How Axis "friends" won the War for the Allies
Link to Italian Military Chronology
Pre-WWII military interventions, albeit successful, in Spain, Ethiopia and Albania, the Italians bombed British Palestine, invaded Egypt and occupied British Somaliland with initial success.
Libya had been pacified under the fascists and was undergoing continued Italian settlement.
The Italians invaded Egypt in an attempt link North Africa with their sucesses in East Africa and soon after invaded Greece.
The advance into Egypt was a failure and Hitler had to sent the Afrika Korp under Rommel to rescue North Africa. After their victory at Gazala in May-June 1942 the Afrika Corp advanced deep into Egypt until stopping at El Alame
Upon Allied invasion of Morocco (US 30K men), Oran (US 39K) and Algiers (Br 23K, US 10K) in 8 November 1942. (Operation Torch). Both Italy and Germany had to sent reinforcments to Tunisia. The Allies prevailed and in May the Afrika Korp surrenders in Tunisia.
In July 1943, following the Allied invasion of Sicily, Mussolini was arrested by order of King Victor Emmanuel; Italy's military outside of the peninsula itself collapsed, its occupied and annexed territories falling under German control. Italy surrendered to the Allies on 3 September 1943. Mussolini was rescued by German troops from his prison in Campo Imperatore on September 12, 1943 and Mussolini put in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic. Mussolini was captured trying to escape and killed on 28 April 1945 by the Italian resistance.
How Mussolini caused the German Army to fail to take the Soviet Union and lose WWII in Europe.
The German army was weakened by having to send the Africa Corp to North Africa and consumed men, material, and supplies.
German army had to salvage Italians in Greece which threw off the timetable of Operation Barbarossa for the invasion of Russia. The Germans used up their airborne division to take Crete and was not available of Russia.
Italian Army was only able to send token forces to assist with the Axis invasion of Russia
This diversion to the sunny Mediterranean added a month in the freezing winter of Russia.
German officers claimed they could see the spires of the Kremlin in October when the blizzards began.
Operation Barbarossa, the largest military operation in history, was planned for 15 May 1941, finally began on Sunday, 22 June 1941. The plan was to take Russia from the northern city of Arkhangelsk on the Arctic Sea through Gorky and Rostov to the port city of Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga on the Caspian Sea. The campaign, including the capture of Moscow, would require between nine and seventeen weeks to complete. The five week delay was significant. Three million personnel of the Axis powers invaded the western Soviet Union along a 1,800 mile (2,900-kilometer) front, with 600,000 motor vehicles and over 600,000 horses for resupply operations.
* German Army Group North was to march through the Baltic states into northern Russia, to take the city of Leningrad and link up with Finnish forces. Finland had been attacked by Russia in 1939 and sought revenge.
* Army Group Center, the army group equipped with the most armor and air power, was to strike from Poland into Belorussia and the west-central regions of Russia proper, and advance to Smolensk and then Moscow.
* Army Group South was to strike the heavily populated and agricultural heartland of Ukraine, taking Kiev before continuing eastward over the steppes of southern USSR to the Volga with the aim of controlling the oil-rich Caucasus.
* Himmler's Waffen-SS would follow with pacification of captured territories allowing the armies to continue to advance without thinning their ranks.
The first day had advanced 50 miles. Atlantic City to Phila is 62 miles, so then
New Jersey would have been overrun within hours. Hitler had had to rescue
Mussolini in Greece which caused a delay of Operation Barbarossa by five weeks.
German officers said they could see the towers of the Kremlin, but the snows arrived in October. Imagine what would have happened if they had arrived before Moscow in late August or even early September as originally planned.
* Occupied by Germany : Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Bosnia and, of course, Russia.
* Accepted German troops rather than be invaded -- Austria, Hungry, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Serbia.
* Had been previously occupied in the western front war -- Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxenberg, and France.
* Remained neutral for the war -- Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
The three army groups advanced at an average rate of 65 miles a week, and more than 400 miles in the first six weeks; the five week delay cost 300 miles. The armies accomplished most of their objectives in the time they had available. (N,C,S)
The German eventually captured some 5,000,000 Soviet Red Army troops. When the snows caused a halt to the advance Germans had conquered a rough rectangle from Montreal to Jacksonville to New Orleans to Toledo
within 3 months, equal to all of the states of NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC,
GA, WV, KY, AL and parts of MS, TN, KY, IN, OH.
Imagine what they could have accomplished if they could have arrived before the end of August as planned.
This 5 week delay allowed the German army to be caught in the Russian winter without the logistics that would not have been required if the siege of Moscow had been in the autumn instead of winter. For example, German troops were not clothed for harsh Winter. The largely horse drawn supply lines required extra care and feed.
During the winter, the Russians were able to cross frozen rivers and swamps over ice, that would have been impassible two monthts earlier. British aid had started within weeks of the invasion with British tanks and planes seeing action from Nov 1941. British tanks made up 30% of those defending before Moscow.
Mussolini's confidence to perform in wars for land acquisition was based on victories in East Africa with WWI technology of machine guns, poison gas and airplanes against tribesmen. The Italian soldier was brave enough, but poorly lead with inaquaate support and equipment.
The acrobatic flying skills of the Regio Esercito (Italian flying corp) in the Fiat CR.42 "Falcon" biplanes were stopped by French monoplanes during the invasion of France, i.e. "the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor" -- FDR, 10June1940, only two weeks before French capitulation. Participation in the Battle of Britain led to 36 losses and no victories against Spitfires in the two months before they were withdrawn.
The beautiful ships of the Regia Marina (Italian navy) were not able to stand up to prosaic English Royal Navy. As th first example the Italian fleet was attacked in Taranto, 11Nov'40, by British aircraft carrier torpedo bombers with battleships Conte di Cavour sunk; Caio Duilio and Littorio run aground, cruiser Trento and the destroyer Libeccio damaged as well as the oil storage installation. Thus in one night, one-half the Italian battle fleet was removed.
Mussolini did not delegate well and altho having served in WWI his chief experience in military affairs was that of his paramilitary Black Shirts intimidating civilians. Italy did not have the outstanding competence of the German General Staff nor the practice of successful generalship of the Caeser that Mussolini styled himself to be.
Mussolini was from Milano, an advanced industrial city and he may have missed that the rest of Italy was poverty stricken agricultural.
Italy's industrial base was roughly equal to that of _?_ New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania _?_. It was
15% of that of Britain. Italy had to import coal, had no significant automobile industry to covert to arms,
had not the wisdom to stockpile materials before declaring war. One quarter of Italian merchant marine was impounded in foreign ports.
Almost 40% of the 1939 Italian budget was allocated for military spending. This was up from 15% spent on the earlier support of Franco in Spain.
The war production minister said that Italy could not possibly be prepared for major military operations until the end of 1942.
| || GDP(B$) 1938 ||POP.1940 (mil) || AREA (kSM)
|Europe || 115.4 (western) || || 3,930
|USA || 84.7 || 131.7 || 3,119
|Germany || 51.6 || 79.4 || 225
|Italy || 8.7 || 45.4 || 120
|Japan || 7.5 || 72.9 || 149
War in Europe had broken out in 1939, but Italy remained non-belligerent until getting on the German band wagon in June 1940 -- after Dunkirk and only two weeks before the capitulation of France.
Japan's goal was the conquest of China and the island nation needed materials from SE Asia and the East Indies and a defensive zone from the International Dateline west to the Indian Ocean.
To keep the U.S. fleet from interfering with that aim, Tojo decided to put the American fleet out of action by attacking Pearl Harbor. This brings the U.S. into the war that FDR had not been able to do because the American public wanted to stay out of another of Europe's insatiable wars. Japan underestimated the American outrage at the attack and was eventually destroyed. But Churchill had convinced FDR that Germany was the more serious enemy and to deal with Hitler first.
With friends like Mussolini and Tojo, then Hitler would have been better off without their assistance.
Italian Military Chronology under Mussolini
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Created Oct 24, 2019
Updated Nov 6, 2019 --
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