The French 3rd Squadron comprised four heavy cruisers and 11 destroyers[p] left Toulon and sailed for Italy. Cavagnari preferred to utilize his surface force to mine the Sicilian Channel while deploying his submarines en masse to seek out and engage Allied ships. [181] All Italian prisoners of war—there is no record of how many there were, perhaps 1,141[182]—were released immediately, but the armistice negotiators seem to have forgotten the French prisoners, who were sent to the camp at Fonte d'Amore near Sulmona, later joined by 200 British and 600 Greeks. In North Africa the French had 65 fighters and 85 bombers, and in Syria 13 bombers, 26 fighters and 46 other aircraft. [45] The declaration of war took effect at midnight (UTC+01:00) on 10/11 June. Explore 9GAG for the most popular memes, breaking stories, awesome GIFs, and viral videos on the internet! Three actions were planned: Operation B through the Little Saint Bernard Pass, Operation M through the Maddalena Pass and Operation R along the Riviera. It was then to follow the Arc to Lanslebourg, meeting up with Colonel Cobianchi's 3rd Battalion of the 64th Infantry Regiment of the Division Cagliari, advancing across the Col de Mont Cenis. The rest were up to forty years old and included many taken as reparations, in 1918, from the Austro-Hungarian Army. The results of the action were unimpressive: fifteen civilians killed and no industrial targets damaged.[100]. [185] Paul Collier called the Italian attacks "hapless" and the Italian contribution to victory over France "ignominious". It was supposed to synchronise its attack on the flank of Modane with the arrival of the central column. [65] The shots did little damage to the French fort, but had a strong moral effect on the French. The most intense air-to-air combat of the campaign took place over southern France on 15 June, when Italian BR.20s and CR.42 engaged French D.520s and MB.151s. The 2nd Battalion coming down the Little Mont Cenis had overcome weak resistance and met the central column. The air force will contribute by mass bombardment of the fortifications and cities. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Kaufmann and Kaufmann say that the French positions at Bourg-Saint-Maurice were held by 5,500 troops. This was the only Italian submarine to be sunk by the French Navy. The bombers refuelled in the Channel Islands, before proceeding. On 31 March, Mussolini stated that "Italy will not truly be an independent nation so long as she has Corsica, Bizerta, Malta as the bars of her Mediterranean prison and Gibraltar and Suez as the walls." A battalion of the 231st Avellino Infantry Regiment and a tank battalion from the Division Brennero were sent up to assist it. In some cases, the Italians wore their gas masks because of the difficulty of breathing in the driving snow. Sometimes instead of prisoners, 150 French are reported as "missing". . The Italians failed to detect the raid until it was over. Two days later, Parisians could hear distant gunfire. "[m] This stoked the belief among the Italians that the French Army of the Alps was on the point of dissolving, if not already in the process of collapse. He then made extreme demands for recompense from the Greeks, who refused. [96] Italian field kitchens sometimes lacked the pots and pans to provide warm meals. He delivered a long speech on international affairs and the goals of his foreign policy, "which bears comparison with Hitler's notorious disposition, minuted by Colonel Hossbach". If you remember your history books, not much at all. The request was renewed in March 1940, but declined on 8 June. [87][94][95] Further, army front commanders were forbidden to communicate directly with their aeronautical and naval counterparts, rendering inter-service cooperation almost impossible. In retaliation, the 149-mm guns of the Italian fort on Mont Chaberton—"an imposing structure lost in the clouds at an altitude of 3,130 meters"—were trained on Fort de l'Olive. The French negotiators were the same who had met with the Germans. They advanced through the Col des Lacs Giaset and advanced down the valley of the Ambin. On 22 June, infantry from the SforzescaDivision penetrated into Bois de Sestriéres and B… The afternoon strike involved 38 aircraft. [138] To the southeast of Savona, the Italian 13th MAS squadron had been patrolling and moved rapidly towards the French force, near Genoa and Savona, once they opened fire. [130] Richard Carrier emphasised the leadership of General Olry, that it was his leadership and autonomy from the dithering politicians in Paris that allowed him, his staff and his officers to demonstrate remarkable efficiency in checking the Italian advance and the German attempt down the Rhone as well.[192]. . To fight off the Allied invasion of Sicily, Italy brought in reinforcements. [160] The Italian reserve comprised the Division Brennero around Lake Mont Cenis. [61][62] Prior to September 1939, the Alpine front was defended by the Sixth Army (General Antoine Besson) with eleven divisions and 550,000 men; ample to defend a well-fortified frontier. The snow also hampered the movement of artillery, food and ammunition to the summits. [28], On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. "[130] Micheletti, indeed, was more concerned about bands of armed fuoriusciti (Italian political exiles) rumoured to be in the area than about the French. In these conditions, greater Italian manpower has no advantage. An Italian outpost was surprised, resulting in the death of an Italian NCO and a further two soldiers being wounded. Tunisia! Mussolini referred to this treaty as the creation of a Berlin-Rome Axis, which Europe would revolve around. [60], In June 1940, only five Alpine passes between France and Italy were practicable for motor vehicles: the Little Saint Bernard Pass, the Mont Cenis, the Col de Montgenèvre, the Maddalena Pass (Col de Larche) and the Col de Tende. [48] Mussolini's exact reason for entering the war has been much debated, although the consensus of historians is that it was opportunistic and imperialistic. [117], On 15 June, the 3a Squadra Aerea sent some SM.79s and G.50s to bomb Corsica and, on 16 June, some Breda Ba.88s to strafe the airfields there. Its route was heavily mined and strewn with anti-infantry and anti-tank obstacles. Lacking sufficient landing craft, the Regia Marina had commandeered fishing boats and pleasure boats. [11] On 30 November 1938, Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano addressed the Chamber of Deputies on the "natural aspirations of the Italian people" and was met with shouts of "Nice! [1], During the late 1920s, the Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini spoke with increasing urgency about imperial expansion, arguing that Italy needed an outlet for its "surplus population" and that it would therefore be in the best interests of other countries to aid in this expansion. [162] To explain the Italian deficiency, they wrote that the Italian superiority in numbers was betrayed by poor equipment, inferior to that of their French counterparts and that "the stormy Alpine weather was probably the best ally the French had". Only 85,000 men were based on the frontier: 81,000 in 46 battalions faced Italy, supported by 65 groups of artillery and 4,500 faced Switzerland, supported by three groups of artillery. [v], Along the northern front of the First Army, the 33rd Mountain Infantry Division Acqui, based at the entrance of the Valle Stura di Demonte, comprised six battalions and one legion of the MVSN[w] and possessed thirty 81-mm mortars, twenty-four 75/13 mountain guns and twelve 100/17 model 16 howitzers. [89][156] It opened its offensive along the whole front on 20 June and in most places was easily repulsed by French artillery. They then forded a river under heavy machine gun fire, while Italian engineers repaired the demolished bridge, suffering heavy losses in the process. In the Fortified Sector of the Dauphiné, several passes allowed access through the Alps between Italy and France. Italy was allowed to occupy the territory it had captured in the brief fighting, a demilitarised zone was created on the French side of the border, Italian economic control was extended into south-east France up to the Rhône and Italy obtained certain rights and concessions in certain French colonies. "[12] Later that day, Mussolini addressed the Fascist Grand Council "on the subject of what he called the immediate goals of 'Fascist dynamism'." There was some skirmishing between patrols and the French forts of the Ligne Alpine exchanged fire with their Italian counterparts of the Vallo Alpino. Rather than having three infantry regiments, the divisions were composed of two, bringing their total strength to around 7,000 men and therefore smaller than their French counterparts. The Alpine Wall was garrisoned by the Guardia alla Frontiera (GAF), and the Occidental Front was divided into ten sectors and one autonomous subsector. When Paillole refused Navale's proposal, the major warned him that they only had four days to work something out before war would be declared, although nothing much would happen near Menton before 19/20 June. The campaign gave rise to optimistic talk on raising a native Ethiopian army "to help conquer" Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. [32][33] On 13 May, the Germans fought the Battle of Sedan and crossed the Meuse. This claim was used for propaganda purposes and "lent an exaggerated aura of efficiency to the Italian coastal forces. Why was the country so ineffective? No vehicles managed to cross the bridge before the armistice. As the Calatafimi moved into position, it was spotted by French destroyers and engaged. Bagnolini sank the British announced that it was Mussolini 's command to forces in combat but this distinction unworkable... The assault, continuing instead to Séez 58, 77, 102 and 149.. 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