Britain’s First Victory, Germany Plunders Europe & Mussolini’s Folly – WW2 – 063 – November 9, 1940

Britain’s First Victory, Germany Plunders Europe & Mussolini’s Folly – WW2 – 063 – November 9, 1940

November 9, 1940 Italy has invaded Greece, but already after
just a few days that invasion stalls, so what will Italy’s German ally do? Adolf Hitler decides to come to the rescue. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week Italy invaded Greece and Germany
made its last daylight bombing raid on Britain, though night time ones will continue. On November 3rd, though, there is no raid
on London at all. This is the first time since September 7th-
that’s 57 straight days. An average of 165 planes each night dropping
13,600 tons of high explosive bombs, as well as incendiaries on major British cities- not
just London. In those night attacks, with Britain’s underdeveloped
night defenses, the Luftwaffe lost just 75 planes, most by accidents. Still, on the 6th, a German Luftwaffe Enigma
message is sent out with instructions that some of the machinery needed to equip the
invasion barges in French and Belgian ports is to be put in storage. British Signals Intelligence picks this up
and by the evening British High Command could now be 100% certain that German plans did
not include an invasion of Britain. At least not for any foreseeable future. Remember though, that the Battle of Britain
is only using a small fraction of Germany’s military resources. For the rest of them, a Phoney War is setting
in, much like that in Britain and France last winter. The difference now is that the German soldiers
suddenly have a ton more stuff from all of the conquered territory, foods, and wines,
and silk stockings. And it’s a good thing for Germany that it
has some time now to replenish the tanks and planes and ammunition used in all the battles
the first year of the war. This winter they’re also doing an expansion
program- the army is to grow from 5.7 million to 7.3 million men, and they’re really going
to need stuff like railway cars from France for Hitler’s future plans, but what are
they? Well, I’ve talked about this before. On the one hand, he wants to invade the USSR
in May; on the other hand he wants to consolidate in the west and invade Britain; on the other
hand- Hitler had three hands- he’s got a navy that wants to drive the British from
Gibraltar, Suez, and the Mediterranean. But while Germany is expanding and replenishing,
the British might be doing that too. See, on the 5th, Franklin Roosevelt wins an
unprecedented third American Presidential term over Wendell Wilkie. His Democratic Party also keeps its majority
in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Just 48 hours after winning re-election, Roosevelt
talks with Arthur Purvis, the head of the British purchasing mission in Washington. They talk about what sort of arms and supplies
the British will need to field an army of 55 divisions by mid 1942- such an army not
being possible to equip without a lot of American aid. Roosevelt says his rule of thumb is to make
munitions and arms available to Britain on a 50-50 basis. He even wants to build 300 merchant ships
for Britain. Thing is, because of the Neutrality acts,
military commerce has been running on the cash and carry system, which I talked about
last fall. But Britain’s at war, and cash reserves-
and even credit- aren’t going to last indefinitely, and you can’t do cash and carry with no
cash. Roosevelt has the idea that the US will pay
to build the ships, and then just rent them or loan them to Britain, thus circumventing
cash and carry sales. This could also maybe be extended to cover
things other than ships; it could replace all sorts of arms and munition purchases-
lending or leasing them instead. Well, it’s just an idea at the moment; I
imagine we’ll see if they follow up on it in the future. To get supplies, though, they would have to
cross the Atlantic, and that’s not a very safe place at the moment. Where, on the 5th, the Admiral Scheer, having
reached the Atlantic through the Straits of Denmark two weeks ago, finds shipping convoy
HX-84, 37 ships strong. The convoy, at this part of its journey, has
only a single armed merchant cruiser protecting it, the Jervis Bay. That ship is heavily outgunned, but its Captain
Edward Fegen engages the Scheer so the convoy can scatter. The Scheer does sink the Jervis Bay, but 32
of the convoy ships manage to escape. One of the most damaged ships, the San Demetrio,
is set ablaze and is abandoned by the crew. They re-sight their ship the next day though,
and board it, and with no navigational equipment manage to get the ship and its oil to Britain. It becomes a media event. There’s also action in the Mediterranean
this week. Operation MB8 begins this week. The is a complicated series of British naval
operations and maneuvers. Operation Coat brings troops and AA guns to
Malta, covered by ships from Force H out of Gibraltar. The aircraft carrier Ark Royal veers off from
that to attack Cagliari in Operation Crack. Three protected convoy operations- two going
both directions between Malta and and Alexandria and one to reinforce Greece- are also part
of MB8. The main operation is Operation Judgment,
though, which is getting together now and which I’ll talk about next week. Further to the south in Africa, there’s
plenty to talk about THIS week. William Slim’s 10th Indian Brigade captures
Gallabat from the Italians, but is forced to withdraw the 7th and the Italians re-occupy
it. The goal was actually Metemma, beyond Gallabat,
and the Gallabat region now becomes one of skirmish and no mans land. There has also been fighting at Tehamiyan
Wells, north of Kassala. This was also fighting to a standstill, but
it served a purpose, “Gazelle Force at the Wells, though unable to reduce the Italian
colonial battalions in front of it, forced them in the end to withdraw from the Sudan,
and… established that clear superiority of no man’s land that gave us the initiative
in all future operations.” Also in Africa, there are Free French landings
under overall command of Colonel Philippe LeClerc north of Libreville; Librevill aerodrome
is bombed the 9th. There is some scattered fighting over the
few days, but- spoiler- Libreville falls the 10th and French Equatorial Africa comes over
to the Free French. But what’s going on north of the Mediterranean? Specifically, Italy’s invasion of Greece? It’s going poorly from the beginning of
the week. The Italian spearhead through t he Pindus
mountains is surrounded from all sides the 3rd. Relief cannot get through. This day and the 4th, Samarina and Vovousa
are recaptured by the Greeks. The Italians pushed back for rest of the week,
where as the week ends, the Italian 3rd Alpini Division is trapped in and around Pindus Gorges. The Greeks take 5,000 prisoners. Italian General Sebastiano Prasca has ordered
his troops to the defensive along the whole 140 km front, so as the Battle of Elaia-Kalamas
ends, so too does the Italian offensive in Greece. Just after that, Prasca is dismissed as commander. He will be replaced in a few days by Ubaldo
Soddu. Meanwhile Britain’s RAF sets up small bases
in the Peloponnese, near Athens, and on the Gulf of Corinth. Requests for large bases near Salonika are
resisted, though- and such bases would, in fact, put the British in position to bomb
the Romanian oilfields, Germany’s main source of oil. Adolf Hitler is by now losing what little
confidence he had in the Italian fighting ability, so on the 4th, he has OKW prepare
operational plans for a German invasion of Greece. On paper the Italians should have overrun
the Greeks right away, or should they have? The Greeks are outnumbered, sure, and they
have to split their forces to defend both Epirus and Thrace, but the Italians also have
to split their forces- because they need a lot of men for the fight in Abyssinia and
Libya. Mussolini had also reduced the size of his
units to increase their number, and they were weaker than their Greek equivalents. “…they were also weaker in motivation. Mussolini’s reasons for seeking war with
Greece went no further than a desire to emulate his German ally’s triumphs, settle trifling
old scores with Greece, reassert Italy’s interest in the Balkans, and secure bases
from which his British enemy’s eastern mediterranean outposts might be attacked. None of these reasons counted much with his
soldiers.” And that’s pretty key. Their assaults have not been with much enthusiasm. The Greeks, whom Hitler holds- and rightly-
in esteem as soldiers have plenty of enthusiasm to defend their homeland. Also, and a big also, Turkey warns Bulgaria
that the 37 Turkish divisions concentrated in the little European part of Turkey will
be used (Keegan) if Bulgaria makes any moves on Greece, so the Greeks can start to transfer
a lot of forces from Thrace to Epirus, where the Italians are wearing themselves out in
frontal attacks on mountain positions. And the week comes to an end, with Italian
frustration in Greece, German expansion at home, British optimism, and scattered fighting
in the Atlantic and Africa. So Italy is already losing in Greece, and
what does that mean for Germany? Remember, Greece is Britain’s only remaining
continental ally. So Hitler had thought, okay, the Italian invasion
is gonna have downsides, as we saw last week, like when the British sent planes to Greece,
making them theoretically soon within range of bombing those Romanian oil fields, but
would have the upside of decreasing Britain’s ability to challenge the Italian Libyan army,
and that would help in Hitler’s plans- or so he thought- to bring Spain and Vichy France
into an anti-British alliance. In fact, before the Italian invasion of Greece,
he was thinking of sending German forces to North Africa, even though Mussolini had said
he didn’t want them. But now that the Greek invasion is going badly
for Italy, Germany is going to have to come to the rescue. Hitler’s general Balkan policy so far this
war has been to allow Italy to mostly run the relations with Yugoslavia, Albania, and
Greece. Hungary and Romania are in Hitler’s influence;
Bulgaria not so much but not hostile, but what now? All of that may have to change. If Germany is going to directly intervene
in Greece that will require, for example, bases in Bulgaria, and what would the Soviets
think of that? I mean, if Adolf Hitler seizes territory that
he and Josef Stalin have agreed is in the Soviet sphere of influence, what will Josef
Stalin do? That was going to be my conclusion, but it’s
not. On the 9th, Neville Chamberlain dies at age
71. I did talk a bit about him a few weeks ago,
but I’ll say a few more words here. You may fault him for the Munich Agreement
or the appeasement policy with Germany, but credit where credit is due- it was because
of Chamberlain in his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer that the RAF got the funding
it needed in the 30s to have been able to this year fight the Battle of Britain. He was also a tireless and effective social
reformer, which is easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. I won’t say much about him here- there are
many books out there on his life and his works, and not just his dealings with Germany. I will end today with Winston Churchill’s
eulogy for him. It’s partly quoted in James Holland’s
The Battle of Britain, “The only guide to a man is his conscience. The only shield to his memory is the rectitude
and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life
without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the
upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march
always in the ranks of honor.” Churchill says that Neville Chamberlain always
acted with complete sincerity and he concludes the eulogy with this: “Herr Hitler protests
with frantic words and gestures that he has only desired peace. What do these ravings and outpourings count
before the silence of Neville Chamberlain’s tomb?” If you want to see some earlier fighting in
Abyssinia, check out our Between 2 Wars episode about Mussolini’s conquest in North Africa. It is right here. Our Patreon of the week is Dan Lamoreaux. Do like Dan and join the TimeGhost Army at or directly at Follow our daily coverage of the war on Instagram,
subscribe on Youtube and See you next time.

100 thoughts on “Britain’s First Victory, Germany Plunders Europe & Mussolini’s Folly – WW2 – 063 – November 9, 1940

  1. I think the Turkey map is a bit wrong because Hatay was annexed in 1938 and it isnt on the map, just a small correction
    edit: it was actually annexed on 29 June 1939

  2. woah i didn't know Turkey did that
    it's a bro move and honestly makes me rethink my views on them
    we can only hope that one day we have a leader as good as Ataturk

  3. Excellent video.. Thank you for you highlight on Neville… it was fitting a great leader of his time. Looking good Indy!!!

  4. Hey guys. I know this a very weird question to ask, but what is the music use in your intro? I love your guys work, and I hope you keep it up.

  5. You guys should do special episodes about neutral countries' involment in WW2 like Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland…etc.

  6. I was expecting:
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …
    In the other hand, …

    Hitler, the Tentacle Hand Monster!

  7. I feel that Chamberlin was doing everything he could to secure a peace with Germany and to avoid the happenings of the first world war. In other words, he was doing everything he could on a diplomatic level so as to avoid mass conflict between Britain and Germany

  8. If Turkey would have entered the war would they actually had been ready for it. They didnt have a quarrel with germany but yes with Greece. Yet they threatend to help Greece if Bulgaria entered the war on the side of Italy and Germany. What is that?

  9. Well i read an interesting argument about appeasement. Czecheslovakia was betrayed but for Poland the Allies finally stood up and defended them. Poland suffered way higher casualties in the whole war. So now whats worse. A betrayed Czech or a dead Polish Person?

  10. Is it just me, or is this the first episode in which Indy wears a long-sleeved shirt? Without rolled sleeves that is.

  11. Oh sh**, Germany coming to Italy's rescue, Italy failing to win anything of note, lots of troops sitting around not avhieving anything… This really is World War the sequel!

  12. "Where italians are wearing themselves out, in frontal assaults on mountain positions. " – "War, War never Changes….for Italians"

  13. I want to sincerely thank Indy and the whole Time Ghost staff for this series — I think it has done immeasurable good in educating the world, young and old, of the horrible history of WW2. People don't read books that much anymore and so this in-depth, comprehensive, and incredibly engaging series has opened millions of eyes to the benefits of studying history, and more importantly, to the horrors of war. We're treading on dangerous territory in the U.S. and I think it's important people not only consider the immediate threats to elected someone like Trump, but also the long-term and unlikely but possible consequences that will throw the world deeper into conflict and racism and hatred.

  14. I am aware that the telephones are a sign of this channel doing well but having 3 on the Same desk seems too much. Or Maybe the studio is meant to be a war time HQ.

  15. I am a well-informed Greek. I had no idea Turkey had wanred Bulgaria that Ankara would invade them if Athens was attacked by Sophia.

  16. Hey, don't want to bust ur balls, but with the names of some of some of the Greek cities like Salonika. For me being Greek, we pronounced it as THESSALONIKI. I dont know if the name was changed and that was its name at the time, but i have a feeling that its the way how the BRITISH called the city THESSALONIKI.

  17. Incompetent Italian commanders launching head on attacks on mountainous terrain? Can we just call this the 27th battle of the Isonzo river?

  18. 8:04 The Italians should have overrun the Greeks right away.
    Like the Russian should have overrun the Finns last winter…
    Like the ITALIANS, once again should have overrun the 'weak' Austro Hungarians in 1915…
    Like the Austro Hungarians, and Ottoman Turks should have overrun small Serbia in 1914…

  19. "we have Rocket Artillery now Mein Fuhrer. We need resources and workers on a massive scale that cannot be had" and lo and behold Italy invades Greece.

    "The Series of Unfortunate Events" goes into Insane Mode. Operation Barbarossa is suddenly now a go if the entire Balkans can be conquered..

  20. When you see French Equatorial Africa on the map, it looks fairly large and important. A country of that size falling to the Allies would be a very big deal on a continent like Europe or Asia. Still, one more country back into the fold. Perhaps the Axis are doomed to fail in Africa after all.

  21. Hitler: damn Greeks. I like em, but damn em!

    Indy's quote of the day: What will Josef Stalin do?
    Stalin's answer: Hm, we will see in the coming weeks.

  22. Good work as usual, but you might have emphasized a couple of points a bit more:

    1) Revenge was a significant motivation For the Italian move into Abyssinia. Some Italians were still smarting from their defeat in the battle of Adwa, in 1896.

    2) While Churchill did describe Chamberlain as being free from "wickedness", he also characterizes Neville as being obtuse and overconfident in his abilities to the point of a kind of guilt, thinking, re history and foreign affairs, he knew it all while in fact knowing next to nothing, and supposing himself, a priori, of all men, just the man to handle Hitler, while in the event acting as little more than putty in the Fuhrer's hands.

    3) I can't agree that Chamberlain's measures re military spending pre-war were at all praiseworthy or even defensible. During the most critical period, the Allies did little more than stand still amid plenty of evidence of Hitler's actions and intentions, not to mention the sloth of the "Phony War" period. Churchill saw the facts clearly enough (anti-Hitler Germans smuggled information to Whitehall AND directly to Churchill, owing to British obtuseness in this regard) and Chamberlain was inveterately made aware of the facts by Churchill when small actions could have had large effects. The secret naval treaty of 1935 beggars belief – Chamberlain not only opting to avoid even informing France of the negotiations, but giving away, gratis, the British advantage in naval construction capability, while allowing Germany to fully utilize all possessed. Thus Britain was hamstrung before any hostilities were even opened, a fact which figured significantly in Hitler's planning.

    No, Chamberlain stands in the dock before History, with explanations due.

  23. WW2: 'British signals intelligence picks this up' The TV series 'The World at War' needs a remastered version with this stuff included, lol. Sadly Sir Laurence Olivier is not available.

  24. 6:22 A little trivia about the Battle of Gabon :
    On 9 November 1940 there was a rare case of fratricide between two ships of the same class when the aviso Bougainville, lead ship of the Bougainville class and loyal to the Vichy government, fought her sister ship Savorgnan de Brazza, who served in the FNFL, off of Libreville. After a short exchange of fire, Savorgnan de Brazza had reduced Bougainville to a wreck and forced her to beach to avoid sinking. Bougainville later foundered in March 1941 during a re-floating operation.

    With their control consolidated in Equatorial Africa, the Free French began focusing on the campaign in Italian Libya. De Gaulle relieved General Leclerc of his post in Cameroon and sent him to Fort Lamy, in Chad to oversee offensive preparations.

  25. And thus ends the life of the worst PM and Chancellor in British history. Such a shame he ended up in charge when he did. History could have been so much better had Neville Chamberlain never came to power. How many millions died unnecessarily because of Chamberlain?

  26. What gets forgotten with Chamberlain is that whatever else was going on at the Munich conference, the British armed forces pressed him to get them more time to prepare, and they got that. If the war started a year earlier, Britain would have barely been rolling out RADAR and Spitfires. The made better use of the extra year than Germany did.

  27. RIP Neville Chamberlain. May History be far kinder to you than it has been.

    Also… Germany is rather poor at choosing its allies for a European war, isn't she? Germany sided with Austria in the first war, only to regret ever being associated with it, and now the Third Reich is facepalming at Il Duce's bumbling into Greece.

  28. I wonder what motivated Turkey to warn Bulgaria away from attacking Greece; I didn't think the Turks had a particularly fond relationship with the Greeks.

  29. The Balkans is going to be a mess sucking in a lot of German troops for the remainder of the war. I do believe the worst partisan fighting in WWII will be around this region.

  30. watch?v=QPJMRV8ya4c that's a song of the Alpini division Julia, written in 1940 about attacking Greece, you can here all the happiness…

  31. I’m glad you quoted Churchill’s eulogy for Chamberlain. They are some of his finest words, and one of his finest acts of statesmanship.

  32. Great video as usual. That eulogy of Chamberlain at the end really puts his character in perspective. He is often mocked and blamed for the his part in the prelude and beginning of the war, but today an honest man such as him is sorely missed in the government of the powerful nations. And the little ones, like mine, too.

  33. Well documented that if you want to win a war, never start on the side of italy.

    They're like a high maintenance partner who just doesnt get they're like a 4 or a 5 and not a 10….

    I pity tha fool starting a war on italys side

    Edit, sorry indy, chamberlain only let the drunkard churchill (this is all well documented in his private diaries in Eugene, oregon, near u of o campus) sell the empire down the road…. this much has been WELL proven, no?

  34. The negative perception of Neville Chamberlain is very similar to the hero worship of FDR. Both perceptions are based on about 5% of their professional work. If you take into account the other 95%, you find the scales more balanced towards good in the case of Chamberlain and much heavily weighted towards bad in the case of FDR.

  35. Why Republic of Turkey did stay neutral in WWII ? Why did not invade Iraq or Iran? Why did play low to allies and the Axis?

  36. My only complaint about this episode is that Indy did not do his deep Churchill voice for the eulogy. Probably murder on the throat, but I do find it amusing.

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