The Western Allies land in the Balkans instead of Italy in 1943

Oct 2015
899
Virginia
True. There were 3 USAAF fighter Groups (~225 operational aircraft plus reserves) equipped with P-38s in the Mediterranean in summer '43, and P-38s had a combat radius of 700+ miles. But they were all assigned to the North African Allied Strategic Air Force for escorting the bombers, and neither the "bomber barons" nor the Allied Forces Headquarters (particularly the US) were willing to release them for use in the Balkans.

In October 1943 (after Italy surrendered), when the British Middle East Command seized the Dodecanese Islands (Leros et al) they asked Eisenhower's command (Allied Forces Headquarters Northwest African Theater of Operations) for long range fighters, but were refused due to other commitments.
 
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Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,256
T'Republic of Yorkshire
They just wouldn't have done it. Churchill believed Italy was the "soft underbelly" of Europe and the Allies could sweep through Italy, establish a strong foothold in Europe and from there achieve a possible end to the war itself. Taking Italy would remove one of the major Axis powers and enable a drive into Germany, either through France or directly into Germany, defending a narrow front.

The Balkans really offered no such strategic promise.
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
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SoCal
They just wouldn't have done it. Churchill believed Italy was the "soft underbelly" of Europe and the Allies could sweep through Italy, establish a strong foothold in Europe and from there achieve a possible end to the war itself. Taking Italy would remove one of the major Axis powers and enable a drive into Germany, either through France or directly into Germany, defending a narrow front.

The Balkans really offered no such strategic promise.
That's a good point. Of course, crossing the Alps would have very likely been one hell of a challenge since the Alps appear to be great defensive terrain.
 
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macon

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Aug 2015
4,074
Slovenia, EU
They just wouldn't have done it. Churchill believed Italy was the "soft underbelly" of Europe and the Allies could sweep through Italy, establish a strong foothold in Europe and from there achieve a possible end to the war itself. Taking Italy would remove one of the major Axis powers and enable a drive into Germany, either through France or directly into Germany, defending a narrow front.

The Balkans really offered no such strategic promise.
A promise was to stop bolsheviks before they take too much of Europe. Lots of Balkans population would also helped them, more than Italians.
 
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Kotromanic

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Dec 2011
4,979
Iowa USA
They just wouldn't have done it. Churchill believed Italy was the "soft underbelly" of Europe and the Allies could sweep through Italy, establish a strong foothold in Europe and from there achieve a possible end to the war itself. Taking Italy would remove one of the major Axis powers and enable a drive into Germany, either through France or directly into Germany, defending a narrow front.

The Balkans really offered no such strategic promise.

Within strictly how Futurist posed the question, I think this statement (Nao's) is easy to defend. However, once the bridgehead was successfully established in Normandy the possibility of getting into the Northern half of Yugoslavia (note the Partisans had less capacity in Croatia than in Bosnia) in later 1944 might have been attempted.
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
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SoCal
Within strictly how Futurist posed the question, I think this statement (Nao's) is easy to defend. However, once the bridgehead was successfully established in Normandy the possibility of getting into the Northern half of Yugoslavia (note the Partisans had less capacity in Croatia than in Bosnia) in later 1944 might have been attempted.
Those resources might have been better spent on Operation Dragoon, no?
 

Kotromanic

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Dec 2011
4,979
Iowa USA
Those resources might have been better spent on Operation Dragoon, no?
It has been a while since I've looked at the order of battle for the invasion of Southern France. Given the limited size of the force it would have been difficult to hold onto even a third of Croatia, considering the proximity of Austria and Hungary.
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
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It has been a while since I've looked at the order of battle for the invasion of Southern France. Given the limited size of the force it would have been difficult to hold onto even a third of Croatia, considering the proximity of Austria and Hungary.
So, southern France really was a better bet since it would have at least diverted some Nazi resources from Normandy?
 
Sep 2012
1,106
Tarkington, Texas
The RAF was using Beaufighters over the Dodecanese islands but their time was limited by flying from Cyprus. They also were taking losses to Arado Seaplanes before the BF 109's got there. The Royal Navy did have some Grumman Wildcats based on Escort Carriers they could have used.

Pruitt