(British) Imperial, Colonial, and Allied/aligned manpower in the eastern Med, 1939-45

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Dave Shoup, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    Sep 10, 2019
    True, but that would require a POD well before 1942-43. Historically, given the expectation by then of the pending operations in Europe requiring as much infantry as the Allies could scare up, and some willingness to accept the postwar political impact, it seems possible (based on the information and discussion above) that the "most" one could realistically expect would be:
    • Polish Army in the West - as historical (corps headquarters, 1st armoured and 3rd and 5th infantry divisions, each with two brigades, plus the separate 2nd Armoured Brigade and 1st Parachute Brigade, and various special operations units, cadre, etc.;
    • Greeks - two full brigade groups, plus cadre, special operations, etc.
    • Czechs - a brigade headquarters with two full battalions (including the troops that historically served in the Med), and some cadre units for LMP, and some special operations personnel;
    • Belgians - a brigade headquarters with some cadre units, SOE etc., plus - maybe - a colonial brigade raised in the Belgian Congo for service in Africa or Southwest Asia;
    • Dutch - a brigade headquarters with some cadre units, SOE, etc.;
    • Norwegians, Danes, etc. - cadre, SOE, etc.,
    • Palestine Regiment - three battalions, plus some company-sized supporting arms, and various home service elements in the Mandate;
    • Cyprus - two battalions (mixed 80-20 Greek and Turkish Cypriots), plus service/support elements across the theater and home service elements in Cyprus;
    • Malta - one battalion (presumably field artillery), plus home service elements in Malta;
    • Iraq - one battalion (recruited from the minorities that historically served in the Levies, plus service/support and home service elements;
    • Ethiopia - one battalion, armed and trained to British standards, plus plus service/support and home service elements;
    • Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Iran, occupied Libya and occupied Eritrea and Somaliland - limited service/support and home service elements.
     
  2. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    The 11th, 81st, and 82nd "African" divisions all went to SEAC in 1943-45; the 12th was used for garrison and similar duties in Africa in roughly the same time. The reality when it comes to finding officers and ncos for these formations were the racial attitudes of the time (and the 1920s and 1930s, for that matter).
     
  3. yulzari Well-Known Member

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    There was a black market trade in German prisoners with the Polish Army before the POWs got properly into the system. If they could speak Polish and came from Poland one could trade them for useful items and the POWs would miraculously become good Polish soldiers. Maybe a more careful sorting of POWs could have tracked some into assorted national Free Armies? Surrounded by 'fellow' Poles, Czechs etc. they would suddenly have a fit of patriotism, if they knew what was good for them. The Germans had no problem using POW 'volunteers'.
     
  4. Father Maryland Enemy of Neo Secesh Everywhere

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    What are some opportunities for more "exile" forces to be extracted from Europe before capture or destruction? Where could the allies realistically extract even a portion of various European allied military forces for later service instead of the men being killed or imprisoned. For instance how could a larger number of Polish forces or citizens make it out? How about Greeks? Are there any early war opportunities for more French forces be extracted during the Fall of France?
     
  5. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Oct 18, 2009
    I wonder if the British can raise a Free Austrian Army and use it to free some of the forces in the Far East for service in the West?
     
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  6. Father Maryland Enemy of Neo Secesh Everywhere

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    Doesn't sound likely.

    How about an attempt by the Brits to form a Republican "Blue Division" style unit from exiled Spanish Republicans?
     
  7. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    Given the number of pre-1939 Polish citizens the Germans drafted, that's actually where a fair percentage of the "Liberated Manpower" came into the Polish forces in the West; the numbers I've seen were roughly 36 percent former German conscripts, who escaped/deserted; 34 percent evacuees from the USSR "i.e. "Anders' Army"); 14 percent 1940 evacuees from France; and the rest of mix of sources.

    Of course, if the Soviets hadn't murdered 20,000+ Polish POWs in 1940, there would have been that many more to head south with Anders in 1942.
     
  8. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    About 120,000 French military personnel made it ashore in the UK in 1940 as a result of DYNAMO and ARIEL, but most returned to France, either as reinforcements before the Armistice or were repatriated afterwards. Without continuity of government between Reynaud in 1940 and De Gaulle in 1942, hard to see what happened historically changing.

    Because of geography, the Poles were unable to move formed units anywhere in 1939, and the Czechs didn't have any left once the war broke out; in both cases, units had to be formed in exile, basically from the ground up by individuals who got to Allied territory as such.

    It is possible that more Norwegian, Dutch, and Belgian troops could have been evacuated from their respective countries in 1940, but the circumstances of the surrenders limited the time available in all three cases; same for the Greeks in 1941. Yugoslavia was cut off geographically.
     
  9. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    There just weren't that many "Austrians" at liberty after 1938, or a recognized "exile" government they could serve. Most of the German and Austrian emigres who were fit to serve were happier to do so in regular British or US Army units, and were sought out for intelligence and similar assignments because of their language abilities.

    The US Army did set up what was envision as becoming an "Austrian" infantry battalion as a separate battalion in the US order of battle, along the lines of the 100th/442nd units, but there just weren't that many Austrians in the US and those who did join the unit were combed over for special assignments, or rolled back into the "regular" manpower pools.
     
  10. Dave Shoup Well-Known Member

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    Sep 10, 2019
    The majority of the Spanish Republicans who left Spain at the end of the Civil War ended up in refugee/internment camps in France, and some ended up with the Free French after 1940, but the British weren't really in a position to recruit Spaniards in 1940-45. Mot of those who could get out were in France, or the Americas.