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Italian 10th Army


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#1 Kyt

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 12:26 PM

Fallen eagles: the Italian 10th Army in the opening campaign in the western desert, June 1940 - December 1940

The Italian Army developed a sound and unique combined arms doctrine for mechanized warfare in 1938. This new doctrine was called the "War of Rapid Decision." It involved the use of mechanized warfare in the Italian version of the blitzkrieg. This doctrine evolved from the lessons learned in the Italian-Ethiopian War of 1935 to 1936 and the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.

With Italy’s entry into World War II, military operations ensued along the Libyan-Egyptian border between the Italian 10th Army and a much smaller British 7th Army. The Italian Army in Libya outnumbered the British Army in Egypt by a ratio of four to one.

The setting seemed to be ideal for the employment of the War of Rapid Decisions. Moreover, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, who was the commander of the Italian 10th Army in North Africa during its first campaign in the western desert had pioneered this new form of mechanized warfare during the Ethiopian War.

Surprisingly, the Italian forces in Libya did not employ their new doctrine, reverting instead to more conventional techniques of "mass." It was Graziani’s failure to utilize the doctrine which he had helped to develop that led to Italy’s embarrassing defeat in 1941.


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#2 Kuno

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 01:49 AM

The Italian tactics used in 1940 were really rather strange. If you have a look back into their history in North Africa, they had already developed units which were 1) mobile/motorized 2)Equiped with mobile radio 3)a combination of ground- and air troops:

The famous "Compagnia Autosahariane"!

...most of these units were used as normal infantry then and disappeared when the Commonwealth forces attacked. Only the "Cufra" suvived - and has proved its value later on then.
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#3 Tom Canning

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 04:31 AM

Kyt
don't know where the term "British 7th Army" came from but I can't find any record of it anywhere - I do know that we had the ficticious 9th and 10th armies in Palestine- Iraq and Syria even before 8th army became prominent in 1942

the forces which engaged Marshall Graziani at the back end of 1940 were the recently made up 7th Armoured Div of two Armoured bdes and a support group plus the newly made up 4th Indian with three infantry Bdes and corps troops of the 7th RTR with 45 matilda's and the RHA - a puny force to set against the 80,000 man Italian 10th army.

it should n be recognised that Graziani had been let down by Badoglio a few months prior to taken command of 10th army so wasn't too keen to fight anyone - with such a knife in his back !

O'Connor set off to conduct a "five day raid" and finished up some two months later at Beda Fomm having wiped out Graziani's by now 100,000 army. That is a wonderful battle to study...as most fought to their last shell and bullet !

This is in spite of the fact that O'Connor had lost two 4th Indian bdes to Ethiopia and the replacement of the 6th Australian divison who kept the Italians moving along the coast - it was about Christmas time that O'Connor's force was named X111 corps - so a whole corps of less than three full divisions had wiped out 100,000 enemy -

then Rommel made his entrance from El Ageila...he lasted for nearly 18 months before Monty and the 8th Army saw him off.
Cheers
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#4 spidge

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 08:08 AM

Hi Tom,

The 7th Army was a quote directly from the thesis and the name to my knowledge is incorrect. The Western Desert Force under O'Connor was the British 6th Infantry Division. On the 1st January 1941, just before Bardia, Western Desert Force was renamed X111 Corps and was broken up in February 1941.

I feel it was also meant to be 7th Armoured. This mainly about 11th Hussars. Your thoughts?

In 1940, the 11th was located in Egypt when Italy declared war on Britain and France. It was part of the "Divisional Troops" of the 7th Armoured Division (known as the "Desert Rats"). Equipped with obsolete Rolls Royce Morris armoured cars, the unit immediately began to conduct various raids against Italian positions during the Western Desert Campaign. The Hussars (assisted by elements of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment) captured Fort Capuzzo and, in an ambush east of Bardia, captured General Lastucci, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Italian Tenth Army.
In September 1940 when the Italian invasion of Egypt was launched, the 11th Hussars were part of the British covering force.
The 11th Hussars took part in the British counter-attack called Operation Compass that was launched against the Italian forces in Egypt and then Libya. The unit was part of an ad hoc combat unit called "Combe Force" that cut off the retreating Tenth Army near Beda Fomm. Lieutenant-Colonel John Combe was the commander and namesake of Combe Force. The Italians were unable to break through the defensive positions established by Combe Force and surrendered en masse as the 6th Australian Division closed in on them from their rear.
Prior to the Normandy campaign, the 11th Hussars were removed from the Division and assigned as a Corps-level unit in accordance with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's view that all Armoured car regiments would be assigned to Corps, not Divisions. Later in the European campaign, the Regiment reverted back to the 7th Armoured Division.


Edited by spidge, 22 November 2008 - 08:51 AM.

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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
-------------------------------------------------------
My Signature photo is the Battalion history of WW2 and the patch of the 2/8th battalion. (Blood & Bandages)
My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#5 Tom Canning

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 08:35 AM

Spidge -
Yes I can understand the thinking behind the thesis - or rather the mis thinking - as I find that too many of these doctorates in the US services are based on a very loose knowledge of the British and Commonwealth arms as the 11th (Cherry pickers ) were merely a recce unit but owing to the main lack of Armoured forces - they were invariably up front and thus came to prominence very early and lasted a long time - all the way to Berlin in fact, and from the wire in 1940 - that was a hell of a trip.
When Monty took over 8th army - he was a bit disgusted at the performance of the Armoured units and particularly the leadership and thus set about breaking up the "Desert Trades Unions" and the armoured car units were sent to the Corps troops. others were sent off as forward delivery units - never to fight again !

Monty then had John Harding make up a "Corps de Chasse" of 1st - 7th and 10th armoured divs which failed him spectacularly after El Alamein and it was not until after Medenine that he was able to fire the ringleaders Lumsden et al and the armour started to perform in the Blitzkreig role at El Hamma and again at Tunis. people like "PIP" Roberts of 3rd Tanks came into their own and he finished up as Div Commander of 11th Armoured Div in NW Europe, where with the 7th and Guards Armoured did the big swan to Brussels and Antwerp as did 3rd RTR. V111 Armoured bde had a big say in that revival as well.
Cheers

Edited by Tom Canning, 22 November 2008 - 08:36 AM.
left out recce

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#6 spidge

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 09:00 AM

Spidge -
11th (Cherry pickers ) were merely a recce unit but owing to the main lack of Armoured forces - they were invariably up front and thus came to prominence very early and lasted a long time - all the way to Berlin in fact, and from the wire in 1940 - that was a hell of a trip.
Cheers


Hi Tom,

Quoting the 11th was my fault as I had this quote stuck away. I had already added that this was more about the 11th than the whole outfit.

I thought I got it in before you saw it!:rolleyes:

Cheers

Geoff
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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
-------------------------------------------------------
My Signature photo is the Battalion history of WW2 and the patch of the 2/8th battalion. (Blood & Bandages)
My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#7 michael Gottschalk

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 04:28 PM

when it comes to fighting at sea, that was very different. The Italians had a small sub unit with frogmen that succeeded in causing many British ships to sink. this unit made more damage then all the ground forces of Italy together!
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#8 Tom Canning

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:33 AM

MG
glad you made a disticntion between the Italain Navy and thei mini sub unit which was very successful with it's mine laying mini subs and MTB's'

in close to three years of operation they attempted 15 operations of which 6 were successful with 5 ships damaged and a 12 sunk - the capital ships Valiant - York and Queen Elizabeth were out of action for more than a year which was embarrassing for the Med fleet for some time.

the main naval forces seldom left port after cape matapan. !

Edited by Tom Canning, 01 December 2008 - 03:35 AM.
Finger are thumbs

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#9 Owen

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:02 PM

As I've been posted quite a bit about the 1940 campaign in North Africa I suppose I'd better buy this book.
Has anyone got it already?
If so what do you think of it?
EDIT: Doh!
I am stupid, I didn't click the link in post #1. It's online.

Edited by Owen, 16 June 2010 - 09:26 PM.
being thick

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#10 Tom Canning

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:47 PM

Owen - don't know about that book of the 1940 Africa campaign but the best that I have is the initial saga of Barrie Pitt's - " Crucible of War" - now broken up into Wavell's Command - Auchinlek's Command and Monty's take over which is all encompassing of the whole desert action from the 11th Hussars move to the Wire on the Italian declaration of war in the Dec '40 -to Cap Bon in Tunisia May '43

not too many know the full story of that campaign and the sacrifices made by those men - although they have heard of Tobruk - El Alamein - but not Alum El Halfa - inasmuch that they are focussed on D Day and Ahrnem with the Americans focussed on Omaha and the Bulge......as I just pointed out to our local Editor here at Chilliwack recently - D Day was a culmination of the " Tide being Turned" at Alum el Hafa and El Alamein back in '42- with many of the same participating units - XXX corps - VII armoured bde et al - and men - this does not in any way detract from Sappers efforts with 3rd Div and a few others - BUT - it was the culmination of some three years struggle in Africa - Sicily and Italy.

Sufficient to say that at Cap Bon - in May '43 - the Afrikakorps turned around and surrendered to 7th Armoured Div- rejecting all others - and as we know the 7th Armoured made their way to Berlin finally - along with Susan Smethurst's Father in 1st RTR !
Cheers
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#11 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:33 PM

..... the main naval forces seldom left port after cape matapan. !

Actually it was the Royal Navy that avoided entering the central med for most of 1942. How do you think did Rommel get his supplies and reinfocements ? The Regia Marina managed to keep the supply lines to North Africa, Sardinia, Corsica, Albania, the Dodecannese etc. open until the end despite the RN and RAF efforts and the handicap of having all of it's movements revealed by ULTRA.
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#12 Tom Canning

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 01:32 AM

Tired old soldier
I stand corrected - but I always thought that it was the Italian Merchant Navy that delivered much of Rommels supplies not the Regia Marina - and while it is true that the RN didn't venture too far into the CENTRAL areas - the Regia Marina didn't come too far into the Easetern areas either

Aftermath
"After the defeat at Cape Matapan, the Italian fleet never again ventured into the Eastern Mediterranean until the Fall of Crete. The Italian naval command lost all faith in German promises to protect their fleet from attack here. Hence, Cape Matapan was an important strategic victory for the Allies who could now concentrate most of their stretched resources against the Afrika Korps in North Africa under General Rommel after the fall of Greece to German forces in late April 1941."

Cheers
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#13 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 06:16 AM

While the Regia Marina was not particularly aggressive with it's ships the truth is much closer to both navies avoiding operating in areas where they lacked air cover.
The Regia Marina was engaged in a large number of routine operations suffering moderately heavy attrition, mostly to ULTRA directed intercepts. There was little reason for major operations East, I think the furthest deployment was a cruiser squadron in Pireaus for a while, the Dodecannese islands (off the Turkish coast) is as far East as you can get but was supplied by light forces.
In the Central Med the Regia did mount offensive ops, like the occupation of Corsica, well into late 1942, there were a number of mostly inconclusive surface actions for most of that year.

Matapan was late March 1941, Crete officially fell on the first of June, so we are talking about around 2 months, during that period the Rega Marina had only two operational battleships, the small Cesare and Doria. Vittorio Veneto was damaged at Matapan, Littorio, Cavour and Duilio were undergoing repairs after the Taranto raid, so the battlefleet didn't intervene in the Crete operations against the stronger, at least in big guns, Mediterranean fleet.
The last significant sortie East was in June 1942 against the Alexandria WM11 component of the vigorous/harpoon operation that, not having any battleship, turned back to port.
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