Of lost monkeys and broken vehicles

The Italians DO have a large navy. The French navy... the obvious question is which of the two French navies? The one at Toulon or the Fighting French? The latter are for the most part operating in the Atlantic at the moment, Richelieu and Algerie did play a central role in the alt battle of Denmark strait.
The French navy the WAllies have?

Perhaps. Then perhaps not. Depends on great power interests at the end of the war. After all Poland also made huge sacrifices during WW2. What what her compensation, losing her Eastern territories to the Soviet Union and ending up with a puppet government for 45 years?
Tbf the US will try to keep Greece on board with their interests as Turkey gets dismembered and we see a west East Turkey at first.
 
Largely static with the Soviets stopped before Erzurum at the moment. And as seen by the battle of Sarikamis back in 1914 the weather is unsuitable for any large scale offensive surely? :angel:

There is the example of Yudenich and his Erzurum Offensive at January 1916. A very successful operation.
 
Appendix Hellenic Navy, January 1942
  • Battleships: 1
    • Salamis class: 1 (Salamis)
  • Cruisers: 2
    • Lemnos class: 1 (Lemnos)
    • Averof class: 1 (Averof)
  • Destroyers: 17
    • Themistoklis class: 2 (Themistoklis, Miaoulis)
    • Kanaris (J) class: 2 (Kanaris, Kriezis)
    • Sfendoni (H) class: 4 (Sfendoni, Velos, Thyella, Logchi)
    • Hydra (A) class: 3 (Hydra, Kimon, Nearchos)
    • Aetos class: 2 (Aetos, Ierax)
    • S class: 4 (Kriti, Lesvos, Chios, Keraunos)
  • Submarines: 9
    • Poseidon (S) class: 5 (Pipinos, Poseidon, Okeanos, Pontos, Delphin)
    • Glaukos class: 4 (Papanikolis, Proteus, Nereus, Triaina)
 
Appendix Turkish Navy, January 1942
  • Cruisers: 1
    • Yavuz class: 1 (Yavuz Sultan Selim)
  • Destroyers: 8
    • Zafer class: 5 (Zafer, Demirhisar, Sivrihisar, Muavenet, Gayret)
    • Yildirim class: 3 (Yildirim, Piyale pasa, Kilic Ali pasa)
  • Submarines: 11
    • Saldiray class: 2 (Saldiray, Atilay)
    • Yildiray class: 5 (Yildiray, Preveze, Cerbe, Canakkale, Hizir Reis )
    • Murat Reis class: 2 (Murat Reis, Burak Reis)
    • Uluc Ali Reis class: 2 (Uluc Ali Reis, Piri Reis)
 
The destroyers and the submarines seem to be the crucial figures here, given that with the defeat of the Turkish navy in the (Second?) Battle of the Aegean Sea I think that marks the end of large ship-to-ship combat operations in the Aegean barring the involvement of the Italians.
 
Appendix FNFL January 1942
  • Battleships: 2
    • Richelieu class: 1 (Richelieu)
    • Bretagne class: 1 (Lorraine)
  • Heavy Cruisers: 4
    • Algerie class: 1 (Algerie)
    • Duquesne class: 2 (Duquesne, Tourville)
    • Suffren class: 1 (Suffren)
  • Light Cruisers: 3
    • Duguay Trouin class: 1 (Duguay Trouin)
    • La Galisonierre class: 2 (Georges Leygues, Montcalm)
  • Destroyers: 14
    • Mogador class: 2 (Mogador, Volta)
    • Fantasque class: 4 (Le Fantasque, Le Terrible, Le Triomphant, Le Malin)
    • Vauquelin class: 1 (Kersaint)
    • Chakal class: 3 (Lynx, Tigre, Leopard)
    • L' Adroit class: 3 (Basque, Forbin, Le Fortune)
    • Le Hardi class: 1 (Le Hardi)
  • Torpedo boats
    • La Melpomene class: 1 (La Melpomene)
  • Submarines: 12
    • Surcouf class: 1 (Surcouf)
    • Redoutable class: 4 (Protee, Acheron, Acteon, Beveziers)
    • Requin class: 4 (Espadon, Phoque, Dauphin, Narval)
    • Saphir class: 1 (Rubis)
    • Minerve class: 2 (Minerve, Junon)
  • Escorts: 8
    • Bougainville class: 1
    • Flower class: 7

Notes
  1. Richelieu, Strasbourg, 1 heavy cruiser and 6 destroyers joined Free France at Mers El Kebir in July1940. Strasbourg consequently sunk in battle off Iceland
  2. Lorraine, 3 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 3 destroyers, 6 submarines joined Free France at Constantinople, Beirut and Alexandria in June 1940.
  3. 2 light cruisers, 3 destroyers, 1 submarine, taken over by Free France following the capture of Dakar in September 1940
  4. 2 destroyers, 1 torpedo boat, 1 aviso, 5 submarines taken over in British ports July 1940 and joined Free France
  5. 7 Flower class corvettes transferred by Britain in 1941
 
@Lascaris I would like to ask you a question regarding TTL Italian protectorate over Albania:
You earlier stated that Albania had annexed all of Epirus but from what I know the Italians never had plans to annex Arta regional unit to Albania and intended to go as far as Preveza; could you please clarify this?
 
@Lascaris I would like to ask you a question regarding TTL Italian protectorate over Albania:
You earlier stated that Albania had annexed all of Epirus but from what I know the Italians never had plans to annex Arta regional unit to Albania and intended to go as far as Preveza; could you please clarify this?
Arta is at the moment, somewhat conveniently for me right on the frontline. I short of doubt anyone either on the Italian or Greek side is bothering much over the exact legalities.
 
@Lascaris how many of the Free French Navy units are in the Mediterranean in January1942 ITTL? We know how many were in June 1940 ITTL but not how many remain now. Do the Free French have aby shipbuilding facilities of their own?
 
@Lascaris how many of the Free French Navy units are in the Mediterranean in January1942 ITTL? We know how many were in June 1940 ITTL but not how many remain now. Do the Free French have aby shipbuilding facilities of their own?
Some submarines and no respectively. The French squadron in the Levant pulled out as early as July 1940 to conquer liberate the empire. The Mers El Kebir squadron went west to Gibraltar. Both ended up to Scapa, were they participated to the sinking of the Bismark and Prinz Eugen. Lorraine is now back to Gibraltar, Richelieu is in Scapa, both very convenient for the allied war effort. Destroyers are sorely needed in the Atlantic, the Fantasques are likely playing close escorts to Richelieu come to this. Now the cruisers are an interesting question. 4 heavy and 2 light cruisers are a potent fighting force and at the moment the Allies need cruisers in a lot of places, TTL with 5 Greek ships even if 3 were old and slow things were much easier in the Mediterranean, but by now only a pair is left. And OTL Averof was doing useful work in the Indian Ocean, which a different ship got to do here.
 
Part 92
Tripoli, December 31st, 1941

Tanks of the British 7th armoured brigade cut of the roads leading to the west, completing the surrounding of the city. 11,000 Italian soldiers of the 55th Savona division under general De Giorgis had been left behind to defend the port as Rommel pulled back with all possible haste towards the Tunisian border. In theory Tripoli could hold out till Rommel counterattacked to relieve her siege. Provided the Regia Marina managed to supply it, the earlier attempt had failed in the battle of Malta, albeit at considerable cost for the Allies. And that Rommel himself was in supply. Which with Tripoli gone meant that Vichy had to open Bizerta and Tunis to the Germans and Italians...

Philippines, January 2nd, 1942

Manila fell to the Japanese army. US and Filipino forces were already retreating to the Bataan peninsula but it would take less than a week for the Japanese to put Bataan under siege as well.

Gibraltar, January 3rd, 1942

The heavy cruisers Algerie, Duquesne, Tourville and Suffren along with the destroyers Le Fantasque, Le Terrible, Le Triomphant, Le Malin and Kersain, left Gibraltar heading east at high speed. Two days later they would join up the British, Greek and Dutch ships off Tripoli, reinforcing the Allied blockade. Two more light cruisers, Georges Leygues and Montcalm and 5 more destroyers had joined up Lorraine in Gibraltar, leaving just Richelieu and the large destroyers Mogador and Volta with the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. The battle of the Mediterranean had to take precedence as it was reaching its critical stage...

Berlin, January 4th, 1942


Two weeks before, general Alphonse Juin and a Vichy French delegation had been brought by Göring to Berlin to discuss options in case Tripoli fell to the British. . Göring had demanded that the French "clearly explain their intention" to let the Germans and Italians use Bizerte and that they should also grant Rommel "freedom of movement such as to facilitate the continuation of the fighting, possibly with the French at his side.” Juin had given somewhat vague promises that Rommel would not be held back along the Tunisian border while demanding that the Germans authorized the French army to send more material to the French forces in North. Which the Germans had made conditional upon the French first accepting German demands. In the end nothing concrete had come out of the negotiations. But the contingency was coming upon the Germans and Göring was not going to let things to chance. The 7th Flieger Divisions got her final orders as Ju-52s start concentrating in Sicilian airfields...

Washington DC, January 6th, 1942

President Roosevelt promised further aid to Britain and the European allies, specifically mentioning Greece and Ireland by name. No mention to Fighting France was made. Once more...

Tipaza, Algeria, January 8th, 1942


Two dozen men huddled in the dark among the ancient Roman ruins near the shore, waiting for the signal from the sea. It would be after 1 AM till they got it as the submarine Surcouf surfaced. Crates of guns, mostly British Stens, ammo and radios start being unloaded. By the morning they would be hidden in safe houses in Algiers...

Tunisian border, January 11th, 1942


The French lieutenant commanding the border post looked at the German column. "You are not permitted entry into French territory. My orders are clear"

The German lieutenant in the lead of the column looked at his French counterpart unfazed. "I don't have time for you. We are crossing. Stand aside or be destroyed. "

"You cannot do that!"

"Move aside." with a sign of his hand the German ordered the column forward. A machine gun at the post started chattering the next moment turning his car into a burning wreck. It would take the Germans half an hour to reduce the border post. The Afrika Korps continued into Tunisia.

Tunis, January 11th, 1942

General Jean De Lattre de Tassigny, commander of the French army in Tunisia was starting to get exasperated with admiral Esteva the Resident General of Tunisia.

"My orders sir are to defend the empire against everyone. Everyone includes the Germans. The marechal has given no explicit orders to allow the Germans to pass. Have you received ANY orders from Vichy to that end?"

"Well no, I have yet to receive any orders from Vichy. They are not answering to my requests. But surely we cannot fight the Germans! This would mean ruination!"

"Do you propose we fight by the side of the Boche instead admiral? Because the way I see it that is the other alternative. At the very time the Boches are shooting at my soldiers." De Lattre turned and left before Esteva could answer him.

Vichy, Unoccupied France, January 11th, 1942

"No Mr ambassador, I'm afraid the marshal is currently indisposed he cannot meet you. At his age you understand."

Otto Abetz, kept his face neutral despite the difficulty he felt. "Yes I understand. The marshal is currently indisposed, while admiral Darlan is in the road, he is on his way to a surprise inspection to Toulon, so till his car reaches Toulon cannot be reached. Yes I understand." He did. Neither Petain nor Darlan were decisive men, both had been caught in a vice and the bastards were trying to play for time. He was to the phone with Berlin as soon as he was back to the embassy.

Libya, January 12th, 1942

The Sebha oasis fell to two battalions de marche of the Régiment de tirailleurs Sénégalais du Tchad under Philippe Leclerc. Mizdah would follow ten days later as Leclerc continued his advance through the desert towards Tripoli. He would join up with O'Connor's army on the 26th.

Kirkuk, Iraq, January 12th, 1942


British artillery opened up against the German and Turkish positions to the south of the city. The Allied supply situation was not the best but general Slim was not just going to wait till everything was perfect supply wise. After all the Turks and Germans were having transport and supply problems of their own and these would be going away as the weather and with it the performance of Turkeys road and rail network got better...

Sicily, January 12th, 1942

Ju-52s and SM-84s carrying soldiers of the 7th Flieger Division and the Italian Folgore division start taking off for Tunis. Germany and Italy could not afford to wait on Petain to make up his mind while their armies in north Africa were threatened with destruction. They'd make up his mind for himself. And he'd better make the right decision...
 
A most excellent update! I do expect Tassigny to act like that. The Fighting French will get a huge boost and they have a fleet close by. Did Leclerc declare his OTL oath ?

I doubt there will be a long Tunisian Campaign. With the French properly resisting around Tunis and Bizerte, the airborne bridgeheads will be crushed. Likewise, Rommel cannot operate long in the south without established logistics. He will soon run out of fuel and it will be only a matter of time for O' Connor to bag the Afrika Korps.
 
A most excellent update! I do expect Tassigny to act like that. The Fighting French will get a huge boost and they have a fleet close by. Did Leclerc declare his OTL oath ?

I doubt there will be a long Tunisian Campaign. With the French properly resisting around Tunis and Bizerte, the airborne bridgeheads will be crushed. Likewise, Rommel cannot operate long in the south without established logistics. He will soon run out of fuel and it will be only a matter of time for O' Connor to bag the Afrika Korps.
We will also have the added bonus of not having Montgomery overglorified as IOTL, I really think he was extremely cautious and that he had wasted several oppurtunities for quick victories in WWII.
 
A most excellent update! I do expect Tassigny to act like that. The Fighting French will get a huge boost and they have a fleet close by. Did Leclerc declare his OTL oath ?

I doubt there will be a long Tunisian Campaign. With the French properly resisting around Tunis and Bizerte, the airborne bridgeheads will be crushed. Likewise, Rommel cannot operate long in the south without established logistics. He will soon run out of fuel and it will be only a matter of time for O' Connor to bag the Afrika Korps.
De Lattre at this point has 15,000 men, Esteva is likely to act no different than OTL, if he acted the way he did in January 1942 AFTER Stalingrad and with the Americans in Algiers how likely is he to act any different with the Germans still at the gates of Moscow and no Yanks in sight? So... immediate destruction of Rommel may be more hairy than it looks at least till Tripoli is cleared out and the Allies can run supplies to it.

The whole thing is of course a mess of the first order from Vichy's point of view. Actively fight on the side of the axis? Not good. Get on the side of the allies? Again not good. Do nothing? The Germans are not going to like it and neither are going to the more anti-German officers like De Lattre. And if De Lattre finds himself fighting the Germans which at the moment looks likely, what do Juin and Nogues do and what the Germans back in Europe do? Truth to tell I don't hold much hope for Nogues but Juin may be a more interesting proposition.

@jeandebueil, @DracoLazarus care to venture any opinions?

If Africa is secured it would free a lot of allied resources for the others fronts like iraq and syria..and hopefully greece aswell
So it should. Of course this also applies to Germany and Italy. Just in Tunisia they lost 275,000 men and hundreds of tanks and aircraft...

We will also have the added bonus of not having Montgomery overglorified as IOTL, I really think he was extremely cautious and that he had wasted several oppurtunities for quick victories in WWII.
At the moment, assuming the British retain a separate army in Syria and a separate army in Iraq, one of then taken up by Will Slim, there are two open army command slots in the British army in need of filling...
 
De Lattre at this point has 15,000 men, Esteva is likely to act no different than OTL, if he acted the way he did in January 1942 AFTER Stalingrad and with the Americans in Algiers how likely is he to act any different with the Germans still at the gates of Moscow and no Yanks in sight? So... immediate destruction of Rommel may be more hairy than it looks at least till Tripoli is cleared out and the Allies can run supplies to it.

The whole thing is of course a mess of the first order from Vichy's point of view. Actively fight on the side of the axis? Not good. Get on the side of the allies? Again not good. Do nothing? The Germans are not going to like it and neither are going to the more anti-German officers like De Lattre. And if De Lattre finds himself fighting the Germans which at the moment looks likely, what do Juin and Nogues do and what the Germans back in Europe do? Truth to tell I don't hold much hope for Nogues but Juin may be a more interesting proposition.

@jeandebueil, @DracoLazarus care to venture any opinions?
I think that Juin is very likely to turn sides if there are Free French forces in North Africa. Noguès is not as certain, but the Germans are trying to strong-arm the French Empire from the French, so it is not wholly impossible.
Back in Europe, I see it as likely enough for Case Anton to be a result of whatever happens.
 
De Lattre at this point has 15,000 men, Esteva is likely to act no different than OTL, if he acted the way he did in January 1942 AFTER Stalingrad and with the Americans in Algiers how likely is he to act any different with the Germans still at the gates of Moscow and no Yanks in sight? So... immediate destruction of Rommel may be more hairy than it looks at least till Tripoli is cleared out and the Allies can run supplies to it.

The whole thing is of course a mess of the first order from Vichy's point of view. Actively fight on the side of the axis? Not good. Get on the side of the allies? Again not good. Do nothing? The Germans are not going to like it and neither are going to the more anti-German officers like De Lattre. And if De Lattre finds himself fighting the Germans which at the moment looks likely, what do Juin and Nogues do and what the Germans back in Europe do? Truth to tell I don't hold much hope for Nogues but Juin may be a more interesting proposition.

@jeandebueil, @DracoLazarus care to venture any opinions?
De Lattre OTL between 1940 and 1942 was a bit like Bethouard (and the two had a good working relationship in 1944 when Bethouard was one of De Lattre's Corps commanders): a legalist following Vichy by discipline but personally sympathetic to the Free French. OTL, his Division of the Vichy Army of the Armistice was the best trained and Vichy, having noted that he was an excellent trainer of men and divisional commander, had quickly promoted him.
In November 1942, he was the only one to take the initiative to actively fight the Germans during Operation Anton and his men obeyed him (just like his men obeyed him in June 1940 and fought until the very end as a coherent fighting force). Unfortunately for him, he was in Mainland France and this quickly led him to prison unlike Bethouard who did exactly the same thing but had the chance to be in Morroco.

Both men had the same strategy: train their men hard for the next round against the Germans. Until 1942, they more or less believed that Vichy would ultimately rally the Allies. When this didn't happen, they almost automatically rallied De Gaulle.

I will add that if History proved that De Lattre was a very capable Army Commander in combined-arms operations, he was initially an infantryman meant to (successfully) led infantry formations at a Divisional level. It was probable that he would have been quickly entrusted with an Infantry Corps in peacetime had WW2 not happened. Give him regular North African Infantry Divisions (preferrably from Morroco) and his opponents will have quite a lot of trouble.
 
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Part 93
El Aouina Airport, Tunis, January 12th, 1942

The 3rd Fallschirmjäger regiment had dropped on the airport a little after dawn. The French garrison had been initially confused. Admiral Esteva the Resident General of Tunisia, while issuing a protest over the violation of French neutrality, had also ordered that no military action was taken, staying loyal to marshal Petain. General De Lattre commander of the ground forces in Tunisia had ordered the opposite against claiming he was doing so in the name of marshal Petain, after all the standing orders were to defend the French empire making no distinctions about whom French forces were to defend it. The navy personnel had for the most part followed the orders of the admiral. The army men had followed to a man their commander. The air force me had been caught in the middle but with the Boches firing at their fellow Frenchmen had, naturally sided with their army comrades. In the middle of the confusion the airport had initially fallen to the Germans only for De Lattre, hardly known for lack of decisiveness, to immediately throw the reserves he held around Tunis, two battalions, one of them mechanized and a tank squadron at them, with reinforcements from the regiment seized garrison of Tunis, following behind. The German paratroopers had soon found themselves fighting for their lives, with French artillery rendering the airport unusable. The 1st Fallschirmjäger regiment had been dropped in support later in the day but all i had managed for now had been averting disaster for the Germans.

Bizerte, January 12th, 1942

Vice Admiral Derrien the commander of the Marine Nationale forces in Tunis had followed Esteva's orders, which was how the Luftlande sturmregiment 1 had captured Bizerte virtually intact with hardly a shot fired and most of the navy personnel confined to their barracks. But the land forces of the "Groupement de Bizerte", two battalions of the 43e Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale and a battalion of the 4e Régiment Mixte de Zouaves et de Tirailleurs had quickly rallied to De Lattre, engaging the Germans and had been soon joined by most of the battalion of navy Fusiliers Marins that had escaped confinement, while many of the men confined in the barracks had tried to rise up and escape. The attempt would be suppressed by the paratroopers who would then proceed to massacre several hundred men. [1]

Gabes, January 12th, 1942


The Groupement du Sud Tunisien, with two battalions, had been the only significant French force in the south of Tunisia, significant forces near the Libyan border had not been allowed by the Axis armistice commission. Given its importance to secure the retreat of Rommel's army into Tunisia, the Italian Folgore Divisione Paracadutisti had been dropped in the area. Facing two regiments of crack troops, the outnumbered French had been pushed out.

Kairouan, January 12th, 1942

The 2nd Fallschirmjäger regiment had been dropped to the ports of Sousse and Sfax, if they remained in French hands potentially, the British might had tried to land troops directly there to support the French. It had been promptly engaged by the three French battalions guarding the ports. This left the single reinforced battalion held in reserve at Kairouan the sole uncommitted force under De Lattre's command in Tunisia...

Algiers, January 12th, 1942


Alphonse Juin was not a happy man. He hoped to stay loyal to Petain, till the marshal decided the right time had come to resume the war against Germany. But the Germans and that idiot De Lattre apparently were in a hurry to resume the war and nothing concrete was coming from Vichy so far. He quietly ordered supplies to be shipped over to De Lattre while for now he stood tight and contacted general Nogues in Morocco over the course of action they should take. Others were not going to be so patient. Under the command of Charles Mast, Henri d'Astier de ka Vigerie and Jose Aboulker, the French resistance got ready to move...

Berlin, January 12th, 1942


Adolf Hitler was in a rage. He had allowed vichy to stay out of direct German control to keep the French empire out of English hands. Parts of the empire had switched sides outright. Dakar had fallen with contemptible ease. Now the French in Tunisia were fighting his army. If the French acted this way then what was the point to keep Vichy around? He gave orders to install Pierre Laval in government, nominally under Petain and for the German army to capture Corsica and be ready to implement Case Attila...

[1] Before someone remembers the clean paratroopers or some such, I would like to point him to men of the same unit massacring hundreds of civilians in Kontomari and Kandanos.
 
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