Top Secret Report
The true story of the Italian conquest in Malta is a cautionary tale. While our ally succeeded in the end, the effort was a comedy of errors that fed one upon another. Only the success of the Italian submarine force, in denying supplies to the defenders of the island, made this conquest possible.
The Italians insisted on relying on their new airborne assault capability at first. They were ready to drop as early as September. Unfortunately, someone forgot to maintain adequate supplies to the airborne base south of Catania, in Sicily, and when the go signal was given, the transport planes did not even have enough fuel to take off with a full complement.
After a two week delay to get a supply convoy in place, the airborne assault was attempted, after heavy bombardment from sea and air. However, the assault team was woefully inadequate to the task of breaking through the defenders' lines around Valetta. The only success the Italians could claim from this fiasco was in keeping it out of the newspapers.
Back to the drawing board. High Command turned to the navy, and insisted that it prepare a seaborne assault on the island. After scouring every port on the Adriatic for sufficient transports to ship one ready division from Albania, once again the supply pipeline failed, and the division was unable to even make it to the docks in time.
After another two week delay to get supplies through to Albania, the division boarded its transports, and finally sailed into the Med. A week later it did succeed in taking Valetta.
Notwithstanding all these difficulties, it is believed that now we and our Italian allies will be able to keep supply convoys in place to North Africa, and offensives against both the French and the British will now be possible.
To offset this positive development, OKH this very week decided against creating an Afrika Korps, having no faith in the Italians to actually pull off a successful conquest in Malta. Now, to get such an armored force into North AFrica will take another month.
It can be said that the comedy of errors continues.
< Message edited by gwgardner -- 2/26/2012 5:38:16 AM >