Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by fester, Sep 13, 2018.
Italian is such a romantic sounding language...
Sicily, 0515 May 13, 1943
The plan was simple. Three companies with slightly more than 500 men were supposed to have landed and rushed to take the bridge over a river nine miles inland from Gela. Once that happened, the battalion would hold until relieved from the heavy forces landing on the beaches near Gela. The airborne infantrymen were the plug that would prevent heavy counter-attacks against the beachhead
The plan had gone to shit. There were almost two hundred paratroopers on the near bank of the bridge. That part had only been a failure instead of a fiasco. The paratroopers were a mixed and polyglot force. Boys trained in Georgia were next to squads that had trained in North Carolina. That was not too unexpected as the independent brigade had jumped near the 82nd Airborne Division. However the three dozen Scots who were supposed to have landed at the other end of the operational area in support of the 8th Army was a surprise. They had fought furiously in the initial rush that had managed to throw the Italian defenders to the far bank. The bridge could have been taken until the first platoon of tanks showed up.
The scared first lieutenant ducked behind an illusion of cover as a machine gun opened up again. He was the senior surviving officer. His stick had landed well enough; two men lost to broken bones and after they got out of their parachutes, another five men had been wounded and one was dying. He poked his head over his fighting scrape and quickly took in the seen. A few dozen defenders were on the far side. Three light tanks were hidden behind stone walls and a slight roll in the ground. Mortars were chucking shells across the river, smoke lying in hollows and hiding the pain and chaos of the battle.
He tilted his head and saw his runners crawling back to him. Soon they were delivering messages again. The attack would go in. A holding demonstration near the bridge while the little bands of paratroopers from Able, Baker and Hotel companies scurried several hundred yards up the river and behind a bend where they might be able to ford the barrier and take the Italians in the rear.
The attack would go in a few minutes after daylight, and now that he made a decision, he and the scattered and scared infantrymen had to carry it out. He popped out of his scrape, bent over and ran to cover to talk to a sergeant who was leading forty five men to get his ideas on improving the plan.
Seems everyone forgets Moltke.
Over Sicily, 0615 May 13, 1943
“Cap, on your 4 and low”
Josh heard the radio call and pushed his throttles as far forward as he could as he snapped the big Corsair. The Jerries had come out to play. A large raid had been picked up on radar and the eight Corsairs of the pre-dawn patrol from USS Wasp had been the first to get eyes on the thirty five twin engine bombers and more importantly the twelve front line single engine fighters. There was no chance for the Marines to get amongst the bombers.
Two had been lost, one in the initial head on pass where it was a mutual destruction and another when a FW-190 took a high deflection shot. Josh did not see any chutes. Now he was focused on not having to jump out. In the corner of his eye, he saw three Germans trying to cut the chord on the pursuit angle. He twisted his head briefly and saw his wing man holding tight to him. More power roared through as he tipped over and traded height for speed. The Germans took a moment to react and they overshot. He slammed the rudder pedals and jerked the heavy fighter into a reversal. The heavy guns hammered as the fighter dumped speed and energy for an infinite moment. Tracers reached out at a high deflection and some bullets pinged against the last German in that formation.
He could not pursue the now damaged enemy for a kill. Fixation was a guarantee of death. He had pounded that idea into the heads of every pilot in his squadron and most had taken it. The engine began to give him back his speed as his eyes searched for friends and foes. A mile ahead, a single Marine was in trouble. He had a pair of Germans on his seven and could not shake them in his already damaged machine. The Germans were pugnacious and surprised as they were jumped from behind and above. Josh poured a full four second burst into the cockpit of the lead fighter while his wing man fired a pair of one second bursts to attract the attention of the German support pilot. One fighter tipped over into the mountains while the other dove for the clouds ten thousand feet below.
And then the fight was over as the German fighter escort broke off. Bombers were being jumped by US Navy Wildcats.
Five Corsairs were still in the air. A parachute had just gone through the thin clouds below them. Only two of the machines were undamaged. Radio checks showed no one was wounded. It was time to head back to Wasp for repairs, refueling, re-arming and a run to the head.
That was quite the brawl. The Marines took casualties but they accomplished their mission. Stripping the Axis bombers of their protective fighter escort. The German fighter pilots will have to come up with an evocative nickname for the Corsair. The "gull-winged devil" perhaps?
So what is the OOB compared to OTL? Allies and Axis do they have the same number of divisions as in OTL, less, or more?
So far we know 2 things:
a) The Allies had more time to plan the invasion compared to the OTL. Regarding planning the one thing I am looking forward to see is if the planning covered the capture of Messina. In OTL the invasions plans didn't cover when, how and by whom Messina would be captured, or any plans to attempt to close the straits. (source
. An interesting conversation back a couple of years regarding the evacuation through the Messina straits is this one https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/allies-cut-the-strait-of-messina-retreat.425866/.
b) The Allies have quite a bit heavier carrier-based air support than OTL. More CVs and CVLs in the RN, USN even the Marine Nationale.
As far as divisional slices ---
The US is running slightly ahead of OTL. Equipment production started slightly earlier from a higher level of the industrial base. National Guard divisions that were not ready for combat deployment until H1 1944 are becoming available. This includes 28th Infantry Division which in OTL landed in France mid-July 1944 and participated in Operation COBRA. Now this division is an added assault division for the Gela landings.
US Marines won't form the 6th Marine Division and are debating whether or not to stand up the 5th Marine Division. The 4th Marine Division is in the process of standing up.
The big divisional slice component gain for the Allies is in the Commonwealth. No division sized units were destroyed in the North African and Eastern Med campaigns. Furthermore significant reinforcements of combat hardened units are coming from Malaya to the Med. These units won't be available for use until Q3/Q4 1943 except in a crisis but another army is on the way.
The Exile forces are also significantly larger. The Poles have two robust corps in the Med right now, and the Free French armies are starting from a larger base of formed units that had been in the UK for several years plus the Armies of North Africa, Madagascar and the Levant from which new units can be built up with local conscription. Throw in the Greeks having two coherent and well trained divisions plus Cretan garrisons, and the Allies have a very large army/small army group of additional forces in the MTO.
The Germans and Italians have seen much smaller forces destroyed in North Africa of lower material quality. More well formed German reserves are in Italy. For instance the Herman Goerring Panzer Division is at full strength in the current theater of operations. The Italian 8th Army has been battered but not destroyed in Russia and the German 6th Army got out in coherent shape so reserves and replacements are not being sucked to the Eastern Front quite as aggressively. More importantly, Husky is not going in near coordination with Citadel so the Germans are getting hit en echelon instead of near simultaneously in terms of strategic timing.
I remember the post about the Commonwealth, French, Polish and Greek units. But this regarding the preparation of US Army has tremendous consequences: to quote from https://www.armydivs.com/, 91 divisions were mobilized during the war: 68 infantry divisions, 1 mountain division, 16 armored divisions, 5 airborne divisions, and 2 cavalry divisions. 22 of them were deployed in the PTO. Top of my head, 13 of these were in the Pacific by Q1 1943. ITTL, the British have a whole army in Thailand and Malaysia, the Dutch 1 heavy division with several more forming up. These forces are more than adequate to deal with the Japanese in Borneo, Celebes and Ambon. Moreover, the army in Bataan even after the hardships of the previous 18 months, after rest and retraining may provide a solid cadre for a couple divisions to campaign in secondary fronts in the PI from Q3 1944 onwards. In the Aleutians, unwanted men are sent to booster tiny garrisons to count crabs. Bases have been already established in the Marshalls and Gilberts. If the Marines are debating the formation of a 5th division then the manpower needs are WAAY lower than OTL.
Between the lack of disasters in the Western Desert, Greece, Crete and Singapore (and the decreased losses in the Battle of France), Alanbrooke has at his disposal at least another field army.
If we combine these facts along with the earlier introduction in the ETO of the National Guard divisions and the earlier victory in the Battle of the Atlantic then it seems to me that the Allies have the equivalent of 3 extra field armies in the ETO. Full armies mind you. My dear @fester, it seems you have something coming for us readers...
Lastly, although I sincerely thank you for the informative and detailed reply, I apologize for not making myself clear: I wanted to ask about the OOB in Sicily specifically.
I have plans.
The OOB for Husky is still assault shipping constrained. OTL it was a out 13 division equivalents. TTL it is about 15 division equivalents with as per OTL only US, UK and Canadian division HQs.
Circling back to the USMC, 5th mari Div HQ stood up OTL Q4 1943.
Going way back to the dawn of Keyne's Cruisers (The Original Series ), the starting premise was the economic boost of additional ships. With that initial move, it seems to me, there's bound to be a bit of a lag on the manpower and manpower administration side. In effect, hardware supply exceeded manpower demand for a bit? At this point of the war, the elastic of manpower has bounced back?
At least for Britain and the Commonwealth and the U.S. in the Philippines far less manpower lost. Gives the U.S. at least more time to gather and train troops to put into battle. The Japanese will not have the time to fortify and send troops to the Pacific Islands as much as they did i.o.t.l. The Allies have not fallen as far so have not as far to climb back.
Read the last paragraph of the prologue. That was an army POD
As a refresher for myself and others:
@fester My understanding is that the ITTL French Army growth is limited by the amount of equipment given by the US and, on a more limited amount, by the UK. They have 2 first line divisions with British equipment (the force staying in the UK in 1940) and the manpower to raise around a dozen more first line and some second/third line for occupation and garrison duty.
OTL, they were only capable to equip 8 first line divisions and only one on US TOE (2nd DB of Leclerc).
On a related note, the Free French sent a fighter unit on the Eastern Front (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandie-Niemen) from 1943 to 1945. It fitted de Gaulle's foreign policies "allied, but not aligned". OTL, in 42, de Gaulle hesitated to send an infantry division (mechanized) instead, but British opposition and logistics, limited the scope to the GC 3 Normandie (which was equipped with soviet gear).
From the French wiki page of the Normandie-Niemen :
So my question is, will the GC 3 Normandie go to the Eastern Front or will an equipment starved French army send a division in Russia?
Probably just the pilots. I'd imagine the French have a better chance of pushing their agenda about getting into France asap.
While the situation of the French ITTL is far better than OTL, still French (read metropolitan) blood is precious. If they can spare a division come 1944, it seems most plausible to be sent to FIC.
Ternate, Luzon May 3, 1943
The guns of Fort Mills fired again. The heavy naval rifles were joined by the three remaining coastal defense mortars and a single battery of 155 millimeter guns that had been brought to the coastal defense fortress over the past several days. Now those shells were ripping open bunkers and scything men who were trying to become as small and hidden as possible.
The observation posts that the Japanese had maintained on the southern shore of Manila Bay had been well observed, plotted and targeted. Over the course of thirty minutes, every post had been targeted by a freight car load of shells. This was the heaviest bombardment the Americans had fired in almost a year. The tacit ceasefire of incapacity was ending.
Does this change in the relative status-quo goad the Japanese into responding in some way?
The relevant question is with what resources?
The Japanese Luzon garrison could, if amply supplied with artillery shells that are either in Manchuko, China or used on the Kra Isthmus, might be able to grind their way through the defensive lines at the cost of gutting their core capacity to defend the rest of the islands against the highly likely Fall 1943/Winter 1944 invasion.
Good points. It seems to me that inability to respond would increase the frustration of the local ground commanders, to the point where they may attempt some aggressive response; either an unsupported infantry attack at the front lines on Bataan or an illogical lash-out at defenceless civilians.
I know you will reveal all as the story unfolds.
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