This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) and therefore entirely fictitious.
Written by Gianni Rossatti, Counsellor of Embassy in the Italian diplomatic service, posted at the Italian embassy in London
London, February 24, 1942
To Salvatore Graniti, currently posted as a liaison with the British Army in Italy
My dear Salvatore,
I have no idea where this letter will reach you. In November, you had just crossed into Calabria, in December, you were in Apulia already, just to embark again, and land in Trieste in January. Having just taken Venice, as I hear, I assume you will be half the way to the Reich Chancellery by now.
What a miraculous turn of affairs! As you know, failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers. And so both Winston Churchill, who as First Lord oft he Admiralty devised the bold plan to land in Trieste and take the Nazis in the rear, as well as Lord Halifax, as the head of Her Britannic Majesty’s government, lay claim to the liberation of Italy. The public seems divided on the matter: Lord Halifax has little credibility as a man of war, let alone aggressive strategy, but Churchill’s dislike for the Duce who will arrive in Rome soon is well known. Churchill has quipped recently that his displeasure about the Duce being in charge of his country again is balanced out by his joy of seeing him leave London.
In any case, the two great British rivals can agree on one thing: That the liberation of Italy was done by the British, and the British alone. And who can disagree with them? After our volunteers have sacrificed themselves crossing to mainland Italy, we have never been able again to field more than this token division, the 1st Italian, which has been mostly used to generate goodwill with the Italian people. The Free French have only contributed a regiment – which has been led by politically selected officers, whose main occupation has been – if rumor in British military circles here is to be believed – to lobby Lt. Gen. ( I hear a promotion to full general is forthcoming) Montgomery about the liberation of France as the next objective. Even the Free Belgians have sent an artillery battery to do their part in the pan-Western struggle to defeat the Nazis. Or so I hear. Nobody has ever been able to tell me where exactly this battery is supposed to be, who the commander is, or to which British unit they have been attached.
Well, but who has even fewer frontline troops than the modest Belgians with their battery of rumors? The Americans! Apparently, there have been squabbles between them and the British and they refuse to accept to be integrated into the British structure up to and including army level. So, as long as there is no American army by itself, there are no American soldiers at all in Italy. Of course, they have provided more than half the shipping of supplies during the entire campaign, but nobody is going to remember that. In the end, frontline fighters are what nations stake their claims on.
Which, of course, serves the British well right now. Once a post-war order is to be decided upon, they will demand to reap the reward for the sacrifices their gallant troops made. What such a post-war order might look like, however, I dare not predict. At this moment, I could not even tell you if Lord Halifax will remain Prime Minister, or if the Duce will not be forced to resign by our testy allies.
This uncertain future notwithstanding, His Excellency the Foreign Minister has explicitly told me to convey his gratitude to you for your service in liberating our fatherland and for your reports on the matter. I enclose your letter of appointment as Counsellor of Legation in the diplomatic service of the Kingdom of Italy. Congratulations!
You can see the current state of affairs in the game in the Twitter thread:
What a turn of events!
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I am sometimes surprised myself!
Here it came down to two things: After the British had committed to an Italian strategy, they outnumbered and outgunned the few German defenders. This was exacerbated by the decision of the Oberkommando des Twitter to send reserves to the East Front instead of Italy.
And the loss of Venice and thus of the critical railroad junction which forced the Germans to fall back to the Alps was simply a lucky die roll – the odds were against the Allies (less than 10% chance of dislodging the Germans), but they managed a 5 and Germany got a 1.
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