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August 02, 2021, 11:30:00 AM

Italian Campaign - WW2

Started by mdgiles, November 12, 2014, 05:07:25 AM

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mdgiles

So I'm looking at the Military channel, and they've had a number of stories on the Italian Campaign. And I begin to wonder, after looking at a topographical map of Italy, I began to wonder - why in the hell were the allies fighting through the mountains, when with sea and air control, they could have gone up both coasts?  And why didn't they take Sardinia and Corsica before they even bothered heading up the peninsula? And I see battle after battle portrayed, where they never call in any artillery or air. Why are they having infantry take some village house by house, when they could just level the place?
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

kalash

Quote from: mdgiles on November 12, 2014, 05:07:25 AM
Why are they having infantry take some village house by house, when they could just level the place?
I recall some monastery leveled to the ground and that didn't help. Germans used debris for their advantage.

Darth Fife

Quote from: mdgiles on November 12, 2014, 05:07:25 AM
So I'm looking at the Military channel, and they've had a number of stories on the Italian Campaign. And I begin to wonder, after looking at a topographical map of Italy, I began to wonder - why in the hell were the allies fighting through the mountains, when with sea and air control, they could have gone up both coasts?  And why didn't they take Sardinia and Corsica before they even bothered heading up the peninsula? And I see battle after battle portrayed, where they never call in any artillery or air. Why are they having infantry take some village house by house, when they could just level the place?

Just off the top of my head...

Going up each coast would leave your forces vunerable to counter attacks from mountain strongholds. Sections of your army could be isolated and then either starved out, or pushed into the sea ala Dunkirk.

Lack of artillery/airpower. I'm not sure about the artillery, but I'm pretty sure most of the Allied air power was tied up in Europe. The same would hold true of naval support. I do know that the famous Red Tails operated in the Italian theater.


TboneAgain

Quote from: kalash on January 15, 2015, 05:10:53 AM
I recall some monastery leveled to the ground and that didn't help. Germans used debris for their advantage.
Monte Cassino is probably the one you're thinking about, and yes, it was probably more useful to the defending Germans after we bombed it to rubble.

At least when the Italian campaign started in July 1943, we did not yet have air supremacy over Italy. Neither North Africa nor Sicily were ever developed to any serious extent as bases for British or American strategic airpower. Both the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) were operating in strength in Italy, and the Italians had developed some surprisingly good fighters. (The Macchi C.202, for example, was no slouch.) In fact, until he was disabled late in 1944, all German forces in the Mediterranean theater, headquartered in Italy, were under the command of Albert Kesselring, a Luftwaffe general.

Just two months after the campaign began, the Kingdom of Italy surrendered. (They're just slightly slower than the French in that regard.) After that, Italy was divided somewhat Vichy France-style, with the official government located in the southern city of Brindisi. The Nazi-controlled puppet government, called the Italian Social Republic, was first headquartered in Rome, then moved north to Salò. The Allies, of course, recognized the Brindisi government as being the government of all Italy, and as of September 1943, the Brindisi government was officially an Allied power, the equivalent of England or the US or France (in exile) or Poland (in exile).

Thus, only two months into the Italian campaign, we have invading American and British military forces operating on the territory of an ally. One does not customarily "level the place" when the place belongs to an ally, even when it's in the possession of an enemy. Towns in France, for example, whether in German-occupied France or Vichy France, were not routinely bombed or shelled to bits. I think the entire campaign became largely politicized after September 1943, and we all know what happens to any military operation that becomes politicized.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. -- Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; IT IS FORCE. -- George Washington

SVPete

Quote from: mdgiles on November 12, 2014, 05:07:25 AM
So I'm looking at the Military channel, and they've had a number of stories on the Italian Campaign. And I begin to wonder, after looking at a topographical map of Italy, I began to wonder - why in the hell were the allies fighting through the mountains, when with sea and air control, they could have gone up both coasts?

Like Darth said, staying just on the coasts would have allowed both forces to be outflanked and attacked from the side and rear as well as frontally. The two separate forces could also advance unevenly, making the outflanking all the easier. And holding one force back when the other was having a tough go would have allowed the Germans to build up in front of the force that was being held back. Finally, the two forces could not support each other, and transferring reinforcements between the two forces would have required a sea voyage and landing, or crossing the mountains through whatever the Germans had ready to throw at them.
SVPete

Envy is Greed's bigger, more evil, twin.

Those who can, do.
Those who know, teach.
Ignorant incapables, regulate.

Darth Fife

Quote from: SVPete on January 15, 2015, 03:21:28 PM
Like Darth said, staying just on the coasts would have allowed both forces to be outflanked and attacked from the side and rear as well as frontally. The two separate forces could also advance unevenly, making the outflanking all the easier. And holding one force back when the other was having a tough go would have allowed the Germans to build up in front of the force that was being held back. Finally, the two forces could not support each other, and transferring reinforcements between the two forces would have required a sea voyage and landing, or crossing the mountains through whatever the Germans had ready to throw at them.

You explained that much better than I did! Good to know I was on the right track though.

I'm glad all that time I spent playing wargames (board games) in high school wasn't wasted!

mdgiles

Quote from: SVPete on January 15, 2015, 03:21:28 PM
Like Darth said, staying just on the coasts would have allowed both forces to be outflanked and attacked from the side and rear as well as frontally. The two separate forces could also advance unevenly, making the outflanking all the easier. And holding one force back when the other was having a tough go would have allowed the Germans to build up in front of the force that was being held back. Finally, the two forces could not support each other, and transferring reinforcements between the two forces would have required a sea voyage and landing, or crossing the mountains through whatever the Germans had ready to throw at them.
Uh no. Italy is a peninsula. A landing up the coasts, puts pressure on the troops below them to withdraw, or face the possibility of being cut off. And the British built the first escort carrier (flight deck on a merchant hull)- HMS Audacity - in 1940. There's your air support right there. And at Dunkirk, the Germans could bring greater forces to bear than the Anglo-French could. By 1943, the Germans were in fighting in Russia, occupying Europe and garrisoning the Atlantic coast, not to mention also fighting in Italy.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

Darth Fife

Quote from: mdgiles on January 17, 2015, 10:05:20 AM
Uh no. Italy is a peninsula. A landing up the coasts, puts pressure on the troops below them to withdraw, or face the possibility of being cut off./
Quote

You would still have to take the "high ground" in the center of the peninsula, otherwise that would provide, not just an escape route, but also, a very defensible supply corridor for your forces to the south. Remember the the problems the American's had in Vietnam with the Ho-Chi-Minh Trail?

QuoteAnd the British built the first escort carrier (flight deck on a merchant hull)- HMS Audacity - in 1940. There's your air support right there.

And they were all gainfully employed doing what they were built to do - attempting to protect the convoys in the Battle of the Atlantic!

QuoteAnd at Dunkirk, the Germans could bring greater forces to bear than the Anglo-French could. By 1943, the Germans were in fighting in Russia, occupying Europe and garrisoning the Atlantic coast, not to mention also fighting in Italy.

Ummm... there were also Italians in Italy too...


SVPete

Quote from: mdgiles on January 17, 2015, 10:05:20 AM
Uh no. Italy is a peninsula. A landing up the coasts, puts pressure on the troops below them to withdraw, or face the possibility of being cut off.

Not in need of a geography lesson. That would work, if the force is quick and able to establish a line across the peninsula (IIRC, that was done at Inchon). Or if there are two landings on opposite sides and they pinch off the peninsula. I don't think Mark Clark and the Brit general (Alexander?) were quite that bold.

Quote from: mdgiles on January 17, 2015, 10:05:20 AMAnd the British built the first escort carrier (flight deck on a merchant hull)- HMS Audacity - in 1940. There's your air support right there.

I'm also well aware of CVEs (the USN designation for that type of ship), and the USN and RN probably had a good number of those ships by the time of the Italy landings. But, considering how the Luftwaffe was able to do irreparable damage to the heavily armored Warspite with one guided bomb/missile and open a large hole in her torpedo blister with another, a CVE would probably have been sunk in short order. Even operating fleet carriers for long continuous periods near land-based air was considered very risky (in the cases of the invasions of the Marianas and the Philippines USN carriers raided Japanese air assets well prior to the invasions). Unlike invasions of relatively isolated island chains in the Pacific, the Germans could have brought in air assets, if they had them, from France and/or the Balkan Peninsula, besides Italy and Austria. All in all, a CVE or two in the Adriatic, Ionian, or Tyrrhenian Seas would have been a very bad idea.

But I was not talking about air support, so your response really wasn't relevant to my comment.
SVPete

Envy is Greed's bigger, more evil, twin.

Those who can, do.
Those who know, teach.
Ignorant incapables, regulate.

daidalos

Quote from: mdgiles on November 12, 2014, 05:07:25 AM
So I'm looking at the Military channel, and they've had a number of stories on the Italian Campaign. And I begin to wonder, after looking at a topographical map of Italy, I began to wonder - why in the hell were the allies fighting through the mountains, when with sea and air control, they could have gone up both coasts?  And why didn't they take Sardinia and Corsica before they even bothered heading up the peninsula? And I see battle after battle portrayed, where they never call in any artillery or air. Why are they having infantry take some village house by house, when they could just level the place?

MG they didn't necessarily know that they had air superiority. Bear in mind that the German's messerschmidts actually DID give our pilots a tough fight.

At least that's what I would assume. I also think it had to do with supplies of fuel for the armored divisions.

Also sometimes they had too do A, to  make sure the Germans and their allies had their attention diverted elsewhere, while they did B which was the actual objective.

Again without knowing what our commanders were thinking that'd be my guess.

One of every five Americans you meet has a mental illness of some sort. Many, many, of our veteran's suffer from mental illness like PTSD now also. Help if ya can. :) http://www.projectsemicolon.org/share-your-story.html
And no you won't find my "story" there. They don't allow science fiction. :)

mdgiles

Quote from: SVPete on January 17, 2015, 01:47:57 PM
Not in need of a geography lesson. That would work, if the force is quick and able to establish a line across the peninsula (IIRC, that was done at Inchon). Or if there are two landings on opposite sides and they pinch off the peninsula. I don't think Mark Clark and the Brit general (Alexander?) were quite that bold.
Even without a blocking force they still have to withdraw. The Germans did so after Anzio, even though Mark Clarke was more interested in capturing Rome and getting his name in the newspapers, as opposed to cutting off the Germans and trapping their army.
QuoteI'm also well aware of CVEs (the USN designation for that type of ship), and the USN and RN probably had a good number of those ships by the time of the Italy landings. But, considering how the Luftwaffe was able to do irreparable damage to the heavily armored Warspite with one guided bomb/missile and open a large hole in her torpedo blister with another, a CVE would probably have been sunk in short order.
At the beginning of the war the Japanese thought that carriers couldn't operate near land based air. They learned to their sorrow that yes you could, if you were willing to be aggressive. It's interesting that they didn't even learn the lesson of their own success at Pearl Harbor.
QuoteEven operating fleet carriers for long continuous periods near land-based air was considered very risky (in the cases of the invasions of the Marianas and the Philippines USN carriers raided Japanese air assets well prior to the invasions).
Which was why fleet carrier were used to destroy enemy air, and escort carriers were used for support. And the pre war doctrine of carriers being vulnerable to land based air was found to be untrue. Especially when you had lots of carriers as the USN did.
QuoteUnlike invasions of relatively isolated island chains in the Pacific, the Germans could have brought in air assets, if they had them, from France and/or the Balkan Peninsula, besides Italy and Austria. All in all, a CVE or two in the Adriatic, Ionian, or Tyrrhenian Seas would have been a very bad idea.
The German air assets were defending Germany. They had so few extra they couldn't even support their troops in Russia.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

mdgiles

Quote from: daidalos on January 19, 2015, 01:16:27 PM
MG they didn't necessarily know that they had air superiority. Bear in mind that the German's messerschmidts actually DID give our pilots a tough fight.

At least that's what I would assume. I also think it had to do with supplies of fuel for the armored divisions.

Also sometimes they had too do A, to  make sure the Germans and their allies had their attention diverted elsewhere, while they did B which was the actual objective.

Again without knowing what our commanders were thinking that'd be my guess.
They gave our BOMBERS a tough fight. Then the US decided that the destruction of the Luftwaffe was a priority, and then the American training system began to tell. The German pilots flew until they died. American pilots flew a certain number of missions, and then returned home to train more pilots. What happened was that the Americans ended up with lots and lots and lots of competent pilots,with lots and lots and lots of airplanes. The Luftwaffe had a few super aces and lots of barely competent pilots. This affect really kicked in when fuel supplies began to run low in Germany and American pilots were told to destroy the transportation system whenever possible.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!