Weather: Weather patterns return to normal in Europe, as the E zone shifts back to mud while D remains ensconced in wintery blows (3 rolled.) Things are dry and calm across the Horn of Africa (1 rolled.) The Med calms after last turn’s sea swells, but the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf both go rough, so whatever storms were around the Med the past two weeks have shifted south and east.
In supply issues, the Dodecannese remain out of supply, and the C Inf III is now U-2. All Axis units in EA are U-4 as no a/s was converted last turn to GSPs. However, the road line to Benghazi has been reopened, so that city, port and airfield return to normal operations. GSPs are still in warehouses however should the Allied advance once again close the road line.
On the Allied side, Malta and British units in Greece and on the Greek islands are all out of supply, though GSPs on Malta put two X’s into supply, as do GSPs in various points around Greece (Gestapo agents discover that Allied staff officers have gone beyond their authority in allowing more than 1 RE of British troops onto Greek islands, and further allowing GSPs to be shipped to same. A diplomatic note is sent via Canaris’ back channel communications to Whitehall insisting that General Metaxas’ instructions on limiting such Allied incursions be complied with forthwith. J) In North Africa, the 7th Armored XX, lucky to still be in play, is U-1 and isolated. In East Africa, the Indian 2nd MMG II is likewise U-1 and isolated in Aqiq on the Red Sea coast.
It is a big turn for reinforcements… at sea, the RN-1 TF is brought back up to full strength when it gets a 1 pt refurbishment. Two more NTPs show up as well to return the East Med/Indian Ocean pool to 10. In the hump, the 22nd X is given Guards status, converting to a 3-8 X but losing its artillery in the process, becoming the 22 G X. The 2nd NZ and 9th Aus Hq’s finish working up in Alexandria, so more full XX’s may now be formed up in the Mid East.
In the Indian Ocean, the Feb I convoy arrives bringing with it 2 a/s, 2 Brit Inf RPs, ½ each of Brit Arm, NZ and Aussie Inf RPs, the 43rd RPC Const X and a pair of Australian Inf X’s. In addition, one Ind Inf RP from the EA command joins this convoy, though whether it is headed up to the mid-east or just Port Sudan is yet undetermined by Axis agents.
In East Africa, the 3rd and 4th Companies of Ethiopians show up at Port Sudan as the 3/4 Inf II, defending against possible incursions of Italian troops flowing north along the coastal road. Well to the west at Wau, the 1st Belgian Inf X with British trucks providing transport arrive for mov’t into the theater. A second convoy shows up off of Mombasa, consisting of 2 more a/s pts, 1 col and .5 SA inf RPs, as well as a Col and a SA const X. The arm RP left in the command for some time is used to create the 1st East African Recon II at Mombasa. Finally, the ARP in Kenya is sent up to Sudan, and then the two total in theater are used to return the Blen1 to active duty following last turn’s burnings on the Gedaraf field.
In the Balkans, 1 Mtn Inf RP is produced in Athenai, as is another ½ res pt, bringing a full point into existence. The delayed conversion occurs just behind the Egouminitisa portion of the front, with a Mtn XX, and mtn X and a border X converting into a Mtn XX and two Inf XX’s. Over in Alexandroupolis a pair of Fort X’s and a static X from the islands and eastern Thrace complete forming up.
Returning to North Africa, the 66th RPC Const X at Tobruch begins to improve the fortress, using a res pt in Bardia to begin the construction effort. Completion date is expected to be Mar I 41. Meanwhile, the three forts along the Aliakmon line continue abuilding, with the first scheduled to be functional next turn. Over on Malta, the Maltese civilians bring the Malta status number down to 8.
At end of turn, various air ops occur. First, the 7 bombers on Sicily involved with Malta reduction go inop. Then the two fighter units on Sicily CAP the island, again just for practice. The four bombers (He11H4, SM.79-2, a Ju87 and a Ba.65) not involved w/ Malta reduction are placed on naval patrol to ward off any attempts to get more supplies into the port of Valleta. Over on Rhodes, the Mxd B likewise goes on naval patrol. Lastly, one Ju87 out of Benghazi flies harassment to just west of the 2nd Arm XX’s location at El Mechili. This will prevent the 2nd from being able to engage the Italian corps operating around the 7th Arm XX near Agedabia. There is no need to do likewise against the infantry X’s taking the coastal road to Benghazi, as mud roads will keep them away from the port.
The phase opens with a pair of Axis transfer missions. The Ju52 on Rodi transfers back up to Taranto. The remaining SM.79-1 at Gorrohai in Somaliland does a multi-leg transfer to Sicily (by way of Massaua and the Kufra airfield.)
The Allies then run some naval ops. First, the British 14th X on Crete is moved back to the mainland at Nauplion. The loading goes off during the day, and then the intention is to slip off the mooring lines at night, but prior to this occurring, the Mxd B on naval patrol at Rodi slips around the patrol zone of the Hurri1’s at Eraklion and manages to find the transports just weighing anchor (6 rolled on contact attempt, +4 for calm seas, -3 for 19 hexes distance. Contact attempt made as last mp spent to load, but prior to first night point spent to leave hex.) Flak makes no impact on the marauding Italian raiders (9 rolled on 2 column), but with just the last rays of sunshine gleaming the Italian bombers mistake some shadows for actual ships and just miss, splashing the docks but doing no real damage (4 rolled for miss.) The Brit X then continues night mov’t to just shy of Nauplion, where it successfully lands. This cleans up the little error regarding too many Allied RE’s on Greek islands, so both Metaxas and the German Gestapo are pleased. Next, in a bid to ensure a U-1 or better X is constantly on Melos, the Brit 23rd X embarks on an NTP and shifts to Derna where it disembarks and remains.
Movement then shifts to the Indian Ocean, where new replacement points are dropped off at Mombasa (.5 SA and 1 Col) and Port Sudan (1 Ind). An on-map NTP picks up the Col recon II just built at Mombasa and carries it to Mogadiscio, where one a/s and the SEAC South African const X are likewise landed. Curiously however, the remaining a/s point and the 44th RPC Col const X is moved around the Horn and dropped off at the port of Aden. Perhaps El Kaid is preparing to invade Yemen, though how a const unit would help in that endeavor one can only guess…? More likely the Allies see the writing on the wall in North Africa and are preparing to build their last stand redoubt at the port, figuring that the Saudi Army will protect them from Rommel’s panzers! J The larger naval mission in the Indian Ocean travels up through the Red Sea, crossing into the Med via the Suez Canal carrying along with it the 2 Brit inf RPs, ½ pt each of NZ, Aus and Brit armor, 2 a/s, the 24th & 26th Aus Inf X’s and the 43rd RPC Col Cons X. They reach a point just outside Port Said, awaiting further mov’t in exploit.
In the Med itself, the just formed up 9th Aus XX Hq is shifted to Derna via naval transport, while the Kiwi 2nd XX Hq shifts over to Athenai for some Balkan ops (a few turns earlier than historical.) Lastly, 4 GSPs at Alexandria are sent to Tobruk, where they are then SMP’d to the Gazala field and then in turn picked up by the Bombay transport planes and airdropped to the 7th Arm XX southeast of Agedabia and nearly surrounded by Italian units. With the Italian patrols closing in on the British box, most of the canned hash ends up in Axis hands (scatter rolls see 3 of the 4 GSPs lost.)
Ground movement then picks up. In Greece, things are fairly stable. On the northern half of the front not a single unit moves. In the southern E zone part of the front, the three new XX’s created from the reorganization join the line, retaking the 4005 coastal hex taken and then abandoned by the Centauro XX last turn. The big stack at 3803 southeast of Kalpaki is raised up to a 16 pt def, limiting the possibility of Italian c/m assaults should the wx clear. The 3904 wooded rough hex stands at 10 pts DS, and then the 4004 and 4005 hexes are each brought up to 6 pts DS. At the road junction in 3903 a small reserve is built consisting of the Hq of the 5th Mtn XX, 2 arty III’s and the Mekh mot inf III. In eastern Thrace the new fortress and static troops take over the defense of Alexandroupolis, allowing the 3 Bdr X’s current there to board trains and head west, making it as far as Kalabaka on the southwest flank of the Aliakmon line. From here they are well positioned to cross the mtns and join the lines in the southern part of the Greco-Albanian front. To the far rear, the Brit 14th X landed at Nauplion admins east to just shy of Athenai.
In North Africa, things are much more fluid, if a bit more confusing. The mini-infantry corps that was approaching Benghazi, perhaps due to weather or upcoming transfers to Greece, does an about face and mostly heads east. The Aussies join their Hq at Derna, along w/ one X admin’ed in from the Tobruk area, forming up the full 9th Aus XX by end of phase. They are joined by an AT II from Porto Bardiya. The 4th NZ X admins all the way back to Tobruch, quite a retreat, while the 6th NZ which had been just west of Tobruch takes up the defense of Bardiya. The W arty X shifts just a bit west from Tobruch to Gazala, while the 22nd G X which had been west of Derna also retreats all the back to the Tobruch area, taking up defense of the airfield at 4818. The mchg II at Tobruch moves to the airfield at 5018. This mov’t away from Benghazi by most infantry and the subsequent occupation of ports and airfields may very well signal the end of the Allied attempts to take Cyrenaica. Instead, it appears to indicate the possibility of a general retreat in the near future, with units positioned to blow airfields?
Even so, the 7th Ind XX marches in the opposite direction, admining through the Axis harassment along the Mechili road to 30 miles east of Zaulet Msus. The 13th Art X and a TC which had been supporting the infantry X’s west of Derna cross the hump overland and reach a point 16 miles west of Mechili. The Brit 2nd Arm XX breaks down, with the 1st X going east on what can only be described as a coastal land grab, gaining ownership of a hex that was missed by infantry southeast of Derna. The 3rd X goes west along the Mechili bypass road, while the 1st’s spt grp shoots southeast and then west in the empty lands, grabbing terrain. The FF II gives up the defense of Derna now that the Aussies have arrived (along w/ the 23rd Brit X in naval mov’t) and admins east along the coast and then west along the bypass road to Zualet Msus, where SMPs bring an a/s point up all the way from Bardiya. Finally, even after the failure of the GSP mission, the 7th Armored XX decides to stick it out in the Agedabia area, albeit broken down. The 7th Arm X and the spt grp remain in 3427 with the one GSP, while the 4th X moves one hex east, at least temporarily reopening the supply lines.
Finally, air units raid Benghazi, despite the muddy weather. Both Blen 4’s stage back from Greek areas and are joined by the Well1C unit on a bombing mission over the port. The MC.200 rises up to greet them, and random allocation pits it against one of the Blen’s. It manages just an R result however, while the Blen misses entirely. The remaining Blen 4 and Well1C manage to avoid the 2 pts of flak and run a tactical airbase bombing mission, probably targeted against the Ju87R’s on the field. However, with a 3 rolled the Allied planes are forced to return home with little to brag about from the mission.
Moving further south, El Kaid, the Allied commander in EA, is forced to pull back a bit to deal with rampaging Italian Colonial troops on his flanks. The 6th Aussie XX admins back west to Kassala from Cheru, then catches trains east toward Port Sudan, getting off at the town of Suakin and setting up a defensive position along the Wadi Ashat. The Indian 2nd mot mcgh II abandons the port of Aqiq and flees westwards after they discover that they would need to abandon their heavy trucks to use the artificial port to escape by sea. Their poor state of supply limits them to a single hex mov’t. The mixed-bag group based on the Orient Free French X does advance towards the northwest flank of Italian 42nd Col X defending the Barca river crossing east of Agordat. However, the 5th Indian is forced to breakdown and engage different Colonials to its south and rear flanks. The 9th and 10th X’s overrun a Col X at 14W:1815, then advance along the north side of the Sitit river, apparently intent upon clearing the 2014/2115 crossing, defended by a Col Inf X on the south bank. To its west, the British Equatorial Corps Col Inf X advances southwest to engage the Gondar Blackshirt X which had been advancing on Om Oger. To the rear, minor units at Kassala abandon the city and head west to the west bank of the Atbarah river at 1517. The 29th Ind X, previously part of the 5th Ind XX, moves due west to remove the danger of the Italian AOI Lt Arm X, which had so unceremoniously burned the Blen 1’s on the Gedaraf airfield last turn. In support, the Indian 1st mot mchg II sweeps around the AOI unit and engages from the west side, though with no zoc or attack strength, it acts merely as a blocking force. Further west, the West Arab Corps Col Cav II, which had been defending the road to the Roseires airfield abandons its position along the Sudan-AOI border and flees at maximum speed northwest as far as Idris, about mid-way between the Blue and White Nile rivers.
Further south, the Kenyan Command’s troops are fairly conservative. The 21st East African and 24th Gold Coast Col X’s w/ their transports are content to advance a single hex to Dalle and engage the Italian troops defending to the town’s northwest. The 1st South African recon II does sweep around to the east and then up to Soddu, seizing the airfield (at least temporarily, as it alone cannot gain permanent ownership.) Just to the rear of the Col X’s, the 1st South African inf X advances up towards Dalle, making it to a point about 15 miles south of the town, still along the mountain road. SMPs are used to get two a/s points into the area, one w/ the SA X, and the other just one hex further south.
Much further south, the 26th East African Col X advances from north of Afmadu to the west of the Italian blocking position at 3W:1416 and seizes the abandoned port at Chisimaio. The 25th East African X admins south to the point north of Afmadu the 26th just departed. Meanwhile, the 23rd Nigerian Col X advances along the east side of the Dera river and engages the Italian units at 1416 on their east flank across the river. It appears however that these various units are content merely to create a zoc screen in the hopes that the Italians will simply surrender next turn. A bit further to the east the 22nd East African X advances south from Bandera to a point about 30 miles from the Italian forces which are north of the port of Brava. To the east, the 1st and 5th South African X’s take Vittorio d’Africa, then overrun an Italian Col X just west of the town, with the 5th continuing along the coast, while the 1st and its TC heads north back towards the Iscia Baidoa airfield. (Sadly, had we not rolled a one in combat at Iscia last turn, the units at Mogadiscio would all have been out of supply and this overrun would have been impossible.) The 27th North Rhodesian X moves south from Iscia to Mogadiscio, and there awaits naval transport elsewhere. The SEAC Cons X that landed at Mogadiscio repairs the airfield there, while the 1st East African recon II that landed at the port admins as far north as its remaining 2 mps will allow. Finally, the EAC cons X that had been garrisoning the Lugh Ferrandi airfield moves up to join the TC that had been supporting the 1st SA X, which left that brigade grounded and admin’d from Mogadiscio all the way north to 7W:1907, about 30 miles shy of the town of Filtu.
In Greece, there are practically no real chances of the Greeks launching any attacks. However, the Z.1007b’s fly DAS to the 3401 hex which has previously been repetitively attacked. After this DAS mission, the Greeks have nothing better than a pair of 1.5:1 -1’s across the front, with most possible attacks quite a bit worse. In North Africa, clearly the Allied Mid East commander is intent on launching some sort of low-odds high-mods attack against the Italians around Agedabia, or there would have been no reason to shift a/s so for forward and leave his units of the 7th Arm XX so exposed. Either 3426 or 3428 are possible attack points (two other possible attacks are much worse), so Ju87R’s and B’s fly in support of these two hexes (ensuring no better than 1:2 +3 vs 3426 or 1:1 +3 vs 3428.)
Actual combat kicks off in the south. Near Dalle, the 21st East African and 24th Gold Coast X’s smash the 85th Col X and the AOI Arm II in an 8:1 even attack. One of the Allied colonial X’s uses the “free 1 RE of supply from an a/s” rule, and the Audax in Somaliland stages up to the seized air base at Soddu to support the attack, which rolls a 5 for a DE (partial a/s, 1 pt GS.) Following this, the valiant 42nd Col X defending the east bank of the Barca east of Agordat is assaulted on its northwest side by a mix bag of Allied units. The Allied units include the Orient FF Inf X, the FB Col Inf II, 4 RT Arm II and 68th Art II. The attack gets a big 6 for another DE (10:1 even, no a/s, woods, 1/10th AECA.) In both of these first two attacks the Allies advance. Then, the 29th Ind X attempts to clear out the AOI Arm X that took Gedaraf last turn. The South African Mxd A unit flies GS in support, so the unsupplied attack goes in at 8:1 even, so even with the 1 rolled, a DH kills the Italian tankers (no a/s, 1 pt GS.) The Indian X advances into Gedaraf, while the 1st MMG II to the west of the town that was “blocking” the road remains in place. Next, the 45th Col X defending the south bank of the Satit river at the 2014/2115 crossing is assaulted by the 9th and 10th Ind X’s. With the river and woods, the Allies are forced to bring in two air units from the Khartoum area to get the odds up to where no exchange losses are possible. Eventually, the odds do go to 12:1 -1, and another good roll of a 5 results in a DE (no a/s, woods, river, 2 pts GS.) The two Indian X’s choose to remain on the north side of the river.
Finally, the Field Marshal in North Africa makes a risky attack against the Italians at 3426, 16 miles east of Agedabia. The Italians make up a small Italian Lt Arm XX, though they have no HQ to tie them all together, consisting of the 2nd Lt Arm X, 10 B mot Inf III, 1st Arm II and 10th Army Art III providing support, for a total of 5 pts DS. A Ju87B flies DAS overhead. The British tankers consist of the broken down X’s of the 7th Arm XX, plus the 7th’s Spt Grp, all provided a/s. Even so, the attack goes in at 1:2 +3 odds (thanks to poor Italian AT strength). Yet another 5 is rolled, this time for a DR, but thanks to harassment air on the 2nd Arm XX earlier there are no zoc’s nearby and the Italian division like grouping gives a good account of itself, withdrawing in good order. Presumably the Allies would have preferred a 3 or 4 rolled for the HX, which would have allowed them to trade one of the Arm X’s for 4 Italian units. Still, they dodged yet another AR bullet, which this time would have cost them the Spt Grp and a X of tankers. C’est le guerre.
The big convoy just off Port Said continues its mov’ts by splitting up and heading in a bunch of different directions. All the replacement points are dropped off at Alexandria, while the 24th Aus X heads for Melos to keep it garrisoned and the 26th Aussie X heads for Athenai. More units are showing up in Greece earlier than historical. Intriguingly, the 43rd RPC Cons X heads for Tobruk. We figure they may be planning to build an airfield at Tobruk, since if it was going to rebuild the Bardiya fortress it could have just landed there. Perhaps not though, since the two a/s points are dropped in the desert at Bardiya and Tobruch. We’ll see come their next ini phase.
In ground mov’t, nothing really occurs in Greece. In North Africa, both X’s of the 7th Arm, plus its spt grp, plus a TC w/ the 13th Art X and finally the 2nd Arm’s spt grp consolidate at 18:3424, 30 miles southwest of Zaulet Msus w/ their backs against a bit of salt desert. The 7th Arm XX fully forms up creating a hedgehog w/ an 11 point DS. The 3rd Arm X which started at this position moves up to Soluch to gain control of the town and some of the coastal hexes in the area (recutting the road supply line to Benghazi plus preventing coastal naval mov’t in friendly hexes) then pulls back along the bypass road to the 7th Ind XX box 30 miles east of Zaulet Msus, where it is joined by the Free French 1 M mot Inf II. Further east, the 1st Arm X heads east to Tobruch, probably in anticipation of being shipped to Greece, while the 7 RT Tk II climbs up an escarpment to the 5018 airfield.
Down in East Africa, the Indian 2 MMG II slips west another hex on its retreat from Aqiq. Its sister unit well to the west races west to the Er Roseires airfield to take up the defense there from rampaging Ital X’s (green jello.) To the south, in an interesting twist, the 21st East African X plus a TC, and the 1st South African Recon II exploit into the mountains at 7W:0112, just across the river from Uaca. Perhaps they intend to cross the river and then move up the road to Gimma? Still, the Oromos Highlands don’t look like particularly inviting territory for c/m troops. The 24th Gold Coast follows the East African X, but ends its mov’t at Soddu where it can garrison/protect the seized airfield which has Audax’s sitting on the ramps. Further south, the EAC const X w/ transport exploits to a point 30 miles southwest of Neghelli in a combat mode, protecting the supply line of the troops in the valley between the Oromos Highlands and the Mendebo Mountains from the Italian 7th Col Cav X a bit further west if its position. Much further south, the East African Recon II and the 1st South African X (transported) exploit up to Lugh Ferrandi field, where they will no doubt kick off further northern mov’ts next turn.
Finally, the Hurricane 1’s on Crete transfer to the 5018 field west of Bardiya where they can cover the Desert Air Force, currently consolidated at Gazala, 4818 and 5018.