Note: Due to a significant error in rule interpretation, the Africa part of the game was reset in December 2015 and completely replayed. this turn report it therefor obsolete.
After a six year hiatus in real world play, during which our war in Western Europe progressed almost one year of game time and far surpassed in date the activities in Africa, the DJ group resumed its grand campaign of Over There with play in that dark theater in June 2011. Unfortunately, the hiatus left us woefully ignorant of the theater-specific rules while setup, eating, and child self-mutilation contributed to a relatively unproductive gaming session.
Few details of the dramatic events of December 1914 in Africa will make it to the world press – the raging Great War is orders of magnitude fiercer in Europe – but events dramatic there were regardless. In November, the Sanussi erupted into the broad Sahara Desert, flipping two of three units of French Touaregs to the Brotherhood’s side and one each raising and beginning to organize units of rebellious tribesman from particularly large oases in the deep desert. In December the French struck back feebly, a couple of battalions of camel riders threatening a lone battalion of Sanussi and encouraging them to retreat safely before combat. Italian forces, meanwhile, continued to hold strongly on to Tripoli and Sirte and to contest a couple of oases near those cities.
French forces continued to manhandle Berber tribesmen in Morocco in December. French attacks pushed the Berbers out of the coastal lowlands in August and from their easternmost stronghold in September before an elite force of Frenchmen swung south of the Berbers to trim the southern edges of their region in October and November. Now, in December, the same French struck against the Berber stronghold a hundred miles southeast of the High Atlas, where the well-paid Grand Caids continued to hold court – separating the rebel Berbers into two distinct regions. With the aid of a strong pincer from coastal Morocco, the inland force struck at grid 0479. All of the defenders attempted to flee, unwilling to lose the only stockpile of ammunition available in the southwestern pocket should events go as predicted, and half the Berbers did escape with all of the supplies. The remaining defending “unit,” without much ammunition, fell easy prey to the French, who thus subdivided the southwestern Berber pocket into one tiny and one large area.
French loss: supply point
Berber loss: 1-6 irr [X]
In West Africa, a lone and quite minor rebellion among tribesman in mid-nowhere did not even slow down the continued exodus of Entente units from the region for duty in Cameroon and France. Some residents of frontier towns throughout the region began to report distant dust clouds over the Sahara and to wonder who would protect them from the Sanussi horde with the European garrisons at minimum levels.
In East Africa, the struggle between low excitement and high trepidation – no combat but high fear of tsetse flies – continued apace. In November, British vessels withdrew a bit of force from Kenya and in December the strong remainder simply began to move to positions in which they could shield the colony from any serious aggression; both sides lack the ability to do much more. In the west and south of the area, British and Belgian forces sat passive in their garrison regions, too fearful of rebellion in their rear for their local political partners to allow the field forces to move either forward or back. Portuguese reinforcements continued to arrive in Mozambique, to prevent rebellions like those threatening the viability of Angola and its grossly insufficient garrison. The only real excitement in the theater came from insects, as South African railroad engineers and native laborers moved to build a railway from the south to connect to the Belgian river transportation network; the bugs sickened many but work would begin on schedule.
The struggle for Cameroon proceeded with as little adrenaline as did that for Tanzania, but events in the former pointed toward a much more imminent climax. French forces, just a couple of battalions, finally reached the southeastern border of the colony after collecting in and marching forward from French Congo and Gabon. British forces from Nigeria simultaneously collected on Cameroon’s northern border and well inside its northeastern corner. French units from West Africa, landed in Nigeria earlier, pushed forward into coastal Cameroon. Widely spread and grossly outnumbered German forces could only watch as their supply source – their network of friendly towns – was about to fall apart even as the weather was about to turn clear.
It was in the South Africa Theater that events in on that continent leapt forward with both Sanussi-like vigor and Cameroonian decisiveness. The Boers had revolted early in the war and been decisively crushed after the catastrophe of their attempted coup de main in Johannesburg; by the end of November, the last three Boer brigades had fled to Upington on the border of German Southwest Africa. While a small German force met the Boers at the border and the politics of the situation prevented good cooperation between them, the larger German force threatened Portuguese Angola and supported rebellious tribesmen there. British forces both followed the Boers from the south and invaded South Africa’s empty new colony (the name Namibia was kicked around) amphibiously. By the end of November, the German supply network collapsed, German forces near Angola fled eastward toward Tanzania, and the Boers and Germans in the south hunkered down to make the British pay in the media for having a city in South Africa being held by the Central Powers. In December, the British consolidated the situation, hemming the Upington pocket – virtually guaranteeing its quick surrender through lack of food if a more immediate destruction in combat was deemed unwise, the Germans enjoying one supply point for seven and a half regiments in the cauldron. Elsewhere across South Africa and its dependencies, the thin coverage of garrison units shifted in preparation for returning to civilian life and protecting themselves from Germans and natives in the meantime.
The German and native ripostes to Entente aggression proved broadly unexciting in December 1914. Berbers in Morocco and Germans in Cameroon and East Africa merely shifted their positions to meet as well as possible apparently overwhelming Entente threats. Some wager, however, that the Berbers will remain almost as strong for years to come and certainly East Africa is unlikely to be seriously threatened until late 1915.
The South Africans having seized every German town in Southwest Africa, the colony’s defenders fled. In the south, a cavalry regiment and artillery battalion consolidated with the Boers at Upington and broke their supply point down into 30 general supply points, exactly enough for four initial phases. In the northeast, the stronger German force, about three regiments and with further supplies, splashed further toward Tanzania on a trek that will be epic and, for the British rail construction effort along the way, may be unfortunate.
The Sanussi explosion seemed anti-climactic in December. The vastness of the Sahara and absence of opposition rendered only distantly interesting roving columns of camel-mounted irregulars imposing an anarchic will on oases along a two thousand mile arc. The only French-loyalist Touareg regiment in the region did not escape destruction in December as it had in November, but otherwise the Sanussi merely moved potentially useful forces to within distant striking range of British and French garrisons in Algeria, Mauretania, northern Niger, and northern Nigeria. Strong Sanussi units meanwhile pinned the solid Italian (even the phrase caused some laughter) defenders of Sirte and Tripoli against the strand, able to move a bit but not to join together, reach Tunisia, or really threaten their besiegers.
French losses: 1-0-7C irr [III] (one suspects that the foreign special replacements from this unit will end up in a Legion Etranger regiment somewhere)