British – The HQ of the 70th XX and a newly arrived SA X head for Palestine, it seems clear that the British intend on removing the threat of the Levant from their flank before the Axis reach anywhere near the Nile. Flying overhead are fighters and bombers of the RAF, drawn back from Libya. Some units are rebuilt in the Delta from the survivors of the earlier campaigning. Tobruk is garrisoned by the 7th Aust XX, a tank battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers and an Artillery brigade. The message is clear – “There will be no Dunkirk here!” The remaining units of WDF (9th AS XX, 22G X and odds and sods retreat to Halafaya sending signals of good luck to the Tobruk defenders.
Axis – Construction units (from the 5th Army in Tripoli) build a temporary airfield to help push forward the air umbrella the Axis are building up. Tobruk is surrounded, but the eastern hex left clear, showing the benevolence and humanity of the Italian Commander who gives the option for the British to evacuate the port without a fight if they so desire. (This is a fact – I felt I’d give my opponent this option to avoid the inevitable battle and expected EX/HX result that occurs when Tobruk is fought over. If he gets his units out with no losses and I get the port – great, there’s a benefit for both of us. I can always hunt him down in the open and crush him like a bug later). Over Malta, the Italian airforce again flies overhead, raining death and destruction. The plucky AA gunners exact a heavy toll, aborting a SM-79.1 and causing the pilots to drop their payloads wide of the target. The Malta status is at 8 and causes the CinC 10th Army to roll about on his Bengasi bunker floor foaming at the mouth and biting the ankles of his air staff in anger.
British – Retreating units destroy the port facilities at Bardia and join the defenders at Halafaya. temporary airfields are built around Sidi Barrani to provide access for the Desert Airforce. More units are built up in Palestine where a round robin cricket contest results in a shock victory to the Free French XI who knock off the surprised South Africans. The Czech’s in the area elect not to field a team but do provide samples of their home brewed beer for refreshment.
Axis – Supply is desperate for the front line troops. No reserves of artillery rounds or fuel are available to meet offensive requirements and the troops are forced to eat their boots, fried up on the turrets of their tanks with eggs brought from local chicken farmers. Bardia is taken as the Axis close off Tobruk and advance to Halafaya.
Meanwhile in Baghdad……
German agents succeed in convincing Rashid Ali to rebel against the imposition of British control of Iraq. For months a network of spies and agents have been working within the Iraqi military and Civil Service, planting rumours and paying bribes, gradually making the German (and Italian) cause more attractive. On a dark night outside Habbaniya Airbase, Kurdish guards, on contract with the British authorities for airfield security, hear the sound of approaching lorries. Standing-to and alerting the RAF personnel on the base, they put up a stiff fight against the Iraqi soldiers of the 3rd XX who are half-hearted in their attempts to drive the British from the vital airfield. It is only when the light tanks and armoured cars of the 1st Mech X arrive later in the day that the Kurds are forced to retreat into the swamps to the west. The powerful RAF contingent (that pathetic Audax I often wonder what to do with) is destroyed on the airfield. News of this battle is conveyed to the Iraqi soldiers, which galvanises them to swear to fight to the finish against the British infidels. Kut is occupied by the 1st XX while the 4th XX marches proudly towards Basra.