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Was invading Italy necessary?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Riter, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Riter

    Riter Member

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    Granted Mark Clark failed to cut off the German Army after Cassino and took Rome, an open city, instead. Alexander was not happy with Clark's grab for glory.

    A lot of units were ground down in the mountainous warfare that characterized Itlay. Should the Italian boot have been avoided altogether after Sicily? One benefit was the drawing off of units from Citadelle (Kursk) for Italy. But would it have been wiser to have taken Sardania and Corsica (liberated in 1943) as a springboard for France in 1943 in an earlier version of Dragoon (Aug 1944)?
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Most of the benefit of invading Italy had been achieved by the time the Allies secured the Naples-Foggia area: Italy had changed sides, forcing the Germans to replace Italian troops in the Balkans; air forces could attack eastern Europe and southern Germany; the Yugoslav partisans could be supported, etc.

    Sardinia and Corsica had fallen into Allied hands almost incidentally, not obviously in preparation for an invasion of southern France - so that might indeed have been the best next step
     
  3. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    Well-Equipped, Crack German units were transferred to the Italian front, taking materiel and veterans from the Eastern Front. It was also helpful for the Air war, and it forced Germany to replace Italian troops and as a result fight Partisans as well in Italy. Hitler would have rather fought the Allies on Italian soil than Reich soil, which is why he had up to 25 divisions in the theater. Pretty much was Carronade said.
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    What, half a million German troops engaged in Italy?
    Associated armour, aircraft, transport etc.

    Serious Northern European landings that would directly press Germany impossible for at least another year.

    Italy's future actions uncertain.

    Seems unwise to not apply pressure on manpower & materiel that might otherwise be occupied elsewhere.

    Without holding the Italian mainland, Sardinia & Corsica likely a liability to defend.
     
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Would anyone really fancy landing in Southern France with an entire belligerent nation at your right flank either?
    From Sicily upwards, no strategic land flank.

    Alanbrooke diary, 15/12/42:
    "We finished our paper refuting PM's argument for a Western front in France & pressing for a Mediterranean policy aiming at pushing Italy out of the war & Turkey into it. By these means we aim at relieving the maximum possible pressure off Russia. Clark Kerr, the ambassador in Moscow, gave us an hour on his views of Stalin's reactions if we do not start a Western front in France. He argued that such a course might well lead to Stalin making a separate peace with Hitler. I refuse to believe such a thing is possible, and fail to see how any common agreement could ever be arrived at between them which would not irreparably lower the prestige of one or the other in the eyes of their own people"

    Who'd be a grand strategist, eh. Everything connects to everything else in ways that only a few are aware of, and every decision is pressed through against 100 contrary ideas with absolutely no benefit of hindsight.
     
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  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    There have been several counterfactual discussions on Italy.

    The short answer is no.

    #1 The Italian campaign led to the defection of Italy, resulting in the Germans assigning dozens of divisions to the Balkans to replace Italian troops. A quiet Italian front might allow the the Axis time to revitalise the Italian armed forces.

    #2 The Italian campaign was a successful side show sucking in twenty German divisions against an allied force already deployed in a theatre where the Germans could not evict them. The ETO and MTO were linked. It did not matter whether the twenty divisions were pre-deployed in France or Italy.

    #3 An early Op Dragoon would risk becoming an ill timed Anzio. sucking resources from Op Overlord. Oh and the Germans have an extra twenty divisions in two armies to oppose it.
     
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  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Two really good reasons:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Riter

    Riter Member

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    Vino and warm weather. Denial of good things to the enemy.
     
  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Member

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    We may well have tied down good German Divisions but they did a very good job in tying us down.

    We should give General George Marshall the last word:

    'Italy is not worth the blood of single Minnesota National Guardsman.'

    Regards

    Frank
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    jon.jpg__345x300_q85.jpg
    DSC_0458_1024x1024.jpg
    large_000000 (1).jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Nope. Marshall was a politically astute american general. It suited him to argue that the only strategy should have been a frontal attack across the Channel.

    Brooke, who had British interests at heart, deserves the last words.

    "The Italian theatre was essential to render the cross channel assault possible, and consequently the two operations were inter-dependent. By giving full priority to the cross channel preparations you might well cripple the Italian theatre and thus render it unable to contain the necessary forces to render the cross-channel operation Possible" (Diary note 15 August 1943)

    ....and back on topic about the idea put forward by Roosevelt in Nov 1943 to launch Op Dragoon with six divisions in April 1944

    " To cease operations before Rome would at once free reinforcements to meet our six divisions .... and allow a whole month for their annihilation" (Diary Note 30 Nov 1943)
     
  12. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    The Campaign in Italy was full of great moments!

    Just ask Spike Milligan.....oh no he's dead, but you can read what happened to his artillery unit in Italy in "Mussolini, His Part in My Downfall"

    Featuring great moments in the campaign like....

    The outbreak of "crabs" amongst the wireless repairmen, treated by stripping them all naked, pushing them into an otherwise empty room withonly cotton swabs and polish tins full of RAW ALCOHOL, which they were instructed to "apply liberally" to all infected parts The affected spldiers spent the next hour or so running around the room with testicles at an average temperature about 60 degrees celcius.

    Or.....a break in communications forces the gunners to trace their line of sight to target (Mount Mango) by looking down the barrel as one does with a pistol, pushing the barrel of the artillery piece "up a bit for range", and then firing away.....and they were getting shells bang on target!!

    or....the officers billet catches fire, and all the officers run back to throw all their "kit" out of the billet and away from the flames. Gunner Pills sneaks around to the back of the pile and throws every single piece of clothing and equipment back into the fire again. Even the battery Major's flute is not spared, and every officer had to wear charcoaled and tattered uniforms for four days before replacements could be found....

    Ah yes, forgotten moments from the Forgotten Army in a Forgotten Campaign
     
  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Member

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    The Guardsmen of Maj Bill Dugdale's 5 GREN GDS Rifle Company stop in a plum orchard one evening in the late Summer of 1944. After months on compo, the Guardsmen devour the fresh fruit that evening. In the morning, as the Company is preparing for an attack, Maj Dugdale's Company Sergeant Major reports to him that every soldier has the screaming squits and cannot go into the attack. Maj Dugdale comes up with an ingenious solution - the Guardsmen will attack without any underwear or trousers on! And they do.

    F
     
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  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Saying someone had British or any other national interests at heart makes their comments less credible, not more.

    The landings in France were the fundamental operation of the war in the war in the west. That is not a British, American, French, or any other opinion, just the fact.

    Italy was a hard slog to a dead end. Even if the Allies reached the Po valley sooner, pressing into the Balkans would show Stalin that his "allies" were as much interested in forestalling him as in defeating the common enemy. In the best case scenario, western troops from Italy would make a small contribution to the Soviet drive into Germany.

    The Dragoon landing force would be no more subject to annihilation than Salerno, Anzio, or Normandy. They would be in for a similar tough fight, with similar ultimate results. It wouldn't be any harder than "operations before Rome" i.e. beating themselves up against the Cassino line. The difference is that an earlier Dragoon had the prospect of achieving something useful. The southern French ports were vital to the logistics of the campaign which ultimately defeated Germany in the west.
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Looks like the Highlanders had the right idea!
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Sorry but the opposite is true.

    Chiefs of the General Staff are appointed because they are the senior military professionals answerable to their political leaders. They serve their country's national interests and those of their institutions.

    There were sound political and strategic reasons for Marshall to push for a direct cross channel assault. It was the embodiment of Germany First. Any admission that the cross channel attack would not take place until 1944 might result in efforts diverted to the Pacific, and a win for the competition- the Navy. It was in keeping with American military tradition of the direct approach. - the march on Richmond. (Though that war was won by an indirect approach in the west.)

    There were sound reasons for Brooke to reject a direct approach in 1942-43 which would disproportionately risk the last formed British Army.

    Coalition warfare is difficult because the parties have different interests. The Anglo-American coalition that waged WW2 was one of the more successful.
     

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