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"Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

De l'assaut sur Dakar à la bataille d'El Alamein, les combats en Méditerranée. Opération Torch et la suite logique avec le débarquement en Sicile et les affrontements dans la péninsule italienne. Anzio, Monte Cassino, le Garigliano...
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Re: Monastir (Tunisie) 13 Aout 1942

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 11  Nouveau message de 13emeDBLE  Nouveau message 23 Jan 2010, 22:19

Thanks a lot Enrico...

Is my text usefull for you ? I can try to look for the French patrol vessel of Vichy Flottilla in Tunisia in 1942 if you want...

You may participate to the debate in english, it doesn't matter for me...

Can you check the infos and diagramm given in the text ? I took it from Italian Navy datas, but it was in 1971, so perhaps some mistakes...

CM
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Re: Monastir (Tunisie) 13 Aout 1942

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 12  Nouveau message de Enrico Cernuschi  Nouveau message 24 Jan 2010, 11:37

Ciao,

the datas are correct and the same since 1971, there was a small material mistake in the 1941 totals which was found by Michele Gaetani in his excellent Stive ed egemonia published as a supplement by the Rivista Marittima on Nov. 2007 (I wrote the chapter V of that study), but it's about 900 instead of 300 tons delivered so statistically withour any relevance.

The whole story about the Axis supplies by sea to North Africa suffer some big (or, better, malicious) mistakes.

You can find an up to date full picture in:

http://www.marina.difesa.it/editoria/ri ... /art04.asp

here I will limit myself to submit you some basic items:

the Axis services in North Africa needed a total of baout 65.000 t of supplies monthly

The harbours in Libya could handle at best that total. Sometimes they could receive higher amounts, but they were special occasions with special deliveries (like the tanks of a new armouder division) which had an higher ratio between weight and volume

The German and Italian troops and the colony received a media of 65.000 t monthly between June 1940 and May 1943.

There were always plenty of merchant vessels to supply North Africa, the Balkans ect. On 8 Sept. 1943 the Axis had still mopre than 1,8 millions of GWTs available while the tonnage necessary for for North Africa was always about 150.000 tons.

The fact that appprently only a fraction of the tonnage was charged is a natural cnsequence of the difference between weight and volumes. An assembled lorry need more space than a kit to mount at Tripoli, but the troops needed the lorry fast and even if there was a FIAT factory at Tripoli it could handle only a small numbers of kits. Abundance anytime of tonnage allowed anyway to use both space and weight at will within the harbours handling capacity.

The dark legend was born on September 1942 when Rommel suddenly asked Marshal Cavallero 150.000 tons of monthly supplies. It was an idiocy and the German Marshal knew well that fact, but both he and general Jodl had just concluded, being great prof, that Hitler's war had yet failed during the last weeks somewhere in the Caucasian mountains and that the last German chance was a new continental victory against the Western Allies like the one gained over France on Spring 1940. Africa had to be given up as Rommel did not believe anymore to a realistic chance to seize Suez. Italy too was not important, at least until the Pisa-Rimini line and could be abandoned easy to the enemy. What really mattered was the chance to defeat the British and the Americans in France along the shores of an invasion or during a later, classic campaign which materialized, at least, in the last Ardennnes offensive.

Cavallero would have to reply sharply that the 150.000 monthly quota was a trick to retreat from Africa, but he preferred to shut up and smile. Mussolini had ordered him to act this way, but it was an historical mistake which allowed many "historians" to believe at the British propaganda legend about Malta.

By the way the germans never sent from Europe mopre than 30-40.000 thousands tons monthly to North Africa and Italy had almost nothing to send there beyond what was yet shipped.

An other legend is the crippling nature of the Nov. 1941 losses at sea. Actually what was lost that month (the only one of the whole campaign with a per cent so hight) were general purpose cargos which did not affect the battle during the British Crusader offensive as the build-up for the planned new attack against Tobruch and Egypt had been completed on Sept. 1941 and the total stocks in Africa granted always about one-two months of autonomy. The Axis offensive had been delayed by the deferrment of the construction of the "Strada dell'Asse" around Tobruch beyind the range of the British artillery.

The total amount of military (both Italian and German) materials lost between 1 Aug. 1941 and 18 Jan. 1942 was:
25 20 mm guns; 67 anti tank guns (47 and 50 mm); 12 75 mm guns; 198 cars, 338 lorries and 46 tanks i.e. the materials for a single Italian division (the Sabratha) which had to be reformed after the early 1941 Graziani's disaster, but which was not going to be used during the next planned Nov. 1941 offensive as it was necessary to train the man again and which was completed by late January 1942 being employed during the next May and June 1942 offensive from Gazala to El Alamein.
(Source Lucio Ceva, La condotta italiana della guerra, -Cavallero's papers- ed. Felrinelli, Milan, 1975, page 199).

In literature is available a story about a Luftwaffe lack of gasoline on late Nov. 1941. but numbers do not allow such a statement. It's true that ther's a difference between stocks in depots and on the field, but the Italian navy deliveries by submarine of gasoline and munitions on Nov. Dec,. 1941 at Bardia allowed the Afrika Korps to supply itself just in time and on the spot (Batailles H-S n.15 les panzer de l'Afrika Korps).

This same submarine supplies (very small in front of the total big nuymners, but which must be confronted with the daily divisions consumptions at battle) can give us, however, an index of the real psycological categories of that time. When the first boat, the minelayer Zoea, arrived on Aug. 1941 at Bardia Rommerl paid her a visit, give the crew his small dog with the preyer to send it back to his family and almost cried "If this is not a single exploit we are save". After only six months of Africa the sense of isolation had prevailed over logic as that boat had just delivered little more than one hundred of tins of materials.

This same sense of isolation beyond the sea collapsed at least the German soldiers' will since April 1943 while the legend of the lack of supplies which had compromised Rommel's efforts at El Alamein and in Tunisia was the excuse used by the Germans to justify the pendig defeats in front of their allies and the public opinion then and later.

I limit myself here to quote that according general Westhpal and Bayerlein own declarations the last late Aug. 1942 offensive at El Alamein did not suffer for lack of petrol and that Hitler himself, in his Military conferences, rebuffed on Nov. 1942 his geenrals claims about the lack of fuel which would have hampered the Italian and German army at El Alamein saying that the 2.000 miles retreat until Agedabia had not been made filling the lorries' tanks with water.

Once we consider the fact that the Malta (and not only Malta) offensive against the Italian and German traffic (there was something, little, French traffic too on Dec. 1941-Jan. 1942, merci camrades) did not hamper the logistical supplies and the operations and that the general tonnage war did not affect the Italian and Axis war in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the final point is if the losses of personel and materials at sea had any decisive effect over the Italian and German forces durinf the following campaigns in Siclily and Italy. the answer is again no.

Only an half of the personnel sent in Afrcia by sea and by air and recorded as not arrived (about 27.000 men) died. The reminder were rescued and come back to Italy. In front of the only Italian army strenght on Summer 1943 (more than 3 millions of soldiers) the loss was sad. but far from fundamental. teh same for the Germans.

About the materials there was plenty of old artillery (the few modern one arrived safely in Libya and Tunisia) on Summer 1943; about the tanks the Italian losses were 453 M 13 and M 14 tanks, 57 l 3 and 18 75/18 Self propelled artillery guns. As the Sicily and Sardina logistic di not allow to supply more than an arm. brigade the difference was to have for Husky a tank regiment armed with M 14 instead of the R 35. Facing the Shermans the differecne would be anyway a little one. A landing in Sarfina would have found an Italian regiment armed totally with M 13 instad of a mix of M 13 and Somua. i confess to be unable to appreciate the difference.

About the warships balance, at least, until Nov. 1942 the numbers of the vessels lost by the British to supply Malta and to atack the enemy traffic and of the Italian and German ones expended to attack the enemy conovys bound for the Grand Harbour and to defend their own convoys are:

Royal Navy Regia Marina

Carriers 2 0

Cruisers 5 5

DDs 21 9

Torpedo boats 0 3

Fleet Minesweepers 2 0

Subchasers 2 0

MTBs 2 2 + 3 German ones

After it was no more the British war, but the American one. The a.m. losses, however, hid not hamper the Italian Navy efficiency than and later, included the situation during the Sicilian landings, when two Italian battleships (Littorio and Vittorio Veneto) with a division of light cruisers and a dozen of DDs had on the other side of the hill to face six British battleships, two fleet carriers and an armada of cruisers and destoryers. The British concentration had been allowed by the lent by the USN of two modern BBs at Scapa Flow (Alabama and South Dakota).

Salut les gars

EC


 

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Re: Monastir (Tunisie) 13 Aout 1942

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 13  Nouveau message de Enrico Cernuschi  Nouveau message 24 Jan 2010, 12:28

About the bibliography it seems me quite old fashioned. Let me suggest you to add my friend's
Vincent P. O'Hara "Struggle for the Middle Sea" published by the Naval Institute Press of Annapolis on 2009. It's plenty of novelites and inedit infos and there are some rich French chapters too. ;)

Salut

EC


 

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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 14  Nouveau message de Enrico Cernuschi  Nouveau message 25 Jan 2010, 18:37

Tout partis?

EC


 

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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 15  Nouveau message de Prosper Vandenbroucke  Nouveau message 25 Jan 2010, 18:43

Enrico Cernuschi a écrit:Tout partis?

EC


Hello Enrico,
Nothing is gone, I have just changed (on Cedric's request) the title of this topic.
Have a good evening
Prosper ;)
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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 16  Nouveau message de Enrico Cernuschi  Nouveau message 25 Jan 2010, 21:22

Mais je vous en prie Prosper, en française SVP.

L'anglaise c'est pour les conférences (et la fameuse conduite à droite), mais pour les répliques parlez grand siècle.

EC :D


 

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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 17  Nouveau message de mescal  Nouveau message 25 Jan 2010, 23:32

Bonsoir Enrico,

(les anglais ne roulent-ils pas plutot à gauche ;) ?)
Anyway, let's go in french.

Merci beaucoup pour cette introduction - c'est super de pouvoir avoir l'avis d'un expert.

Je suis en train de relire le chapitre sur la guerre en Afrique du Nord dans Supplying War de Van Creveld. On y retrouve le meme argument : les pertes de ravitaillement en mer sont restées marginales, et de toutes facons étaient plutot négligeable devant le fait qu'il fallait ensuite transporter ce ravitaillement de Benghazi ou Tripoli jusqu'au front.
(en fait, à certaines période, la majorité du carburant servait aux camions assurant les trajets logistiques).

Par contre, si je comprends bien, l'obligation de naviguer en convois a été restrictive pour les italiens.
D'après Van Creveld, le port de Tripoli ne peut accueillir que 4 ou 5 navires. Donc un convoi ne peut guère etre constitué de plus de navires.
Cependant, la présence de forces légères à Malte oblige Supermarina à fournir des escortes conséquentes à tous ces convois. Si je me souviens bien, il y a au moins un convoi transportant 20,000 tonnes de ravitaillement qui s'est retrouvé êtr escorté par environ 100,000 tonnes de navires de guerre (je ne me souviens plus de la date, probablement en 42).
Et il ne me semble pas que ce soit un usage optimal du tonnage militaire.

D'un autre coté, je soupconne que les navires pour l'Afrique auraient tout de meme navigué en convoi meme si Malte était tombé, ne serait-ce qu'à cause des sous-marins qui se seraient rabattus sur Alexandrie comme base d'opération.

Bref, je ne suis pas certain d'avoir les idées très très claires sur ce point.


 

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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 18  Nouveau message de 13emeDBLE  Nouveau message 26 Jan 2010, 00:06

Bonsoir,

Merci à l'équipe de modération et aux plus impatients (anglophone comme Enrico) de nous permettre d'entamer les prémices du débat plus tôt.

Malte n'a pas pesé de manière aussi importante que ce que croient les anglosaxons sur le ravitaillement.

Les chiffres parlent d'eux-mêmes.

Le chapitre de Van Creveld est une référence en la matière.

En revanche, à certains moments, Malte a pu influer les opérations, notamment au second semestre 1942 en bloquant la constitution de réserves de pétrole de la Panzerarmee Afrika.

Et surtout, Malte a facilité l'usure de la flotte marchande italienne, et la réduction des stocks de mazout italiens, ainsi que l'usure des unités navales.

La question du mazout est importante et n'a pas fait l'objet d'études approfondies (dans la célèbre interjection "Malta et nafta !" de Cavallero, "nafta" - pétrole - est le plus important.)

Au-delà de cette question, qui n'est qu'un des aspects de la bataille de Malte, il faut aussi se pencher sur la remarquable capacité des Alliés d'y maintenir et développer une capacité de nuisance, et l'incapacité de l'Axe de régler définitivement le problème...

Cordialement,

CM
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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 19  Nouveau message de Prosper Vandenbroucke  Nouveau message 26 Jan 2010, 10:40

Tenez-en quand même sous le coude pour ce vendredi 29 janvier à 21h00
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: "Avant-débat sur Malte"-"Before the Malta meeting" 29/01/10

Nouveau message Post Numéro: 20  Nouveau message de Enrico Cernuschi  Nouveau message 26 Jan 2010, 15:14

The next Friday debate will be a great one as - first time - many miths will be over by that day, courtesy of this Avant-débat, and the subtle French (and not only) spirit will be alble at least to propose something new about this matter free from the Anglosaxon bias. I confide grately to be able to read later something of innovative: that different point of view which is the trademark of the true French culture since Voltaire (while someone's habit to reply, in magazines and books too, just the English fashion and keyturn solution is quite sad: like everyone else I prefer the original to any bad copy).

About the points 13eme: malta had by sure an effect, but (again) the second half petrol crisis is an other die hard legend. Let me suggest you to find a copy of this excellent study:

Gino Jori, "I rifornimenti dal mare alle forze italo tedesche attestate a El Alamein per la ripresa dell'attacco all'Egitto (2 luglio-2 novembre 1942) published by RID Rivista Italiana Difesa, Feb. 1986.
It contains the original datas about all the fuel delivered and the demands by the Italian and German Army on the El Alamein line. There was no crisis and no tank or lorry had to stop, before the breaking of the 164th German Division front by the British on 4 Nov. 1942, for lack of oil.

There was plenty of Italian tonnage too (North Africa needed only less than 100.000 GWT monthly), there were losses, off course, but the British paid an higher price for attrition and the Italians had only to commission their merchant vessels on reserve since the beginning of the war to face all their necessities with the islands, the traffic with Spain, France, French North Africa, the Balkans, the Black Sea and, at least, Libya abnd Egypt. To have idle freighters in the harbours was not a difference.

The fuel consumption was an apprciable one, but there was always the fuel to sail the warships and the merchant fleet and there was always a last reserve for the battleforce to defend the home until the coming, on 23 June 1943, of four more BBs (Warspite, Valiant, Nelson and Rodney) and a further fleet carrier (Indomitable) adding their strenght to the Force H (King George V anf Howe with the Carrier Formidable) at Mers-el-Kébir altered the balace beyond any imagination and realistic chance for Littorio and Vittorio Veneto (Roma was repairing her damages and was not ready before the next August; Doria and Duilio were still not operational for lack of training - a large fraction of her crews had been sent to man the new escort ships since January 1943; even without Malta the old torpedo boats were worn out by late 1942 so that turn over was necessary).

For the real state of the Italian oil stocks (navy and not only navy) during the Second World War let me suggest you "La guerra del fuoco", Rivista Marittima, Oct. 1999.

The worning out of warships to defend the sea lanes was true, of course, but what mattered on Summer 1943 were fleet DD (destroyers) not DE (destroyers-escort) and there were enough of them (a dozen) by that time. To hope to have saved after three years of war all the (not too many) fleet destoryers available on 10 June 1940 (20) and the five commissioned later would be too much. This very fact, however, sounds as a confrmation the Italian fleet was not pampered like the Britons loved to say, but fought her battle according her own strategy and interests, as Admiral de Belot and Admiral Harjot wrote fifty years ago (a confirmation, according my not so humble opinion, that the best French naval thougt is the original one and the worste the follow-the-leader tendency behind the old British propaganda tones).

The sea denial (capacité de nuisance) is the only alternative to sea power. The British, after the "very disappointing" action off Calabria on 9 July 1940 according Adm. Andrew Browne Cunninghmam's own words) had no alternative to sea denial. They paid this task ay a price higher than the Italian ad German one. What else?

The invasion of Malta, at least, was an impossible task (and the Germans refused that very idea on Spring 1941 at first and by late Spring 1942 again).

Pour mescal:

the lorries ferring materials to the El Alamein front spent a third of their cargo as the camions were usually Italian ones both for the Regio Esercito and the Afrika Korps. The real bottelneck was the lagistic line by road as the harbours could not handle a greater number of camions. As matter of fact Hitler himself was at least persuaded by this simple truth and the nexr Dec. offensive he conceived on Sept.-Oct. 1942 after the one stopped early Sept. 1942, would be based not on force which could not be supplied, but on new weapons (nebelwerfen and Tiger tanks) which actially worked later at Kasserine.

The use of the battleforce during the Dec. 1941 and Jan. 1942 convoys to escort the convoys was expensive,of course, but it worked and was ethically a must (and here again the British dark legend about the Italian battelships idle at their anchor is confirmed to be nuts).

The convoys bound for North Africa, eve if Malta had been abandoned or surredered (I say again, no invasion was possible from the air and from the sea on 1940, 1941, 1942 and, of course, 1943), would need their escort. Th eBritish submarines, however, would have to sail along longer routes to find their targets, so malta was useful. The necessity to use those same submarines to supply the island on 1942, however (51 missions for this purpose on 1942) reduced the numbers of the offensive patrols too.
The final result is, anyway, that by far most of the freighters dfelivere dtheir cargo and the losses caused by submarines, aircrafts, warships and mines were faced. The cargo lost then, as we have seen before, would not do any difference on 1943.

The war in North Africa was won by the huge Allied material and logistical superiority they had since the first day of that conflict.

Malta could not be invaded or seized by starvation.

Suez was beyond any real Italian (an d alter Italian adn German) effort

Gibraltar could be seized only with the Spanish help, but madrid could not be supplied by the Axis.

Sicily, at least, was a battle without any military chance in front of the USA power after it had formally entered in the Mediterranean on Nov. 1942.

All that Italy could do was to fight as long as to bypass the menace of a Chartago peace imposed by a Britsh victory (a goal achieved by early Spring 1943) and to get an agreement with the much more compatible and consistent USA. A scheme the leading Italian economical establishment had conceived since 1936 without any interest about Mussolini's dreams. It was a war between nations, not for ideology (at least in Italy and, I presume, in France too).

Salut les gars

EC


 

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