Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2020 08:46

Hi ljadw,

You post, "advance/fighting in NA was mostly done by soldiers marching on foot." That may have been true of most of the infantry fighting, but not of the advances. The British and German formations were usually fully motorised. Even most of the Italian divisions in North Africa were theoretically designed to be "autotrasportabile" even if they didn't have organic transport. Easier vehicle uplift was also one of the rationales of the small Italian binary division.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 15 Aug 2020 09:20, edited 4 times in total.

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 08:54

Urmel wrote:
14 Aug 2020 19:45
The BB convoys were futile gestures and a waste of perfectly good oil. They were an instrument chosen because the Regia Marina had no other means to demonstrate that it meant business (and nothing says 'I mean business' as taking a super dreadnought out as close escort, not matter how pointless).

A shortage of escorts was far far more important in restricting convoying capacity than a lack of oil for the BBs. The RM did not have the numbers of escorts, and those that it did have weren't well enough equipped until well into 1942 with e.g. means to conduct modern ASW.
Was there a shortage of escorts ?
From June 194 until January 1943 there were 993 convoys with a size of 1.9 ships and 2.2 escorts ( Source: Malta and British Strategic Policy 1925-1943 P 131 ).
Would there be more convoys if there were more escorts ?
Were more convoys needed ?
These convoys transported in 1941 1 million ton of which 160000 was lost,in 1942 1040000 ton of which 170000 was lost (Source :The Italian Navy in WWII P 343 ),did the Axis forces in NA need more supplies ?
More convoys were only possible if more supplies were available, if more supplies could be transported to the Italian ports,and there is no proof that this was possible .

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 09:14

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Aug 2020 08:46
Hi ljadw,

You post, "advance/fighting in NA was mostly done by soldiers marching on foot." That may have been true of most of the infantry fighting, but not of the advances. The British and German formations were fully motorised. Even the Italian divisions were theoretically designed to be "autotrasportabile" even if they didn't have organic transport. That was one of the rationales of the small Italian binary division.

Cheers,

Sid.
I disagree :
the number of trucks that could operate in NA was restricted by the small road capacity ,besides : fully motorised does not mean that every one was carried by truck ,and : last point : motorised forces (tanks, trucks ) advanced at the speed of the infantry,because they needed the protection of the infantry .Trucks were mostly used not to carry men, but to carry supplies .
In June 1941 total Italian strength in NA was 136000 of whom 61500 at the front , with 5270 working trucks .
The Ariete division had in November 1941 6,231 men and 633 serviceable motor vehicles .(The Italian soldier in NA P 9 ).
These trucks,motor vehicles were mostly used to transport supplies , not men .

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Urmel
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Urmel » 15 Aug 2020 10:23

ljadw wrote:
15 Aug 2020 08:54
Urmel wrote:
14 Aug 2020 19:45
The BB convoys were futile gestures and a waste of perfectly good oil. They were an instrument chosen because the Regia Marina had no other means to demonstrate that it meant business (and nothing says 'I mean business' as taking a super dreadnought out as close escort, not matter how pointless).

A shortage of escorts was far far more important in restricting convoying capacity than a lack of oil for the BBs. The RM did not have the numbers of escorts, and those that it did have weren't well enough equipped until well into 1942 with e.g. means to conduct modern ASW.
Was there a shortage of escorts ?
Yes.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2020 10:44

Hi ljadw,

NO, fully motorised means fully motorised. Allied divisions had their own organic transport. So did the main German divisions used in North Africa in 1941-42.

NO, it is not true that "motorised forces (tanks, trucks ) advanced at the speed of the infantry, because they needed the protection of the infantry." Motorised forces had their own organic motorised infantry elements for that. I think the Ariete, for instance, had 8th Motorised Bersaglieri Regiment. The infantry divisions were needed to consolidate a front already gained by the mechanized forces ahead of them.

The Italians knew they were short of vehicles, so they created the North African type divisione autotrasportabile. These were designed to be carried by vehicles, but did not have their own organic transport. That is one reason why their initial advance into Egypt was slow and was defeated by more truly mechanized Commonwealth forces. The Italian divisions each had to be shuttled forward by the same few trucks and once deployed lost their mobility.

Cheers,

Sid

Dili
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Dili » 15 Aug 2020 10:54

Those who claim that with more trucks and more oil Rommel could have gone to the Canal,forget that there was no road space for more trucks.
where you got that?

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 10:59

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Aug 2020 10:44
Hi ljadw,

NO, fully motorised means fully motorised. Allied divisions had their own organic transport. So did the main German divisions used in North Africa in 1941-42.

NO, it is not true that "motorised forces (tanks, trucks ) advanced at the speed of the infantry, because they needed the protection of the infantry." Motorised forces had their own organic motorised infantry elements for that. I think the Ariete, for instance, had 8th Motorised Bersaglieri Regiment. The infantry divisions were needed to consolidate a front already gained by the mechanized forces ahead of them.

The Italians knew they were short of vehicles, so they created the North African type divisione autotrasportabile. These were designed to be carried by vehicles, but did not have their own organic transport. That is one reason why their initial advance into Egypt was slow and was defeated by more truly mechanized Commonwealth forces. The Italian divisions each had to be shuttled forward by the same few trucks and once deployed lost their mobility.

Cheers,

Sid
Advancing tanks were mostly preceded by foot infantry and engineers,because motorised infantry is too vulnerable .That's why motorised forces were advancing at the speed of the infantry,unless the enemy totally had collapsed :after Alamein Montgomery advanced at the speed of 25 km per day .

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2020 11:14

Hi ljadw,

When I wrote eatlier.....

"Your approach seems to be similar to that of the Yugoslav General who opposed mechanization during the 1930s. When asked "Why?", he reportedly replied "Well, at least our bullocks can't run out of fuel"!

.....I thought I was being tongue in cheek! Now I think you might actually agree with him!

The logical extension of your argument is that no tactical trucks were therefore needed and that there was no such thing as mobile warfare. It was all footslogging infantry with a few attached tanks!

Infantry were needed to consolidate a front and help create a breakthrough. The subsequent rate of advance was largely dictated by the succeess, or otherwise, of the leading mechanized forces.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 11:33

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Aug 2020 06:41
Hi ljadw,

Your approach seems to be similar to that of the Yugoslav General who opposed mechanization during the 1930s. When asked "Why?", he reportedly replied "Well, at least our bullocks can't run out of fuel"!

You post, "Fuel shortages as such is meaningless, unless one can prove that the Italians would have done better without these shortages."

The mere fact that you are twice using the word "shortage" indicates that even you know there was a problem. "Shortage", by definition, means there was not enough oil for Italian purposes.

The rationale is also ridiculous. It is the equivalent of saying that the proposition that the 300 Spartans were short of men at Thermopylae is "meaningless, unless one can prove" they "would have done better without these shortages." it is certainly theoretically possible that the Spartans might have used an extra 6,000 hoplites unproductively, but is it really likely?

You ask, "If the RM had more oil, would the convoy losses have been less than 15%"?

Given that the article says "The crisis worsened with only 3,000 tons received in February 1943 and in March and April the modern destroyers had to be removed from escort missions" I think we can safely say that it is rather more likely than not. The Italians clearly thought so, because they put them back on convoy service the following month.

You ask, "And if so, would this have helped the Axis?" Yes, I think we can say with some confidence that having less of their military equipment sitting at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea would definitely have helped the Axis!



Cheers,

Sid.
1 Less supplies is not always a bad thing,because the usefulness of supplies depends on the possibility to use them : if you have less tanks, you need less POL for your tanks and less tank ammunition .
Blindly focusing on the number of supplies is not a good thing .
2 More oil does not mean more escorts or more convoys and more escorts does not mean less convoy losses .When the modern destroyers were removed from escort missions,did this result in less convoys and more convoy losses .
3 I doubt that less military equipment sitting at the bottom of the Mediterranean would have helped the Axis, as it is very possible that the amount of supplies that arrived at the NA ports was the best number that was possible and that more supplies would have hurt the Axis in NA : more supplies are useful only if they can be used .
What would the Axis have done with a double amount of fuel, or with a double amount of trucks ? If more fuel is available, you need also more trucks to transport the fuel,and if you receive more trucks, you need also more fuel .
On June 1 1942,Ariete had 6600 men and 137 tanks ;would Ariete be stronger with 237 tanks ?

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2020 11:44

Hi ljadw,

Yes, "the usefulness of supplies depends on the possibility to use them". Similarly, the absence or shortage of supplies limits one's possibility to use them.

Yes, "More oil does not mean more escorts or more convoys and more escorts does not mean less convoy losses." On the other hand an absence or shortage of oil, escorts and convoys is definitely likely to make it less likely that supplies will get through.

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 11:50

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Aug 2020 11:14
Hi ljadw,

When I wrote eatlier.....

"Your approach seems to be similar to that of the Yugoslav General who opposed mechanization during the 1930s. When asked "Why?", he reportedly replied "Well, at least our bullocks can't run out of fuel"!

.....I thought I was being tongue in cheek! Now I think you might actually agree with him!

The logical extension of your argument is that no tactical trucks were therefore needed and that there was no such thing as mobile warfare. It was all footslogging infantry with a few attached tanks!

Infantry were needed to consolidate a front and help create a breakthrough. The subsequent rate of advance was largely dictated by the succeess, or otherwise, of the leading mechanized forces.

Cheers,

Sid.
The breakthrough is created by infantry and artillery,mechanized forces are exploiting the breakthrough .
Artillery has more firepower, but less mobility and manpower .
Infantry has more manpower,but less firepower and mobility.
Cavalry/tanks has less manpower,less firepower but more mobility .
In WWII at the same time more firepower,more manpower,more mobility was not possible .

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Urmel
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Urmel » 15 Aug 2020 12:01

Dili wrote:
15 Aug 2020 10:54
Those who claim that with more trucks and more oil Rommel could have gone to the Canal,forget that there was no road space for more trucks.
where you got that?
That’s... new and... unexpected...
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 12:05

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Aug 2020 11:44
Hi ljadw,

Yes, "the usefulness of supplies depends on the possibility to use them". Similarly, the absence or shortage of supplies limits one's possibility to use them.

Yes, "More oil does not mean more escorts or more convoys and more escorts does not mean less convoy losses." On the other hand an absence or shortage of oil, escorts and convoys is definitely likely to make it less likely that supplies will get through.
You forget the role of the enemy !!
Less escorts does not mean more losses .
Less convoys/less supplies does not mean more losses
An example :
September 1941 94114 ton was sent and 67513 ton arrived .
In October 1941 less was sent 92449,but more arrived :73614
During the Battle of the Atlantic,a number of very fast sailing convoys were sent without escorts and arrived without losses .
The role /presence of the enemy is forgotten in most cases .Most Mediterranean /Atlantic convoys were not intercepted,not attacked and most attacks resulted in small losses only .
The factor chance is also mostly forgotten .
The attack on a convoy depended on its discovery and on the presence of forces to attack the convoy .
The presence of a big escort does not mean that the convoy is saved .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2020 12:19

Hi ljadw,

Yes, "the usefulness of supplies depends on the possibility to use them". Similarly, the absence or shortage of supplies limits one's possibility to use them. I know which situation I'd prefer!

Yes, "More oil does not mean more escorts or more convoys and more escorts does not mean less convoy losses." On the other hand an absence or shortage of oil, escorts and convoys is definitely likely to make it less probable that supplies will get through. Again, I know which situation I'd prefer!

You "doubt that less military equipment sitting at the bottom of the Mediterranean would have helped the Axis"? One wonders why they bothered to send it in the first place!

You ask, "What would the Axis have done with a double amount of fuel, or with a double amount of trucks ?" Mounted double the amount of operations and put the British under double the amount of pressure?

You post, "..... it is very possible that the amount of supplies that arrived at the NA ports was the best number that was possible". Well as we know some of it was sunk, I think we can dicount that possibility!

You post, "it is very possible .....more supplies would have hurt the Axis in NA." How so? Are you suggesting that the British would have been better advised to let 100% of Axis supplies through? You are certainly original!

You post, "if more fuel is available, you need also more trucks to transport the fuel, and if you receive more trucks, you need also more fuel" Yup. Your point is? (This reminds me of a section in John Masters' memoirs. At staff college he got marked down in a staff college test on divisional establishments for forgetting to include the driver of the truck that carried the fuel for the trucks that carried the division's fuel.)

You ask, "On June 1 1942,Ariete had 6600 men and 137 tanks ;would Ariete be stronger with 237 tanks ?" Hmmmm......., a tough one, but I am going to go with "Yes".

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 15 Aug 2020 12:25, edited 3 times in total.

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 15 Aug 2020 12:21

Urmel wrote:
15 Aug 2020 12:01
Dili wrote:
15 Aug 2020 10:54
Those who claim that with more trucks and more oil Rommel could have gone to the Canal,forget that there was no road space for more trucks.
where you got that?
That’s... new and... unexpected...
That's not new : the only paved road that could be used was the Via Balbia,and traffic on this road was limited .
If more trucks,tanks had to be used,more road space was needed, otherwise you would have big congestions .It was also so in Russia. Our modern societies with millions of automobiles need more roads than their ancestors with thousands of automobiles.
Before the war Italy had 350000 cars and trucks and thus few roads .Now it has 39 million cars and thus more roads .
In 1940 Italy had 7000 cars in Libya, there would be no place for 70000 cars .

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