Italy 1936 - An alternate Italian history of
World War II
Preliminary Notes: At the end of the last part we had a virtual stalemate in Yugoslavia. The Italians are facing most of the Yugoslavian army and their offensive have ground to halts in most places. The Bulgarians have ordered a halt since they are apprehension about launching an offensive across a river and secretly the Bulgarians want to see the Italian forces weakened by warís end. Though Yugoslavia is holding its own it has several problems itís entire air force has been wiped out most of which in the first hours of the conflict, they have a severe lack of heavy equipment and most importantly they are running out of supplies.
I have been asked by some readers on the state of the Italian military at this time compared to their forces in OTL. The Italian military is better in that they had an extra year of peace and no rush programs to retrain and reorganize their military. However it is still not up to par and still suffers from a lack of NCOís and reliable officers. This problem is slowly being solved but because of the war it is being solved the hard way. For generals the Yugoslavian offensive Italy is using the better generals it has to offer with Giovanni Messe leading the operation. So Italian forces are better equipped and trained but not up to German or British standards, this can be seen quite clearly in Yugoslavia while they are better trained and equipped and using Blitzkrieg tactics they can not maximize their advantage.
April 23rd 1941
Despite heavy air bombardment 2nd armyís advance has been halted as they attempted to enter into Serbia proper.
To the North a massive air raid is conducted against Ljubljana as 20 thousand Italian soldiers conduct an assault against the city. Ljubljana is the last obstacle to cutting Slovakia in half and can serve as another route towards Belgrade.
April 24th 1941
5 divisions overwhelm the almost non existent border defenses along the Albanian borders and drive towards the coastline. The Italians in Albania are primarily supply troops and garrison divisions. 30 Thousand troops from 3rd army and the Paratrooper and Marine detachments are rerouted south to seal the breach. The Yugoslavians only objective is to capture the Italian supply depots at all costs. The Italians must hold the supply depots at all costs. The most important battle of the Yugoslav conflict is about to begin.
April 28th 1941
After heavy fighting the city of Ljubljana falls to the numerically superior Italians. With this victory most of the Slovene lands are now firmly in Italian hands.
The hemorrhaging of the defense line in Albania is finally halted with the arrival of the first relief columns from the North. The Yugoslavian front was a half mile from the city of Shkordra and nearly cut off Albania from Yugoslavia but they failed in their goal of capturing much needed supples except for a few minor depots that were for the border troops.
Bombing raids are now being conducted around the clock against the rear area supply dumps of the Yugoslav army and any intact rail and road junctions.
May 1st 1941
Renewed Italian offensives have begun on all fronts to drive through the Yugoslavians. The 3 main armies once again manage to pierce the enemy defensive lines and are now making good speed towards Belgrade. The newly formed Albanian front is largely stable with the Italians possessing enough numbers to prevent the larger Yugoslavian force from advancing any further but not enough to launch attacks against them.
Thousands of troops guarding the Nis River are pulled westward to establish new defensive lines against the Italians.
While a corridor of retreat is still available the Yugoslavian government and the young King Peter II begin their escape southwards by truck to Greece.
May 3rd 1941
The Bulgarians launch a massive attack across the Nis overtaking the depleted defenders on its western shore and attempt to take as much land before the Italians can to show the strength of their army.
Peter II and his government arrive in Greece and establish themselves in exile. Peter issues a plea to the nations of the world asking for support against Italy.
In Italy after months of preparation the research team for Project Jupiter has been fully assembled with Enrico Fermi in the lead. It consists of top Italian scientists across many fields and most of Fermiís students. Fermi has already begun work on much of the theoretical and conceptual designs for the nuclear device. A complex for Nuclear Studies is under construction outside of Rome.
May 4th 1941
The world remains silent to the pleas of Peter II, prompting Mussolini to boast to the press using an ancient saying "While Rome is free, the world is afraid." This statement would come to haunt him as it soon would be used as a rallying cry for anti Fascist forces.
May 14th 1941
A full month after the invasion began most of Yugoslavia has fallen to Italian and Bulgarian troops. Only tiny pockets remain in the south holding out along the Macedonian-Greek border and in the mountains of Albania. In the north Belgrade and everything north of it is still free but it is clear it wonít be for much longer. What is left of the Yugoslavian army is preparing to make a final stand in this area.
Italian soldiers raid a factory responsible for the production of the IK-3 and transport the finished parts and partially constructed planes as well as the designs back to Italy where an Italian version of this remarkable aircraft is to be produced.
May 15th 1941
Operation Barbarossa begins! Over 3.5 million German soldiers are utilized in the Blitz against the Soviet Union. Soviet defenders are caught off guard and quickly defeated.
In other news the tomb of Timur of the Timurid Empire is opened by Russian anthropologist Mikhail M. Gerasimov. On the tomb a warning was carved that whoever disturb this tomb would bring the demons of war to his land.
*Note: Without the distractions in North Africa, and the Balkans Germany is able to concentrate itís entire war effort on opening this new front meaning it will launch at itís originally proposed date. It will also have a lot more troops than it historically did with the number being close to 4 million. The Germans also have a much stronger supply base because of this and because of oil coming from
I also bumped up the date of opening the Timur tomb so the same bizarre coincidence of events stays intact.*
May 20th 1941
After resting for a week the combined might of 1st and 2nd army launch their assault north into Belgrade and the remaining unoccupied lands. The tired and exhausted defenders stand little chance against this final assault and surrenders en masse become common.
May 24th 1941
Belgrade falls. The remaining Yugoslavian government and military officials are forced to sign an Unconditional Surrender of Yugoslavia.
May 28th 1941
The end to major fighting in Yugoslavia and the full conquest of the country.
While Italy proved victorious in its war it has come at a heavy cost. Over 10 thousand Italians are dead with nearly 30 thousand wounded. Nearly half of the Italian tanks committed to the operation are destroyed or damaged. The military is still below par and is in serious need for better equipment and better training.
May 29th 1941
The armies assigned to the invasion are being rotated out of the front towards rear area rest centers and back to Italy as 100 thousand occupation troops are brought in to replace them.
June 1st 1941
Sofia once again sends its Ambassador to Mussolini stating that the current agreement can not stand and that a new border realignment must be made. The Bulgarians new demand is a divided Kosovo with two puppet states. The west with a third of the land under control of Rome and the eastern two thirds influenced by Sofia. They also demand a northern puppet state of Serbia encompassing Belgrade and everything north of it and a 40 mile strip of land going south west of the Nis river. Mussolini refuses to budge on this matter and threatens to enact the original agreement of division.
Both sides commit perhaps their greatest under estimations to date. Filov believes that Italy has lost the will to fight and has suffered more loses then they can hope to recover from. He believes with enough posturing and a show of support from the other Balkan nations he can force Italy to stand down. Mussolini does not believe that tiny Bulgaria will attempt to challenge Italy head to head and when it comes down to it Bulgaria will back off.
June 2nd 1941
Taking a political and propaganda stab at the Bulgarians the titles to be given to King Victor Emanuel III for the new crowns acquired have been consolidated into one "King of All Slavs."
The Bulgarian government requests a conference with Italy in the city of Pristina. They also request that Italy temporarily conforms to the proposed border. Mussolini seeing no reason to disagree to a conference where he can force his demands readily agrees to both counts. He believes that by allowing the temporary border change it will only serve to overextend the Bulgarian army in case action needs to be taken.
June 3rd 1941
The date for the conference is set for June 10th.
Italian occupation troops pull back to their new positions. All leave for the army is cancelled and the armies are redeployed to the front. 2nd and 3rd are posted in Montenegro and Croatia respectively. 1st Army is divided in two and redeployed to Italian controlled Kosovo and Macedonia.
The paratroopers who landed at Bar are sent to a base in Albania, once again are preparing for a drop.
June 4th 1941
Bulgaria offers one final betrayal to the agreement and invites other nations to partake in the conference. Turkey agrees to send an envoy. Hungary and Romania now both firmly in Germanyís camp politely refuse. Greece is not invited.
June 5th 1941
The government of Greece enters into a panic and fear the ramifications of not being included in the upcoming conference. King George II sends an envoy to Great Britain publically asking for Churchillís government to issue a guarantee of independence. Britain still bound by the Italian Neutrality Treaty states that "It is not in our interest to issue such a guarantee at this time."
This move is profoundly unpopular in Britain and nearly results in a vote of no confidence being called against Churchill.
For now Greece is isolated and without friendís or allies but is surrounded by enemies.
June 8th 1941
Facing the most difficult decision of his reign to date George II signs the arrest warrants for the exiled Yugoslavian government. Prime Minister Koryzis advised him that unfortunately it was the only sound thing to do. Greece needed to gain a friend in the region and their only two choices were the Italians or the hated Turks. Neither option was good but one was less unsound. A curtain of sadness hangs over the Greek court as they sell their soul.
June 9th 1941
At 12 midnight Greek soldiers raid the quarters of the exiled Yugoslav government place them under arrest for war crimes. The government in exile is disbanded and later in the day a Greek envoy approaches the Italian Ambassador informing them of their actions and state they are ready to extradite the prisoners whenever Italy is ready.
Mussolini informs the Greeks that he will accept the prison transfer as soon at it is convenient for the Greeks to transfer them and that he will look very favorably upon the Greeks.
June 10th 1941
The conference that will decide the fate of Yugoslavia is held. Representing Italy is Count Ciano. He is under orders not to give any concessions to the Bulgarians and enforce one of the preexisting agreements.
It becomes immediately clear to Ciano that the Bulgarians and Turks do not wish to negotiate, only impose demands each more outrageous than the last. They first want the crown to rescind the title "King of All Slavs," and take it as far that the Italian crown not taken any titles from the conquest.
The demands continue that Italy even withdraw from the proposed puppet states and only allow for native peacekeepers to patrol them. Furthermore they want Italy to not get involved in the affairs of the Balkans outside of their territory.
After two hours of this nonsense Ciano walks out of the meeting. The Bulgarian and Turkish envoys stay to discuss their future plans, one of which is very important to Turkey which is a proposed invasion of Greece.
Aboard his plane Ciano radios Rome and calmly informs them that "Negotiations have broken down, begin the operation."
4:30 PM Local Time
The Bulgarians and Turkish envoys were still speaking and were just about to go to an early dinner when the drone of dozens of planes could be heard. Outside shouting could be heard which was soon followed by the sound of heavy guns.
As tense minutes passed that noise was soon joined by the sound of small arms. The shouting came closer they could hear yelling in Bulgarian...and in Italian. Bullets tore through the wooden door of the hall and the clump of two bodies falling to the ground could be heard...seconds later Italian paratroopers stormed in shouting at the delegates to halt.
They were lined up against the wall and they all knew what was going to come next...except it didnít. Tense minutes than an officer approached the most senior delegate and handed him a stack of papers. "Sir," he spoke in very good Bulgarian "I believe this agreement is most favorable."
The ambassador began reading it and realized it was surrender documents for all of Bulgaria. "I can not..." he started.
"Sir. If you do not sign it I have orders to kill you." The officer removed his pistol from itís holster.
The ambassador looked back to his fellow diplomats and with resignation signed the treaty. He had no other choice. His government pushed Italy too far and now they all would suffer.
"Take them away!" Came the final order from the officer.
The Third Balkans War has begunÖ
End of Part 3.
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