Axis Player Turn
Weather turns to Mud
Italy – Forts are built behind various river lines and bridges under threat from the Americans are demolished. It seems the Germans are in the area for a while when more troops are rushed to the south.
Spain – Rebuilt Pz Cadres arrive at the San Sebastian front while Barcelona is heavily reinforced with the rail lines finally repaired to France. Eastern troops arrive and are sent to an advanced position at Zaragoza. A Panzer XX and Sp Mtn XX position themselves at Tortosa to block the advancing British while the Spanish armoured XX and Cav XX arrive at Calatyud. With Spain split in two, Hitler organises for a daring paratroop raid on the Asturian mountain top fortress where Franco is being held awaiting transportation to Canada for post war trials. Snatched successfully and flown back to Barcelona he begins to arrange a new government. In the west Spanish forces try and hold what is left of Galacia, Estramaduras and north western Anadalucia. Generally things aren’t looking to good in Spain at the moment for the Axis cause.
Allies Player Turn
Announcing the need to help maintain Iberian freedom from extremist elements that threaten traditional conservative values in the region, Portugal trumpets its intention to join the allies. Portuguese troops cross the border and seize Vigo. The British Commander of the “Peninsula Army” is delighted to have Britain’s “oldest ally” joining him, especially as the lousy job he is doing garrisoning the fractious Spanish cities is causing widespread bloodshed as old feuds are paid off by Republicans coming out of hiding to revenge themselves on their hated Falange rivals. Elsewhere Spain is quiet with more troops coming ashore at Tarragona and the French arriving in force at Valencia.
In Italy the front is quiet as the air forces shuffle about to prepare for the long winter ahead.
With poor weather closing down much of the Front I suppose its time to give an Allied Commander’s review on progress to date with this mini-Grand scenario. Spain certainly opened up the theatre and put a new slant on campaigning in Europe. The ability to seize some high capacity ports looks, on the surface of things, to have allowed a massive flood of (in this case) British forces from the MTO and UK to get well established – Gibraltar helps a lot too! Spain appears too hard to defend – too much coast line and not enough troops, especially when the 2-6* cadres are picked out by the attacker and squashed. The bonus of picking up Madrid without a fight was a critical factor in this campaign, splitting the country in two and shattering Spain’s capacity to do anything more than offer meagre assistance to the Germans. The early capture was aided by the fact that Spain is big and it is difficult to secure the flanks allowing deep exploitation moves. I doubt if I was to play this game again I would see an unguarded Madrid!!
The addition of Spain (and Scandinavia) adds a completely different focus to Second Front. Troop commitment to Italy by both sides was a lot less – the Germans having to guard the Pyrenees (which require a lot more troops than Italy!) as well as having to maintain the defences of Northern France from an allied attack, consequently they are spread thin on the ground. If I was to commit an historical amount of troops to Italy in this game, I would swamp the German defence and be drinking coffee in Vienna by now, but about 70% of British forces are tied up in Spain with a significant proportion sitting in Garrison on cities – which, I must add, I failed to establish early enough or with enough force to cost me significant VPs as listed in our home made VP charts – basically I’ve lost 8 VPs from Spanish unrest compared to the 3 I’ve gained for capturing Madrid! Under these rules one is tempted to question the value of the whole enterprise…. hmmmm, perhaps we should of just used the RAW from FWTBT. Portugal’s entry to the war is a definite bonus for the Allies – even though their divisions are relatively weak half a dozen Portuguese XXs can free up a couple of US/UK XXs that might just be spared for a side show in Scandinavia…….
Axis Player Turn
In Italy a little bit of panic sets in on the east coast. Troops scurry north to cower behind the Bifurno River, leaving Foggia undamaged in the rapid retreat! The HG XX continues to defend Salerno while the 16th Pz takes up positions in the mountains west of Benevento. In Spain an attack to dislodge the Gds XX from Vitoria fails badly and the German attackers are forced to retreat back to San Sebastian. Elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula the Spanish army mills about trying to get its act together. It fails.
Allies Player Turn
The Gds and 11th Arm Xxs drive on the 3rd PzG and an attached Infantry XX currently blocking the coastal advance to San Sebastian. With Canadian infantry support the Germans are beaten badly (EX) and captured when the are unable to retreat (ZoC scam). Seville is taken in an Exchange while Leon, Pamplona, Almeria and Cartagena taken. The blocking force at Tarragona lashes out at a Spanish stack to the north and destroys it (courtesy of halved Spanish strength). Meanwhile a powerful Motorised Infantry force begins the march along the coast from Valencia to relieve the beachhead.
In Italy an attempt is made on the Bifurno River but it is beaten back by the 44th HuD XX.
Axis Player Turn
In Italy units pull back slowly, obviously attempting to reach the security of the more defensible terrain further north. Engineer units behind the mainline frantically construct some airfields to receive the bulk of the units stationed at Foggia.
In Spain the hurried mobilisation of forces begin, but it rapidly becomes clear that Spain is a big country and with the method of the British invasion threatening several sectors at once, units are scattered about with no definable defence lines set up. German help is hindered by the rail network which construction units struggle to repair without threatening the work that is underway in the north of France to repair the ongoing damage there. Franco is also suspicious when the German units on the border only advance a short distance to protect San Sebastian or reach the south end of the Pyrenees passes. Only around Barcelona do the Germans enter the country deeply with a couple of Panzer units joining the Spanish Mountain forces in blocking off Tarragona. An attack on the defenders by Spanish infantry and Civil Guards earlier failed to dislodge the paratroopers. Seville is reinforced and some units are shuttled to join the Germans around Bilbao. The single Spanish armoured XX is sent northwards from Madrid towards Burgos to threaten the British beachheads. Under Himmler’s direct orders, the SS LrSt PzG X motors its way into Calatylud.
Allies Player Turn
In Italy the Americans launch an all out attack on the German Panzer units south west of Andria. In a gruelling battle the German Pz are virtually wiped out (EX) and following up their success, the US motorised and tank units push north past the remaining 24th Pz Cadre to outflank a corp of miscellaneous units at Foggia.
In the Rif US and Indian forces with heavy air support wipe out the last defenders in Ceuta, driving them into the sea. In Andalucia, the city of Granada falls but Seville holds out – Jerez is taken and the British begin to gather around Seville. From Valenica a motorised 8th Indian XX with Armoured X support pushes north to the Tajao River to attack and force a bitter exchange on the defending Spanish XX with attached ants. Tarragona is reinforced by sea, the Spanish navy failing to sortie from Barcelona. In the Austurias, Oviedo falls to a massive British attack while the Guards Arm. XX swings behind the Spanish/German line to seize Vitoria and threaten San Sebastian by pushing to within 32 miles of the town. The Canadian infantry join up to defend Bilbao while the Canadian Armoured XXs sprint out of the beachhead on the north coast to seize Valladolid. It is then noticed by the Falangalist government that the earlier emptying of the Madrid barracks had left the city defenceless. Added to this the mountain passes to the north were unmanned. Franco panics and call for urgent German reinforcements – even by air if possible! It is too late and the sudden appearance of the 5th Canadian Armoured XX with attached motorised artillery overruns the city and captures Franco and his cabinet. Hitler has bit of a roll around on the carpet and curses himself for not spotting what his generals should have advised him about earlier.
Axis Player Turn
In Italy the HG Pz XX withdraws to Salerno past the guns of the US troops overlooking its retreat path – they are only able to slow, not stop the retreat. To the east the LSSAH, 24 and 26 Pz XXs fall back to behind the Agri River while more units from the north enter the general area. Luckily for the Allies these are mostly scratch forces of SS Police, AT battalions and the like. In France a couple of units relocate close to the Spanish border.
In Spain, spies working inside Gibraltar are unable to find out whether the newly arrived armoured and motorised units are a threat to Spain or just in transit back to the United Kingdom. Madrid is wary but decides not to call out its troops or mobilise to a war footing. (Failed roll on success chart).
Allied Player Turn
The expected invasion of Spain is launched – firstly the air power of the MTO is unleashed on the rail network in southern France, isolating Spain from German reinforcements. In Andalucia British Armoured forces overrun the local defence forces (cadred XX) allowing other armoured and motorised units to spread out through the province – an attack is launched on Seville but fails to dislodge the defenders. In Spanish Morocco, a joint US/Indian task force attacks and wipes out most of the Spanish defenders in the northern part of the region while French mountain forces mop up the southern areas of Mellila and Villa Sanjurjo. Ceuta remains untaken but the few Spanish soldiers and colonial troops that remain there are looking lonely and scared.
Landings occur at Valencia which falls easily to the Indian 8th XX and Royal Marines and at Tarragona where a joint air landing by paratroopers and seaborne forces secure the immediate area and provide a speed bump should the Germans get there act sorted out. (I toyed with the idea of landing directly in Barcelona but this would have put me within reach of German units across the border so opted instead to isolate the city by extensive bombing and hold the Barcelona-Valencia rail line at Tarragona instead.)
On the Bay of Biscay, the Canadians, Commandoes and Royal Marines come ashore at Aviles, Gijon, Santander and Bilbao – all landings are successful with the few Luftwaffe planes in reach at Bordeaux unable to pierce the AA screen thrown up by the Home Fleet. Follow on units include lots of armoured troops – mainly Canadian at Santander. The weak Spanish defence is brushed aside (Civil Guards and border forces).
Half a dozen good sized ports seized with a handful of Dot cities allowing rebasing of aircraft to the European mainland. Confidence is high in Whitehall that the decision to violate Spanish neutrality was a wise one. Washington shows its questioning of Churchill’s strategic whims by limiting ground involvement to the Rif only and maintaining its pressure in Italy where Taranto is taken and the Americans push further up the boot.
In a shock move Italy announces its departure from the war and intention to join the Allied forces. Hitler is shocked! Il Duce pledges undying loyalty and sets up an alternative regime in Milan. Several Blackshirt and para units remain loyal while the rest of the Italian army is disbanded except for those on Corsica, Sardinia (Cagliari defenders), the Syracuse XXs and a rather mobile force wedged between the British lodged in the instep and approaching Americans from Reggio. This unit is three 3-8 XXs, a mountain cadre, light Arm III, Cavalry III and two rather tasty strong Artillery units – just what the allies need at a time like this!
The Germans respond by trying to scuttle north but again harrassment delays the retreat and numerous breaks in the northern rail line make it hard to get troops down to the south. Germany has about 8 XXs worth of units in the lower end of the boot – all motorised or mechanised but strung out. The situation looks grim.
A series of attacks go in to try and circle behind the retreating German forces – a number of attacks are launched but terrain forces a number of AS results. The US Army is bringing overwhelming strength to bear in the region, the question remains can it be brought to bear in a manner that might cause serious damage to the Germans in Italy? The British units are withdrawn back to North Africa. What can be brewing?
Situation to date
Italy has been knocked out of the war through loss of numbers – around 52 REs worth, mostly courtesy of an amazing blood frenzy by the Yanks in Sicily in August I and some heavy air losses over this time period. I wasn’t expecting to roll for Italian surrender until late September due to my inability to take Cagliari and Corsica but I read the rules again for Italian surrender and decided to try my hand early. Lucky for me I did as it gave me enough troops courtesy of those left in Corsica and Sardinia to form up the Italian co-belligerent forces.
Italy appears to becoming an exclusively American show at the moment. All British troops and shipping are concentrated in North Africa or Southern England. A couple of battlegroups based around American AT Xs and an Indian XX have been placed on the map near the Rif. An Armoured Corp has arrived at Gibralter, whatever can this mean??
Troops are rushed down from central and northern Italy to block off the British threat, thankfully harrassment causes them to arrive strung out and unable to do little than contain the beachhead from the north. The Panzers at Messina cross to the main land and begin to pull out to the north, again delayed by allied air power. Italians are rushed to try and block the British from the south while a couple of pathetic AA units remain holding the Messina strait.
The British try and cut the toe off but are rebuffed by Italian defenders (damn their eyes!) and the US crosses over from Sicily, destroying the Italian defenders. The Near east and Middle east boxes are emptied of most troops who reform in North Africa. This puts the wind up the German CinC who spends some time looking at Spain. At Corsica, the all expenses paid holiday continues with the British actually shipping units off the island. (Admittedly for some French units, but as any good englishman will tell you they’re not really the same calibre). A couple of cowering coastal divisions in the corner of Sicily around Syracuse are ignored by the all conquering Americans.
Germans in Corsica slip back to the mainland while the remaining Italians take up positions in the mountains in the centre of the island and in Bastia. In Sicily the Germans flee for Messina and are just able to force the US units holding it out with a DR, much to the relief of the German CinC. Remaining Italian units struggle to reach the town but lack the leg power to do so. Sardinia girds itself for its fate.
Cagliari is attacked but an AS results. The northern end of the island is sprouting airfields at a rapid rate while in Corsica the troops take some time off to splash about in the Med and get a good suntan (forgot to move them, ooops!). In Sicily the US troops go crazy and slaughter everyone within reach by overruns, DEs or DR/ZoC losses. About a dozen or so Italian XX and assorted ants are wiped out. The destruction is so great I can’t help but feeling worried that it is going to catch up with me some time in the future. The German CinC goes into shock at the Italian losses but consols himself with the knowledge his Panzers are safe. At least until four British XXs land on the instep of the shoe south west of Catanzaro. This causes a bit of mild panic.
The German Pz Corp struggles through the air harrasment to launch an attack on the paras outside palermo, much to German OKW embarrasment the lightly armed paras see off Herman’s tank boys with harsh language and dirty looks. (Rolled AS hee hee). Along the north coast a strong corp of Italians march towards the US infantry east of Palermo. Elsewhere in the island the Italian coastal XXs flap about a bit trying to join each other to form some sort of mutual protection society but most are left isolated and alone. To the west of Palermo regular Italian troops threaten the US forces in the area.
At Sardinia, the paras are flown out while an Italian attack on the 1st Airborne results in an EX. The shrieks of indignity coming out of Whitehall upset “Ming the Merciless” (a lovely black and white cat named after Sir Robert Gordon Menzies for its ferocious eye whiskers) and Ming threatens to set off tectonic deep sea explosions off the coast of Norway but damage is minimal and Ming is sent to join her brother Nelson (named after Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson for waking up and looking around with one eye closed as a kitten) outside in disgrace. Meanwhile the militias are called out and Cagliari strengthened.
Sardinia the British assault out of their beach head crushing the grubby little swines who destroyed my Para brigades earlier while the 11th Armoured XX breakdown to storm through to outside Cagliari while its mechanised component enters La Maddalena. At Sicily the Italians to the east of Palermo are pulverised into atoms by a strong US attack which opens up the route to Messina. US Armoured forces obligingly enter the town to the howls of outrage from Berchtesgarten – could two panzer divisions be trapped on Sicily and lost so early in the war?? To add insult to injury a couple of British XXs land at Ajaccia in Corsica, swamping the poor little coastal XX left there.
German – Not much other than some shuffling of units about to try and repair rail hits in France and southern Italy. transports are flown to Sardinia to prepare to evacuate the parachutists from the island back to mainland Italy. Boo and hisses are heard from across the table at this cowardly act.
Allied – The forces of freedom and light swarm ashore at Sicily in and around Palermo itself. Allied fighters from Malta and USAAF bombers protect the landing sites by running harrassment runs from Messina back to the beach head. The Italian defenders are crushed by the landing Americans. An air landing south east of Palermo by the 82nd XX is pretty successful and follow forces add some stability to the area. British land in Sardinia around Alghero and Porto Torres. The 1st Airborne lands astride the transportation route south of Sassan. The few Italian defenders in this area are destroyed.
Okay, with the rules and stuff taken care of, I spent three days laying out the maps on trestle tables (and a circular garden table to place the Iberian peninsula in the correct spot that got me in no end of strife with the cheese and kisses – how was I to know she put her pegs on it for the clothes line??), counters and setting up the reinforcement counters on my specially made reinforcement charts. This was naturally interrupted by my new born proving to everyone just how loud he could cry when his dad wasn’t picking him up and fussing over him.
Finally I was able to go the Allied player – hurrah for me! Unfortunately this meant my opponent had to spend another couple of hours setting up his defences which included burning up exisiting RPs as forts along the east bank of the Seine, along the Tiber, Po and around Cassino as well as making Normandy look like a death trap – forts everywhere. He also was very conscious of the fact that Spain stood out like the dog’s proverbials (lets face it, the whole reason why I devised this game was so I could invade Spain so it was a no brainer to know that I would do it and probably before November 1943 when the Garrisons of Spain convert to the 2-3-6* XXs). With this in mind a Panzer XX was stationed along the border along the Mediterranean coast and a PG XX across from San Sebastian in Bayonne with a couple of insignificant units along the Pyrenees.
In Corsica the Germans cringe in Bastia while the Italians are spread over Sardinia, Sicily and southern Corsica to dissuade any Allied heroics in the area. Most surprising was a fort placed in Cagliari which made me adjust my preconceptions over where I was to intially invade. Messina and Reggio and Villa San Giova are stuffed full of AA works with the HG Pz XX and and Whermacht Pz XX wait on the italian mainland to be shuttled across to Sicily by the LC stationed at Messina. The Italian navy skulk about in Genoa and Naples, catching horrid diseases and sharing a few new ones about.
In France there is little to say other than Normandy and Brittany was heavily defended – the heaviest I have ever seen actually and the interior and south was bare (except for the Italians of course). The Luftwaffe were in strong force in Holland and Belgium and AA and construction units were positioned along a central rail line running through France. Obviously the intention was to maintain a single RR at least to ensure units would remain in supply throughout the bulk of France and well into Spain if needed. This sort of tactic was poo-poohed by Allied Air Command as the sort of devious and cowardly trick that “Jerry” would get up to. Confidence was high however that superior Air power would make a mockery of the supply situation in France.
Allied air turn – massive bombing of Sicily and southern Italy, lots of harrassment flown around Messina. Northern france starts looking like a case of the measles as red hit markers sprout up along the rail lines. The intention is to continue these at a rate that makes it impossible for the German to fix with the construction units he has available before shutting down the rail network before any cross channel attack in 1944. This continues throughout the period described below.