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Subject: 1939 the Allies Attack, Knocking Italy out of the War
Godofgamblers    5/15/2007 1:05:38 AM
1939, Hitler's forces ravage Poland while the West looks on... but could it have gone differently? What if the French attacked Italy in the South, pushing through Torino, Milano, Verona and Venice? Italy would have been cut in two, and let's face it, Mussolini would have fallen, maybe even at the hands of his own people. Faced with this sudden aggressive action by the Allies, Hitler may have thought twice about attacking. With his Southern flank exposed in Austria, most of his armor destroyed in Poland and his forces deployed in the East, he may have given up his plans of war against the West. The West would be forced to accept the fait accompli on the Eastern Front, and Hitler would not be confident enough to attack the Allies in the west. Logically, he would turn his attentions to the East, namely to the USSR. The West would be happy since they would have averted total war with Germany and they would witness Fascism in a life and death struggle with Communism. They might even have resorted to supplying Germany to tip the balance even more in Germany's favor. All sides would be happy: Germany would have their Gotterdammerung, the West its security and USSR its confrontation with Fascism.... the only loser would be Italy, the sacrificial lamb. Your thoughts, Gentlemen?
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Godofgamblers       5/17/2007 9:15:33 PM
You make some very good points, Herald, but in my view your strongest ones are the political ones. Even if there were various possibilities militarily, politically no one had the will to do anything against Italy in 39 or 40.
Geography is also king.
If we look at many events in WWII, in hindsight it is all simple geography.
The Blitzkrieg punch into France gave the Allies a lesson in geography;
The disastrous Italian campaign should havae been aborted before it began if someone had considered the geography of the area;
In the Russian campaign, Hitler should have considered the strategic depth the Russians had before attacking: it would have made much more sense continuing his previous strategy, i.e. biting off bite sized chunks of territory. As in the way he took Europe apart piece by piece, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc, he should have done the same with the USSR. He should have just taken the Ukraine to start with. The Ukrainians would have greeted him as a savior, he could have set up a Quisling gov't and consolidated before moving on to the next step, eg. Bielorus.
D-Day: The great mystery of where the Allies would attack, on the Atlantic, at Calais or Normandy was perfectly obvious to anyone looking at a topographic map. Normandy was the ONLY approach that allowed a clear, unobstructed plain to the industrial German heartland. Any other approach would have to go across mountainous terrain (Massif Central).
I could go on...
Bottom line: To sum up what you have said, Herald, in my own way, underlying all arguments of equipment, logistics, 'morale' etc are the factors of (1) Geography and (2) Political Will.
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Godofgamblers    TRIVIA (from the site you recommended, Herald)   5/18/2007 5:43:42 AM
  • Benito Mussolini's first Undersecretary of Air was Giulio Douhet (1896-1930). He was an Italian Air Force Officer as well as an air tactician. Douhet wrote the book Air Power which advocated the theory of using air attacks to subdue the enemy. The German Luftwaffe adapted his ideas through that book.


  • Italian Field Marshals and their appointments (contribution by Stefan Schlemmer):

    Pietro Badoglio: May 26, 1926
    Italo Balbo (Maresciallo dell'Aria): 1933
    Emilio De Bono: 1935
    Rodolfo Graziani: 1936
    Ettore Bastico: August, 1942
    Ugo Cavallero: July 1st, 1942
    Giovanni Messe: May 12, 1943


  • Mussolini's barber, Luigi Galbani (1918-Pres), is presently the barber at the Excelsior Hotel in Rome, Italy. He was also the consultant of the 1981 movie The Lion's Heart about Mussolini.


  • Gran Sasso is the highest peak in the Italian Appeninnes. This is were Mussolini was held in a hotel when Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943. He was later rescued by the Germans


  • Benito Mussolini was 5'7" tall. Adolf Hitler was 5'8" tall. King Victor Emmanuele III of Italy was 5'3" tall.


  • Mussolini's Headquarters was Palazzo Venezia, a 15th century building in the center of Rome, Italy.


  • Radio Bari was an Italian radio station used to transmit Fascist propaganda to Arab nations to gain their allegiance to the Axis powers.


  • The hand salute used by the Fascists and Nazis was "borrowed" from the "Hail Caesar" salute of the Roman Empire.


  • Guido Rossi was an Italian fighter ace who shot down many Allied Bombers by using a captured American P-38 to disguise himself as an ally.


  • Ethiopia has approximately the same square mileage as Italy, France and the United Kingdon combined.


  • Salo Republic was the name given to Mussolini's new Fascist country in Northern Italy after Italy's surrender to the Allies in 1943.


  • Benito Mussolini's yacht was named Aurora.


  • Benito Mussolini's dogs were named "Charlie" and "Pitini".


  • Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), who fought in WWI, was captured by the Italians and became a POW. He later escaped from a POW camp.


  • Aldo Remondini, an Italian Air Force Major, was the first non-German to fly the ME-109 in July, 1937, at the Zurich International Flying Meet. He later became vice-president of Alitalia Airlines.


  • Luigi de la Penne was one of the LT's involved in the Human Torpedo attack in Alexandria, Egypt. He was responsible for the heavy damage done to the battleship H.M.S.Valiant, which was under the command of Capt. Charles Morgan. In March of 1945, The Italian Crown Prince awarded de la Penne a Gold Medal, the highest decoration for his service. Ironically, it was the now Admiral, Charles Morgan who pinned it on him in Taranto, Italy.


  • "The Black Prince", Junio Borghese, commander of the Decima Flottiglia MAS, was ready to conduct a human torpedo attack of the New York Harbor when Italy signed the armistice in 1943.


  • During World War II, 51,156 Italians were interned in the United States.


  • By 1943, Italian warplanes claimed 72 allied warships and 196 merchant ships. They had further damaged over 500.


  • Italian Aircraft Production:

    1940: 3,257
    1941: 3,503
    1942: 2,818
    1 Jan 1943 to 8 Sep 1943: 1,930
    Total: 11,508

    For comparison, total U.S. aircraft production between 1941-1945 was 297,199.


  • Italian prisoners at the end of WW2 (from the relation of the Italian delegate to the UN Commissin for Prisoners of War, 1958)

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    french stratege       5/18/2007 7:13:48 AM
    How would the French get to the Po Vallley and with what mobile forces. Via Startrek teleporting?  Perhaps the French could have pushed through the mountains against the Italian Alpini but more likely not in 1939. The more modern Allied Army trying to fight up the Italian penisula four years latter illustrates the difficulty ( Yes, I know the opposition was mostlly German but terrain is terrain) unless you believe the Italians were so, so inept, which in some circles passes for wisdom.   
    The high command refused it because our aviation was not strong enough.
    Indeed it would have been feasible with a stronguer aviation.
    However we had a much stronguer heavy artillery, our navy combined with RN should have crushed Italian navy allowing for an amphibious landing to support the breakthrough by Alps (a sort of Inchon/Anzio landing strategy).
    Our troops were good in moutain fighting.BTW it is french troops who did the breaktrough at Monte Cassino.
    We should check what were the fortifications on Italian side.
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    eldnah       5/18/2007 12:14:38 PM
    I always read the troops that made the breakthrough west of Monte Cassino were Morrocan and Algerian. The actual monastery was captured by the Poles.
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    french stratege       5/18/2007 2:16:50 PM
    I always read the troops that made the breakthrough west of Monte Cassino were Morrocan and Algerian.
    In fact it was French army of General Juin and half of troops were native French and half Morrocan and Algerian volonteers.Officers were all french.
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    Herald1234       5/18/2007 2:38:16 PM

    I always read the troops that made the breakthrough west of Monte Cassino were Morrocan and Algerian.

    In fact it was French army of General Juin and half of troops were native French and half Morrocan and Algerian volonteers.Officers were all french.

    It was the Poles who took the Monastary, and mainly French officered Morroccans and Algerian Berbers who exploited the one pass the Germans [Veitinghof] overlooked and did not guard.
    French versus Italian alpine troops were a wash.
    The French had superior artillery and logistics, lousier offensive air force. Much better defensive air force.
    Could they have punched through the Alps. No.
    Could they mount a naval operation? Yes they could try. Successful? No. It would be a disaster.[Darlan; no air cover. inferior torpedoes, French gunnery suspect.]
    Could they have landed on the Italian peninsula? No.They had not the means. Not even the US had the means because it hadn't been invented, or used by anybody, but the Japanese. In 1940 the only nation that could have conducted an Anzio type landing for real, would have been Japan. This is a capability that France NEVER had.
    These were French opinions at the time.  

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    eldnah       5/18/2007 2:54:29 PM
    Never understood how colonial troops were considered "French". Juin's Corps had two Morrocan, one Algerian and only one Free French division. The Fourth Moroccan Mountain division along with the Third Algerian Infantry division were generally credited with taking the key positions. So the North Africans were commanded by a French general, Juin who was commanded by an American general, Clark who was commanded by a British general, Alexander who was commanded by an American General, Eisenhower who was .............
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    french stratege       5/19/2007 9:42:39 AM
    Morrocan or Algerian divisions where almost half native french, led by french officiers and NCO (for most) and trained with french standard.For me they are french.
    3% of officers were north africa natives
    15% of NCO were north africa natives
    A little bit more than 50% of soldiers were north africa natives
    On the total french forces of Africa in 1944, 270 000 men were french natives (whites), 230 000 were african natives including 130 000 Algerian natives (muslims).
    You would not say that British forces in north Africa were not British while they had a good numbers of Indians or Australians.
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    french stratege       5/19/2007 9:44:43 AM
    On the total french forces of Africa in 1944,
    I mean from Africa (General Juin army)
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    eldnah       5/19/2007 2:08:12 PM
    FS have you seen Rachid Bouchareb's Indigenes? If so do you feel it accurately pictures the role of North African troops fighting for France in Europe?
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