Historical – Reggio/Salerno landings, Italian armistice; Corsica evacuated. British land in undefended Taranto
After a stupid oversight, in attempting to cut off the Germans, I have left the 1st Armoured isolated and unsupplied. The armour replacements aren’t the concern – it’s the potential 32 Victory Points I’d be giving away. Derek has noticed this and moves heaven and earth to nobble it.
With the LW Strat forces again summoned, a ginormous air battle breaks out over the division as the Allies desperately try and redeem their mistake. Both sides throw 25+ fighters in to cover their respective half dozen Ground Support planes. In an atrocious display in the art of air combat the Focke-Wulf’s are upstaged by the Italians. Even a P-400 shoots an Fw-190 down!! In the end, everyone’s ground support gets through, but the Axis are left wondering how they lost a 1 on 1 battle in the air. Four German panzer divisions have been sucked across the Messina Straits for this battle. The odds are 5:1 at -2, the only bad result for the Axis is a ‘1’.
What do you know? The Mulligan chip changes hands as that ‘1’ duly comes up, but the 1st Armoured succumbs at the 2nd attempt. The Allies show a similar display of aerial incompetence as the fragile Cagliari port is closed with 4 hits in the face of 5 Spitfires. The Axis turn ends with 3 x 25pt armoured stacks across the Mt Etna-3726 line.
Bloody hell; lost the First Armoured and now the Commonwealth forces in Sardinia are all out of supply & isolated. They shamble their way through the harassment fire and mop up the north-western ports & exploit up to the north-eastern ports.
Being the last Allied turn before Victory Points are calculated, all effort is put into clearing Syracuse and taking Palermo. With more than enough strength in Sardinia (there were actually more REs in Sardinia than in Sicily, against half the force), Commonwealth forces land in Trapani and the west to assault Palermo. After the Battle of Messina, the remaining Luftwaffe has been gutted, so is very quiet and the 15pts of Palermo defenders fall to a 5:1 (at -2) Anglo-American assault. The exploit phase ends with 4 x 20pt stacks up close and personal with the Axis ‘Etna Line’.
In response, the Axis step back to cover Messina. Two panzer stacks are parked in 3824 (45pts) and on Etna (25pts – urrggh!). LSSAH leads the attack off Etna into the US 2nd Armoured’s stack and gets an HX. That’s 2-0 to the SS vs. the US Armour.
In reply, the Allies pile 6 divisions up against the 14th Panzer Corps in 3824. With huge naval and air support, the 2:1 rolls an AS. Yet again, the Germans get away – DARN! Another big effort is put in Sardinia, where the Canadians lead a successful final assault – into La Maddalena. Sardinia is secured with no losses to the Commonwealth ground forces – those Canadian artillery brigades are brilliant!
Finally the planned invasions of Pantelleria and Malta go ahead using marines and the newly arrived 101st Airborne. With unerring accuracy the E-boats of the Maltese Danger Zone evade the covering Task Force and sink 2 of the 4 Marines’ Transports, but the islands are overrun and, finally, the Allied Danger Zones revert to more ‘reasonable levels’.
It was a full-on air campaign this month. In the first half, the Germans were taking 1:1 losses, but got their own back in the latter half dealing out about 5:2 losses. There are now a LOT of American aircraft wrecks lying over Sicily and Calabria. (memo to self – they’ll be worth a fortune to Warbirds societies 50 years hence)