North African/Near East set up:
For the Axis, things are basically set out on a hex by hex basis. There is very little variability allowed for our side. In the Levant, we run a sort of in-house TEM contest to come up with the best possible position focused on trying to make overruns difficult or costly in terms of the number of Allied units necessary to implement. In Lebanon, two support infantry III’s screen Beyrouth two hexes south of the city, while 2 cav III’s occupy the city itself. The large 24th MC Inf III guards Tripoli. In Syria, a cav III and 2 Lt Arm II’s garrison Damas, with the MS.406’s based there as well. Two hexes from the border, 2 more inf III’s guard the line leading up to Damas. Alep has the 3 LE Inf III and the const X. In Iran, all units are placed by rule, but the fighter unit sets up in Ahwaz. In Iraq, the variable units are all set up in Baghdad for defense, while the air unit is set up in Kut al-Imara, where it can reach Baghdad but is out of range of the British Audax’s from either base the Allies control. In Libya and Egypt all ground units are also placed by OB. In the air, we have a CR.42, Ba65 low level bombers and the Ju87’s set up forward at 18:5018. Another CR.42 fighter is set back at Gazala. If the forward air units survive the surprise turn bombing attempts, they may be able to help out either on defense or any possible counter-attack scenario that might develop. Back in Tripolitania, the two worst air units are placed, a CR.32bis and an SM.81. On Sicily, all four big strat bombers, SM.79-I’s are placed with their 5 point strat bombing strengths. A CR.42 is also in attendance for when Brit fighters should show their faces.
For the Allies, forces around Matruh are set up as forward as possible. All of the infantry X’s, 7RT Tk II, the W arty X and the 4th Ind XX Hq, plus a transport are set up in 19:1119, while the remaining 4th and 7th Arm X’s and the 7th Spt Grp are in 19:1219. Matruh has the 51st Hvy AA II, plus a Hurri1, a Glad & some Blen1’s. One a/s is in Matruh and the other is way forward at 19:0920, no doubt in preparation for use in the regular turn. The 7th Ind X guards El Alamein, while Alexandria has two X’s of Australians, a X of Brits, a constr X and a machinegun II. Five air units including the Well1C’s, the Blen4’s, the Glads, the Bombay transports and the Wellsly’s are also based in Alexandria. Two more Australian X’s are placed east of the city on coastal defense (?). New Zealander’s garrison Port Said and Damietta, with the 3rd Egypt X also located in Damietta. Cairo has a hodgepodge of troops and nationalities, including both Free French units, the Czech Inf II, the Egyptian 1st and 2nd X’s, the Egyptian 1st Lt Arm X and the Egyptian Glads. The Egyptian 1st MG X is further north at Tanta. Over in Palestine, 3 Brit Cav X’s and the 21st Australian Inf X garrison various cities in the territory.
Weather: The weather roll for Europe & North Africa is a 3, resulting in mud in D & E and clear in F & G. The East Africa roll is a 4, resulting in clear everywhere except around Lake Victoria, which is muddy. Sea zones are calm in the Med (2), calm in the Red Sea (2) and calm in the Indian Ocean (5). Sea zones not in play didn’t get a roll. With a 4 rolled, there are no desert storms.
All units involved in Compass or defending thereby are in supply. The RN-1 TF is called up for NGS support. No air units fly on either side (the Italians cannot fly at all.)
Only the air and naval units, plus the Compass force, may move. The RN fleet heads for 19:0818, where it preps for NGS. The RAF then takes off en masse to put the Italian AF out of action. The Blen 1’s fly an airbase bombing mission to the big Italian airbase south of Tobruk at 5018. Since Italian XX’s in NA have flak, they must at least survive nominal flak rolls. The roll on the 1 column is a 5 for no result, but the air units roll a 3 and miss, with the Blens then heading for Eraklion to land. The Blen 4’s attempt to do better by staging through Matruh with the same target, but a 7 for flak and a 3 on bombing result in more misses on each side. This unit also returns to base on Crete, this time at Rethymnon. The Wellington’s try their hand, but a 7 flak and 4 bombing roll mean no hits again. The Well’s return back to Alexandria. Finally, the Bombay transports attempt to bomb, but a 5 on flak and a 2 on bombing again result in zippo results. The transports return to Matruh. The German planners for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union take note of how things were handled so they might improve upon things in say the June timeframe…
The Allied ground units then trundle out of their start positions, knowing full well that the Italians are asleep at the switch. Thanks to reduced Italian zoc’s, the 7th Arm X and 7th Spt Grp move to 0619 where they can take the motorized elements of the Libyan forces in the rear and isolated both forward Italian stacks. The 4th Arm X, the W Art X and the transports move to 0720 where they can attack the Italian right flank. The remaining four infantry X’s, the 7RT and the 4th Ind HQ charge right up the coast directly at the 1st Libyan XX, the 4th “3G” Blackshirt XX and the 22nd Corps Arty.
Both the Wellsly’s and the Hurri1’s fly GS to 0719, where it is supposed that one point of flak will be insufficient to drive both air units away, thereby ensuring a 3:1 +3 attack. Italian flak rolls a pair of 4’s, but that’s sufficient only to drive the Wellsly’s away with an R. The two armored X’s, arty and spt grp then attack the 2nd Lib Inf XX, both Lib mot inf III’s and the Italian 2nd Arm II. Thanks to Italian disarray, the attack goes in at 3:1 +3 (a/s, 1 pt of GS) and a 6 is rolled, completely eliminating the Libyans to a man. The 7th Arm & 7th Spt Grp advance east into the hex, away from the zoc’s of the Italian 2nd line. In the second Compass attack, the infantry, arm II & NGS attack the 0718 stack at 4:1 +1 (a/s), and with a 4 rolled a DH kills half the units and zoc’s do in the rest. The Allies continue their streak of good rolls when a pair of 6’s shows on the attempt to seize the Italian forward supply dumps, both a/s falling into the hands of the advancing Brit 22nd Inf X. The only “bright spot” for the Italians is the rule change that prevents all these units from being considered scrapped. The Libyans and Blackshirts die permanent deaths due to their fragility, but the arm II and art III will at least go into the pool for rebuilding a few months hence. This also saves our side a whole passel of VPs. At this point, the turn ends and rolls into the regular Dec I 40 allied player turn.
The figure of a driver pushed his way through the flaps of the tent, bringing wih him an unwelcome blast of heated air and sand. The storms outside were still raging and the figure quickly pulled the flaps of the tent taut again
“Damn these sand storms that keep blowing up what” said General Pasco, looking up from the maps in his command tent somewhere in the desert outside Matruh.
“What is the news from the tankers? Lets just hope that it is better than that from the fly boys what….”
The figure froze at that reference to the failure of the air assualt against the Italian air force. The surprise attack in the air that had been planned to smash the enemy stukas on the ground so that they could not interfere had largely come to naught as the airfields had been obscured by sand storms. The 200 bombers sent to smash the planes on the ground before they could react hadn’t been able to find the target, let alone attempt to bomb it.
Regaining his composure the figure snappily fired off a salute
“Corporal Jones sir, reporting in sir. Its good news sir. The sand storms hid our advance and our troops have carried the day whenever they have come into contact with the enemy. They are surrendering en masse, just as you said they would”
“Yes. Mussolini’s boys have no stomach for a fight what ho. Not like our lads! What news of the supply dumps at Sidi Barrani?”
“Captured intact by the 22nd Guards, with almost no casualties.”
“Excellent news, I knew we could rely on those chaps. I feel better already, carry on Corporal.
Turning to his planners he smiled a teethy grin “Now lets have some tea and get the next phase of operations underway.”