Weather: A roll of 4 in Europe and North Africa sees the D zone remain wintery and the E zone muddy. F is clear, while that little bit of G in central Turkey remains frosty. A 6 in the East African theater mucks things up a bit for the Allies. H1, the mountain zone in western Saudi Arabia gets muddy, while the H2 zone (the northern half of Galla & Sidamo province, nearly all of Amhara province, and the mountainous strip of northern Eritrea) experiences some late winter rains, turning the roads to muddy muck. This should have a pretty dramatic impact on any assaults out of the Soddu area or towards the Cheren and/or Adi Ugri areas. The Cheren escarpment and the Oromos Highlands south of Gimma seem pretty secure at this point. Finally, the Lake Victoria area experiences more mud as well, though this won’t impact operations in the slightest. At sea, all sea zones are clear except the Red Sea, which remains rough.
In supply action, the Dodecanese are a pretty firm U-4, though one III is U-3. All of East Africa is U-4 with no GSPs on board. Benghazi’s supply line is now firmly open with the loss of the British 7th Armored and sundry supporting units, which should free us up from having to run GSPs into the place (also limiting the risk to our Med NTP pool.) For the Allies, all the Allied troops on mainland Greece are at least at some level of U status, plus isolated, but Greek gsps are provided to keep them from ‘surrendering.’ On Melos, the 24th Aus X remains U-1 black. Down in East Africa the 2 and ½ brigades worth of c/m forces, plus two TC’s go U-1 red since the Allies failed to gain ownership of the Sciasciamanna road junction before they seized the Soddu area. Since these units are also stuck in the southern limit of the muddy H2 zone, their movement will be quite limited.
No reinforcements in East Africa or the Mideast fronts, but the Greeks continue to press units into service. The Nest Fort X shows up at Xanthe, while a pair of border X’s combine into the 20th Inf XX in the Metaxas line. Finally, the 19th mot Inf XX is formed up by way of the Mekh mot inf III. The reorg of the Ipp Cav X to divisional status is forestalled for the time being since that unit is currently in the deadpool. The Mid East CC does rebuild one of the flak II’s sunk in runs to Malta, replacing the unit at Alexandria.
Ultra picks up Axis air communiqués that were improperly broadcast (I sent a msg for the Axis group about air plans including some harassment missions against the 4th Indian XX & company to the group at large. Silly me.) This results in the Hurri1’s at the 5018 field south of Tobruch staging to Gazala and then flying a CAP over the threatened Indians. Given that we are limited for offensive operations next turn (no a/s in the immediate area and little way to get any there), we go with a massive harassment option circa the Ind XX. Four Ju87B’s and the R fly harassment missions to the east side of the XX, plus an additional along the road hex. This blankets the area behind the XX with harassment hits and should really limit any retreat of the infantry (the two c/m units can escape in exploit, but the Allied Mideast Commander may face the unenviable position of having both the 7th Armored destroyed and the Indian XX surrounded before it can make Tobruch, just as the Aussies and Kiwi’s are all headed to Greece…) In other air ops, two fighters fly CAPs over Malta, while the fighters that transferred away from forward airbases at Benghazi, El Agheila and Sirte stage back and fly CAP over their respective bases to keep counter air strikes to a minimum. Finally, four bombers on Sicily go on naval patrol, as does the Mxd B on Rodi and three bombers in Albania for good measure. With the Hurri1 already tasked, the two remaining British fighters will be hard pressed to cover naval ops to Greece (hopefully) or any other escort duties that might wish to perform.
Naval movement in the Indian Ocean kicks off the Allied phase. The Const X at Aden reboards an NTP and shifts to the port of Suakin south of Port Sudan and north of the position the 6th Aus XX has taken up along the Wadi Ashat. Its place at Aden is taken by the 26th East African X, brought in from Chisimaio. The two Col Inf RPs and one SA Inf RP at Mombasa are shifted to Mogadiscio, and finally a res pt at Mombasa is shifted to Aden but not offloaded due to mp usage presumably. All told 5 of the Eastern Med/Indian Ocean NTPs are used up by the EA commander.
Action then shifts to the Med, where the rebuilt flak II is run into Tobruch via naval transport. Interesting, as I was rather expecting this unit to make another attempt at Malta, but perhaps they’ve given up on that, or the likely approach of Axis forces on Tobruch in the near future is forcing them to seek its defense. Next, the British 1st Arm X at Derna is moved to Athenai on a back and forth route. Naval patrol intercept is available just southwest of the port so Italian planes launch. First, the Mxd B on Rodi attempts contact (+4 for calm, -3 for distance), but rolls a 2 and fails to find the Arm X and its NTs. Two Z bombers (506b and 1007b) out of Valona make an attempt, at the same odds, but they also roll a 2 and fail to spot the naval units. Finally, the BR.20M out of Koritsa tries, but yet another 2 turns up. Three attempts with a 50% shot each all miss. Blast. At least the Glads at Athenai never get the chance to intercept since no contact was ever made. As the last item, GSPs from Alexandria are shipped into Malta and partially unloaded. Despite their being no risk that flak or attack supply might be run into the island later (no units or NTPs in sufficient amount), the naval patrol craft on Sicily ignore it. Why risk flak and ARP losses for an single NTP that will automatically regenerate next turn. Besides, supplying infantry units on Malta means nothing at this point.
Ground movement in Greece is fairly limited. General Metaxas (David Chandler) has retired, so the Mid East CinC takes over, but there isn’t much in the way of shifting strategies to show for the command change, at least not yet. The new Nest Fort X is pulled out of eastern Thrace and occupies the just completed fort at 4612, the first completed portion of the Aliakmon line. It is joined by an arty III out of the Metaxas line, freed up when the new infantry XX formed up and generated another RE. The arty that had been in reserve on the west coast begins shifting back across the mountains, where it will likely form up in the Aliakmon line. In the far south, and const unit and border X are shifted by rail and overland admin movement (thanks to rail hits) to the south bank of the Spherkios. The 1st Arm X admins away from Athenai heading toward the Peloponnesus. Likely going to garrison Korinthos or Patrai I’d wager. Remaining Allied units cower in Athenai, partaking of uzo and deflowering the local young ladies of their virtue, but remain decidedly far from the actual fighting (all being performed by the Greek men-folk up near Albania… never let the Kiwi’s and Aussie’s and Brits hang out w/ your wives J)
On the other side of the pond, Aussies move forward abandoning Derna and take up a blocking position on the bypass road at El Mechili. They are joined the 23rd Brit X and an AT II. The 4th Indian XX heads southeast into the clear terrain about 30 miles south-southwest of El Mechili, forming up a zoc front and screening the rear area troops far to the east at Tobruch. The 22nd Guards X joins them in their hedgehog. The 3rd Arm X which had been with the Indians moves southwest instead, so it may be considering another land grab behind the forward Italian troops. However, cutting the supply lines to Benghazi and the forward troops near Zaulet Msus would require the X to remain on or near the road circa Agedabia, assuredly a suicide mission for the British tankers. The Free French mot Inf II heads as far east as its mps will allow. Back near Tobruch, one of the RPC const X’s continues rebuilding the fortress, while the other builds up a 2 capacity temporary airfield. The W Art X abandons Gazala and takes up position within the fortress, though this is at best a temporary measure since it is projected for movement to Greece soon. Kiwi X’s remain in Gazala and Bardiya. The machinegun II at the 5018 field wrecks the field, abandons it and then heads for the 4818 field. At this point, the Bombay transports stage back to Alexandria, and return on a one-way mission to the 4818 field with a res pt. Finally, the a/s point at Bardiya is SMP’d back to the rail head at Matruh and thence railed to Alexandria. One a/s is still in Tobruch, though the Allies are now clearly on the defensive in North Africa.
In East Africa, the 6th Aus XX breaks down and engages the 5th Col X in the mountains southwest of Aqiq, where it sits astride the supply line and coastal route the Allies now appear to have settled on as the approach to Massaua. This is further highlighted in that two of the 3 X’s of the 5th Indian are sent to the rear at Kassala and railed around to coast, admining as far as they can (one reaches just west of Suakin, where the 3/4 Eth II and an a/s are moved to; the other makes it as far a south along the coast as Tokar.) Back west, the Orient FF X and 68th Art II remain 30 miles northwest of the Cheren position, content to eye the Italian defensive works from a distance. The 4 RT Tk II shifts west toward the remaining Indian and Col units circa Om Ager. These units, the 10th Indian X and the EC Col X engage one of the two CCNN X’s that had been moving north to threaten the rear of the units that had previously been heading toward Cheren and/or Adi Ugri (neither approaches now appear to be in the Allied CC’s plans.) The 1 MMG II abandons Roseires and its field and heads east to just west of Gedaraf. The 1/2 Eth II is railed in to replace it presumably, though it can’t make the airfield itself. The Belgians admin in to a point just south of Es Suki along the Blue Nile just before the rail turns away from the river, so they will probably take up the defense of Er Roseires in exploit to ensure the Bande don’t get it. The WArC Cav II admins west to protect the Mallakal field to likewise keep green jello from sliming its way into the Sudan-Kenya airbridge.
Down south, the units near Soddu are somewhat limited in movement opportunities. The units that had slipped into the mountains retreat back to the city itself, while the 24th Gold Coast X and its TC manage to move into the clear weather area at least. The 2nd South African X departs the southern mountain area near Dalle and heads east, grabbing terrain (including a quick back and forth foray into the mountains at 7W:0507 before ending the turn around 45 miles distant from the Italian units defending in front of Addis (conveniently exactly outside the 6 hex limit that would release the Addis garrison units.) To the South African’s rear the Col Recon II advances up from Lugh Ferrani all the way to just north of Dalle. To the south, the 0 attack strength EAC Const X and a TC sweep west through Ballale, down towards Moyale and thence north to just north of Mega grabbing terrain the entire time with their zoc (argh, please.) Meanwhile, the 1st South African X moves north as well, but takes the right fork in the road at Dolo and heads to a point just west of El Cari. Clearly it intends to open up the Dolo-Dodolo road as a supply route since there are some Italian units astride the other two routes leading up to the Soddu-Addis Ababa area. In the far far south, the 5th SA X and SEAC Cons X abandon the Mogadiscio area as well, admining north. This leaves just the 22nd East African, 23rd Nigerian, and 27th Northern Rhodesian X’s to clean up the two remaining stacks of Italian Col units in the area north of the Uebi Scebelli river. They move first against the eastern stack at 3W:1306, engaging on the northwest and southeast sides with the 22 EA and 27 NR X’s. The 23 N X moves along the coast road to eventually catch up with the other stacks’ rear.
All this land movement is followed by a few air missions. The first is the most successful. Two Blen4’s go on an airbase bombing raid against El Agheila. The CR.42 on CAP intercepts but both it and the Blen it engages miss (8 rolled by F, 7 by B). The bombers then make two attempts on the field needing 6’s, but with a 4 and 6 rolled one hit is achieved. Unfortunately, this leaves the CR.42 no place to land since the field started with two hits already and the unit crashes into the deadpool. A Ju88A was on the field, so it too is sent packing to the aborted box. Should have sent the bombers back to Sicily immediately instead of waiting for a possible DAS need. Remaining raids accomplish nothing. The Well1C tries another nighttime strat port-bombing mission against Benghazi, but flak and bombing both miss. The Blen1 in Greece tries a strat port-bombing against Egouminitsa, but misses as well. That minor port as held up quite well against a goodly number of air raids and been extraordinarily useful in getting Italian troops directly into the line.
We fly no DAS anywhere. The Allies have no attacks in Greece or North Africa. The East African Allies do manage three attacks however. The three X’s of the 6th Aus XX, unsupplied and with two air units in support dislodge but fail to kill the 5th Col X thanks to mountainous terrain (9:1 -2 attack results in a 1 for a DR. The Duca’s first ‘successful’ combat!) That result should help cause another turn’s delay for the Aussies and Indians on their coastal attempt to reach Massaua (running down the coast is easy enough, but without clearing the Italians from off the road, the Allied supply route would go out and the forward units couldn’t do anything once they got to the vital Axis port.) West, the 10th Indian X and the EC Col X wipe out a CCNN X in a 9:1 even attack which scores a DE. Finally, the Col units in the far south decide not to wait for surrender rolls and launch a 7:1 even attack against the 92nd Col X and the 102nd Col Hq at 3W:1306. One X receives ‘free supply’ from an a/s point further north to improve the odds and another DE is rolled eliminating the Italian units.
The GSPs finish unloading at Malta unmolested by Axis naval patrol for the same reasons as previously given. No movement in Greece. In North Africa, the 7 RT Tank II moves up to join the 9th Aus XX at El Mechili and the 3rd Arm X decides not to advance west to the Agedabia road. It moves forward a bit to grab terrain ownership (doesn’t mean anything really) and then retreats back to the 4th Indian XX’s box. In southern Sudan the 4 RT Tank II joins the EC Col X on the east flank of the Gondar CCNN X at 14W:1918. The TC and South African Recon II abandon Soddu (but it retains a garrison to protect the stuck Audax air unit consisting of the 21st East African X) and head out of the mud. The SEC Const X and its ZOC run up through Iavello and Alghe gaining ownership of more territory, while the Col Recon II heads the opposite direction and passes it moving southwest. Odd. Especially in light of the fact that the Italian 18th Col X is in the mountains just off the road and still projects a zoc onto it preventing its use as a supply line. More importantly, the 1st SA X and its TC move up the road through Megalo and Goba, linking terrain ownership of the road with that gained by the 24th Gold Coast X moving south from near Soddu into the mountains and then to the forest at 7W:0606. Dodola is still unoccupied, so an Italian zoc can be put onto the road through the town which will prevent road supply. Forward units won’t be impacted by a supply line squeeze however so long as the weather doesn’t shift and reduce the overland supply length to less than 7 since the Italian ZOC could be bypassed by an overland route. The player turn ends at this point.