Game Settings and Setup

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Being a fan of ‘what-if’ scenarios, I decided to pull out For Whom the Bell Tolls and fire up a solitaire version of the Invasion of Spain scenario included with the larger Spanish Civil War game.

The scenario deals with a hypothetical attack on Spain by Germany in 1941, in an attempt to seize Gibraltar. It must be assumed that a Mediterranean strategy is being pursued by the Axis, so only a portion of the German Army is sent to the Iberian Peninsula. British involvement is also limited to roughly a reinforced Corps, plus significant Royal Navy assets. Historically the Germans tried to pressure Spain into allowing free passage for their troops to assault Gibraltar (Operation Felix), but Franco refused unless paid with an enormous amount of oil and other raw materials. Hitler baulked at the price, and in any case was already starting to look to the east.

Germany is hoping for a quick victory, but the Spanish Army is sizeable, and the terrain is difficult. There are also supply implications due to the Iberian gauge rail network of both Spain and Portugal. On the other side of the equation, Spain has very little armour or antitank weaponry, and is totally outclassed in the air by the Luftwaffe.

March 41

Hitler meets General Franco in a rail carriage near the French border, in a final attempt to secure passage for German troops to carry out Operation Felix, a direct assault on the British bastion of Gibraltar. Although sympathetic, Franco is trying to rebuild a nation devastated by 4 years of Civil War. He demands huge amounts of food, resources and war materiel. Hitler refuses, declaring that he would rather have teeth pulled than meet with the Spanish leader again. Upon arrival in Berlin, he orders his general staff to prepare for an invasion of Spain, with the intention of capturing Gibraltar, and with it control of the Western Mediterranean. The Spanish Army, along with any reinforcements sent from Britain, is to be wiped out.

April I 41

To secure assembly areas for the assault, Germany occupies Vichy France. Various tank and infantry units head south from the Bordeaux area as part of the occupation. This sudden move prompts French Morocco to declare that it is no longer loyal to the Vichy government, but is instead a part of Free France. Spain also responds to the provocation, ordering turn 2 of general mobilisation. Britain details the 1st Canadian infantry division plus two smaller units to be sent to the area to defend Gibraltar, and they arrive by sea. Mobilised Spanish units are sent to the border area to join the main force that has been redeployed there during the winter months as a precaution against any surprise attack.

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