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WW2 Convoy History

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“Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.”
Mark Twain

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Probably. I don't like either of them and I don't know why American history has idolized MacArthur so much.

Because MacArthur?

 

In a move that is unsurprising to anyone, I like Monty probably the best out of the Generals and field marshals. Rommel is a special case

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I totally respect and support your patriotism here and earlier in the thread regarding supplies to North Africa, Historynerd, but I feel the need to point out that the true tragedy was Italy allowing herself to fall under the spell of Mussolini and Mussolini allowing himself to be eclipsed and eventually consumed by Adolf Hitler. I certainly agree that Italy achieved some great things related to WWII, but in the end, however unintended, it was all to further the ends of their senior partner to the north. Sometimes you end up defined by the company you keep, and never was that more true than Italy in WW II.

 

I see how I could give the wrong impression, but let me clarify it. While I cannot deny that, being an Italian, I do have an interest and a special place for my country in my heart and my thoughts, I try not to let it influence me when I speak about history. I strive to be objective, so my comment on the cryptoanalysts of the Regia Marina was merely a statement about them being objectively few (two hundred at most, which pales compared to the efforts in other countries).

 

There is no way that I can deny what you said (although I would say that "allow" is a strong verb, there were quite a lot of processes going around, and Italy and the Bald Guy did not fathom everything that would happen, either in 1922 or later).

 

In any case, I think we are here to discuss military-related things, not the politics of World War II. I am aware that Italy's efforts were meant to further Germany's plans, and we know what those entiled; however, the fact that the Kriegsmarine struggled to enforce them (and more directly) has never stopped several and respectable people to discuss about the Graf Spee, the Bismarck or the U-Boote, and how their operations and use would have been better formed, without being accused of wishing that Germany had won the war, I think. Therefore I feel I am entitled to give my opinion about the Regia Marina, and to pass a judgement about how its operations were performed, without falling under such suspicions.

 

Also, I'll end with yet another thing little know.

After the Armistice, the bigger part of the Regia Marina went south to Malta; while the big battleships were interned in the Great Bitter Lakes (and the older ones remained in port doing only brief training cruises), the Italian cruisers, destroyers and submarines did not sit idly in port, but performed a variety of tasks, while the Regia Marina's logistical support proved precious to Allied ships (the Taranto shipyard serviced 600 Allied warships and more than one thousand auxiliaries and merchantmen, until July 1945).

In this case, and in a rather precarious situation, the Regia Marina still did its part to help the cause, the right one this time.

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However, despite this inefficiency (and other inefficiencies because of logistical issues, such as the low capacity of the Lybian harbours), the Italians managed to do rather well. Statistics show that the Regia Marina managed to get through to their destination (other than North Africa, also Albania and the Dodecanese islands) almost all that was sent, losing only 9.5% of all kinds of material and only 4% of the personnel.

Too bad that what was sent was in any way insufficient to ensure a different outcome of the war, and especially of the North African campaign.

 

It was the above comment that really raised my eyebrow.

 

 

I see how I could give the wrong impression, but let me clarify it. While I cannot deny that, being an Italian, I do have an interest and a special place for my country in my heart and my thoughts, I try not to let it influence me when I speak about history. I strive to be objective, so my comment on the cryptoanalysts of the Regia Marina was merely a statement about them being objectively few (two hundred at most, which pales compared to the efforts in other countries).

 

There is no way that I can deny what you said (although I would say that "allow" is a strong verb, there were quite a lot of processes going around, and Italy and the Bald Guy did not fathom everything that would happen, either in 1922 or later).

 

In any case, I think we are here to discuss military-related things, not the politics of World War II. I am aware that Italy's efforts were meant to further Germany's plans, and we know what those entiled; however, the fact that the Kriegsmarine struggled to enforce them (and more directly) has never stopped several and respectable people to discuss about the Graf Spee, the Bismarck or the U-Boote, and how their operations and use would have been better formed, without being accused of wishing that Germany had won the war, I think. Therefore I feel I am entitled to give my opinion about the Regia Marina, and to pass a judgement about how its operations were performed, without falling under such suspicions.

 

Also, I'll end with yet another thing little know.

After the Armistice, the bigger part of the Regia Marina went south to Malta; while the big battleships were interned in the Great Bitter Lakes (and the older ones remained in port doing only brief training cruises), the Italian cruisers, destroyers and submarines did not sit idly in port, but performed a variety of tasks, while the Regia Marina's logistical support proved precious to Allied ships (the Taranto shipyard serviced 600 Allied warships and more than one thousand auxiliaries and merchantmen, until July 1945).

In this case, and in a rather precarious situation, the Regia Marina still did its part to help the cause, the right one this time.

 

But no worries. The above was well said and I learned a few things from it about late-war activities. Good stuff!

 

To be honest, I can very much relate to your patriotism for a nation that was on the losing side of a war that history demonstrated really needed to lose. I'm a native Virginian going back on my mother's side to the 1640's. I'm proud of my heritage and can regale you the glories of Virginia as well as Richard Henry Lee. But despite my love, Virginia needed to lose the US Civil War. I'm grateful to Lincoln for providing us a much needed ass kicking. Recognising that doesn't make me any less a patriot. :)

 

I look forward to learning more about the glorious Regina Marina from you. As you note, history outside Italy gives them short shrift. I'm glad you're here to fill in the blanks of our knowledge! :D

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It was the above comment that really raised my eyebrow.

 

 

 

But no worries. The above was well said and I learned a few things from it about late-war activities. Good stuff!

 

To be honest, I can very much relate to your patriotism for a nation that was on the losing side of a war that history demonstrated really needed to lose. I'm a native Virginian going back on my mother's side to the 1640's. I'm proud of my heritage and can regale you the glories of Virginia as well as Richard Henry Lee. But despite my love, Virginia needed to lose the US Civil War. I'm grateful to Lincoln for providing us a much needed ass kicking. Recognising that doesn't make me any less a patriot. :)

 

I look forward to learning more about the glorious Regina Marina from you. As you note, history outside Italy gives them short shrift. I'm glad you're here to fill in the blanks of our knowledge! :D

 

Yeah, I don't know much about the Italians but I'd be up for learning more.

 

From what I read in a book I have about the war in the Mediterranean, it seems that the navy suffered from the same problem with officers as the army did. Feel free to correct me, but apparently the navy's admirals and the admiralty were more or less timid when it came to fights, and it was the opinion of several that Mussolini only wanted a parade fleet. They were more numerous than the British but they didn't really have much modernization in really anything.

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Yeah, I don't know much about the Italians but I'd be up for learning more.

 

From what I read in a book I have about the war in the Mediterranean, it seems that the navy suffered from the same problem with officers as the army did. Feel free to correct me, but apparently the navy's admirals and the admiralty were more or less timid when it came to fights, and it was the opinion of several that Mussolini only wanted a parade fleet. They were more numerous than the British but they didn't really have much modernization in really anything.

 

Well, that concept has quite a bit of truth, but it's more complicated than that.

 

Some admirals tended to be timid, but they were also generally held back by the orders they had received. Which always contained the same paragraph: "You will engage only in favourable circumstances."

 

Also, the operative command of the Navy ("Supermarina") unfortunately overlapped with the tactical aspect of eventual engagements, going so far as to establish precise routes, to admonish not to go out determined zones (either because of the need of air superiority, or because towards Malta Italian submarines might have attacked Italian ships by mistake, or even because of minefields); this did not help to create a healthy mentality for a commander. Few were those that disregarded such instructions, and did that at their risk (for example, Admiral Alberto Da Zara during Operation Harpoon).

 

At a strategic level, the "fleet-in-being" strategy adopted was sound, because the war largely turned out to be about lines of communication, so the need to defend them or interdict the enemy ones trumped the need to seek battle just for the sake of it. At a tactical level, several flaws carried over from prewar doctrines and training, insufficient or inadequate equipment, and difficulties in coordinating with the air element (a very important factor) led in many cases to cautious or insecure behavior on the part of Italian admirals, who found themselves grasping for the enemy's dislocation or strength, and always mindful that every major loss that they would suffer (anything above a destroyer) would prove impossible to replace.

 

This helps understand (but not justify, in a general sense) the tendency of some Italian admirals to be rather cautious in their approach.

 

However, sometimes timidity may be relative. Admiral Inigo Campioni, commander of the Italian fleet engaged at Punta Stilo, has been judged both reckless (for engaging an opponent with stronger and overall better battleships) and timid (for disengaging after losing his speed advantage). Sometimes, it's hard to give a really objective comment.

 

 

 

It was the above comment that really raised my eyebrow.

 

 

 

But no worries. The above was well said and I learned a few things from it about late-war activities. Good stuff!

 

To be honest, I can very much relate to your patriotism for a nation that was on the losing side of a war that history demonstrated really needed to lose. I'm a native Virginian going back on my mother's side to the 1640's. I'm proud of my heritage and can regale you the glories of Virginia as well as Richard Henry Lee. But despite my love, Virginia needed to lose the US Civil War. I'm grateful to Lincoln for providing us a much needed ass kicking. Recognising that doesn't make me any less a patriot. :)

 

I look forward to learning more about the glorious Regina Marina from you. As you note, history outside Italy gives them short shrift. I'm glad you're here to fill in the blanks of our knowledge! :D

 

Very well.

 

Italy pretty much needed to lose, having sided with such a faction. Having established that, however, I hope I can keep offering what knowledge I may possess about the Regia Marina, and also my comments on how its war effort might have been better conducted.

 

I see now that my comment might have looked like I wished for Italy to win. And I admit that at a primordial, irrational level, the dislike for defeat might have tinged my words.

But I believe you can empathize with my feelings. I found very often that we humans can be very contradictory creatures.

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It was the above comment that really raised my eyebrow.

 

 

 

But no worries. The above was well said and I learned a few things from it about late-war activities. Good stuff!

 

To be honest, I can very much relate to your patriotism for a nation that was on the losing side of a war that history demonstrated really needed to lose. I'm a native Virginian going back on my mother's side to the 1640's. I'm proud of my heritage and can regale you the glories of Virginia as well as Richard Henry Lee. But despite my love, Virginia needed to lose the US Civil War. I'm grateful to Lincoln for providing us a much needed ass kicking. Recognising that doesn't make me any less a patriot. :)

 

I look forward to learning more about the glorious Regina Marina from you. As you note, history outside Italy gives them short shrift. I'm glad you're here to fill in the blanks of our knowledge! :D

well said! Proud Floridian here, and I agree the union needed to win. Wish old Abe had been able to serve his full term. To my understanding his plan was more reconciling with the south while Andrew Johnson was more retribution against the south. Perhaps many southern states wouldn't be in such bad shapes. But back to topic! I can't wait to learn more about the nations that don't get enough recognition!

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I see now that my comment might have looked like I wished for Italy to win. And I admit that at a primordial, irrational level, the dislike for defeat might have tinged my words.

But I believe you can empathize with my feelings. I found very often that we humans can be very contradictory creatures.

 

Very much so. I cannot visit Gettysburg without imagining all the ways Lee could have managed a different outcome and played holy heck through the Pennsylvania and Maryland countryside with little the Union could have done about it, at least for a while.

 

And I still cringe every time I hear someone talk about the Battle of the Monitor and the "Merrimack". :angry:

 

If she were to have a Belle, she'd be a proud Virginian, dammit! :wub:

 

Even if she'd have a funny New England accent. B)

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So speaking of convoys, Italians, and especially Admiral Inigo Campioni, why not mention Operation Collar?

 

It was essentially a convoy of five ships bound for Malta and Alexandria, the merchants SS New Zealand Star, SS Clan Forbes and SS Clan Fraser, and the cruisers HMS Manchester and Southampton (both carrying 1370 RAF technicians). They had the destroyer HMS Hotspur and the corvettes HMS Peony, Salvia, Gloxinia and Hyacinth reinforcing them, commanded from Manchester by Admiral Lancelot Holland. Sound familiar? :P

 

To their north was Force H led by Admiral James Somerville which had the battlecruiser HMS Renown, the HMS Ark Royal, cruisers HMS Sheffield and Despatch, and nine destroyers (Encounter, Faulknor, Firedrake, Forester, Fury, Gallant, Hreyhound, Griffin, Hereward).

 

Campioni was sent to intercept them with two battleships, six cruisers, and fourteen destroyers, but ended up engaging Force H and resulted in the Battle of Cape Spartivento. The battle was rather indecisive, as the only casualties and losses were seriously damaging the cruiser HMS Berwick and destroyer Lanciere, and lightly damaging HMS Manchester and Trieste. Churchill wanted Somerville's head after the battle, though a board of inquiry voted in favor of the admiral. Camponi however was not as lucky. It was the best opportunity to deal the British a sharp setback in fleet action, and yet due to the fleet's orders, it wasn't decisive. As Angelo Iachino put it, "the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact."

 

And yep, this is the setting for my fic, right in the midst of Operation Collar with the Battle of Cape Spartivento being replaced by a battle just as they round Gibraltar against Morgana

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So speaking of convoys, Italians, and especially Admiral Inigo Campioni, why not mention Operation Collar?

 

It was essentially a convoy of five ships bound for Malta and Alexandria, the merchants SS New Zealand Star, SS Clan Forbes and SS Clan Fraser, and the cruisers HMS Manchester and Southampton (both carrying 1370 RAF technicians). They had the destroyer HMS Hotspur and the corvettes HMS Peony, Salvia, Gloxinia and Hyacinth reinforcing them, commanded from Manchester by Admiral Lancelot Holland. Sound familiar? :P

 

To their north was Force H led by Admiral James Somerville which had the battlecruiser HMS Renown, the HMS Ark Royal, cruisers HMS Sheffield and Despatch, and nine destroyers (Encounter, Faulknor, Firedrake, Forester, Fury, Gallant, Hreyhound, Griffin, Hereward).

 

Campioni was sent to intercept them with two battleships, six cruisers, and fourteen destroyers, but ended up engaging Force H and resulted in the Battle of Cape Spartivento. The battle was rather indecisive, as the only casualties and losses were seriously damaging the cruiser HMS Berwick and destroyer Lanciere, and lightly damaging HMS Manchester and Trieste. Churchill wanted Somerville's head after the battle, though a board of inquiry voted in favor of the admiral. Camponi however was not as lucky. It was the best opportunity to deal the British a sharp setback in fleet action, and yet due to the fleet's orders, it wasn't decisive. As Angelo Iachino put it, "the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact."

 

And yep, this is the setting for my fic, right in the midst of Operation Collar with the Battle of Cape Spartivento being replaced by a battle just as they round Gibraltar against Morgana

 

Yes, that was a very confused situation. Campioni was unable to make out the situation from the confusing and contradicting reports he received, and so didn't get a clear picture, without realizing that he had a margin to engage successfully. It seems that Italian recon was never very effective during the war (O'Hara does say it rather strongly).

 

It is true, though, that the sortie was decided mainly to show that the Regia Marina hadn't been knocked out by the Taranto night, and was still able to sail to meet its enemy.

Campioni was kicked upstairs (as the Romans used to say, "promoveatur ut amoveatur"), and Iachino took his place. Yet, Iachino, despite being intelligent, competent and able to discern that a degree of tactical aggressiveness was a must, would end up in a rather similar way.

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Frankly the best USN Admirals were Halsey, Spruance, Lee, Mitscher and Nimitz (being the Naval equivalent of Eisenhower).

 

The best British General is Field Marshal The Right Honourable William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ

The Best Commander of the RN during WWII would be Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, KT, GCB, OM, DSO & Two Bars

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