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Operation "Giant", 1943

#1 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 09:17 PM

What if Operation Giant, the airdrop over Rome, had been carried out? I've heard that the Italian Staff gave the cold shoulder to Brig. Gen. Taylor and Col. Gardiner about a possible jump of the 82nd Airborne division in defence of the city.

In September 1943, Italian Forces were at the bottom of the barrel, without a doubt.
But is it sure that they really didn't have control of the airfields near Rome to land the paras, and enough trucks and gas to move them around?
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#2 User is offline   Operation Hercules 

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 02:47 AM

I think that the Italians would have been split. Maybe some would have defended Rome and some would liked Rome to stay in one piece. but either way there was a battle for ir and Rome was not spared.
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#3 User is offline   Carl Schwamberger 

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 09:50 PM

The US historys usually relate that Taylor judged too many German soldiers near Roma, the antiaircraft defenses too strong, and too many Italian regiments unready tot fight the Germans. Only a single weak Allied corps could be landed on the coast near Roma the week of such a air landing, the Luftwaffe would have complete air superiority after the landing, and it would take several weeks for an Allied army to fight its way from Messina to Roma.

Perhaps had the Allies been much better prepared for landing a full army so far north Giant might have had a chance for sucess, but the example of the Fifth Army at Salerno suggests otherwise.

Perhaps had some way to close the Alpine roads to the German military been executed earlier then such risky operations might have had a chance.
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#4 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 12:25 PM

Consider that after the announcement of the Armistice, the Germans were able to trick everyone into believing that they had scores of troops in Italy, whereas REI forces were disarmed by much smaller WH units.
Personally I think that a large jump of US/British troops would have been a big morale booster for Italy, moreover making the King's flight to Pescara needless.
The problem is that the Allies themselves were just out of the near failure in Sicily, where their paras had come under friendly fire both in the air and on the ground. So I figure Taylor and Gavin were not too enthusiastic about "Giant" themselves.
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#5 User is offline   Jeff Leser 

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 12:38 AM

I started reading about the events of September 43 several months ago. So far, I feel the airdrop would have been successful and would have secured Rome for the Allies. There were two issues that caused the failure:

1-The Italian leadership was trying to hedge their bet. They never fully committed to joining the Allies and believed they could get a negotiated agreement. Because of this and their fear of the Germans if the plan failed, they never adopted a course of action and craft a plan to execute it. They kept trying to maneuver when they really only had two choices. Stay with the Axis or surrender to the Allies. There was no middle ground. Due to this procrastination, the subordinate corps and divisions found themselves without orders. They were quickly left without leadership when the senior officers fled or hid.

2-The Allies didn’t trust them. This was a problem in the beginning, but Eisenhower decided to jump in with both feet. Although much of his staff was against it, Eisenhower basically said we will make this happen. He went as far to send Taylor behind enemy lines. It was the problems caused by point 1 above that finally sank the operation. The aircraft and ships had already started to launch when Taylor pulled the plug. It was caused by the Italian inability to get their act together. Skeptical as Taylor was, he gave it his best.

The Italian forces around Rome was quite powerful, and if use in accordance to a plan, could have easily prevented the Germans from seizing the city. The disorganized fighting that historically took place seriously disrupted the German operation. The Germans succeeded mostly due to the lack of orders that the Germans opportunistically exploited. The Italian military senior leadership failed, and that caused the defeat and disarming of the 600,000 + Italian soldiers.

The best book I am aware of to read is Davis’ Who Defends Rome. Davis covers the events leading up the event in great detail. His discussion of the actual fighting is limited. I also have the USSME book Le operazioni delle unità italiane nel Settembre-Ottobre 1943. This book covers the entire army, not just Rome (but without any discussion of the politics and culpability of the Italian leadership).

Pista!

Jeff

Attached File(s)


btg. sciatori Alpini « Monte Cervino » (reenacted)
19° reggimento fanteria « Brescia » (reenacted)

#6 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 07:28 PM

First, thanks for the reply and the book advice. Suppose that the Allies had decided to jump into Rome all the same, immediately after the announcement of the Armistice and without consent from the Italian Staff. What do you think would have happened?
And how about the deployment of a small Folgore force in the operation? Surely it would have been a great morale booster for Regio Esercito. Or would Italian paras still be considered of dubious allegiance to the Allied cause?
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#7 User is offline   Carl Schwamberger 

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 11:24 PM

One indication is the number of battalions the Allies could have lifted to Roma. The 82d was on the airfields in Sicilly, with nne battalions if memory serves me. The British paras were used in Operation Slapstick to capture Taranto. I'm unsure if they could have been available for imeadiate employment. Beyond that a few regular infantry battalion might have been flown in to captured airfields. How many German combat battalions were in the Roma area on the date of this canceled attack.

A second consideration is how long it would take to deliver all the Allied paras. There were not enough aircraft available for a single lift. In both Operations Husky and Avalanche the paras were dropped in sucessive regiment or brigade size groups due to the number of transport aircraft. The para infantry battalions are just the start. Artillery and supplies will be essential. I dont think flying poorly escourted transports into Roma over several days is going to work. Italian help or no. The Luftwaffe still had some teeth.

Ridgeways opinion is it was a sucide mission. He saw no chance of holding a airfield against German counter attack, or holding out until a releif force arrived from Messina
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#8 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 02:03 PM

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Ridgeways opinion is it was a sucide mission. He saw no chance of holding a airfield against German counter attack, or holding out until a releif force arrived from Messina.

Of course, since the Italian Royals failed to take any decision. Had they immediately sided with the Allies, the Regio Esercito would have given the Germans something to worry about and a safe landing ground for paras, provided that the Allies landed much norther than Salerno, e.g. at Pratica di Mare.
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#9 User is offline   Carl Schwamberger 

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 11:32 PM

Hmmm... Ridgeway & others make it clear the signal from gen Taylor, to halt Operation Giant, came through at the last minute. Part of the transports were already in fliight & circling the airfields. Ridgeway was minutes away from taking flight. So, WI Taylors message had been stalled in the communications office several more hours. The first wave of the 82d jumps onto its Roma targets. Then what happens? Would the Itlaians join with the US paras in any meaningfull manner? Would the Gremans react decisively, or could they? Or would they withdraw from the US drop zones?

If the entire 82d is launched onto its targets would the Germans be able to destroy the airbourne landing? or were they weaker in counter attack capability than is popularly susposed?
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