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Old December 21st, 2011, 07:48 PM   #11
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I think Germany would have been better served to have Italian, as well as Arab force's take the lead in Africa and would have left Rommel out of the theater of operation.
For one it is too unimportant a theater to risk tarnishing his thereby Germany's honor by losing a major campaign. Also his superb and swift use of armor would have been better suited for the Soviet plain's and may have turned the tide if utilized in that theater instead.
Fortunately, one of Hitler's consistent flaws was over-reaching. If he felt he had to maintain Africa, you're probably right, TB, but really he had no business trying to keep a grip on Africa and Russia at the same time.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 08:01 PM   #12

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Crucial lessons were learned in the North African campaign. Eisenhower learned to command more as a supreme commander rather than an American who was supreme commander. Lessons learned about the inadequacies of strategic air power in such theaters, and what it was going to take to develope tactical and close air support to the eventual level that was so devastating to the Germans in the ETO later. Officers who had no business commanding at their assigned levels were discovered and removed. The Americans also discovered what a bunch of prigs the British General Staff was, and that the Brits bore watching almost as closely as the Germans.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 08:06 PM   #13
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I think a bigger question is by placing so much emphasis on Africa, was Hitler telegraphing to the allies that Operation Sea Lion was off the table? And that no major offensive into Britian was being planned? Seems Britian could have been held down and had to keep force's in the U.K if they really thought an offensive was viable and imminent?
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 12:36 AM   #14
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Leaving it to the Italians was hardly an option.

Hitler only got 'Involved' in Africa after the Italians were decisively beaten by the British - 130,000 Italians were captured, and a large part of Lybia overun, by Gen O'Connor in 1940. O'Connor had only about 30,000 men, and suffered less than 2000 casualties! (look up Operation Compass)
Rommel was sent in to support the Italians, and was able to counter-attack in 1941, as O'Connor had some of his men taken away to support Greece.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 01:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Trout Bum View Post
I think a bigger question is by placing so much emphasis on Africa, was Hitler telegraphing to the allies that Operation Sea Lion was off the table? And that no major offensive into Britian was being planned? Seems Britian could have been held down and had to keep force's in the U.K if they really thought an offensive was viable and imminent?
Even during the worst looking period after the fall of France Britain sent its forces overseas. As British Divisions were formed and trained they were sent out, leaving the Commanders responsible for the defence of the UK having to train the fresh divisions being built and equipped, this frustrated them no end in their aim of forming a strong mobile force to counter an invasion.
When there was a severe lack of tanks in the UK it did not stop Churchill from sending pretty much all the British armoured reserve including 50 Matilda II to the Middle East.

Britain relied on the RAF and RN to deter the Germans rather than make the best force available to fight them if they did come. It was a gamble but with a German lack of amphibious capability one they were willing to take.

Hitler had started planning for German Forces to be deployed to the middle East prior to the Italian collapse (I can not remember the Fuhrer Directive/OKW Orders that have it in though).
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 02:27 AM   #16

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I am fairly certain it was a play for oil more or less. Rommel was the "Desert Fox", who apparently did really well with the supplies he had, but he fell short at El Alamien.

Where else would they get the supplies to continue the war effort? Most oil still comes from the middle east to this day, pretty much, right?

Russia to my understanding, when they were attacked they took all their production and moved it behind a mountain range as a fall back plan if blitzkrieg happened to them like it did to France.

List_of_Soviet_tank_factories List_of_Soviet_tank_factories

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Keeping track of the tank factories can be difficult. Many were based on pre-Soviet imperial Russian shipbuilding or locomotive factories, and may have changed names more than once. The majority were evacuated and consolidated in the Urals in the fall of 1941, shortly after the disastrous German invasion of June 22.
I don't really know if the Soviets even had oil (on their land) to be honest. Whether depriving the enemy of oil reserves was more beneficial to the Germans, than the actual resources for their own war effort. Ect...


I do know that Rommel left his supply lines open, he basically attacked all the way from near Morroco, across the top of Africa and towards Egypt. So maybe that was a hint that they really were doing the military equivalent of a Hail Mary?

So, perhaps there was a navy that causing headaches? I just don't know why they decided to sweep across the top. Isn't Lybia a huge oil reserve?

So maybe it was an issue of stopping the production capabilities of the allies more than anything else?
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 02:56 AM   #17
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Rommel landed in Lybia, which was 'owned' by Italy at the time, and was not the Oil producer it is now. He attacked from El Agheila, (SE corner of the Gulf of Sirte) and drove the British back to Egyptian Border. There were several 'to and fro' attacks from each side, before Montgomery finally defeated him at El Alamein in Oct 42. The US & British forces landed in Morocco in Nov, and came up behind him from the other side, so he was eventually surrounded in Tunisia.

Rommel's biggest problem was supplies - his came across the Mediterranean in ships, which were hit very hard by the British submarines and aircraft based in Malta.

The strategic aim was to drive through Egypt to the Gulf, to get the Oil, and (possibly) join up with the other thrust, via Russia through Iran. Russia had a lot of oil in the south, near Baku, (still have!) which the Germans also came close to, but never captured, due to the counter attack that resulted in Stalingrad.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 03:23 AM   #18

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Africa was important to the Allies. The Suez canal was the jewel of Africa, basically.

Also, the North African theater was (I'd think) the first place where the Allies were actually winning, hence I would think it would've been a good psychological boost for the Allies to know that the Axis could be defeated.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 04:32 AM   #19

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Just some trivia. During the North African campaigns, Rommel became convinced there was a traitor among the Italian general staff because so many supply ships were being sunk. There was no traitor. It was Ultra. The Brits had cracked the German secret codes and knew when and where the supply ships were sailing.

The fall of Trobruk prompted FDR to attempt to provide much more aid to the Brits, despite the isolationist Congress.

As Hapsburg Austria proved to be more of a burden than an ally for Germany in WW I, so too did Italy in WW II. The Nazi regime constantly had to rescue Mussolini's attempts at aggrandizement.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 04:50 AM   #20
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Thanks guys, I have learnt so much from this thread. I don't know much about Africa in WWII so appreciate the discussion, I will also look up a lot of the information mentioned, can't wait to read more about it, cheers.
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