Of lost monkeys and broken vehicles

Part 67
Sollum, December 15th, 1940

Advance elements of the Western Desert Force, captured the town and continued advancing westwards. Italian casualties over the previous week, were nearing 43,000 men, including over 38,000 prisoners. British casualties were slightly over 600 men so far.

Piraeus, December 19th, 1940

The 10th Polish infantry regiment start disembarking from the troopships, amidst the cheers of the locals. From here trains will take it north to the frontlines in Macedonia and the Free Polish army fighting there. The rest of the 4th Infantry division, escaped from France and reinforced with the survivors of the Polish Highlands brigade after the evacuation of Norway was on its way to Greece as well.

Dublin, December 20th, 1940

The pair of Luftwaffe bombers that dropped the bombs in the city causing minor damage had done so almost certainly by accident. But the bombing was all too convenient for Irish purposes as the next day prime minister Collins allowed the Royal Navy access to use the treaty ports. British troops would still not be allowed into British territory.

North of Monastir, December 25th, 1940

Some sporadic fire was exchanged, but the front remained relatively quiet on Christmas day in the Greek, Polish and French sectors opposite the Italians and Hungarians. It was business as usual in the Serb sector and opposite the Bulgarians, it was not Christmas there.

Belgrade, December 28th, 1940


The first train carrying German engineers and anti-aircraft troops to Bulgaria crossed. The Danube was full of ice in this time of year making bridging it between Romania and Bulgaria difficult. But there was nothing stopping the Germans from using the railroad lines into Bulgaria. Half an hour later a train carrying Hungarian troops back to the motherland. Nearly 19,000 casualties fighting the Greeks had been enough for any duty admiral Horthy may had still felt towards Italy for liberating Vojvodina. Three corps of the Hungarian 3rd army would remain in occupation duty in Serbia for the time being but the rest and 2nd army were returning home.

Bardia, December 29th, 1940


The infantrymen of the 4th Indian division jumped off their starting positions. Three days later Bardia would be in British hands and another 42,000 Italian soldiers on their way to prisoner of war camps. Tobruk would be attacked on new years eve...

Athens, January 7th, 1941


Two battalions of the 17th Australian Infantry brigade marched through the city, the first British empire ground troops to reach mainland Greece. The had some initial reluctance on the part of the Greek government over openly bringing British troops in the mainland, lest it bring the Germany in the war as well or rather speed up its entry, even as Polish and Free French soldiers fought side by side with the Greeks and Serbs in Macedonia. But with trains bringing German troops to Yugoslavia and Bulgaria for the past several days any misgivings the Greeks might have were long gone. German soldiers had yet to so in the frontlines and thus the fiction that Greece and Germany were not at war was still maintained. But clashes between Greek and German aircraft had already taken place, anti-aircraft gunners whether on land or at sea for rather obvious reasons were hardly discriminating at anything flying that might look dangerous. As for the Australians they rather liked the place so far. For one thing the locals, including most importantly the girls were friendly. For another it might be winter but the weather was like home...

Central Mediterranean, January 11th, 1941

The Luftwaffe X Fliegerkorps announced its presence in the Mediterranean by massed attacks on allied shipping sinking HMS Eagle and HMS Southampton. Still convoys to Greece and Malta continued. 199 and 34 fighters had been moved to Sicily, giving the Regia Aeronautica, hard pressed from fighting in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Britain and the Balkans all at the same time a much needed boost. Of course Italy could had easily avoided some of these commitments. But it wasn't the flyers who decided...

East Africa, January 12th, 1941

Allied forces sprang to the attack. The 5th Indian division was invading Eritrea from the north, just as a French column advanced from Djibouti to the north and a second French column with two regiments of the 3e Division Francaise Libre was advancing along the railroad to Dire Dawa in Ethiopia. In Southern Ethiopia the 1st South African and the 11th and 12th African divisions advanced north. Even with 70,000 British troops in Kenya and 30,000 British and French troops in Sudan and Djibouti, the Italians heavily outnumbered the attackers. But large portions of the Italian army were tied down fighting increasingly severe Ethiopian uprisings, while its supplies of arms and ammunition were limited to what had been available in East Africa at the start of the war. Allied forces at hand should suffice, back in December Wavell had considered unnecessary sending the 4th Indian division the reinforce the 5th given the French army at Djibouti.

Libya, January 16th, 1941

Tobruk fell to the British and Indians, with another 25,000 Italian soldiers joining their comrades in captivity. Three days later Mussolini and Hitler would agree at Berchtesgaden to send German aid to Italian North Africa. But this was still in the future. In the meantime British forces kept advancing to the west capturing Derna in January 25th.

Athens, January 22nd, 1941


Anthony Eden accompanied by Archibald Wavell, came to discuss strategy. For all the recent allied successes Wavell was coming to Athens decidedly pessimistic over allied prospects of holding back the Germans. He had been forced by Churchill to send British troops to Greece, in addition to the Poles and French who had been already in Constantinople. Now he proposed that allied forces should pull back from Macedonia and Thrace to the Aliakmon river ahead of the German attack and also that the Greeks should evacuate Asia Minor. Eden had been supportive even trying to sound Dragoumis over the possibility of Greek concessions to Turkey in order to secure her neutrality. Dragoumis and Wavell's counterpart Theodore Pangalos had flatly refused. Greece was not going to make any concessions to Turkey, chances were the Turks would join the war no matter what concessions they were given just as they had done in 1914. Post that Asiatic Greece, Macedonia and Thrace held between them half the population of Greece without even taking into account Constantinople. Leaving them without a fight would be a political disaster likely leading to disintegration of the Greek army without even a fight. Pangalos had put the problem in more technical terms. Germany would join the war at the latest in March. There was hardly sufficient time to transport the Army of Asia Minor from Smyrna to Europe. In Europe, his plan was that should the allied armies be unable to hold the current line in Macedonia, a quite defensible one as proven in 1915-18, then the allies would fall back even further back than Wavell was proposing to the Olympus passes. Work was already being done in preparation of that position. In private Pangalos admitted to Wavell that he had already stripped Thrace of what forces he could, the only reason that part of the line held was the Bulgarians inability to breach it without heavy casualties due to lack of heavy artillery. Where Pangalos and Wavell did agree was that it made no sense to strip off British forces in Cyrenaica at the time the Italians were collapsing to reinforce Greece with inadequate forces. The Australians in Greece would be joined by the 2nd New Zealand division currently arriving in Egypt but armoured units would remain for now in Cyrenaica...

Kiel, January 22nd, 1941


The battleship Gneisenau remained in port. Plans to use her to raid Allied convoys in the Atlantic would have to wait till at least Bismarck, if not both Bismarck and Tirpitz were ready for operations...

Sofia, January 25th, 1941

The regiments of the 16th Infantry Division received their colours. Captured Yugoslav war material provided by Italy had allowed the Bulgarians to form an additional two divisions besides reinforcing their existing units.

Libya, February 3rd, 1941

British forces reached El Agheila. The Italian 10th army had surrendered the previous day bringing the the number of Italian soldiers captured in less than a month of fighting to over 133,000 men. The British tried to continue their advance westwards but even with practically negligible Italian resistance the logistical burden was too high and kept growing with every passing kilometre. Already the British were down to about 299 tanks despite reinforcements from the British isles.
 
So from what I see the desert campaign is mostly OTL up to this point but without the withdrawal of veterans and armor to reinforce Greece the British should be much more prepared for any counterattack coming from the Afrika Corps. The only major difference I can see is it appears the British reached El Agheila and stopped the offensive 2 days early over OTL.

Interesting how bit by bit the allies end up stronger and stronger over OTL while the axis is finding itself in a slightly worse position than OTL. Of course a lot of that could be undone by Turkey entering the war at least for a couple years. It's pretty clear that the axis is still headed to defeat ITTL but the post war world is going to look very different at the rate it is going.
 
British troops would still not be allowed into British territory
I think you mean Irish territory here

So the Macedonian front went form Tetovo to Monastir in about a month huh? This is pretty big change although it was a fighting retreat I guess. Can you share the casualties for both sides before Germany comes into this front in force?
It seems the Hungarians are making space in the frontlines for the Germans and the Bulgarians a re mobilizing more men so I don't see the Macedonian front holding. The problem is if they can retreat in order till the Olympus passes or the Wehrmacht will make its signature lighting strikes again... I see a lot of future brigades remaining behind to keep the panzers from getting the main force.

I hope the Allies are ready for the coming storm of planes. If they manage to stop the Germans from total air superiority is going to be considered a victory, but that is a big if. I believe that is the Achilles heel of the Allied front, they don't have enough air support and the roads are quite narrow so if they start retreating in mass they are going to be prime targets for the German bombers.

Excited to see what happens next!!!
 
Interesting how bit by bit the allies end up stronger and stronger over OTL while the axis is finding itself in a slightly worse position than OTL. Of course a lot of that could be undone by Turkey entering the war at least for a couple years. It's pretty clear that the axis is still headed to defeat ITTL but the post war world is going to look very different at the rate it is going.
Exactly!
There are a lot of butterflies in the air of TTL... The Germans will probably intervene in the Balkans a little earlier than OTL (hell, there are already air fights between Greek and German planes!). However, the Allied resistance in Greece will probably be much more intense and at least semi-successful, leading to more butterflies concerning TTL's Operation Barbarossa.
As for the Turks, they have to consider the Soviet giant too, before entering the war. If they have any information (or belief) that the Germans will attack the USSR, they might be less wiling to participate on the Axis side, as OTL has showed. On the other hand, ITTL the potential profits for Turkey are much greater than IOTL. If the Turks had participated ion the Axis side in WWII, they would have been promised some Greek islands, parts of Syria and Iraq, probably Cyprus and some gains in the Caucasus. ITTL they would expect to gain the above plus Constantinople (their former capital) and the most rich and productive parts of Asia Minor.Thus, the temptation is bigger...
Concerning the Northern African front, the British will probably not collapse when Afrika Korps enters the battle.
 
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Just thinking, seeing how Pangalos faded into obscurity and bore the stain of dictatorship after the 1920s IOTL, I feel like ITTL he is well bound to become, at least in military history books, one of the major Allied generals, besides Eisenhower, Zhukov, Montgomery or MacArthur.
That's seeing how is leading the Greek army on a path it will probably become the first continental power in Europe to stop the Germans, especially after France couldn't.
 
In private Pangalos admitted to Wavell that he had already stripped Thrace of what forces he could, the only reason that part of the line held was the Bulgarians inability to breach it without heavy casualties due to lack of heavy artillery.
I don't doubt they will soon get that heavy artillery from the Germans... along the gunners, and also tanks... Besides, the Thracian plain looks well suited for the panzers to pour into.
 
Just thinking, seeing how Pangalos faded into obscurity and bore the stain of dictatorship after the 1920s IOTL, I feel like ITTL he is well bound to become, at least in military history books, one of the major Allied generals, besides Eisenhower, Zhukov, Montgomery or MacArthur.
That's seeing how is leading the Greek army on a path it will probably become the first continental power in Europe to stop the Germans, especially after France couldn't.
I don't see it happening, especially after the Turks flip. They don't have enough strategic depth and the force disparity is too large.

I can see them putting on a good show and holding on in the islands. That's worth something.
 
As for the Turks, they have to consider the Soviet giant too, before entering the war.
I feel like they wouldn't know firstly and secondly that if they knew that would be an extra reason to join due to wanting lands from the Soviets as well. Also the Soviets don't have enough armies on the Caucasus which is very easily defended if they get attacked from there. I think they are waiting for the Macedonian front to collapse to make their move (like Bulgaria in WW1 waiting for Germany and AH to break Serbia) and that is bound to happen the only question is when.


I can see them putting on a good show and holding on in the islands. That's worth something.
Well I don't know the Olympus passes are very easily defended and very mountainous so with a good defense there the Axis could bleed a lot of material. Also there is the schedule of Barbarossa. How much material and manpower are the Germans gonna spare to take Greece and is Greece more important that the Soviets? The time is ticking towards July and the pressure on all sides is on!!!

The Asia front is really secure I think. It has 200k defenders (without counting local volunteers here) in excellent defensive positions prepared for years and the enemy lacks enough heavy artillery to break through. They have of course a lot of manpower to cover that lack of artillery but that could lead to some morale loss due to mounting casualties. Also ,the Germans can spare enough heavy pieces for both the Bulgarians and the Turks especially with Barbarossa so close?
 
I feel like they wouldn't know firstly and secondly that if they knew that would be an extra reason to join due to wanting lands from the Soviets as well. Also the Soviets don't have enough armies on the Caucasus which is very easily defended if they get attacked from there. I think they are waiting for the Macedonian front to collapse to make their move (like Bulgaria in WW1 waiting for Germany and AH to break Serbia) and that is bound to happen the only question is when.



Well I don't know the Olympus passes are very easily defended and very mountainous so with a good defense there the Axis could bleed a lot of material. Also there is the schedule of Barbarossa. How much material and manpower are the Germans gonna spare to take Greece and is Greece more important that the Soviets? The time is ticking towards July and the pressure on all sides is on!!!

The Asia front is really secure I think. It has 200k defenders (without counting local volunteers here) in excellent defensive positions prepared for years and the enemy lacks enough heavy artillery to break through. They have of course a lot of manpower to cover that lack of artillery but that could lead to some morale loss due to mounting casualties. Also ,the Germans can spare enough heavy pieces for both the Bulgarians and the Turks especially with Barbarossa so close?
I think you might be right, especially given that the Turks lost more men and material this time around along with the incomes to replace it. Combine that with the loss of veterans and honestly if the Turks were smart they'd not go to war at all. Politically though is suppose they might not have that option.
 
Dublin, December 20th, 1940
A common argument I have read in the forum is that the Treaty Ports would have been of limited value without adjacent airfields. I wonder if the Laughing Boy will accept RAF presence if the British pay for e.g. major infrastructure projects.

An interesting bit of trivia for non-Greeks: Brendan Behan's poem "Laughing Boy" for Michael Collins became a song by Mikis Theodorakis. The greek version of the song and poem became very popular from the 1960s onwards. During the 1967-1974 dictatorship it became a resistance song. Basically there is not a single Greek born after 1974 that hasn't sang a poem originally written for Michael Collins. A poem for an IRA leader became a greek democratic song of resistance and ended being recited in every school to commemorate the fall of a dictatorship.

It was business as usual in the Serb sector and opposite the Bulgarians, it was not Christmas there.
Of course it wasn't. Here are the Balkans, we are not joking around :D

The Luftwaffe X Fliegerkorps announced its presence in the Mediterranean by massed attacks on allied shipping sinking HMS Eagle and HMS Southampton.
To be honest it is better to lose HMS Eagle permanently than losing HMS Illustrious temporarily for one critical year.

I guess that HMS Glorious will go to the Atlantic in place of HMS Eagle to hunt raiders and transport aircraft to Takoradi/Dakar. Very soon Cunningham will have two armoured carriers to operate with. Between more aircraft in Malta via the Souda/Araxos ferry route and the two CVs, the Afrika Korps won't be transported unbloodied - in contrast to OTL.

What will Cunningham will do? That only Lascaris knows. But in OTL Cunningham was willing to take significant risks such as the naval bombardment of Tripoli at April 21st.

3e Division Francaise Libre

That's interesting! What is this unit? It is not one of the original Mandate and Constantinople divisions, unless one has changes its name.

The battleship Gneisenau remained in port. Plans to use her to raid Allied convoys in the Atlantic would have to wait till at least Bismarck, if not both Bismarck and Tirpitz were ready for operations...

Because what do the readers of alternatehistory.com want? A battleship battle in the North Atlantic! After all what is better than a sunk Bismarck? A sunk Kriegsmarine!

When the time is ready, give a warning to put the pop corn in the kettle.

The regiments of the 16th Infantry Division received their colours. Captured Yugoslav war material provided by Italy had allowed the Bulgarians to form an additional two divisions besides reinforcing their existing units.

To be honest, better to face two additional bulgarian divisions that take up an even greater part of the bulgarian network, than additional Gebirgsjäger.

Libya, February 3rd, 1941

British forces reached El Agheila

The British reached El Agheila 6 days ahead of OTL. That gives them a bit more time to dig in and start servicing their tanks and lorries earlier on.

A question on british tank production: is it the same as in OTL with the addition of Centaur instead of Valentine, or is it similar to Allan's timeline?


Where Pangalos and Wavell did agree was that it made no sense to strip off British forces in Cyrenaica at the time the Italians were collapsing to reinforce Greece with inadequate forces. The Australians in Greece would be joined by the 2nd New Zealand division currently arriving in Egypt but armoured units would remain for now in Cyrenaica...
A potential butterfly is keeping the entirety of 2nd Armoured in Cyrenaica and instead just shipping Centaurs to the Greek Armoured Division to replace their Vickers and Renault old tanks.

Do the Greeks hold the Iron Gates of Axios/Vardar river ? If so, the Germans will have few avaliable options to deploy panzers. One is Monastir and another the east bank of Nestor river. I presume that Thrace cannot be held.
 
So from what I see the desert campaign is mostly OTL up to this point but without the withdrawal of veterans and armor to reinforce Greece the British should be much more prepared for any counterattack coming from the Afrika Corps. The only major difference I can see is it appears the British reached El Agheila and stopped the offensive 2 days early over OTL.
I've left it vague whether they stopped or not at El Agheila. Either way though Montgomery in 1942 took 12 more days to reach Sirte and then another 3 weeks to take Buerat. I doubt O'Connor can be faster particularly when coming under increasing air attack. Which means the earlier the can capture Sirte is February 15th. By this point German forces are starting to arrive to Tripoli.

I think you mean Irish territory here

So the Macedonian front went form Tetovo to Monastir in about a month huh? This is pretty big change although it was a fighting retreat I guess. Can you share the casualties for both sides before Germany comes into this front in force?
The Serbs were already in headlong retreat when the Greeks were brought into the war. Greek involvement consisted first of tackling the Bulgarians before they could march into the Yugoslav rear. Against the Italians and Hungarians it was largely a series of delaying actions to let the Serbs pull back in one piece to a defensible line. Casualties wise up to the end of 1940:

Italian: 100,008 +34,045 in the Dodecanese
Hungarian: 23,824
Bulgarian: 12,887
Yugoslav: 949,232 (including mass desertions, switching sides etc)
Greek: 24,431
Polish: 834
French: 357

It seems the Hungarians are making space in the frontlines for the Germans and the Bulgarians a re mobilizing more men so I don't see the Macedonian front holding.
That too. But Horthy also see no reason to lose men attacking Greece. Let the Italians pay the butcher's bill.
The problem is if they can retreat in order till the Olympus passes or the Wehrmacht will make its signature lighting strikes again... I see a lot of future brigades remaining behind to keep the panzers from getting the main force.
Maybe... then maybe not.
I hope the Allies are ready for the coming storm of planes. If they manage to stop the Germans from total air superiority is going to be considered a victory, but that is a big if. I believe that is the Achilles heel of the Allied front, they don't have enough air support and the roads are quite narrow so if they start retreating in mass they are going to be prime targets for the German bombers.
They are certainly better off than OTL in this. Parts of the Yugoslav air force have survived, the Greeks have a pretty strong air force, there is a Free French fighter wing and the British have suffered lower casualties in France and Britain so can spare more aircraft. Is all this enough? We shall see...

Exactly!
There are a lot of butterflies in the air of TTL... The Germans will probably intervene in the Balkans a little earlier than OTL (hell, there are already air fights between Greek and German planes!). However, the Allied resistance in Greece will probably be much more intense and at least semi-successful, leading to more butterflies concerning TTL's Operation Barbarossa.
Fall of Yugoslavia means the Germans don't have to bridge the Danube with ice on it to send troops to Bulgaria...

As for the Turks, they have to consider the Soviet giant too, before entering the war. If they have any information (or belief) that the Germans will attack the USSR, they might be less wiling to participate on the Axis side, as OTL has showed. On the other hand, ITTL the potential profits for Turkey are much greater than IOTL. If the Turks had participated ion the Axis side in WWII, they would have been promised some Greek islands, parts of Syria and Iraq, probably Cyprus and some gains in the Caucasus. ITTL they would expect to gain the above plus Constantinople (their former capital) and the most rich and productive parts of Asia Minor.Thus, the temptation is bigger...
Oh the temptation is certainly big. So would be the price of failure...

Just thinking, seeing how Pangalos faded into obscurity and bore the stain of dictatorship after the 1920s IOTL, I feel like ITTL he is well bound to become, at least in military history books, one of the major Allied generals, besides Eisenhower, Zhukov, Montgomery or MacArthur.
That's seeing how is leading the Greek army on a path it will probably become the first continental power in Europe to stop the Germans, especially after France couldn't.
Pangalos mede all the wrong choices after 1925. And yet his hand did show up even so and he nearly came back to full prominence at least two if not three times first in 1941 when offered by the British command of the Greek army... after it had mostly ceased to exist (his none too polite answer "the Greek army at this point needs and undertaker not a commander) and then again in the civil war when he was proposed as an alternative to Papagos. Plus a third with the proposals to make him commander of the army in exile the Royalists did not want to hear about. Plus of course the Greek-Italian war was largely fought with the artillery, rifles and machine guns Pangalos bought...
I don't doubt they will soon get that heavy artillery from the Germans... along the gunners, and also tanks... Besides, the Thracian plain looks well suited for the panzers to pour into.
Two main avenues of advance... not accidentally both are fortified...
I don't see it happening, especially after the Turks flip. They don't have enough strategic depth and the force disparity is too large.

I can see them putting on a good show and holding on in the islands. That's worth something.
The allies for what it's worth have over 600,000 men on the Macedonian front. in OTL they had about a quarter as many spread over multiple positions. And yet collapsing is an entirely plausible outcome...

I feel like they wouldn't know firstly and secondly that if they knew that would be an extra reason to join due to wanting lands from the Soviets as well. Also the Soviets don't have enough armies on the Caucasus which is very easily defended if they get attacked from there. I think they are waiting for the Macedonian front to collapse to make their move (like Bulgaria in WW1 waiting for Germany and AH to break Serbia) and that is bound to happen the only question is when.
The Soviets had about 246,000 men with 1417 guns and 877 tanks in the Caucasus. The Soviet army was many things but lacking in material was not one of them...
Well I don't know the Olympus passes are very easily defended and very mountainous so with a good defense there the Axis could bleed a lot of material. Also there is the schedule of Barbarossa. How much material and manpower are the Germans gonna spare to take Greece and is Greece more important that the Soviets? The time is ticking towards July and the pressure on all sides is on!!!
The current frontline consists at least in part of a set of pretty big mountains. Once you overcome them you reach the Aliakmon. Behind the Aliakmon is Olympus. Behind Olympus Domokos. Behind Domokos Thermopylae. After Thermopylae...

The Asia front is really secure I think. It has 200k defenders (without counting local volunteers here) in excellent defensive positions prepared for years and the enemy lacks enough heavy artillery to break through. They have of course a lot of manpower to cover that lack of artillery but that could lead to some morale loss due to mounting casualties. Also ,the Germans can spare enough heavy pieces for both the Bulgarians and the Turks especially with Barbarossa so close?
To an extend if Turkey jumps in it knows or suspects they are in a scenario similar to WW1, instant two if not three front war for a start. On the other hand when do they get a better opportunity?
I think you might be right, especially given that the Turks lost more men and material this time around along with the incomes to replace it. Combine that with the loss of veterans and honestly if the Turks were smart they'd not go to war at all. Politically though is suppose they might not have that option.
True but this also means a certain degree of hindsight of course or excellent strategic vision. Seen in early 1941, the Germans have just smashed France completely and have Britain on the ropes it still fights on true but for how long it will keep fighting and how it could beat up the Germans? Add now to this the Soviets have already invaded outright both Finland and Romania and annexed the Baltics, who else but the Germans is there to support Turkey if the Soviets get ideas, and seen at this time when a better opportunity to get back the Turkish terra irredenta will ever arise if the forego the current one.

A common argument I have read in the forum is that the Treaty Ports would have been of limited value without adjacent airfields. I wonder if the Laughing Boy will accept RAF presence if the British pay for e.g. major infrastructure projects.
This has... not been seen yet. When shown...
An interesting bit of trivia for non-Greeks: Brendan Behan's poem "Laughing Boy" for Michael Collins became a song by Mikis Theodorakis. The greek version of the song and poem became very popular from the 1960s onwards. During the 1967-1974 dictatorship it became a resistance song. Basically there is not a single Greek born after 1974 that hasn't sang a poem originally written for Michael Collins. A poem for an IRA leader became a greek democratic song of resistance and ended being recited in every school to commemorate the fall of a dictatorship.
Theodorakis is of course born post POD...
Of course it wasn't. Here are the Balkans, we are not joking around :D
And the Serbs and Bulgarians are still on the old calender. It literally isn't Christmas. :p

That's interesting! What is this unit? It is not one of the original Mandate and Constantinople divisions, unless one has changes its name.
A division formed from the 29th Algerian, the 2nd Malagasy and the 1st Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiments all of which are Free French TTL...

A question on british tank production: is it the same as in OTL with the addition of Centaur instead of Valentine, or is it similar to Allan's timeline?
Centaur production is taking up Valentines production at the moment and should be roughly 3 months ahead of OTL as well.

A potential butterfly is keeping the entirety of 2nd Armoured in Cyrenaica and instead just shipping Centaurs to the Greek Armoured Division to replace their Vickers and Renault old tanks.

Do the Greeks hold the Iron Gates of Axios/Vardar river ? If so, the Germans will have few avaliable options to deploy panzers.
They did deploy them even in the Tempi valley OTL... and yes the allies do hold Demir Kapija its one of the lynchpins of their position...
 
Appendix: The Free French army February 1941
Free French Army, February 1941

Total Strength: 188,906
Active army: 148,066
Colonial garrisons: 40,840

1ere Armee Francaise Libre (former TOMO, administrative)
1ere Corps Armee Francaise Libre (Syria, former GFML)​
86e Division d'infanterie Africaine
2e Regiment de Zouaves​
2e Regiment de tirailleurs Algeriens​
24e Regiment mixte d'infanterie coloniale​
191e Division Infanterie
16e Regiment de tirailleurs Tunisiens​
1er Regiment de tirailleurs Alaouite​
12e Regiment de tirailleurs Tunisiens​
192e Division Infanterie
1er Regiment d'infanterie de Chasseurs Libanais​
17e Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
10e Demi-Brigade Nord Africaine​
Groupe de Battalions de Chars de Combat (95 R-35)​
63e BCC​
68e BCC​
2e Corps Armee Francaise Libre (Greece, general Bethouart)​
1re Division Francaise Libre
5e Demi-Brigade de chasseurs alpins​
27e Demi-Brigade de chasseurs alpins​
13e Demi-Brigade de la legion etrangere​
2e Division Francaise Libre
6e Regiment Etranger d'infanterie​
7e Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
1er Regiment d'infanterie Armenien​
French Somaliland
3e Division Francaise Libre
29e Regiment de tirailleurs Algeriens​
2e Regiment de tirailleurs Malgaches​
1er Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
French Chad
Régiment de tirailleurs Sénégalais du Tchad​
Colonial Garrisons
Régiment de tirailleurs sénégalais du Cameroun (Cameroon)​
Régiment d’infanterie coloniale de l’Afrique Occidentale Française (Senegal)​
1er Regiment de tirailleurs Malgaches (Madagascar)​
 
I would like to comment on the air campaign over the Balkans.

In OTL November 5th 1940 Regia Aeronautica had the following strength in Albania (source: "Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete, 1940-1941).
1631287424253.png


In support of operations in Albania, the Italian had also another 82 aircraft flying from Salento.

The same book provides figures for the Regia Aeronautica on April 5th 1941.
1631294612002.png


In TTL, Regia Aeronautica has been fighting against the Royal Yugoslav Air Force before Greece entered the war. I doubt the Italians could destroy the RYAF in a matter of days as Luftwaffe did. Of course the Italians would have the upper hand, but air superiority would have come with a cost.

When Greece enters the war, the Italian have to commit more forces in the Balkans. The greek Falcons may be few but they are probably better than any 1940 italian fighter. They are also supported by a fair number of capable LN-161 and they can keep the PZL-24s in point defence over Athens out of range of the italian fighters.

The author mentioned about Free French squadrons, but what about the Poles? Soon there will be 3 Polish Divisions in the Greek Front, the biggest polish frontline presence since the Fall of Poland. I can see Sikorski lobbying Churchill to release the polish-crewed RAF squadrons to protect their brothers-in-arms. If anything, Dragoumis would add his voice as well, since there is a great polish presence in the greek aircraft industry. Therefore, I find quite possible to see the eagles of the 302 and 303 Squadrons in greek skies.

The point I am trying to make is that the Italians need to invest April 1941 numbers of aircraft many months earlier and maintain said heavy committment, while they face a more numerous and capable opponent compared to OTL. And the Italians will bleed. Compound interest is indeed awonderful concept. I can see a downward spiral being started much earlier. Last but not least, if the Italians are to maintain such numbers in the Balkans, they would need to invest fewer resources elsewhere. Libya is an acting front and they are being thrashed, so it is politically difficult to reduce their numbers there. However, the Siege of Malta is an offensive affair and more politically feasible to reduce the committment there. I find it plausible that Fliegerkorps X is to be left alone in Sicily for the next few months.

A non-aerial warfare question for the author: @Lascaris, where in the frontline are the French and Polish units located?
 
I would like to comment on the air campaign over the Balkans.

In OTL November 5th 1940 Regia Aeronautica had the following strength in Albania (source: "Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete, 1940-1941).
View attachment 679135

In support of operations in Albania, the Italian had also another 82 aircraft flying from Salento.
Potentially more, the 4th Squadra Aera was available for operations which put the maximum number to about 400 aircraft.

In TTL, Regia Aeronautica has been fighting against the Royal Yugoslav Air Force before Greece entered the war. I doubt the Italians could destroy the RYAF in a matter of days as Luftwaffe did. Of course the Italians would have the upper hand, but air superiority would have come with a cost.
In TTL initial operations against Yugoslavia would involve the 2nd Squadra Aera, from memory somewhat stronger in summer 1940 than April 1941 and Aeronautica Albania. Then the Hungarian air force is added into the fight. Then the Bulgarian and 4th Squadra Aera.

When Greece enters the war, the Italian have to commit more forces in the Balkans. The greek Falcons may be few but they are probably better than any 1940 italian fighter. They are also supported by a fair number of capable LN-161 and they can keep the PZL-24s in point defence over Athens out of range of the italian fighters.

The author mentioned about Free French squadrons, but what about the Poles? Soon there will be 3 Polish Divisions in the Greek Front, the biggest polish frontline presence since the Fall of Poland. I can see Sikorski lobbying Churchill to release the polish-crewed RAF squadrons to protect their brothers-in-arms. If anything, Dragoumis would add his voice as well, since there is a great polish presence in the greek aircraft industry. Therefore, I find quite possible to see the eagles of the 302 and 303 Squadrons in greek skies.
From the Polish point of view it makes sense. When Poles show up is a different matter...
The point I am trying to make is that the Italians need to invest April 1941 numbers of aircraft many months earlier and maintain said heavy committment, while they face a more numerous and capable opponent compared to OTL. And the Italians will bleed. Compound interest is indeed awonderful concept. I can see a downward spiral being started much earlier. Last but not least, if the Italians are to maintain such numbers in the Balkans, they would need to invest fewer resources elsewhere. Libya is an acting front and they are being thrashed, so it is politically difficult to reduce their numbers there. However, the Siege of Malta is an offensive affair and more politically feasible to reduce the committment there. I find it plausible that Fliegerkorps X is to be left alone in Sicily for the next few months.
There is an obvious other commitment that makes absolutely no sense and is not Malta or Libya. Frankly at the moment my problem with the air war is what were the exact Italian casualties. Between them the Greeks and British claimed 208 confirmed kills of Italian aircraft. Italian losses are recorded to 65 aircraft shot down a further 495 damaged besides 14 destroyed and 71 damaged on the ground. There is a disparity in the claims to say the least made a bit more odd since most of the fighting was over Greece so for most of the 208 confirmed allied kills there should be also wreckage. Besides this the 495 damaged aircraft including, 371 damaged by AA seems implies on one hand a very successful Greek AA given the material at land (modern but limited in numbers) and on the other says nothing about how many of these 495 aircraft were written off I suspect a goodly chunk of the disparity between the allied confirmed kills and Italian records is aircraft recorded as damaged, after all the Italians lost 310 aircrew, the Luftwaffe with 192 aircrew lost recorded losing 182 aircraft (including accidents and aircraft written off due to damage) which also is much closer to allied claims...
 
There is an obvious other commitment that makes absolutely no sense and is not Malta or Libya.

I forgot all about the Corpo Aereo Italiano. Indeed I think it will be the first one to be butterflied.

Between them the Greeks and British claimed 208 confirmed kills of Italian aircraft. Italian losses are recorded to 65 aircraft shot down a further 495 damaged besides 14 destroyed and 71 damaged on the ground.
I am under the impression that the Greeks and British combined claimed 289 confirmed kills, according to the previously mentioned book.

By the way, it is also stated that more than 500 yugoslavian aircraft were destroyed or captured on the ground. In the current OOB there are 892 yugoslavian aicraft of all types. If 200-400 aircraft managed to escape south, then there is a very valuable pool of already trained pilots - a lot of them on british aircraft.

I see the problem you face though. I think you are right- aircrew losses indicate that the total italian losses are close to the greco-british claims. These losses were inflicted basically from ~35 PZL-24 and 2 Gladiator squadrons that gradually upgraded to Hurricanes. I think a third RAF fighter squadron was added later on.

Moreover, the Italians have lost their air component at the Dodecanese. As mentioned the surviving aircraft of the Aeronautica Dell' Egeo (out of the original 82) have found refuge to Turkey. However, I believe that the base personnel of 3 fighter, 6 bomber and 2 reconnaissance squadrons are POWs. This is a minor but not insignificant blow in the long term.

The other butterfly of an early capture of the Dodecanese is that the raids staged by the RAF and FAA against Rhodes and Karpathos won't be needed in TTL. The carriers are also not needed to protect convoys from the Aeronautica Dell'Egeo. The RAF Wellingtons can strike at Valona instead. I am not sure if Cunnigham would have used Illustrious, Eagle (before she was sunk) and later on Formitable on raiding the approaches to Valona, at least not often. I think it is more plausible to see the carriers used on raiding the italian supply route to Tripolitania. I find it very plausible that the 5th Leichte will arrive to Tripoli after having part of its equipment lost at sea. Or perhaps the Regia Marina may want to sweep the seas en route to Tripoli.

Lascaris, what is the current production rate of Ierax ?

Another comment on the captured italian equipment in Operation Compass. I think the Greeks don't need it. I think most of this equipment will find its way to the Serbians and Free French in the Mandate.
 
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I forgot all about the Corpo Aereo Italiano. Indeed I think it will be the first one to be butterflied.


I am under the impression that the Greeks and British combined claimed 289 confirmed kills, according to the previously mentioned book.

By the way, it is also stated that more than 500 yugoslavian aircraft were destroyed or captured on the ground. In the current OOB there are 892 yugoslavian aicraft of all types. If 200-400 aircraft managed to escape south, then there is a very valuable pool of already trained pilots - a lot of them on british aircraft.
The numbers for the Yugoslav air force barring changes in individual types are historical. The JKRV in OTL had 906 aircraft in total. We know 74 escaped to Greece and the Soviet Union, of these 44 were destroyed on the ground by the Regia Aeronautica in the Paramythia airport with 18 reaching Egypt and 4 the Soviet Union. What happened to the rest? Apparently of the 240 Potez 25 and Breguet 19s only 130 were in flyable condition. 300 aircraft were captured by the Germans. 49 shot down. 106 destroyed by the Luftwaffe on the ground. 4 crashed on their way to the Soviet Union. A further unknown number lost to crashes or the Italians, call it 41+ machines to go by the 500+ in Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete. If the trainers are discounted, which I find likely, you have to account for 554 operational machines. Discount the 74 that escaped and you are down to 480 aircraft. The number match...

I see the problem you face though. I think you are right- aircrew losses indicate that the total italian losses are close to the greco-british claims. These losses were inflicted basically from ~35 PZL-24 and 2 Gladiator squadrons that gradually upgraded to Hurricanes. I think a third RAF fighter squadron was added later on.
By April? 9 squadrons overall not counting FAA...

 
What are the British forces in Iraq so far?

I think that given the Turks' less amicable stance IOTL, even though there are attempts made at appeasement (well, with Churchill, we can't doubt that is up to a certain degree), the British may have beefed up their presence in northern Iraq to protect the oil fields of Kirkuk, especially with its critical role in the supply of fuel for the Mediterranean fleet.

Besides, and without benefit of hindsight, that's hard to see, but if the Anglo Iraqi war breaks out and the Turks intervene in support of the Iraqi, the situation could become dire.
Conversely, is there a possibility that past Turkish claims on Mosul vilayet, being taken up once again by Sivas, Rashid Ali and the Iraqi nationalists may be way colder towards the Axis powers due to their proximity and tacit support of Turkey and by proxy, its claims on Mosul? Here, a lesser of two evils approach could potentially defuse the OTL Anglo Iraqi war.
 
What are the British forces in Iraq so far?

I think that given the Turks' less amicable stance IOTL, even though there are attempts made at appeasement (well, with Churchill, we can't doubt that is up to a certain degree), the British may have beefed up their presence in northern Iraq to protect the oil fields of Kirkuk, especially with its critical role in the supply of fuel for the Mediterranean fleet.

Besides, and without benefit of hindsight, that's hard to see, but if the Anglo Iraqi war breaks out and the Turks intervene in support of the Iraqi, the situation could become dire.
Conversely, is there a possibility that past Turkish claims on Mosul vilayet, being taken up once again by Sivas, Rashid Ali and the Iraqi nationalists may be way colder towards the Axis powers due to their proximity and tacit support of Turkey and by proxy, its claims on Mosul? Here, a lesser of two evils approach could potentially defuse the OTL Anglo Iraqi war.
Add to the picture for better or worse that there are no rail connections from Turkey to Iraq... directly.
 
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