How Early Would A Successful Axis Evacuation of Tunisia Have to Start?

In OTL, the Axis were unable to evacuate their forces in Tunisia by sea and as a result, hundreds of thousands of German and Italian troops surrendered. How early would a successful evacuation of Tunisia (i.e. most Axis troops get away) have to start?
 

TFSmith121

Banned
December, 1942

In OTL, the Axis were unable to evacuate their forces in Tunisia by sea and as a result, hundreds of thousands of German and Italian troops surrendered. How early would a successful evacuation of Tunisia (i.e. most Axis troops get away) have to start?

December, 1942...

If the goal is to get what was left of the German divisions (15th and 21st panzer, 90th and 164th light) after Alamein out, they better get started as soon as possible, and when the weather is still bad.

I'd expect they'd end up leaving most of the heavy equipment behind (since the Italians need something to fight it out as the rear guard in Tripolitania) but presumaby Centauro and Superga get shipped into Tunisia and can cover the German mechanized troops as they withdraw.

If the Axis don't start pulling out in the winter of 1942-43, the weather gets to the point where the Allied navies and air forces can (as they did historically) prevent them from getting out.

ROM SWAG, the Germans end up with cadre for two extra armored divisions and (maybe) two extra infantry divisions in southern Italy by the summer of 1943, but presumably they can be re-equipped and brought up to strength by consolidation with the replacements that (historically) reformed the "Tunisia" divisions in 1943.

So the numbers don't change much, but the veterans of the PAA get back to the Continent. The Italians end up with the short end of the stick, and the Allied roll into Tunisia as soon as the weather breaks - call in March, rather than May, 1943.

Interesting question of what that does to the Allied timetable in the Med, if they have an "extra" eight weeks or so of campaign time in 1943...

Best,
 
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well they SENT over 200,000 troops to Tunisia from Nov. 1942 so a decision could be made simply not to reinforce? or at least not beyond the 15,000 initial forces , plus whatever remnants of DAK and Italians retreat into Tunisia.

OR attempt a Dunkirk style evacuation from Tripoli without even sending the initial reinforcements to Tunisia.
 

TFSmith121

Banned
That would certainly have made sense...

well they SENT over 200,000 troops to Tunisia from Nov. 1942 so a decision could be made simply not to reinforce? or at least not beyond the 15,000 initial forces , plus whatever remnants of DAK and Italians retreat into Tunisia.

OR attempt a Dunkirk style evacuation from Tripoli without even sending the initial reinforcements to Tunisia.

That would certainly have made sense...but it requires Hitler et al NOT to reinforce failure, which tends to become a-historical the longer the war went on...;)

Best,
 
well they SENT over 200,000 troops to Tunisia from Nov. 1942 so a decision could be made simply not to reinforce? or at least not beyond the 15,000 initial forces , plus whatever remnants of DAK and Italians retreat into Tunisia.

OR attempt a Dunkirk style evacuation from Tripoli without even sending the initial reinforcements to Tunisia.

They'd have to move fast. 'Blade Force' from the Brit 1st Army had grown to corps size when the weather shut down operations in December. If only 15,000 Axis soldiers are sent to northern Tunisia to hold the ports there is a chance the Allies capture either city in December. Since the Axis army in Lybia did not reach Tunisia until January that would leave only Tripoli & perhaps Sfax or Gabes. If the Allies do secure Bizerte & Tunis it means they have a collection of all weather airfields positioned to interdict the sea route to Italy, from both east and west. Bad weather will help the Italian navy, but its not a panacea.
 
In OTL, the Axis were unable to evacuate their forces in Tunisia by sea and as a result, hundreds of thousands of German and Italian troops surrendered. How early would a successful evacuation of Tunisia (i.e. most Axis troops get away) have to start?

March would be my guess.
 
That would certainly have made sense...but it requires Hitler et al NOT to reinforce failure, which tends to become a-historical the longer the war went on...;)

I suppose if we have him go into a coma from something like choking on some sauerkraut sometime in late-November. :p

Of course, that same more rational leader (while he is in command) would likely also order the 6th army to try and break out which would end very, very badly for the Germans.
 
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well they SENT over 200,000 troops to Tunisia from Nov. 1942 so a decision could be made simply not to reinforce? or at least not beyond the 15,000 initial forces , plus whatever remnants of DAK and Italians retreat into Tunisia.

OR attempt a Dunkirk style evacuation from Tripoli without even sending the initial reinforcements to Tunisia.

They'd have to move fast. 'Blade Force' from the Brit 1st Army had grown to corps size when the weather shut down operations in December. If only 15,000 Axis soldiers are sent to northern Tunisia to hold the ports there is a chance the Allies capture either city in December. Since the Axis army in Lybia did not reach Tunisia until January that would leave only Tripoli & perhaps Sfax or Gabes. If the Allies do secure Bizerte & Tunis it means they have a collection of all weather airfields positioned to interdict the sea route to Italy, from both east and west. Bad weather will help the Italian navy, but its not a panacea.

to the OP was about evacuating North Africa, specifically Tunisia? and salvaging the Axis forces lost there IOTL?


after the Second Battle at El Alamein http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_El_Alamein which coincides with Allied landings to the west, one possible POD would be the forces ALREADY in Libya directed to Tunisia. (Wiki lists initial Axis strength at 116,000)

yes, IOTL it took them until Jan. to arrive in Tunisia, the initial battle and retreat losing 75,000 (?)

but possible to transport from Benghazi(?) and/or Tripoli immediately to Tunis, without the battles in Libya? might halve their OTL
losses?

(to reduce the number of forces sent to reinforce, same effect as evacuating while still delaying the Allies in North Africa)
 
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TFSmith121

Banned
True that

I suppose if we have him go into a coma from something like choking on some sauerkraut sometime in late-November. :p

Of course, that same more rational leader (while he is in command) would likely also order the 6th army to try and break out which would end very, very badly for the Germans.

True.

Expecting rational behavior from the Axis in 1943 - with the honorable exception of the Italians - is actually pretty close to space-going chiroptera.;)

Best,
 
well they SENT over 200,000 troops to Tunisia from Nov. 1942 so a decision could be made simply not to reinforce? or at least not beyond the 15,000 initial forces , plus whatever remnants of DAK and Italians retreat into Tunisia.

OR attempt a Dunkirk style evacuation from Tripoli without even sending the initial reinforcements to Tunisia.

This!

And it would deny the allies valuable combat experience. They would pay dearly when they land in Sicily and Italy.
 
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