Allied plans for Rhodes and Dodecanese invasion in 1939-40 ?

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by LAdC51, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    I just read in Admiral Godfroy memories that the Allied had planned before june 1940 an invasion of the Dodecanese.

    I am looking for references and more detailled information regarding those plans, and the reason they were abandonned.

  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    My late father was in 3rd CG. They returned to Cairo from Western Desert in January 1941 and spent some time training for amphibious landings on Rhodes on the Bitter Lakes. The plans were abandoned due to the deteriorating situation in mainland Greece and the German arrival in North Africa. His unit returned to Egypt/Libya border at Sollum in April 1941.

  3. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Thank you Steve.
    I knew about the plans in 1941 : all the plans were not abandonned as the British actually invaded the island of Kastelorizo and had to withdraw...
    I was looking for plans made before june 1940 (perhaps with Turkey) that could have been implemented in june 1940 : Admiral Godfroy explains that the French naval division "Force X" was at Beyrouth on 10th june 1940 in order to protect the possible loading of french land units that could either land and help Greece or invade the Dodécanèse as part of an allied plan...
  4. RobG64

    RobG64 Active Member

    Hi, according to the following web-site: Mandibles (i) | Operations & Codenames of WWII an Operation Mandibles was put forward to be put in effect after Operation Compass to seize the Dodecanese. For this Wavell had to keep 7th Australian Division available in the Nile Delta as the main assault force. However, I don't know of anything put forward before June 1940

  5. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Thank you Rob, very useful indeed.

    Still looking for previous plans before june 40...
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Bonsoir Laurent,

    The 'plans' were not abandoned; they were never realised for the simple reason that Italy was not at war with either France or Britain.

    The 'plans' were merely grandiose 'ideas' of the French High Command if Italy entered the war alongside the Germans. The British were not particularly interested at the time but played along so as not to upset the French. I have not found any information that the British made any attempt to actually start operational planning - even for a contingency plan - based upon the French ideas. Maybe the French did but were then overrun by the Germans before they could implement them.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  7. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    The 'Mandibles' operation that you write of was NOT to be conducted by 7th Australian Division; they were earmarked (and advance parties had already moved) for mainland Greece.

    Mandibles was for the reformed British 6th Infantry Division and a Commando force sent out from the UK.
  8. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Were you reading L'aventure de la Force X ? Can you post the relevant pages please?

    During 1939 there had been ongoing staff conversations between Britain, France and Turkey about a possible assault against the Dodecanese (and elsewhere) in the event of hostilities with Italy, but these were scaled back in September in case news leaked to Italy and precipitated “a most unfortunate political repercussion”. Possibly these discussions were resumed, but whether any practical steps could have been taken between the Italian strike and the French armistice seems doubtful to me.

    I posted some information on another thread where this came up but unfortunately the original poster didn’t provide their source. Attached is the General Ismay summary that I mentioned then.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
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  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is some more information from the RE official history regarding early war plans for hostilities related to Turkey and the Aegean.

    Attached Files:

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  10. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Thanks a lot, all of you, for all these very usefull documents.
    I am travelling far from my books and will post the relevant pages as soon as possible.
  11. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Here are the relevant pages of L'Aventure de la Force X, Admiral Godfroy's memories, of course in French (first time I post some documents, feel free to explain me how to do it better if necessary).

    These pages confirm that staff discussions with Turkey resumed in May 1940 in Beyrouth. They explain some ideas and plans made by the French (regarding the reinforcement of Greek Island in order to isolate Dodécanèse (debarkment of French troops in Crete - Suda bay ? - and Milo). I can read about a meeting, on 22 May 1940, on board HMS Warspite, between Admirals Godfroy and Cunningham, with the validation of common plans involving Mediterranean Fleet, regarding such troop transports.
    They do not specificaly talk about assault on Dodécanèse... I keep on searching for information... Next week-end I will try and read again The Mediterranean and Middle East: Volume I The Early Successes Against Italy (To May 1941): History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series...

    Attached Files:

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  12. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Salut Laurent,

    Some more reading for you concerning the time period you are interested in. These 3 documents should give you a good idea of the British perspective at the political and strategic level. Amongst them is the telegram sent to the military (British) commanders in the Middle East / Eastern Mediterannean as to how they should proceed following the strategic level discussions.

    The first document is a British War Cabinet record [ref WP(40)103] with the title The Grand Strategy of the Allies and is dated 23 March 1940.

    Please note the last sentence in paragraph 20: "We must try to avoid similar differences of opinion..." This seems to indicate that the British were deliberately not objecting to French suggestions. But at the same time, the documents show they were also not pursuing all the French 'ideas' with any real vigour.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The second document is a report by the Chiefs of Staff Committee with the title Allied Military Action in the Event of War with Italy [ref COS(40)357 and WP(40)156]. It is dated 15 May 1940. This document includes the telegram with instructions to military commanders in the Middle East / Eastern Mediterannean.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The third document is the Chiefs of Staff Committee document referred to in the second document above [ref COS(40)351].

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  13. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Thank you very much Mark ! I will have a very busy week-end reading all these documents...

    Let me say that I am very grateful for all the answers I have been given here, and not only with the information provided but also the way you answer : you not only share statements and opinions, but also references and documents (facts) ! It is very helpful and much more convincing that anything I ever found in other forums...
  14. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    De rien!

    If my poor French has held up, what Godfroy wrote matches the British records. The Dodecanese had been discussed but no political/strategic agreement was made to act against them and thus no military 'plans' were forthcoming. On the otherhand, Godfroy, Weygand and the British did discuss and commence military planning for the (seizure and) defence of Crete.

    These two documents followed, and flowed from, the discussions detailed in my previous post.

    COS(40)358 and COS(40)359 of 16 May 1940. Pay special attention to the instructions in the telegram sent to the military commanders in the Middle East / Eastern Mediterannean.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

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  15. LAdC51

    LAdC51 Member

    Thank you again for all these documents and information, I think it is very clear now for me : allied invasion of Dodécanèse in 1940 was never a real option and was often talked about but never seriously planned.

    I still have some questions :
    - it seems (see above Godfroy's document) that staff discussions with Turkey were resumed late may 1940: Godfroy presents a staff meeting dated 20th may in Beyrouth, with British C-in-C participation (Wavell, Cunningham, Longmore). Do we have any British document (telegramm from Cunningham ? else ?) recording the subjects and decisions of this meeting ?
    - I understand Turkey was interested to get the Dodécanèse back (the islands were taken by Italy from Turkey after the 1912 Italian-Turkish war) but what the Greek governement thought about it ? the islands (except Rhodes ?) were supposed to join with Greece (Tittoni-Venizelos agreement signed in 1919)...

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