No big political items occur at the beginning of the turn. In supply issues, the Dodecanese remain U-4 except for the recently arrived C Inf III. East Africa remains U-4, although quite a few units go into supply thanks to 2 a/s points that were turned into GSPs last turn, then distributed about via SMP and rail previously. Notably, a good number of units in the Cheren-Asmara area, the 65th GdS XX, a bunch of units in and around Addis, and some near Dire Daua, plus the entire Italian AF in East Africa gets some supply… and this time, since El Kaid as actually invaded, all these supplied units will actually get to move. Benghasi is U-2 now, but all but the ‘23M’ Blackshirt XX get supply via GSPs delivered last turn.
For the Allies, GSPs supply Brit X’s on Crete, Melos and in Greece proper. Units on Malta are U-4, but the two GSPs (that undoubtedly had been intended for the flak unit since sunk) are used to put the X’s into supply, for whatever that’s worth.
In reinforcements, despite it being an “off” turn, quite a lot occurs. In the BF area 3 more XX’s arrive in Italy for service in Albania, as does another Const III and a Ski II. The last Italian ARP in the BF area is used to bring the Mxd B back on Rodi, while a German ARP is transferred in from North Africa to replace the bombed out Ju-52 unit. While the Ju87B/R withdraws (and will be sorely missed), the 29th Pie Inf XX and 3rd Julia Alpini cadre are both fully rebuilt with RPs located at various points in Albania.
In North Africa, the 3rd lt Arm III arrives at Syracuse for shipment to Africa, while the last remaining Ger ARP is used to rebuild the ‘S’ code He111H4 unit. The 55th Sav XX is released from the 5th Army mov’t restriction. In East Africa, an emergency call-up of ground crews is initiated, and the Azz Inf III begins forming up in Addis.
GSPs are generated at each of the Mediterranean supply terminals, and one of the two a/s in Benghazi is converted to 3 res pts. One of these is immediately used by the two Const III’s in the city to begin quick constructing a fort, as the Allies are now heading for this critical port since Tobruch has fallen.
At the end of the phase, the G.50 and a CR.42 from Benghazi fly CAP over Malta. The Allies respond by putting the Bombay and Blenheims on Melos on naval patrol and having the Hurricane 1’s on Crete again CAP Scarpanto.
We kick off the mov’t part of the turn with a huge mission of 2 Ju88A’s and 5 SM.79-1’s against Malta. Flak of 1 pt effective (3 pts intrinsic reduced by two columns) results in no effects, and this time our sites are well-aligned, as the 7 attempts result in 5 hits, driving the Malta status number from 4 all the way to 9. Our next mission sees the Ba.65 slip past Malta flak as well, scoring a hit on the port with a 6. The ‘S’ code He and ‘V’ code SM.79-2 aren’t quite so successful, as the SM is returned by flak and the He misses the port with a 3. Figuring that the Malta status number took a sufficient number of hits this turn, and wanting to ensure a good naval patrol group, the Ju87B on Sicily which is planned to remain there is also used for some port bombing, and it gets by flak and scores a hit as well with a 6 (bringing the total to 3 hits on the port, 3 hits on the airfield and the Malta status number to 9.) As the Dire Daua field is intended to get destroyed by the Duca Luna this turn, the Ca133 located there stages up to Massaua and runs a rail bombing attempt at the Haiya junction, but another 3 rolled results in a miss.
Naval mov’t then kicks off, with 7 missions across the Adriatic. The ‘C’ Inf Hq, an Arm RP, the 22nd and 24th XX’s all cross to Valona, the 2nd Inf XX and the MC Ski II cross to Porto Edda and the 4th Cons III crosses over to Egouminitsa. No allied interference attempts are successful. The 8th naval mission sees the 3rd Lt Arm III on Syracuse safely to Benghazi w/ a 7 rolled, but the 9th with 4 GSPs is caught by Allied submarines and sunk (10 rolled, and w/ only one NTP in the convoy contact is a guaranteed kill.) The 10th mission, with another 4 GSPs does slip into Benghazi, but our Med NTP pool is now down to just 1 available, though we’ll get a replacement next turn. Lastly, the Red Sea transports take the Assab Inf X from Assab to Mersa Fatmah to provide some flank support to Massaua, just in case the Allies have any adventures planned for a flanking sea mov’t. This mission is along the coast, so no naval patrol or interference opportunities exist.
In ground mov’t, I push three rebuilt or new XX’s into the line, really bumping up my strength across the front. Infantry takes over the job of defending 3804, as the Centauro and a pair of Arty units shift into Egouminitsa for an assault against the mini-Cav and arty corps in 4005 to the city’s southwest. Two XX’s in the rear admin up to near Koritsa, making a nice reserve in that area, while the 2nd Inf XX and the MC Ski II have enough mps to go directly into the line. The XX’s landed at Valona admin south along the coast to further increase the strength in the E zone of my lines (Italian strength across the front is around 10-11 pts average, though Koritsa is at 8 since it can only be assaulted from one hexside, and Egouminitsa is at 15 due to the planned assault out of the city.) Const units fix two more port hits at Durazzo, and start work on fixing a third, so next turn that port will be fully operational.
In North Africa, the 55th Sav XX, plus the arm II’s and arty moving along the coastal road in Tripolitania continue their advance to the front. The units at El Agheila, plus some arty and c/m forces out of Benghazi charge forward to engage the 7th Arm XX on 4 sides. It should be attackable at 3:1 -1, and a 3 or better will see it either destroyed or severely mauled. Even c/m units which cannot reach the 7th Arm XX depart Benghazi for the Agedabia area, for better positioning possibilities in exploit, or to fill gaps should an EX or HX develop in combat.
In East Africa, quite a bit of action takes place as the Duca has finally realized that the Allies are serious and will (and have) invaded the AOI. In the far north, the 5th Col X, followed by the Erit mot Inf X and the 2nd Cav X begin pushing up the coastal road towards Aqiq and the 2nd Ind MMG II ensconced therein. 2nd Col X, the 1st Col Hq, and the Nord Const III move to Massaua, with the const III even managing to put a hit onto the port, just for fun. A pretty good stack of units, including a 2-6 Inf X, a 1-6, an arty X and the 1st Coastal III all take up positions in the fortified Cheren pass, while their front is screened by the valiant 42nd. This X crosses the Barca then completes destruction of the bridge, and from the wooded east bank is immune to overrun and will prevent all infantry type units from engaging the Cheren defenders (only c/m forces could reach the pass’ defenders in exploit.) To the south, the 65th GdS XX takes up position on the flanks of the Cheren Escarpment at Adi Ugri, ensuring that the southern flank to Asmara is secured. A bit to the west, four 1-6 X’s of various flavors advance up roads towards Om Ager, threatening the flank of the Allied advance past Agordat. The 8th X, the only survivor from the original Tessenei group, moves a bit southwest, and is joined by the AOI Arm III in what appears to be a defensive arrangement to preclude overrun, but is actually a mask to try an overrun against the Gedaraf airfield in exploit, should the Allies fail to note the threat thereto. Even further west, with Gallabat abandoned by the Allies the 6th Col X and a Bande unit retake the town, with the X putting 1 mp towards a hit onto the airbase for good measure. At Gondar, the 3rd Inf X takes up the defense of the city, while the 22nd X and a pos AA point flow east to reinforce the Asmara region or the “pin-prick assaults” along the 5th Indian XX’s flank, as necessary.
In the Dessie-Dire Daua-Harar-British Somalia area, units flow towards the north for the most part, with in supply TC’s rushing critical Arty units north along the mountain top road from Dessie to near Asmara. In the big valley between the Oromos Highlands and the Mendebo mountains, just southwest of Addis Ababa, a large group of Italian colonial units takes up position. Both mountain roads into the Oromos are covered by X’s, while the entrance to the valley is covered by two staggered stacks at 0103 and 0204 southwest of the city, which are non-overrunable in the best possible Allied scenarios. Immediately in front of the Allied column at Dalle, the 85th X takes up defense. The AOI Arm II from near Addis shoots into the valley to nearly Sciasciamanna, where it will in exploit blow the field and then join the 85th. Other units take up the defense of the western part of the valley at Alghe and about 60 miles west of Soddu, but that city is itself left open. No unit could defend it successfully, so better to leave it empty. Should the Allies decide to use it as an airbase, they will in turn have to siphon off some of their strength to garrison it. All in all, the defense of the valley leading to Addis and thence to the north is looking fairly decent. The Allies will either need to assault into the mountains to protect their flanks and supply lines, or shoot forward and risk having Italian trash slip in behind them and cut those same lines. Further to the south, X’s slip into either defensive terrain or advance a bit, with Moyale even retaken thanks to a zoc. In the far west, either in north Kenya, Uganda or southwest Sudan a few Italian units advance to or across the border to make tracking them down and eliminating that much more difficult, plus picking up some town ownership. In the very far south, the units north and east of Chisimaio advance to the east, though the Chisimaio coastal III abandons the city and takes up defense of the road leading south 16 miles southeast of Afmadu, joined by a Bande X in what is hoped will be a non-overrunable stack. West of Iscia, now held by the allies, the 92nd X moves east to put a zoc onto the road line which is supplying the South Africans in Mogadiscio. If the Allies don’t spot it, a GS mission could fly to Iscia and enable a 2:1 even assault on the town/airfield… If they do, an assault could even be launched at 1:1, with an AR or AS not hurting at all since the zoc cut to the supply line would still be in place. In destruction items, aside from those things mentioned above, Gimma and Addis’s airbase capacity is eliminated, as is the Dire Daua field, which is then removed from play.
In Greece and North Africa the Allies do not have any air units that can impact the upcoming Italian counter-attacks. In East Africa, El Kaid does sniff out the possible assault on Iscia, but strangely, instead of flying DAS with the units on the field, he launches Audax’s out of Lugh Ferrandi further to the north in support. This opens up the possibility of a successful 1:1… if a DR is gained on a 6, then the Mxd T ‘S’ code at Iscia would be forced to attempt an airbase escape or be eliminated (which in turn would cause a garrison requirement failure.) Given that the gain probably outweighs the similar 1 in 6 chance of an AH, the Duca decides to launch the assault on Iscia regardless of Allied DAS. The SM.79-1 still at Massaua stages to Gorrahai, one of the few airbases still functional in south East Africa, and flies GS to Iscia. In Greece, 2 bombers launch as GS to support the armored assault on 4005, while in NA, to ensure not even crazy flak rolls can impact the combat, 2 Ju87B’s out of Sicily, a Ju87R, an Me110D and the MC.200 at Benghazi all fly GS against the 7th Arm XX. Only three can be effective due to GS limits, but launching 5 should ensure 3 get through.
Our first attack goes in along the coast southwest of Egouminitsa, with the Centauro, the 47th Bari Inf XX and 2 arty III’s attacking the Ipp Cav X, another Cav III and the S Art III. Z.1007b’s and an MC.200 fly in support, and with the attack fully supplied from a point at Porto Edda, the attack goes in at 3:1 +1 (1/2 AECA, rough, a/s provided). A 2 is rolled, which leads to an HX. Centauro is cadred thanks to required losses, but at least the whole stack of Greeks dies too. This should put some more pressure on the Greeks to maintain a full line, so hopefully their reorg scheduled for next turn will end up having to get spread into the line vice launching assaults on my own line.
The second attack goes in at Iscia, with the out of supply and unsupported 92nd Col X relying on SM.79 GS support to see them to victory over the 27 NR British Col X supported by Audax’s. Sadly, Axis die rolling luck continues to hold, and a 1 is rolled for an AH, resulting in the death of the 92nd (and also the loss of the zoc’s supply line cut… it’s a sad day when the Allies can roll 5 attacks at 3:1 -1 or worse and not see a single AR/AH, but we roll just one 1:1 even and get an AH.)
Worse, things don’t go that much better against the 7th Armored near Agedabia. The 7th’s 1 pt of flak manages to roll one 2 in the 5 rolls against our GS, so the Me110D is unfortunately aborted. Then, the 3:1 -1 attack is launched and we get another poor roll of a 2, resulting in an AS. Clearly, the Allies aren’t getting what they deserve for having stuck their neck out so far. The worm will turn however…
Exploit kicks off in the EA area, where the AOI Arm X shoots west over the Atbarah and seizes Gedaraf by coup-de-main. The Blen1’s stationed there attempt to escape from the on-rushing Italian tankettes but for once Italian arms seem to be moving with haste and they fail, leaving only burned-out bombers wrecked on the field (4 rolled on airbase escape attempt.) Over on the Red Sea coast, the Eritrean mot Inf X slides around the west flank of the 2nd MMG II in Aqiq, surrounding that unit and port w/ zoc’s and taking the town of Tokar in the process (via zoc’s.) Along the mtn road to the Asmara area two TC’s haul Art units north as fast as possible. Finally, the AOI Arm II advances to the Sciasciamanna airfield, lays down a hit and removes the airfield, and then joins the valiant 85th Col X currently attempting to stem the tide of the British advance near Dalle. The last active bomber in the command launches an airbase bombing raid against the Mxd A unit at Kassala, but rolls a 3 in the bombing attempt and misses.
In Greece, the cadre of the Centauro XX backs up into Egouminitsa having at least gained temporary ownership of 26:4005. In the air, the Mxd B on Rhodes attempts to bomb out the Bombay transports on Melos, but a 5 is rolled and they just miss. SM.81’s attempt to hit the rail marshalling yard at Volos via strat bombing, but their accuracy is way off and they scatter their bombs across the country-side (1 rolled for miss.) Finally, the Z.506b floatplanes go after the rail junction at 15:0115, just 15 miles west of the old battle site at Pharsala. Italian arms this time do just a good a job as Caeser did against Pompey and wreck the rails in the critical communications node (5 rolled for hit.)
In North Africa, all the c/m forces that left Benghazi remain in the Agedabia area, clearly unwilling to let the first battle of the town stand as the final result. Lines are built up on the four sides (north and west) of the 7th Armored, leaving it to be out of supplies and isolated come the Allied ini phase. Benghazi is itself down to just 5 DS, but we anticipate that the Allies will be unable to launch any sort of attack on the port until the arrival of the Axis Feb I reinforcements and the completion of the fort being quick constructed. In the air, a CR.42 transfers out of Benghazi to prevent overstacking, taking up residence of El Agheila since the Me110D’s are currently out of action. The one CR.42 at Tripoli that started there transfers east to Sirte, just to cover all our fields.
End of Turn
The Axis gain 5 VPs for owning hexes in mainland Greece. Additionally, it is now the semi-annual territorial VP check time. The Axis gain 2 VPs for retaining ownership of British Somalia through the Jan II 41 turn, plus an additional 2 VPs for owning a town in Sudan during the Jan II 41 ini phase (Kurmuk.) On the opposite side, the Allies gain 10 VPs for ownership of Crete, but fail to get any for ownership of Greece (during no Allied ini phase did they own Egouminitsa and therefore they never controlled all cities and ports). Likewise, the stubborn defense in North Africa prevents the Allies from gaining any VPs for Cyrenaica, since the Axis still owns Benghazi. By rule, the Axis do not gain VPs for their own ownership of Cyrenaica or Egyptian towns during this first VP check, as they are not owned on Jan II 41. VP totals are now 50 to 9, in favor of the Axis.