Who was the Italian Theatre 43-45 a greater drain on?

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Delta Tank
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Who was the Italian Theatre 43-45 a greater drain on?

Post by Delta Tank » 21 Oct 2005 20:14

JonS wrote:
I believe that we were expanding more resources in Italy that the Germans were in defending it.

While a small theatre - very small by comparison with the EF - Italy was nevertheless a significant drain on Germany. Germany maintained an average of well over 20 divisions there throughout the campaign, some of which were amongst the stongest and best they had. Also, from late 1944, the Germans were maintaining more divisions in Italy than the Allies were.

In terms of raw tonnage you're probably right that the Allies expened more in Italy than the Germans. However, it was tonnage the Allies could better afford. At a strategic level, the ROI was all in the Allies favour.

Er, sorry about the O/T diversion

Regards
JonS
JonS,

Thanks for pointing out my error! What do they call that a Freudian Slip? And just think that mistake was made before drinking a beer! I thought that there were only about 8 or 9 German divisions in Italy? Oh well my memory fades.

Mike

P.S. I did go back and correct the error.

Edited by moderator namesake to include first post on thread. Mea Culpa. Hope it all still makes sense. Jon, moderator

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Post by Andreas » 23 Oct 2005 21:03

Split from D Day discussion, feel free to edit the title.

All the best

Andreas

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Gerry Chester
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Post by Gerry Chester » 24 Oct 2005 01:55

Field Marshal Alexander's summation is well worth reading. See:
http://www.nih.ww2site.com/nih/Document ... ofDay.html

Cheers, Gerry

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Post by Jon G. » 26 Jan 2006 18:36

JonS wrote:
I believe that we were expanding more resources in Italy that the Germans were in defending it.
While a small theatre - very small by comparison with the EF - Italy was nevertheless a significant drain on Germany. Germany maintained an average of well over 20 divisions there throughout the campaign, some of which were amongst the stongest and best they had. Also, from late 1944, the Germans were maintaining more divisions in Italy than the Allies were.
This question certainly begs further scrutiny. I've been wondering how best to measure up which side expended more resources in Italy. It's true that the Germans seem to have kept an overall slightly larger number of divisions in Italy than the Allies did, but then a straight count of divisions doesn't tell the whole story either. For one thing, German divisions in Italy were notoriously understrength, particularly towards the end of the war - but then they probably weren't anymore understrength than German divisions elsewhere. Also, given the shorter line of communication, it was probably cheaper for the Germans to maintain a division in Italy than it was for the Allies.

I'm also unsure if/how RSI divisions and blackshirt brigades should be counted in the Axis total. The entry for 'summer 1944' on the page I linked to maintains that the Germans maintained 25 divisions in Italy at that time - but as far as I can see AOKs 10 and 14 at no time had more than 22 divisions between them in the summer of 1944, so the balance is presumably made up of blackshirts and maybe also the 16th SS. As far as I know the original four RSI divisions only became active by late 1944.

Maybe a straight hand-count of AOK 10 and 14 division-months held against 5th and 8th Army division-months from Sept. 1943 to April 1945 would give a better picture of who spent more manpower resources in Italy.
In terms of raw tonnage you're probably right that the Allies expened more in Italy than the Germans. However, it was tonnage the Allies could better afford. At a strategic level, the ROI was all in the Allies favour.
I'm certain that the Allies used far more shipping in the Med than the Germans did calculated from Sept. 1943, but on the other hand Allied tonnage spent there should be held against the much larger amount of tonnage the Allies would have needed if the Mediterranean was not open for shipping to and from the Far East.

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Post by tigersqn » 26 Jan 2006 19:37

JonS wrote:
I believe that we were expanding more resources in Italy that the Germans were in defending it.
While a small theatre - very small by comparison with the EF - Italy was nevertheless a significant drain on Germany. Germany maintained an average of well over 20 divisions there throughout the campaign, some of which were amongst the stongest and best they had. Also, from late 1944, the Germans were maintaining more divisions in Italy than the Allies were.

Regards
JonS
One musn't forget the extra German divisions sent to the Balkans and southern France as a result of the US entry into the Mediterranean.

Douglas Porch explains in his "The Path to Victory" that as many as 700 000 German and Axis troops were garrisoned along the northern rim of the Med to guard against a possible Allied incursion.
Of course some of these units would have been there anyway to fight the Yugo partisans.

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Post by Panzerfaust XxX » 08 Feb 2006 01:07

I think Italy did more harm than good... Italy was the reason why the invasion of the USSR because of the face Mussolini was such a idoit invading Greece... The Italian troops where not equiped with winter gear and where not even given maps! And the whole Italian "adventure" in Africa was another drain. There where a few cases in Russia of failure that the Germans suffered greatly for...

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 10 Feb 2006 15:58

If it hadn't been for Italy's entering the war, and the subsequent African and Italian campaigns, the British and Americans would have been ready to launch Operation Overlord in June 1943 instead of June 1944.

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Post by tigersqn » 10 Feb 2006 17:18

Tim Smith wrote:If it hadn't been for Italy's entering the war, and the subsequent African and Italian campaigns, the British and Americans would have been ready to launch Operation Overlord in June 1943 instead of June 1944.

Thank God Italy entered the war then.
As exhibited in the North African Campaign, the US (and some may even say the British) was in no way ready to face the cream of the Geman armed forces on the European continent in 1943.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 10 Feb 2006 23:12

tigersqn wrote:
Tim Smith wrote:If it hadn't been for Italy's entering the war, and the subsequent African and Italian campaigns, the British and Americans would have been ready to launch Operation Overlord in June 1943 instead of June 1944.

Thank God Italy entered the war then.
As exhibited in the North African Campaign, the US (and some may even say the British) was in no way ready to face the cream of the Geman armed forces on the European continent in 1943.
Agreed. Rommel spent two years giving the British lessons in modern mobile warfare (which they shouldn't have needed, since they more or less invented it...but that's another thread), then he gave the Americans a lesson or two on the way out of Africa. Sicily and Salerno were useful learning grounds too.

Michael

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Post by alf » 11 Feb 2006 05:18

Tim Smith wrote:If it hadn't been for Italy's entering the war, and the subsequent African and Italian campaigns, the British and Americans would have been ready to launch Operation Overlord in June 1943 instead of June 1944.
I disagree, nothing exists in a vacumn, it wasn't until May/June 1943 that the allies finally countered the U Boats. Getting the supplies and troops to Britian before that date would have been fraught with danger and serious casualties.

As for Rommel teaching, yes he did but he always had the British plans with him. His SIGNIT allowed him full access always to what the 8th Army was going to do, what their strengths, dispositions were etc. That disappeared in July 1942 and strangely enough so did a lot of his tactical brillance. Much of the myth of Rommel was to protect his intelligence sources . His source? The US State Department Codes and the US Military Attache to the 8th Army Bonner Feller. The codes were stolen by the Italians in May 1941 in Rome and used superbly by Rommel.

A good what if would be if the US State Depatrment had bothered to change their codes when war was declared, Rommels access to such detailed information would have dried up.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 11 Feb 2006 08:04

alf wrote:As for Rommel teaching, yes he did but he always had the British plans with him. His SIGNIT allowed him full access always to what the 8th Army was going to do, what their strengths, dispositions were etc.
Not entirely. Operation Crusader managed to catch him by surprise. In fact, IIRC, it took him a couple of days to catch on that a major offensive was underway. You are surely correct that his signals intercept group very often gave him a great tactical edge, but if there happen to be no signals for them to intercept...

Michael

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NOT LIKE THE ROMANS

Post by Fallschirmjäger » 11 Feb 2006 08:16

Imagine if they had been like the romans europe could have been all axis?,there where some good italian units,but i think more bad ones,there equipment was pretty good,just a lot of the soldiers didnt have the fighting spirit for the axis powers.They where a major drain on germany and its allies,for not fighting hard enough,all there equipment,resourses could have mean a big difference if the people behind them where more for supporting the axis.They helped the allies in so many ways that they didnt know realy i think. :|

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Post by JonS » 12 Feb 2006 21:53

Michael Emrys wrote:
alf wrote:As for Rommel teaching, yes he did but he always had the British plans with him. His SIGNIT allowed him full access always to what the 8th Army was going to do, what their strengths, dispositions were etc.
Not entirely. Operation Crusader managed to catch him by surprise. In fact, IIRC, it took him a couple of days to catch on that a major offensive was underway. You are surely correct that his signals intercept group very often gave him a great tactical edge, but if there happen to be no signals for them to intercept...

Michael
There were actually two main sources he used - Bonner Fellers, via the Italians, and his own radio intercept group. As can be imagined, BF primarily provided strategic and operational intel, while the RIG provided tactical and operational intel.

When Rommel lost both sources suddenly in the Summer of 1942 his success ratio equally suddenly dropped to about zero. You could say that was due to the loss of these sources, I suppose, but that seems like a kindergarten level of analysis. Undoubtedly it is part of the reason, but strained logistics, increasingly dire odds ratios, the entry of US kit and forces (incl directly in Egypt), improving kit on the CW side, a solid defensive posn and the will to hold it, probably all had a role to play too.

Regards
Jon

Topic & post edited by moderator namesake. Topic title has now been changed. Regards, Jon, moderator

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Post by Kingfish » 24 Feb 2006 02:47

Jon G. wrote:Maybe a straight hand-count of AOK 10 and 14 division-months held against 5th and 8th Army division-months from Sept. 1943 to April 1945 would give a better picture of who spent more manpower resources in Italy.
IIRC, there were 22 German and 4 Italian Fascist divisions facing 17 Allied and 6 Italian combat groups at the start of the Spring offensive in '45, this from my fuzzy memory of B.H. Liddel Hart's "History of the Second World War".

At first glance it would appear the Germans had a slight edge, but once you start breaking down the numbers and getting into actual fighting troops, tanks and artillery pieces the ratio was actually something like 2:1 in the allies favor.

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Post by Jon G. » 24 Feb 2006 03:34

Hi Kingfish, do you know if the 29th Waffen-SS 'Waffen-Grenadier' Division would be part of the 22 German divisions, or if it should be counted among the 4 Italian fascist divisions?

You're definitely right that German divisions, notoriously understrength, would count fewer men than Allied divisions, at least by spring 1945. Regardless, the Allies also had manpower shortages in Italy, perhaps more so than elsewhere.

In the air the Germans were outnumbered by something like 30:1, but that seems to have been the same as everywhere else.

The German forces in Italy were self-sustaining to a certain degree. For example, Northern Italy's industry produced all the trucks the Germans needed in the theater. But of course the Allied presence in Italy meant that those trucks couldn't be put to use elsewhere, assuming that the Germans would have had complete control with Italian production output also if the Allies had not landed in Italy.

I suspect that the most immediately felt drain on German resources was all the Italian occupation troops in the Balkans and Greece that had to be replaced by German troops.

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