INSURGENT JUL II TURN
The Nationalist offensive in Murcia ground on slowly but inexorably although encountering stiffer resistance (now 10 CF per hex) and tougher terrain. Troops advancing from Albacete took Hellin and begin to threaten the flank of Loyalist forces still holding strong positions south and west of the Segura river. A second thrust along and north of the Jucar river valley northeast of Albacete has reached Cabanas-Ibanez (hex 3607) and is approaching the border of Valencia province. Losses on both sides were moderate (one HX).
All other fronts remained quiet.
While merchantmen again transferred troops from Morocco, the Nationalist Airforce staged another major effort. A motley assortment of fighters and attack bombers struck the remnants of the Republican Fleet at anchor at Cartagena. Defending I-15 “Ratas” and heavy anti-aircraft fire (5col) forced most of the attackers to turn tail with some losses, but a flight of intrepid Nationalist He-51 fighterbombers got through at deck top and sank the cruiser *Libertad,* one of the last capital vessels under government flag. Another major air raid was launched against the Valencia airbase and inflicted some damage and destroyed aircraft on the ground.
Cartagena has proved anything but a safe haven for the Fleet but, unfortunately, no other port now is out of range of the dauntless Nationalist Airforce.
LOYALIST JUL II TURN
Reeling from the Nationalist onslaught and trying to preserve the integrity of their front, the Loyalists in Murcia staged a tactical retreat, falling back along the Cuenca-Valencia rail line toward Requena (hex 3506) and from the foothills of the Sierra de Segura toward Cieza. Although they gave up good defensive terrain, their front is still strong, however, and in no danger of collapsing.
All other sectors remained quiet.
While the Navy are still licking their wounds, long-range Po-540 bombers made another unsuccessful attempt to disrupt communication by bombing Madrid’s rail yards.
The front now extends in a narrow arc from forward of Cartagena, Cieza,Yekla, Teruel, and Lerida to the Pico de Aneto west of Andorra, at no place more than 100 miles (6 hexes) from the coast. The farthest protusions are in the mountains just west of Terual (hex 3305), at Fuentes del Ebro down-river of Zaragoza (3033), and at the National Park in the high Pyrenees (2927).
Play is now quite sluggish. The Loyalists have a surplus of attack supply, an overflowing replacement pool (62 RE), and practically no accrued Rpls except for Anarchists. They cannot really risk attacks because any HX or EX result would greatly benefit the Insurgents. The Insurgents, in contrast, have a superabundance of accumulated InfRpls (now over 100) and an almost empty replacement pool except for artillery, but have used up their reserves of attack supply. They don’t have to fear losses at all (in fact, they’d welcome them because the rebuilt units could be used to ferry attack supply forward from factories or ports), but they can’t afford to spend attack supply unless success is reasonably assured. Against the strong Loyalist line and with an average of only just over 4ASP arriving per turn, this restricts them to about two attacks per turn. Moreover, without motorized artillery their puny c/m forces remain unsupported if they exploit any gap created by an attack, and so can do no more than embark on suicidal missions that delay Loyalist reinforcements. As a result, in most turns nothing happens beyond a one-hex gain by the Insurgents in one or two places while all other sectors remain quiescent. At least in October an upgraded Madrid factory will come on stream and upgrading of Bilbao’s will be completed, but at that time ASP imports dwindle and good campaign weather will be at its end. Were it not for the ASP limitation, the Insurgents by now could stage “yellow jello” attacks all over and have the Loyalists collapse from attrition in no time at all.
The bugging down into 1918-style warfare is not ahistorical for 1937, even though the reasons for it are different in the game. Also, the only way the Insurgents can break the stalemate is different: only by constant and persistent attrition, not by a decisive victory followed by deep pursuit, which is an impossibility in the game.
Trench warfare is not entirely dull, however. It also requires tactical skills, though rather different ones from those in mobile warfare. But let me not give my worthy opponent ideas …..