So a what if thread: What if the Allies had not attacked Sicily and instead maintained their forces for Normandy

Nov 2019
125
United States
My theory is that WW2 would have ended more rapidly. The result of the invasion of Sicily and Italy was the reinforcement of units in Italy by SS Panzer units, and a greater stress towards the Atlantic Wall.

The invasion of Italy came on the heels of the defeat at Kursk, Hitler responding to Mussolini's toppling by Italians was to reinforce the Italian front and to focus on the Atlantic Wall. Would it possibly have redirected his forces toward the East had that campaign not begun?

Just an interesting hypothetical to consider.

Montgomery always complained about not focusing forces toward one objective, yet Italy itself was a large blame for that lack of focus. Not only did it diminish the overall force structure, but also it meant that supply efforts were also bifurcated to more fronts, one of which was extremely unlikely to force a meaningful difference in the end of the war.

The intrinsic nature of battle in the Soviet Union was a large land mass with multiple avenues of attack or defense, Germany was incapable in any scenario of defending their land mass they had conquered against a fully activated Soviet military, moreso that they didn't possess oil resources to continue an equivalent form of mobility.
Your thoughts?
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,791
Cornwall
You don't think the collapse of Italy and the deployment of, and losses of, German armies in Italy weakened them a bit? I think you may be under-estimating them a tiny bit, even at this later stage of the war
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,235
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The Campaign of Italy kept a lot of German forces busy [in almost 2 years Germans lost more than 330,000 soldiers to try and stop the allied advance].

Three attacks mean to have to defend yourself on three fronts, two attacks means to have to defend yourself on two fronts and without being worried about a threat coming from South. Among other things, not invading Italy, the allies would have left Mussolini at power and I do guess that Hitler would have asked him to send some divisions to France. Italian army was weak and not well equipped, anyway numbers are numbers. The invasion of Italy caused the fall of Mussolini and Italy changed side, fighting with the allies.
 

Ancientgeezer

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
8,898
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
There were sound reasons to invade Sicily, but not necessarily the follow-up invasion of the Italian mainland, which was really opportunistic prompted by the fall of Mussolini. The Sicilian operation was largely political, having concluded the North African campaign, the W. Allies were not engaged on land against the Axis and a cross channel operation was not possible in 1943--this of course meant that Stalin could continue sending his angry telegrams accusing the British and Americans of cowardice for not invading in the West immediately. Neither the American or British staffs were keen on tying up resources, but Churchill (who was the main proponent) had two other consideration--Britain was also fighting a war in South East Asia and needed to open the route across the mediterranean and through Suez. The Luftwaffe was still attacking British shipping from Sicilian bases and Italian submarines and a small number of U-boats were still active in the Med. Further, in mid 1943, British & Commonwealth troops in the ETO substantially outnumbered Americans and WSC knew that an early cross-channel operation would involve largely British troops, preventing the re-inforcing of South East Asia Command to the extent required--so he championed Operation Huskey.
On the other hand, if Sicily HAD NOT been invaded, what would the result have been? Anglo-American shipping availability was in crisis and the route round the Cape doubled the amount of tonnage needed to supply, not only SEAC, but all the kit shipped to Iran for onward transport to the USSR--so a slower advance of the Russians and a more successful Japanese invasion of India?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,610
Dispargum
At the Trident Conference in May 1943, FDR and Churchill agreed to continue the Mediterranean Campaign up until the elimination of Italy and the neutralization of the Italian fleet. After that, the Mediterranean Campaign was supposed to end. The fact that it didn't illustrates how things can take on a life of their own. Churchill seems to be a major cause for pumping new life into the Mediterranean. Anzio was his idea, or so he claims. He also wanted to invade the Agean Islands in an attempt to bring Turkey into the war. He doesn't seem to have accepted the Trident decision.
 
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Oct 2019
26
Near the dogbowl
There were sound reasons to invade Sicily, but not necessarily the follow-up invasion of the Italian mainland, which was really opportunistic prompted by the fall of Mussolini. The Sicilian operation was largely political, having concluded the North African campaign, the W. Allies were not engaged on land against the Axis and a cross channel operation was not possible in 1943--this of course meant that Stalin could continue sending his angry telegrams accusing the British and Americans of cowardice for not invading in the West immediately. Neither the American or British staffs were keen on tying up resources, but Churchill (who was the main proponent) had two other consideration--Britain was also fighting a war in South East Asia and needed to open the route across the mediterranean and through Suez. The Luftwaffe was still attacking British shipping from Sicilian bases and Italian submarines and a small number of U-boats were still active in the Med. Further, in mid 1943, British & Commonwealth troops in the ETO substantially outnumbered Americans and WSC knew that an early cross-channel operation would involve largely British troops, preventing the re-inforcing of South East Asia Command to the extent required--so he championed Operation Huskey.
On the other hand, if Sicily HAD NOT been invaded, what would the result have been? Anglo-American shipping availability was in crisis and the route round the Cape doubled the amount of tonnage needed to supply, not only SEAC, but all the kit shipped to Iran for onward transport to the USSR--so a slower advance of the Russians and a more successful Japanese invasion of India?
There is strong argument that an invasion in 1943 was indeed possible. It would have been more of a meatgrinder for the allies, but global casualti9es would have likely been less. IIRC Axis forces in France were substantially less, and coastal defenses were definitely less.
 
Nov 2019
125
United States
At the Trident Conference in May 1943, FDR and Churchill agreed to continue the Mediterranean Campaign up until the elimination of Italy and the neutralization of the Italian fleet. After that, the Mediterranean Campaign was supposed to end. The fact that it didn't illustrates how things can take on a life of their own. Churchill seems to be a major cause for pumping new life into the Mediterranean. Anzio was his idea, or so he claims. He also wanted to invade the Agean Islands in an attempt to bring Turkey into the war. He doesn't seem to have accepted the Trident decision.
The Americans overall were not pleased with this decision. Especially Marshall and the Chiefs of Staff both Navy and Army. Keep in mind that in 1942 both Marshall's and Eisenhower's first presentation of a plan for Europe was Sledgehammer, and every year after Marshall and Eisenhower presented a new plan or variation of that plan. Interesting that from the very beginning a focus on planning involved Cherbourg.

I would suggest that the invasion of Southern France would have been the other invasion that would have gone forward, and that would have offered options that with the actual events didn't occur. An attack to the East from Southern France would have cut Italy in more than half through the Po River Valley.

I keep wanting to remind you all how much actually was wasted with the Italian campaign; a consolidated attack with the entire available resources of Commonwealth, American, and French forces, and a supply line to the States who was supplying the lion's share of material for the invasion, that was shorter and not bifurcated to support the Italian actions in the Med., would have been a much more powerful force.
 
Nov 2019
125
United States
You don't think the collapse of Italy and the deployment of, and losses of, German armies in Italy weakened them a bit? I think you may be under-estimating them a tiny bit, even at this later stage of the war
What precisely do you think that the Italians were bringing to the table for the Axis? Whatever it "might" have been ended with the winter attack of Zhukov in Operation Saturn, that annihilated the Italian Army in Russia; 30,000 dead, 64,000 captured (of whom 54,000 later died), unknown thousands wounded. Italy forever seen as incompetent for any real action, Mussolini had to bring his soldiers home in disgrace. This on top of the 250,000 approximate losses in NA in 1942 to 43.

In the long run, keeping Italy in the war, which is exactly what happened from the end of the North African campaign forward, was costing resources that Germany could ill afford. We were "kind" enough to take that burden off them by removing Southern Italy from their responsibility, to feed, defend and supply. Why not just leave them with the mess, it was a front that literally had no "juice" to actually squeeze from the dead fruit.

Could have just picked off Sardinia easily as we later discovered, and had the same advantage for aircraft to attack Ploiesti.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,864
Stockport Cheshire UK
To say that the Italian Campaign eased the burden of the German armed forces in complete nonsense, the Campaign cost the German’s and her Allies nearly 1,500,000 casualties, it was a campaign that while not a war winning front played a major part in weakening the German armed forces efforts on other fronts.
 
Oct 2015
932
Virginia
There were 26 Italian divisions occupying the Balkans and Aegean Islands, and five more in Southern France. The allied planners figured an Italian surrender would require they be replaced by German troops from Russia or Northern France, and that 8-10 more German divisions would be required to occupy Italy. Furthermore, everybody expected that since Sicily and Italy were so exposed to allied air and naval power, the Germans would withdraw to the Pisa-Rimini line leaving Naples, the Foggia airfield complex and Rome as easy pickings for allied forces already in theater. Unfortunately the Germans failed to act In accordance with allied predictions.

Sardinia was a poor option. It didn't free shipping thru the Med, was out of range of allied fighter cover and didn't lead to any important ultimate objective.

If the North African campaign had been completed before Christmas (as allied planners had hoped) troops, planes and shipping might possibly have been sent back to UK in time to execute SLEDGEHAMMER in summer '43 (maybe). But the Germans threw a wrench into that (as they were apt to do) by holding Tunis until May.