10th June 1940 - Italy Enters the war ,Italian Invasion of France , Naval Action in Mediterranean


#1

On 10th June 1940 , Italy declarted war on France and Britain. On 26 May, Mussolini informed Italian Marshals Pietro Badoglio, chief of the Supreme General Staff, and Italo Balbo that he intended to join the German war against Britain and France, so to be able to sit at the peace table “when the world is to be apportioned” following an Axis victory. The two marshals unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Mussolini that this was not a wise course of action, arguing that the Italian military was unprepared, divisions were not up to strength, troops lacked equipment, the empire was equally unprepared, and the merchant fleet was scattered across the globe. On 5 June, Mussolini told Badoglio, “I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought”.

The two sides exchanged air raids on the first day of war, but little transpired on the Alpine front, since France and Italy had defensive strategies. There was some skirmishing between patrols and the French forts of the Ligne Alpine exchanged fire with their Italian counterparts of the Vallo Alpino. On 17 June, France announced that it would seek an armistice with Germany. On 21 June, with a Franco-German armistice about to be signed, the Italians launched a general offensive along the Alpine front, the main attack coming in the northern sector and a secondary advance along the coast. The Italians penetrated a few miles into French territory against strong resistance but stalled before its primary objectives could be attained, the coastal town of Menton being the most significant conquest.

On the evening of 24 June, an [armistice was signed at Rome. It came into effect just after midnight on 25 June, at the same time as the armistice with Germany signed 22 June. Italy was allowed to occupy the territory it had captured in the brief fighting, a demilitarised zone was created on the French side of the border.

On Mediterranean Sea , action started between Royal Navy and Italian Navy and Air Force that would involve Germans later. On June 1940 :

from https://www.naval-history.net/WW2CampaignsRNMed.htm

Malta - Italian aircraft carried out the first of the many raids on Malta on the 11th. Next day, the RAF made its first attacks on Italian mainland targets.

12th -Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet with “Warspite”, “Malaya”, “Eagle”, cruisers and destroyers sailed from Alexandria for a sweep against Italian shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean. South of Crete, light cruiser “CALYPSO” was torpedoed and sunk by Italian submarine “Bagnolini”.

13th - Mediterranean Fleet submarines operated out of Alexandria on patrol off Italian bases and soon lost three of their number . At the time mines were usually blamed, but it turned out Italian anti-submarine forces were far more effective than expected. The first loss was “ODIN” off the Italian coast in the Gulf of Taranto, sunk by the guns and torpedoes of destroyer “Strale”.

16th - The second British submarine “GRAMPUS” ,minelaying off Augusta, Sicily was caught and sunk by large torpedo boats “Circe” and “Clio”.

17th - Six Italian submarines were sunk in the Mediterranean, half by the Royal Navy. However the first to go, “PROVANA” was rammed and sunk off Oran, Algeria by French sloop “La Curieuse” after attacking a French convoy, and just a week before France was forced out of the war.

19th - Towards the other end of the North African coast, the third British loss “ORPHEUS” was sent to the bottom by Italian destroyer “Turbine” north of the Cyrenaica port of Tobruk, soon to become a household name .

20th - The second Italian boat lost in the Mediterranean was “DIAMANTE” torpedoed by submarine “Parthian” off Tobruk.

27th - The second Italian submarine lost was the “LIUZZI” sunk by Royal Navy Med Fleet destroyers “Dainty”, “Ilex”, “Decoy” and the Australian “Voyager” south of Crete.

28th - As the Mediterranean Fleet 7th Cruiser Squadron covered convoy movements in the Eastern Mediterranean, three Italian destroyers carrying supplies between Taranto in southern Italy and Tobruk were intercepted. In a running gun battle, Italian destroyer “ESPERO” was sunk by Australian cruiser “Sydney” to the southwest of Cape Matapan at the southern tip of Greece.

28th - The first of two Italian submarines sunk by RAF Sunderlands of No. 230 Sqdn was “ARGONAUTA” in the central Med as she was believed to be returning from patrol off Tobruk

29th - The same Med Fleet destroyers after sinking “Liuzzi” two days earlier, were now southwest of Crete. They repeated their success by sinking “UEBI SCEBELI” .

29th - A day after their first success, the Sunderlands of No. 230 Sqdn sank “RUBINO” in the Ionian Sea as she returned from the Alexandria area

British Force H - By the end of the month, Force H had been assembled at Gibraltar from units of the Home Fleet. Vice-Adm Sir James Somerville flew his flag in battlecruiser “Hood” and commanded battleships “Resolution” and “Valiant”, carrier “Ark Royal” and a few cruisers and destroyers. He reported directly to the Admiralty and not to the Commander, North Atlantic. From Gibraltar, Force H could cover the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic, as happened in the May 1941 hunt for the “Bismarck”. Units could also quickly transfer back to the Home Fleet and UK waters as shortly became necessary at the height of the German invasion scare. There could be no better example of the flexibility of British naval power at this time.

Warship Loss Summary - In a confusing month, the Royal Navy had lost one light cruiser, one destroyer, three submarines and one sloop; the Italian Navy one destroyer and ten submarines, including four in the Red Sea.

Merchant Shipping War - Losses in the Mediterranean throughout the war would generally be low as most Allied shipping to and from the Middle East was diverted around the Cape of Good Hope.

Monthly Loss Summary
6 British, Allied and neutral ships of 45,000 tons from all causes.

On Libya-Egypt frontier , on 11th and 12nd June 1940 , British Royal Armored Car squadrons from 7th Motorised Brigade raided across border into Cyreneica deep into Italian territory , attacked and captured Italian fortresses at Capusso and Sollum along with 300 Italian prisoners. Most Italian POWs were unaware that war was declared between Britain and Italy and couldn’t hide their suprise.


#2


#3

On June 10, Ciano informed his ambassadors in London and Paris that a declaration of war would be handed to the British and French ambassadors in Rome at 1630 hours, local time. When Ciano presented the declaration, the French ambassador, André François-Poncet, was alarmed, while his British counterpart Percy Loraine, who received it at 1645 hours, “did not bat an eyelid”, as Ciano recorded in his diary. The declaration of war took effect at midnight (UTC+01:00) on June 10/11. Italy’s other embassies were informed of the declaration shortly before midnight. Commenting on the declaration of war, François-Poncet called it “a dagger blow to man who has already fallen”, and this occasioned United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous remark that “the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor”. François-Poncet and the French military attaché in Rome, General Henri Parisot, declared that France would not fight a “rushed war” (guerre brusquée), meaning that no offensive against Italy was being contemplated with France’s dwindling military resources.

Late in the day, Mussolini addressed a crowd from the Palazzo Venezia, in Rome. He declared that he had taken the country to war to rectify maritime frontiers.

Fighters of land, sea and air, Blackshirts of the revolution and of the legions, men and women of Italy, of the empire and of the Kingdom of Albania, listen!

The hour destined by fate is sounding for us. The hour of irrevocable decision has come. A declaration of war already has been handed to the Ambassadors of Great Britain and France.

We take the field against the plutocratic and reactionary democracies who always have blocked the march and frequently plotted against the existence of the Italian people.

Several decades of recent history may be summarized in these words: Phrases, promises, threats of blackmail, and finally, crowning that ignoble edifice, the League of Nations of fifty-two nations.

Our conscience is absolutely clear.

With you, the entire world is witness that the Italy of fascism has done everything humanly possible to avoid the tempest that envelops Europe, but all in vain. It would have sufficed to revise treaties to adapt them to changing requirements vital to nations and not consider them untouchable for eternity.

It would have sufficed not to begin the stupid policy of guarantees, which proved particularly deadly for those who accepted them. It would have sufficed not to reject the proposal of the Fuehrer [Hitler] made last October 6 after the campaign in Poland ended.

Now all that belongs to the past.

If today we have decided to take the risks and sacrifices of war, it is because the honor, interests, and future firmly impose it since a great people is truly such if it considers its obligations sacred and does not avoid the supreme trails that determine the course of history.

We are taking up arms, after having solved the problem of our continental frontiers. We want to break the territorial and military chains that confine us in our sea because a country of 45,000,000 souls is not truly free if it has not free access to the ocean.

This gigantic conflict is only a phase of the logical development of our revolution. It is the conflict of poor, numerous peoples who labor against starvers who ferociously cling to a monopoly of all riches and all gold on earth.

It is a conflict of fruitful, useful peoples against peoples who are in a decline. It is a conflict between two ages, two ideas.

Now the die is cast and our will has burned our ships behind us.

I solemnly declare that Italy does not intend to drag other peoples bordering on her by sea or land into the conflict.

Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, take note of these words of mine. It depends on them and only on them if these words are rigorously confirmed or not.

Italians, in a memorable mass meeting in Berlin, I said that according to the rules of Fascist morals, when one has a friend, one marches with him to the end. This we have done and will continue to do with Germany, her people and her victorious armed forces.

On this eve of an event of import for centuries, we turn our thoughts to His Majesty, the King and Emperor, who always has understood the thought of the country.

Lastly, we salute the new Fuehrer, the chief of great allied Germany.

Proletariat, Fascist Italy has arisen for the third time, strong, proud, compact as never before.

There is only one order. It is categorical and obligatory for every one. It already wings over and enflames hearts from the Alps to the Indian Ocean: Conquer!

And we will conquer in order, finally, to give a new world of peace with justice to Italy, to Europe and to the universe.

Italian people, rush to arms and show your tenacity, your courage, your valor.


Italian declaration of war
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#5

Who are these people again?


#6

14th of June, Operation VADO:

French navy group of 4 heavy cruisers and 11 destroyers sail off Toulon to bombard Italian ports of Genoa and Savona to destroy italian logistics.


#7

No Idea. I just searched “Italy” on the website Giphy.


#8

Pizza time has begun; I sincerely commed the Timeghost community to harvest the plentiful memes throughout the years.