Sinking of French Fleet

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
alecsandros
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:42 pm

Byron Angel wrote:..... Was the Italian invasion of Albania and Greece also defensive in nature?

B
Maybe not from the first days, but became defensive quite quickly :)

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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:44 pm

This is not evidence, it is changing the question to another theatre of war, and at different times.

The Italian attacks in East Africa were limited in scope, to seizing adjacent border territories to protect Italian territory from invasion. They jumped across the border, seized some territory, and then stopped with no substantive opposition facing them. Thus they were not all out offensives. They were limited moves to achieve a purpose of defence.

The Italian invasion of Albania was an entirely opportunistic move. An attack yes, but facing no organised opposition. But strategically it was of no significance whatsoever to Italy's enemies of Britain and France. It did place Italian forces on the border of Greece, with the implication of a further move in that direction - which the Greeks would be well aware.
However the Italians made no attempt pre-war to move on Greece. No attempt was made to improve the transport and supply infrastructure in Albania in readiness for an invasion of Greece. Mussolini issued no instructions to his military staff concerning an invasion of Greece until August 1940, and this was done purely in reaction to the Germans occupying the Romanian oilfields without first consulting him. The invasion of Greece was again a limited attack, purely to show the Germans, and the rest of the world, that Italy, like Germany, could invade and occupy a small, poorly armed neutral country at will.
The Italian attack was so limited that it failed. The degree of failure was shown when the Greeks invaded Albania and occupied a quarter of that country....
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:52 pm

alecsandros wrote: Maybe not from the first days, but became defensive quite quickly :)
Italian policy was defensive as at 10 June 1940, as Mussolini expected the war to end in two to three weeks time. Hence no attacks at all on French territory, except for a token invasion of France that was so weak and ill-prepared that it barely crossed the border.Mussolini was right about the French capitulating - but failed to reckon on the British not surrendering.
Hence Italian policy was exposed, in not seizing Malta right at the start.

If Mussolini was serious about winning a war, then he should have had plans and forces as aggressive as the Japanese displayed in December 1941. Instead he did nothing, beyond leaving it to the Germans to finish the war for him.
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:49 am

..... An alternative interpretation is that, after invading and occupying Ethiopia in 1935, invading Albania and Greece and massing an army in Libya for an invasion of Egypt in 1940, Mussolini finally realized that he was militarily badly over-extended.

B

pg55555
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:22 am

.

I find it more than a little amusing to try to divorce Italian aggressive actions as "changing to another theatre of war" - as if it's o.k. to be aggressive in one place as long as one is defensive elsewhere !

Likewise, evidence of military incompetence (lack of preparations) are mis-interpreted as "defensiveness" !

One cannot wave away aggressive behaviour (especially the declaration of war) with pathetic misinterpretations.

.

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by wadinga » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:45 pm

All

Although it is rarely mentioned, IMHO one deciding factor must have weighed heavily on Churchill's mind. When Richelieu and Jean Bart escaped from French ports they did not turn north for a short safe voyage to Royal Navy dockyards where they might be completed by their Allies, but instead turned south to Africa, to colonial ports with no hope of completion. But apparently beyond Churchill's reach.

On the 18th of June Richelieu's original orders to sail to the Clyde were changed and she sailed south, away from her Allies, whilst British soldiers were still fighting for French soil. Jean Bart followed southward a day later. When France capitulated, Britain faced Germany and her ally Italy (who had just defensively attacked France and bombed Malta), and the other major military power was Russia, who had co-operated with the German invasion of Poland.

No matter what French politicians promised, with their country prostrate, the British apparently on the ropes, and rumours of Nazi savagery against civilians in Poland, who could be sure these valuable bargaining chips would not be thrown into the pot? This was not 1942, when the threatened French fleet was scuttled to avoid capture. In 1942 both America and the USSR were against Hitler, thus there was real hope that France would not remain under the jackboot forever. Churchill took a grim decision, to put as much of the French fleet beyond any possible German use as possible.

PG55555, you are surely wrong to derive entertainment from RF's spirited defence of Mussolini's masterly technique of poorly executed defensive attack. :cool: Fascists specialised in defensive attacks. After all, Hitler defensively attacked Norway because he was afraid someone else would attack first, he defensively attacked Poland after imitation Poles had attacked a german radio station, and defensively attacked the French after their Sitzkrieg stalled (well never started). Then he later defensively attacked Russia under the pretext Stalin was planning an attack.

We should never forget that all the ludicrous stamping about in jackboots, laughable posturing, waving your arms about and shouting, stylish artwork, the smart tailoring and the dark dirty totalitarianism was invented by Mussolini and his cronies when the Fuhrer was a nobody. The Nazis stole all of that, and made it their own, blended with vile racial hatred and then dragged the fairly-willing German nation and military machine into it to make it work reasonably well. That Mussolini's forces were incompetant top to bottom to carry out his fantasies of a New Roman empire is a matter of fact. A "non-Empirical" fact perhaps :D An aggressor rendered ineffectual by his own disorganisation is still an aggressor.
They were limited moves to achieve a purpose of defence.
are kind of inevitable when you are at the wrong end of the Suez Canal, cut off from home with limited ammunition and limited fuel etc etc and the rescue force in Libya, supposed to capture the Canal and secure your supplies, is led by someone who has realised just how useless (limited) his army is. :dance:

What would have happened if two new battleships and their escorts had arrived in British ports?

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wadinga
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:40 pm

pg55555 wrote:.
One cannot wave away aggressive behaviour (especially the declaration of war) with pathetic misinterpretations.
.
What specifically do you mean? Which attacks are mis-interpreted?

Mussolini's declaration of war was aggressive in that it was made as a reckless political gesture with nothing substantial to back it up.
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:44 pm

wadinga wrote: What would have happened if two new battleships and their escorts had arrived in British ports?

All the best
wadinga
Now that we can get back to this thread proper, my question would be the motivation in arriving at a British port - to join the Free French?

If so then these battleships would presumably be given priority over the completion and running in of the first two KGV's. Which in turn could mean that one of them would accompany Hood at the Denmark Strait battle in place of the POW....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

ede144
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by ede144 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:15 pm

I would question that the French ships would get priority over PoW. Actually the British yards had nothing to work with. Not a single screw would fit.
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:45 pm

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RF - you carefully avoided the refutation of your "empirical facts" !

------------------

Going on the discussions that occurred when the possible use of the surrendered Italian battleships was in full swing, the French ships would only have been used IF either the French could supply sufficient trained crews and sufficient specialist consumables and spares were available, OR, if they were to be British crewed a similarly sized ships crew (particularly engineering and specialist officers and Petty Officers) became available.

The problem with the French escapees was that after the armistice they were offered the chance to go back to France, a depressingly large number chose to. (One cannot blame them, the French government had led the way, and they had their families to worry about. Unfortunately the vast majority returning were imprisoned and whilst most were released most ended up in some sort of impressed labour) .

.

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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:49 am

pg55555 wrote:.
RF - you carefully avoided the refutation of your "empirical facts" !.
You haven't refuted them. You have offered no evidence at all. You started by mentioning attacks in East Africa, which I explained to you were entirely defensive in scope. You then shifted the subject to Albania and Greece without making any evidential response to my analysis of the East Africa position. Then when I answered your mentioning of Albania and Greece you didn't offer anything further on that subject but then moved to mentioning the declaration of war on 10 June 1940. That has also been answered, to which you responded with the above quote.
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:52 am

ede144 wrote:I would question that the French ships would get priority over PoW. Actually the British yards had nothing to work with. Not a single screw would fit.
Regards
Ede
That does put a different light on matters - it would (if the War Cabinet did choose to give priority) depend on how long it would take to adapt construction facilities along with questions of availability of crew and crew training.
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Francis Marliere
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:19 am

ede144 wrote:I would question that the French ships would get priority over PoW. Actually the British yards had nothing to work with. Not a single screw would fit.
Regards
Ede
I would like to point out that French guns could not, as far as I know, use British ammunitions (British 15" shells and French 380 mm were not of the same caliber). I guess it would take time to build ammunitions for French ships or rearm them with British guns.

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Francis

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:34 am

.

RF,

Your "empirical facts" just don't support your idea of Italy being purely defensive.

Let's add a few more - how about the multiple bombings of Malta and the submarine operations ?

What is your idea of "offensive" if attacks aren't - I suppose only successful attacks are ????

Strange.

.

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by lwd » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:09 pm

Francis Marliere wrote: ... I would like to point out that French guns could not, as far as I know, use British ammunitions (British 15" shells and French 380 mm were not of the same caliber). I guess it would take time to build ammunitions for French ships or rearm them with British guns....
Well the US did end up producing 15" shells for the French ships although they had a bit more spare industrial capacity than the British.

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