Closing the Ring: The Second World War, Volume 5 | Chapter 10 of 44

Author: Winston S. Churchill | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1642 Views | Add a Review

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2 (a) Today the situation has changed greatly. In the south, 11 Allied divisions oppose 9 German, while farther north there are some 15 more, a known total of 24 divisions, and perhaps as high as 28 divisions. On the basis that there are no unforeseen causes of a still lower rate of build-up, the optimum number of formations at our disposal on the mainland will be: end of November, 13 divisions; end of December, 14/15

divisions; end of January, 16/17 divisions. Our rate of build-up has fallen from the previous estimate of thirteen hundred vehicles a day to an estimated 2000 a week with a consequent delay in the calling forward of air forces and army formations. The reduction in the build-up of ground forces has also been influenced by the decision to move the strategic air force into the Foggia area as rapidly as possible rather than to wait for the capture of bases in the Rome area. The demands of the air forces should be met by the end of the year.

Closing the Ring


(b) The reduction in craft, already decreased by wear and tear, has been so serious as to preclude us from taking advantage, other than with minor forces, of the enemy’s inherent weakness, which is the exposure of his two flanks to turning movements from the sea.

The majority of such craft as are available are required for build-up and for coastwise maintenance on account of demolitions to road and rail facilities, and traffic in the ports, owing to the shortage of lighters and tugs and enemy sabotage to berthing facilities, which will take time to repair.

3 (a) An examination of the enemy position has shown that his lines of communication enable him to build up in Italy, mainly in the north, to the order of sixty divisions, should they be available, and maintain them there in the winter months, despite our air superiority.

The Germans clearly are trying to form a reserve by shortening their lines round the Fortress of Europe.

Such a reserve could be employed in reinforcing further their armies in Italy.

(b) In comparison, the Allied position is less favourable. With the resources available, no increase in rate of build-up can be made. A stabilised front south of Rome cannot be accepted, for the capital has a significance far greater than its strategic location, and sufficient depth must be gained before the Foggia airfields and the port of Naples can be regarded as secure. This being so, the seizure of a firm defensive base north of Rome becomes imperative. Moreover, we cannot afford to adopt a purely defensive role, for this would entail the surrender of the initiative to the Germans.


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