Linking “War in the Desert” with “Second Front
This Howto was written and used by Phil Mason and Derek Cassidy to connect their WitD-Game with SF and was not intended to be a general manual. However, we felt that Phil and Dereks’ experience could be useful to others, and so we decided to publish it. The report of the resulting game is here.
The whole process is actually relatively simple – though a degree of book-keeping is required Also, this has been run with a strong Axis performance in the Desert – things could be remarkably different if the Allied juggernaut is at full steam!! (It’s pretty easy really: as they’re waiting anyway for the boats to turn up from service elsewhere, the game can be fast-forwarded straight to July I with the Allies starting with the extra turns’ replacement points)
Another caveat: obviously this won’t stand close scrutiny, but we were looking for a way to approximate the flow-on from one campaign to another and to be out by one or two units was quite acceptable to our “Quality Control” when taken in context with the number of SF forces.
1. The Assumptions
Combat Ground Troops
Historically, virtually all the Axis forces were lost in the surrender in Tunisia, apart from some specialist ground troops (combat engineers, Special Forces and suchlike) flown out in the last few weeks, and a good proportion of the Air Forces. [638 soldiers and officers reached Italy at the end, leaving nearly 240000 as POWs].
Britain and the Commonwealth are exhausted after 3 years of war in the Desert. Their infantry replacements are minimal, but new units are being sent out from England, including the Canadians. The South Africans have finished and are heading home, the Aussies have already gone off to the Pacific, and the Kiwis and Indians are due for Rest & Refit.
Armour and Air are not as big a problem, but overall, the Brown Counters will need to stop fighting by the end of May II to be at Second front OB strength, as given. Any variation either way will need a bonus or penalty to the Replacement Pool. In SF, they start with a small amount still cadred or in the ‘Pool’.
The Americans have only recently entered the War in Europe, and are pretty simple to treat – reinforcements are plentiful and pouring into the theatre. Again, if they can stop fighting by the end of May II, they’ll be at full strength. In SF, the American MTO force starts with no troops in the Replacement Pool. The French in North Africa are not a major concern, as they start SF still forming up most of their combat units.
We decided that no extra Allied units would be taken from WTD into SF. We felt that any such units have been either homologated or disbanded to form the Allied MTO Army.
Specialist Ground Troops
As mentioned above, as at Stalingrad 6 months earlier, the Germans got a good proportion of their specialist engineers and Special Forces out when faced with impending disaster and most of these will reappear in Second Front (or be used as cadres of new formations).
The Allied Special Forces weren’t used heavily after the initial Torch landings, and most are withdrawn during the WiTD campaign. So for simplicity, we assume there has been ample time for the old units to reform, and helped by the large expansion of the airmobile and marine units in preparation for Husky. A problem does arise, however, with the taking of Pantelleria and Lampedusa (and Malta, if Axis) so we need a House Rule for handling that.
The Allied engineers also have to be available for all the airfield construction and port repairs needed to stage the invasion, so we also scribbled out a quick rule for that.
Very simple, as they are abstracted out in WiTD, so we assume that they are at full strength for Second Front, with the major build-up going on in June. Note that an early invasion of Italian soil is not possible, as over ¾ of the Landing Craft were en route from America and the Burmese theatre in the last weeks of June! For simplicity, assume there are only enough amphibious craft to accommodate the marine units prior to Jul I.
The Second Front May I Air OB is a very useful comparison point, and also provides the good chance to directly compare ARPs between games, to form the model.
We assumed that the Axis air forces were roughly equal from the end of WiTD to SF, with the bombers mostly based in Italy or the Med islands, and the Fighters and Attack aircraft in Tunisia or Sicily. There are a few discrepancies, but nothing unresolvable. Any aircraft still in Africa when the WiTD campaign ends have to immediately flee as per airbase capture.
Allied air power can be handled much the same as the Armour: Replacements are plentiful, and, like Germany, new planes are pouring off the production lines greatly expanding the Air Forces between campaigns.
2. Sorting out the Axis Ground Forces
Quite easy really – as the ground troops are considered lost to POW camps when the last terminal falls. So anything you can generally get off the continent are Bonus Troops. Either take them as their appropriate RPs and add to the initial Pools, or use the counters in the SF game (just be sure to note which counters are used, so the games don’t start getting blended together!)
Any Infantry or Armour RPs not in Africa can be added to the initial SF pool. Similarly, any Attack Supply not sent to Africa can be converted to 3 Resource Points for initial placement
In Mar I ’43, place the Pantelleria and Lampedusa garrison units (found in the SF Axis MTO Replacement Pool) on their islands. The Allies can plot invasions of those islands any time thereafter. Assume all marine units have intrinsic naval transport.
If the Desert game ends before Jun II, remove them again, as the Allies have seized the islands during that month and everything starts as per SF. Otherwise, the Allies will have to plot invasions, from Jun II onwards with their newly arrived Special Op forces and/or regular LC invaders (see #4 – the Malta question below).
3. Sorting out the Allies
Make a note which turn the American and British ground and air forces are pulled from action (Basically, I just removed that particular force from the map). Compare them to the historical May II deadline – each turn earlier or later will give more, or less, respectively RPs for rebuilding
Set aside the following units – they are considered automatically available as per the SF OB
- Firstly, set aside all the non-British and non-American units and any units that start as Forming.
These are all resting and reforming at the start of SF, so they can be ignored. However any Commonwealth divisions used in SF which are still in the WTD Replacement Pool will have to be bought back out of the British quota of Replacement Pts [but only to cadre strength, as they start SF as Forming]
- Put aside the US & UK infantry & armoured divisions and their cadres
With any in a different status (cadred or at full) compared from WTD to SF, set up the SF counter in the same status as WTD & adjust the difference from the Rep Points.
- Put aside the Special Forces troops (paras, marines, commandos etc)
- Put aside the ‘Funnies’ – the RR Engineers, port engineers & any training units
This leaves just the artillery and non-divisional units to be bought (effectively) out of the Replacement pools. Any cadres can also be built up from these pools if desired. Excluding the set-aside units above, the Brits and Yanks start SF with the following unit strengths in North Africa, Malta, the Middle East & the Near East:
British 66 Infantry points 37 Armoured Points
Americans 53½ Infantry points 24½ Armoured Points
“Buy ” these units with the following replacements points.
Attack Supply can be converted into 3 Resource Points each.
The bonus RPs are added if the respective force was pulled out of action before May II, or deleted if not pulled until after May II
|American Ground Forces:||British Ground Forces:|
|Infantry||55 ± 5 per extra turn||67 ± 3 per extra turn|
|Armour||30 ± 4 per extra turn||37 ± 2 per extra turn|
|Resource Points||12 ± 3 per extra turn||15 ± 1 per extra turn|
All units still in the WTD Replacement Pools have to be bought back first (then discarded!). The remaining Replacement Points go towards buying the SF MTO Initial forces. Any counters left over have to go into their respective Theatre’s Replacement Pool. Don’t forget to note which units start SF in the Replacement Pool, as these won’t count against Victory Points, until rebuilt. [As a cautionary note, I started with an extra 44 points’ worth of ground units in the ‘Pool]
4. Sorting out the Air Forces
Compare the WiTD end-campaign situation with the SF July OB. Swap the counters on a like for like basis – there are a few discrepancies, like the Fw-190 Jagd/Schlacht mix. Any extra counters can convert to SF aircraft of the same Type (HF to HF for example) otherwise deployed as extra aircraft or as ARPs as desired.
Ignoring the French and maritime forces, the Allies start SF with 40 British/Commonwealth planes, and 55 American planes. Place all of these in the Eliminated Air Replacement Pool.
They are ‘bought’ back, just like the ground units, with the following bundle of ARPs:
American Air Forces: 110 ± 6 per extra turn
Commonwealth Air Forces: 80 ± 5 per extra turn
As with the ground units, air counters in the WiTD Aborted or Eliminated boxes have to be bought back first (and discarded) – however, ignore the heavy Wellington, B17 & B24 bombers (amalgamated with the Strat Air forces) and Anti-Shipping forces. As above, any counters left over have to go into the MTO’s Replacement Pool [I started with 25 ARPs of air units out of action initially]
5. Engineering rules
We made the assumption, that with the imminent collapse of the African theatre, both sides would have their construction and engineers units frantically working for the next phase of the campaign – by converting Tunisia into a huge airbase, or building Festung Italia. We also thought that there were auxiliary assets not directly represented in the game to assist with this linkage to SF.
Thus we decided that every engineer-type unit (incl construction & punitive units) pulled off the battlefield would count as two units of engineer assets. Each asset can do an engineering function per turn (ie build a fort, airfield etc), spending resource points, at the usual rate, building in any hex not in an enemy ZOC.
6. The Malta question and other special House rules:
The situation can arise that the Axis still hold Malta and/or the central Med islands at the start of July. It helps that the Pantelleria and Lampedusa garrison forces start in the Axis Replacement Pool at the start of the game, as they can assist in remodelling the What If?
7. Danger Zones
The Italians had spent a lot of effort fortifying Pantelleria as a major naval base and haven. Malta, obviously, is similarly well protected. With these islands in Axis hands, they dominate the central Mediterranean. It is not unreasonable, that with these two significant Naval Bases, the submarines, E-boats etc (represented by SF Danger Zones) would not have necessarily fled north abandoning such a position of strength. Thus, while playing down to the end of WTD, the Axis can still draw supply across to their terminals in Tunis, Tripoli etc.
Once moving into SF, we used these rules:
While Malta is owned by the Axis, modify the Allied Danger Zones to also include:
- all Axis major and great ports, and Malta and Pantelleria, exert a Danger Zone of 5 hexes
- all Axis standard ports, and Lampedusa, exert a Danger Zone of 3 hexes
- Axis minor ports exert no Danger Zone
The islands can be supplied only if a Naval supply element can be traced through an Axis port’s Danger Zone, or along an Axis coastal hex.
Combined with Palermo, the interlocking DZs cover all the approaches to Sicily, though the central southern ports (Agrigento and Licata) are exposed once the Allies slip through the Pantelleria Zone at night. Pantelleria is soon out of supply once the Allies get ashore, and Malta is fallible once they reach the east Sicilian coast. Once Malta falls, the Danger Zones revert to the SF rules proper.
Axis big ports DZ override smaller Allied ports’ DZ
If Danger Zones represent E-boats, coastal subs and suchlike, we reasoned that the big Axis ports would still maintain significant fleets of these to counter the Allied small boats. Thus any Axis port north of the Med’s 20xx hexrow keeps its DZ (5 hexes, or 3 after Italian surrender) unless imposed on by a DZ from an Allied port which is the same or only 1 size smaller than that Axis port. Each hex inland counts as 2 off the Danger Zone. This was mainly for the strange situation where minor ports like Bastia can secure naval landings despite the major port of Livorno opposite it. Allied-owned ports and coastal hexes still exert Axis Danger Zones regardless of the presence of proximal Axis ports.
- If the Allies try and storm the islands before Jun I in WTD
- In Apr II, place the Pantelleria and Lampedusa garrison units (found in the SF Axis MTO Replacement Pool) on their islands in addition to any other troops you may have stationed there.
- Place all the SF initial MTO Special Forces (82nd Airborne, Marine and Airmobile troops) as reinforcements in Jun I. They can have an invasion plotted for them in the May II turn onwards. Any such invasion cannot be onto Sicily, Sardinia or Italy. There are assumed to be only 3 NTs (sufficient for the marine units) though the naval task forces can be called up for NGS.
- If the Game ends in Jun I or earlier, remove all these troops again, as the Allies have seized the islands during that month and everything starts as per SF. Don’t bother enacting the invasions