The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Month: September 1998 (page 1 of 2)

Oct II 14

The Belgian 3rd Corps takes over the defense of Ypres from the French. The French build up in the Reims area in preparation to throw back the German thrust to the Marne. Some pulling back of troops north of Verdun shortens the French line and consolidates the defense in the area. Entrenchments are dug wherever possible, about one fifth of the front line is now better than fieldworks.

The attack in the Reims area cuts off the German 1st Hv Cav Corps and isolates it with the only losses as 2 German Manpower Points.

The Bavarian 6th Army reacts to gather another attack on Nancy. The attack crushes the French 20th Corps and Nancy falls to the German onslaught. The factory is captured by the Germans. The French lose 11 French Metropolitan Manpower and 22 Equipment Points.

Tom: I was willing to sacrifice the units in both Antwerpen and Nancy to try to hold the factories for the Nov I 14 production cycle. Unfortunately, Nancy fell quickly. The encouraging note is that the CP has almost no resource points left. Most of my army HQs have at least one resource point, some have two left. The number of attacks by the CP is definitely going to have to decrease, or the odds may shift in my favor with my troops in combat supply while his are not. The isolation of a cavalry corps near Reims could be very good for me. I shall have to wait for his response on that one. The only vulnerable places right now are Antwerpen (only a matter of time) and Verdun. I really need to hold Verdun for the French morale. With his supply situation and the weather about to turn, I could hold onto Verdun until the spring or summer offensive. By then, I could try to push him back in the area or something else may come up. The other point of danger is Lille. Lille is in the front lines but is well defended and the CP is spread too thin to attack it anytime soon. With all ground troops quartered attacking it, Lille is a hard nut to crack if it is sufficiently defended.

The Central Powers concentrate for an attack on Antwerpen, the Verdun area, near Reims, and beyond Nancy. With limited resource points, the actual attacks are at Antwerpen (no combat supply) which succeeds with the capture of the factory and the destruction of the two Belgian divisions left to hold it, an attack beyond Nancy which bloodies the French defenders, and a desperate attack near Reims to reconnect with the isolated cavalry corps which got lucky and succeeded. The total loss for the Central Powers was 22 German Manpower, 10 Wurttemburg Manpower, and 17 Equipment Points. The loss for the Entente was 14 Belgian Manpower, 33 French Metropolitan Manpower, 9 French African Manpower, and 35 Equipment Points.

The Belgians are the only ones to react and there is no exploitation performed.

Carl: A bloody combat phase that benefitted the Central Powers. The Entente has lost two factories this turn and the French morale is down to 261.5! A good turn overall for the Central Powers. I would like to capture another French fortress in the south, that would weaken his defenses further and keep his morale down. Now that Antwerpen has fallen, I have to concentrate on Lille. The factory and the rail deteriation effects are just too much to let the city alone. It is tough to take it, I will have to see if I can threaten to cut it off from Paris. The weather is about to turn so I do not know how much further I will be able to go. In addition, I have only 3 resource points left. Nov I 14 production is next turn, but it probably will not be enough. It is almost time to slow down operations until spring.

Oct I 14

The entire Entente Naval transport capacity removes 3 Belgian 1st Line divisions, two Corps HQs, the Army HQs, and a fortress division from Antwerpen and lands them in northern French ports. The reorganized and rebuilt BEF takes its place on the front line defending a two hex front near Amiens. The French 5th Army defends from the channel to the BEF. From the BEF to Reims is defended by the French 8th Army. From Reims towards Verdun is the French 3rd Army. The French 4th Army is defending the Verdun area. The French 2nd Army is defending Verdun to Nancy. The French 1st Army defends from Nancy to Epinal. The French 7th Army defends from Epinal to Belfort. The entire line (with only a one hex exception) is in fieldworks or fortresses. The construction engineers are positioned for quick use next turn when entrenchments become possible. The defensive line is solid, but weak in several spots. The Germans have forced a large pocket between Verdun and Nancy, threatening to encircle Verdun and capture Nancy.

The Entente decides to pass on combat and the Central Powers graciously passes on the Reaction Movement and Combat Phase (only a rear area Army HQs is activated!).

Tom: I could live with the Central Powers failing reaction rolls like that! A nice breather. It will take another turn or two to totally evacuate Antwerpen. I would like to get the Belgian engineer unit and the other two 1st line divisions out of there before it falls. I think the extra troops in France are more important than the distraction to the CP. The average defensive strength of my defending corps is 33.3. The average attack strength of the CP front line corps is 51.4. Not a good ratio across the front. His +1 DRM for the better NW also adds to his advantage. At least the BEF and the Belgians are now ready to help the French defend in France. I expect Nancy to fall soon. I think I can hold Reims, Verdun, and Lille for now. It depends on what he concentrates on.

The Central Powers units dig in. Some movement of forces to strengthen some positions and prepare to attack near Antwerpen, Nancy, Verdun, and Reims. The attack on Antwerpen fails to carry the fortress, but the Belgians have heavy losses. Nancy holds against the Bavarian 6th Army. Verdun has another hex taken just to its north. The German attack near Reims reaches the Marne just to the west of Reims.

The Central Powers lose 26 German Manpower, 3 Saxon Manpower, and 16 Equipment Points. The Entente lose 21 Belgian Manpower, 35 French Metropolitan Manpower, 7 French Colonial, and 13 Equipment Points.

The French 8th Army is able to react and plug the hole in the line near Reims. Other armies prepare to send more troops to strengthen the French forces near Reims.

Carl: The breakthrough near Reims is definitely the current focus of the campaign. The Entente will have to plug the hole and may have to counterattack in the area to push me back. The other areas (Verdun, Nancy, and Antwerpen) are progressing slowly in my favor. Each adjacent hex I capture gives me the capability bringing more offensive power to bear against them. I am adjacent to Lille, but I will wait until Antwerpen falls before trying to capture the city. I may find it easier to try and reach the coast behind Lille and cut it off from the rest of France. My Resource Point pool is very low. I am having to carefully decide where to attack in order to not use too many of them for combat supply. Fortunately, the Entente has not been able to afford a counterattack of any sizeable strength against me so I have not had to expend very many resource points in defense.

Sep II 14

The Belgian Government in exile is formed in London, safe from the Central Powers reach. The Belgian Army utilizes CR#9 and reorganizes its remaining rifle divisions to full strength.

The BEF falls back from the front lines to rebuild and reorganize. The French dig fieldworks and consolidate their defenses from the port of Dunkerque to the Swiss border. The German advance south of Verdun has really stretched the French line thin in some places. Both Nancy and Verdun are threatened, but the French build up their forces in the area to try and hold them.

A single attack in the Vosges Mountains is repulsed with losses to both sides. The Entente loses 10 French Metropolitan Manpower and 19 Equipment Points. The Central Powers lose 9 German and 6 Wurttemburg Manpower Points.

Only the German 5th Army does not react, allowing the entire Central Powers front to advance and set up attacks on weak points in the French line. The Bers Army moves two German Corps against the Belgians near Antwerpen. The German 2nd Army closes on Reims following the routing of the French 33rd Corps. The Bavarian 6th Army closes on Nancy as it forces back the French 8th Corps. There were no losses for either side during the combat (both were DR results).

Tom: The defensive line has been formed and seems to be pretty firm. The Belgian Army is now fully mobilized and will require a large commitment from the Central Powers to destroy. I always have the option to withdraw them by sea if necessary. If it had not been for the destruction of the St. Quentin factory by his exploiting cavalry and the near destruction of the BEF, I would be very pleased with the current situation. The French NW is dangerously close to being down to 3 and the British are almost down to 4. This will give the Central Powers an edge in NW for quite a while. The German NW requires a loss of 200 morale points to go from 4 down to 3 while the French are almost at 3 now and the British are too minor of a force to matter at this time.

The Central Powers forces close with the French defensive line in the north. Two Corps are ready to attack the Belgian forces at St. Niklaas. The hole in the French line near Reims is exploited to endanger part of the French line in front of the city. Possible attacks on Nancy and Verdun are set up.

The Belgians are forced to retreat to the other side of Antwerpen. The French 6th Army is forced back around Reims. The French 20th Corps manages to hold on at Nancy despite heavy losses. The total losses for the Central Powers are 5 Equipment Points versus the Entente’s 33 French Metropolitan Manpower and 18 Equipment Points.

The French are only able to react in the south. Units which can be spared for the defense of Nancy, Verdun, and the northern flank are pulled out of the front line and readied to send north by rail.

Carl: Other than the attack at Nancy, it was a remarkably bloodless turn. I am threatening Reims, Verdun, and Nancy. The attack on the Belgians resulted in their retreat from St. Niklaas but there were no losses. I feel that I have the Entente on the ropes. I am threatening important morale points along the entire front and the French just dropped to a NW of 3. This should give great benefits as the bad weather begins and the attacks slow down. My resource point total is very low. The Entente seem to have an edge on Resource Points (mainly from their garrisons). I may regret my gamble of spending two Resource Points to attempt the repair of the coal fields – especially since it did not pay off.

FEB II 1937

INSURGENTS FEB II 1937

The Azores high-pressure system has finally moved into southern Spain, bringing unseasonably dry and sunny days. In the north meanwhile, wintery weather persisted.

As expected, the Nationalist onslaught on Madrid continued. Although beefed up by newly recruited units and expenditure of last supplies (attack supply converted to general supply to negate the effect of isolation), the demoralized defenders (halved because of government relocation) where quickly overwhelmed and disarmed. The entire city is now firmly in Insurgents’ hands. Insurgent losses have been light, but damage to factories is so severe that production is not expected to resume before October. Much of the airport has been repaired and rail service restored into, though not yet through the city.

Even before Madrid was fully secured, the Insurgents pulled out elite formations including the Foreign Legion to launch a major new offensive in Aragon. The Loyalist front was smashed with heavy losses to Catalunian troops at two places: the left bank of the Ebro opposite Zaragoza, and east of Calatyud. Zaragoza itself is under artillery fire and in danger of becoming isolated. However, a planned attack on the city itself had to be cancelled because of a bungled rail transfer (a hex in ZoC not occupied by a unit all turn long).

Farther south, Nationalists tangled with the ring enclosing their forward mountain positions southeast of Teruel and pushed patrols toward the Ebro plain. A narrow and tenuous corridor to the farthest outposts was establish and these were resupplied at night by Ju-52s from Valladolid.

Some troops were also drawn off from Madrid to strengthen the from in southern Castilla, where the Insurgents are out- numbered at this time.

In the south, a determined concentric attack spearheaded by three divisions of Italian volunteers finally led to the capture of Lorca and yielded a large number of prisoners. The Loyalists losses in artillery and anti-aircraft batteries were heavy. Also, a little farther north one of the last Anarchist mountain positions in the Sierra de Segura was stormed with air support. In addition to having taken Lorca, the Nationalists have now regained all territory lost late last year to Loyalist counterattacks in that area.

While the Nationalists had it all their way on the ground, they got trounced in the skies. Heinkel fighters of the Legion Kondor attempting to strafe Albacete airfield and its planes were driven off by unusually accurate flak (by just 1 point of position-AA). In a massive air battle over Lorca, both Nationalist and Italian CR fighters took a beating from Soviet- piloted I-16s and, to add insult to injury, from a group of ancient Vildebeest floatplanes (which, however, also suffered some losses). Yet, command of the skies over Lorca and unhindered ground support by the People’s Airforce could not save the city.

Italian submarines continued their patrols off the coast of Mucia. Otherwise, the fleet remained inactive.

LOYALIST FEB II 1937

The Loyalists hastily patched up their torn Aragon front and reinforced threatened Zaragoza.

A massive attempt by all People’s Army and Catalan mountain troops with the heaviest air support seen to-date failed to crush the advanced Nationalist mountain stronghold southeast of Teruel (a “1” on 5:1 -3). However, the ring around that position was closed again.

The other fronts saw no significant activities.

In the face of the continuing submarine threat the Fleet remained at anchor at Cartagena. In a replay with reversed roles, I-16 fighters attempting to strafe the Valdepenas airstrip were driven off with losses by accurate AA fire.

STRATEGIC COMMENTARY

The front now runs from Lorca (Nat) to Albacete (Loy), Cuenca(Loy), Teruel(Loy), Zaragoza(Nat), and Huesca(Loy) in a fairly straight line, except for two Nationalist salients in the mountains east of Teruel and near Zaragoza and the isolated mountain position halfway to the coast (23:3401). The line is continuous and, except in mountain terrain, held with 4+CF per on both sides.

The capture of Madrid constitutes a major Nationalist victory. Quite apart from the effct on morale, the troops that were needed to contain the city are now free for use elsewhere. More importantly, Madrid as the transportation hub of central Spain is a prize that greatly eases the Natioalists’ logistics problems by providing shorter and better communications between the extremes of their front in north and south, helping to compensate for the Loyaliss’ advantage of interior lines.

The fall of Madrid had become inevitable. The city, left with only a modest garrison, had obviously been written off by the Republican high command. Nevertheless, the assault came earlier than expected. Even more surprising was Franco’s decision to launch the next offensive in Aragon rather than Castilla, where good campaign weather will arrive a month or so earlier. However, the impediments of snow and mud in the north cut both ways: The Loyalists will find it harder to reinforce their front in Aragon. What may have carried more weight in Franco’s mind, however, is the prospect of an invasion of Cataluna, where unrest has been growing and military setbacks might trigger a revolt that could well spell the end of the Republican cause.

Although the Loyalists are reeling from the loss of Madrid and the onslaught in Aragon, they still command over forces strong enough to launch offensives of their own, possibly in Castilla, where they actually outnumber their opponents by a good margin. The problem here is that a local gain would quickly be contained, and so would only lengthen the front, a “victory” the Loyalists can ill afford.

The factor now limiting both sides is supply and logistics. Supplies are so scarce that only a small fraction of the troops on either side can attack at full strength. Rail capacity to bring supplies forward is equally short. Inasmuch as a good chance of success of attacks in poor weather and difficult terrain calls for high odds and thus high strength and ample supply, only quite limited offensives will be possible until late spring brings better campaign weather. Although inferior at the outset in both factory production and rail capacity, the Nationalists now hold an almost 2:1 edge in both, in part thanks to a consistent effort to improve their rail net (use of RPs for permanent capacity increases). This advantage may well tip the scales in the long run.

DESIGN COMMENTARY

If this were a regular Europa game, it would be over by now. The Loyalists have nothing to put up against the killer stacks that the Insurgents can now assemble. Wherever the latter would decide to strike, they would break through in short order and put an end to things. In BELL TOLLS, however, matters are not that easy. The severe shortage of attack supply (and rail capacity to bring it forward), combined with the fact that stronger fronts at this stage of the game make for greater supply consumption per attack, limit the aggressor to just very few attacks per turn. Moreover, neither side has more than a piddling of mechanized units that could exploit breakthroughs. So the game is likely to go on for a while as a slugging match (Elias has vowed continue fighting if on the streets of Barcelona). And although on the face of it the Nationalists have done a lot better than Franco in 1936-37, the victory point count (118:46) so far stands only at a “marginal victory” of theirs, and Elias may succeed in keeping it that way.

An annoying factor has surfaced: The ants don’t die! With conservative play, at least the Nationalist have an empty pool and a huge surplus of replacement points. So all these little battalions and regiments that had the map to themselves early on are still there among the new divisions and clutter things up annoyingly. Among the possible fixes: (a) units used to “form” a division are removed from play rather than being returned to the pool; (b) same for units that are killed in isolation; (c) additional “forming” of divisions is made possible (with forming units removed from play); (d) fewer infantry Rpls accruing.

As Elias points out, the penalty for relocation of the Loyalist government (combat strengths halved for one game turn) is rather harsh, given the fact that the Loyalist military were not a well-organized force run from the top to start with. The worst thing here is, the Nationalists in their player turn know exactly how weak their opponents will be at any given place. A better solution might be to have the Loyalists roll for each unit in combat on the success table (halved on F and F*), or reinstitute the militia reliability rule for one turn. But there should also be some incentive to keep the government in Madrid as long as possible, to make it unattractive for the Loyalists to move it right at the start of the game to a less exposed city, at a time when the penalty for doing so wouldn’t yet hurt them.

 

Sep I 14

The British dig fieldworks to shield Lille. The French improvise a line from the BEF to Arras and back to the Ardennes. The 4th Army starts to retreat out of their isolated state in the Ardennes while the rest of the French armies in the south pull back to form a more secure line and send some troops to the north.

The French and British attack the forward Hv Cav divisions and push them back. The total losses are 12 German and 4 Saxon Manpower Points versus 3 French Colonial and 5 Equipment Points.

The Germans advance on Maubeuge and follow up on the retreat near Metz. The 1st Army attacks Maubeuge and begins to wear down the defending French forces. An attack by 3rd Army in the Ardennes results in two Saxon Corps routing back to the German – Belgian border. The attack on the isolated French 5th Army also results in the German 3rdArmy being stopped, but the French 5th Army had to use its last Resource Point for its defense. The German 5th Army attacks the French 5th Corps at Jarny and routs it, capturing the iron ore fields but activating the Verdun garrison.

The losses for the reaction combat phase are 14 German and 8 Saxon Manpower Points with 1 Equipment Point. The Entente lost 26 French Metro, 7 French Colonial, and 23 Equipment Points.

Tom: I had some success with my limited counterattacks but the loss of Jarny and the impending loss of the French 5th Army in isolation makes the vision bleak. I have to learn to garrison everywhere behind my lines to protect me from his cavalry. I did have the supply depots garrisoned, but the loss of the St. Quentin factory to a cavalry exploitation move really hurts. The good news is that the factory at Nice looks to be well-protected for now.

During the Central Powers production phase, two resource points are spent to repair the Liege and Namur coal fields. The Liege coal field will be operational in July 15 and the Namur coal field in January 15.

The 1st Army overruns Maubeuge and continues its drive on Paris. The 2nd and 3rd Armies reach the other side of the Ardennes while the rest of the armies close up on the French forces.

The BEF is attacked and exchange results decimate the remaining divisions. The French 5th Army is destroyed in the Ardennes. This hammers the French morale by 33 points! The remains of the French 4th Army is forced out of the Ardennes. The German 5th Corps barrages Verdun with little effect. The French 6th Corps defends to the north of Verdun throwing back two German Corps with no losses, but the French rout to the south of Verdun and one of the forts is captured. An attack by the Bavarian 6th Army is stopped by the French 1st Army with heavy French losses to the south of Nancy.

The total losses for the Germans are 50 German Manpower and 34 Equipment Points. The Entente losses are 35 British Manpower, 48 French Metropolitan, and 37 Equipment Points. In addition, the Entente have lost 3 French Colonial Manpower, 52 French Metropolitan Manpower, and 39 Equipment Points in isolated units (French 5th Army and the Maubeuge garrison) since the start of the game.

The Entente armies react on either flank, but the center of their line near Longwy does not. The BEF pulls back behind Lille, preparing to shift back to Amiens. The southern flank pulls out some troops to send to the center of the line around Verdun to help hold that area. A single counterattack on the German 10R Corps results in the loss of a division for the Germans. A total of 13 German Manpower and 9 Equipment Points were lost.

Carl: My objective to cause the French to lose a NW level and destroy the effectiveness of the BEF has been reached. The destruction of the French 5th Army is now complete and I have come out of the other side of the Ardennes in good shape. My hope for a good counter-offensive push in the south to capture Nancy and several of the fortresses is progressing just as fast as the French are consolidated their line to send more troops north. The Schlieffen Plan is now complete and I must begin to worry about the Belgian army. This could slow down my drive towards Reims and Paris, but I have few worries about a strong Entente counter-offensive in the north. The northern French coal fields are far more important to me than the Entente. The supply of resource points are decreasing rapidly, I took the chance to get the Liege and Namur coal fields repaired and it did not really pay off. I may regret the resource points later.

FEB I 1937

FEB I INSURGENT

A cold front finally reached northern Spain, bringing winter weather with frost and some snow, putting an end to mud but making movement in the mountains more difficult. The south meanwhile remained mired in rain and mud. After a build-up that had lasted through most of January, the long-awaited all-out attack on Madrid finally got off to a thunderous start. Supported by aircraft, combat engineers, and heavy artillery (including Italian siege guns newly brought in through Bilbao) a concentric assault penetrated into the city proper. The western precincts, including the Royal Palace, University City, and the more prosperous residential areas were overrun. However, the Loyalists are still ensconsed in the larger eastern part that houses most of the capital’s industry. The Loyalists lost a substantial number of prisoners. Nationalist casualties were light. In southern Castilla the Nationalists closed on the People’s Army’s new positions, but did not attack. North of Lorca, the Argos valley salient held by Anarchist troops was eliminated and many prisoners were taken. In the mountains west of Teruel, Nationalist troops behind the Republican lines continued to make a nuissance of themselves. All other front sectors remained quiet.

FEB I LOYALIST

Moved by the plight of the defenders of Madrid and angered at the blatant Italian assistance to Franco in men and materiel, France’s left-wing parties rallied and succeeded in persuading the government to open the border with Spain. Immediately, the shipments of field-gun components held up at Perpignan since September were ushered on to factories in Barcelona and Murcia, fighter and bomber aircraft were flown to fields in Republican Spain, and about 500 volunteers for the International Brigades, many of them American, were allowed to pass. This assistance comes in an hour of great need, but may not suffice to turn the tide. Panic spread in Madrid. The government belatedly decided on relocation to Barcelona. The president, his cabinet, and most of the Cortes made their way out at night in small aircraft taking off from cleared city avenues. All but the most important files had to be burned. La Pasionaria remained in the city to rally the shaken defenders. Hastily, new units were formed to beef up the garrison and last supplies were distrubuted to the troops. Demoralized by their government’s flight from the capital, Republican troops did not attack. However, reserves were fed to the front lines in Aragon and at Lorca, and the ring around the isolated Nationalist mountain positions west of Teruel was tightened.

STRATEGIC COMMENTARY

The fall of Madrid seems imminent. The relocation of the government also puts the front of the heartland at risk (defense factors halved in the next Insurgent player turn). However, with most of the Insurgent strength concentrated at Madrid and not enough rail capacity for major troop movements, the effect should be relatively minor.

 

JAN II 1937

JAN II INSURGENT

Very poor and rainy weather continued everywhere through all of January and greatly hampered operations. The Insurgents followed up on Loyalist tactical retreats but did not mount any attacks. Engineers worked around the clock on repairs of the rail and road net in what had been the Loyalist Madrid corridor. Elite Moroccan troops and heavy artillery were pulled out of the front lines and shifted to jump- off positions for an attack on Madrid, which appears to be the next target. Small units supported by air drop of supplies continued their harassment in the mountains around Teruel. The sea lift from Morocco is essentially completed. Transports and the remnants of the fleet were withdrawn to El Ferrol while Italian submarines kept up their presence off the coast of Murcia. Heinkel fighters of the Legion Kondor strafed Albacete airfield but did little damage.

JAN II LOYALIST

Despite negotiations the French border remained tightly closed. In Madrid, relocation of the government was argued but was postponed in fear of effect on morale at a time when the Nationalists can expect substantial reinforcements. Meanwhile, engineers essentially completed the destruction of the capital’s airfields. Southwest of Teruel a concerted, air-supported sweep by the People’s Army finally overcame the 19th Infantry Regiment that had been operating behind the Loyalist lines. Southeast of Teruel, troops were shifted to contain a bothersome Nationalist salient and mountain troops that had penetrated toward the coast. In southern Castilla, the People’s Army straightened their front by retreating a few miles. The troops now hold very strongly manned positions forward of the line Albacete-Cuenca. Loyalist pilots unsuccessfully attacked Logrono airfield, base of supply flights to the mountain troops behind enemy lines around Teruel. All other sectors remained quiet.

STRATEGIC COMMENTARY

A lull while the Nationalists prepare to assault Madrid in earnest. A flap over rule interpretation: The effect of Loyalist government relocation lasts “one game turn,” normally understood as two player turns, one for each side. However, Rule 4 says that a game turn consists of an Insurgent player turn “followed by” a Loyalist player turn, allowing the interpretation that only the Loyalist turn is affected. (The guru ruled that the effect extends over both player turns, and that made the Loyalists postponed relocation.)

 

Aug II 14

The French have the African reinforcements arrive in Nancy while the released Italian garrison troops arrive in Epinal. The British transfers from the British Isles to France do not occur because the Entente player commands both commands. The Entente player will have to ship the units over during his movement or exploitation phases using his NT units. The Belgian hidden corps are now revealed as well as all but the 1 Hv Cav XXX for the French. The BEF Corps are still hidden.

The French move the R38 Corps down to Belfort to occupy the empty hex in Alsace-Lorraine. This yields the first Plan 17 point! The Corps will attempt to force a German X out of another hex during the combat phase for another point. The Italian Border garrison troops help to strengthen the line between the 1st and 7th Armies. Other troops are centralized and pulled in from the 4th and 5th Armies to support attacks around Metz and the Luxemburg ore fields. Most of the attacks should be about 3:1 or better. The DRMs may be the kicker. Every attack has at least one cavalry division to attempt CEC. Foch is available at 1st Army HQs, but he could be a two edged sword. The 5th Army must advance past Namur before it hits the German line. By not advancing into Namur, the Germans have forced the French to open a hole to the rear of the French armies that must be plugged with the mobile forces to the north. This stretches them even further. The French 5th Army barely escapes having to take fatigue by using their cavalry to go all the way through the Ardennes to contact the German line and keep French line continuity.

In the north, the Belgians can do nothing around Antwerp. The Chssr cadre holds on in Namur. It will at least cost the Germans something to take the place again. The Group D’Amade must advance into the gap between Maubeuge and Namur to keep the Germans from pouring through. This forces the BEF to advance to Mons to support their flank and hold the line. Otherwise, the French forces will be destroyed and pushed out of the way during the reaction movement and combat phases and the Germans will pour through during their Aug II 14 turn. The only saving grace is the fact that the BEF Corps are still hidden. The British RN transported the British reinforcements into Dunkerque where they march to Lille as the BEF reserve.

The attacks start in the south where the R38 Corps attacks a lone German X near the German-Switzerland border and captures the hex for another Plan 17 point. A failed attack at the boundary of the 1st and 7th Armies results in the French forces falling back to the Epinal fortress and giving up a fort to the Germans. French attacks near Metz close on the city as the Germans retreat safely away. The attack on the Luxemburg ore fields results in the French exceeding their 20 Plan 17 points.

Total losses were 73 French Manpower and 21 Equipment versus 16 German Manpower, 5 Wurttemburg Manpower, and 6 Equipment Points.

The CP started the reaction movement phase off with a successful strategic recon mission over the BEF at Mons. It is composed of four British 1st Line XXs. Namur is overrun by the 1st Hv Cav Corps, which then pulls back into the reserve. The 3rd Corps marches into Namur. The 2nd and 7th Corps march up to take out the French Group D’Amade, ignoring the BEF for right now. Every army in the CP activates except for the 5th Army around Metz. Every army is poised to attack the enemy and provide a chance at breaking through the Entente lines.

The French Group D’Amade is blown through, the remaining division retreats to guard the 5th Army’s supply depot. The French 1 Hv Cav Corps is pushed back through the Ardennes and allows the CP to isolate the French 5th Army and the 1st and 10th Corps. A minor battle is fought on the southern end of the line where the CP recaptures the hex on the Swiss-German border and destroys the offending French X.

Total losses are 9 German Manpower and 6 Equipment Points against 22 French Manpower and 7 Equipment losses.

The exploitation phase saw the BEF reinforce its lead Corps with the British Hv Cav Division and the French Hv Cav restore a line of communications to the French 5th Army.

Tom: Well the good news is that Plan 17 is done with. I should have attacked the Luxemburg Ore fields before I attacked in the Vosges, but that is history. Overall, except for the retreat in the Vosges, the French escaped Plan 17 very lightly. The main problem is on the Belgian flank. Having to advance the 5th Army beyond Namur, even if it was only by a single hex, has left the 5th Army in a very exposed position. As it is, the CP will be able to come pouring in behind the 5th Army in their Aug II 14 turn. The BEF is more exposed than I had planned on, but they are concentrated and may be able to defend themselves. The CP turn will tell.

The French 5th Army is out of general supply, as well as a single German XX near the French border behind it. The Entente decides to allow them to be out of general supply and save the Resource Points with the 5th Army for combat supply. Italy allows the Argentinian volunteers through to Germany and the CP activates the siege army HQ (CR #62). The HQ will have to be withdrawn during the CP Initial Phase in Nov II 14.

The CP sends a Hv Cav division around the BEF flank to cut off hope of combat supply from the BEF Army HQ. Some infiltration in the Ardennes starts to threaten the French 4th Army.

The Germans attack Maubeuge with the 3rd and 1st Hv Cav Corps supported by the siege artillery, the French succeed in defending the fortress, but they use up half of the Resource Point in Maubeuge, leaving only 3 British XXs in combat supply in the BEF. The attack on the BEF results in an exchange, very bloody for the CP, but devastating for the British who are destroyed when they are forced to retreat. In the Ardennes, the CP isolates the French 5th Army and hits the 1st Corps, pushing it back. Longwy falls to the CP 5th Army and isolates the French 4th Army. South of Metz, the 5th Army crushes the French 20th Corps and forces the shattered remains back to Nancy. This defeat also results in the French National Will be reduced to 4. This will give the Germans a DRM in their favor in all combats.

The total losses are 83 German Manpower and 32 Equipment Points versus 2 French African, 6 French Foreign, 39 French, 46 British Manpower and 75 Equipment Points.

With only two French Armies reacting, a small counterattack by the French 7th Army in the Vosges does not gain any ground while the French 6th Army pulls back around Metz.

The total losses are 4 German and 5 Wurttemburg Manpower Points.

The Germans exploit with their Hv Cav near Maubeuge capturing two coal fields in France and destroying the French factory at St. Quentin.

Carl: A very successful turn for me. When he exploited the British Hv Cav division in with the rest of his BEF, it seemed that I should have attacked the BEF during the Reaction Phase. However, I was able to get a Hv Cav Division in his rear and cut off his retreat. The EX result was well worth it. I managed to rid Maubeuge of any ZOC producing units and was able to use my Hv Cav to exploit well into his rear. With the French 4th and 5th Armies isolated, and the BEF extremely bloodied, the Entente left flank is in great danger. The French will have to pull many of the troops from the south to defend the north. Perhaps this will open it up for my capture of Nancy in the south.

JAN I 1937

JAN I INSURGENT

Drenching rain has returned to all of Spain. A high over the Azores (with good weather over the Atlantic) may or may not herald a change for drier conditions. Hampered more by mud than by the enemy, Nationalist troops poured in strength into the vacated Madrid corridor, securing Aranjuez and starting to rebuild destroyed communication lines. The massive offensive along the Cordoba-Madrid axis continued, but is now directed eastward toward Cuenca and is aided by a continuing effort of the Nararrese Corps operating from Guadalajara and having reached positions within 15 miles of that town. The offensive gained some ground and has widened the gap between Madrid any forces that could attempt a relief. Fighting in the mountains around Teruel continued despite abominable weather. Northeast of the town, fresh Nationalist mountain troops regained positions that had been lost the previous week. Also, air-supplied patrols southwest of the town continued their harassment and are interfering with traffic on the Valencia- Madrid rail line and road, the life line of the strong Loyalist forces at and west of Cuenca. Bitter fighting also continued north of Lorca. A strong contingent spearheaded by the newly landed *Dio lo Vuole* division of Italian volunteers in cooperation with five Falangist brigades broke through the ring that had encircled the Nationalist stronghold in the mountains of the Sierra de Espuna (23A:4112). A large number of prisoners were taken. However, strong Anachist forces still occupy the Argos valley (4013-4010) that separates the Espuna mountains from the large, Insurgent-held massif of the Sierra de Segura to the north. Sea lift of troops from Morocco continued. Nationalist submarines gave up their tight patrol of the coast off Aguilas to interfere with shipping to Alicante and Cartagena.

JAN I LOYALIST

Fresh troops have been raised, but under the poor weather conditions they were slow in getting toward the fronts. For the first time the new troops include a substanmtial number of divisions. Zaragoza and the front in the Aragonian plain were reinforced, and so was the Lorca front. Heavy fighting continued in the mountains southwest of Teruel. A major sweep by Loyalist troops that included the POUM Lenin detachment, newly organized as a division, netted most of the bothersome Nationalist patrols, but at a comparable cost in own casualties. Worse, because of the collapse of a cavalry regiment the ring around the Nationalist survivors has failed to close. In southern Castilla the Republicans have retreated farther and now hold a strong front centered on Cuenca. In this sector they now match Insurgent strength, but are laboring under supply shortages, having to rely on the periodically interrupted and low- volume rail line from Valencia. The Republican airforce received new Soviet fighters and attack bombers and attacked airfields and port installations at Almeria and Aguilas but, hampered by poor weather, did no damage. The Navy remained inactive.

STRATEGIC COMMENTARY

The see-saw battles at the Lorca front have been an interesting side show. The Loyalists chose this sector for offensive action because here they enjoy the advantage of shorter and better supply lines: Lorca is close to their bases at Murcia and Cartagena, but can be reached from the more distant Insurgent heartland only by secondary roads and rail lines. Moreover, Lorca itself gives the Loyalists a front-near airfield and a point of orginin of replacements, and the large-capacity air bases of Murcia and Cartagena are nearby. A significant westward or northwestward advance from Lorca would unhinge the entire Nationalist mountain positions in the Sierra de Segura, whose recapture would remove any threat to the vital industrial area of southern Murcia. The Loyalist have poured substantial resources into the battle, so far with little to show for it except having forced the Insurgents to divert troops and supplies and possibly having forestalled a Nationalist offensive. Despite an initial slight superiority on the ground and in the air, successes have mostly been negated by Nationalist counterattacks. The Espuna mountains just north of the city have been a key to the fighting. They were seized by the Insurgents in a coup de main in October, before the fronts solidified. Jutting far into the Loyalist front, overlooking the supply line into Lorca, and keeping the city exposed to attack from three directions, they are a thorn in the Loyalists’ side, but are so strongly held that no direct attack has been attempted. So far, efforts to isolate the position in order to starve it out have come to naught as the Nationalists have always succeeded in reestablishing communications. On the other hand, Lorca itself, is fortified and strongly defended, has defied any direct Insurgent attacks. How matters will change once the weather improves remains to be seen. Equally interesting has been the continuous fighting in the mountains around Teruel. Here, the Insurgents have managed with a relatively small investment of troops to harass the communication lines to Teruel and Cuenca to such an extent that the Loyalists were forced to divert substantial troops and attack supplies. In that, the Insurgents were helped by supply air lifts to their patrols in the mountains, an ability their enemy lacks. It now appears that the Loyalists have finally managed to establish a continuous front forward of Teruel and Cuenca, but Insurgent detachments are still roaming the mountains in the rear.

 

DEC II 1936

INSURGENT DEC II

While the north remained drenched in mud and sleet, central and southern Spain enjoyed a return of dry weather. The Insurgents were quick to take advantage. Marshaling overpowering superiority they extended their hold on the Cartagena-Madrid rail line southeast of Alcazar de San Juan and broke determined Republican resistance to advance in strength onto the Valencia- Madrid rail line northwest of Cuenca. For the second time, all rail connections with the capital have been interrupted. In a local operation the Insurgents also crushed the enemy salient west of Lorca to regain their positions held in November before the Loyalist foray. Despite rain and sleet the maneuvering in the mountains around Teruel continued, with Nationalist patrols interfering with the communications lines of the strong Republican contingent forward of that city. All other front sectors remained quiet. Transport planes made supply runs from Valladolid to sustain patrols in the mountains between Teruel and Cuenca, and Nationalist merchantmen traveling in protected coastal waters ferried supplies into Aguilas.

LOYALIST DEC II

Faced with daunting Nationalist superiority on both flanks and threatened to see a good part of their forces cut off, the Loyalists decided to abandon Madrid’s narrowing supply corridor. Guards, the Thaelmann and Marty International Brigades, and local militia supported by artillery and engineers holed up in the city proper while the all other formations disengaged and retreated to new lines between Cuenca and Alcazar de San Juan. Armor and motorized troops, short on fuel, brought up the rear but managed to limp to safety. Rail lines, roads, and some installation at the Madrid airport were blown up. The headquarters and training organization of the International Brigades was moved out of harm’s way to Valencia. Although in full retreat on the approaches to Madrid, the Loyalists returned to the offensive at the Teruel and Lorca fronts. Sweeps in the mountains northeast of Teruel wiped out Nationalist patrols that had been threatening rear communications. At Lorca, strong Anarchist and Republican forces with air support launched a major pincer movement and succeeded in isolating the strong and bothersome Insurgent mountain position north of the city. All other front sectors remained quiet. Naval activities remained restricted to ferrying of supplies from Bracelona to Valencia.

STRATEGIC COMMENTARY

The isolation of Madrid constitutes a major victory for the Insurgents. Thanks to its strong defenses the capital is not in immediate danger, but a siege is bound to take its toll. Moreover, the Insurgents can now establish a direct supply line from their main basis in Andalucia through Alcazar de San Juan and Aranjuez to their troops on the approaches to Cuenca, obviating the need for the long and cumbersome line of communications through Calatayud and Guadalajara. However, an attack on Madrid itself may have to await better weather and arrival of more artillery. Although outnumbered on most fronts, the Loyalists have kept up local counterattacks. Their shortened front is now fairly strongly held. However, they are scraping the bottom of the supply barrel.

 

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