Discussion:
Greek WW2 what-ifs 2 German failure in Crete
(too old to reply)
Demetrios Rammos
2004-09-27 17:48:04 UTC
Permalink
This is more an attempt at exploring the long term effects of holding
Crete to Greece than anything else. The exact way of German failure is
relatively irrevelant. The battle of Crete was a very closely run thing
in OTL and there is any number of PODs before the the battle to improve
the allied position. In order to minimize early side effects we will
assume the "classical POD" so to speak namely German failure in Hill 107
and subsequently in using the Maleme airfield. By the end of May German
paratroopers on the island are either dead or prisoners.

By the start of June Greek forces on the island consist of some 10,500
men including the cadets of the "Euelpidon school", the Greek war
academy and the Gendarmerie school evaquated from the island, 2100 men
of the Greek Evros brigade that have escaped through Turkey and 900 men
of the Dodecanese phalanx training in Egypt and consisting of volunteers
from Italian held Dodecanese and the Greek community of Egypt. Together
with Cretan recruits from the 1941 class the free Greek forces make up
some 16,000 men sufficient for the I Greek division of 3 brigades to be
formed on the island in late June 1941.

Greek ground forces see little action in 1941as they are mostly
occupied as a garrison for Crete. From early 1942 there is a Greek
brigade present in North Africa increased to 2 brigades by the summer
and a division by the end of 1942. The size of the Greek navy isn't
significantly affected by Greek control of Crete. The size of the Greek
air force is as there where some 300 pilots and air force cadets
evaquated to Crete that in the ATL are available. RHAF first sees action
defending Crete from rather sporadic German air raids flying F4F
Wildcats [1] and Hurricanes.

By late 1941 detachments of the Bomber command are flying night attacks
against Ploesti from Crete and the next year it is joined by USAAF
bombers. Initial allied casualties to German and Romanian interceptors
are very heavy but the pounding continues and when by late 1943 the
Greek and USAAF fighter squadrons in Crete reequip with P-51s damage to
Ploesti is maximized.

Advance to the time of the Italian surrender in September 1943. The
Greek army in exile has increased to some 45,000 men organized in 2
divisions and 2 independent brigades with more recruits escaping daily
from the Greek mainland to Crete through a variety of means. One
division is part of the allied forces in Italy with the remaining units
in Crete. The allies are holding near complete air control over Southern
Greece and the Aegean. When the surrender comes Greek and British forces
seize control of the Dodecanese and Samos and beat back the German
attempt at taking the islands. The liberation of the Dodecanese is
followed by a series of low level operations in late 1943 and the first
half of 1944 that liberate first the Cyclades and then the eastern
Aegean islands from German control. Plans for landings in mainland
Greece are made and enthusiastically supported by Churchill but in the
end amount to nothing due to US opposition to them.

Internal Greek politics or what passes for internal Greek politics get
"interesting" as the time passes. Crete, the home of Venizelos, has been
ardently anti-royalist. The Greek government starts with a moderate
Venizelist Emanuel Tsouderos as its first prime minister. As time passes
the influence of the king keeps deminishing. In 1943 Tsouderos is
replaced by Sophocles Venizelos while the king takes residence to London.

In occupied Greece the political difference is between the rising
communist party and the old parties. Greek control of Crete and the
effective republican control of the Greek government in exile have
affected the patterns of the development of the Greek resistance
movement. In OTL EAM through a variety of means managed to bring inside
its fold a large number of centrists and moderate leftists [2]. In the
ATL the Greek government in exile is able to exert more direct influence
in the development of the Greek resistance. EDES, EAMs rival much like
OTL has proclaimed itself to be antiroyalist. The government in exile
arranges the replacement of its leader Napoleon Zervas with Nicolaos
Plastiras [3] a widely acceptable figure who unites under him the non
communist forces. ELS unlike ELAS is far more enthusiastic over
cooperation with fellow Balkan communist resistance
forces taking orders from the Joint Balkan Partisan Headquarters
established under Tito's auspices instead of the western allies.

Mainland Greece is liberated in September 1944 [4]. The Greek army at
this point consist of 3 infantry divisions, and a brigade of
paratroopers, the air force of 5 fighter squadrons with P-51s and 3
bomber squadrons with Mosquitos. Inside Greece ELS the combat arm of EAM
[5] has a total strength of some 36,000 men 26,000 in the first line ELS
and 10,000 in the "reserve ELS". EOEA, EDES combat arm numbers 43,000
effectives [6] With both sides scrambling for control. ELS ends in
control of central and western Macedonia including Thessaloniki and
Thessaly but no serious fighting errupts and a coalition government
including EAM ministers under Papandreou established a few months before
survives the crisis and government troops enter Thessaloniki under
agreement.

The clash comes 3 months later when after a series of incidents ELS
forces attack government forces in Thessaloniki and EOEA forces in
Epirus. It ends 2 months later with ELS forces decisively defeated under
the blows of the army, reinforced with British and Greek forces from the
Italian theatre and the EOEA. By the time EAM leaders sign a cease fire
in the Kalamaria suburb of Thessaloniki government forces the remaining
organized ELS units, some 7,000 men have retreated into Yugoslavia In
Albania the Greek minority's MABH (North Epirus liberation front) openly
supported from EDES and covertly from the Greek government is in control
of north Epirus but fighting with both Albanian communists and Axis
sympathizers. Only heavy British and Soviet pressure prevents the Greek
army and the Yugoslav partisans from openly clashing during the battle.

Greece ends up the war with a fair chance of avoiding the civil war with
the royalists more or less out of the picture and the government
possesing the needed forces to keep order, right wing "militia" [7]
included and a weaker communist party as well. It has closer ties with
the US relatively earlier, somewhat less close ties with Britain and
openly hostile relations with all her communist neighbours.

Nikolaos Plastiras centrists will win the 1946 and 1950 elections to
lose the 1954 elections to Panagiotis Kanelopoulos [8] right wing. The
Royal issue ends in 1946 by a refferendum that establishes a republic
with a two thirds majority. In the treaty of Paris in 1947 Greece will
get North Epirus in addition to the Dodecanese but neither her Bulgarian
claims nor Cyprus. US economic aid in 1946-1949 mostly goes to
rebuilding instead of financing the civil war and Greece will be one of
the founding members of NATO in 1949. By 1950 per capita
income is around $150, low but significantly higher compared to OTL.

Thoughts?

[1] We'll assume the Greek order for 30 is delivered.
[2] An obvious example can be considered ELAS CiC general Sarafis a
Venizelist who started leading an independent resistance unit, was
attacked by ELAS and then made ELAS commander in chief.
[3] Whom Zervas was representing.
[4] Slightly earlier than in OTL due to the larger extend of the bombing
of Ploesti.
[5] Which has kept its original name, Hellenic People's Army instead of
adding A for "Liberation".
[6] Notably overall numbers of resistance forces are lower than in OTL,
given the greater ease of joining the Greek forces in Crete.
[7] Read bandits.
[8] Papagos never wins the civil war so losses his ticket into politics
as well.


Demetrios
Paul Melville Austin
2004-09-27 22:46:46 UTC
Permalink
[snip]

Good WI even if it does display your anti-royalism a bit too much (i'm an
Australian republican but i dont hate the Windsors as a family).

OBWI: Constantine II not such an abject moron ("King Paul's naughty little
boy")?
Demetrios Rammos
2004-09-28 11:00:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Melville Austin
[snip]
Good WI even if it does display your anti-royalism a bit too much (i'm an
Australian republican but i dont hate the Windsors as a family).
I am not shy about my anti-royalism. Of the Greek royal family George I
was the only good king and I'll recognize to Constantine I that at least
he "tried" for what he thought was best for the country even if he was
completely wrong over it. The rest...
Post by Paul Melville Austin
OBWI: Constantine II not such an abject moron ("King Paul's naughty little
boy")?
Not much was required of him. Just not to get involved in politics which
after all he wasn't supposed to according to the constitution. That
apparently was too much for his mom.

Demetrios
hlg
2004-09-27 23:22:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Demetrios Rammos
This is more an attempt at exploring the long term effects of holding
Crete to Greece than anything else. The exact way of German failure is
relatively irrevelant. The battle of Crete was a very closely run thing
in OTL and there is any number of PODs before the the battle to improve
the allied position. In order to minimize early side effects we will
assume the "classical POD" so to speak namely German failure in Hill 107
and subsequently in using the Maleme airfield. By the end of May German
paratroopers on the island are either dead or prisoners.
<snip>
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Advance to the time of the Italian surrender in September 1943. The
Greek army in exile has increased to some 45,000 men organized in 2
divisions and 2 independent brigades with more recruits escaping daily
from the Greek mainland to Crete through a variety of means.
What is the political make-up of these recruits? In OTL, the Greek armed
forces in Egypt mutinied in early 1944, as a result of pro-EAM agitators
within its ranks. Many of these had recently arrived from mainland Greece,
via Turkey. About half the forces were subsequently purged, leaving only a
single brigade, plus a raiding squadron.

<snip>
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Internal Greek politics or what passes for internal Greek politics get
"interesting" as the time passes. Crete, the home of Venizelos, has been
ardently anti-royalist. The Greek government starts with a moderate
Venizelist Emanuel Tsouderos as its first prime minister. As time passes
the influence of the king keeps deminishing. In 1943 Tsouderos is
replaced by Sophocles Venizelos while the king takes residence to London.
In occupied Greece the political difference is between the rising
communist party and the old parties. Greek control of Crete and the
effective republican control of the Greek government in exile have
affected the patterns of the development of the Greek resistance
movement. In OTL EAM through a variety of means managed to bring inside
its fold a large number of centrists and moderate leftists [2]. In the
ATL the Greek government in exile is able to exert more direct influence
in the development of the Greek resistance. EDES, EAMs rival much like
OTL has proclaimed itself to be antiroyalist. The government in exile
arranges the replacement of its leader Napoleon Zervas with Nicolaos
Plastiras [3] a widely acceptable figure who unites under him the non
communist forces. ELS unlike ELAS is far more enthusiastic over
cooperation with fellow Balkan communist resistance
forces taking orders from the Joint Balkan Partisan Headquarters
established under Tito's auspices instead of the western allies.
I think you would need another POD, to either remove or mellow die-hard EAM
leaders such as Aris (real name Athanasias Klaras). ELAS was a very prickly
ally, forever at odds with EDES. SOE (Special Operations Executive, the
British special forces organisation which supplied and tried to coordinate
resistance to the Axis) could rarely get ELAS to cooperate with any overall
Allied plan.
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Mainland Greece is liberated in September 1944 [4]. The Greek army at
this point consist of 3 infantry divisions, and a brigade of
paratroopers
That's a lot of paras. The bottleneck with the formation and training of
parachute formations was the provision of transport aircraft. In OTL, in
spite of enthusiastic efforts, there were no large formations of allied
paras in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatres until parachute
formations arrived from Britain and the US as part of Operations "Torch" and
"Husky".

However, a para or glider-borne battalion is a feasible project.
Post by Demetrios Rammos
[4] Slightly earlier than in OTL due to the larger extend of the bombing
of Ploesti.
Why would this affect German ground forces in the Balkans ? OK, the loss of
oil and refined products from Ploesti will affect the Wehrmacht's fuel
supplies, but the bulk of the forces in the Balkans were not tank or motor
formations.
Post by Demetrios Rammos
[5] [Re ELS / ELAS] Which has kept its original name, Hellenic People's
Army instead of
Post by Demetrios Rammos
adding A for "Liberation".
Why drop the "apeleftherotikos" from the name ? Aren't they supposed to be
liberating Greece from Axis occupation ?
Demetrios Rammos
2004-09-28 11:00:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by hlg
What is the political make-up of these recruits? In OTL, the Greek armed
forces in Egypt mutinied in early 1944, as a result of pro-EAM agitators
within its ranks. Many of these had recently arrived from mainland Greece,
via Turkey. About half the forces were subsequently purged, leaving only a
single brigade, plus a raiding squadron.
Mostly EDES men as ATL EAM is weaker and the Crete government is
actively supporting the former. The ATL army also has a starting cadre
of politically reliable recruits that allow it to purge away problematic
elements well before they reach levels like these of spring 1944.
Post by hlg
I think you would need another POD, to either remove or mellow die-hard EAM
leaders such as Aris (real name Athanasias Klaras). ELAS was a very prickly
ally, forever at odds with EDES. SOE (Special Operations Executive, the
British special forces organisation which supplied and tried to coordinate
resistance to the Axis) could rarely get ELAS to cooperate with any overall
Allied plan.
All true. If anything it is worse this time as the majority of the OTL
ELAS fighters were not communists and EAM was at least on paper. And it
shows. The Joint Balkan Partizan Headquarters was Tito's brainchild
and planned as a counterweight to SOE. OTL EAM/ELAS leadership frankly
wasn't interested on it as it could put Greek territorial integrity in
danger. ATL ELS just follows the official Moscow line and has less
compunctions.
Post by hlg
That's a lot of paras. The bottleneck with the formation and training of
parachute formations was the provision of transport aircraft. In OTL, in
spite of enthusiastic efforts, there were no large formations of allied
paras in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatres until parachute
formations arrived from Britain and the US as part of Operations "Torch" and
"Husky".
However, a para or glider-borne battalion is a feasible project.
First that is in 1944. Second Greece in OTL ended up with a Paracommando
regiment as in its final form the Sacred band was a 3 battalion sized
commando force all of which had gone through parachute training and
actually made the first combat jump in Greek history in Samos in 1944.
Post by hlg
Why would this affect German ground forces in the Balkans ? OK, the loss of
oil and refined products from Ploesti will affect the Wehrmacht's fuel
supplies, but the bulk of the forces in the Balkans were not tank or motor
formations.
And said forces retreated in OTL to avoid getting cut off from the
Soviet advance. If the Wermacht's fuel troubles make said advance faster
they also make withdrawal from the Balkans faster.
Post by hlg
Why drop the "apeleftherotikos" from the name ? Aren't they supposed to be
liberating Greece from Axis occupation ?
Sure. On the other hand it was one of the Popular front moves. No
popular front...

Demetrios
Rich Rostrom
2004-09-28 02:10:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Demetrios Rammos
This is more an attempt at exploring the long term effects of holding
Crete to Greece than anything else. The exact way of German failure is
relatively irrevelant. The battle of Crete was a very closely run thing
in OTL and there is any number of PODs before the the battle to improve
the allied position. In order to minimize early side effects we will
assume the "classical POD" so to speak namely German failure in Hill 107
and subsequently in using the Maleme airfield. By the end of May German
paratroopers on the island are either dead or prisoners.
By the start of June Greek forces on the island consist of some 10,500
men including the cadets of the "Euelpidon school", the Greek war
academy and the Gendarmerie school evaquated from the island, 2100 men
of the Greek Evros brigade that have escaped through Turkey and 900 men
of the Dodecanese phalanx training in Egypt and consisting of volunteers
from Italian held Dodecanese and the Greek community of Egypt. Together
with Cretan recruits from the 1941 class the free Greek forces make up
some 16,000 men sufficient for the I Greek division of 3 brigades to be
formed on the island in late June 1941.
Greek ground forces see little action in 1941as they are mostly
occupied as a garrison for Crete. From early 1942 there is a Greek
brigade present in North Africa increased to 2 brigades by the summer
and a division by the end of 1942. The size of the Greek navy isn't
significantly affected by Greek control of Crete. The size of the Greek
air force is as there where some 300 pilots and air force cadets
evaquated to Crete that in the ATL are available. RHAF first sees action
defending Crete from rather sporadic German air raids flying F4F
Wildcats [1] and Hurricanes.
I can understand your primary interest being in the effect
on subsequent Greek political affairs, but the effects on
WW II are going to be substantial. Almost certainly those
effects will have very great indirect effects on Greece.

Ahem.

To start with, the Aegean will become and remain a major
theater of action. While the Axis will be reluctant to
launch another invasion of Crete either by sea or air,
the naval and air conflict will be severe.

The Italian bases in the Dodecanese are partially blockaded
by Allies-controlled Crete. Any Allied airpower in Crete
will have lots of juicy targets in the Axis shipping to the
Dodecanese, the Cyclades, Lesbos and Chios, etc.

Contrariwise, Allied forces in Crete are also blockaded. The
only significant ports are on the north coast, so any Allied
shipping to Crete has to run a gauntlet to the east or west.
Expect lots of Allied warships and freighters sunk or damaged,
rather like PEDESTAL.

If the Allies can sustain any sort of naval force in Crete,
it will see lots of action against Axis shipping and Axis
light forces.

The drain on both sides will be considerable; perhaps worse
on the Allies, who are much further from their base of supply.

The Allies do gain some protection for the sea lane from
Egypt to Malta, and a threat to Axis shipping into Benghazi.

Also, Axis defeat in Crete... will not affect the Iraq situation,
which erupted May 2, before Crete fell (May 20-31). But it may
intimidate the Vichy French regime in Syria, which held out till
July 9 or so.

Of course the Axis will hold much greater garrisons in the
area, and build lots of fortifications on the islands.

If the Allies hold out indefinitely, Crete becomes a natural
base for attacks in the Aegean and into the Balkans. Assuming
no Allied attacks before the fall of North Africa and Sicily,
it seems likely that if Italy surrenders the Allies will grab
the Dodecanese. This was tried OTL but was reaching too far.
With Crete as a base it seems a sure thing.

After that, Chios, Lesbos, and the Cyclades start looking
indefensible, and if all those are given up then all southern
Greece looks indefensible. At least IMHO. In which case the
Germans retreat to a line around 40N, leaving most of Greece
in Allied hands by the end of 1943.

[So one of the biggest effects is that Greece becomes the
first nation liberated from the Axis, and also undergoes
the social upheaval of huge numbers of American troops
stationed there and American supply flowing through.]

Now the question arises do the Allies press this advantage?

Balkan terrain is rough and the supply line is longer - but
OTOH there is the _enormous_ advantage of already having the
beachhead established, and not having to gamble on another
big amphibious operation.

And unlike Italy, the landmass opens up if one gets further
north, and the impassable Alps are not in the way.

Churchill at least would insist on _some_ effort being made
in this theater.

If the Allies do press the attack: the Germans are also a
long way from home and would have difficulty putting up
strong resistance. In Yugoslavia much of the 'impassable'
mountains were controlled by Partisans and Chetniks, which
means the Allies can go right through them.

However, the road and rail infrastructure is far weaker
than in France, so the Allies would have to put much more
effort into building up road and rails for the 'battle
of supply'. There might never be a race forward like France
in August 1944.

Still, by the time Soviet forces threaten Romania from the
northeast, the Allies would be well into Macedonia and
Bulgaria. I would expect Bulgaria to surrender when pressed;
Romania too - especially if possible to the US/UK. And
eventually Hungary.

The map of postwar Europe would be very different.
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
Demetrios Rammos
2004-09-28 11:34:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
I can understand your primary interest being in the effect
on subsequent Greek political affairs, but the effects on
WW II are going to be substantial. Almost certainly those
effects will have very great indirect effects on Greece.
True. I'd venture to claim though that while substantial effects are not
going to be shattering so to speak.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Ahem.
To start with, the Aegean will become and remain a major
theater of action. While the Axis will be reluctant to
launch another invasion of Crete either by sea or air,
the naval and air conflict will be severe.
True. At a guess the Greek light fleet and commando forces will see
quite a lot of action in 1941-44.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Contrariwise, Allied forces in Crete are also blockaded. The
only significant ports are on the north coast, so any Allied
shipping to Crete has to run a gauntlet to the east or west.
Expect lots of Allied warships and freighters sunk or damaged,
rather like PEDESTAL.
One may well expect that under such a situation the port of Ierapetra in
the south coast of Crete is significantly expanded. A second port can be
created in the gulf of Mesara, in the general area of ancient Phaestus.
Post by Rich Rostrom
If the Allies can sustain any sort of naval force in Crete,
it will see lots of action against Axis shipping and Axis
light forces.
I am willing to believe that at least post the US entry in the war it
will be possible. Axis light forces are definite in size. And even if
torpedo boats can be sent through rail from Germany anything else will
have to go either through cape Matapan or the Corinth canal. Both can be
easily interdicted by naval and air forces in Crete.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The drain on both sides will be considerable; perhaps worse
on the Allies, who are much further from their base of supply.
And have way more resources to play with.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Allies do gain some protection for the sea lane from
Egypt to Malta, and a threat to Axis shipping into Benghazi.
And come to think of it if Rommel advances all the way to El Alamein his
supply gets way more problematic than in OTL as the amount of supplies
shipped though Greek ports will be considerably lower.
Post by Rich Rostrom
If the Allies hold out indefinitely, Crete becomes a natural
base for attacks in the Aegean and into the Balkans. Assuming
no Allied attacks before the fall of North Africa and Sicily,
it seems likely that if Italy surrenders the Allies will grab
the Dodecanese. This was tried OTL but was reaching too far.
With Crete as a base it seems a sure thing.
I tend to believe I mention as much.
Post by Rich Rostrom
After that, Chios, Lesbos, and the Cyclades start looking
indefensible,
And have the islands recovered by spring 1944.

and if all those are given up then all southern
Post by Rich Rostrom
Greece looks indefensible. At least IMHO. In which case the
Germans retreat to a line around 40N, leaving most of Greece
in Allied hands by the end of 1943.
Actually the Germans planned as much in OTL but did not go forward with
it. Perhaps one could expect that the assets the Germans spent on taking
the Dodecanese in OTL are used in evaquating the islands garrisons instead.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Still, by the time Soviet forces threaten Romania from the
northeast, the Allies would be well into Macedonia and
Bulgaria. I would expect Bulgaria to surrender when pressed;
Romania too - especially if possible to the US/UK. And
eventually Hungary.
The map of postwar Europe would be very different.
Certainly. "If" Churchill has his way that is. Otherwise you might get
smaller but still interesting side effects. For example with German
withdrawal Mihailovic will be right in the way of a western allies army.
So its fairly plausible that you end up with a communist "Yugoslavia"
and a western "Serbia" after all in Yalta Yugoslavia was supposed to be
50-50. Bulgaria also gets interesting if western forces come to occupy
part of it before the Soviets.

Demetrios
hlg
2004-09-28 14:08:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
If the Allies can sustain any sort of naval force in Crete,
it will see lots of action against Axis shipping and Axis
light forces.
I am willing to believe that at least post the US entry in the war it
will be possible. Axis light forces are definite in size. And even if
torpedo boats can be sent through rail from Germany anything else will
have to go either through cape Matapan or the Corinth canal. Both can be
easily interdicted by naval and air forces in Crete.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The drain on both sides will be considerable; perhaps worse
on the Allies, who are much further from their base of supply.
And have way more resources to play with.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Allies do gain some protection for the sea lane from
Egypt to Malta, and a threat to Axis shipping into Benghazi.
And come to think of it if Rommel advances all the way to El Alamein his
supply gets way more problematic than in OTL as the amount of supplies
shipped though Greek ports will be considerably lower.
Which probably means that Rommel won't be permitted to advance into Egypt
after the fall of Tobruk, until Malta has been captured. In this TL, where
an airborne attack on Crete has failed, the Axis will spend a lot of time
winding up for a sledgehammer blow against Malta, which in any case will be
a smaller, harder target.

I assume that Malta will fall, although not until after some desperate
fighting. If the Axis hold Malta, Allied attacks on French North Africa and
Sicily will be more difficult, and may be delayed by some months. I make the
huge assumption that both are necessary to clear the Mediterranean and knock
Italy out of the war. The weakness of the Allied position if they cannot run
convoys through the Mediterranean is that everything has to come to the
Middle East the long way round; by sea round the Cape of Good Hope.
(Aircraft can be delivered by the Takoradi route, but not heavy equipment).
This, plus the prior needs of Eighth Army until Rommel is defeated, will
cramp large-scale operations mounted into the Balkans.

Likewise, if Italy stays in the war, however war-weary, there won't be a
sudden collapse of Italian garrison forces in the Balkans.

All this long preamble suggests to me that, if the Allies retain Crete, the
knock-on effects might prevent large-scale operations into the Balkans until
early 1944. And then the shortage of landing craft (needed for "Overlord")
might further restrict things.
Post by Demetrios Rammos
and if all those are given up then all southern
Post by Rich Rostrom
Greece looks indefensible. At least IMHO. In which case the
Germans retreat to a line around 40N, leaving most of Greece
in Allied hands by the end of 1943.
Actually the Germans planned as much in OTL but did not go forward with
it. Perhaps one could expect that the assets the Germans spent on taking
the Dodecanese in OTL are used in evaquating the islands garrisons instead.
The experience of the Italian campaign might indicate that the Germans would
decide to hang on as far south in Greece as possible, rather than hand the
Allies a victory on a plate. Add to this the delays I have suggested above,
and I believe that the Germans may still be disputing Salonika in August
1944 when the Russians overrun Rumania and Bulgaria and force the Germans to
evacuate the Balkans.

This isn't to suggest that the expanded Greek forces Demetrios proposes
won't be pulling their weight, rather that the overall situation won't allow
them the resources necessary to make a decisive effort.

<snip>
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
The map of postwar Europe would be very different.
As far as Greece is concerned, there is less likely to be a Civil War. EAM
will have been marginalised by a more representative Greek
government-in-exile.
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Certainly. "If" Churchill has his way that is. Otherwise you might get
smaller but still interesting side effects. For example with German
withdrawal Mihailovic will be right in the way of a western allies army.
So its fairly plausible that you end up with a communist "Yugoslavia"
and a western "Serbia" after all in Yalta Yugoslavia was supposed to be
50-50. Bulgaria also gets interesting if western forces come to occupy
part of it before the Soviets.
I don't think Roosevelt will allow Allied strategy to be warped so as to
move into Bulgaria, but a drive up the Vardar valley on the left flank of
the Russian advance into Yugoslavia, combined with minor landings on the
Dalmatian coast, is both feasible and sensible. So yes, a pro-Western
Serbia, Communist rest-of-Yugoslavia is a likely outcome.
Rich Rostrom
2004-09-28 22:38:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by hlg
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
If the Allies can sustain any sort of naval force in Crete,
it will see lots of action against Axis shipping and Axis
light forces.
I am willing to believe that at least post the US entry in the war it
will be possible. Axis light forces are definite in size. And even if
torpedo boats can be sent through rail from Germany anything else will
have to go either through cape Matapan or the Corinth canal. Both can be
easily interdicted by naval and air forces in Crete.
I doubt that. The forces on Crete will be very limited; I would
expect harassment of Axis sea traffic south of the Peloponese,
but nothing close to 'interdiction'. I don't know much about the
Corinth canal, but it's even further away, would have heavy flak
defenses, and would not be easy to shut down.
Post by hlg
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
The drain on both sides will be considerable; perhaps worse
on the Allies, who are much further from their base of supply.
And have way more resources to play with.
Not in 1941, certainly, and not even in early 1942 (there's this
little crisis in the Pacific and SE Asia). For the Allies to get
naval or air strength based in Crete, they have to ship it all
the way around Africa to Egypt. Then it has to be shipped across
the Med to Crete, running a gauntlet of Axis attack from the
Dodecanese, Greece, and Libya.
Post by hlg
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Allies do gain some protection for the sea lane from
Egypt to Malta, and a threat to Axis shipping into Benghazi.
And come to think of it if Rommel advances all the way to El Alamein his
supply gets way more problematic than in OTL as the amount of supplies
shipped though Greek ports will be considerably lower.
Nothing at all will be coming from Greek ports while the Allies
hold Crete. (This does not contradict my earlier comment about
no interdiction of the sea route around Greece. The Axis can move
stuff past Crete when they need to, but at a cost. There are
alternate routes to Africa, so they don't need to go near Crete
at all.)
Post by hlg
Which probably means that Rommel won't be permitted to advance into Egypt
after the fall of Tobruk, until Malta has been captured.
I don't know that he was actually "permitted" to advance, he just did it.
But yes, there will be more interest in taking Malta, and less resources
for advances into Egypt.

Of course, that opportunity was a long way off in mid-1941, and might
never come up.

The Allies holding Crete as well as Malta would lead to hammer
and tongs fighting around Crete and throughout the southern
Aegean and the waters south of Greece for the rest of 1941. This
creates butterflies the size of B-29s.
Post by hlg
In this TL, where
an airborne attack on Crete has failed, the Axis will spend a lot of time
winding up for a sledgehammer blow against Malta, which in any case will be
a smaller, harder target.
Possibly the Axis will make a serious effort to build an
amphibious capability. The defeat of the airborne at Crete
means not just the heavy casualties of OTL, but almost
complete destruction of the airborne corps that was
committed. So for Malta, amphib becomes the way to go.

The Germans did build a fair amount of Siebel ferries and
similar craft, which were used in short range over-water
ops in the east. So they do know enough to build landing
craft that are workable if not great. They don't need a
million of them, so Italian yards could do the work.

By late 1941, the Axis could have a small fleet of landing
craft, enough for an attack on Malta.
Post by hlg
I assume that Malta will fall, although not until after some desperate
fighting. If the Axis hold Malta, Allied attacks on French North Africa and
Sicily will be more difficult, and may be delayed by some months.
OTOH, if the Allies hold Crete, they may win the war in Libya
in 1941 or early 1942, which makes TORCH or its analog practically
a gimme. Even with Malta in Axis hands, Sicily can be taken,
probably earlier than OTL.
Post by hlg
The weakness of the Allied position if they cannot run
convoys through the Mediterranean is that everything has to come to the
Middle East the long way round; by sea round the Cape of Good Hope.
(Aircraft can be delivered by the Takoradi route, but not heavy equipment).
This, plus the prior needs of Eighth Army until Rommel is defeated, will
cramp large-scale operations mounted into the Balkans.
Nothing is going into the Balkans until Africa is settled and Sicily
falls; I agree there.
Post by hlg
Likewise, if Italy stays in the war, however war-weary, there won't be a
sudden collapse of Italian garrison forces in the Balkans.
A huge if. Allies holding Crete will cost Italy dear. I don't
see Italy lasting any longer than OTL.
Post by hlg
Post by Demetrios Rammos
and if all those are given up then all southern
Post by Rich Rostrom
Greece looks indefensible. At least IMHO. In which case the
Germans retreat to a line around 40N, leaving most of Greece
in Allied hands by the end of 1943.
Actually the Germans planned as much in OTL but did not go forward with
it. Perhaps one could expect that the assets the Germans spent on taking
the Dodecanese in OTL are used in evaquating the islands garrisons
instead.
The experience of the Italian campaign might indicate that the Germans would
decide to hang on as far south in Greece as possible, rather than hand the
Allies a victory on a plate.
???? The Germans in Italy abandoned everything south of Naples
almost at once, and evacuated Sardinia and Corsica too. "As far
south as possible" seems likely, but how far south _is_ possible?
The map is very unfavorable.
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
Demetrios Rammos
2004-09-29 00:06:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
The drain on both sides will be considerable; perhaps worse
on the Allies, who are much further from their base of supply.
And have way more resources to play with.
Not in 1941, certainly, and not even in early 1942 (there's this
little crisis in the Pacific and SE Asia).
All true but with the initial crisis after the US entry in the war over
allied material situation will be constantly improving at a rate the
axis will have no chance to match.


For the Allies to get
Post by Rich Rostrom
naval or air strength based in Crete, they have to ship it all
the way around Africa to Egypt. Then it has to be shipped across
the Med to Crete, running a gauntlet of Axis attack from the
Dodecanese, Greece, and Libya.
Dodecanese is of doubtfull use. Italian forces there failed to affect
Greek shiping in the Aegean in OTL and keeping them in supply with Crete
in allied hands won't be particularly easy.
Post by Rich Rostrom
???? The Germans in Italy abandoned everything south of Naples
almost at once, and evacuated Sardinia and Corsica too. "As far
south as possible" seems likely, but how far south _is_ possible?
The map is very unfavorable.
You can in theory put a short of reasonable line of defence north of
Athens although that is best suited for an attack from the north. The
logical line is on the Olympus and even that could hold some problems
for someone defending it from an attack coming through Thessaly and Epirus.

Demetrios
hlg
2004-09-29 09:54:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
???? The Germans in Italy abandoned everything south of Naples
almost at once, and evacuated Sardinia and Corsica too. "As far
south as possible" seems likely, but how far south _is_ possible?
The map is very unfavorable.
You can in theory put a short of reasonable line of defence north of
Athens although that is best suited for an attack from the north. The
logical line is on the Olympus and even that could hold some problems
for someone defending it from an attack coming through Thessaly and Epirus.
The Allies will face some of the same problems they did in late 1943, with
regard to the balance of unit types. They had too many tanks in the
Mediterranean, and too few infantry. US and British infantry formations as
then organised will have too many vehicles and too much heavy equipment to
operate effectively in mountainous terrain. (I doubt whether substantial
Free French formations most of which were also better suited to mountain
warfare, can be deployed so far away from their own territory).

Looking at the map, much of Greece is uninviting for large-scale movements
by "heavy" formations. I suspect that once the Peloponnese and the Attic are
secured (not without fighting as tense as that which accompanied the Salerno
landings), the Germans will indeed be able to hang on to an "Olympic" line
(my guess as to its codename) for as long as they did at Cassino in OTL. The
Allies will lack both the "light" troops to outflank this line [1], and the
means to supply any large-scale outflanking movement in rough country,
especially in winter weather.

If things go as in OTL, it will take a sledgehammer offensive to break the
"Olympic" line. Earlier, I suggested that the Germans could still be holding
on to Salonika in August 1944. Looking a little less pessimistically at
things, I believe that an alt-"Diadem" offensive should secure it in May or
early June. Things will certainly go with a run after that.


Note [1]: Unless the Allies are willing to retain some formations in the
Mediterranean and thereby affect some aspects of the invasion of France,
there will be only the Greek divisions proposed by Demetrios, plus perhaps
one or two parachute or commando brigades. No doubt EDES guerillas will also
do their best, but they will now be engaged in deliberate assaults on
prepared positions rather than in guerilla warfare.)
Rich Rostrom
2004-09-30 01:28:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by hlg
Post by Demetrios Rammos
Post by Rich Rostrom
???? The Germans in Italy abandoned everything south of Naples
almost at once, and evacuated Sardinia and Corsica too. "As far
south as possible" seems likely, but how far south _is_ possible?
The map is very unfavorable.
You can in theory put a short of reasonable line of defence north of
Athens although that is best suited for an attack from the north. The
logical line is on the Olympus and even that could hold some problems
for someone defending it from an attack coming through Thessaly and Epirus.
The Allies will face some of the same problems they did in late 1943, with
regard to the balance of unit types. They had too many tanks in the
Mediterranean, and too few infantry. US and British infantry formations as
then organised will have too many vehicles and too much heavy equipment to
operate effectively in mountainous terrain. (I doubt whether substantial
Free French formations most of which were also better suited to mountain
warfare, can be deployed so far away from their own territory).
All true, but OTOH the Germans have problems sustaining a strong
defense in that area. There's neither road nor rail in southern
Albania. There are two rail lines to the Salonika region, but one
passes through partisan-infested Yugoslavia. To me, it looks like
a contest of engineering: whose support units can better overcome
the terrain and get supplies to the front.
Post by hlg
Looking at the map, much of Greece is uninviting for large-scale movements
by "heavy" formations. I suspect that once the Peloponnese and the Attic are
secured (not without fighting as tense as that which accompanied the Salerno
landings), the Germans will indeed be able to hang on to an "Olympic" line
(my guess as to its codename) for as long as they did at Cassino in OTL.
The Allies will lack both the "light" troops to outflank this line [1],
By the time the Allies are facing this line, most of Greece will
be liberated, and unlike Italy, Greeks will be enthusiastic recruits
to the war. There's the light troops, I think.
Post by hlg
and the means to supply any large-scale outflanking movement in rough
country, especially in winter weather.
As I noted above, it looks like a battle of engineers.

Also, though, the Allies have the option of sea movement, as at
Anzio. The Albanian coast is exposed; or a thrust across the
Thermaic Gulf into Chalcidice; or mop up Limnos and Samothrace
and strike into Thrace and Bulgaria.
Post by hlg
If things go as in OTL, it will take a sledgehammer offensive to break the
"Olympic" line. Earlier, I suggested that the Germans could still be holding
on to Salonika in August 1944. Looking a little less pessimistically at
things, I believe that an alt-"Diadem" offensive should secure it in May or
early June. Things will certainly go with a run after that.
Note [1]: Unless the Allies are willing to retain some formations in the
Mediterranean and thereby affect some aspects of the invasion of France,
there will be only the Greek divisions proposed by Demetrios, plus perhaps
one or two parachute or commando brigades.
In this TL, substantial Allied forces would be in Crete all along.

But leaving that aside, I can't see the Allies ignoring this
theater. It's mid-1943. OVERLORD is a year off at best. The landing
craft can't be built any sooner, especially if more escorts are
needed for the Battle of the Atlantic (it's won, but the Allies
don't know that yet). Meanwhile there's Churchill and the Greek
government pushing for at least the liberation of northern Greece.

Some Allied effort will be made, and the more successful the more
pressure to continue the effort.



No doubt EDES guerillas will also
Post by hlg
do their best, but they will now be engaged in deliberate assaults on
prepared positions rather than in guerilla warfare.)
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
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