Jump to content
jags_domain

What if or why did Germany not invade Malta?

32 comments in this topic

Recommended Posts

1,536
[SOV]
Members
3,464 posts

I am having to write this quickly and my thoughts are a bit scattered so if I miss something please point it out.

Malta has been the most important piece of realist in the whole Med, it was been taken and retaken hundreds of times. knowing this why did Germany not invade and take the island, they had there chances.  After the landing on Create, and yes it did not go as planed but why did they not take Malta when they had the chance?  

The invasion could have taken place either before Rommel or after Rommel had started his campaign and after weeks or months of air raids over Malta.  There was a time when Malta had nothing, no planes, food, the only thing they had was water.  Germany could have learned what went wrong in Create, adapted and taken the island.  This would lead to some interesting possibility.(there was a book about one oil tanker that made it into Malta, cant remember the name but it was a good book)

England would have been cut off from the Suez Cannel and all there holding in the far east.  Note the discussion could go in to what the IJN forces could do at this point, but I want to stay with Malta.  Rommel could have jumped over Tobruk and headed directly into Egypt.  Ether taking Egypt or taking the Caucuses and letting the British starve in North Africa.

The Italy fleet would have not been damage by the battle of Taranto so it would be intact.  I know the Italians fleet did not do well in the war but if they were attacking and knew where the British were coming from and had German air cover they might have done much better.  The Italian fleet could be defending Malta and ready to attack the UK navy when it came for Malta.

As for UK navy they would be very stretched with the battle of the Atlantic and the artic convoys.  Most likely they would have pulled there forces from helping Russia, gather the channel fleet and head to Malta with our without an amphibious force.  That many ships they would have had to head striate to Malta as Gibraltar could never have supported the fleet, and attack.  This would have been an epic battle.  The combined UK navy with limited aircover.  German subs, the Italian navy with German and Italy air cover flying form North Africa, Malta, and Sardinia.

I would speculate that the UK navy would lose this confrontation only because the AA on early ships would have had a hard time battling so many planes, but perhaps UK navy tradition and luck would pull them through.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by jags_domain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
854 posts
14,046 battles

Germany wasn't able to give Malta all that much attention. They had just invaded Russia. They were engaged in a dogfight in North Africa. They needed to keep the illusion of a channel invasion up as well as defend their conquered territory in France.

It's kind of like the British during the American Revolution. Just too many irons in the fire.

Edited by Prothall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
293 posts
742 battles

Because any operation against Malta would have required Italian participation and that was a big no-no. Seriously.

Details are hazy since I saw this on a documentary a while ago but basically, the Germans planned for an airborne invasion or something like that and inevitably the Italian Navy, lacking fuel and luck (and competence) as seen in Cape Matapan had to take care of resupplying... And the Baltic Fleet had to arrive at Port Arthur after destroying the Japanese Navy. Basically, Hitler saw the circumstances and said "nope" for the time been and then things like Stalingrad and Operation Torch made taking Malta less than a priority.

    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,488
[WOLF5]
Members
3,240 posts
3,499 battles

Oh they wanted too, but the RAF had other ideas.

As others have pointed out, Germany had other priorities at the time (Russia). The Brits on the other hand knew that had to keep Malta or they would lose the Med. So they had the RAF and the RN resupplying and defending. With the RAF airbases and the RN, the Brits had pretty good control over the Med, so an invasion wasn't going to happen without committing a ton of resources. Basically the Axis would have to win air and sea superiority before invading. They could have probably have won the air if they really wanted too (then again, they tried to do it over Britain without success). But at that point they weren't able to start the Battle of Britain: Malta Edition because they were switching to Russia. And the German Navy was stuck up north, and while 2 pocket BBs might be able to get by the Brits, I'm sure the Germans remembered what happened the last time they tried sending capital ships past the UK (Bismark). The Home Fleet was parked up there for a reason after all. So they would have had to rely on the Italians. The same Italians who the RN was making fools of everything time they stuck their noses out of port (and even in port). Yeah, they had subs, subs are nice, but they don't give you surface control.

So if the Germans had thrown everything at Malta, they might have gotten it. But at that point, while Malta was important, it wasn't crucial for the Germans like it was for the British. Basically the British wanted it more. And the Germans had just started a land war in Asia, so they had bigger priorities than a hunk of rock in the Mediterranean. Also, they would have had to rely on the Italians, which is never a great idea. So the British kept Malta. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a fatal mistake (the Germans were finished once they were fighting both Russia and the US). But it definitely made the invasions of Africa and Italy easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,896
[SSG]
Alpha Tester
4,774 posts
11,096 battles

You mention Crete - and that is another part of the problem. Even IF things played out that they could get an amphibious component going, after the Battle of Crete Hitler basically turned his paratroopers into regular foot soldiers. The losses in Crete he felt were too high, and had no desire to chance those kind of losses again, thinking that Paratroopers no longer had enough an element of surprise. And when it comes to Naval invasion and landings well, Utah, Omaha, Galippoli, and really pick a Pacific Island especially in the late war years. A great many things would have to play out different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
728 posts

You also have to understand the Fascist mindset.  They thought themselves the finest warriors the world has ever known, the Spartans of the modern age.  They revere their elite units and their Aces.  Fallschirmjäger are among the best of the best and Crete proved that they can be lost in large numbers when they don't have the element of surprise.  In a paradrop operation, there's no retreat path so the entire force will be lost if they don't win, and if the Fallschirmjäger are destroyed / surrendered, it'd look REALLY bad, especially if this was way back in 1941.  Like how the sinking of the Bismarck caused the Germans to becomes cautious with the Tirpitz, Crete taught the Germans to be cautious with paradrop operations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
1,697 posts
8,636 battles

They needed boats in the Mediterranean for that job or some really big planes and a lot of them. They had some big planes but not a lot of them (BV222) and a lot of planes but they weren't very big.  They had no botes though, they were all in the Atlantic the Royal Navy wasn't going to be kind enough to let them in. Politically they couldn't hitch a ride with the Italians because the Axis kind of sucked like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
162
[SLDS]
Members
541 posts
4,482 battles

Don't forget that Operation Herakles (the invasion of Malta) was put on hold because Rommel convinced the high command (i.e. Hitler) that HIS operation in North Africa was more important than Malta.  The argument went that once Egypt was taken (and the Suez canal along with it), the British would have to abandon Malta as without the supply point from Alexandria (Malta got supplies from Gibraltar, but most came from Alexandria), the British position in the mid-Mediterranean was untenable.  Thus, Rommel argued that resources should come to him instead of being stockpiled for Herakles.  While logical, it failed to take into account 1 thing, the submarine fleet in Malta kept sinking those supply convoys to Libya.  Rommel was not the best strategic thinker and the unique terrain in North Africa reduced the fight there to essentially a linear series of tactical battles, which Rommel DID excel at.  He could perhaps be forgiven for thinking the way he did because he was extremely offensive minded (understanding that a sustained push could often offset a numerical advantage in the enemy) and was there to 'fix' the problem that Graziani started, but in truth, he would have done far better if he'd stood on the defensive while Malta was reduced, then he could've gotten all the supplies he wanted.  (within limits - NorAf was a backwater theater in 1941-1942; Russia was considered the main event)

Don't knock the Regia Marina too much.  It was designed to fight the French, not the British, and Mussolini's ego couldn't allow the navy to get the fuel resources it needed BEFORE he announced that Italy would be joining the war, forcing the RM to remain a 'Fleet in Being'.  The strategy worked for the most part, but the problem with a FiB approach is it concedes the initiative to one's enemy.  If the RM had chosen to try and fight the British in a big battle of annihilation, the RM would have been gone in an afternoon.  They just didn't have the material resources.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8,633
[WOLF3]
Members
23,728 posts
21,154 battles
On 3/13/2019 at 5:18 PM, alexf24 said:

They tried, more than once, but did not succeed.

RN ships and subs kept the island resupplied. RAF kept defending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Malta_(World_War_II)

Lots of bigger things were going on in that large time span (June 1940 - November 1942).

Battle of Britain, July - October 1940.  The Luftwaffe begins bleeding here.

Axis commitment to the Balkans, October 1940 - June 1941.

German commitment to North Africa starting February 1941.  The Axis would bleed heavily to keep the North African campaign going.  Eventually an Axis army as large as the one lost at Stalingrad will surrender to the Allies in 1943.

Operation Barbarossa is initiated in June 1941.  The Eastern Front will then become an ever increasing wound that keeps bleeding German men and materiel.  A Black Hole.

The Germans commit to the Caucasus and eventually begin their campaign in Stalingrad.

The Battles of Rhzev, which was a larger commitment of German troops than at Stalingrad.  Stalingrad took place within this campaign's time frame.  Rhzev was longer yet is often forgotten about.  You wonder why there wasn't as much reinforcement for Stalingrad and the southern push?  Look further North, to Rhzev.

Second Battle of El Alamein takes place towards the end of this time period and results in a British victory, and the Brits push on.

The combined Allied "Operation Torch" begins in November 1942 and the curtains fall on the Axis forces in North Africa.

 

As time goes on, there's too many things happening elsewhere.  I'm also positive there are many other things I left off.  Malta is a key spot.  But in the bigger picture of things, the Axis is stretched out in too many other areas.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,086
[KNMSU]
Members
7,086 posts
7,668 battles

The failure to take Malta was reflective of the overall German strategic failure to properly prioritize targets following the Fall of France.

For example, Britain needed to be knocked out of the war, regardless of how it was accomplished (some absurd peace, or invasion, or effective strangulation through a combination of the Luftwaffe/U-boats). It was downright suicidal to open a two-front war with Russia intentionally - I don't care how worried Hitler was about a Soviet buildup. Germany needed to conclude its business in the west before it turned east. Period. (A similar, heinously stupid move was needlessly declaring war on the United States). The Germans should have recognized that the Balkans had taken too long and delayed Barbarossa for at least a year, and probably two. And that would have been fine - concentrating on winning the war in Africa (which could have been done with enough resources) and consolidating gains would have been a totally logical play. Yes, for every moment "squandered," Russia got stronger; but whose industry was humming more loudly at that juncture - Hitler's? Or Stalin's? I think we all know the answer.

Malta is simply a minor blip on that overall radar - it was endemic to a catastrophic underestimation of Britain's continuing impact on the war (first by locking down desperately-needed Nazi armies in the west, and second by serving as a staging ground for eventual invasion). For all intents and purposes, Hitler was essentially standing at the finish line, blowing kisses to the crowd in France, and he couldn't gain that last, utterly crucial inch. 

Edited by Battleship_Elisabeth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,086
[KNMSU]
Members
7,086 posts
7,668 battles

I wanted to add that the funny thing about the German war plan was that they probably could have established peace in the west by giving up enough - it just would have to have been sizable (something like evacuating France, the low countries, and Denmark probably would have been acceptable to the British parliament, even if not to Churchill himself). The thing was, until the Germans invaded the USSR, from the perspective of the west, the Russians were the "bad guys," too - so it's not like a smashed Franch and a Britain who has just made peace were going to rush to the defense of Moscow.

Moreover, the (achievable, realistic) Nazi war-aims NEVER HAD ANYTHING REALLY TO DO WITH THE WEST. Yes, Hitler deeply desired to 'reverse Versailles'... and he accomplished that goal. And, sure, the idea of having Atlantic bases was always nice (although those could likely be bargained for in Norway). But occupying France and Belgium and the Netherlands and Denmark, etc. until the end of time? No, sir. That's insanity. And the generals should have insisted as much. War against the Russians was what Hitler and the Nazis had always proclaimed as the over-arching goal: carving their (hideously purged and forcibly depopulated) 'lebensraum' out of Belarus and Ukraine, and turning Russia into a rump state east of the Urals. THAT was the aim of the whole freaking war; not some endless siege in France on top of it.

That, arguably, was where the conflict was lost for Germany - in making the choice to perpetuate conquest where none was really needed. Make peace with the Brits, wage war on the Russians. Let Japan lose on their own terms. "Victory."

Edited by Battleship_Elisabeth
  • Cool 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
808 posts
9,435 battles
2 hours ago, Battleship_Elisabeth said:

I wanted to add that the funny thing about the German war plan was that they probably could have established peace in the west by giving up enough - it just would have to have been sizable (something like evacuating France, the low countries, and Denmark probably would have been acceptable to the British parliament, even if not to Churchill himself). The thing was, until the Germans invaded the USSR, from the perspective of the west, the Russians were the "bad guys," too - so it's not like a smashed Franch and a Britain who has just made peace were going to rush to the defense of Moscow.

Moreover, the (achievable, realistic) Nazi war-aims NEVER HAD ANYTHING REALLY TO DO WITH THE WEST. Yes, Hitler deeply desired to 'reverse Versailles'... and he accomplished that goal. And, sure, the idea of having Atlantic bases was always nice (although those could likely be bargained for in Norway). But occupying France and Belgium and the Netherlands and Denmark, etc. until the end of time? No, sir. That's insanity. And the generals should have insisted as much. War against the Russians was what Hitler and the Nazis had always proclaimed as the over-arching goal: carving their (hideously purged and forcibly depopulated) 'lebensraum' out of Belarus and Ukraine, and turning Russia into a rump state east of the Urals. THAT was the aim of the whole freaking war; not some endless siege in France on top of it.

That, arguably, was where the conflict was lost for Germany - in making the choice to perpetuate conquest where none was really needed. Make peace with the Brits, wage war on the Russians. Let Japan lose on their own terms. "Victory."

This is well said and hits directly to main strategic failing of Germany.  The occupation of France and the low countries gave Germany nothing that it truly needed.  A negotiated peace with France (Giving back territory), evacuation of German troops across the Rhine with signed peace treaties with France and Britain would have prevented the U.S.A. from declaring war on Hitler as well.  This would have allowed Germany to fine tune its economy, stockpile resources, and train up troops for an all out drive into Russia, (Still not a great idea), and the war would have been a slogging nasty battle of attrition to be sure.  However, with all resources focused that direction Germany could realistically take Russia west of the Urals at least.  I am not sure how long or if they could hold and even consolidate their gains and hold on the country, but that is another discussion in and of itself.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,086
[KNMSU]
Members
7,086 posts
7,668 battles
56 minutes ago, D_I_P_Scout said:

This is well said and hits directly to main strategic failing of Germany.  The occupation of France and the low countries gave Germany nothing that it truly needed.  A negotiated peace with France (Giving back territory), evacuation of German troops across the Rhine with signed peace treaties with France and Britain would have prevented the U.S.A. from declaring war on Hitler as well.  This would have allowed Germany to fine tune its economy, stockpile resources, and train up troops for an all out drive into Russia, (Still not a great idea), and the war would have been a slogging nasty battle of attrition to be sure.  However, with all resources focused that direction Germany could realistically take Russia west of the Urals at least.  I am not sure how long or if they could hold and even consolidate their gains and hold on the country, but that is another discussion in and of itself.

Pretty much. I'm not saying they're guaranteed a victory, but had the war concluded in the west, and "settled," with Germany in control of the Balkans, Austria, Czechoslovakia, etc.; with their iron ore lines covered, not having to (seriously) mind its western flank, and with all its armies rested, well-tuned, and ready for an assault on Russia (which WOULDN'T be delayed into June as it was in reality due to the Balkan campaign taking too long), then I think they stood a far, far better chance of achieving some kind of permanent stalemate almost entirely at the USSR's expense. 

I mean, let's be real here: the United States, involved with Japan, is not going to ship desperately needed supplies to Arkhangelsk to save Stalin. It would NEVER have happened.

Edited by Battleship_Elisabeth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
728 posts
4 hours ago, Battleship_Elisabeth said:

I wanted to add that the funny thing about the German war plan was that they probably could have established peace in the west by giving up enough - it just would have to have been sizable (something like evacuating France, the low countries, and Denmark probably would have been acceptable to the British parliament, even if not to Churchill himself). The thing was, until the Germans invaded the USSR, from the perspective of the west, the Russians were the "bad guys," too - so it's not like a smashed Franch and a Britain who has just made peace were going to rush to the defense of Moscow.

"Whatever the case may be, I am convinced that I have thereby rendered a great service to peace.  -  For Germany does not dream of attacking other nations." - Hitler 1939 - http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/blbk20.asp

The problem with that is that any treaty with Hitler wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on because he was full of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,086
[KNMSU]
Members
7,086 posts
7,668 battles
3 minutes ago, Royeaux said:

"Whatever the case may be, I am convinced that I have thereby rendered a great service to peace.  -  For Germany does not dream of attacking other nations." - Hitler 1939 - http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/blbk20.asp

The problem with that is that any treaty with Hitler wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on because he was full of it.

Clearly the Germans would have to make good on any such agreement by removing occupying forces quickly.

Hitler did attempt to negotiate peace with the British in 1940, before the Battle of Britain, but is was done clumsily, and through threats. Had they been willing to make serious entreaties (evacuating troops, but with strict provisions barring immediate French re-armament, etc.), I think parliament would have listened. It's not a what-if that is frequently discussed, but it's in many ways a lot more realistic than Sea Lion, or something like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
162
[SLDS]
Members
541 posts
4,482 battles
4 hours ago, Battleship_Elisabeth said:

I wanted to add that the funny thing about the German war plan was that they probably could have established peace in the west by giving up enough - it just would have to have been sizable (something like evacuating France, the low countries, and Denmark probably would have been acceptable to the British parliament, even if not to Churchill himself). The thing was, until the Germans invaded the USSR, from the perspective of the west, the Russians were the "bad guys," too - so it's not like a smashed Franch and a Britain who has just made peace were going to rush to the defense of Moscow.

Moreover, the (achievable, realistic) Nazi war-aims NEVER HAD ANYTHING REALLY TO DO WITH THE WEST. Yes, Hitler deeply desired to 'reverse Versailles'... and he accomplished that goal. And, sure, the idea of having Atlantic bases was always nice (although those could likely be bargained for in Norway). But occupying France and Belgium and the Netherlands and Denmark, etc. until the end of time? No, sir. That's insanity. And the generals should have insisted as much. War against the Russians was what Hitler and the Nazis had always proclaimed as the over-arching goal: carving their (hideously purged and forcibly depopulated) 'lebensraum' out of Belarus and Ukraine, and turning Russia into a rump state east of the Urals. THAT was the aim of the whole freaking war; not some endless siege in France on top of it.

That, arguably, was where the conflict was lost for Germany - in making the choice to perpetuate conquest where none was really needed. Make peace with the Brits, wage war on the Russians. Let Japan lose on their own terms. "Victory."

What's even stranger is that this is exactly the same downfall that befell Napoleon.  He refused to give up ANY portion of his empire (for fear it would make him look weak) and thus lost the whole thing once he'd suffered a serious reverse (i.e. the 1812 Russian invasion).  For all their self-proclaimed 'superiority' they didn't learn a blasted thing from history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
162
[SLDS]
Members
541 posts
4,482 battles
37 minutes ago, Battleship_Elisabeth said:

Pretty much. I'm not saying they're guaranteed a victory, but had the war concluded in the west, and "settled," with Germany in control of the Balkans, Austria, Czechoslovakia, etc.; with their iron ore lines covered, not having to (seriously) mind its western flank, and with all its armies rested, well-tuned, and ready for an assault on Russia (which WOULDN'T be delayed into June as it was in reality due to the Balkan campaign taking too long), then I think they stood a far, far better chance of achieving some kind of permanent stalemate almost entirely at the USSR's expense. 

I mean, let's be real here: the United States, involved with Japan, is not going to ship desperately needed supplies to Arkhangelsk to save Stalin. It would NEVER have happened.

I think this may have been a bit of a pipe dream.  There's no way Mussolini was going to negotiate an end to the war in the West, even if Germany had demanded it.  That alone was likely to drag Germany back into a conflict with Britain (and possibly a renewed France).  They did not want the French navy being used by Britain (where it could have been used to pressure other places throughout the Mediterranean).  Heck, the British didn't want it used by the Germans, hence Mers el Kebir and Dakar.  Mussolini wanted that fleet for himself, but Germany wasn't going to allow that either.  Hitler wanted all the toys for himself.

WWII is a perfect example of what happens when a coalition with 25% of the world's resources takes on the rest of the planet in a clear war of attrition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,819
[HINON]
Privateers, In AlfaTesters
7,743 posts
2,129 battles
16 hours ago, JAKeller said:

I think this may have been a bit of a pipe dream.  There's no way Mussolini was going to negotiate an end to the war in the West, even if Germany had demanded it.  That alone was likely to drag Germany back into a conflict with Britain (and possibly a renewed France).  They did not want the French navy being used by Britain (where it could have been used to pressure other places throughout the Mediterranean).  Heck, the British didn't want it used by the Germans, hence Mers el Kebir and Dakar.  Mussolini wanted that fleet for himself, but Germany wasn't going to allow that either.  Hitler wanted all the toys for himself.

WWII is a perfect example of what happens when a coalition with 25% of the world's resources takes on the rest of the planet in a clear war of attrition.

Uh... no. Mussolini literally only joined the war because he though that this was to be exactly the case - Germany and Britain would negotiate an end to the war, preventing it from becoming the long, drawn-out conflict his military had told him they weren't prepared for. Mussolini gambled with the hope of ending up on the winning side - maximum reward for minimal effort, hence the infamous statement about only needing a few thousand dead to sit at the negotiating table. In fact, the mentality that the war was already over is a considerable reason as to why he was able to push Italy into the war even against the wishes of so much of the military leadership and the Royal Family - although mistrustful of the Germans and aware of the weakness of Italy's military position, it was hard to fault the logic that it would allow for much gain at low cost - and as such, there wasn't much in the way of real resistance from them against Mussolini's move to war.

It was entirely Mussolini's goal to see a rapid negotiated peace to the European war, and he would not have risked continued war - such a course would have been disastrous. Likewise, nor was there a desire to control the French fleet, much of which wouldn't be useable without extensive conversion work done, not to mention manpower concerns and the fact that efforts would be better spent on their own existing naval construction. Nor did Germany, which didn't remotely have the manpower and infrastructure to suddenly start operating a large navy. The French Fleet ended up being much more useful under French control fending off British moves to take their ships - which is one of the major reasons the Vichy Regime was given as much relative autonomy as it had.

 

 


 

 

As far as responding to the OP - simply put, the plan did exist, but the one time it was possible, the Germans scrapped it.

Operation C3 was a long-running line of planning by the Italian military for a potential landing on Malta. The defenses of the island had been recorded and studied down to the most minute details - such as the maximum possible traverse of all the island's defensive gun positions. 

In fact, much Italian war planning revolved around sudden surprise attacks from naval landings in the opening days of the war, in order to quickly take strategic areas as rapidly as possible. Warplans dealt with operations against Greek Islands in the Ionian Sea (In the event of war with Greece), the Dalmatian Coast (War with Yugoslavia), Corsica and the main French coastline (War with France), and of course, Malta (in the even of war with Britain).

In 1940, the wish to assault Malta was expressed, but it was vetoed by the the RM's Chief of Staff (Admiral Cavagnari) because it was simply not possible at the time - the only two battleships ready for operation were the rebuild Conte di Cavour and Giulio Cesare. In the event of an assault on Malta, the two battleships would be forced to loiter in a specific location for an extended period of time... while the French alone had five battleships in the Mediterranean (two being the fast Dunkerque-class, three the old and obsolete Bretagne-class), while the British had the Mediterranean fleet in Alexandria and Force H in Gibraltar for a combined force of two carriers, four battleships, and a battlecruiser. The Allies had a  total 6:1 edge in capital ships, only counting ships deployed in the Mediterranean in the Mediterranean.

 

Simply put - it was not possible to take Malta early in the war. One could make the argument that after France dropped out of the war and more Italian battleships came online (before Taranto), it could've been done, but this neglects the fact that;

  1. The RM was already occupied having to secure supply lines to North Africa, the Balkans, the Dodecanese, the Black Sea, and Spain - plus Italian coastal traffic. These would have to be sacrificed for a time in order to concentrate the fleet for an invasion of Malta
  2. Army and Air Force resources were being consumed by other fronts - in fact, many early major efforts of the RM were delivering emergency supplies to the 10th Army in North Africa.
  3. In the event of an Italian operation against Malta, if the British needed to bulk up their fleet... well, in the latter half of 1940... the Italian fleet was the only fleet that Britain had to worry about, as both German battleships were out of commission - the raider Admiral Sheer was active int he Atlantic, but aside from that the only major German warship doing much of anything was the Admiral Hipper, when she wasn't breaking down. Numerous British warships are viable, and Italy is the only naval foe around at the time

After that point, the opportunity only arose again in 1942, which this time incorporated German support in the operation. It was likely quite doable, and even with significant casualties should've been successful - but it was cancelled. Essentially, after the Battle of Gazala, Rommel wanted reinforcements for an ill-advised invasion of Egypt. As most of these forces were bookmarked for Operation C3 (the invasion of Malta), this was impossible... until he used his personal relationship with Hitler to plead his case to the German dictator. As per usual, Hitler was enamored with his favorite general, and consequently pulled German support from the Malta operation, effectively ending it, and instead sent it to support Rommel's disastrous invasion of Egypt. Shortly after, Italian forces bookmarked for the operation - such as the famed 185ª Folgore paratrooper division - were sent to reinforce the Italian forces that formed the bulk of Rommel's army.

 

So, for a TL;DR - It wasn't a realistic possibility for much of the war, and the one time it was, Rommel whined to Hitler and got it cancelled in favor for his own campaign.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,086
[KNMSU]
Members
7,086 posts
7,668 battles
40 minutes ago, Phoenix_jz said:

Uh... no. Mussolini literally only joined the war because he though that this was to be exactly the case - Germany and Britain would negotiate an end to the war, preventing it from becoming the long, drawn-out conflict his military had told him they weren't prepared for. Mussolini gambled with the hope of ending up on the winning side - maximum reward for minimal effort, hence the infamous statement about only needing a few thousand dead to sit at the negotiating table. In fact, the mentality that the war was already over is a considerable reason as to why he was able to push Italy into the war even against the wishes of so much of the military leadership and the Royal Family - although mistrustful of the Germans and aware of the weakness of Italy's military position, it was hard to fault the logic that it would allow for much gain at low cost - and as such, there wasn't much in the way of real resistance from them against Mussolini's move to war.

It was entirely Mussolini's goal to see a rapid negotiated peace to the European war, and he would not have risked continued war - such a course would have been disastrous. Likewise, nor was there a desire to control the French fleet, much of which wouldn't be useable without extensive conversion work done, not to mention manpower concerns and the fact that efforts would be better spent on their own existing naval construction. Nor did Germany, which didn't remotely have the manpower and infrastructure to suddenly start operating a large navy. The French Fleet ended up being much more useful under French control fending off British moves to take their ships - which is one of the major reasons the Vichy Regime was given as much relative autonomy as it had.

+1'd. There's no way the Italians would have (or could have) forced Germany to perpetuate the war.

Obviously, the idea of a dramatic peace in the west is far-fetched simply given the personalities involved - Hitler believed that the British would come to terms, even if they were rotten terms, and Churchill by that point was out for blood. It would have essentially taken Hitler - hat in hand - approaching the Brits and saying "look, we never really wanted this fight; our interests are elsewhere, here's 95% of France and the Low Countries back, sign a non-aggression treaty with us, and we'll all look the other way (and you can watch as we crush Russia, who you don't like anyway)". 

That would have taken a sager man that Adolf, however (and probably than Napoleon). Bismarck would have pulled it off, though. If you could swap ol' Otto for Hitler after the fall of France, I'd better money that he'd manage to turn the British Parliament on its head. So the right man could have done the deed. Hitler just wasn't... really, ever... the right man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
162
[SLDS]
Members
541 posts
4,482 battles
6 hours ago, Battleship_Elisabeth said:

+1'd. There's no way the Italians would have (or could have) forced Germany to perpetuate the war.

Obviously, the idea of a dramatic peace in the west is far-fetched simply given the personalities involved - Hitler believed that the British would come to terms, even if they were rotten terms, and Churchill by that point was out for blood. It would have essentially taken Hitler - hat in hand - approaching the Brits and saying "look, we never really wanted this fight; our interests are elsewhere, here's 95% of France and the Low Countries back, sign a non-aggression treaty with us, and we'll all look the other way (and you can watch as we crush Russia, who you don't like anyway)". 

That would have taken a sager man that Adolf, however (and probably than Napoleon). Bismarck would have pulled it off, though. If you could swap ol' Otto for Hitler after the fall of France, I'd better money that he'd manage to turn the British Parliament on its head. So the right man could have done the deed. Hitler just wasn't... really, ever... the right man.

I'm not so sure as you about the result of negotiations.  Admittedly, M wouldn't have forced H to continue the war, but his ego would likely have kept Italy in it.  Remember he invaded Greece because he was piqued that he wasn't getting what he felt he deserved.  If Italy hadn't joined (or more likely bailed on) the peace negotiations because M wanted more, there is a probability (I'm not going to speculate but it definitely wasn't zero) that Germany would have restarted its war with the West if for no other reason than to protect its holdings for fear that Italy would lose them.  This IS what drove the DAK involvement in North Africa in the first place.  In 1940/41, Hitler still actually admired Mussolini.

I do think you've got a point in that if Otto had been there instead of H, maybe Germany could've gotten away with it, but remember also that Otto performed his dirty deeds after seeding the ground completely.  France wasn't helped during the F-P War largely because A) Napoleon III was a jerk, B) Otto had successfully isolated France diplomatically.  He'd done the same thing with Austria a few years earlier.  In WWII, it was Germany which was isolated due to its aggression.  Remember Churchhill's famous comment about why Britain should side with the USSR?  "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

I completely agree that H was a lousy negotiator (though he believed himself to be good at it - even considered himself a genius who was better at warfare and statecraft than his generals and diplomats).  That arrogance created more problems all over.  H did try to make the invasion of Russia a 'crusade' against Bolshevism.  There were some who joined beyond direct allies, but not that many.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
610
[UFFA]
Members
1,961 posts
75 battles

Greece was never meant to be an invasion and Metaxas never really seems to get the fault that he deserves for what he did to the Greek people. Instead we have Oxi day which in reality was a farce.

All it was meant to be was the annexation of southern Epirus. Ciano's agents had all been given the assurances meanwhile the Greeks had been building up their defenses. Cervi covers this pretty well in his book, iirc. Between the recent draft class being released to return to the harvest. No infrastructure what so ever to run a campaign, etc. It was only ever meant to be a simple land grab. Whatever Metaxas actually expected we will never really know however it was obvious he wanted a fight.

Churchill was doing everything possible to stay in the war, in this case fighting the ally he had abandoned France. So I'm not sure what you mean about restarting a war that hadn't stopped.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
174
[FTH]
Members
1,001 posts
15,074 battles
On ‎3‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 7:07 PM, jags_domain said:

I am having to write this quickly and my thoughts are a bit scattered so if I miss something please point it out.

Malta has been the most important piece of realist in the whole Med, it was been taken and retaken hundreds of times. knowing this why did Germany not invade and take the island, they had there chances.  After the landing on Create, and yes it did not go as planed but why did they not take Malta when they had the chance?  

The invasion could have taken place either before Rommel or after Rommel had started his campaign and after weeks or months of air raids over Malta.  There was a time when Malta had nothing, no planes, food, the only thing they had was water.  Germany could have learned what went wrong in Create, adapted and taken the island.  This would lead to some interesting possibility.(there was a book about one oil tanker that made it into Malta, cant remember the name but it was a good book)

England would have been cut off from the Suez Cannel and all there holding in the far east.  Note the discussion could go in to what the IJN forces could do at this point, but I want to stay with Malta.  Rommel could have jumped over Tobruk and headed directly into Egypt.  Ether taking Egypt or taking the Caucuses and letting the British starve in North Africa.

The Italy fleet would have not been damage by the battle of Taranto so it would be intact.  I know the Italians fleet did not do well in the war but if they were attacking and knew where the British were coming from and had German air cover they might have done much better.  The Italian fleet could be defending Malta and ready to attack the UK navy when it came for Malta.

As for UK navy they would be very stretched with the battle of the Atlantic and the artic convoys.  Most likely they would have pulled there forces from helping Russia, gather the channel fleet and head to Malta with our without an amphibious force.  That many ships they would have had to head striate to Malta as Gibraltar could never have supported the fleet, and attack.  This would have been an epic battle.  The combined UK navy with limited aircover.  German subs, the Italian navy with German and Italy air cover flying form North Africa, Malta, and Sardinia.

I would speculate that the UK navy would lose this confrontation only because the AA on early ships would have had a hard time battling so many planes, but perhaps UK navy tradition and luck would pull them through.

 

Thoughts?

The tanker you're thinking of is the Ohio, in Operation Pedestal...and yeah I remember the book you're talking about...read it in high school and been trying to find it again every since then..it's amazing what they managed to pull off...abandoning it 2 different nights, sun came up and she was still floating...finally had a pair of DD's lashed to it, one up front and one behind to steer it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For security reasons, please do not provide your personal data or the personal data of a third party here because we might be unable to protect such data in accordance with the Wargaming Privacy Policy.

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×