The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2020 16:20

My view is they were already hemed into a narrow bridgehead in southern Italy. & From November 1943 without the wherewithal for littoral manuver to move beyond hemmed bridgeheads. Even in Nov 43 Kesselring possessed a robust reserve, more than Alexander could swiftly defeat with the ground and sea forces remaining to him.

Op DIADEM was the capstone to 5-6 months of bloody battles created from the inability to decisively manuver.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 23 Dec 2020 17:40

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2020 16:20
My view is they were already hemed into a narrow bridgehead in southern Italy. & From November 1943 without the wherewithal for littoral manuver to move beyond hemmed bridgeheads. Even in Nov 43 Kesselring possessed a robust reserve, more than Alexander could swiftly defeat with the ground and sea forces remaining to him.

Op DIADEM was the capstone to 5-6 months of bloody battles created from the inability to decisively manuver.
Oh, OK. I see things a bit different. That the Winter battles in Italy were more or less unnecessary. Diadem was what the Allies only should have been aiming for. But that took time to build up the forces to a level that was required for success - 8-9 fresh Allied divisions arrived between February and May - time to get the logistic situation on a firm footing, to get a carefully worked out plan, and to get the Spring weather.
Arguable that it was the break-out from the Anzio bridgehead that caused the Operation to become a decisive victory however.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2020 18:50

I'm looking at the attrition on the German 10th Army & Kesselrings AG in general from November through May. It appears Kesselring was in late March or early April, seeing the collapse of the winter line nearing and started making preparations for withdrawal. In the context of the attrition & a fundamental change in the Allied approach to breaking the winter line I'm skeptical a DIADEM type operation would have worked the same from a cold start in the spring.

Beyond all that the Allies were not able to use this ability to maneuver by sea to clear Italy faster & at a lower cost. Some good strategic reasons for that, but locally it confined Alexander to a bloody winter/spring battle, or doing nothing significant.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Dec 2020 01:24

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2020 18:50
I'm looking at the attrition on the German 10th Army & Kesselrings AG in general from November through May. It appears Kesselring was in late March or early April, seeing the collapse of the winter line nearing and started making preparations for withdrawal. In the context of the attrition & a fundamental change in the Allied approach to breaking the winter line I'm skeptical a DIADEM type operation would have worked the same from a cold start in the spring.

Beyond all that the Allies were not able to use this ability to maneuver by sea to clear Italy faster & at a lower cost. Some good strategic reasons for that, but locally it confined Alexander to a bloody winter/spring battle, or doing nothing significant.
Good points. It might well have been that had the allies mounted a more effective assault on Italy in 1943 the Germans might have withdrawn much further north and saved themselves from being sucked into an attritional battle. It helped the allied cause for six months of inconclusive fighting to take place south of Rome with Rome falling just before Op Overlord was launched. Maybe its a QAnon type conspiracy masterminded by Mark Clark.

Salerno and Anzio exposed the weakness of a three division assault force. Perhapos this is why monty and Eisenhower thumpoed the table for a bigger assult force for Op Overlord?

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Dec 2020 02:49

Sheldrake wrote:
24 Dec 2020 01:24
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2020 18:50
I'm looking at the attrition on the German 10th Army & Kesselrings AG in general from November through May. It appears Kesselring was in late March or early April, seeing the collapse of the winter line nearing and started making preparations for withdrawal. In the context of the attrition & a fundamental change in the Allied approach to breaking the winter line I'm skeptical a DIADEM type operation would have worked the same from a cold start in the spring.

Beyond all that the Allies were not able to use this ability to maneuver by sea to clear Italy faster & at a lower cost. Some good strategic reasons for that, but locally it confined Alexander to a bloody winter/spring battle, or doing nothing significant.
Good points. It might well have been that had the allies mounted a more effective assault on Italy in 1943 the Germans might have withdrawn much further north and saved themselves from being sucked into an attritional battle.
Rommel thought the Italian peninsula indefensible, recommending a September 43 withdrawal north of Rome and a final withdrawal to the Appinnes defending the Po valley region. One wonder how Alexander, Clark, Leese, & company would have done against that mountain range November 1943 - May 1944 ? As it was Hitler went with Kesselrings advice and authorized a defense south of Rome.
... Salerno and Anzio exposed the weakness of a three division assault force. Perhapos this is why monty and Eisenhower thumpoed the table for a bigger assult force for Op Overlord?
May have influenced them, but the original COSSAC plan of a three corps assault was based on a limit to just what was actually available in the UK for combat units and amphib lift. Ike had Carte Blanche to take whatever he could from all fronts/theatres & western hemisphere to make Op NEPTUNE work & work well. Note that COSSACs plans included Op ANVIL executed in April as a precursor to Op OVERLORD IN May, so actually a larger dual operation vs the single crack of Montys OVERLORD plan. Ike actually wanted to execute ANVIL as scheduled, but like SHINGLE the withdrawal of the amphib fleet made it impractical. Ike kept staff officers busy through February trying to make a shrinking ANVIL Op work, but finally canceled it in March 44. Churchill was delighted and drew fresh blue arrows all over the Balkans using the ground forces saved from the canceled Op ANVIL. Never mind there were no amphib ships to carry them. When Ike revealed his diabolical plan to revive Op ANVIL for August 44 Churchill went into another round of mania, sending off memos to Ike, Brooke, Marshal, & Roosevelt, how the new DRAGOON operation was doomed to failure, during resulting in horrible Allied losses. He argued for alternative operations in the Balkans that were certain to be easy, low cost, and of great strategic gain.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 24 Dec 2020 12:34

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2020 18:50
I'm looking at the attrition on the German 10th Army & Kesselrings AG in general from November through May. It appears Kesselring was in late March or early April, seeing the collapse of the winter line nearing and started making preparations for withdrawal. In the context of the attrition & a fundamental change in the Allied approach to breaking the winter line I'm skeptical a DIADEM type operation would have worked the same from a cold start in the spring.
Preparations for the 'Caesar' line - the last line before Rome - began in February, when work on the 'Hitler' line in the Liri valley was already well underway.
I'm unaware that any withdrawals beyond that were planned?
If attrition was the aim in the Winter battles was the aim of the Allies, I don't think it worked (and I don't think the ratio favoured the Allies).Von Vietinghoff, commander of AOK 10, on 7th April "declared that his divisions were amongst the best in the German army and that they had received more reinforcements than any others". On 23rd April the 'fighting strength' (presumaby Gefechtsstarke) of the divisions in his army averaged near 8,000 men each, which is pretty strong for German divisions in 1944 I understand. Diadem did, therefore, work from a more or less cold start.
Beyond all that the Allies were not able to use this ability to maneuver by sea to clear Italy faster & at a lower cost. Some good strategic reasons for that, but locally it confined Alexander to a bloody winter/spring battle, or doing nothing significant.
Only an amphibious ability and superior forces would have enabled the Allies to clear Italy faster and at lower cost. Without either Alexander should have confined his armies to do nothing significant over the Winter IMO.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Dec 2020 01:27

Gooner1 wrote:
24 Dec 2020 12:34
If attrition was the aim in the Winter battles was the aim of the Allies, I don't think it worked (and I don't think the ratio favoured the Allies).Von Vietinghoff, commander of AOK 10, on 7th April "declared that his divisions were amongst the best in the German army and that they had received more reinforcements than any others". On 23rd April the 'fighting strength' (presumaby Gefechtsstarke) of the divisions in his army averaged near 8,000 men each
From an operational point of view Italy was a side show in the single continuous engagement - the siege of Germany's Festung Europa. If Von Vettinghoff boasted that his had received more reinforcements than any others it suggests that Italy did draw resources that could have been more decisive elsewhere.
Only an amphibious ability and superior forces would have enabled the Allies to clear Italy faster and at lower cost. Without either Alexander should have confined his armies to do nothing significant over the Winter IMO.
Curiously that was what Stalin wanted the Western Allies to do - according to Brooke's diary.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Dec 2020 07:16

Gooner1 wrote:
24 Dec 2020 12:34
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2020 18:50
I'm looking at the attrition on the German 10th Army & Kesselrings AG in general from November through May. It appears Kesselring was in late March or early April, seeing the collapse of the winter line nearing and started making preparations for withdrawal. In the context of the attrition & a fundamental change in the Allied approach to breaking the winter line I'm skeptical a DIADEM type operation would have worked the same from a cold start in the spring.
Preparations for the 'Caesar' line - the last line before Rome - began in February, when work on the 'Hitler' line in the Liri valley was already well underway.
I'm unaware that any withdrawals beyond that were planned?
My understanding is Kesselring directed assorted staff in his HQ & Vettinghof to start planning or up dating their plans.
If attrition was the aim in the Winter battles was the aim of the Allies, I don't think it worked (and I don't think the ratio favoured the Allies).Von Vietinghoff, commander of AOK 10, on 7th April "declared that his divisions were amongst the best in the German army and that they had received more reinforcements than any others". On 23rd April the 'fighting strength' (presumaby Gefechtsstarke) of the divisions in his army averaged near 8,000 men each, which is pretty strong for German divisions in 1944 I understand. Diadem did, therefore, work from a more or less cold start.
Attrition was definitely not Alexanders, Leese, or Clarks aim. They were wanting a quick advance to the Liri valley & a further rush to Rome & beyond. WGF Jackson has the most coherent narrative of the Italian campaign I've read & he notes how each attack on the winter line was supposed to be the big breakthrough, or at least enable it. Attrition was the result of the November - March battles, but not what Alexander had aimed for.
Gefechtsstarke) of the divisions in his army averaged near 8,000 men each, which is pretty strong for German divisions in 1944 ...


Well, the armies in Rundsteadts two army groups were better than 80% strength & increasing in April. Of course they were not in combat beyond the occasional air raid. Kesselrings combat units were falling off from where most of these started in September 1943. Large scale replacements had arrived in the summer of 1943 after the end of the Tunisian campaign, and the Sicilian campaign had been fought as a economy of force operation. Not 100% successful, but Kesselrings advice in September to defend the peninsula was bolstered by the number of near full strength formations available in Italy that month. The winter attrition was not just in men. Vehicle replacements, ammunition, ect... were not keeping up with losses, at least at the battle front. The Italian railways were falling off in capacity & delivery of material to Italy did not equate to delivery to the 10th Army combat units. Like Rundsteadt in the same months Kesselring could see the decline in deliveries & the amounts of material stranded at intermediate stops creeping forward at a decreasing pace. Kesselring success in September-Oct also cost him a chance of the corps convalescing in norther Italy. Those were sent off to the east & to reinforce Rundsteadt.
Beyond all that the Allies were not able to use this ability to maneuver by sea to clear Italy faster & at a lower cost. Some good strategic reasons for that, but locally it confined Alexander to a bloody winter/spring battle, or doing nothing significant.
Only an amphibious ability and superior forces would have enabled the Allies to clear Italy faster and at lower cost. Without either Alexander should have confined his armies to do nothing significant over the Winter IMO.
Churchill would have been trying hard to replace him. I don't know Brookes opinion in this, but he seems to have done nothing effective to stop the understrength SHINGLE op.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Dec 2020 12:56

Sheldrake wrote:
25 Dec 2020 01:27
From an operational point of view Italy was a side show in the single continuous engagement - the siege of Germany's Festung Europa. If Von Vettinghoff boasted that his had received more reinforcements than any others it suggests that Italy did draw resources that could have been more decisive elsewhere.
Wasn't really a sideshow for Britain though. In September 1944 counting British, Commonwealth, Empire and British equipped Allied divisions there were 15 divisions in North West Europe and 17 divisions in Italy.
Perhaps the resources that the Italian campaign drew that would have been more decisive elsewhere, were British ones.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Dec 2020 13:20

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Dec 2020 07:16
Attrition was definitely not Alexanders, Leese, or Clarks aim. They were wanting a quick advance to the Liri valley & a further rush to Rome & beyond. WGF Jackson has the most coherent narrative of the Italian campaign I've read & he notes how each attack on the winter line was supposed to be the big breakthrough, or at least enable it. Attrition was the result of the November - March battles, but not what Alexander had aimed for.
Reminds me of Great War generalship - one more push etc. Certainly I don't think the attrition of those winter battles did the Allies any favours. Had Alexander decided to wait for the spring after the first failure on the Winter line, he would have had available at least an extra two divisions (British 46th and 56th Divisions had been withdrawn to Africa in March after their torrid experience from Salerno onwards) and probably more. Instead of the US shipping over replacements to flesh out their divisions, they may have shipped over complete divisions.
Gefechtsstarke) of the divisions in his army averaged near 8,000 men each, which is pretty strong for German divisions in 1944 ...

Well, the armies in Rundsteadts two army groups were better than 80% strength & increasing in April. Of course they were not in combat beyond the occasional air raid. Kesselrings combat units were falling off from where most of these started in September 1943. Large scale replacements had arrived in the summer of 1943 after the end of the Tunisian campaign, and the Sicilian campaign had been fought as a economy of force operation. Not 100% successful, but Kesselrings advice in September to defend the peninsula was bolstered by the number of near full strength formations available in Italy that month. The winter attrition was not just in men. Vehicle replacements, ammunition, ect... were not keeping up with losses, at least at the battle front. The Italian railways were falling off in capacity & delivery of material to Italy did not equate to delivery to the 10th Army combat units. Like Rundsteadt in the same months Kesselring could see the decline in deliveries & the amounts of material stranded at intermediate stops creeping forward at a decreasing pace. Kesselring success in September-Oct also cost him a chance of the corps convalescing in norther Italy. Those were sent off to the east & to reinforce Rundsteadt.
The Gefechtsstarke (fighting strength) of German divisions was typically 60%< of their total strength. The German front lines were still very strong at the beginning of Diadem despite Operation Strangle. Where Allied air power achieved its most useful success was, I think, in delaying German movements after the battle had begun.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Dec 2020 01:11

Gooner1 wrote:
28 Dec 2020 12:56
Sheldrake wrote:
25 Dec 2020 01:27
From an operational point of view Italy was a side show in the single continuous engagement - the siege of Germany's Festung Europa. If Von Vettinghoff boasted that his had received more reinforcements than any others it suggests that Italy did draw resources that could have been more decisive elsewhere.
Wasn't really a sideshow for Britain though. In September 1944 counting British, Commonwealth, Empire and British equipped Allied divisions there were 15 divisions in North West Europe and 17 divisions in Italy.
Perhaps the resources that the Italian campaign drew that would have been more decisive elsewhere, were British ones.
Interesting choice of date

The aim of OP Overlord was to create a lodgment area where the main force that would take on Germany on the western front would form up. The 35ish troops that had landed by 1st September were the advance guard. THe remainder of the US Forces in the continental US were due to be shipped to Europe.

The British forces in Italy were there for largely historic reasons. Shipping them to the UK would have been at the expense of US troops from America. It is a mistake to count divisions as these are merely receptacles for manpower and equipment. NW Europe had priority

However, during winter 1944-45 one British (5th Infantry) and two Canadian divisions were transferred from Italy to North West Europe. Many of the other British equipped troops in Italy were from small or irreplaceable manpower pools. The Poles, South Africans and New Zealanders were equipped to fight nin NW Europe, but did not have the manpower reserves. Replacement Indian army officers were hard to find. For obvious reasons the Italian Legions were best employed in Italy.

BTW I assume Gooner refers to the Arsenal. Does that mean you live somewhere north of the Thames and west of Alexandra Palace?

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 29 Dec 2020 12:57

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Dec 2020 07:16
Churchill would have been trying hard to replace him. I don't know Brookes opinion in this, but he seems to have done nothing effective to stop the understrength SHINGLE op.
In the Alanbrooke diaries I found this:

20 January 1944
"Operations in Italy going better. Oh! How I hope that the Rome amphibious operation [at Anzio] will be a success! I feel a special responsibility for it [as I] have resuscitated it after my visit to Italy and found things stagnating there. It may fail, but I know it was the right thing to do, to double the amphibious operation and carry on with the outflanking plan."

From that it seems that implementing Operation Shingle was mostly Alan Brooke's doing!
The other plan that was floating around for using those amphibious forces that would shortly be needed for Overlord, was for a landing on the Andaman Islands in the Indian ocean - Operation Buccaneer. Churchill may have favoured that. It may well have been a much better use of the forces.

I am beginning to think that Alan Brooke's great reputation largely rests on the victories of Montgomery in battle.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Gooner1 » 29 Dec 2020 15:29

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Dec 2020 01:11
Interesting choice of date

The aim of OP Overlord was to create a lodgment area where the main force that would take on Germany on the western front would form up. The 35ish troops that had landed by 1st September were the advance guard. THe remainder of the US Forces in the continental US were due to be shipped to Europe.

The British forces in Italy were there for largely historic reasons. Shipping them to the UK would have been at the expense of US troops from America. It is a mistake to count divisions as these are merely receptacles for manpower and equipment. NW Europe had priority
Yes, shipping may have been a consideration, though troops were being shipped to Italy from all over the world almost. British 46th and 56th divisions were both transported to Italy from the Middle East in July. It couldn't have imposed that much of an additional strain to have sent them to England instead.
Although NWE did have priority - no infantry replacements to Italy between June and September - by a reference to manpower distribution it seems not by much. At the end of September 1944 there were 714k British Army personel in 21st Army Group and 499k in Italy. Eisenhower, rightly IMO, gets criticised for failing to concentrate his forces in NW Europe but isn't this also true of the British? Backing major offensive operations in two (three incl. Burma) theatres whilst suffering something of a manpower crisis?
However, during winter 1944-45 one British (5th Infantry) and two Canadian divisions were transferred from Italy to North West Europe. Many of the other British equipped troops in Italy were from small or irreplaceable manpower pools. The Poles, South Africans and New Zealanders were equipped to fight nin NW Europe, but did not have the manpower reserves. Replacement Indian army officers were hard to find. For obvious reasons the Italian Legions were best employed in Italy.
Operation Goldflake. I expect Canada would have been happy to see all their troops united in a single army earlier than March 1945 though.
I think the New Zealanders had the manpower reserves and Monty had requested them and Freyberg for 21st Army Group but yes all the others lacked the manpower pools to undertake significant offensive operations. But then that was the preferred strategy of the US Chiefs of Staff for Italy anyway.
The solution to the manpower problem in the Italian theatre had been staring the Allies in the face since October 1943 however.
BTW I assume Gooner refers to the Arsenal. Does that mean you live somewhere north of the Thames and west of Alexandra Palace?
Tad south of the Ally Pally.

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Dec 2020 17:33

One reason the British had troops in Italy was because their senior commanders and political leaders thought there was merit in maintaining pressure in Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean even after D Day.

The 46th and 56th Divisions replaced the 1st and 5th Divisions fought out in Anzio

Hornsey or Crouch End? 144 or W3?

I live in Kentish Town and have a Covid job in Wood Green.

We could settle this discussion in the Kings Head Crouch End....

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Re: The Allies drew as many German divisions into Italy as Stalin had requested for a second front

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Dec 2020 07:18

Gooner1 wrote:
29 Dec 2020 12:57
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
25 Dec 2020 07:16
Churchill would have been trying hard to replace him. I don't know Brookes opinion in this, but he seems to have done nothing effective to stop the understrength SHINGLE op.
In the Alanbrooke diaries I found this:

20 January 1944
"Operations in Italy going better. Oh! How I hope that the Rome amphibious operation [at Anzio] will be a success! I feel a special responsibility for it [as I] have resuscitated it after my visit to Italy and found things stagnating there. It may fail, but I know it was the right thing to do, to double the amphibious operation and carry on with the outflanking plan."

From that it seems that implementing Operation Shingle was mostly Alan Brooke's doing!
The other plan that was floating around for using those amphibious forces that would shortly be needed for Overlord, was for a landing on the Andaman Islands in the Indian ocean - Operation Buccaneer. Churchill may have favoured that. ...
That certainly clarifies Brookes attitude, and helps explain why opposition from Wilson and Alexander was 'weak'. There is a narrative in this that concerns Churchill. On his way to the Terhan conference Churchill stopped at assorted HQ in the Mediterranean region. Visiting Alexanders HQ he asked what the plans were for winter offensives. He was shown a folder of outlines for several possible offensives. Churchill was enchanted by one that proposed a amphibious landing on the coast to capture Rome. He left a order or instructions to develop that plan for execution. Returning from Terhan Churchill stopped back again & directed the SHINGLE operation be executed posthaste. I'd have to check back to see if there is any mention of Brooke influencing Churchill in these two meetings/directives.

Most of this is from Atkinsons 'Day of Battle'. Im picking back through Jacksons narrative to see if anything pops up.

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