Did the invasion of Italy achieve anything?

#1
Did the Allied invasion o Italy in WW2 bring the end of the war any closer? I can't think that it did. The diversion of German effort was small, and the 'soft underbelly' was anything but.

Can anyone see any positives to that campaign?
 

Sixty

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#2
It kept the really quite able Kesselring tied up which is a positive I think.
 
#4
Despite being excellent practice, invading Italy took the Italians out of the equation (as well as many Germans stationed there).

If we had gone straight for Germany then it is conceivable that the Italians would have flanked the allied advance across France and into Germany.

Also eliminating the Italians was the best thing we could do for our own men and people at home due to the morale boost that must have been created by elimating a member of the Axis forces.
 
#5
The Americans were always lukewarm about Italy and would have preferred the south of France - which might have been a better option, with hindsight. Churchill really wanted Italy with Alexander as CinC and the yanks under command - the only time (I think) that happened at Army level

It was a much tougher nut than anyone anticipated and the Gustav Line, particularly Cassino, really buggered things up.
 

Sixty

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#6
TangoFowerAlpha said:
The Americans were always lukewarm about Italy and would have preferred the south of France - which might have been a better option, with hindsight. Churchill really wanted Italy with Alexander as CinC and the yanks under command - the only time (I think) that happened at Army level

It was a much tougher nut than anyone anticipated and the Gustav Line, particularly Cassino, really buggered things up.
Sadly from what I've read, Alexander was far too much of a gentleman and had his orders ignored by the likes of the American General Mark Clark.
 
#7
I agree with Fusil89, it was great practice invading because problems encountered in Sicily/Italy invasion helped with the success of Overlord in June 1944; how to conduct airborne operations being one of the key (if not costly) lessons learned.

The US finally were allowed, alongside the French, to invade southern France on the 15 of August.

I think the threat of the Italians (if you could call it a threat, they failed to even take Greece in 1940) in the Mediterranean would have meant that the Allies would have invaded Italy anyway.

[Edited to add 15 of August - awaits incoming for stupid mistake] :roll:

Peter
 
#8
PeterM88 said:
I agree with Fusil89, it was great practice invading because problems encountered in Sicily/Italy invasion helped with the success of Overlord in June 1944; how to conduct airborne operations being one of the key (if not costly) lessons learned.

The US finally were allowed, alongside the French, to invade southern France on the 4th of June, 2 days before D-Day.
I think the threat of the Italians (if you could call it a threat, they failed to even take Greece in 1940) in the Mediterranean would have meant that the Allies would have invaded Italy anyway.

Only my opinions though, :D

Peter
eh?

15th Aug 1944 more like
 
#9
It was my understanding that Churchill wanted to secure Italy as a stepping stone into the Balkans so as to prevent large Soviet gains in Eastern Europe.
 
#10
Sixty said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
The Americans were always lukewarm about Italy and would have preferred the south of France - which might have been a better option, with hindsight. Churchill really wanted Italy with Alexander as CinC and the yanks under command - the only time (I think) that happened at Army level

It was a much tougher nut than anyone anticipated and the Gustav Line, particularly Cassino, really buggered things up.
Sadly from what I've read, Alexander was far too much of a gentleman and had his orders ignored by the likes of the American General Mark Clark.
Yes, the old chestnut of whether Clark should have broken out of Anzio and cut the German retreat along Route 6 at Valmontone, as Alexander had planned, or swing north with a dash for glory and the first to enter Rome.

Actually, Alexander never openly critised Clark - but perhaps he was too much of a gent. Clark has nothing but praise for Alexander in his autobiography.
 
#11
incendiarycutlery said:
It was my understanding that Churchill wanted to secure Italy as a stepping stone into the Balkans so as to prevent large Soviet gains in Eastern Europe.
I believe you do have a point (Churchill didn't trust the Russians) but that is not relevant to the question of whether it aided the progress of the war. Technically that helped the cold war. The points I made are still valid, problems encountered in Italy helped overcoming similar situations on the road to Berlin because it gave valuable experience to the troops on the ground.
 
#12
well i think it stopped italy falling to comunism after WW2.
 
#13
Italy is a fascinating campaign at the strategic level, it was always seen as one of Churchill's "babies" (as well as the Balkans and Turkey) and therefore something that the US would not support as a matter of principle. Their focus was on OVERLORD, however following the sucesses of North Africa, where better to continue the momentum than Italy, which could cause their capitulation and would also severely limit the German's ability to influence the Med. Southern France was off the cards due to being outside of fighter cover (although island hopping - Sardinia, Corsica, etc was considered).

In the end it did tie up Kesselring (arguably the best defensive general of the war) and a significant proportion of German troops (between Italy itself and the former Italian garrisons elsewhere). But the key benefit of the campaign was opening a second front to satisfy Stalin, while ensuring that OVERLORD was not rushed into early by an ever eager US.

Sixty said:
Sadly from what I've read, Alexander was far too much of a gentleman and had his orders ignored by the likes of the American General Mark Clark.
Sixty - you are partly correct, Alexander was a complete gentleman who did a fantastic job heading up a multi-national coalition (with each nation having the ability to produce its own red cards - the ANZACs, French and Poles). No other general could have held it together as well as he did. As for Clark, while he was widely lauded at the time, he is now completely discredited.
 

Sixty

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#14
Drop_Short said:
Sixty - you are partly correct, Alexander was a complete gentleman who did a fantastic job heading up a multi-national coalition (with each nation having the ability to produce its own red cards - the ANZACs, French and Poles). No other general could have held it together as well as he did. As for Clark, while he was widely lauded at the time, he is now completely discredited.
I agree entirely. Sorry if it read like I was criticising him; I was simply remarking that it was sad that people chose to disregard the orders he gave rather than saying he was wrong to be a gentleman.

Damn you t'internet and your lack of inflection!
 
#15
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Clark has nothing but praise for Alexander in his autobiography.
Wot Dropshort wrote. Clark, Like Ike was grossly over promoted (what are you gonna do with a tiny army in 1941) and had a narrow vision. He failed, whilst Alex largely made do with a Hornby 00 when he needed something with more punch.

Truth is, Alex distracted OKW enough to hold Kesselring's forces down and prevented redeployment.
 
#16
The real pusher for Italy was Alanbrooke who was passionate about the point that one had to overstretch Germany in order to allow for a successful D-Day, and lamented that the US couldn't understand this.
His premise was based on the fact that one or two first class units up close to the landings might make a big difference and result in a repelled invasion, or perhaps a contained one.
It is difficult to dispute this, and had the allied air superiority not prevented the German armour in Pas de Calais from immediately joining the fight, then Normandy might have been rather shorter than it was.

Italy achieved Alanbrooke's objectives, and had Clark obeyed Alexander, or had the campaign been more imaginative then it might have been even more effective.

(As an aside I remember reading a book that told that Clark was obeying a political order from Washington to take Rome rather than pursuing the enemy. If I can remember the book I will post it, it was written by an ex-officer from an MG Bn who managed to interview Clark after the war.)
 
#17
Drop_Short said:
Italy is a fascinating campaign at the strategic level, it was always seen as one of Churchill's "babies" (as well as the Balkans and Turkey) and therefore something that the US would not support as a matter of principle. Their focus was on OVERLORD, however following the sucesses of North Africa, where better to continue the momentum than Italy, which could cause their capitulation and would also severely limit the German's ability to influence the Med. Southern France was off the cards due to being outside of fighter cover (although island hopping - Sardinia, Corsica, etc was considered).

In the end it did tie up Kesselring (arguably the best defensive general of the war) and a significant proportion of German troops (between Italy itself and the former Italian garrisons elsewhere). But the key benefit of the campaign was opening a second front to satisfy Stalin, while ensuring that OVERLORD was not rushed into early by an ever eager US.

Sixty said:
Sadly from what I've read, Alexander was far too much of a gentleman and had his orders ignored by the likes of the American General Mark Clark.
Sixty - you are partly correct, Alexander was a complete gentleman who did a fantastic job heading up a multi-national coalition (with each nation having the ability to produce its own red cards - the ANZACs, French and Poles). No other general could have held it together as well as he did. As for Clark, while he was widely lauded at the time, he is now completely discredited.
My bold:
A very important point that can not be dismissed lightly. The campaign achieved many strategic goals but as far as political imperatives are concerned this was vitally important.
 
#18
Agreed if the Americans had there way OVERLORD would have been launched in 43, however Anzio must go down as one biggest missed oppoutunites in military history.

I accept that a push into the hills would have exteneded the supply lines and might have left allied troops exposed to a counter attack, but a concerted effort would have led to a very defferent outcome.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing !!!

YM
 
#19
”Did the Allied invasion of Italy in WW2 bring the end of the war any closer?”

Apart from stating you don’t think it did, you don’t offer an alternate strategy? What would you have the forces in Africa do, or would you have surrendered Africa from the onset?

The tern ‘soft underbelly’ is just a term of motivation unless you consider it to summarise the full plan of Churchill. This was to invade, not necessarily from the toe, and drive to Vienna and from there towards Berlin. If this considerable ‘what if’ had been employed, and if many other events more or less followed reality, it would have prevented the Soviets having such a slice of Eastern Europe?

But dealing with reality, this plan was totally sidelined by the Americans with their insistence on the cross Channel/shortest route policy. Again there was far more to the British plan than just a drive for Vienna, believing in and preparing for eventualities of anarchy and colapse developing within Europe caused by German overstretch and cultivated insurrection – with a lot of help from the SOE. However, while IMHO it would have been far better if America turned up and said “here we are, where do you want us and what do you want us to do”, they came in along the lines of, “were paying for this so we’ll be driving now”. And from Op TORCH they did.

Once western France had been earmarked for the second from, Italy was relegated to a side-show. It had to be fought to keep pressure on the Germans, but was never assigned a clear objective other than this. Rommel, who was the other prime contender for Command of Italy, advocated abandoning the peninsular and forming the line at the Alps north of the Po basin. Hitler decided on the ‘fight for every inch’ strategy which Kesselring employed.

The Allies never allocated sufficient forces and material for decisive conquest, but then neither did the Germans. Alexander held an discrete agenda for taking Vienna, if possible, which it never was. Repeatedly he found forces being taken from him rather than being augmented, and increasingly his theatre expanded with growing operations in the Aegean, Greece, Balkans etc. He tried for but didn’t get, the Anvil/Dragoon force, and believed with this he could accelerate the Italian conquest and reach Vienna? However, IMHO again, just these resources alone wouldn’t have done it unless everything could have been well pre-planned and most importantly supported from the air. The hard way would have been to go for the Genova/Alessandria Gap, but logically to land from the Adriatic – as the Germans always though they would.

With one exception I think, Germans always had more men committed to Italy than the Allies. Italy had to be fought.

No.9
 

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