The decision was on my plate. Should I take Spain, I could take Gibraltar and close off the Mediterranean. Should I decide to take Turkey, when war began with the Allies, Italy could sweep down the Levant into Lebanon and Palestine to take the Suez without having to challenge the powerful British Navy in a naval landing.
After examining my forces and resources, I decided in the end that both campaigns could be possible, but I would need to raise a large army specifically for the invasion of Spain. Fortunately, given Italy’s enthusiastic and patriotic base of young men (thanks to our Catholics and their large families), manpower would not be a problem. What would be a challenge would be making sure to have enough time to train the men, and factory space to build enough arms to equip our brave soldiers. Additionally, our Navy would be called on to ferry these men and protect them as they landed on Spanish shores as well as protecting our convoys.
Italy launched its invasion of Turkey on April 16, 1939. Using the veteran Balkan Theatre forces, I authorized a headlong rush into Istanbul and naval landings at Izmir using the VI Corpo d’Armata from Salonica, XI Corpo d'Armata awaited the transport fleet at Athens, as they would follow with a second landing, this one at Trabazon as soon as could be managed.
(the capture of Istanbul)
Marshall Abruzzi’s skillful use of envelopment tactics on a large scale using the naval forces under his command, which by now included RN Aquila, the first of our aircraft carriers, plunged the defending Turks into total confusion in a matter of no time. The Turkish government surrendered on April 25th, after only 9 days!
(Turkey has surrendered)
The armies were redeployed, with Guzzoni's 2nd Army watching the border with the USSR in Anatolia, and available for further action in the Levant. Vercellino's 3rd Army would have the job of holding the border with the USSR in Romania. With the eastern front secure, and poised to defend against any Soviet aggression and plunge southward toward the Sinai desert, I could turn my attention westwards to Spain.