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Thread: L'ITALIA DA SOLO -- A non-Axis Italian '36 SF AAR

  1. #1
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    L'Italia Da Sola -- A non-Axis Italian '36 SF AAR

    INTRODUCTION

    This AAR tells the alternate history story of an Italia that refuses to be Hitler's poodle. Mussolini, instead of a bombastic blowhard, is a shrewd statesman guiding his nation through dangerous times. His objective is to aggrandize his nation for future generations, not to feed his personal sense of megalomania.

    It starts in 1936 and was played in Vanilla Semper Fi HoI3 v2.04d with no modifications. Italy will try to conquer an empire without relying on the scraps left over by Germany. However, Italy will try to avoid getting entangled in wars it cannot win on its own. Thus, it will avoid becoming an Axis member.

    Chapter One: This Changes Everything (1/1/36 - 1/24/36)
    Chapter Two: The Abyssinians (1/25/36 - 5/26/36)
    Chapter Three: Redesigning the Regio Esercito & A Visit From Hitler (1/1/36 - 6/27/37)
    Chapter Four: The Abyssinians, Part II (5/27/36 - 8/11/37)
    Chapter Five: The Illyrians (7/1/37 - 11/5/37)
    Chapter Six: The Democracies (11/5/37 - 2/28/38)
    Chapter Seven: The Illyrians Part II (3/1/38 - 3/23/38)
    Chapter Eight: Return to Vlore (7/18/38 - 7/22/38)
    Chapter Nine: Vendetta For Tellini (7/20/38 - 8/24/38)
    Chapter Ten: Benevolent Powers (8/24/38 - 9/11/38)
    Chapter Eleven: Trains North (9/10/38 - 10/8/38)
    Chapter Twelve: Veni Vidi Vici (10/9/38 - 11/10/38)
    Chapter Thirteen: A New Roman Empire (11/11/38)
    Chapter Fourteen: Dacia (11/30/38 - 12/15/38)
    Chapter Fifteen: The Magyars (1/3/39 - 2/7/39)
    Chapter Sixteen: A Letter From Stalin (2/10/39 - 2/11/39)
    Chapter Seventeen: The Celtiberians And The Italo-Iberian War (2/23/39 - 5/17/39)
    Chapter Eighteen: All In, The Italo-Iberian War, Part II (5/15/39 - 6/26/39)
    Chapter Nineteen: The Italo-Iberian War, Part III (7/10/39 - 9/17/39)
    Chapter Twenty: Uncharted Waters (9/17/39 - 1/5/1940)
    Chapter Twenty One: Dealing With The Devil (1/6/40 - 1/9/40)
    Chapter Twenty Two: Aryan Nations (1/10/40 - 1/15/40)
    Chapter Twenty Three: Gaul and Germania (1/15/40- 1/1/41)
    Chapter Twenty Four: Storm Clouds Gather (1941)
    Chapter Twenty Five: The Thunder Clap (1/1/42 - 3/25/42)
    Chapter Twenty Six: Lightning Strikes (3/24/42 - 3/30/42)
    Chapter Twenty Seven: Germans In Albertville (3/30/42 - 4/8/42)
    Chapter Twenty Eight: Carcassone (3/29/42 - 4/13/42)
    Chapter Twenty Nine: Operation Knee To Groin (4/11/42 - 4/23/42)
    Chapter Thirty: The Northern Marches (4/5/42 - 4/12/42)
    Chapter Thirty One: Kraków (4/11/42 - 5/17/42)
    Chapter Thirty Two: The Reckoning In Germany (4/16/42 - 5/17/42)
    Chapter Thirty Three: How Did This Happen? (5/17/42 - 6/3/42)
    Chapter Thirty Four: Alpini to Berlin (6/4/42 - 7/7/42)
    Chapter Thirty Five: Finishing Off The Reich (7/8/42 - 9/1/42)
    Chapter Thirty Six: Liberation Day (8/30/42 - 10/9/42)
    Chapter Thirty Seven: Global Responsibilities (10/9/42 - 12/21/42)
    Chapter Thirty Eight: Clash of the Empires: Italian East Indies (12/25/42 - 6/12/43)
    Chapter Thirty Nine: The Scramble For Asia (6/12/43 - 7/30/43)
    Chapter Forty: Legiones Redde! (8/6/43 - 9/14/43)
    Chapter Forty One: ‘Nam (9/19/43 - 1/1/44)
    Chapter Forty Two: Italian Korea (1/4/44 - 4/16/44)
    Chapter Forty Three: Operation Marco Polo And Peace In Our Time (4/21/44 - 12/14/44)


    This AAR has lots of really cool vintage photographs and screen captures so page loads can be slow but the pictures make the AAR more immersive.

    UPDATE: Tragedy has struck. I posted all of the images on my MobileMe account with Apple. It was really easy and great, but then Apple announced they were discontinuing the service in June of 2012. So, I was trying to figure a way to move the images, and somehow I managed to brake everyone of my links. I am painstakingly transferring the images to Imageshack and editing each and every image link. It is a PITA and time consuming. I am trying to do a chapter a day. Sorry, if you stumble upon this AAR and some images are missing.
    Last edited by tommylotto; 21-09-2011 at 13:01.

  2. #2
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    Chapter one: This changes everything

    L’ITALIA DA SOLA
    (Italy Alone)


    We become strong, I feel, when we have no friends upon whom to lean, or to look to for moral guidance. -- Benito Mussolini




    CHAPTER ONE:
    THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

    It was January 1, 1936. Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy was prepared to launch its war of colonial aggression against the Abyssinia tribesmen of East Africa. However, before the first march was ordered, Domenico Cavagnari, Mussolini’s new head of intelligence provided a disturbing and sobering report. The top secret report, ramblingly entitled “Sig. Hilter e la sua guerra europea futura inevitabile” was a detailed analysis of the philosophies, goals and capabilities of Adolph Hitler and his so called “Third Reich”. The conclusion of the report was that Hitler would, within the next 2 to 4 years, initiate an international crisis leading to the eventual outbreak of a European land war that would involve Poland, France, The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. The sobering prospects of another world war were not entirely unwelcome by Mussolini, who was looking for an opportunity to enhance Italy’s power and prestige. However, Italy was woefully unprepared. Italy had the raw manpower, but simply did not have the ground forces to contend with a Germany or a Russia or even a France. Italy had an active military research industry, but not one that could keep up with the other major powers in all of the various disciplines of war. Difficult decisions would need to be made, and made immediately.

    First off, the East Africa adventure would need to be abandoned. The area could be strategically useful in a wider global war. However, the resources of the area were nearly non-existent and not even sufficient to justify its garrison, let alone the massive offensive army set to begin operations. Furthermore, if Italy’s eventual foe in this war were to be the United Kingdom, its control of the Suez canal would make supplying these troops impossible and doom these territories. Better to cut off the dead branches, so that the trunk can thrive.

    Mussolini’s first instinct was to just call the whole thing off and bring the entire army back to Italy, leaving the Somalian and Eritrean provinces in East Africa to the savages. However, the general staff implored Mussolini to not make such a rash decision that would be deleterious to Italy’s fragile martial reputation. Italy’s first military adventure could not result in a defeat at the hands of primitive tribesmen. Mussolini relented. The attack on Abyssinia could continue. However, he wanted to personally review the order of battle and the plans of attack, which he had previously left to his general staff.



    The professional troops advance into Abyssinia, but the militia are sent home.


    What his review revealed shocked and distressed him. The Italian forces stuck out on that remote corner of the African continent consisted of no less than 16 infantry brigades, 2 elite mountain brigades, and 29 minimally trained militia brigades. This was absurd. Abyssinia was a backwards sparsely populated wasteland. This huge mass of men and firepower would be more of a burden than an asset. East Africa required “small war” where the forces were no larger than necessary, meaning no larger than the logistics could support. Mussolini agreed to allow one army of two corps of four divisions each (eight total divisions) to remain. This was composed of 14 professional infantry brigades and two elite mountaineer brigades. All other forces (2 infantry and 29 militia brigades and various headquarter staffs) would all be returned to Italy immediately for retraining and refitting for the anticipated European land war.
    Last edited by tommylotto; 29-08-2011 at 20:47.

  3. #3
    Major Piktoonis's Avatar
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    I once tried playing independant Italy and it was interesting, but with latest patch you can't snatch Vichy France. Looking forward to your glorious conquest

  4. #4
    Second Lieutenant Elastic Fish's Avatar
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    A good idea you have here, can't wait to see it flourish and grow!
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    Very Well, Alone! A British H.P.P. Semper Fi A.A.R

    'Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour!”' Churchill, 18th June 1940

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  5. #5
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    Chapter Two: Abyssinia

    ____________________________________________
    War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it. -- Benito Mussolini
    ____________________________________________


    CHAPTER TWO:
    ABYSSINIA
    Mussolini had been contemplating a shake up of the order of battle and each general’s assignment, but war had already been declared and Mussolini was not quite ready to make those major changes. Gen. Grossi and his Armata dell’A.O.I. and his two corps commanders, Gen. Togni and Gen. Pirzio Biroli were tasked with conquering all of Abyssinia with 8 two brigade divisions, led by Gens. Calcagno, Nicolosi, Silvestri, Tellera, Appiotti, Barbasetti di prun, Castellano, and Gandin. Mussolini’s instructions were to maneuver and invest the enemy capital, Adis Abeba, but to not take the capital until authorized by Mussolini himself.



    The eight divisions advanced in two columns through Mek’ele and through enemy territory in Afrera Terar. Contact with the enemy was first made in Serdo and Maych’ew. A sharp firefight on January 26, 1936 in Serdo led to the first Italian victory. The casualty ratio of greater than 5 to 1 was encouraging.



    Now, in Mussolini’s mind, the sole purpose for the East African war was to “bloody” the troops, as the old Roman legions used to say, to harden the soldiers, to get them used to killing and seeing their friends die. He wanted the Regia Aeronautica bloodied too, if possible. In Maych’ew, it received its sole chance to have an impact on this small war. All other battles would necessarily take place beyond the range of its planes. That was unfortunate, because the bombing of the tribesmen appeared to be effective.



    The eight divisions continued their march into the heart of Abyssinia, easily pushing the tribesmen back in front of their relentless advance. Gen. Pirzio Biroli’s corps advance through Bahir Dar and Debra Markos. Then he divided his forces. Two divisions each advanced into Gedo and Nek’emte. The two divisions at Gedo stopped their advance short of Adis Abeba to allow the divisions from Nek’emte to maneuver through Jima to Arba Minch southwest of Adis Abeba. Meanwhile Gen. Togni’s corps split up from Serdo with two division, including the mountaineers, slugging through the mountains of Dese and Fiche to the outskirts of Adis Abeba and two divisions of infantry advanced through Bati to Kara K’ore and stopped in Dire Dowa due east of Adis Abeba. The mountaineers shifted their line from Fiche to Kara K’ore to keep up the encirclement of the capital. Similarly, Gen. Gandin shifted his division from Gedo to Arba Minch, strengthening the flanking pincers. The line in front of Adis Abeba was getting dangerously thin, but all that was necessary to complete the encirclement was to capture Awasa. On May 12, 1936, Gen. Appiotti attacked from the northeast out of Dire Dowa and Gen. Barbasetti di Prun simultaneously attacked from the southwest over a river from Arba Minch. The attack was supported by the divisions of Gens. Gandin, Castellano and Nicholosi.



    Once the Abyssinians realized that the loss of Asawa would mean the complete encirclement of Adis Abeba, the natives launch attack after attack to prevent their capital from being cut off. Eventually, the counter attacks were beaten off and the siege of Adis Abeba commenced.



    Mussolini’s cabal of advisers concluded, counter-intuitively, that drawing out the East Africa war would better enable Italy to rearm for the inevitable coming of hostilities in Europe. When the nation was in a state of war, the population was more willing to make the sacrifices necessary for the country to succeed. So, the objective of the all of his government ministers was to keep the country on a war footing as long as possible, and Mussolini’s propagandist started spreading lies about the progress of the war against Abyssinia. In the time being, Mussolini would keep an eye open for opportunities to improve his strategic positioning for the inevitable European War. To that end, the propagandists were planting news stories and reports to make neighboring nations appear more threatening then they really were, and to prepare the popular mindset for the struggles to come.



    ____________________________________________
    It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity. -- Benito Mussolini
    ____________________________________________
    Last edited by tommylotto; 29-08-2011 at 20:59.

  6. #6
    General peterhoi3's Avatar
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    I can't see the pictures.

  7. #7
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    CHAPTER THREE: Redesigning The Regio Esercito

    It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while others write history.... To make a people great it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. That is what I shall do. -- Benito Mussolini

    CHAPTER THREE:
    REDESIGNING THE REGIO ESERCITO
    (And A Visit From Hitler)

    Mussolini had made the hard decisions about the war that was already on his plate in Abyssinia. He allowed the war to proceed on a greatly reduced scale and ordered the bulk of the troops returned to Italy. As the smaller more nimble forces advanced in East Africa, Mussolini turned his attention to putting his European forces in order. War was coming to Europe, and he wanted to be an actor on the stage.

    Italy’s army had been designed around smaller divisions made up of two infantry brigades, as oppose to the three brigade divisions used by most of the other European powers. Italy’s generals preferred the greater flexibility of force, and the generals’ answer to the lack of punch was always just more divisions. However, Mussolini wanted each Italian division to be able to hold its own in the line against any other division fielded by any other nation. The solution suggested by Armament Minister Guido Jung was a massive investment in field artillery support brigades. His vision formulated in cooperation with the Chief of the Army, Alberto Pariani, was to eventually match each two infantry brigade division with two artillery support brigades.



    The manpower of such a division would increase from 6000 men to 8000, but the artillery backed division would have as much, if not more, firepower than a traditional triangular 9000 man three brigade division. Also, this smaller division would be capable of being more focused and more concentrated on the battlefield, enabling more divisions to get into the fight in any given battle. This concentration of firepower could prove decisive on the crowded battlefields of Western Europe. There was also talk that Jung received a massive kick back from Obice C., the company awarded the massive contract to refit each and every division in the Italian army with artillery support.



    No less than 29 militia brigades had been returned to Italy. Their prior training had just been basic, but with better equipment, strenuous exercise of both the body and the mind, this manpower could be transformed into an elite fighting force. Experts from the the northern Alpini divisions were assigned as drill instructors and these militia were refashioned into elite mountaineers. These divisions would represent a significant and highly organized special force available for action on various fronts.



    Italy had made some strides in motorized and tank warfare. However, that too would regrettably have to be de-emphasized. Italy simply could not keep up with the majors in these technologies and disciplines. Furthermore, these units were expensive and time consuming to generate. It is better to field superior infantry and field artillery, than inferior infantry, artillery and tanks.

    Mussolini had been an early believer in air power, but again, sacrifices would need to be made. Italy could not afford strategic bombers or even to upgrade the tactical bomber fleets that it currently had. Italy would have to focus on developing the best small aircraft in the sky -- interceptors, fighters, dive bombers, etc. These smaller craft can give you control of the sky. Without that superiority, your larger aircraft will be useless.

    Finally, the Regia Marina. Italy’s navy was sizable and of middling quality, but totally lacked an air arm. Without carriers, Italy would never be able to stand up the the Royal Navy. Resources would need to be poured into researching carrier technologies.

    Italy’s war economy was directed to manufacturing artillery, and more artillery.



    Italy’s research teams were unleashed on the following topics: new infantry weaponry (including small arms, light artillery, support weapons and handheld anti-tank weapons). Its WWI era equipment was in desperate need of modernization. Italy also started a modernization program for its soon to be major military arm - artillery barrel and ammunition and carriages and sights. Other research teams were assigned to basic aircraft designs, and the naval engineers were directed to design an aircraft carrier.

    All those projects were completed by the end of May and the expensive process of upgrading existing divisions with the newer equipment began as resources were available. Staff officers also started the work to develop the infantry doctrines that would make the Italian foot soldier the most effective combat weapon on the modern battlefield. Special Forces and Infantry Warfare tactics were developed and perfected. Assault concentration was studied to improve the coordination between infantry and artillery in our new division structure. Mass assault techniques were developed to improve the morale of our troops during a rain of steel, as well as operational level organization and command structure which the theorists claimed would enable our troops to regroup quicker between attacks and attack quicker to keep our enemies on the run.

    By mid-June of 1936, the militia had completed their mountaineer training that made them some of the best units in the Italian Army. It was debated whether to keep these mountaineer brigades in traditional 3 brigade division or to match two mountaineer brigades with two artillery support brigades similar to regular infantry. The mountaineers backed by artillery would have more firepower, but the special mountaineering skills would be diminished as the foot soldiers would be slowed down in rough terrain waiting for the artillery to keep up. Such units would just be very well organized elite infantry. Always flexible, Mussolini compromised. With the existing mountaineers from the Alps and the militia turned mountaineers, he formed 2 corps of 4 division of 3 mountaineer brigades and 2 corps of 4 divisions of 2 mountaineers/2 artillery brigades. The battlefield would decide which division structure was more useful. Now all they had to do is wait for the artillery to roll off the assembly lines to expand their divisions according to the newly developed Italian division doctrine.

    In late June, the Navy Department’s ship designers had finished its first design of its first escort carrier. Mussolini was not ready to start his naval expansion program, just yet, and when he was, he did not want just escort carriers, but full fleet carriers like the other majors. He immediately sent the designers back to the drawing board to work on bigger plans.



    On September 20, 1936, the first of the many ordered artillery brigades were deployed and attached to infantry divisions according to the new doctrine. Exercises with the new division type showed impressive results. Studies found that the new Italian division with 8000 men delivered more firepower to the battlefield than the traditional 9000 man triangular division -- specifically, the theoreticians found the Italian division provided a 56% increase in firepower against infantry or soft targets and a 60% increase against armor or hard targets. Furthermore, the make-up of the division enabled more divisions in a smaller concentrated space. Where 4 triangular division could attack or defend, 6 Italian divisions could attack or defend. On defense the two division types were essentially the same. These advantages could prove decisive. The only apparent drawback of the new division type appeared to be supply consumption, where the artillery laden divisions used 166% of the supplies of the triangular infantry division. Research in logistic would be necessary to keep the troops supplied.



    Another advantage of this new Italian division was that it was modular, of sorts, like maniples of a Roman legion. One division could easily be divided into two divisions consisting of one infantry and one artillery brigade. Though as underpowered as the old Italian divisions, these units could be useful in combat to cover larger areas of front, to gobble up undefended territories, or to garrison towns and costal provinces. These mini divisions could handle most local partisan activity, and when emergencies arose, these garrison units could be combined with another nearby garrison unit to form a fully functioning front line division.

    ARMI COMBINATE

    Shortly after embarking on his emphasis on foot soldiers backed by artillery, Mussolini was presented with a study by a young, up and coming, member of the general staff. This report entitled “Armi Combinate” by Gen. Giovanni Messe discussed the new ground combat theories coming out of Hitler’s Germany.


    Gen. Giovanni Messe


    These theories involved the use of mobile troops and a combination of hard and soft forces (i.e., both infantry and tanks) in a coordinated fashion referred to as “Armi Combinate”. This cooperation between the infantry and the tanks, and conversely the tanks with the infantry, enabled both forces to do their job on the battlefield much better and had the result of a force multiplier -- greater than the sum of the two. The report concluded that this type of combined arms warfare, would dominate the battlefield within the next few years.

    This caused Mussolini some consternation, because he had made a serious commitment to developing techniques and technologies for infantry warfare. He had abandoned his mobile warfare research, but did not want his armies to be at a technological disadvantage. He devised what he thought might be a solution -- to eventually equip each infantry division with a fifth field tank destroying support brigade -- similar to his artillery brigades but instead of heavy howitzers, these units would be armed with high velocity armor piercing cannon. He hoped this would give his infantry divisions some defense from the more powerful armored units. So, he ordered research in the area of tactical command structure which it was hoped would eventually allow the attachment of yet another support brigade, this time anti-tank guns to our already complicated division structure.



    However, on offense, Mussolini still wanted the ability to take advantage of armi combinate theory. He ordered the army’s three old cavalry divisions to be trained as either motorized infantry or light armor brigades.


    L3 Tankette


    With them, he fashioned three highly mobile assault divisions made up of one brigade of light tanks, two brigades of motorize infantry and one support brigade of Semovente, armored tank destroyer manufactured by Gio. Ansaldo & C.



    The three old cavalry division were upgraded to this type and one other similar division was raised and constructed to form a 4 division mobile corps.



    Exercises showed that in combat these units would take advantage of the effects of armi combinate. Mussolini even considered research into the rudimentary aspects of blitzkrieg theory, but later changed his mind, and stopped such research. He had had an epiphany. The backbone of the Italian Army will always be the courage and skill of the Italian fighting man, the infantry, but there was nothing in this philosophy that prevented the development of technology that would enable the infantry to move more quickly from battlefield to battlefield and that provided protection to the infantry while in transit. He envisioned a cross between a truck and a tank. Sort of an armed and armored truck. Due to the weight of the armor and the need to go off road, it would need to be a tracked vehicle or at least half-tracked. He immediately ordered research to commence in the various technologies needed to develop this new type of fighting force -- mechanized infantry.

    But that was all long range planning, in the here and the now in October of 1936, the aircraft designers finish their basic single engine airframe design, the Macchi MC.200 Saetta+.



    The same designers were contracted to develop a multi-role fighter. With limited resources, Italy would be restricted to developing and building single engine aircraft. Multi-role fighters will be serviceable as interceptors, tactical bombers and in close air support operations.

    By January of 1937, Italy’s transformation of its infantry was well underway. However, due to Mussolini's focus on ground forces, it would not be for another year that the naval designers finally presented Mussolini with plans for a fleet carrier. This carrier would still be far behind the times as far as the other majors were concerned. However, it would be a real fleet carrier and could launch two carrier air groups. With superior aircraft and technique, the antiquated flight deck from which the airplanes took off from would be irrelevant. Mussolini was pleased, and instructed the ship yards to immediately begin construction of Italy’s first carrier, the RN Aquila.


    R.N. Aquila under construction


    Up until this point, Mussolini tried to keep his dramatic rearmament as secret as possible. The military activity was confined mostly to an isolated area on the Adriatic coast, and the actual number of Italian divisions were not increased, just the firepower of each division. Only military experts would understand the significance of Italy's rearmament. Whereas before the Regio Esercito was mighty on paper, but weaker on the battlefield, now the reality was even greater than paper appearances. However, as the time for active operations approached, Mussolini quietly dispatched units to start garrisoning Italy’s Mediterranean island possessions. One division was transported to Sardinia and divided into two maniples, one on each side of the island. Another division was stationed on the island of Rhodes, with one maniple on Rhodes and the other transported to Dodecanese.

    In June of 1937, there was a border incident with the former Italian province of Illyria, or at least that is what the state controlled press claimed. Mussolini secretly decided that the time to reacquire this province was approaching. So, Mussolini order all available resources to redouble efforts to perfect the latest infantry doctrines. The Italian legions were going to go to war soon, and he wanted them ready to fight.

    A VISIT FROM HITLER

    In early June of 1937, Hitler announced the formation of an alliance with the Emperor of Japan, which had been waging a brutal war of aggression along the mainland of China. This confirmed the suspicions of Mussolini and his advisers that Hitler was intent on plunging Europe into a bloody conflict.



    Later that month, June 26, 1937 to be exact, Hitler travelled to Rome to make a direct and personal appeal to Mussolini to form a Pact of Steel between their two countries and to join what he referred to as the Axis Powers. This caused much consternation and internal debate. It was recognized that Germany had vast potential -- resources both natural and in manpower, plus the industrial capabilities to put them to use. In a war, Germany would be a powerful ally and a woeful enemy -- particularly considering their proximity. However, Mussolini’s thoughts kept going back to that study that resulted in his decision to scale back his plans in Abyssinia. There was a very compelling section in the report on Hilter’s psychology or how his mind worked. Hitler was not interested in the gradual aggrandizement of Germany over numerous generations like those sons, fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers before them responsible for the steady expansion of the British Empire. Hitler was bent on the aggrandizement of Hitler. He would not be content with strategic successes, but would try to “double down” on his successes until he ultimately lost. There was the esprit de corps of the French continental army, superiority of the Royal Navy, the dangers of a channel crossing, the vast land mass of Russia and its inextinguishable manpower and of course the sleeping industrial giant across the Atlantic. Mussolini concluded that if Hitler had limited goals, he would be extremely successful, leaving a stronger, more powerful Germany for its next leader to build upon, but that was not in Hilter’s personality. He would risk all to gain all. It was unclear, just now, whether Hilter’s gamble would pay off or crap out. Mussolini preferred wars where his army could occupy the capital and end the war. He could not envision Italian divisions in London or Moscow. So, he could not envision a war of choice started against those countries. He would adopt a wait and see approach. He flattered Hitler and Germany, told Hitler that Italy and Germany were two hearts beating in the same chest, and graciously declined the request. The rejection was diplomatic, and relations were no worse for the wear.


    __________________________________________________
    Last edited by tommylotto; 15-09-2011 at 01:17.

  8. #8
    Second Lieutenant Elastic Fish's Avatar
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    Are there pictures? If there aren't, you should put them in. As I learned in my first AAR (still going - I've learned from my mistakes!), pictures attract viewers. An AAR without pictures, no matter how well written - and this is written well, believe me (the quotes at the beginning are fantastic) - will fail to attract the attention similar to on which has a good, thick spread of both contemporary pictures of fighting men etc. and screenshots from the game itself.

    Pictures or not, I for one will keep on following this, as I have a little soft spot for Italy, as it always (along with France) gets rubbished as 'that country that lost every time it fought'.
    Last edited by Elastic Fish; 13-04-2011 at 23:49.
    Seed of the Magyar -- Hungarian A.A.R. Completed

    Very Well, Alone! A British H.P.P. Semper Fi A.A.R

    'Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour!”' Churchill, 18th June 1940

    Support freedom, oppose al-Assad.

  9. #9
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    Drats! I have plenty of embedded pictures, and they look great in Safari. I even checked it on my iPhone, and they are there too. I'll figure this out ASAP.

  10. #10
    Second Lieutenant Elastic Fish's Avatar
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    Looks like you fixed it! Nice pics!
    Seed of the Magyar -- Hungarian A.A.R. Completed

    Very Well, Alone! A British H.P.P. Semper Fi A.A.R

    'Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour!”' Churchill, 18th June 1940

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  11. #11
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    CHAPTER FOUR: The Abyssinians Part II

    The League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out. -- Benito Mussolini



    CHAPTER FOUR
    THE ABYSSINIANS PART II

    The words of H.I.M Haile Selassie I to the League of Nations fell on deaf ears, and his country was rapidly falling under the fascist boot. After several unsuccessful breakout attempts at Asawa, the strength of the Abyssinian forces’ was broken, but their pain was just beginning.



    The Italians did not really have sufficient forces to both maintain the blockade of Adis Abeba and carry the war south. However, Gen. Grossi was given specific instructions to make due with what he had, and that is exactly what he intended to do. Three infantry divisions were stretched to maintained the blockade, while even the three army and corps headquarters assisted in manning the front.



    Meanwhile, five divisions, including one led by the dashing Gen. Barbasetti di Prun advanced south to track down and destroy Haile Sellassie and the Abyssinian leadership that had escaped from Adis Abeba before the cordon could be closed. Logistics were challenging, making the advance take longer than expected, but the supply situation was markedly improved once Gen. Barbasetti di Prun’s division re-occupied Muqdisho. Thereafter, Italian supply ships could start making deliveries at the seaport located there. Gen. Barbasetti di Prun pressed his attack from Muqdisho to Kismayo, trapping and destroying a division of tribesmen as well as an Abyssinian HQ.



    With the south secure, these divisions could turn north and complete the pursuit and destruction of Haile Sellassie’s forces. After hard fighting in parched terrain, all that remained of the King of King’s forces was a rag tag disorganized rabble lost in the Desert of Boosaaso in the farthest corner on the Horn of Africa.

    On November 21, 1936, this leadership pocket was attacked and destroyed by the divisions of Gens. Grandin and Barbasetti di Prun. Sellassie and his followers all died in the fighting, but Sallassie’s pet lion cub was personally captured and saved by Gen. Barbasetti di Prun.



    With Sellassie and his henchmen gone. There was a power vacuum in Abyssinia -- other than the Regio Esercito, of course. However, it was Mussolini’s desire to turn over this near worthless conquest to a Quisling-like government beholden to Mussolini and Italy. Then, he could pull all of his troops out of the area. However, before he could do that, he needed to find a suitable cooperative partner. In the meantime, the encirclement of Adis Abeba tightened.



    It took until August of 1937 to find a suitable partner and to form a government-in-exile around Hailu Tekle Haymanot for the future Ethiopian state, which at that time was still in the hands of the remnants of Sellassie’s band of outlaws. However, once the framework of a government was formed, all that remained was to install them in the capital.



    On August 11, 1937, seven divisions under the command of Gen. Grossi launched the long awaited final assault on Adis Abeba. There were still two full infantry division led by Gen. Gilaneh defending Adis Abeba including Sellassie’s Imperial Bodyguard. However, these doomed troops were encircled and hopelessly outnumbered.



    It cost 830 Italian lives, but Adis Abeba was taken and the East African war was promptly ended.



    On August 11, 1937, Ethiopia surrendered unconditionally. Mussolini immediately ordered the installation of the collaborative government in Adis Abeba and instructed all Italian troops to immediately move with all deliberate speed to the nearest port for embarkation back to Italy. These now experienced infantry divisions had artillery support brigades ready and waiting for them in the vicinity of Ancona. They would be joined to form two powerful corps in the new modern Regio Esercito. The wheels of there next assignment were already rapidly spinning.



    Upon their return, Gen. Barbasetti di Prun presented Mussolini with Haile Sellassie’s pet lion cub. Upon presentation, Mussolini did not quite know what to make of the gift or what exactly to do with the animal. However, upon reflection, Mussolini was impressed with the gesture. He thought of it as a trophy of victory in the old classic sense. The only thing that would have been better would have been to have dragged Sellassie back in chains to be marched through the streets of Rome in a triumphal procession. For several months afterwards, the lion cub was constantly seen on Mussolini’s lap, and Gen. Barbasetti di Prun won a plum reassignment in command of one of the four Italian mobile divisions.


    Last edited by tommylotto; 15-09-2011 at 01:01.

  12. #12
    Field Marshal TheBromgrev's Avatar
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    Very well written. Historically, Italy had placed a guarantee on Austria's independence, as Mussolini was afraid Hitler would demand South Tyrol. The only thing stopping the '34 Anschluss attempt was Italy's threat of war, with the backing of France and the UK. While the circumstances in '38 were different due to the adventure in Ethiopia, do you have any plans to enforce your guarantee? There's no in-game way to prevent the Anschluss and fight Germany over Austria without modding, but there are work-arounds to the situation you can do.

    Also, you might find Italy's entry in my info thread to be useful for naval ideas.
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  13. #13
    Very well written! I will follow this.
    As an inexperienced HoI3 player, I wonder why you decided to create a puppet instead of annexing Ethiopia. Was it just to not have to keep soldiers there?
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  14. #14
    Field Marshal TheBromgrev's Avatar
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    Most likely. Keeping troops in East Africa is suicide, since you won't be able to supply them after you start the war, since the UK closes off the Med to you.
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  15. #15
    First Lieutenant HecNev's Avatar
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    Nice AAR and interesting way of fueling your industry by simply keeping up the war for some time.

    I wonder how things will play out for you later on, especially as you don't seem to like joining the Axis.

  16. #16
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    CHAPTER FIVE: The Illyrians

    Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. -- Benito Mussolini




    CHAPTER FIVE:
    THE ILLYRIANS

    Immediately after the Great War, a new state that had never existed was created by the Versailles treaty. It was originally the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes created by union of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the Kingdom of Serbia. In the minds of many Italians it was a nonsensical imaginary state made up of a multitude of disparate quarrelsome tribes. King Aleksandar I tried his best to make a single nation out of this collection of different peoples. He renamed his country Yugoslavia, banned political parties, and ruled as a dictator. He abolished all the historic territorial provinces and redrew all the political lines. He kept under police surveillance or out right jailed most politicians. The old flags were banned as were all Communist ideas. However, his heavy handed attempts at national unification were contrary to the long term ambitions of his neighboring states, including Italy, who had been allowing a Croatian separatist movement, the Ustaše group, to train on Italian territory. And his methods only increased the alienation of the non-Serb portion of his population.



    Finally, in 1934, Aleksandar was assassinated while in Marseilles by a Macedonian revolutionary, working in cooperation with the Ustaše, and under the secret sponsorship of Mussolini. It was reported that Aleksandar’s last words had been “Save Yugoslavia, and the friendship with France”, but he was succeeded by his 11 year old son, Peter II, and actual authority was assigned to his father's cousin, Prince Pavle Karađorđević, as regent. The prince heard Aleksandar’s advice, but he could see the writing on the wall. France was internally divided, and increasingly unable to play an important role in Eastern Europe. He moved Yugoslavia away from its friendly relations with France and sought better relations with Italy, Germany and Romania.

    Unfortunately, Mussolini’s mind was already made up. He had been influenced by the ideas of Gabriele D'Annunzio the famous Dalmatian Italian intellectual, artist, daredevil and committed irredentist. Italy had been treated shabbily by the allies after the Great War. The promises of the Treaty of London were ignored by Woodrow Wilson, and Italian territories in Dalmatia were given to former enemies in that abomination referred to as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, now Yugoslavia. Mussolini had openly support its separatists, and covertly assassinated its leader for advocating a strong central government. Yugoslavia drifted away from France. The time to undo that abomination was rapidly approaching.

    _____________________________________



    In July of 1937, while the forces in East Africa were still camped on the outskirts of Adis Abeba waiting for the order to attack, stories started appearing in the newspapers of Rome that atrocities were being committed against ethnic Italians living on the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia. Mussolini complained to his people that the League of Nations could shed tears of blood for a poor tribesman from the Horn of Africa, but would not lift a finger to protect the rights and lives of Italians living in their own ancestral homeland. Quietly, in early August of 1937, operations began, even before any formal declaration of war. The border guards on the Illyrian front decamped from their defensive positions and marched down the Istrian peninsula to Rovigno. These four full artillery-backed divisions were organized into a corps under Gen. Pintor.



    Meanwhile, all the trains of Northern Italy were allocated to transporting with as much speed and secrecy as possible the strike force from Ancona to their launching positions. Mancinelli’s corps of pure mountaineers was trained to Gorizia. Gen. Roatta’s corps of artillery backed mountaineers was sent to Trieste (just to the southern flank of Mancinelli’s division for comparison purposes). Gen. Aymonnini’s infantry corps was sent to Kozina. Finally, Gen. Messe’s Corpo d’Armata Celere of four combined arms mobile divisions was stationed in the far south in Pola. All five corps were under the Command of Gen. Nicholosi’s 8a Armata, who was under the Eastern Army Group Command of Field Marshall Balbo and under the ultimate authority of Comando Superiore under Field Marshall de Bono, who of course took direction directly from Mussolini. On August 24, 1937, Foreign Minister Gian Ciano delivered a territorial ultimatum that everyone knew would be rejected. On August 25, 1937, just two weeks after Ethiopia’s surrender, Italy declared war on Yugoslavia.



    Surprise was total. The enemy had not even mobilized for defense, and even if it had been prepared, the firepower amassed by Italy’s new army would have easily smash it. The initial phase of the invasion was sort of a reverse Schlieffen plan where the northern most units would require a long arched advance east then southeast, and the front would pivot in a continuous advance with the southern most forces advancing relatively little. Due to terrain, the southern pivot of the advance was Messe’s Corpo d’Armata Celere. Their instruction was to advance from Pola through Novi Vinodolski and stopping in Otocac until the more norther forces could make their longer arched advance. The most daunting task was assigned to Mancinelli’s III Corpo d’Armata dell’A.O.I. and his four pure divisions of Alpini. Not only did they have the longest march, but they were also required to advance from Gorizia across the the mountainous spine of the border between Austria and Yugoslavia (Bovec to Jesenice to Dravograd) and then through the rough terrain of Maribor, then finally through the low lands of Ptuj to Ormoz to Cakovec. Meanwhile Roatta’s corps of mixed mountaineers and artillery would advance from Trieste through the rough terrain of Solkan to Kranj to Celje to Krsko to the urban center of Zagreb. To the south, Aymonnini’s corps of artillery backed infantry would advance from Kozina to Cerknica to Ljubljana to Novo Mesto, then to Karlovac, and Pintor’s corps would move out from Rovingno to Kostel to Ribnica to Delnice.

    The march of the Mancinelli’s mountaineers was nothing short of miraculous. In a span of no more than sixteen days they sent the Yugoslavian border guards and a Yugoslavian cavalry division fleeing, and then they transported themselves on their feet, and their equipment on their backs, across the Karavanke mountain range and descended in perfect organization and high morale on the plains of Ormoz. Mussolini commissioned a popular song extolling the accomplishment, and the "March of the Tireless Feet" became a permanent part of the Italian zeitgeist.



    Roatta’s mixed mountain corps did not fare so well. His artillery supported mountain divisions, of all of the divisions in the Italian advance, performed, by far, the worst. They managed to battle across the river at Kranj, but were delayed by a Yugoslavian infantry division and a motorized division for long enough in Celje to open up dangerous gaps in the line of advance. Although, in fairness to Roatta’s corps, they fought well through difficult terrain and faced the best troops that Yugoslavia offered throughout the entire war.



    However, those obstacles were overcome, and by September 16, 1937, the line of advance was stabilized and the second phase of the advance was ready to commence. All infantry corps were ordered to attack relentlessly towards the southeast. Once the enemy was on the run, the Italian divisions were, as the American General Jackson used to say, “keep up the scare” or rather continue the attack while the enemy was still disorganized to not afford them an opportunity to regroup.



    Meanwhile Messe’s Corpo Celere was to divide, with Gens. Barbasetti di Prun and de Stefanis’ two divisions sweeping through Karlobag and Gens. Bitossi and Zangales’ divisions advancing towards Perusic. The corps would reunite at Udbina and seek a breakthrough to the airbase at Split and if possible continue their breakthrough down the Adriatic coast.



    The shock and awe of the assault of the second phase of the invasion came while the Yugoslavian forces were still reeling from the initial blows. They broke and were sent in headlong flight towards the southeast. The advance of the Italian forces, now enhanced with new arrivals from Africa, struggled to keep contact with their feeing foes. The Celere corps overran several divisions in its path and swept from Split along the coast all the way down to the seaport at Cetinje. They now had an unobstructed path north to Belgrade. The Yugoslavian forces were in total disarray. To anyone on the front, surrender seemed imminent and necessary to save the outclassed foe from certain slaughter. Surely, the boxer’s manager was about to throw in the towel.



    Then, on November 5, 1937, Mussolini ordered all Italian forces to stop in their tracks. All attacks were to be called off. Lines were to be consolidated for the winter -- the balmy mid-adriatic winter.


    Last edited by tommylotto; 23-09-2011 at 22:35.
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  17. #17
    First Lieutenant HecNev's Avatar
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    Nice update!
    I like the mix of hiostorical picutes and ingame-screens, it contributes very much to the history-book style of the AAR!

    Also, I'm anxious to see what the winter will bring and why the Duce considers to stop the attack, now that it has gained full momentum...

  18. #18
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    CHAPTER SIX: The Democracies

    The Liberal State is a mask behind which there is no face; it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building. -- Benito Mussolini


    CHAPTER SIX:
    The Democracies

    Mussolini maintained that stopping the advance was the prudent thing to do for the winter, but every military man, in fact everyone except the simplest peasants, knew different. King Vittorio Emmanuele III started to question his management of the war, and Mussolini was even summoned before the Fascist Grand Council to explain his actions.



    Mussolini gave an impassioned speech imploring them to trust in his judgment, as not everything is as it seems. He would never do anything to harm the long term interests of the Italian state. Il Duce had for the past 15 years guided the ship of state with wisdom, and their faith in him remained strong. He retained his grip on the levers of power.

    The truth was that Ciano had received a diplomatic directive from the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, to stop the Italian advance into Yugoslavian territory immediately. It was the considered opinion of Ciano that this directive was the equivalent of an ultimatum. Mussolini stopped the advance in compliance with, and in fear of, the directive from the United Kingdom. The ploy about stopping for the winter was merely a face saving effort so that he could plausibly argue that he had not caved to British pressure.

    Back when Italy had first attacked Abyssinia, the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Baldwin had made serious diplomatic efforts through the League of Nations to pressure Italy to abandon the adventure, but England was unwilling to act without France, and France was unwilling to act. Nevertheless, the League, on a 50 nation to 1 vote, resolved to impose sanctions against Italy. In response, Mussolini could have threatened that imposing sanctions would mean war, but he didn’t. He outsmarted the League by responding that “Italy will meet the sanctions with discipline, with frugality and with sacrifice.” However, he cautioned that he would not stand for any sanctions that hampered Italy’s war effort. He did not back down, nor did he fall for Baldwin’s bait. He allowed the sanctions to be imposed, but in their execution, no harm was done to Italian heavy industry. Trade in oil, steel billets and pig iron continued. Italy’s war industry was not affected. Even the Suez canal remained open to Italian fleets. It was the The United Kingdom and Baldwin that had backed down.

    However, in May of 1937, Baldwin resigned, and Mr. Chamberlain was appointed the new prime minister. In a break with protocol, Chamberlain bypassed Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and opened up direct communications with Mussolini via Ciano and the Italian Ambassador, Count Dino Grandi. In July of 1937, just weeks before the start of the invasion of Yugoslavia, Chamberlain had told his cabinet members that he saw, “the lessening of the tension between this country and Italy as a very valuable contribution towards the pacification and appeasement of Europe.” Mussolini took this comment as tacit acquiescence to Italy’s campaign in Abyssinia. Thus, Mussolini gave the go ahead for the invasion of Yugoslavia.

    However, the sharply worded diplomatic communique from Chamberlain had hints of resolve embedded in its construction. It gave Mussolini pause. Under Baldwin, Britannia had become a frightened, flabby old woman, who at worst would only bluster, and was anyhow incapable of making war. However, Mussolini had not yet had the opportunity to test the mettle of Mr. Chamberlain. He did not want war with the UK, not yet at least.

    When the advance inexplicably stopped in November of 1937, the Yugoslavian forces were as shocked as anyone. They had lost huge amounts of territory, men and material, but they did the best that they could to form a continuous front. Nevertheless, they knew they were out matched and made no concerted effort to launch a counter offensive. The two sides just settled down on the front, cutting the country in half. The Italian troops at the front were initially disappointed by the stand down order. They were victorious. They were motivated, and their morale was high. However, not too long later, the troops seemed to be enjoying the the respite from the war. As the holiday season came, the campaign evolved into a pleasant camping trip. The spirit of the troops soared.



    Chamberlain was very please that Mussolini had stopped his advance. This indicated to him that Mussolini was a sincere politician and reasonable statesman. Chamberlain was sure that if he could get Mussolini and Milan Stojadinović, the Yugoslavian prime minister, into the same room that he could broker a mutually acceptable agreement that would preserve peace in the Balkans. Mussolini was more than willing to humor Chamberlain until he could decide whether Italy could proceed with its offensive without fear of intervention by the western democracies. Chamberlain invited himself to Rome to preside over a peace conference between Mussolini and Stojadinović. Chamberlain received a warm reception and was treated with the utmost courtesy and respect. Relations between the two countries were the warmest they had been in years.


    From right to left: Ciano, Lord Halifax, P.M. Chamberlain, Mussolini


    However, the conference was a total failure. Stojadinović, an economist by trade, completely misread the resolve of the western democracies. He believed that he had their support in the dispute, even militarily if necessary, and he overplayed his hand. Not only would he not consider territorial concessions, he even trotted out old territorial claims against Italy. Chamberlain threw up his hands, and returned to London reporting that the unreasonableness of the Yugoslavs made peace impossible. Mussolini read this as the the United Kingdom’s acquiescence to the continuation of the war.
    Last edited by tommylotto; 23-09-2011 at 22:51.
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  19. #19
    Captain EnragedKiwi's Avatar
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    I am enjoying this considerably.

  20. #20
    Did the ultimatum happen in the game, or did you add it for 'RP' purposes? Either case, it was very entertaining.
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