Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The effects of the Yugoslav coup in 1941

Necessarily, the coup leaders in Yugoslavia in April 1941 could not reasonable weaken their northern defences to allow them to attack the Italians in Albania. The coup was driven by the Serbian desire to resist the move towards alliance with Germany. The Croatians in the north were pro-German, but Serbia still felt a natural connection to the allies. The coup pointed out the lack of cohesion in the Yugoslav national fabric.

The Italian offensive in Albania was being pressed to succeed before the Germans intervened. The attack had started in early March. Mussolini had even come over to witness a victory. The Italians had 28 division supported by an average air strength of 26 bombers and 105 fighters. The 4th Squadra, flying from Italy had an additional 134 bombers and 54 fighters. They were faced by 14 Greek divisions which were stretched to the breaking point. Still, in 10 days or so, the Italian offensive failed. The Italians were faced in the air by a small RAF contingent consisting of one Gladiator squadron, a few Hurricanes, one Blenheim bomber squadron, some Blenheim fighters, and some Wellingtons. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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