of officers, further weakening his forces.

    Germany is not only experiencing heavy losses on two fronts, it is also losing reosurces from occupied France, Ukraine, etc, the loss of iron ore and steel from Alsacia (which is heavily bombed and cut off by Patton's forces) is particularly damaging to the German war effort.
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member Patron  

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    Wait, let me make a batch of popcorn for this one.....Ok, have at it! :)
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well let's look at your initial premise. OTL the fighting in North Africa was hardly gratuitous. The complete defeat of the Axis forces in North Africa did indeed threaten Italy and removed any hope of the Axis powers controlling the Med. It also allowed for land based air support of Sicily and Southern Italy and strategic bombing of axis positions in Italy and elsewhere.

    As for trying to take Sardinia & Corsica they may have been weakly held but Axis land based air pretty much dominated the area and to even contest it would have required exposing carriers to it over an extended period and indeed may have exposed them to sorties by the Italian navy. The troop ships would also have been rather vulnerable to attacks by PT boats and other light forces as well.

    In short another fatally flawed alternative without even going into much detail.
     
  4. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Patton et al. fought gratuitously against the French (a neutral country) and in useless, distant and well defended territories. The allies had plenty of enemies, without the need to waste lives, time and resources fighting neutral countries. Invading Italian territory in order to be able to bomb and threaten the axis makes a lot more sense than landing Patton thousands of km from axis forces and having to fight neutral planes, coastal guns, tanks, troops, etc, Although ATL the allies are invading French Corsica, Ajaccio is infinitely better located to fight the axis than Casa Blanca or Oran and it has much weaker forces defending it.

    Invading Sardinia and Corsica in late 1942 (during the battle of Stalingrad) renders the Afrika Korps in Tunisia moot by threatening Italy and German forces in France and denying Rommel supplies with bombers from Sardinia (easily supplied) instead of from Malta (which OTL was hell to have to suply past Sardinia and Sicily) and too small to deploy large numbers of bombers.

    Why invade heavily defended SIcily in 1943 at all (which the axis can readily reinforce and evacuate and has difficult terrain around Mont Etna), when one can invade weakly defended and better situated Sardinia in 1942, which cannot be easily reinforced not evacuated?
     
  5. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Patton et al. fought gratuitously against the French (a neutral country) and in useless, distant and well defended territories. The allies had plenty of enemies, without the need to waste lives, time and resources fighting neutral countries. Invading Italian territory in order to be able to bomb and threaten the axis makes a lot more sense than landing Patton thousands of km from axis forces and having to fight neutral planes, coastal guns, tanks, troops, etc, Although ATL the allies are invading French Corsica, Ajaccio is infinitely better located to fight the axis than Casa Blanca or Oran and it has much weaker forces defending it.

    Invading Sardinia and Corsica in late 1942 (during the battle of Stalingrad) renders the Afrika Korps in Tunisia moot by threatening Italy and German forces in France and denying Rommel supplies with bombers from Sardinia (easily supplied) instead of from Malta (which OTL was hell to have to suply past Sardinia and Sicily) and too small to deploy large numbers of bombers.Sardinia and Corsica certainly put a lot more pressure on Italy and Germany (relieving pressure from the USSR and Yugoslavia)than invading Casa Blanca and Oran.

    Why invade strongly defended SIcily in 1943 at all (which the axis can readily reinforce and evacuate and has difficult terrain around Mont Etna), when one can invade weakly defended and better situated Sardinia and Corsica in 1942, which cannot be easily reinforced not evacuated? Sardinia and Corsica combined have a much larger area and are much better located than Sicily, yet much easier to invade.

    I find it incredible that Churchill wasted a large force and several months of a large fleet (including fleet carriers, a monitor, battleships, etc,) invading totally useless and poorly located French Madagascar and that the allies then wasted a huge force and precious time invading French N Africa in 1942, instead of invading 2 islands with crucial location. The allies then wasted huge forces and years invading Sicily and Italy for no gain at all. Then they landed in heavily fortified Normandy and could not advance through the hedgerows and finally they landed in the weak French Riviera with ridiculously low casualties and the ability to advance rapidly.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    NO. It was hardly "gratuitous" and it completely unhinged the Axis position in North Africa resulting in the elimination of all Axis forces on that continent. Furthermore I think you will find that many of the French were incorporated into the Free French forces. It also provided a relatively safe way to work out the kinks that were sure to exist with green US forces.

    Invading an island when you can't guarantee air superiority and when you opponent may well be able to do so is not a sound military procedure.

    As for Sicily it was an obvious stepping stone to Italy, in particular it allowed the forward basing of more allied aircraft for the invasion of Italy instead of serving as a base for Axis aircraft that could interfere with the same. It was hoped that they could cut off the forces on the island as well. In any case the defeat inflicted significant losses on the Axis powers as well.

    One sided analysis is usually poor analysis as you amply demonstrate.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The threat that Madagascar might become an IJN or KM base was considerable. If Vichy aircraft operating out of it had acted as spotters for Axis submarines and possibly even surface raiders it posed considerable threat to Indian ocean traffic. The forces involved were also relatively safe and not far from the action in the Med or Pacific so could be called on in an emergency. The allies did not waste the forces involved in the Sicily campaign, they were able to break out of the Normandy hedgerows, and the advance from the Rivera wasn't as fast as you seam to imply and it benefitted from the fighting in Italy and Normandy.

    I am amazed by the lack of understanding you demonstrate combined with the your assumptions of correctness.
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    double ditto....completely agree here.....can't add anything.....
     
  9. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    For the 3rd time, gratuitous refers to fighting neutral French forces in Morocco and Algeria, wasting huge resources and valuable time and taking casualties without inflicting any damage at all on the axis.

    Don't green American forces get more useful experience fighting the axis in Sardinia than fighting the French in Morocco? The Amercans were trounced in Casserine pass, because Patton was not there and they gained little experience., until Patton arrived.
    There were many green Canadian, American and British divisions in Sicily, Italy, Normandy anyway.

    If you understood French psychology, you would know that the French were more likely to join a very strong allied force in Sardinia & Corsica, poised to liberate France, than to join a landing force invading their colonies to fight in Tunisia. Eisenhower had to bribe Darlan et al. in order to induce them to join the allies.

    Rommel had had a ridiculously weak force in N Africa (much weaker than British forces). It was only when the allies landed in force in NW Africa, that he received a better equipped, stronger force. If the allies never land in NW Africa and land close to France and Italy in Sardinia and Corsica, Rommel will not be reinforced and Monty's very strong armor and aviation can liquidate his weak force and the supposedly experienced British force (although inxperienced Patton always performed better than experienced Monty, inexperienced Doolittle performed better than experienced leaders in bomber command and Wasp performed better than experienced carriers in the Med), can then join the liberation of France through the French Riviera.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's what you may be referring to it as but it is not correct. For one thing the fighting vs the French didn't last all that long did it? Nor were the resources wasted. One of the reasons for the selection of the invasion site was that it gave the allies a good chance of putting a large force ashore safely and setting up a decent log network before the Germans could do anything about it.

    The entire American army was essentially green at that point but lessons learned were quickly passed around so the command structure that landed at Normandy was in significantly better shape than the one that landed in North Africa. Lessons were indeed learned not only in spite of but perhaps because Patton wasn't there.

    As for lessons to be learned in Sardinia and/or Corsica. Learning how to swim/tread water better because your transport was sunk under you is not helpful nor is playing an Ensign Grey with allied flattops substituting for those of the IJN.

    PLS note that almost all of Rommel's reinforcements never made it out of North Africa and the Germans lost a fair amount trying to keep him in the game. Those losses would have been more difficult to inflict on the continent.

    I'm not really a great fan of Monty's but you are seriously under rating him IMO. PLS see any of the threads discussing/comparing the two of them.
     
  11. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    LWD and I are thinking the same thing......I'd be listening very hard if more than 1 person told me the same thing, if I was 'doing' something 'wrong'
    by the way, I've been to Sardinia and Corsica....I got lucky
    unless some1 said it, it appears there are more German airfields in range of Sardinia, than Sicily, no? or more encircling Sardinia?
    isn't Malta much closer to Sicily? what Allied airfields are close to Sardinia?
     
  12. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Patton was the most experienced and competent American general and he was forced to waste a long time in Morocco, while less experienced and competent men led Americans into battle and debacle against the axis. Invading Sardinia with the huge force spread out in Morocco and Algeria would have been faster than fighting gratuitously neutral forces. and then having to advance long distances to Tunisia. The huge effort wasted building airfields, port facilities, etc, in Africa (most of which were abandoned after Sicily was invaded) would have been put to much better use in Sardinia and Corsica, much closer to the axis. Defenses in Oran were stronger than in Sardinia and they sank American ships, there was nothing safe about landing in French Africa.

    War is not about capturing or killing millions of men (which you then have to transport and feed) war is about outmaneuvering the enemy. You do not fight where he is strong and holding useless and deifficult terrain (Tunisia, Sicily, Italy), but where he is weak and holding valuable terrain. Sardinia was much weaker than Tunisia, Sicily and Italy and much better located. The sickle cut involved limited losses on both sides and a very short time, that is what strategy does. Patton advanced rapidly with fewer losses, outflanking the enemy than Monty, who advanced slowly against strong forces and required ridiculous tonnage of bombs.

    Again, there were many completely green divisions in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, etc, and without allies in NW Africa, Rommel is not reinforced, so Monty's experienced force is available to invade France. First you state that French Africa was a walk in the park and then that it provided valuable experience. Fighting neutral Frenchmen thousands of km from the axis is like beating up a small neighbor who has done nothing to you, in order to get experience to fight a gansgter, who mugged you. You may beat the neighbor (though he may punch you a few times), but that will not prepare you at all for a gangster or a heavily reinforced Afrika Korps. The only way for green troops to gain experience fighting the Germans is to fight the Germans and they are in France, not in French Africa. Actually, many of the troops in France were less experienced than the Afrika Korps, so it makes more sens to attack them to gain valuable ground than to fight the French and the Afrika Korps to gain useless ground.
     
  13. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    It seems that all of your plans revolve around outmaneuvering the enemy?
     
  14. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    It is more likely that several people will draw the wrong conclusion than that one person will see the obvious. Every experienced, prestigious, high ranking general opposed and rejected the sickle cut, Hitler had to order them to implement it.

    In late 1942 the Germans are not in Vichy (which includes Corsica), they only moved into Vichy after Torch. There are weak Italian and German forces in Sardinia and airfields in Italy are much farther from Sardinia than from Sicily or Tunisia from Sicily. Sicily is a few km from Italy, so fighters and Stuka can be easily flown in.and then flown to Tunisia extracted and they were. The Widcats, etc, which fought the French would have been much more useful shooting down German bombers trying to stop the invasion. It is interesting that although German planes sank or damaged several RN carriers, Wasp managed two missions ferrying the first Spitfires to Malta without being attacked (Churchill kept 2 carriers busy invading Malta, so he requested American assiatnce). The Göring division, paratroopers, etc, were easily rushed into Sicily, but could not have been into Sardinia with the huge fleet used for Torch there. The fact that despite the huge allied navies and air forces, the allies could not stop reinforcement to and massive axis troop evacuation from Sicily illustrates the short distance that separates Sicily and the poor allied planning and use of resources. German troops caused a lot of casualties in Sicily and then simply withdrew to continue fightng in Italy. A lot of allied casualties for an island with worse location than weaker Sardinia & Corsica.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    If there is "one" person that will see the "obvious"...Your not him.

    Several others have noticed this before...

    Previously:
    http://www.ww2f.com/topic/2528-sardinia-and-corsica/

    And over at AHF:
    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=90028
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    What a load of tosh.
     
  17. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Given that 29th Panzer Grenadier, that was the German component of the Sardinia garrison, retreated to the mainland without much opposition despite the allied planes being already based in in Sicily and the mainland, not just Malta that is 200 Km further South, I very much doubt the Allies could prevent axis reinforcements to Sardinia and Corsica. And without French North Africa where do you want to base the supporting air Force ? Malta's capacity as limited and would be even more limited if supplies could not be carried there safely because of lack if control of the North African coast. Sardinia was a no go, taking the flatland around Cagliari was maybe possible, the rest of the island is very rough terrain though , Corsica would at least get some support from the locals, ad had no axis troops before Torch, though many Corsicans do not consider themselves French, but there is still a considerable Luftwaffe presence in Southern France, and there are troops in Sardinia that may be able to cross the narrow straits, worse Hitler may demand the Toulon fleet sails to interdict if Corsica is invaded, and the French would be in a very hard position to refuse. , ,
     
  18. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Tired,
    I think it was the 90th Panzer G. div, (not the 29th) in Sardinia and SS Reichsführer in Corsica in Sept 1943. These forces were not there in late 1942 and they withdrew to Corsica and France within 2 weeks of Italy's capitulation, before the allies arrived in force. At that time there was heavy fighting in Italy and little effort was put on destroying the German force. The 90th Panzer evacuated through Corsica.
    ATL the large fleets involved in Torch are deployed invading Corsica and Sardinia and Vichy still rules Med France (Germany will soon occupy it after the allied invasion of Corsica), so nothing can escape or arrive.

    OTL air support for Torch was provided in Morocco by carrier planes and in Oran, etc, by carrier planes and planes from Gibraltar. Twin engine planes from añta can support landings near Cagliari and carriers planes support landings throughout Sardinia and Corsica. As soon as an airfield and port are captured in Sardinia and Corsica, planes will begin operating there. Multi engine planes arriving from Gibraltar and single engine planes ferried by carriers from Gibraltar.

    From
    http://www.combinedops.com/Torch.htm
    Here are the impressive fleets involved wihich attacked French Africa in Torch and ATL are attackingthe axis:
    Western Naval Task Force: All United States Navy vessels. 3 battleships, 5 carriers, 7 cruisers, 38 destroyers, 8 fleet minesweepers, five tankers commanded by Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt with an accompanying Assault Force of 91 vessels including 23 'combat loaders' same as LSIs.
    Central Naval Task Force: Under Commodore T H Troubridge with the Largs, 2 carriers, 2 cruisers, 2 anti-aircraft ships, thirteen destroyers, six corvettes, eight minesweepers and various ancillary craft as well as the landing force.
    Eastern Task Force: Under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Harold Burrough with the Bulolo, 2 aircraft carriers, 3 cruisers, 3 anti-aircraft ships, a gun monitor, 13 destroyers, 3 submarines, 3 sloops, seven minesweepers and seven corvettes. As well as the landing forces.

    Other carriers can also be used, since Madagascar has finally fallen to Churchill and this invasion is actually against the enemy.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Doubtful...Only two British carriers were used: Illustrious & Indomitable. Illustrious remained in the Pacific. While Indomitable was transferred to Gibraltar in July, and heavily damaged during Operation Pedestal in August, she would head to the United States for repairs and would be there until after the new year(1943).


    You are missing some carriers, as there were 12 - Not 9 - that took part in Operation Torch. The British carriers were: Formidable, Victorious, Furious, Biter, Dasher, Argus, and Avenger. The American carriers were: Ranger, Sangamon, Chenango, Suwanee, and Santee.

    Quite frankly, the carriers are not all that impressive. If you notice, most of the carriers, 8 of 12, are the smaller CVEs that only carry 12-20 or so aircraft. One of the CVEs, the USS Chenango, was being used to ferry P-40s. The larger carriers, especially the British carriers, did not operate large air groups: Formidable had 42 aircraft(30 were fighters), Victorious had 42 aircraft(18 were fighters), Furious had 34 aircraft(24 were fighters), and the USS Ranger had 73 aircraft(54 were fighters).
     
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  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There was little air opposition to Torch, the French simply didn't have much that could intervene. The same cannot be said for Sardinia and Corsica. As for Sicily the allied airbases in North Africa were covering them with land based air. Carriers are fragile even a single bomb can prevent air operations for an extended period or even sink them, likewise transports and cargo ships tend to be rather fragile as well. Moving deep into an area subject to opposing airpower is not something to be undertaken lightly. Raids are one thing but if you are tied to slow transports and cargo ships you can expect significant losses unless you can thoroughly suppress the opposing air assets. The carrier airpower to do so in the vicinity of Corsica or Sardinia wasn't available at the time of Torch. Multi engine planes flying out of Gibraltar aren't going to be of much use.
     
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