Why did the Italian invasion of June 1940, just before the collapse of France, not achieve much

2022-07-23 0 By

I’m Captain Nemo. Welcome aboard the Nautilus. Captain Nemo will guide you on a voyage of knowledge.In June 1940, Italy launched the Western Alps Campaign against France in an attempt to share France with Germany on the eve of France’s defeat and surrender.But why didn’t the Italians make so much progress, the captain explained to you.In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and Britain and France declared war on Germany.As an ally of Germany, Italy was obliged to support Germany and enter the war.But Italian Prime Minister Benito Amircaris Andrea Mussolini, with his limited industrial power and ill-prepared army, did not go to war immediately. He remained neutral.In addition, Mussolini wanted to launch a “parallel war”, that is, Italy invaded for its own expansion needs, so that the Italian army did not have to fight with the German army, but could act alone, which also made Italy temporarily neutral.Italy’s relations with Britain and France had deteriorated even before the war broke out in 1938.Mussolini dreamed of establishing hegemony over the Mediterranean, conquering “the vast area from Gibraltar to Hormuz” and restoring the Roman Empire to glory.But Britain and France firmly controlled the Mediterranean Sea power, the formation of an absolute suppression of Italy.Hence Mussolini’s lament that Italy was “the prisoner of the Mediterranean”, that French Tunis and Corsica, British Malta and Cyprus were “the bars of prisons”, and that British Gibraltar and the Suez Canal were “the jailers”;Therefore, if Italy wants to become a real great power, it must recover the French occupation of Corsica and Nice and other Italian homeland, obtain the control of Tunisia and Gibraltar, Egypt, Cyprus, break the Hegemony of Britain and France in the Mediterranean, free access to the Atlantic and Indian Ocean.So it was inevitable that Italy would go to war with Britain and France, and it was only a matter of time.Italy declares War on France Battle of France In May 1940, The German army raided the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and conquered them quickly.At the same time, the German army invaded France and won the battle of Serdang, gaining the initiative in the battle against Britain and France.Mussolini was surprised by the huge victory of the German army. He believed that Britain and France had lost the war and Germany was about to win it, so Italy had to join the war immediately if it wanted to share the fruits of the victory.Mussolini then informed the Italian chief of staff, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, and The Governor general of Italian Libya, Marshal Italo Balbo, of his involvement, but was strongly opposed.They argued that Italy was unprepared for war and that its army was ill-equipped.Mussolini did not listen to their advice, but thought he would lose only a few thousand men, to win the fruits of the war.Mussolini was welcomed by Germany when he informed The German leader Adolf Hitler that Italy was coming to war.On June 10, When the French government abandoned Paris and fled to Bordeaux, Italy declared war on Britain and France, officially entering World War II.The French ambassador to Italy, Andre Francois-Ponse, was furious when he learned of Italy’s participation, calling it a “stab in the back.”Then Francois Poncy announced to Italy that France would not fight a “hasty war”, so that the French army would not attack Italy.The Western Alps are a natural barrier between Italy and France. With an average elevation of around 2,000 meters, the mountains are difficult and rugged.Both sides built a lot of fortifications before the war, especially the French side spent a lot of money to build a large number of pillboxes and forts, forming an extremely tight defense system, known as the “Little Maginot Line”.Italy, on the other hand, because of its limited economic strength, only built a small number of pillboxes and forts, which were loosely distributed and could not form an effective defense system.After the war between Italy and France on June 10, the Italian army quickly mobilized 300,000 troops to attack France, under the general command of Marshal Rudolf Graziani.However, as the Italian army’s strategy against the French in the Western Alps had been defensive until June 1940, the Italian army was seriously ill-prepared, lacking motor vehicles and warm clothing and other items.Rudolf Graziani had only fought with superior force against the backward natives in Africa, but had never fought on the European front, and was not even familiar with the details of the Western Alps.The French had deployed half a million troops in the Western Alps, but their strength was greatly reduced by the outbreak of World War II, when local troops were repeatedly diverted north to defend against the Germans.When the Franco-Italian battle of the Western Alps broke out in June 1940, fewer than 180,000 French troops remained in the area.Although the main French army in the north of the German repeated losses, but the French Alps commander Rene Horry decided to rely on the already built fortifications, firmly against the Italian invasion.For the first few days of mid-June, the Italians were too ill-prepared and too slow to attack the French immediately. So the armies of both sides skirmished only on the border.The British air force in France bombed Italy. The French government opposed this for fear of angering Italy, but the British succeeded.The Italian air force retaliated by bombing southern France, and the French navy responded by attacking the Italian navy in Genoa and elsewhere.On June 15, Mussolini, enraged by the German occupation of Paris and the Italian defeat in Genoa, ordered the Italian army to launch an all-out attack on the French army.But Pietro Badoglio objected, and Mussolini recalled Rudolf Graziani to ask for details from the front.Mussolini, knowing that it was impossible to launch a full-scale attack in such a short time, had to agree to postpone the full-scale attack and focus instead.Petain On 16 June, French peace sent Marshal Henri Philippe Petain as Prime Minister of France, succeeding Paul Reynaud, and immediately ordered a truce and peace for Germany.Hitler immediately informed Mussolini of the news and invited him to come to Germany.Mussolini arrived in Munich on June 18 to negotiate with Hitler the terms of a truce with France.Mussolini opened his mouth to Hitler, proposing that a large number of French equipment and warships be transferred to the Italian army. Mussolini also demanded that a large area of southern France (Corsica, Savoy, Nice, etc.) and a large number of French colonies (French Tunisia, French Somalia) be given to Italy.Hitler, delighted by France’s peace offer, agreed in principle to most of Mussolini’s demands, but stressed that the Italian army must achieve military achievements worthy of those gains.The French Surrender the Battle of the Western Alps On June 20, Mussolini decided that France was in disarray and that the morale of the French army had collapsed. He decided to launch a full-scale attack before the Franco-German truce, so that Italy would be able to share the victory over France with Germany after the war.Mussolini then summoned Pietro Badoglio and Rudolf Grazi to discuss a war against France, but Pietro Badoglio still opposed it, and Rudolf Grazi supported it.Mussolini then ordered the attack, knowing that the Italian army was ill-prepared.On June 21, the main force of the Italian army finally launched a large-scale attack against the French army, but due to the stubborn resistance of the French army and the bad weather and traffic conditions, the Italian army only occupied a few French fortresses.Therefore, until the armistice between France and Italy on the 24th, the French army was still intact in defending their positions, while the Italian army remained almost on the front lines of the war, and did not achieve much.Mussolini had to consider giving up the lion’s opening to France and claiming only a few areas in the south of France.Italian Occupation of France (yellow) On June 22, France and Germany signed an armistice, and then, with The help of Mussolini, Germany put pressure on France to end the war.On June 24, France signed an armistice with Italy, and France ceded part of the Italian-French border to Italy, ending the Western Alps Campaign.Italy in general was too limited and ill-prepared to sustain a large European war.Mussolini did not care about this, decided to take advantage of the situation and Hitler to divide France, but because of the Poor combat effectiveness of the Italian army in France and Italy border severely frustrated, had to give up the plan to divide France.