INSURGENT OCT II 1938
Although weather has turned cloudy and windy in the north, the rain has held off so far. This has given the Insurgents one more chance to gain victory before offensive operations have to be stopped because of mud. With only minor adjustments, the assault on Cervera and Calaf (13:3327) on the Lerida-Barcelona axis was renewed, this time against even stronger opposition.
In the skies over the battlefield, the Republican airforce bestirred itself to a last, heroic effort. The just rehabilitated SB-2s with puny Rata escort attempted to aid their troops on the ground. The Italian Fiats tangled indecisively with the Ratas while the Me-109s made mincemeat out of the SB-2s (K). So far, the Me-109D has lived up to its reputation, scoring kills in each engagement at no own losses.
On the ground, Franco’s elite, stung by their failure last week, had vowed now to crush resistance or die in the attempt. This time they succeeded in breaking into the Pasionaria line and taking hard-fought-for Cervera and Calaf. True to form, the Loyalists managed to avoid substantial losses (DR) but, with their last line of resistance before Barcelona cracked open, their chances now look dim to say the least.
In the Pyrenees, Nationalist mountain troops followed up on the Loyalist retreat and closed to the Andorran border and the upper Segre river. They are now within sight of La Seu d’Urgell (13:3225), the anchor of the new Loyalist line and still very strongly held.
Forces no longer needed at the much shortened front in the Pyrenees were moved to Valencia, possibly for an all-out assault on that city should the weather hold.
The Fleet and Italian submarines continued their patrols off the Catalan coast and Valencia.
Finally: a hex within 3 of Barcelona gained! For sure, the Loyalists will mount a desperation counterattack to either regain the position or cut the supply line to it. They still have respectable strength and armor to support such an attack, but it will be at poor odds. If they don’t succeed, the Catalan government will fall and drag the central government down with it.
The outcome is still in doubt. The best-laid plans of men and mice (or was that cabbages and kings??)…, and “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” as the saying goes. So keep tuned in!
LOYALISY OCT II 1938
As expected, unperturbable General Miaja scrounged together what he could lay his hands on to stage a desperation counterattack against Cervera (13:3327) to restore the Pasionaria line. The attack was spearheaded by all available armor including a battalion equipped with brand-new Soviet BT-5 cruiser tanks (of American Christie design). Also, most of the anti-aircraft batteries were brought forward from Barcelona for protection.
Despite enemy air superiority, the remnants of the Airforce were called in as well. Again, they suffered a crushing defeat as National and Condor Me-109s shot up Ratas and Chokas. Nationalist attack bombers roamed at will, except only a few obsolete He-51s failed to get through. However, the heavy bombers were missing as they could not reach the scene in time from their distant fields at Zaragoza and Albacete (B types at half range for DAS, a mistake not to have them shunted to closer fields).
On the ground, the Republican tanks and brigades ran head-on into heavy fire by Nationalist artillery, tanks, and the vaunted Condor 88’s. There was heavy fighting at Calaf, but the attack was repulsed (AR) and the Republican masses flooded back toward Solsona (13:3325) and Igualada (3425), leaving the Pasionaria line a shambles.
At sea, Italian submarines had a field day against merchantmen attempting to ferry Soviet materiel to Barcelona. A number of freighters were sunk, a few turned tail.
In Barcelona, Companys, the President of the Catalan “Generalidad,” tried to call his cabinet into emergency session, but few of his ministers appeared. Catalan collapse appears imminent. Azana, President of the Republic, and Negrin, his Premier, are huddled trying to decide their further course. Both are inclined to hold out hoping that international pressure might make Franco more inclined to accept their suggested terms of surrender.
Despite the ominous build-up of Nationalist besiegers, the calmest place in still Loyalist-held Spain was Valencia. With the Nationalist bombers busy in Cataluna, the denizens are enjoying a respite from the constant air raids. Much of the port has been repaired. Communist dominance has declined with the depature of the Campesino and Dombrowski bullies, and a bid by Lister to take control of the city for the Party failed. Military Governor Aranguren and local Army Chief Menedez have matters firmly in hand. They have vowed continued resistance, but are believed to try in secrecy to negotiate for favorable surrender terms.
Elias’s good luck has finally let him down. He had an about 9% chance of achieving an EX and retaking the critical hex. However, his losses would have seriously weakened him, and he might not have been able to hold his line for long.
With the called-for conditions met at the start of a game turn and with a -2 modifier in effect, Cataluna will automatically surrender this coming turn. With that, the conditions for complete Loyalist surrender are also met. However, that surrender is checked *before* gobiernito collapse, and so will not occur until NOV II, leaving one more game turn of play.
We might or might not play part of that NOV I turn. The Insurgents can only lose if they attack anywhere: Any losses of theirs will go into their pool and increase Loyalist VPs. Any Loyalist losses will also go into the pool, but since the units surrendering do so anyway, no additional points accrue.
As to Valencia, a possible Insurgent objective, that city provides no VPs regardless of who owns it at the end of the game: not the Loyalists because the city is isolated, not the Insurgents because it will not yet be pacified when the game ends NOV II. But then, we are not playing for points, and an attack on Valencia might be a fitting finale.