The 7/2 Para III at Khania goes undisrupted, bringing back full capabilities on Crete. The Axis gains 3 VPs for owning Massaua. One special operation is cancelled, while an additional 6 are planned. In supply items, for the Axis all units in the Dodecannese are U-4, but those on Scarpanto use 2 GSPs to go into special supply. On Crete, the Italian III is U-4 isolated, and the Para III’s are U-1 isolated. Two available GSPs put the Italian and the 7/1 Para into supply. In East Africa, all units are U-4, and many in the west are now isolated due to the loss of Gimma. For the Allies, on Crete the allied units in the western tip are U-2 or U-1, though not isolated as the Axis units in Khania have no zoc’s (allowing a trace back to Rethymnon.) Units defending Malta are U-4, while those in Tobruch go U-2 isolated. The a/s converted to 12 GSPs in the fortress puts all units back into supply however, forcing the Axis to wait an additional turn before any attempt to clear the fortess can occur (currently 14 pts defending, w/ 5 pts AA.) In East Africa, the units at Bulhar are U-1 or U-2.
In western AOI, 10-12 units are now isolated, but only 6 are within 2 hexes of allied units. This requires 6 surrender rolls, but those go well and only 3 units surrender. Sufficient numbers of Italians are still in the west that isolated Axis hexes do not yet convert to Allied control.
In politics, the Iraqi’s still cannot get up the nerve to revolt, rolling an 8 (+1 mod to 9).
In reinforcement & replacement activity, the Balkan CC decides to burn up the RPs on
hand. (Technically, Italian losses do not count for Allied VPs, yet Italian RPs on hand do appear to do so (positively.) This seems a bit cheesy, and would encourage the Italians to not replace units for a VP gain. I burn them up because of this, meaning one inf XX, one cav III and one motorcycle III are rebuilt in Albania, though none will likely make it to the front before the war in the Balkans is over.) In North Africa, 8th Pzr III and the 221st Art III show up for duty in Sicily, awaiting transport. In East Africa, the last of the air mechanics is scrounged for one final inf RP. Two of the 2.5 at Massaua are then used to rebuild the 4th& 5th Col X’s. Four units are scrapped in the pool, generating .5 RP which is placed at Dessie for next turn, but meanwhile, the 1 pt there is used to replace the 7th Col X, max-stacking the mountain redoubt.
GSPs are placed at each island in the Central Med, at Sicily, and at all high volume lines along the east edge of the map in the Balkan area. All garrisons are currently in place, and the Dire Daua one is released (technically last Allied exploit phase) due to the South Africans having moved with 6 hexes of the city.
Harassing units go inop (Ju87B/R at Egouminitsa, Me110D & Ju87B at Khania), and then an Me110C and CR.32bis go inop as well at Khania for overstacking. The Greek P.24 is overstacked w/ a Hurri1 at Rethymnon, so it too goes inop. At the end of the phase, the Glad at Melos flies a CAP over Khania.
The Allies actually open the phase by flying a transfer mission with the Well1C’s on Melos, retreating away to Alexandria in Egypt. On the Axis side, movement begins with naval and air missions. First, the Mxd F, Mxd B and a MC.200 staged in to Scarpanto bomb the Eraklion airfield with a Hurri1 on the tarmac. Not wanting to scramble away or ‘waste’ an intercept against these weak air units, the Brits huddle in slit trenches and hope their birds don’t get destroyed on the ground. Rolls of 1, 4, and 3 ensure the Hurri’s are ok. The bombing units return to Rodi & Scarpanto. Two Ca.133’s on Sicily then strat bomb Malta’s port. Flak misses and bombing rolls of 1 and 5 result in a single hit, returning the Malta status to 15.
Naval movement begins then with 8th Pzr attempting to move from Syracusa to Derna. Surprisingly, contact is made when snake-eyes are rolled, but the effects roll is a 3, so the Pzr’s are merely turned back and not sunk. Shivers… more delays until the Tobruch assault can procede. The 221st art III however makes it across without incident to Derna. And then, 1 a/s is moved from Tripoli to Benghazi via the coastal road. Finally, in a sneaky maneuver, a TC at Mersa Fatmah on the Red Sea coast says for the Yemini port of Hodeida. Contact is easy given the 0 column (5 rolled, so close to the 4 which would have been no contact), but the effects chart roll is a 4 and the Red Sea NTP slips away from it’s pursuers and delivers the TC to Yemen. (Axis units are allowed entry to Yemen, just as Allied units may enter Saudi Arabia…)
Ground movement must then kick off in Greece before additional air missions can be flown. This mostly entails engineer and cons units repairing the 2 hits on the high volume rail line leading to Athenai, while other such units rail forward into the 15:0314 area where 1 pt temp airbases are built in this and two neighboring hexes. Two mtn XX’s then breakdown into unsupported units and move to the 0214 airbase, joined by the independent 125th Inf III and joining a pair of eng III’s already in the hex. Air mission #3 then kicks off with 6 Ju52’s staging into the field, flying transport ops w/ 4 Mtn III’s, the 125th infantry & the 511th Eng III. A CR.42 and G.50bis stage to Khania and join a Me109E on escort. The Glad on CAP and the Hurri1 based at Rethymnon intercept, and both attempt bypasses to get at the Axis troops attempting to land at the field. The Me109E is randomly allocated against the Glad, so both Italian units attempt to drive of the Hurri’s. The 109’s roll a 4 and splash the Glads, but the Italians don’t fare so well, rolling a pair of 7’s, so the Hurri’s get in amongst the transports. They are randomly allocated against the Ju52 carrying the engineers (of course L), roll a 7 and abort the a/c, returning the engineers back to the mainland base by rule. The Ju52’s roll 8 for a miss. Escorts return to the now severely overstacked Khania airbase, with the surviving interceptors heading back to Rethymnon.
In the remaining ground movement in Greece, in the west Italian units move up to re-engage with the fleeing Greek Army. To the south, 2nd Pzr XX, LSSAH, & 2 non-divs cross the Spherkios to 0414, engaging the mini-Greek Corps at 0413 from the flank. 5th Pzr XX and various other non-div c/m units engage the 0413 defenders from directly across the river. Meanwhile Das Reich crosses the mountains via the Karpension road and seizes the northern part of the straits at Patrai. 9th Pzr, 5th Gebirgsjager, 11th Pzr, and the Italian Julia Alpini XX complete the screen of Greek troops attempting to make for the southeast. In the central area of Greece, Italian and German Cons units, Italian Alpini, various flak III’s, German infantry, etc all flow south or to ports. In northeast Greece more German units move to ports, while some head north back towards Rumania and the upcoming Russian compaign. Bulgarian units seize Thrace, annexing the region. A combination of rail movement (much of it off and back on map), cartaging and SMP usage sees four A/S moved to 0314, 16 GSPs moved to 0314 and various airbases just north, plus more 8 GSP shifted to Larisa. Two res pts are moved to Thessalonike. On Crete, the 2/7 Para III shifts west out of Khania, cutting off the Allied troops at the western tip. The 1/7 Para III and the Italian ‘C’ Inf III shift southeast into the mountain hex, engaging the Erak Static X currently guarding Rethymnon (and bypassing the Rethy Static X on the road.) The units air landed earlier wait for the combat phase. One airbase repair point is used to repair the Khania airbase up to full 3 pt capacity.
In North Africa, more infantry and artillery move into the lines around Tobruch. A large stack of c/m units is aggregated just west of Porto Bardiya, while some c/m arty III’s and Trento are a bit further ahead just over the Egyptian border. Well in front, a few Italian c/m units regain control of Matruh and take ownership of a few hexes otherwise taken by Allies. Axis control extends roughly from just east of Matruh to the Qattara Depression’s northwestern terminus. The withdrawal of the German Pzr’s from the line around Tobruch necessitates pulling out of the 4918 hex however, with 4919 instead held more weakly with some Italian Arty and a pair of armored II’s. One con unit moves to the coast and builds a 2 cap temp airbase at 4618, while the other shifts around Tobruch to the south for future moves eastwards. The a/s point that is forward at 4818 is shifted around Tobruch and then overland to join the big c/m stack at 0218 west of Porto Bardiya.
In East Africa, there is little to do but tweak things. The 2104 hex in front of Massaua is abandoned and Massaua is garrisoned directly, while its northwest approaches are also garrisoned strongly. A weak line of Italian units continues into the mts from this point about 30 miles, as far as the pass though the mts west of Cub Cub. To the north, the 92nd Col X shifts due east to rethreaten Allied supplied lines (at 14W:1504). A few cons and a pair of inf X’s shift south along the coast to defend ports (or damage them), as they cannot ‘fit’ into the lines at Massaua. The cons unit at Assab damages the port, waiting for some Allied unit to come along and capture it. The units at Dessie hunker down and await the siege that will surely come. The one remaining unit in the Oromos Highlands shifts southeast to get back into unisolated status, while 3 units in the Mendebo Mts advance forward and retake Dalle (Italian papers trumpet the news J). Far in the west, in Sudan and Kenya, single units shift about, mostly to get as far from Allied units as possible. Near Harar, some units flow towards the last southern limited supply terminal (Berbere being ungarrisoned and sure to fall next turn.) The released 13th Col X at Dire Daua shifts west to threaten the supply line of some Allied troops, though at this point the Allies can draw supply from north and south fairly freely. In Yemen, the TC that landed at Hodeida moves toward Sana (though it will be out of supply and isolated indefinitely while ‘in exile.’)
Returning to air activity after all the ground movement is completed, a ‘found’ MC.200 attempts another raid on the Hurri1 at Eraklion but fails to score a hit. Axis High Command then bites the bullet and initiates a second drop on Crete. 1st Sturm III, railed into the 0314 airbase is picked up by 2 Ju52’s and dropped on Rethymnon (the mission that was cancelled in the ini phase was the 3/7th drop on Khania.) The remaining Me109E and an Me110D from Scarpanto fly escort for the mission. The Hurri1 at Eraklion remains static (guess these guys are enjoying the tea too much to move, though Allied High Command adopts a American Colonial aphorism by indicating it’s a ‘don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes’ thing.) The inop P.24 and Hurri1 on the field use this mission as an excuse to scramble away, the P.24 to Eraklion and the Hurri1 all the way back to Alexandria. Wimps. The 1st Sturm decends, and the disruption roll is an average 3, and with the -2 mod (rough, enemy occupied hex), ends up disrupted. Still, it will be in auto attack supply and supported, plus counts for GS later. Two more Ju52’s stage to 0314, pick up 8 GSPs and land them at Khania safely given the Hurri1 at Eraklion’s distance. All Ju52’s used over Crete land at Rodi airbases, one significantly overstacked. All the F’s used land at Khania, which has no less than 8 air units on the base.
Elsewhere, 4 SM.79-1’s on Sicily, no longer really necessary to keep Malta suppressed, stage to the Levant and fly naval harassment missions against Port Suez. Flak misses and average rolls result in 2 hits at the port (+2 VPs to Axis). The BR.20M already in the Levant flies against Ismailia, flak misses there as well and a 6 results in a 3rd naval harassment hit (+1 VP.)
At the end of the phase the Hurri1 at Eraklion commits to protecting the Allied X’s at 4303 by flying a CAP there.
Axis air responds by flying 5 bombers to 4303, and just one to Rethymnon to ensure both attacks will go off at no worse than 8:1 -1 regardless of air combat results. The Hurri1 does switch to intercept, randomly gets matched up against one of the Ju88A1’s (of course, 3 Italians, 2 Germans, and the Germans get the match up.) The Hurricanes only manage an R result however, while the Junker’s miss entirely. The 4303 attack then goes in at 8:1 -1 (no a/s, some units U-1/isolated on Axis side, all units U-1 or worse on the Allied side & isolated, rough terrain.) Two Mtn XX’s worth of unsupported troops, plus a German Inf III and the 7/2 para line up against the 4 Allied X’s trapped on the Cretan beachhead… A 2 is rolled, but it is sufficient for a DH, sending 2 X’s immediately to the dead pool and leaving the other two driven into the sea or surrendering (no retreat hex available.) The 7/2 para III advances to clear out the Allied owned terrain. The attack at Rethymnon goes off next, w/ the 7/1 para, 1st Sturm III and the ‘C’ 2-6 Italian Inf III lined up against a single X of Greek static troops. Both sides are unsupported, and the defenders have rough terrain to assist, but the He111H4’s overhead w/ 2 pts GS is sufficient to ensure odds of 8:1 -1 again. A 5 rolled results in a DE, with the Erak Static X heading for the deadpool. The ‘C’ Inf III advances to seize control of the airfield & port (joining the 1st Sturm already there via airdrop), simultaneously trapping the Rethymnon static X between the Khania and Rethmnon airheads. For now, just one Allied unit remains on Crete, and it is trapped, surrounded by three Axis stacks. Lastly, the blocking position on the south bank of the Spherkios at 15:0413 is assaulted by a full Pzr Corps. From directly across the river and from the western flank, 5.5 RE’s of unsupported Greek non-divs are smashed by 2nd & 5th Pzr, LSSAH, the Grossdeutchland Lb III and assorted arty and assault gun non-divs. The 9:1 +2 attack (a/s provided, no GS required) is a foregone conclusion as any result is a DE… 2 is rolled for historical note. All flanking units move out of the mountains from the west, and everything from the north that can advance does so as well, up to the stacking limits. The Italian floatplanes land at Rethymnon, while the Ju88A’s land at Scarpanto. The remaining Italian & German bombers land at the temp fields north of the Spherkios. The Hurri1’s are forced to land at Eraklion, safe for the time being.
In Greece, Panzers advance to the gates of Athenai, the Acropolis in view. LSSAH and the GD Lb m Inf III advance past the Greek capital into the Peloponessus, seizing the RMY’s at Korinthos & Nauplion. LSSAH advances northwest to take the defenders at Patrai in the rear, while the GD moves southwest towards Kalamai. The Greeks lose 2 more pts of rail cap while the Axis gains one (34 for the Axis in the Balkans, just 2 remaining to Greece.) In North Africa, advance c/m units return to their start lines just east of the Egyptian border, unable yet to advance until Tobruch is assaulted and the supply lines eastwards cleared. (Of note, we discover the escarpment mp cost has gone up, so two c/m movements from the movement phase are slightly modified, and the 5th Army Cons III which built a 2 cap temp airfield on the coast west of Tobruch is modified to a 1 cap’er with 1 mp spent to build the second. The Ju87B’s that transferred in to the field are returned back to Sicily.) In East Africa, minor unit movements along the coast or just around Massaua, the most significant being the Eritrean m Inf X shifting via the Asmara valley from the mtn road at 14W:1906 southwards to the mtn road at Nafasit just west of Massaua. In Yemen, we receive a ruling that despite no Allies being anywhere in the area, Italian units would be subject to surrender rolls in country. Apparently the surrender rule exception for the East Africa area is specific to the geographical region, not the theater. Seems odd to us, especially in light of the fact that no Allies are nearby to surrender to, and part of the justification is to prevent the Italian player from ‘extending’ the campaign by moving to Yemen… this last is odd given that absent an optional rule being in play (and one that has been suggested no sane Italian player would agree to (upfront anyway), there would in fact be no surrender rules at all for an exception to apply to (or not to apply to, as the case may be). Regardless, the TC that was hoping to wait out the war in Sana exploits back to the Yemeni coast and hopes to survive two surrender checks so it can return back to where Allies can kill it?? Perhaps we should just assume Yemeni bandits are stealing the trucks ;)
A few air missions are flown at the end of the phase. Ju87Rs out of Scarpanto fly against the naval interdiction zone around Crete to garner a few more VPs. Contact is easily made w/ a 5 rolled, and flak is ineffective, but the R’s roll very poorly and get no hits. Two Ju87B’s fly against the airfield at Athens while an Italian SM.79-1 and an He111H4 fly against the capital in a strategic terror mission as a combined op. Flak aborts the Heinkels, and the Italians miss. One hit from the 87’s does manage to abort the Blen1’s sitting on the airfield at Athenai however. Three more Ju87B’s are available in Greece, with nothing much else to do, so they fly a separate tactical terror bombing against the Greek capital (one begins to feel a bit sorry for the populace, what with the only defending troops being Allies scampering for transports to carry them away, stacks of German Panzers just outside the gates, and hundreds of bombers indiscriminately scattering bombs all over the city.) Flak manages to abort yet another German plane, but the other two at least manage one hit (+1 VP to Axis.)
End of turn
VP totals are now 71 for the Axis against -11 to the Allies.