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Thread: Grande italia

  1. #141

    Push for the Rhone begins and Anglo-Italian relations harden

    Recap: After the Italian victory in Ethiopia in May 1936, the large build-up of British forces on the Ethiopian-Sudanese Border unnerved the Italians. Marshal Balbo pitched a “grand plan” for a war against the Allies to Mussolini. It was accepted and a multi-front war began between Italy and the Allies on the 11th May 1936. Mussolini had committed the ‘mad god act’ so feared by British diplomats and politicians.

    On the 2nd July 1936, Spain erupted into civil war. The Italian Fascist’s and the German Nazi’s both supported the Nationalist side.




    Europe
    Recap: At the start of the war the Italian I and IV armies had easily pushed over the unprepared French forces along Little Maginot Line (in the Alps) and expanded into the Provence and Rhone regions. The front became static with the arrival of two French armour divisions and the French forces then counterattacked and retook Marseille. With reinforcements from the II and VIII armies, the Italians have now retaken the imitative along the front. Marseille was recaptured on the 1st August.

    On the 20th May, the Italians were also able to capture Malta from the British and later Corsica from the French, securing the central Mediterranean. A series of naval battles took place between Italian and French fleets in the central Mediterranean during mid-June. French naval power was seriously damaged including the loss of the carrier Bearn and the battleship Provence. A French attempt to land troops on Corsica at the end of July was defeated with the loss of men and more French ships.


    Spain
    The Spanish Civil War had now been raging for over a month. In the battle for rulership, among the Nationalists, the military strongman Franco had disappeared from the pages of history and the true leader of the uprising Jose Sanjurjo had emerged to the forefront.


    Nationalist(dark red) and Republican(cream) maneuvers up to the 21st July 1936

    In the first few weeks of the conflict, the Nationalists opening moves involved a landing of troops along the southern shore of the Peninsula at Almeria and a seizure of those port facilities. The troops that landed then surged north before branching off to the west and the east. In central Spain, the Nationalist also pushed for the all-important Madrid and towards the new Republican capital of Valenica on the east coast. The Republicans appeared to have abandoned Madrid and were pushing south towards Seville. To the north, a drive which was spearheaded by Italian armour pushed east along the coast to Bilbao.



    Nationalist(dark red) and Republican maneuvers(cream) between the 21st July 1936 to the 7th August 1936

    Several weeks into the bitter civil war, Madrid was taken for the Nationalist side. There was not much fighting but the 1st "Dio lo Vuole" Blackshirt Infantry Division played a significant part with its attack from the west. Republican forces from Valencia and Malaga put a halt to the Nationalist advances in the south and also succeeded in separating the Nationalist zone in the north from Nationalist controlled Seville in the south.


    British press turn up the heat on the Italian ‘intervention’ in Spain.

    Alpine Front
    2nd August: After the French attack on Ruffieux was called off the day before, the I Army had achieved another tactical victory. There was no need to continue the attack on the French at Bourg-en-Besse


    After achieving its tactical objective, the counterattack on Bourg-en-Besse is called off by General Guzzoni.

    5th August: At the southern end of the front, the aggressive General Pintor was not content with Marseille itself, he intended to push on and create a new front along the Rhone. The push to the Rhone was agreed with Marshal Badolgio. This strategy would soon be attempted along the whole front.

    The French 2nd (mot) Division was protecting Arles at the northern end of the Camargue (the Rhone River delta) when it came under attack from three Italian Divisions which advanced west from Marseille. After a brief battle, the French Division began retreating.


    Pintor’s drive to the Rhone

    6th August: Back at the northern end of the front, the French now counterattacked again. Firstly the French Armour attacked the outnumbered 2nd Alpine Division which was dug in at Ruffieux. Two French Infantry Divisions also attacked the university city of Grenoble. Both attacks left the French vulnerable as they were over ‘stretched’ across the Rhone River.


    The French counterattack again at the northern end of the front.



    ASI
    Recap: In North Africa, the Italian IX Army has captured Tunis and were now heading west to Algiers. The X Army and the VI Army advanced east, first taking Cairo and then besieging the British in Alexandria. After a tough battle the British 7th Infantry Division and the Middle East Command were forced to surrender. The Italians were then forced on the defensive along the line of the Suez against a determined British and Iraqi attack. The line was breached in its entirety and the British were able to initially push on before their attack faulted.

    Nile Delta
    5th August: The British 18th Infantry had stormed across the canal and driven the northern elements of the 7th ‘Cirene’ Division from Port Said. They had then turned south advanced into Isma’iliya and attacked the 27th ‘Sila’ Division at El Suweis.


    The battle of El Suweis begins and the southern elements of the 7th ‘Cirene’ Division are thrown back when they attack Isma’iliya.

    6th August: The southern elements of the 7th ‘Cirene‘ Blackshirts restarted the battle for Isma’iliya but the combined weight of both the Iraqi troops and the British 18th Infantry was too much. The Iraqis easily repelled their attack.



    AOI
    Recap: In East Africa, the strong French 1st Army in Djibouti initially made good advances on the Eritrean capital of Asmara but they were eventually surrounded and annihilated by Italian forces. Captured Ethiopian supply stockpiles kept the Italian troops strong and they were also able to capture key British strategic locations in the Somaliland, northern Sudan and British East Africa, effectively trapping the British 3rd Army in the Sudan east of Ethiopia. In the south, a relief effort attempted by the British 4th Infantry Division just north of Lake Victoria failed and the Italians have finally closed the pincer and trapped the British against the impenetrable water waste called The Sudd.

    Sudanese Border
    2nd August: During the last week, Italian forces had been advancing into British positions at the northern end of the Sudanese border, collapsing the sack around the trapped British 3rd Army.

    The only major fighting was now taking place at Jima, a large township in southwestern Ethiopia, where the Italian 24th ‘Pinerolo’ Division had been given the difficult task of defeating the dug in 4th Indian Division. Over ten days ago, Major General Castellano, had led his men on the assault but the brave colonials of the 4th Indian had easily been able to hold the line along the river and in the mountainous terrain.

    Italian reinforcements began to move in from surrounding provinces and apply pressure to the British colonial troops. An exhausted Castellano relinquished command to the experienced Nasi. However, it was too late, this offensive petered out.


    Battle of Jima: phase 1 ends and phase 2 begins

    4th August: Two days later different advancing Italian divisions renewed the attack on the beleaguered 4th Indian Division. This was a two pronged attack lead by Cona and his 3rd Blackshirts in the south and supported by the 1st and 2nd Eritrean Divisions from Nek’emte in the north.



    Arabia Felix
    Recap: On the 11th July, the Italian colonial troops successfully landed and secured the undefended British port of Aden. Yemeni forces (allies of Britain) immediately attacked the Italians but could not hold out when Italian reinforcements arrived. Yemen was overrun but the fighting units of their army escaped across the border into the British Aden Protectorate. This victory yielded full control of the Gate of Tears to the Italians, a significant strategic advantage.

    Yemeni loyalist forces then emerged from the deserts to the east, attacked and defeated the Somali Dubats which were guarding Aden. The Italians then landed the 30th ‘Sabauda’ at Aden to hold the port town.


    3rd August: With the landing of de Stefanis’s 30th ‘Sabauda’ at Aden, the Italian defense of the port town stiffened.


    The Battle of Aden is won. De Stefanis then goes on the offensive.

    5th August: Two days later the Yemeni’s gave up the attack after suffering heavy losses. De Stefanis immediately went on the offensive and drove the Yemeni loyalists from their positions at Ataq.

    Europe

    British “free press” exercising their rights. Someone is obviously unhappy about the Italian victories in AOI.


    Mussolini demonised by the British press.

    Over the last few weeks diplomatic reports had begun to filter in which indicated a hardening of British relations to the Italian fascist regime. When feelers were put out into the diplomatic community, it suddenly became very apparent that the British (and their allies) would now in no way consider a peaceful resolution to the war. Italian foreign policy had failed to judge the effect of Italian victories on the relations of the two nations. Although unconfirmed, it was thought that the tipping point was the seizure of Yemen and the strategic control of Bab-el-Mandeb at the southern end of the Red Sea. This was no longer a limited colonial war, it had become a bitter struggle to the death.



    Mussolini had overstepped the mark with his ‘mad dog act’. Italian politico-strategic options were thought to be limited to:

    a) Partial or full Italian withdrawal back to original borders in an attempt to soften Anglo-Italian relations so that a peace could be garnered. – low risk;

    b) Ally with the Nazi Germany and attempt to draw them into the war. This was a longer term strategy. Italy could not be expected to continue to hold out singlehandedly against both the French and the British. Both nations had been caught off guard but their combine industrial might far outstripped that of Italy’s. It was only a matter of time before the tide would turn. – medium risk.

    c) Go it alone without joining Nazi Germany. This was a seen as a medium term strategy where Italian forces in East Africa would have to be committed to an all-out war in France. The goal would be to knock France completely out of the war. The combined might of Italy and France could then be brought to bear against Great Britain. - high risk

  2. #142
    Lt. General NapoleonComple's Avatar
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    The genie is out the lamp now. Withdrawing to the original borders will only give the French and British a taste of Italian blood. Its time to go for broke; heat up the invasion of France (c) and call for German help if needed. (b) However, you have to think about what the balance of power will be after the war. Even if Italy takes up to India from the British in the industrially weak south, that doesn't change the fact that, assuming Barbarossa goes ahead, Germany will, after an axis victory, control the industrialised north. It will result in an uneven split of a German northern hemisphere and an Italian southern hemisphere, plus whatever the Japanese manage to accomplish (which will probably be at the Italians expense.)

    If Italy wants to be the number one power after this, and not subordinate to Germany, it needs to seize that status and break the Western allies. Asking for help will presumably end in the Germans getting northern France and probably Britain too, unless Italy can steal that particular prize in a naval invasion. Hitlers regime may be young and inexperienced compared to Mussolinis fascists, but they have the bigger country.

  3. #143
    Second Lieutenant blackdown's Avatar
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    C is the best option of those you offered. Hedge yourself by diplomatically aligning with Germany but not joining the Axis, otherwise you must fully commit yourself to victory or you will not achieve it. I strongly advise against A because it presumes you will lose an asset and just gives it away anyway. Better to actually lose it then give it away for nothing, if anything the extra casulities on the allies in fighting to that point might save northern Italy. Can't say the same if you allow them to waltz to the alps. B means accepting the backseat for the rest of the game and fighting for an Axis rather than Italian victory, that's upto you to decide if you're happy with that but you might have a problem with the UK if Germany doesn't do an operation Sea Lion as you may not have the strength to capture it.

    Best of luck.

  4. #144
    Field Marshal King50000's Avatar
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    C for all the reasons given above.

  5. #145
    Yep, I'm gonna vote C.

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  9. #149
    Lt. General tommylotto's Avatar
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    It's too early to think about peace. You need to stabilize that front on the Suez. Then check back on the diplomatic front. Things might change by then. There was a reason you started the war in the first place. If the war was worth starting, it will be worth finishing. You still have three years before the main dance begins. That gives you time. Keep pushing into France. Don't run behind Hitler's skirt. Fight on. Only call in your neighbor to the North if you are presented with an existential threat...
    Check out The Fox And The Lion - An Hoi3 TFH Mod. A full featured mod with many new unit types playable as any nation but with extra emphasis on Italy.

  10. #150
    Field Marshal King50000's Avatar
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    Well, why don't you attempt to only hold onto the provinces where you hold cores on? Maybe the UK would be more willing to accept a peace if they saw all the land they were losing had a direct Italian claim on it, rather than all these African holdings where you have no cores, but would come with any peace signed right now.

  11. #151
    Lt. General Tallfellow's Avatar
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    I vote for C. But you might have to get some more units to the front with France if you are going to have a chance to win!
    MEIOU cookie From Gigau.

  12. #152
    Field Marshal King50000's Avatar
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    What exactly is the state of your economy? I remember you talking about the UK bombers hitting the industrial zones of Milan, but have they been able to hit any other industrial-heavy areas? Especially now that Malta and the Egyptian airports are gone.

  13. #153
    Quote Originally Posted by NapoleonComple View Post
    The genie is out the lamp now. Withdrawing to the original borders will only give the French and British a taste of Italian blood. Its time to go for broke; heat up the invasion of France (c) and call for German help if needed. (b) However, you have to think about what the balance of power will be after the war. Even if Italy takes up to India from the British in the industrially weak south, that doesn't change the fact that, assuming Barbarossa goes ahead, Germany will, after an axis victory, control the industrialised north. It will result in an uneven split of a German northern hemisphere and an Italian southern hemisphere, plus whatever the Japanese manage to accomplish (which will probably be at the Italians expense.)

    If Italy wants to be the number one power after this, and not subordinate to Germany, it needs to seize that status and break the Western allies. Asking for help will presumably end in the Germans getting northern France and probably Britain too, unless Italy can steal that particular prize in a naval invasion. Hitlers regime may be young and inexperienced compared to Mussolinis fascists, but they have the bigger country.
    Quote Originally Posted by blackdown View Post
    C is the best option of those you offered. Hedge yourself by diplomatically aligning with Germany but not joining the Axis, otherwise you must fully commit yourself to victory or you will not achieve it. I strongly advise against A because it presumes you will lose an asset and just gives it away anyway. Better to actually lose it then give it away for nothing, if anything the extra casulities on the allies in fighting to that point might save northern Italy. Can't say the same if you allow them to waltz to the alps. B means accepting the backseat for the rest of the game and fighting for an Axis rather than Italian victory, that's upto you to decide if you're happy with that but you might have a problem with the UK if Germany doesn't do an operation Sea Lion as you may not have the strength to capture it.

    Best of luck.
    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    C for all the reasons given above.
    Quote Originally Posted by VonMudra View Post
    Yep, I'm gonna vote C.
    Quote Originally Posted by tommylotto View Post
    It's too early to think about peace. You need to stabilize that front on the Suez. Then check back on the diplomatic front. Things might change by then. There was a reason you started the war in the first place. If the war was worth starting, it will be worth finishing. You still have three years before the main dance begins. That gives you time. Keep pushing into France. Don't run behind Hitler's skirt. Fight on. Only call in your neighbor to the North if you are presented with an existential threat...
    Quote Originally Posted by Tallfellow View Post
    I vote for C. But you might have to get some more units to the front with France if you are going to have a chance to win!
    There are a lot of hawks in the room. All points noted. No one is in favour of joining the Axis unless it is a necessity.


    Quote Originally Posted by eqqman View Post
    I'd go with B, this seems too early to try and defeat both Britain and France on your own.
    I am afraid your voice is being drowned out by the cries of the hawks.


    Quote Originally Posted by mnplastic View Post
    I vote A for the sake of being original
    Very oppositional of you but we need the balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by mnplastic View Post
    Actually where those French gone? Are they sitting at German border or relaxing in Paris cafes?
    I presume they are getting worried about the Germans and are stationed at the Maginot Line. It also looks like one of the two amour divisions has gone somewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    Well, why don't you attempt to only hold onto the provinces where you hold cores on? Maybe the UK would be more willing to accept a peace if they saw all the land they were losing had a direct Italian claim on it, rather than all these African holdings where you have no cores, but would come with any peace signed right now.
    Thinking on it, it’s too risky to pull back to the core provinces. Too much Italian blood and money has been spent on these gains already. They might see it as a sign of weakness plus they will only get stronger as time goes by.

    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    What exactly is the state of your economy? I remember you talking about the UK bombers hitting the industrial zones of Milan, but have they been able to hit any other industrial-heavy areas? Especially now that Malta and the Egyptian airports are gone.
    Resource stockpiles usage has levelled off and seems to be going ok. The British bombers are still attacking Milan, 6 out of 10 IC is damaged their. They have not attacked anywhere else. IC gains include 5 IC in Marseille, 1 in Corsica, 2 in Tunisia, 5 in Egypt, 1 in Sudan and 3 in Ethiopia.


    IC over the course of the game. Ethiopian war finished on the 9th May and the war with the allies started soonafter. The British bombers immediately had an effect but the losses have been recovered after taking key strategic areas.

  14. #154
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    Ah, looks like those gains have really pulled you out of an otherwise dire situation IC wise. And I think it is pretty unrealistic for the UK and France to not attempt to negotiate a peace with the Italians pushing them back so far. The Med is basicly lost to them, all of Africa is wide open, the Rhone is about to be reached with this renewed Italian Offensive, and the Suez is the only real obstacle preventing the Italians from rushing through the Middle East. All this, and not even a year into the war. Sure the AI will get stronger as time goes, but in a realistic setting, the French and British people would probably be rioting for some form of a peace deal with such embarrasing loses, especially when most of the territory to be lost is simple "desert and wasteland."
    So, maybe modding is in order? I have no idea what you could possibly do the rest of the game with peace now, but your MP Pool has to be running dangerously low by now.

  15. #155
    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    Ah, looks like those gains have really pulled you out of an otherwise dire situation IC wise. And I think it is pretty unrealistic for the UK and France to not attempt to negotiate a peace with the Italians pushing them back so far. The Med is basicly lost to them, all of Africa is wide open, the Rhone is about to be reached with this renewed Italian Offensive, and the Suez is the only real obstacle preventing the Italians from rushing through the Middle East. All this, and not even a year into the war. Sure the AI will get stronger as time goes, but in a realistic setting, the French and British people would probably be rioting for some form of a peace deal with such embarrasing loses, especially when most of the territory to be lost is simple "desert and wasteland."
    So, maybe modding is in order? I have no idea what you could possibly do the rest of the game with peace now, but your MP Pool has to be running dangerously low by now.
    I could easily mod in a peace deal but I feel that would be cheating. Its to much like snatching a bit of territory off two more powerful nations and then forcing a peace. I will have to fight it out with them. There will be some more stats in the next post.

  16. #156

    Mussolini's Giant

    Diplomatic channels now indicated a severe hardening of British relations with the Italians. The embarrassment and actual loss of Egypt and East Africa had made Britain the laughing stock of the great powers. With the loss of the Indian and East African colonial troops her actual position as a great power was also perceived to be under threat. The whole British Far East was up for grabs.

    Marshal Balbo’s original plan for the war against Britain and her allies, involved a set series of objectives and then a mutual peace. Dubbed the Drin-drin Plan by Mussolini its proposed conclusion of peace was now no longer on the table. It was a war to the death. A new course of action needed to be taken.


    The Grand Council in session.

    The Grand Council of Fascism now held a series of meetings to decide this course of action. Expecting that they would drag long into the night over a series of days, ll Duce found that he had overestimated the amount of discord in the council. The hard liners dominated the initial discussions pushing for the aggressive ‘knockout’ blow against France. It was also suggested that allying with Germany could be a fall-back position but anti-German sentiment was also high. The odd voice was raised for the more conservative plan, dubbed ‘the retreat’ by the hard liners. Flushed with confidence from the recent victories the hard lines would hear of no talk about this plan called “the retreat”.


    Extracts of reports on the state of national resources.


    Extracts of reports on the state on domestic industrial capacity.


    Extracts of reports on other domestic matters. Note the manpower statistics in the offical report).


    Manpower report withheld from the Grand Council under Mussolini’s orders. Note the shocking Italian losses.


    Reading the situation, Mussolini decided to apply his master propaganda skills to their highest effect. The final session of the council was set up to confirm the proposed course of action. Entering the large but darkened council room late, he strode into the room from a dark corner entrance and assumed his position at the head of the meeting. A massive hulking shadow of a man dressed in a long hooded black silk robe followed him into the room to stand at his right hand side. The man’s head was bowed and his face unseen. Council member sitting close by could hear a faint sound of nasal whistling emanating from underneath the hood. A quiet hush fell over the room as the vote was taken. The robed giant behind Mussolini stood motionless. Mussolini was stern and expressionless.

    Nervously perplexed by the unknown giant, the councillors voted one by one. With the ominous giant standing behind Mussolini no man in the room dared to cast a dissenting vote. It was unequivocally unanimous and in favour of an all-out assault on and ‘knockout’ blow of France.

    Perfectly timed, as if it could ever have been by chance, the staunch monarchists in the room then began to chant their battle cry "Avanti Savoia", "Avanti Savoia", "Avanti Savoia"… (“Go, Savoia!", “Go, Savoia!", “Go, Savoia!"…). Within a few seconds the fanatic Blackshirts in the room began to beat the tables in front of them and chant their war cry "A noi", "A noi", "A noi"… ("With us, with us, with us…").

    With this Mussolini suddenly leaped to his feet and turned to his right and outstretched his arm towards his mysterious giant companion. The giant lifted his long arms and drew back his silk hood revealing himself to the council.



    The room erupted into a loud fusion of surprise, applause and joy. It was none other than the former world heavyweight boxing champion, the Italian giant, Primo Carnera. He had been brought in to seal the deal by the master manipulator Mussolini.



    It was time for the military planners to get to work. The new plan would be dubbed “The Carnera”.


  17. #157
    Field Marshal King50000's Avatar
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    You've lost me with this scene
    I'm not sure what the "Go Savoia" and "With us" means, or the value of a Boxer, no matter how well known he is.

  18. #158
    Lt. General anweRU's Avatar
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    The symbolism is clear - go for a knock out blow against the foolish Englishmen. Viva Italia!

  19. #159
    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    You've lost me with this scene
    I'm not sure what the "Go Savoia" and "With us" means, or the value of a Boxer, no matter how well known he is.
    I read somehwere that these are the battlecrys of the monarchists and the fascist Blackshirts. Carnera is just there for dramatics.

    Quote Originally Posted by anweRU View Post
    The symbolism is clear - go for a knock out blow against the foolish Englishmen. Viva Italia!
    Yes, I am committed. I cant see any other solution given the blood already shed.

  20. #160
    PLAN CARNERA

    The present strategic situation offered a challenge that would have to be overcome before the knockout shot on France could even be attempted. The extraction of the large Italian force in East Africa was crucial to the plan. It is this force that would be used to secure the Suez and then to deliver the KO blow in France. It consisted of four veteran corps, consisting of regular Italian troops, camicie nere (Blackshirts), colonial troops and tankettes.

    With British and Iraqi forces pushing hard over the Suez. It was important that these troops be brought into play in this sector as soon as possible. The I-AOI Corps was identified as a corps which could be immediately transferred to the Nile Delta, firstly because of the proximity of its divisions to the Red Sea coasts and secondly for the fact that its divisions were not directly involved in subduing the remains of the British 3rd Army.


    The I-AOI Corps in AOI. These divisions are flagged for the Suez Operation.

    The other corps, the II-AOI, III-AOI and Eritrean would have to follow later once the British 3rd Army was annihilated and the Suez secured. These Corps would be shipped to mainland Italy for refit before the new campaign in France would begin.


    The current state of the II-AOI, III-AOI and Eritrean Corps.


    Alpine-Rhone Front – Marshal Badolgio


    Mussolini and Badoglio

    Marshal Badoglio’s Army Group West had achieved the objectives outlined in the Drin-Drin Plan, the capture of the Maritime Alps, Marseille and Corsica (see THIS THREAD). The Alpine-Rhone Front and the war in France had now become the most important strategic zone in the war. This importance would not be assumed right away for it would firstly require the relocation of several key Italians Corps from East Africa to Italy for rest and refit. Then these troops would be shifted to the front. This would take time.


    Marshal Badoglio's objectives from the Drin-Drin Plan - objectives acheived (Note: the blue and red colour should be in reverse).

    This did not mean that the front would become inactive, to the contrary, General Pintor and Marshal Badoglio had already initiated a plan to establish a defensive front along the Rhone River. It was now planned that this front would now be augmented with the inclusion of the French city of Lyon as the northern shoulder of the Front. From Lyon, it would run northeast into the foothills of the Alps up to the Swiss border. To the south of Lyon the defensive front would follow the course of the Rhone all the way to the Mediterranean.



    TOP: The proposed Rhone-Lyon Front will be secured by the Italian 1st, 4th and 8th Armies (Army Group West). BOTTOM: Forces of Army Group West.

    Establishing the Rhone-Lyon Front would be the primary objective of Marshal Badoglio before the arrival of the veteran Corps from East Africa. In the meantime, planners would be working out strategies for the conquest of the main part of France.

    It was also decided that once the Rhone-Lyon Front was set, the divisions of V Corps of the 2nd Army be relocated back to the Italio-Yugoslav border. Here territorial claims by each nation on the other made for a possible diplomatic flashpoint. Currently Italy only had two divisions on the border compared to at least nine divisions of the Yugoslav army a ratio of 1:4.5. With the return of the V Corps this ratio would fall to weak but more favourable 1:2.25.


    Africa Orientale Italiana(AOI) – Marshal Graziani


    Mussolini and Graziani

    Although the focus was now shifting to the Suez and Europe, Graziani’s priority continued to be the elimination of the remnants of the British 3rd Army currently trapped in western Sudan. This was a continuation of Balbo’s original grand plan, dubbed the “Drin-Drin” plan by none other than Mussolini himself.

    The East African Campaign had reached such a stage that the elimination of the British 3rd Army was a forgone conclusion. Given this, spare units would need to be immediately transferred to other high priority fronts and this would also assist with alleviating looming supply issues. Unfortunately the original units of the Northern and Southern Fronts of the Abyssinian War were scattered over the entirety of East Africa. They were not able to be quickly transferred to ports for disembarkation to the other fronts. The I-AOI Corps was identified as a corps which could be immediately transferred to the Nile Delta (see above).

    Apart from these primary considerations, Graziani was also set another task.

    In the south, unknown British forces still held out in Tanganyika. A two pronged attack would be undertaken to subdue this region. Priority would be given to taking the key port Dar es Salaam. Reports from Count ‘Jacare’ Ciano, whose destroyer flotilla were patrolling the area, indicated that no British troops were garrisoning the port. A powerful British carrier fleet was prowling the area making the amphibious invasion risky. Transports were scarce and would be prioritised for the shipment of troops north to the Suez. While waiting for the transports to be free for action, Italian forces would continue their advance down the western shore of Lake Victoria deep into the heartland of Tanganyika and on to capture the important copper and industrial centre of Ndola in Northern Rhodesia.


    East Africa and the western half of the Indian Ocean.

    Harassing and seizing Allied territories in and around the Indian Ocean was also on the table. There were many targets of opportunity, particularly ports of which access by the Royal Naval could be denied. Socotra of the Horn of Africa was considered one such important target due to its proximity to the Red Sea where British raiders might prey on Italian convoys.




    Africa Settentrionale Italiana(ASI) – Marshal Balbo

    Given the expanded extent of territory covered by this region and the strains on the forces at the Suez Canal, it was decided that North Africa would be split into two zones of control. Marshal Balboa would retain overall control of while the old warhorse Marshal de Bono (currently the commander of Army Group south in Sicily) would be dusted off and be given command of the Tunisian forces. In Egypt, the newly promoted General Marinetti (currently in East Africa) would take command of Army Group Libya.


    Mussolini and Balbo

    Egypt - Army Group Libya (Marshal Marinetti)

    The situation along the Suez was on a knife edge. The Italian VI and X armies were both battered and worn out. With supply problems hampering the Italian Divisions, the 27th ‘Sila’ and the 2nd ‘Emanuele Filiberto’ Division were now the only combat ready divisions left. Rest of the other divisions and new reinforcements were critical to the front.


    MAIN: The condition and position of the Libyan Army Group Divisions in Egypt. There are five known Allied Divisions currently in play (2 British, 3 Iraqi). BOTTOM INSET: Italian intelligence on the Iraqi Divisions.

    A transport fleet would immediately be sent from the mainland to pick up the fresh 1st Blackshirts Division currently garrisoning Cyrenaica. These troops would be disembarked at Alexandria and directly replace the battered 102nd ‘Trento’ Division. The ‘Trento’ Division would be shipped back to Cyrenaica for recoupment. When the battered 7th Blackshirts were ready to be transported out of Alexandria, they too would be picked up and transported to Cyrenaica for recoupment.

    From East Africa, de Stefanis’s 30th ‘Sabauda’ Division would be transported from Aden, where it had recently driven back the Yemeni Royal Army, to as close to the Suez front as possible. It was expected that the 5th Alpine Division would be the next division of I-AOI Corps to then be transported north.

    In this sector Balbo hoped to at least conquer the Sinai after the arrival of the full I-AOI Corps. If matters worked out better than this then Palestine and Syria would be up for grabs.

    Tunisia/Algeria/Tripoli/Sicily – Army Group South/Tunisia (Marshal de Bono)

    To strengthen the forces under de Bono’s new command, the 5th Blackshirts Division currently on garrison duty in Tripoli, would be put under his control. In addition, he would retain control of Army Group South (his current posting) and the 5th Army which consisted of 2 binary infantry divisions and which was currently garrisoning Sicily. The 5th Blackshirts would be incorporated into Army Group South and would serve as thinly spread garrison over Sicily, Malta, Tripoli and Tunisia. This would free up the Eritrean and Ethiopian irregulars of the 3rd Eritrean Division which was currently garrisoning Tunisia. The 3rd Eritrean Division would be sent west to aid in the invasion of French Algeria.


    PROMOTIONS, DEMONTIONS, TRANSFERS AND NEW APPOINTMENTS

    After the stirring meeting of the Grand Council, both the fascist Blackshirts and the monarchists, the officer core was whipped into a fever pitch for the coming military operations. This allowed Mussolini to push through a series of promotions and demotions that were seen to assist the long term war effort. In particular a number of higher ranking officer were willing to temporarily take lesser posts for a chance to get into some of the action.

    Field Marshal de Bono – as commander of Army Group South de Bono has now also taken control of the IX Army in Tunisia.

    General Marinetti – promoted to Marshal for his outstanding services commanding the Eritrean Army in the 2nd Abyssinian War, the campaign in French Somaliland, the campaign in Northern Sudan and most recently in Yemen. Marinetti was then transferred to take command of Army Group Libya. Army Group Libya included the VI and X armies in Egypt.
    General Umberto (Prince of Piemonte) – appointed to command the Eritrean Army (after vacancy left by Marinetti)

    Lt General Ambrosio – appointed as commander of the VI Corps of the VIII Army (currently serving on the Alpine/Rhone Front).
    Lt General Gambelli – temporarily demoted to take position in Tunisia with the 3rd Eritrean Division
    Lt General di Baldessero – temporarily demoted to take position on the Alpine/Rhone Front with the 3rd ‘Julia’ Alpine Division of the Vi Corps VIII Army.
    Lt General di Cei – temporarily demoted to take position on the Alpine/Rhone Front with the 12th ‘Sassari’ Division of the V Corps II Army.
    Lt General di Lisi F.– temporarily demoted to take position on the Alpine/Rhone Front with the 6th ‘Cuneo’ Division of the III Corps I Army.
    Lt General di Biroli – temporarily demoted to take position on the Alpine/Rhone Front with the 15th ‘Bergamo’ Division of the V Corps II Army.
    Lt General Ago – temporarily demoted to take position in AOI with the Ovest Bassacampi ‘Celere’ Division of the Eritrean Corps Eritrean Army.


    REINFORCEMENTS AND UPGRADES

    Faced with chronic upgrade and supply problems several initiatives were put in place in an attempt to alleviate these issues:

    1) Upgrades were prioritised to the following units
    a. I and IV Armies on the Alpine/Rhone Front;
    b. X and VI Armies on the Suez Front; and
    c. The entire Regina Aeronautica

    2) Upgrades to all other land units were stopped with the exception of the I-AOI Corps in East Africa.

    3) Reinforcements to land troops in East Africa were stopped with the exception of the I-AOi Corps which was earmarked for transferral to the Suez Front .

    It was hoped that these initiatives would direct equipment upgrades to units that needed them the most and that the reduction in reinforcements in East Africa may reduce supply problems in this area.

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