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Italy 1936 - An alternate Italian history of World War II

 

Part 8

 

By

 

Vincent Longobardi

 

Preliminary Notes: I have been asked why the Turks did not attempt to perform either a evacuation of their pocket in Greece or attempt to supply it. Now, first a small evacuation was conducted but its upper limit was about 40 thousand men and they would of realistically been able to pull out 20-30 thousand. The lack of a concerted effort to reinforce or remove this occurred for many reasons. The first is that their was a severe lack of communication between the pocket and mainland Turkey. The troops there are dispersed and not all pushed against the coast making an evacuation that more difficult.

Additionally the Turkish Navy was very nervous about conducting any major naval operations in the area. They did not know where the Italian fleet was and believed it was in the Aegean. As the Turkish navy has about a dozen ships with only two being considered capital ships. Though the Turkish merchant fleet is much larger and in better shape, they are in the same position as the navy. If they are caught in the Aegean by the Italians they are done for. The Turks also need those ships to constantly make runs reinforcing and supplying the positions in Thrace. It was a blunder on Turkeyís part because the Italian fleet was not present and Italian aircraft could only do so much, but Turkey was operating on bad intelligence and believed most of the pocket to be lost.

 

July 15th 1942

The Turkish front shrinks as Turkish troops are forced to fall back. They put up a strong fight but cannot handle the simultaneous assaults from both north and west.

A reeducation program is initiated for the Yugoslavian and Bulgarian POWS. They are to be taught Italian, Fascist thought, and a trade. The goal is to make these men the foundation of local fascist society within the territories, and instill loyalty to the Italian state.

July 24th 1942

Half of European Turkey is now occupied by Greeks and Italians.

The Turkish governments assessment is that they will not be able to hold Thrace, and will be hard-pressed to keep Istanbul. They plan to withdraw as much of the army back into Anatolia as possible before their access to the Bosphorus is cut off. A strong defense will also be mounted in Istanbul to try to keep a foothold in Europe.

July 25th 1942

Turkish soldiers commence a fighting withdrawal from the front. General Messe orders his army to pursue them, fearing the Turks will regroup in a more narrow defensible area.

August 3rd 1942

In the distance Istanbul can be seen from the Italian lines. The city is pounded from land based artillery, battleships at sea and planes overhead.

The mass of the Turkish army flees across the Bosphorus into Anatolia using any means necessary to cross the straights. Five divisions remain behind to defend the city.

August 6th 1942

The marines based in Greece board transport ships headed for the coast of Turkey.

August 7th 1942

The bombardment against Istanbul halts as the Italian and Greeks conserve their supplies for the upcoming assault on the city.

August 10th 1942

4:00 AM Local Time

A massive flight of bombers and fighters depart from airports across Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

5:00 AM Local Time

The shelling of Istanbul begins anew. The forces outside the city prepare for their part with Greek soldiers assigned to the first wave.

6:00 AM Local Time

The assault begins. Forty thousand Greek troops lead the charge against the city supported by a 30 thousand man Italian assault force. From the sea comes a force of 10 thousand Marines streaming towards the harbor in a variety of speedboats, barges and rowboats.

6:30 AM Local Time

Only the most minor gains have been made. The extreme borders of the city have fallen to Greco-Italo forces but the Turks are putting up a strong fight and keeping them out of the center of the city.

8:00 AM Local Time

The docks are captured by the marines but much like the ground assault they can not advance into the central city.

10:00 AM Local Time

Transport planes loaded with paratroopers take off from bases in Greece.

12:00 PM Local Time

In a daring daytime paradrop 5,000 paratroopers are dropped into central Istanbul. Turkish anti air fire scatters the aircraft dispersing what was supposed to be centralized dropped into small clusters of men.

The paratroopers take heavy casualties during the drop losing over 500 men in the first few minutes. The ones who do hit the ground form hodgepodge units and attempt to achieve their primarily objectives of securing the city.

August 11th 1942

Though in small groups and unable to complete their major objectives the paratroopers sow terrible confusion in the Turkish lines with many commanders believing the perimeter has been breeched and pull troops from the front.

The Greek minority in the city rise up in revolt, forming local militias they set themselves upon anything Turkish, attacking military and civilian targets alike. Fires spring up throughout the city causing more chaos. Where ever possible Italian and Greek soldiers provide these militias with weapons and have them assist in the taking of the city.

August 12th 1942

A detachment of paratroopers capture the Hagia Sophia. Climbing to the roof, the men raise an Italian flag with the event being captured in film by an embedded journalist crew. To the men it is the symbolic retaking of the city.

Throughout the rest of the city the scene is replayed as soldiers knock the minarets off mosques replacing them with makeshift crosses and raising Italian or Greek flags.

The city is far from taken but the capturing of the ancient cathedral brings a great morale boost to the attackers and the Greek inhabitants.

August 15th 1942

40% of Istanbul has been taken by Greco-Italo forces.

Turkey reinforces its positions on the opposite coast of the Bosphorus.

August 18th 1942

German troops from Army Group South enter into Stalingrad making it the third major city to be under siege by Germany. The other two being Moscow and Leningrad.

August 19th 1942

The British launch the Dieppe Raid into France. The raid is a spectacular failure and results in the death or capture of thousands of British and Canadian soldiers.

August 23rd 1942

Istanbul is largely under Italian control except for sporadic pockets of resistance in some Turkish neighborhoods.

Mussolini wants to continue the war with an invasion of Asia Minor and the complete annexation of Turkey. But both the Grand Council and his Generals oppose. The Italian military has exhausted all its offensive capability in the taking of Thrace and Istanbul and would not be able to launch another invasion for months and by then the Turks would be ready for an attack. Italy also lacks the troops to occupy all of Turkey as well as recently annexed Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Mussolini agrees to end the war but hopes to renew hostilities at a later date.

A request of cease-fire is sent to the Turkish Ambassador.

Saydam with his power severely depleted and his popularity being almost nothing among both the people and the government views this as the best possible course of action since it is clear that Turkey can not continue to fight this war.

*Note: Refik Saydam is not taken out of office on July 9th as in OTL. He stays in power mainly because no one else wants the job at this time since most government officials believe the situation canít be salvaged. But his government wonít last long in peace.*

August 24th 1942

A peace conference is called to be immediately held on August 27th. Both sides wish to sign papers immediately and terms are already being discussed through the embassies.

The last Turkish defenders in Istanbul surrender to Italian forces.

August 27th 1942

A peace conference is held in Istanbul. Both parties agree to the terms set down over the past few days. Italy is granted all of European Turkey, a small strip of land across the Bosphorus, and all Turkish islands in the Aegean. In exchange, Italy will allow any ethnic Turks within their territories to migrate to mainland Turkey and will offer protection from the Greeks to the Turks who decide to stay.

Mussolini declares, two months of celebration for the Roman reconquest of the Balkans and Thrace. The end dates coincide with the anniversary of the March on Rome.

August 28th 1942

In a prearranged deal, Italian troops pull out of Istanbul and hand over local control to Greek occupation forces. Though, Istanbul is still considered under Italian control it will be administrated locally by Greeks.

King George II is released from protective custody by the Hellenic Council and resumes his role as Head of State under the watchful eyes of Greek fascists.

August 29th 1942

Greek soldiers and civilians take revenge for the burning of Smyrna, starting a reign of terror in Istanbul against the now weakened Turks. Turkish owned buildings are burnt, Imams are beaten and killed, and robbery and murder run rampant.

August 30th 1942

Thousands of refugees flee Istanbul and try to make contact with the Italians encamped outside the city.

August 31st 1942

After two days of uncontrolled violence, General Messe orders his soldiers back into Istanbul to restore order. Italian soldiers march into the city and systematically arrest Greeks( both soldiers and citizens,) accused of crimes.

The Hellenic Council files a protest with Italy claiming that, Italy has no right to police Greek soldiers in their sector of control. Italy responds by stating, that Istanbul is Italian territory and subject to Italian law, and if Greek officials refuse to abide by those laws they will be expelled from the city.

September 5th 1942

Mussolini astride a white horse parades through Istanbul to the Hagia Sophia. It is there he oversees a ceremony which returns the city to its former name of Constantinople and declares that the Hagia Sophia will be remade a Catholic Cathedral.

Many Greeks are angered by Mussoliniís actions regarding the Hagia Sophia. They feel that the ancient cathedral should be once again made the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, they are unable to act at this time.

September 7th 1942

Except for an occupation force the Italian army is demobilized and sent back to Italy. Yugoslavia is deemed a hotspot and receives the largest occupation force to suppress the constant uprisings across the region. Bulgaria, with its people traumatized and defeated offer little resistance except for extremist groups holding out in the mountains. Thrace offers the least resistance with many Turks though not happy with Italian rule see them as protectors against Greek savagery and grudgingly accept the Italians.

End of Part 8.

 

 

 

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