OK, in our narrative, Tunis is about to fall. The Allies have decided to invade Sicily. Is that the best next move? What would you do?
Yes, I think Sicily is the logical next step. It is decently in range to where supply lines are manageable, but still pose an invasion of the Italian homeland. It could also serve as a springboard for a later invasion of the Italian peninsula. As it is an Island, it will also pose supply challenges to the Italians with your naval dominance of the mediteranean.
Air cover and air range of Allied fighters deteremined everything , Allied Headquarters AF HQ headed by Eisenhower and 18th Army Group HQ led by Alexander were extremely reluctant to operate anywhere out of Allied fighter cover range and that ruled out Southern France , Balkans or Dordenecasse (Churchill on his own initiative tried to capture Kos and Leros after Italy surrendered in September 1943 but that campaign ended in a didmal falure and loss of both islands and one British brigade in Aegean Sea in October and November 1943 since it was initiated out of Alied fighter range and under Luftwaffe air cover). Sardinia and Corsica were simply not worthy of any big operation strategicaly ( once Sicily was captured , Axis evacuated both Sardinia ands Corsica at the end of August and beginning of September 1943 anyway , former without fight , latter with a little fight where Italians after switched sides and fought against their former partners German garrison that was evacuated mostly intact) , any leap to Italian mainland required capture of airbases and ports in Sicily which was with in Allied air range from both Tunisia , Malta and Pantelleria (which was captured by Allies on June 1943 by Allies when 11.000 strong Italian garrison there surrendered without a fight , Churchill later joked in his speech that “only one private of ours was wounded in Pantelleria , bitten by a mule”) so Sicily was the logial choice
Fair enough. I was thinking maybe Sardinia. But yours and tijmen’s are good counters.
My thinking was if Sardinia could be seized, it would suddenly put southern France and Italy “in play”, and could be turned into a giant base for either (or both). A landing from Sardinia could be much further north in Italy (though later, obviously.) The Germans’ attention might be kept from concentrating on Sardinia by naval demonstrations in the south, before the landing further north (north of Rome, around Pisa, perhaps?)
Churchill would be very happy if the strategy involved landing on Crete, and a Eastern Mediterranean campaign ensued. But I think that would take ages to come to fruition…
I think southern France is a bit of an ambitious goal if you have not even tried the Italian mainland first. Any beachead there would also have the problem of being able to be attacked from multiple directions whereas splitting Italy in half could easily consolidate your front.
So, you think the Sardinia->northofRome scheme might be doable?
Landing north of Livorno in the relatively flat area between Livorno and Torre del Lago (yes, I’ve been poring over maps) would allow using Livorno as a supply port. It’s risky, but no more risky than Anzio, I suspect. It might draw even more German troops from the Eastern Front, since all troops Rome-and-south would be in danger of being cut off, and have to make a a runaway up the eastern coast.
A drawback is that the resources for this might postpone D-Day. It might need a shuffling of scheduling, but maybe not:
July 1943: landing on Sardinia (same time as actual landing on Sicily)
August-March 1944 - buildup, deception operations to make the Germans believe the next landing is intended for France. This might keep Italy in the war longer, which would mean fewer German troops in Italy to “maintain order.” Meanwhile, the Germans pull units from the Eastern Front to meet the expected landing in southern France and build “the Mediterranean Wall”.
March 1944 - landing north of Livorno; Italy surrenders, Germany brings in troops from the East, but after the lodgment in Italy is relatively solid.
March 1944 - April 1944 - buildup in Italy, clearing of Livorno for supply, clear southern Italy from German troops in Southern Italy. Germans pull many divisions from Russia to face the Italian front.
April 1944-May 1944 - landing craft moved to England for Overlord; Germans continue to leave their defense of southern France in place expecting a landing there. (The Germans consistently overestimated the number of landing craft and land forces available to the Allies, which is why they continued to think a larger landing at Pas-de-Calais was possible all through June.)
June 1944 - D-Day “on schedule.”
… so, it’s similar to what happened, but without the terrible casualties of slogging up from the south.
Compared to Italian surrender September the 3rd 1943. And with allied airfields on Sicily, the safe logistic chain to the SU via the Iranian Corridor was shortend much. In my opinion the western allies strategy was succesfull.
I think that it would be politically unviable to sit on your hands for 8 months. If you want to land elsewhere you need to do it by september 43 latest
The reason why Salerno was chosen was because further North was outside allied fighter coverage. An amphibious operation without air superiority might have been very risky.
Take Sicily. To push the Luftwaffe back from the naval choke point between Eastern and Western Mediterranean.