The rules appear to stipulate that the initial and movement phases are normal in every respect, except a few exceptions that allow only German units to act in the ini & movement phases, no construction, etc. This causes some issues, since GSP counts, construction counts & VP accumulation for other theaters would be ‘off’ with this extra ini phase. We decide to run the admin as if the ini phase counts in every theater, but to set aside the various counts so things are not impacted (GSPs disappearing early, extra VPs accumulating due to an additional ini phase, etc.)
German 12th Army and 1st Panzer Group elements set up to the maximum ability in Bulgaria, with a few required elements in Rumania. The Rumanian set-ups include 60th m Inf & Leibstandarte m Inf on the railroad southeast of Craiova, while two infantry XX’s and various smaller c/m units set up just across the border at 14:3103 where they can quickly admin forward into Bulgaria. Two large inf XX’s and a pair of smaller non-divs set up in eastern Bulgaria for movement to Alexandroupolis. The vast majority of 12th Army and 1st Panzer Group set up in western Bulgaria for thrusts into the western half of the Metaxas line. Breakthroughs here should allow mountain and c/m units to shoot the gap between the border and Thessalonike in regular movement, allowing an assault against the Aliakmon and the swamp hex to its east. Proper sequencing should force the big stack at 4612 to retreat to Mt Olympus, allowing a follow on exploit/overrun of the 1st Arm X at Katerine. This in turn should see major German unit into the rear of the Aliakmon, surrounding all remaining units of the Aliakmon and some portion of the northeastern Greek front facing Albania. With 7 allied RE’s currently in Greece, the overrun loss of the Arm X would be ‘devestating’ to Greek morale, forcing two -1 mods to the follow on demoralization roll, guaranteeing Greek demoralization and the surrender of any isolated Greek troops. This could see about half of the Greek army surrender in the Apr II 41 turn. At least, this is the rough outline of the German plan.
Luftwaffe A units set up throughout Bulgaria.
In supply determinations, ignoring the EA theater for now, Malta is U-4, except the flak II’s at U-3, with no GSPs available. Tobruch is U-1 isolated, and Melos is U-1. Axis units in the Dodecannese are U-4. GSPs are created at all the standard locations, but in addition, 4 GSPs are created at the city of Pleven as a high volume rail line along the map 14 edge. All Allied air units that flew missions last turn remain inoperative (only the Glad at Tobruch and a Glad at Port Sudan are available… oh, and that Audax in Iraq J). Italian air units go operative, except the harassers, but cannot fly by rule. One Ju88A that should transfer to Greece this turn is aborted. Without a ruling on how this situation should be handled, we just move the aborted bomber to the Balkan theater abort pool.
Fairly simple in the Balkans. Large stacks concentrate in the four hexes facing the four western most Metaxas line hexes (with one XX limited per border hex, some limited movement was necessary to get all the XX’s into their initial assault hexes.) Various support units and left over XX’s are along the mountain rail line to the rear leading to Sofia, as much for stacking limitations as anything else. The eastern Metaxas is not engaged as it would be of no benefit. In Thrace, two 8-6’s and a pair of supporting units assault Alexandroupolis (Thrace itself is not terribly important, but the airfield here is necessary as air base capacity is at a premium in Bulgaria and with the air units from North Africa about to transfer in, things could get crowded.) To the rear in Bulgaria, one Cons III repairs the Samokov airfield up to full capacity. After all combat calculations are complete, and ranges are calculated it would appear that one Ju87B scheduled to transfer in from Sicily doesn’t have the legs to get any further than Albania and therefore can’t fly GS. This makes it and the He111H4 S code unnecessary in combat, so movement phase bombing missions are flown. Each flies to Korinth and attempts to bomb the rails or RMY yard there to perhaps limit some of the access to and from the Peloponnesus. The Ju87B misses on its long range attempt, but the He111H4 S code hits and the Greek rail net goes down one temp RE in additional to the rail hit generated. (There was an air unit within range of the Ju87, but it was a fighter and would simply scramble away despite its inop status… and besides, there wasn’t any benefit to hitting the airfield at Larissa since I’ll want that as full as possible later.) In the last air mission, the Ju-52 that just arrived picks up the 4 GSPs at Pleven and carries them to Scarpanto on a one way transport mission. This will allow the Italian ‘C’ regiment to run its amphib op in the regular turn in supply.
There are no operative planes in Greece available for DAS, and no flak in the Metaxas line, so GS is fairly easy to work out. Three air units stage in from Sicily to provide GS, in addition to the Luftwaffe A units (with two units already arrived in movement and the third, a Ju88A, aborted in the pool.) All attacks except one below are from one single hex into the named hex. The first attack is by Das Reich, the 46th & 50th Inf XX’s, an eng III, 2 flak III’s and a pair of m Art III’s against the rough 4307, through the improved fortified hexsides of the Metaxas line against the Dodek Mtn III and a pair of Cav III’s. Six points of GS are added to get the attack up to 8:1 -1. However, German attacks don’t go off with quite the élan expected, and a 1 is rolled for a DR. The entire Greek stack is retreated back to Drama to protect the rear of the eastern Metaxas and cover the FWR crossing the mtn hexside to Drama. The second attack is a massive armor assault against Sidhirokastron (4309), in canal intensive terrain and again covered by an improved fortified line. Defending units are the 51st Mtn III and the 10th Inf III, 1-2-6’s both. Pushing through the fortified line are the panzertruppen of the 2nd and 11th Pzr XX’s, the 328th Art X, Gross Deutschland m Inf III, the big 180th Lehr m HAA III, the 612th m Art III, plus a lt flak and asslt eng II. Ju87B’s, R’s, an He111H4 & Me110D provide 14 pts GS, sufficient to garner 9:1 -1 odds despite the fortified zone and poor terrain. Still, the panzers get a bit bogged down and the 10th Inf III fights a delaying action that allows the 51st Mtn III to scamper away to the wooded rough terrain just northeast of Thessolonike (1 rolled for DH, 10th dies, 51st retreats, all Axis units advance.)
At this point, Greek radio chatter and earlier newspaper reports reveal the following:
Newsflash from the frontlines of Northern Greece….
Brought to you from the brave Allied reporters attached to the Gamma corps based in Thessalonkia
Despite massive aerial and numerical supremacy the Germans have been humbled by determined resistance along the frontlines as Greek soldiers cling to their positions in the face of a surprise assault launched by the Germans out of Bulgaria.
The troops defending the road to Drama, have so far been battered with tanks and guns and aircraft, but have fought a stubborn defensive battle as they retreat to Drama itself (26:4406)
Meanwhile at Sihirokastron our brave lads have again been forced to give ground in the face of overwhelming air power. The 10th INF III has been lost but the 51st MTN III continues its fight from the other side of the Axios (26:4409).
Our generals are saying that despite holding all of the advantages the Germans are not attacking with any vigour, they are being lazy, as if they know what the outcome will be in advance.
“Let them come we say, they will meet Spartan steel and feel the cold metal upon their flesh…..
These reports are like trash talk posted in an opponent’s locker room. The newspapers and radio intercepts are passed about the remaining German units yet to attack, and after a few Oberst’s get sacked, the remaining units going over the top up their game substantially, as we shall see. First, the 4308 hex is assaulted now that zoc’s are surrounding the mountain hex with fortified lines. Defending is the Greek 7th Inf XX, the only Greek unit with a zoc in the western half of the Metaxas line, so a critical kill. 4th and 73rd Gebirgsjager XX’s plus 1 III each of engineers, arty and hvy flak assault from 4207, while the 5th Pzr XX provides enfilading fire from 4208 (more so for the RE’s to support more GS, rather than the ¼ strength due to mtns & improved fortified hex lines.) Five Ju87B and R’s plus an Me110D provide GS, halved, but this is sufficient to get the odds to 6:1 -1 after ½ mountaineering affects are considered (large amounts of GS are provided to limit the possibility of losses to the mountain troops to 1 in 6, as the mtn XX’s will be key to assaulting the 4612 wooded rough Aliakmon line hex in the regular turn.) The Gebirgsjager are well trained and slip around the Greek infantrymen holed up in their fort lines. The Greeks are taken from the rear and flanks and destroyed to a man (6 rolled for a DE.) Next, the final western hex of the Metaxas line is assaulted by a combination of Panzers and Mtn troopers. Hex 4209, rough terrain covered by mtn and fortified hexsides is a tough nut, defended by a pair of fortress and bdr X’s, and supported by a III of arty. Still, 9th Panzer, 5 & 6th Gebirgsjager, 2 III’s of engineers, 2 III’s of arty, an asslt gun II and a mtn eng II are sufficient to the task, though loads of GS is flown. Eleven GS points are added by 4 a/c units, sufficient to get the odds to 5:1 -1, and given that the Gebirgsjager troops are doing so well, another 6 answers the call for a second DE, eliminating all Greek defenders and seeing all assaulting troops across the Metaxas with an open road leading into the planes northwest of Thessalonike and north of the Aliakmon. In the final attack of the surprise turn, the various islander troops at Alexandroupolis are attacked by the 72nd and 76th Inf XX’s, an arty III and the 125th Inf III in a 8:1 -1 that requires just one Me109E in GS. A third 6 is rolled, killing off three X’s of fortress & static troops from various Aegean islands, and clearing the airfield for Axis operations. The loss of the port also drops the Greek rail cap to 9.