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Was the Med a sideshow?

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by Mahross, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. OpanaPointer

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

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    I've lived or slept on Vesuvius, Etna, Fuji-san, Pinatubo, Kilimanjaro, Diamond Head, the Big Island, and a few more.
     
  2. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Yeah, I smell bias.....or is that sulphur?

    Edit: I've camped in Yellowstone a few times.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

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

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    Size matters! :eek:
     
  4. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I wanted to follow-up my earlier post with some additional citations that, for me, seem to clarify Brooke's thoughts and attitude on Italy.

    In his book The Second World War, Beevor asserts, "After all his forebodings, Brooke was satisfied. His [Italian invasion] plan to disperse German strength before the cross-Channel invasion had been accepted." Now, Beevor doesn't give any sources to back up his assertion, but it sounds consistent with other things I've read.

    In Organizer of Victory, Pogue also portrays Brooke as using Italy to draw Germany into dispersing their forces:

    [​IMG]


    Nevertheless, he notes that Eisenhower clearly viewed the unified opinion to be that France would be the decisive front, Italy not.

    [​IMG]


    In the above quotation I note that Wilson's motives are to be a good lieutenant to Churchill's dream while advancing his own more limited objectives--but the rest of the staff knew better.

    After the war, Brooke is quoted on the subject of advancing up through Italy and into the Balkans:

    “I [Brooke] never supported Winston or Alex in that maneuver, because it didn’t seem feasible . . ” he said in 1961. “There is no doubt,” he continued, “that Winston had a Balkan liking . . and he used to make matters rather difficult for me with Marshall with statements he would make, which Marshall would often think were inspired by me, and they were not inspired by me at all.” — Organizer of Victory, F.C. Pogue

    This is why I think that Churchill may have had aspirations (after the Italian invasion) to drive further North and East, but I think Brooke was more realistic. And perhaps his thoughts on the subject have been misrepresented as he asserts (long after the war) above.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Interesting little phrase there, "...he (Churchill) considered it possible to gain decisive results in Italy by a drive across the Po..." First you have to get to the Po! We were building a huge mechanized force and the last place in the world to send a modern mechanized army is Italy-or the Balkans. The terrain, lack of a sufficient road net, combined with a courageous and skillful enemy meant that it would not be a "drive to the Po", but a long hard slog with heavy casualties. Didn't Churchill have an Atlas? If ever there was a country that was designed to be defended from an invader from the south, it was Italy!
     
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  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I think the OP phrased it well, calling the Med a subsidiary theater, which it was, but subsidiary does not exclude the possibility of making a significant contribution. Few things would have benefitted Hitler more than having his southern flank neutral and secure. Instead he was saddled with an ongoing and growing commitment, a running sore draining away resources from the essential goal of his war effort. Mussolini's entry into the war was a rare case in which gaining an ally reduced someone's chances of winning.

    What Brooke and other advocates of the Italian campaign overlook is that "compel[ling] Hitler to reinforce his line there" required a comparable or greater commitment of Allied troops. A diversion is only of value if it diverts more of the enemy's combat power than one's own. For much of the campaign, the Allies had more divisions in Italy than the Germans, with more supporting units and vastly greater requirements for supplies, especially when on the offensive. The Italian terrain was highly defensible; if the Germans had picked a place to tie down Allied troops, they could hardly have chosen a better.

    Most of what benefit there was for the Allies had been achieved by the end of 1943. Italy was out of the war, some German troops were tied down, the Mediterranean sea route was open, air bases including heavy bombers were established, Naples and other ports were open, and the Allies could support the partisans in Yugoslavia. Sardinia and Corsica were in Allied hands, providing bases for the eventual landing in southern France. There was little to be gained by slogging up the peninsula except attrition, as much on the Allies' side as the Axis.
     

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