In the Balkans an SM.79-I withdraws but a much better tactical Ju87B/R arrives. Two inf pts, one mtn & one armor also arrive. 2 ARPs are spent to return the Mxd F to Rhodes and a previously aborted SM.81. We review the situation in the East Africa area and believe there is a 75% chance that the Allies will not cross the border. Even so, to facilitate mov’t next turn a point of a/s is converted to GSPs at Addis. The point in Assab is converted to res pts. Due to Indian units at Gallabat, the Gondar garrison is released. Air woes continue and of the four units at the front in North Africa and the fighter to the rear, only a single CR.42 goes operative at 5018. Still, we can’t use our Italian Navy, can’t really attack, so the lost usage of a few fighters and the Ba.65 won’t hurt us really. On the positive side, Matruh is overstacked so the Bombay and a Glad go inop as well. At the end of the phase, the Greek P.24F flies a CAP over Athenai to prevent any more terror bombing runs while the Wellsly & Blen4 fly an unescorted harassment mission to 0218, the hex just west of Bardia. Our operative CR.42 flies intercept. Random allocation pits it against the Blen4, but the CR.42 rolls a 9 and the Blen a 7 so both planes miss one another. Time for some remedial training for our fighter pilots!
In Greece, with the elimination of one stack and the Greek terrorists having gained a pair of three hexside attack opportunities in the center of my line, the Italians are forced to temporarily give up some of the liberated Cham area (though we’ll get VPs for them at end of turn), two hexes total. The line now runs along the border in the north to Kalpaki and then southwest to Egouminitsa. So far no Greek feet have managed to set foot in Albania proper! I do switch the units in 3401 and 3502, since the 3502 hex will be able to be attacked from three sides. The defense strength will be the same, but the Albanian X should be better protected (a political issue) in the northernmost hex. This will put the hero XX’s from last turn’s AS at 3401 into the 3502 hex, so we’ll see if they can withstand yet another assault. The 48th Taro XX and a III from another XX admin up to Koritsa to be fed into the line next turn. The Albanian Blackshirt X backs off a hex, since it’s got no DS. 5 Pst Mtn XX lands at Porto Edda and moves one hex inland to join the line next turn. 37 Mod XX breaks down and it’s larger III lands directly in the line at Egouminitsa while it’s other III lands at Port Edda and moves inland with the Pst mountaineers. Back at Valona, the two const III’s repair another hit via quick construction, and then one puts two more mps toward repair while the other begins moving north to Durazzo. One a/s each is transported to Valona & Durazzo. Five SMPs are used to move these points forward, while the remaining 10 are used to move the 2 res pts in Koritsa back to Valona, one then being transported back to Italy and the other shifting south along the coastal road. One inf and one mtn point are landed at Valona as well. Knowing I’ll have no attacks, and it will be obvious to the Allies, 4 rail bombing missions are run against the Greek rail net around the 5014 rail junction and the Sperkios river area. One hit is achieved at 5013.
At Malta, 3 strategic bombing missions are launched against the interdiction forces, resulting in one hit (2 SM.79-I’s and the SM.81 participate, Malta number goes back to 6.) Flak cannot fire due to the low amount available (2 column shift is off the chart.) With Malta’s port essentially immune to complete reduction (12 RE capacity cannot be reduced to less than 5 RE’s), we bomb the airfield with some strat bombers, combining 2 units to get a 1 pt attempt. Flak misses, but so does our attempt on the field (to ensure we have some units available for naval patrol, two units are used in non-Malta bombing missions.)
On the ground in North Africa, a general retreat is ordered. Two XX’s and the const III in the front lines make the “safety” of Bardia, while units that were previously in Bardia or not in the front lines manage to make Tobruk. Blackshirts and an arty unit that had been in Bardia admin up into the hump, midway between Derna and Gazala. 10th Corps artillery admins to 3921 in the hump bypass, while the 24 dM Arty III and the Tonini parachute infantry admin to 3722 along the same road. 1st Arm II admins as far along that road is its mps will carry it, but the 3rd Arm II actually moves forward via rail along the Cyrenaica net and then via admin to the 3617 airfield.
In Italian East Africa, a meager 2 is rolled, so the Duca is limited to 3 RE’s of mov’t. He needs to get off his duff and give some orders <grins.> The 65th Grenadiers of Savoy XX admins along the road leading east out of the Addis area, while the other RE is spent on the 22nd Col X, which admins up to just west of Gondar to block any mov’t south from Gallabat. Our Red Sea NTP carries one of the Assab res pts up to Massaua via coastal sea hexes. SMPs are burned liberally, with the Gondar a/s point moved east to Adua, the remaining Addis point moved east, and the 12 converted GSPs also shifted slightly east to accommodate next turn’s mov’ts. Three SMPs worth of trucks are left dead on the side of the roads due to an inability to perform proper maintenance (due to lack of spare parts, etc. caused by the command’s unfortunate but only temporary isolation.) Fortunately, the Duca’s conservatism limits don’t prevent him from blowing up various infrastructure items, so airfields at Iavello, Neghelli, Magi (a very rare mountain airfield), Afmadu and Bardera are blown up and removed. Likewise, various bridges and airfields get hits on them up in the northern areas circa Tessenai to Agordat. Units that are outside of the AOI are not limited by conservatism, so the 12th Col X abandons Kassala and heads southeast into Eritrea, while the 1st Cav mot Inf X actually heads two hexes west of Kassala, where it begins the process of destroying the rail bridge across the Atbarah river. The other unit remaining outside the AOI, the 103 Dub Bande X, shifts northeast a hex, taking up residence at 3W:0113 in the bush, hoping to avoid the coming onslaught of Allied transported inf X’s bearing down on it.
There isn’t any.
Nothing happens in the Balkan area, literally. In the EA area, only the 1st Cav mot Inf X accomplishes anything. First it completes the destruction of the rail bridge and then it breaks the rail in the hex as well. It then settles in to await its fate, which will no doubt be ugly. In North Africa, the 2nd Lt Arm X exploits up to the “23M” group at 4317, the 1st Lt Arm X joins the 10th Corps Art III at 3921, and the 1st Arm II takes up residence at Soluch, previously home to the 3rd Arm II now at the 3617 airfield. For the Allies, their CAP over Alexandria lands at Volos while a Blen1 and Glad at Matruh transfer over to Khania on Crete. Axis earns 6 VPs for Greek hexes, so the totals are 34 Axis to 0 Allied.
In Greece, despite lucky rolls with poor odds/mods attacks, our line is still fairly solid. In North Africa, both Bardia & Tobruk are well garrisoned and will hopefully cause either a delay in an Allied advance as big units are assembled to assault, or will cause exchange losses in the event the Allies go with smaller scale attacks. We have good blocking positions both in the hump and in the bypass. Airfields were unfortunately left unscathed around Tobruk (by rule we cannot destroy airfields on Dec I 40), and one ungarrisoned one still has three of our air units while the other has a single air unit, but we’ll take care to move them out before the Allies can move into them. The East Africa area is still in a ‘wait and see’ period while the Allies decide whether to press their claim to the area and cross the border.