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Battles & Campaigns Whether it's an individual combat account or a massive clash of arms; the strategy, tactics & operations of WW II are open for discussion here.

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  #76  
Old 24 Mar 12, 07:07
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In the 50's the bits of the Via Balbia that I saw were excellent (far better than the pot-holed roads around here). However it was a single track road and not very wide.

Absolutely right about the desert - sand dunes in part but mostly just jagged rocks - unpleasant even to walk on - could not see normal tyres lasting long on that stuff.

Please do carry on boys!
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  #77  
Old 24 Mar 12, 12:47
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There is actually very little else to say. Even if Greece had been in the war London had other jobs for Mid-East Command now that the threat to Egypt had been removed/lessened. The government was determined to start rearming Turkey and building up a Balkan front not just with Greece but also Yugoslavia. The war in East Africa was still going a on and the Admiralty and government both wanted it wrapped up in order to allow US shipping to enter the Red Sea. Until the Italians were cleared out the US government would not permit US flagged vessels into war zones and the British government wanted access to those ships. There also the growing issue with Vichy Syria and the Levant as well as Iraq.

While O'Connor and Dorman-Smith may have set their eyes on Tripoli Wavell had a myriad of tasks and few resources with which to handle them all. In the pecking order of priorities, the western desert was at the bottom. And without hindsight, securing the mid-east line of communication and clearing east Africa first, makes perfect sense. Politically, London had to ensure the remaining neutrals in Europe could count on 'material' as well as moral support if attacked. This also ate into resources.
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  #78  
Old 02 Apr 12, 10:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
Hmmmm, thats enough to supply a motorized infantry division in light combat for a day. In heavy combat at least 50% more is required. However that is not allowing for supply of the corps or army units supporting. When evaluating supply required its better to divide to total number of battalions in a corps or army by the number of division HQ, into division 'slices'. That accounts for the actuall gross consuption. For Op. Overlord the logistics planners allowed for 900 to 950 tons per day per div slice. It may very well be the Germans, or British in the Lybian desert had smaller pools of corps troops, so maybe 700 tons per day in combat and 400 to 500 tons per day for manuver & movement without much combat.
I'll point out that in the desert the respective forces seldom remained in close contact with each other and that the fighting was characterised by brief periods of intense activity, interposed with prolonged periods of patient supply build-up.
FWIW the 900 tons a day the British were getting through Tobruk from 1st February 1941 was sufficient to get them to Agheila in the first place.


Quote:
A second critical question would be the ability of the Brit. mechanics to repair these 8,000 trucks as they make continual 1500km+ round trips.
Continual 1500km round trips is based on the assumption that the British cannot get Benghazi working. But the British fully understood the wastage expected on mechanical transport by the distances and conditions in the desert. Wavell was bitterly disappointed not to receive his promised 3,000 lorries per month between Jan. and March 41. Maintaining the Agheila position AND the Greek expedition may have been doable if he had received them.
BTW Tobruk - Agheila roundtrip is *only* about 1300km

Quote:
Sustaining that sort of automotive transport effort requires lots of parts, and salvage/repair stations along the route. Were the Brits organized for that sort of thing ?
Yes, why not?

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I'd suspect their automotive support was organized for sustaining short range tactical movement and transporting from depots maybe 100km distant. Tis long haul trucking operation is a entirely different cat.
No. British transport was divided into three lines. The third line transport was detailed to move supplies from the seahead or railhead to field supply depots and field maintenance centres. Second line transport moved supplys from the FSDs to the units themselves.

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  #79  
Old 02 Apr 12, 11:08
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Yes, compared to Africa Greece had 'roads'. In any case the British LOC was very short to the ports.
" In 1941 a few well graded roads crossed the mountains, but they were single-way and unfit for heavy motor traffic. The other roads were mere fair-weather tracks winding steeply through the defiles, and demanding a skill in driving very different from what the British troops had acquired in the Western Desert. For the rest, communications were limited to bridle paths."

The distance from Florina to Piraeus is almost exactly the same as the same as that from Tobruk to Agheila.
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  #80  
Old 02 Apr 12, 12:17
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That's very strange. The Germans managed to push entire panzer and motorised divisions from Bulgaria, over the "goat tracks" of southern Yugoslavia and into and through Macedonia, take Thesalonika, drive down the coastal and interior roads through central Greece, through the narrow neck of land leading to Athens and then over the Corinth Canal and into the Pelopennesus.

Now either the Germans were logistical miracle workers or the British were simply not up to the task. Using the 'road conditions' as an excuse for British failure in Greece is ridiculous. The Germans covered greater distances, over rougher terrain while on the attack and managed to drive the CW forces down the same roads you claim were all but worthless. How was it possible to supply a German army on the attack over these roads if the British could not supply a small corps?

The answer is self-evident. The roads were quite adequate to the task. Maybe not the M1 out of London but they could certainly handle tanks and trucks in 1941.

Or were you Super-Brit/Anzacs simply incompetent?
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  #81  
Old 02 Apr 12, 12:20
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Originally Posted by Gooner View Post
...BTW Tobruk - Agheila roundtrip is *only* about 1300km ...
Perhaps but the British railhead was at Mersa Matruh not Tobruk. Tobruk was of limited value and the Germans were interdicting Benghazi and the eroad southe to El Agheila. It was one of the first things Rommel got organised when, to his disgust, he found the LW was asked not to bomb Bengazi to heavily because many Italian senior officers owned vacation villas in the city.

Benghazi and Tobruk were no more an answer to the logistics issues than they were to the Germans going the other way.
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  #82  
Old 02 Apr 12, 12:27
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
the CW forces down the same roads you claim were all but worthless. How was it possible to supply a German army on the attack over these roads if the British could not supply a small corps?
You are starting to seem really deranged. Nowhere did I claim the Greek roads were worthless. The British could and did supply a small Corps in Greece - a long way from the seahead in Piraeus.
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  #83  
Old 02 Apr 12, 12:37
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Perhaps but the British railhead was at Mersa Matruh not Tobruk. Tobruk was of limited value and the Germans were interdicting Benghazi and the eroad southe to El Agheila. It was one of the first things Rommel got organised when, to his disgust, he found the LW was asked not to bomb Bengazi to heavily because many Italian senior officers owned vacation villas in the city.

Benghazi and Tobruk were no more an answer to the logistics issues than they were to the Germans going the other way.

You really ain't bothering are you? Tobruk was unloading 900 tons a day from February 1st 1941.
The Luftwaffe were having fun interdicting Benghazi & c. because the British had five fighter squadrons and four anti-aircraft regiments in Greece!
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  #84  
Old 02 Apr 12, 14:04
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Oh, please Gooner. This is too simple. Its is all in the history books already, I do not have to much to counter your fantasy "Uber-Albion" viewpoint.

Tobruk could manage about 20-25,000 tons a month (depending on how much it was harrassed). This is a trickle for a motorised army of the make-up of the British.

And no, the RAF could not have maintained a large formation west of Tobruk for the same reasons it could not maintain a large ground force. The logistics requirements. It may have been able to do so later if given the time to develop the infrastructure (extend the rail line, recieve more trucks from England), build up stockpiles, etc., but the ability to supply a reinforced XIII did not exist in March 1941 with or without Greece.

Had Greece not been on the cards the same resources would still have been used elsewhere (East Africa, Syria, Iraq) for all the reasons mentioned above. The Western desert was the lowest priority in March 41 because Wavell had other obligations.
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  #85  
Old 02 Apr 12, 14:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
That's very strange. The Germans managed to push entire panzer and motorised divisions from Bulgaria, over the "goat tracks" of southern Yugoslavia and into and through Macedonia, take Thesalonika, drive down the coastal and interior roads through central Greece, through the narrow neck of land leading to Athens and then over the Corinth Canal and into the Pelopennesus.
Hmm, goat tracks is not good description of terrain there (at least in Yugoslavia).
It is much worse then northern plains of Yugoslavia, but much, much better than area behind Adriatic coast. After all, it is best communication to Greece, and it has double-lane or two single lane railway track.

This route has several gorges, followed by plains - so it is negotiable by mechanized force - but also stoppable by determined defender and mining.

BTW, soviets used same entrance from Bulgaria, but headed north - leaving germans retreating from Greece stranded in goat tracks for months.

Routes germans were retreting were goat tracks (even by our standard) - i drove on one such road in Montenegro two years ago. Here is this road, with german column being bombed by british planes - look at the curves.
http://www.mycity-military.com/slika...F-C_004882.jpg

-----

Regarding topic - does anybody have list of Axis convoys/shipping to North Africa via Greece?
I am interested in when convoys started, and when they stopped using this route. Logic tells me they used it when Axis held Tobruk and Benghazi, as shortest naval route - but logic is not always enough in discussions.
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  #86  
Old 02 Apr 12, 15:15
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Thanks vathra but I was being sarcastic to Gooner's quips about the poor infrastructure in Greece. I am well aware of the terrain in the region and know the Germans were quite able to move, fight and supply their tanks and motor columns over the roads available. So should the British and CW forces if their training, doctrine and kit were up to the task.
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Old 02 Apr 12, 15:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vathra View Post
Regarding topic - does anybody have list of Axis convoys/shipping to North Africa via Greece?
I am interested in when convoys started, and when they stopped using this route. Logic tells me they used it when Axis held Tobruk and Benghazi, as shortest naval route - but logic is not always enough in discussions.
No, but I can remember this gentleman (or 'these gentlemen') posting about it on another thread some time back.

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/

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Old 02 Apr 12, 17:02
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Oh, please Gooner. This is too simple. Its is all in the history books already, I do not have to much to counter your fantasy "Uber-Albion" viewpoint.
You have not quoted a single history book in your tired, lazy and clichéd analyses.

I suggest you renew your knowledge with the Offical Histories, two of which are available free online here http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/index.html

Quote:
Tobruk could manage about 20-25,000 tons a month (depending on how much it was harrassed). This is a trickle for a motorised army of the make-up of the British.
I just told you the British were already getting 900 tons a day by February. Offical history fact that is obviously not good enough compared the ones you pluck out of nowhere.
And that 'motorised army' canard neatly ignores the fact that once dug-in at Agheila the Aussies won't be motoring anywhere except to the nearest beach for the occasional R+R.

Quote:
And no, the RAF could not have maintained a large formation west of Tobruk for the same reasons it could not maintain a large ground force. The logistics requirements.
but the ability to supply a reinforced XIII did not exist in March 1941 with or without Greece.
No, those 8,000 lorries sent to Greece would have made no difference. Because you say so.


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The Western desert was the lowest priority in March 41 because Wavell had other obligations.
Really? Some farking evidence to back up your bold statements forthcoming?
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  #89  
Old 02 Apr 12, 17:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gooner
You have not quoted a single history book in your tired, lazy and clichéd analyses....Really? Some farking evidence to back up your bold statements forthcoming?

Pick up any history book that covers more than the comic book view of Mid-East Command's responsibilities. Start with Barrie Pitt's "Crucible of War". There are others,... they all say the same. After Beda Fomm political and strategic priorities shifted whether you like it or not.

Libya was not the priority.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gooner
No, those 8,000 lorries sent to Greece would have made no difference. Because you say so.
If they are not in Greece then they still would not have been in Libya, not according to the prioritues given to Wavell by London. Chances are they would have gone to East Africa but that is just one possibility. They could have gone to Libya but most of the troops would have had to stay back in the Delta. Otherwise the trucks are being used by the divisions (each required close to 3000 for full mobility) and not hauling supplies as part of corps and army echelon.

And, yes, because I say so and, much more importantly, because the history tell us all so.
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  #90  
Old 02 Apr 12, 17:36
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...And that 'motorised army' canard neatly ignores the fact that once dug-in at Agheila the Aussies won't be motoring anywhere except to the nearest beach for the occasional R+R.
Don't be deliberately obtuse. A division does not surrender its inherent transport because the troops dig in. The tranport moves into harbours until required. How do you think the British infantry escaped the Gazala Line once the were 30 miles behind the lines. They certainly didn't whistle up the thousands of vehicles from Egypt.

Honestly. Could you understand less about how an army operates? Even Compass was effected by this. The British had both 4th Indian and 6th Australian available but only one division was sent forward. In mid operation 4th Indian is pulled out and sent to East Africa (the priority) and Compass marked time until the Asutralians could be shuttled forward. You have yourself mentioned that the requested 3000 transport per month was not met and this alone speaks to the drain on resources imposed by the desert.

The reason the British always had a fairly large number of units in the Delta was they could not be supported in the desert. They were dismounted and their transport given to the army to enhance the transport capability for both the divisions deployed forward and to augment the logistics services which were always strained by conditions. Moreover, British command would not deploy a division forward until it had the transport required internally and the the corps and army echelon was able to keep it supplied.

This all required a hell of a lot transport and helps explain why British strength did not really begin to build up until 1942.
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