Axis spies get word that two special operations are in planning on the Allied side, one in the EA area and one that is probably in the BF area. I cast about for possible targets and figure the sneaky Brits may be trying something in the Dodecannese. We’ll have to see about that. The only supply issue of note is the 10th Greek Inf III on Kerkyra, currently at U-3 and isolated. In East Africa, the 27th NR X shows up for duty in Nairobi, while the Ethiopian 1/2 Inf II arrives at Port Sudan. South African units show up on the south edge of the map ensconced in NTs, including the 5th Inf X, 1st Recon II, various replacement tanks and 10 smp’s worth of lorries. In Suez the 6th Aus Hq goes full, while a/s arrives at sea for mov’t forward. Also, the FF Inf X upgrades to a 2-1-8 “Orient” X. GSPs are generated at 4 locations, two in Greece which are being used to keep the British 14th X in supply, and two more in Egypt, possible use as yet undetermined. Malta is repaired to a 5. Italian bombers in Massaua are placed on naval patrol.
In Greece the Greek army moves up to engage the Italian forces intent on liberating the Cham, weakly in the south and more strongly in the northeast. Three to one attacks in the muddy mountains appear the best that can be achieved. The Thess Const X moves around to 4612, northeast of Mt. Olympus where a res pt is also located, probably intent on fort building in the gap between the mountains and the swamps to the east. The Keph X is moved to Athenai via sea mov’t. In North Africa, the Allies remain conservative regarding their left hooks, with two armored units and the W Art engaging the 0519 hex from the front, with the 4th Arm X, 7th Spt Grp, and two Indian and two Brit Inf X’s swinging around to take the 0520 hex from the rear. Because of the impassible escarpment hexsides at the Halfaya Pass the forward Italian units are not isolated. Hurricane and Glad air units fly CAP over 0519, while just a single Glad flies CAP over 0520. To the rear, 16th Aus & 7th Indian X’s move up to 1018, while the a/s seized at Sidi Barrani is moved to the rear to join them. 20th Aus & 23rd Brit X’s are moved up to Matruh, while the 1M Free French II & the 66 RPC Const X are a bit further to the rear. Of note, the GSPs created back in the delta are railed up to Matruh as well, where the Bombay transports are currently based. A pair of NZ X’s join the two Australian X’s already in Alexandria, joined by the 6th Aus Inf Hq. 21st Aust moves to Ismailia and the Orient FF X shifts east to Suez. The a/s that arrived for the Middle East command passes by the Italian bombers in Massaua unscathed, as do SMPs that are shipped in to Port Sudan from South Africa. In Sudan, Kassala is lightly screened at a distance by a few battalions, while the heavier 10th and 29th Indian X’s engage the defenders of Gallabat from east and west. 9th Ind X is railed around to the rail junction at 15W:1305. In Kenya, 2 X’s and some transports reach a point just north of the town of Buna, a couple of hexes southwest of Moyale, defended by the 25th Italian Col X. More admin mov’t sees 21st EA X to just southwest of the airfield at El Wak and the 2nd South African X to Muddi Gashi via lorries. 22nd EA & 27th NR X’s admin towards the road junction at Garrissa from Nairobi, while the recently arrived 5th SA X and some transports admin through Nairobi from where they landed at Mombasa. 23rd N X admins up to Liboi, from where it can keep an eye on the Italians Colonials at Afmadu and in the Chisimaio area.
In response to the various Allied moves, the Axis stages the CR.42 on Sicily to Derna and then flies a CAP over the airfield at 4818, just south of Tobruk. We judge that the Allies may be planning to seize the airfield in exploit and then fly in GSPs with the Bombay transports. The Italian fighters should give the transports pause, which could put the kibosh on the whole enterprise. The CR.32bis in Tripoli is likewise staged forward and flies a CAP over Benghazi to keep any port bombing missions to a minimum.
In Greece, I fly das more for practice than anything else, as no matter how I allocate it Greek odds cannot be lessened beyond 3:1 -2, nor can they get any better with GS on their part. In North Africa, I as the air commander make a bit of a mistake. We have a chance to increase the odds of losses to the Allies by flying the Ju87 to the 0519 hex (1 in 6 of losses, whereas the Ju87 at 0520 would reduce the odds but still leave the chance of losses at 1 in 3.) Of course, we have only 2 fighters that can fly escort, so there is a much better chance that the Allies will bypass and get after the Ju87. Still, I reason that we have 2 ARPs in the bank, the Italians could get some free shots at Allied fighters, and even if the Ju87 is aborted or killed, we can bring it right back and it won’t have to go through the roll to be made operative… the mistake being of course that the Italians are apparently restricted from spending ARPs in their Dec I 40 turn in North Africa, a point I missed. Anyway, the Allies promptly change their CAP over 0519 to intercept, having the Hurri bypass and the Glad engage the escorts. In combat, the Glad returns the CR.42 with a 6, while the CR.42 misses the Glad w/ a 10. The CR.32bis gets its free shot at the Hurri1, but rolls a 7 for no effect. The Hurri then blasts the Ju87 with a 4 modified to a 3 for a K, with the Italians rolling a 7 modified to an 8 for another NE. Dang.
In actual ground combat, the Allies begin in Greece with a 3:1 -2 attack (mud, mtns, mountaineering, auto a/s) against hex 3401, but the stalwart 49 Par and 51 Si XX’s catch the Greek mountaineers attempting to sneak up on the Italian lines send them back to their start line (3 rolled for AS.) For this feat of arms, each division earns its Legionaire Eagle. Further south at the 3602 hex things go less well, with another 3:1 -2 attack (same mods) rolling a 5 for a HX. Six points of Italians die, as does the Greek 16th Mtn X while two Greek XX’s enter the hole in the Italian line. The Greek commander is clearly feeling ballsy, launching two attacks at 3:1 -2 odds, which could easily have seen the cream of the Greek army destroyed or sent packing with a 1 in 3 chance of an AH or AR in each case.
In North Africa things go better for Italian arms despite the trials and tribulations in the air. The valiant 2nd Lt Arm X screens the 64th Inf XX’s defensive line and the Britsh 7th Arm X, the heavy tanks of the 7th RT II and the W Arty X find themselves seizing empty entrenchments (the 3:1 +3 attack at 0519 rolls a 2, resulting in a DR.) Thanks to Halfaya Pass escarpments and Italian tankers, the defending Italians escape to the west no worse for wear. Guarding the entrenchments and flank of the 0519 defenders, 63rd Cir XX and the 21st Corp Arty III are well sited despite the feeble Allied attempt to take their box in the rear. The 2:1 +1 attack rolls a 4 for an HX result and while the defending 5 points of Italians die, they take two 2-8 X’s of British troops (16th & 22nd) with them. In both these attacks the Allies used GS, but Italian flak had no effect.
In East Africa, the unit defending Gallabat is routed in an automatic kill.
Nothing to speak of in Greece. In North Africa, the 7th Arm XX forms up at 0321, but otherwise makes no aggressive moves towards Bardia or Tobruk. I guess our CAP at the 4818 airfield prevented any GSPs transport mission. In Sudan, the few motorized units remain in screening positions back from the border. In Kenya, Moyale is overrun, but Allied units remain on their side of the border. Various other units are transported further forward, especially along the axis leading to El Wak and Garissa. It would appear that the Allied EA commander is operating under a strategy of cleaning up the border areas first, probably to prevent the Axis from earning any VPs for owning towns in Kenya or Sudan. In the air, the Allies get aggressive and launch an air raid against the airbase at Scarpanto, where the Dodecannese air force is based. The Mxd F intercepts and bypasses the Greek Pz.24 in an attempt to keep the bombers on the ground safe, but the Allies roll a 6 aborting the fighters. The Blen1 & Greek bombers then combine for an effective 1 bombing strength attempt and roll a 6 there as well, aborting the Italian Mxd B on the ground. Bad turn for the Italian AF. The Allied Navy than attempts to run the a/s from the Middle East Command into Malta, using night mov’t to get close to the port and then unloading during the day. Two SM.79’s from the coastal base at 0603 quickly launch a naval patrol mission to Valleta, making contact with a 6 rolled (+3 for calm seas, -0 for distance), 2 points of flak fails to drive them off (8 & 9 rolled), and then a 6 and 3 are rolled in bombing, resulting in one NTP sunk and the a/s point eliminated as it was attempting to offload at the docks. A small bit of vengeance for an otherwise bad air turn.