Nigerians Chasing Italians Like Cheetahs Hunt a Bull – WW2 – 081 – March 14, 1941

Nigerians Chasing Italians Like Cheetahs Hunt a Bull – WW2 – 081 – March 14, 1941


So… not the Germans…not Napoleon…not
Americans or Ottomans? Then who? Wait …really? In history? Huh, I wouldn’t have guessed. March 14, 1941 This war is a world war, and as such all nations-
even those neutral ones- are involved. But you can kinda see that some of those neutral
nations are leaning pretty heavily toward one side or the other, and you really see
that this week, when the United States enacts Lend-Lease. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week the British launched a commando
raid in Norway, German submarine ace Gunther Prien met his fate at sea, the Nigerians advanced
hundreds of km in Italian Somaliland, British units began arriving in Greece, and German
units in Bulgaria. I talked a bit about the Bulgarian situation
last week, but how about Yugoslavia? They’d managed to avoid getting sucked in
to the ongoing Italo-Greek War. Last year, Hitler had actually tried to get
Yugoslavian leaders to collaborate with him and with Italy. At a conference on November 28th with FM Alexander
Cincar-Marcovich, he said that he planned to intervene in the Balkans against Greece,
and once Britain had been driven off, they may, y’know, re-draw some borderland and
Yugoslavia might even get access to the Aegean through Salonika, but no further progress
had been made after these talks. Then during the planning for Operation Marita,
the upcoming German invasion of Greece, German High Command repeatedly pointed out Yugoslavia’s
important geographic position and that it would be great if they joined the Axis Powers. See, the Belgrade-Salonika railway line between
Yugoslavia and Greece would be absolutely essential for quick deployment during Marita,
as well as quick redeployment to get the men ready for Operation Barbarossa- the German
invasion of the Soviet Union- after that, so they really wanted to use it. Still, through February, Yugoslavia did not
commit itself. Last week on the 4th, Prince Regent Paul had
met Hitler, though, and was more favorable, but in line with Yugoslavia’s neutrality
would not give Germany or the Axis any military support. Hitler said “that’s cool, if you get with
the pact you will not have to transport German soldiers across Yugoslavia territory”. Okay, that isn’t an actual quote, but that’s
what he meant. Which is odd, because his generals kinda required
that to happen and time was getting short, but Hitler didn’t want that one point sabotaging
his attempts to get them to join the Axis. He also thought that they could be convinced
later on to transport German men and supplies across their rail system. But even in spite of that things weren’t
yet moving forward. The main obstacle seemed to be opposition
to Italian interference in the Balkans. By now that situation had become delicate
enough that Mussolini was reinforcing his garrisons along the border with Yugoslavia. Well, that’s where we stand at the moment,
but something’s seems like it’s gonna have to give, with the invasion of Greece
just weeks away. Italian interference in the Balkans is reaching
new levels this week, though. On the 9th, they launch a spring offensive
against the Greeks between the Devoli and Vijose Rivers. Italian leader Benito Mussolini has even come
to Albania to directly supervise things, and the Italians have 12 divisions- 11 infantry
and the 131st armored. David Somerville describes it like so: “There
is little subtlety in the tactical plan and much that is reminiscent of World War One.” General Carlo Geloso leads the attack in the
field, and it is a large scale attack against a fairly narrow front, just 32 km in the center
of the Greek positions. The idea is to break through the Italian lines,
recapture Klisura, and advance from there. They are faced by Greece’s II Corps, made
up of the 17th, 5th, 1st, 15th, and 11th divisions. As a kick off, over 100,000 Italian artillery
shells are dropped on just a 6km front. However, repeated shelling and attacks- especially
against the area overlooked by Mount Trebeshina- do not dislodge the Greeks the 9th or the
10th. By the 14th at the end of the week, Italian
CoS Ugo Cavallero is even trying to get Mussolini to call things off, thinking that they’ve
failed, but this doesn’t really happen yet. Hill 731, at the foot of Trebeshina, and just
20km north of Klisura, is a real focus point. It’s initially defended by one battalion
of the Greek 1st division under Major Dimitrios Kaslas, and they’ve been ordered to hold
their position at all costs. This they do until reinforcements can take
over- Kaslas even saying that if someone tries to retreat he will personally shoot and kill
them. I’ll talk about this more next week, the
offensive, but also this Battle of Hill 731, that some have referred to as the Verdun of
the Greco-Italian War. One interesting side note here- the commander
of Greek II Corps, Major General Giorgios Bakos, was appointed to his command just back
on the 5th, 4 days before the offensive began. Former commander Papadopoulos, along with
two generals of the I Corps had strongly objected to a British Expeditionary Force coming to
Greece. They think it will be too small to defend
Greece, but large enough to give Germany an excuse to attack- a causus belli. They were dismissed from their commands, and
then they retired the next day. Of course, we know that Germany is going to
attack Greece anyhow, no matter how many British soldiers are there. And they are currently occupying Bulgaria
to prepare for that. By the 9th, advance units of the leading infantry
divisions have arrived at the Greek-Bulgarian border, and a few days from now, four Corps
headquarters, 11.5 divisions, will be on Bulgarian land. One thing, though, Bulgaria plans to declare
Sofia an open city to spare it from any attacks by anyone, so the German units that go there
are all service units. Field Marshal Wilhelm List establishes his
12th army headquarters south of Sofia to direct his forces to their eventual assembly points
along the Greek border. Now, there are three groups of troops that
were to be sent into Bulgaria, and the first two groups are the ones now being sent. Okay, the Turkish ambassador to Berlin gives
Adolf Hitler Turkish President Inönu’s response to Hitler’s message from last week,
it refers to the German-Ottoman alliance in the Great War and expresses hope that friendly
relations will continue between Turkey and Germany. So the third group of German units is still
in Romania, and because of Turkey’s attitude Hitler decides to keep six of those divisions
in Romania to prepare for the invasion of the USSR, and spare them all the marching
they’d have to do to get to Greece. But no one, and I do mean no one, is moving
as fast as the Nigerians. They are still advancing in Italian Somaliland,
like lightning, at least the first part of the week. They’ve gone beyond the desert and take
Daghabur the 10th. Two things to point out about this incredible
advance- here in 1940 these elements of the Nigerian Brigade have pulled off the fastest
military pursuit in history to this point, and also, the strength of their mobile columns
varies with supply. Like, they take Daghabur with armored cars
and two companies of the 2nd Nigeria Regiment, but everybody else is still 150 km behind,
right? But the Italian trucks haven’t totally managed
to evacuate the town and a bunch of them are caught. However, after this, the Nigerians have to
pause to be resupplied, they’ve covered 930 km in under ten days. That’s a lot And the British and commonwealth forces will
all be resupplied in the near future, it looks like. On the 11th the Lend lease Act is signed into
law by Us President FDR. It passed both the house and the Senate but
not without a few amendments. It now has a time limit- until June 1943. And the President has the authority to transfer
ships to other countries without congressional approval. A motion banning US warships from giving convoy
protection to foreign ships was voted down, however. The President can now “sell, transfer title
to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense
the President deems vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article.” Basically, and one huge thing it is specifically
geared toward, the British can now continue to order all sorts of war stuff from the Americans
without worrying about not having cash. They can pay after the war. Britain is, though, producing more war materiel
than the US is at the moment, though supplies of food and oil will be pretty useful pretty
quickly. Although this is an extremely altruistic gesture,
it’s not entirely that. Britain has to keep paying cash for as long
as that is possible, so that means a lot of British assets in the US will have to be sold
for read cash at well below market value. Britain is also not allowed to export anything
that contains things supplied under Lend Lease, nor can Britain export wholly produced British
goods if the equivalent is supplied under Lend Lease. It is possible that this could destroy what
remains of British export trade. We’ll have to wait and see. On the 12th, FDR asks for 7 billion dollars
in appropriations for LL, this will be passed a couple weeks from now. That’s around 120 billion in today’s dollars. And that is the week; a renewed Italian assault
in the Balkans, German armies marching around Bulgaria, the Nigerians advancing in East
Africa, and the Americans setting a up a new credit line for the British. Edward Stettinius is head of the Lend-Lease
Administration, but Harry Hopkins is the real administrator. He is FDR’s top foreign policy advisor so
it is FDR’s foreign policy that will guide Lend-Lease, and FDR just said a months ago
that the US must be the arsenal of democracy. This is a big step away from strict neutrality. Yugoslavia is being pressured into stepping
away Fromm neutrality, and Germany is sure going to bring the USSR in to the war directly. It grows it and it grows, and for all the
fighting that we’ve seen so far, this war might still just be in its infancy. If you’d like to see how the internal situation
in Yugoslavia developed in the 1930s you can click right here for our Between 2 Wars episode
about that.Our Patron of the week is Phil Toland, thanks to Phil Toland and the rest
of the TimeGhost army we can make content like this. That’s it, that’s what finances us. So join the army at patreon.com or timeghost.tv. Don’t forget to subscribe, and ring that
bell- see you next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *